I’m not going to lie, this wasn’t the best movie year for us. We didn’t get to the movie theater (although we did get to the drive-in for a double feature) and our choices were more of ‘what’s on Netflix that we can agree on in 5 minutes?’ than intentional viewing. We did binge lots of shows, but I wasn’t great about keeping track of those. Maybe next year.
49 movies (same as last year)
2021 was our most watched year with 12 movies, followed by 2020 with 8.
Gigi (1958) was the oldest movie we watched.
We watched the most movies in the month of May with 8.
We also watched Wheel of Time season 1 (loved) The Witcher season 2 (liked), and the BBC’s The Pale Horse starring Rufus Sewell (skip it!). Have you been binging any shows this month?
You know the drill, add your 5 words (or less!) to mine in a comment and earn $1 for charity. Once we get to $100 the person with the most reviews will choose the charity. Click here to see the past winners, the charities they chose and the other reviews you can add to. Anyone is welcome to join in at any time. Click here to see past movie posts.
My book a day challenge officially ends tomorrow since I started last year on the 31st. I’ll be including the two books I’m reading today and tomorrow in these stats 🙂 I honestly cannot believe I completed this challenge. It seemed crazy at the beginning of the year, but thanks to my new love of non-fiction kids picture books I was able to get through the more challenging days! On to the numbers…
I read 415 books.
73 books published in 2021 and 40 published in 2020.
The oldest book I read was Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie published in 1934.
249 were fiction and 166 were non-fiction. (this non-fiction is highly unusual for me and due, in part, to the 99 kids non-fiction books I read this year)
280 were written by authors new to me.
I visited France 25 times and the UK 17 times through my reading. I also read books set in 16 other countries.
I continued with 11 series ( Jack Reacher, Lady Sherlock, Kinsey Milhone, Dublin Murder Squad, Mrs. Pollifax, Inspector Rebus, Hathaways, Lucas Davenport, Amos Decker, In Death, Ravenels),
started 6 others (Fiona Figg, Runaway Train, Brigertons, Hugo Marston, Jeremy Logan, Seven Sisters)
and read 1 series from beginning to end (Lucy Valentine series by Heather Webber books 1-5).
The longest book I read was The President is Missing by James Patterson and Bill Clinton at 528 pages.
Most read authors – adults – Lee Child with 8, kids – Virginia Hamilton with 5, and illustrator Jerry Pinkney with 8.
I already posted the longlist of my favorite kids books here and my favorite adult books here, but…
Top Ten Books I Read in 2021
I love this book so much! Gage and I read one letter every day, some letters have a few words, some only one. There’s a poem, an explanation of what type of poem it is, a quote, a paragraph about the word written by Charles or Irene, and then an action.
This was the beautiful way we’ve started our learning everyday. We read, we discussed, and used the poems as cursive practice. The book and pages are gorgeous and I’ve already ordered our own copy, since this was a library book. We finished up with Zest and pages of further reading recommendations which I plan on using! This the second collaboration between these authors and I definitely need to get their first book.
Do yourself a favor and get your hands on this book! It’s a wonderful first hand account of his time in the war with a little of his life before and after. Scroll through the pics. Each the drawings were sketches he made during his days in the military. He would send the hundreds of sketches home when he could and just brought them out for public consumption a few years ago. In addition to the sketches, photos, and commentary, he’s included some of the letters he sent home.
He was there on Omaha Beach working as a stevedore to get cargo from ship to Allied forces. His home was a foxhole he dug himself on the beach.
It’s a story of war, hope, prejudice, and perseverance. If your child needs a firsthand account of someone in WWII or of racial inequality in the war this is a must read. It’s laid out so beautifully it’s sure to hold their attention. And, as an adult, I fell in love with it myself.
The Push was our book club choice for April and it generated some very strong feelings. Personally, disturbing as it was, this was a great book. It’s a complicated story about motherhood, all of the ugly parts no one talks about and the absolute highs when you are exactly the mother you thought you’d be.
Blythe comes from generations of bad mothers. The stories of her mother and grandmother are interspersed throughout the novel. Blythe falls in love, gets married and is nervous to start a family of her own. Motherhood comes and I’ll tell you no more.
This debut novel is well written, perfectly paced, and hard to put down. But it’s not an easy read. It’s difficult at times to take in what’s happening and I think a lot of women could be upset by much of what happens. It’s a love or hate book for most and I’m standing on the love side.
What if every choice you made led to a different life, a different you and it was happening simultaneously to your life right now. What if you were able to visit The Midnight Library and try on each of these lives to see if you preferred them to the one you’re currently living. So goes the story of Nora Seed.
