2021: My Year in Reading

Last year was a blur. When we rang it in, I was glad to welcome it. When we rang it out, I was glad to say goodbye. Here’s hoping to a better 2022, which I’m kicking off with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Off to a solid start! And I’m fine. One overnight sinus headache. Not bad. I’m thankful I received the vaccine and that I caught a mild case. Onward.

My media log from 2010 and every year since is found here.

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How Many Books Did I Read This Year?

This year’s goal was to read 60 books, and I landed just short at 59. The first book I finished was C. J. Sansom’s mystery novel Tombland, the latest Matthew Shardlake story. The last book I read was John McWhorter’s Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America. I continue to read comic books: Detective Comics: BatmanGuardians of the Galaxy, Kang the Conqueror, X-Men, and Wolverine.

I logged 93 movies and 11 television series. There are a few comedy specials I watched, too, that I didn’t record near the date of viewing. I walked my kids through the Marvel Infinity War saga, which we began as 2020 drew to a close, and completed in early 2021. My favorite movies this year included The Hunt, Mortal Kombat (2021), Tenet, Chasing Amy, Nobody, Old, and Spider-Man: No Way Home. Kevin Smith was a major factor in my viewing choices. I watched a lot of his work.

I watched a lot of documentaries, too, and my favorites were about Thomas Sowell, ZZ Top, and David Lynch. I watches some stinkers, too.

I didn’t really like Wonder Woman 1984 or Black Widow or Ocean’s 8, or Jolt, Kate, or Bright. I didn’t like Parker or The Old Guard, Snake Eyes or Suicide Squad (2021). But in television, I liked He-Man: Revelation, The Expanse, and Chernobyl.

What Were My Favorite Books This Year?

This is a tough one. My reading choices this year were slightly constrained by review obligations. I also took on some really challenging books. I read Horace and Marcus Aurelius, and I’m still reading Dante’s Divine Comedy. I read more history.

My favorites were Tish Harrison Warren’s Prayer in the Night, Timothy Keller’s Hope in Times of Fear, Yuval Levin’s A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream, David Byrne’s How Music Works, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, and John McWhorter’s Woke Racism.

I also think Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure is a book with important things to say.

Did You Hate Anything?

I hung in with, but did not enjoy Daniel Worster’s biography of John Muir, A Passion for Nature, or James S. A. Corey’s Leviathan Awakes.

What Are You Reading Right Now?

I’m very slowly progressing through Russell F. Weigley’s The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy. I’m reading Donald M. Lewis’ A Short History of Christian Zionism: From the Reformation to the Twenty-First Century (it’s over 350 pages!) and Miguel De Cervantes’ Don Quixote.

What Did I Learn from My Experience Reading This Year?

This year I picked up a lot of American history. Why? I want to understand the people and the ideas that have made this country what it is, both the good and the bad. The more I read, the more I come to believe that the founding ideals of the Republic are unparalleled in history, and despite the loud voices on the internet that persist in telling us how bad everything is, we live at a pretty incredible moment in time. Our moments most persistent doomsday preachers are more secular than they are traditionally religious. It might be a good time for Christians to emphasize the great good news of what God has done in and through Jesus Christ, and the great good work we have been invited into as participants in Jesus’ kingdom this side of the Lord’s Day.

I’ve also become more deeply convinced that daily habits add up to a lifetime of faithfulness, growth in holiness, and deepening of character. Reading is a key daily habit. Every day, I begin my morning with four chapters from the Bible, the appointed reading from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost from His Highest, and meditation on a selection from the Psalms. My morning reading takes anywhere from ten to twenty minutes, includes a few moments for prayer, and sets the tone for my day.

Another lesson: physical media is far better than e-books. I read a little on my Kindle, but nothing beats the feeling of a book in my hands.

What are you reading, and what should I add to my list?

One thought on “2021: My Year in Reading

  1. Just ordered the one about coddling through your link; that word alone plus your recommendation has really piqued my interest as a parent and community member. Thanks for the recommendations, Ben!

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