Loved this book. Not only did I love the endless possibilities, I loved the attention to great philosophers, especially Thoreau, who is a favorite of mine. Highly recommend this one for discussion and contemplation.
This book was definitely elevated by the excellent narration by Adam Lazarre-White. His rich voice made the story of two fathers, one white, one black, coming to terms with the deaths of their gay sons come alive. There was more violence and also more soul searching than I anticipated going in. Give this one a listen.
This lived up to ALL of the hype! It’s so different from her other two books. It’s a thriller. One day a child knocks on Hannah’s door with a note, it’s from her husband and all it says is PROTECT HER. Bailey, the daughter, comes home from school with a duffel bag full of cash that her dad had stuffed in her locker. Owen himself was missing.
That’s all you get. If you like thrillers this is a must read!
This is an unflinching story of poverty, family, and life. Esch is 14 and has just found out she’s pregnant. She’s had sex with lots of her brothers friends because it easier to say yes than to upset them, but she knows who the father is, her oldest brother’s best friend. Another brother, Skeetah, has bred his prized pit bull China so that he could sell the puppies. The youngest brother’s birth cost her mother’s life and left the four of them with a drunk and rough father.
This book takes place in the 12 days leading up to Hurricane Katrina. There is such a richness to the unapologetic language and story. I still feel like a little bit of me is stuck on the coast. There is a brutal dog fighting scene. I had to close the book and sit with my visceral reaction to it. This book takes its time, but at some point it will completely draw you into the Baptiste family and their world.
It’s a National Book Award Winner published in 2011.
“Everything happens for a reason. This is a thing people say. My mom says it a lot. “Things happen for a reason, Tasha.” Usually people say it when something goes wrong, but not too wrong. A non fatal car accident. A sprained ankle instead of a broken one.
Tellingly, my mom has not said it in reference to our deportation. What reason could there be for this awful thing happening? My dad, whose fault this whole thing is, says, “You can’t always see God’s plan.” I want to tell him that maybe he shouldn’t leave everything up to God and that hoping against hope is not a life strategy, but that would mean I would have to talk to him, and I don’t want to talk to him.”
What a great way to start the month. I loved the romantic and scientific back and forth on the meaning of life and love. Almost the entire book takes place during one day, the day of deportation and the day Natasha and Daniel meet and fall in love. Jamaica and Korean cultures fill up the pages of this teen American Dream romance.
A graphic memoir by the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors. She tells the story of her childhood during the Islamic Revolution and Iran’s war with Iraq. And then later as she is sent away to live on her own in Vienna at the age of 14.
The black and white illustrations are full of horror, history, and heartwarming and heartbreaking stories. I’m late to the game, but this is a must read.
Two outstanding graphic books by Art Spieglman (the first winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1992).
It’s the story of the Holocaust based on Spiegelman’s interviews with his survivor father and also of his life with his father as he got older. He, his father, and the other Jewish people are depicted as mice and the Nazis as cats.
So moving, both as a Holocaust history, but also a relationship story between father and son. One I’m not going to forget anytime soon.
You are welcome to check out my end of the year list of books on Goodreads here. You will have to go to the bottom and click on See More Books a few times to see them all.
As I see the end of my book a day challenge fast approaching I am taking a very laid back approach. Lots of picture books and a movie on Christmas (a movie inspired by a classic kids book that I’m reading today) are helping me wind down a very successful reading year.
I’m going to have 3 book wrap up posts and 2 movies posts this week, so keep an eye out for my favorites this week.
Here’s what I’ve read since my last update…
The Storm Sister was book two in the Seven Sisters series that I started a few weeks ago. This one was set in the classical music world and I enjoyed learning about something new. I like the different stories of each of the series and the overriding mystery of them all that will keep me reading this series.
If you need a quick Christmas listen to get you in the holiday spirit I recommend this audiobook read by the author. The 13th Gift is a true story that will give you all of the Christmasy feels.
After the sudden death of her husband Joanne was having a hard time getting into the spirit of the holidays. Her three kids were still reeling from the loss of their father too when mysterious gifts began appearing on their front porch. With each gift, the family began to heal.
Such an inspiring story. I loved her explanation of what happened and how she finally tracked down her “True Friends” fifteen years later.
I don’t read a lot of holiday stories during December, but I’m so glad I listened to this one!
I started reading How To Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days a few days ago and just wasn’t feeling it, so I switched to the audio yesterday and breezed right through. Lu is a single artist in her 40s who is obsessed with The One and when she reads that he is going to get married in 90 days she knows she needs a plan. Enter True. He was her brother’s best friend before he died and has stayed close to Lu ever since. He knows a guy who can get a one-on-one with Keanu and a plan is hatched.
I ended up liking it, even if I had a hard time understanding Lu. True is a great and a worthy choice if Keanu is unavailable 😁
Do you have a favorite Keanu movie?
I spent a few days reading The Essential Wisdom of the First Ladies and really enjoyed it. Swipe through to see the book and 8 pages of included quotes that I particularly liked. It went through Melanie Trump and even had a quote about Jill Biden from Michelle Obama so it feels up to date. This would make a great gift!
Loved the story of a woman outdiscovering a man when it just wasn’t done and the illustrations were fantastic. Loved it!
I love Todd Parr’s books and have rea so many with Gage. This is perfect for any kid overwhelmed by the last few years.
Yikes! It’s the 18th and I haven’t posted any of my book a day reads this month! So, forgive me for this catch up post with lots of random books 🙂 I’m limping along with lots of kids books, but I will make it. What are you reading to finish up the year? For me it’s the shorter the better right now!
This story takes place on a road trip gone awry. Told from his and her perspectives and then and now time periods, this was a story that entertained. The last third of the book had a few revelations that moved the story in different directions all the while satisfying this romantic’s heart in the end.
I thought the audio was excellent.
Gage read me the first in the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol series on Thursday. We’d read a later one in the series and liked it and Gage’s writing tutor gave him the first four for his birthday. The books are written by Andres, Desmond’s anxious friend. Desmond loves ghost hunting and Andres loves having a new best friend in his new town. A fun series with great illustrations for the older elementary set.
This is a new series by Dan Gutman about famous figures. I read the Muhammad Ali one earlier this year. Gage and I both loved this one. He loves random and interesting trivia and this fits the bill. It was told with humor that kept him entertained all the way through. And we both learned what happened to Einstein’s brain and eyeballs after his death. Gross!
We’ve been reading The People’s Award book to start our school day for about two months. It says right on the cover ‘Celebrate Equality with 50 People Who Changed the World’ and I appreciated the mix of people from around the world, both familiar and unknown to me. Each award winner ranging from Confucius to Pele had a fun two page spread. It also had a quote from each one which was a good reason for Gage to practice his cursive.
Notes on Teaching: A Short Guide to an Essential Skill was a quick read. It took me back to my college days and my English Education classes. Even as a homeschooling mom it still touched on many things that have already made a difference in our day and will continue to do so. It’s always nice to have a pep talk and a reminder of what’s important.
Have you ever been listening to a book and the narration is just so bad that you wonder if it’s a problem with the narrator or the book? Such was the case with this short winter romance. There were two narrators but one came up with voices for some of the characters that were so off-putting I think it must have been intentional.
A young woman goes to Alaska to work for the summer, receives a marriage proposal, goes back to Washington for a great job anyway only to discover dream job is a bust. Will there be a happy ending?
If considering, pick up the book and skip the ear buds.
I listened to The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley thanks to a recommendation from my friend Amy and what a good recommendation it was! This is the first in a series of eight books about six adopted sisters who are given hints about their births after their father has died. In this first book the oldest, Maia, travels from Lake Geneva to Rio de Janeiro in hopes of finding her roots. What she finds is a long lost love affair and ties to the famous Christ the Redeemer statue.
Perfect for historical fiction and romance fans. I look forward to learning more about the other sisters and the mystery that binds them. Great audio.
I read/listened to Well Matched, part of a series that’s set in the small town of Willow Creek. I haven’t read the first two but would consider this a stand alone. Single-mother April is about to become an empty nester and gym teacher Mitch is looking for a fake date to a family gathering. I loved easy going Mitch and outspoken and homebody April. Having it set around the local Renaissance Fair was fun and having family and friends invested in their relationship solidified the story. A cute read for this time of year.
Pete Souza was the official White House photographer for both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama and was self admittedly bitter after the 2016 election. He started his own IG account and began to react to Trump’s tweets with photos of Obama to directly respond. Throwing shade was a term he learned for what he was doing and these posts, with Trump’s tweets from the first two years are what make up this book. I wanted to like it more and there were serious comparisons and more humorous ones, but after 4+ years of hate (tweets) and snark I just couldn’t generate any excitement for it. But, hey, it was free!
The Royal Holiday introduced me to a new author AND a middle age romance! It was nice to have a heroine in her 50s and I enjoyed the American going across the pond to fall in love with an advisor to the queen. Can they make it work past her holiday? Keep calm and believe.
The Gifts of Imperfection is about living a wholehearted life. Wholehearted living is based on the process of continually cultivating courage, compassion, and connection in our lives. There are 10 main guideposts, including authenticity, resilient spirit, and intuition that she addresses. This book is based on her research and I loved how she shared it, but it was still just a bit too self-helpy for me to love. I did take away a lot of positive energy and am happy I read it.
Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex should be required reading for adults and children, but really it’s a quick, fun book for kids. The definitions were spot on. Just because someone says something you agree with doesn’t make it a fact. It also addressed the need to wait for more information before making firm opinions.
Plants on the Move is detailed and visually pleasing. It breaks down the many different ways that seeds from plants and trees reproduce and what trees or flowers do each one. Must have for your young plant lovers.
Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a beautifully illustrated book told in first person by the first unknown soldier buried at Arlington National Cemetery 100 years ago.
A well put together kids biography of the creators of Curious George, who may have started with a much more French name than George. Margret and Hans were both from Germany, but didn’t meet and marry until they were both in Brazil where they became Brazilian citizens. They moved back to Paris just in time for the Germans invading the city with the couple barely escaping on homemade bicycles with drawings of a curious monkey in the bike basket.
They managed to escape and make their way to New York, hence my New Yorker magazine cover. The story the pictures and the whimsical drawings make this one I’m happy to have on my shelf to share with Gage.
A Day for Rememberin’: Inspired by the True Events of the First Memorial Day is a beautifully illustrated book about the freed men, women, and children in Charleston who paid homage to the dead Union soldiers who gave their lives so that slaves would be slaves no more.
Tigers & Tea with Poppy is about the inspiring life of wildlife artist Charles R. Knight.
I also read these kids books and one for a book tour
Compiled from hours of interviews drawn from the eponymous National Geographic documentary, this inspiring book from world-renowned infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci shares the lessons that have shaped the celebrated doctor’s life philosophy, offering an intimate view of one of the world’s greatest medical minds as well as universal advice to live by. (Goodreads)
Is it even possible to have a reasonable discussion about Dr. Fauci? The man has worked for 7 presidents and has kind words to say about them all (yes, ALL of them). He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush. And yet today he’s become some kind of litmus test. The man has become a target of conspiracy from the Right and become the symbol of science for the Left. The truth rarely resides on one side.
If you like Dr. Fauci, this 96 page book is a companion to the National Geographic documentary. It’s full of inspirational quotes about being a doctor and work as a public servant. It has short stories of his early years as a doctor and a few sweet stories about his family. It’s not a memoir, but inspirational snippets from his life as a doctor.
If you think Dr. Fauci is a fraud, this is obviously not for you and won’t change your opinion.
I think it would make a nice gift to someone interested in medicine. I liked his memories of treating AIDS patients before they even knew what AIDS was and his experience with Ebola patients. He talked a little about Covid and Trump toward the end and I thought he was more diplomatic than I could have been, but the man has testified before Congress more than any other person in history so he’s had practice.
The beginning of the book states…Dr. Fauci was not paid for his participation and will not earn any royalties from this book’s publication or from the documentary.
I didn’t get my last few books of November on here, so I’ll post them after sharing my 5 (technically 6) favorites of November. I focused on graphic novels/memoirs and am so glad that I read more outside my comfort zone this month. So far this year Goodreads tells me I’ve read 380 books this year. I don’t even know how to feel about this number because it is so ridiculous, lol. I’m working on breaking them down into categories and talking about them that way this month.
My November Favorites
I also read
Born on the Water (link above) – The 1619 Project: Born on the Water is a beautiful book that shows a young girl how resilient and strong her ancestors were. Told in a flowing verse, it chronicles the story of the Africans stolen from their land and brought to Virginia in 1619. I loved the illustrations and the scope of information for younger kids. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
The Jungle, graphic novel by Kristina Gehrmann. Let me recommend the graphic novel of the classic The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. If you read The Four Winds this year that showcased the need for unions in the 1930s west, this is a fantastic companion that shows this same need during the same period in the immigrant heavy Chicago. A terribly sad story based on an interview that will keep you riveted. Loved it!
The Wanderer by Peter van den Ende has no words. Not one word in 96 beautifully illustrated pages. The Wanderer is the story of a paper boat and his journey around the world. Gage and I sat down for our daily together reading time and took turns putting words to the pages and crafting our own story. It was so much fun and I highly recommend it for those of you with kids. There’s even a neat twist at the end that will be open to more than one interpretation.