book covers

Erica’s Favorite Reads – 2021

I hope the post title isn’t misleading: these are the top books I read in 2021, not just books that were published in 2021. I wasn’t quite sure how to convey that concisely in my title.

I generally gravitate towards nonfiction and self-help books – I have been on a big personal growth kick for like the past 5 years! However, this year I tried to challenge myself to read some fiction this as well, thanks to some recommendations from one of my best friends.

I read about 30 books total this year, which is a number I’m proud of. (Honestly, no matter what your number is, you can be proud of it!) I use Goodreads to keep track of everything I’ve read. You can find me on there if you want to see my entire reading list for 2021.

Two years ago I published a post of my favorite books for 2019, but I never posted my list for 2020. As I was trying to figure out why, I realized (with the help of Goodreads stats) that I read far fewer books in 2020 (hello pandemic!) Obviously we all had a lot going on in 2020… I’m glad to have been privileged to have time to be a more avid reader this year.

The Great Sex Rescue book

The Great Sex Rescue: The Lies You’ve Been Taught and How to Recover What God Intended
Nonfiction, Marriage, Christian

This book is the only book I have ever taken time to write a review for on Goodreads because I thought it was so good! I want to write an entire post on this book alone, but for now, I’ll share what I wrote on Goodreads:

I found this book to be very validating to my experiences. It was nice to be able to have it be so well articulated by someone. I appreciate how the authors took a critical look at what many other Christian books on marriage and sex are saying, and spelled out how certain messages could actually be harmful to women, and not even really what the Bible intended. I wish this book had been written years ago before I had gotten married, I wish it had been around when I started dating. I think it offers one of the healthiest perspectives on Christian marriage and sex I’ve read in a long time.

Frientimacy book

Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness
Nonfiction, Relationships, Psychology

I am not even finished with this book, but it has already made it to my list of top books for 2021! I am reading this with a coworker, and each week we read a chapter and then discuss it. This book takes a look at friendships and describes our basic need for being fully known and loved for who we are. It gives suggestions for ways to “close the intimacy gap” with friends by determining what areas of your relationship you need to invest in. The author states that each relationship needs 3 elements to be mutually shared in order to have a deep level of friendship: positivity, consistency, and vulnerability.

My one qualm with this book is that it is solely about female friendships – which I think is a shame because men need healthy friendships too, and I’m sure it would be off-putting to many men to read it when it is so geared towards women. However, many of the principles can be easily adapted for other types of relationships, and honestly it is really good information. If you’re a psychology nerd like me, you will find this book interesting!

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My Reading List from 2019

Despite having a lot of homework last year, I still managed to read a handful of really great books! I am a pretty avid reader (and writer I suppose) and I just don’t feel right if I’m not reading something. Lately I’ve been really interested in personal development books or books with a spiritual focus. I wanted to share some of my favorites from the past year:

  • Dare to Lead – Brené Brown

Everyone should read this book! (Yes, I said it!) I had never read any of Brené Brown’s other books, but this book gives a good summary and builds upon things she has talked about previously. My main takeaways from this book were 1) Making your list and 2) Choosing your Core Values. Your list is a small (1 inch by 1 inch) piece of paper with names of people whose opinion of you matters – the idea is that you should not worry about what everyone thinks about you (you will be crippled with anxiety) but you should also not disregard all opinions of you, for fear of turning into a person you don’t want to be. We all need a core group of people to hold us accountable to being the person we want to be. These people could be mentors, role models, family members – anyone whose advice you value and that knows you well. The “choosing your values” exercise required you to look at a list of about 50 attributes, and choose 2 that you felt embodied you and that you wanted to live into. These values define every choice you make. It is hard to narrow it down – but I ended up choosing Honesty and Making a Difference as my two values. It has empowered me to make hard decisions as I view life through this “lens.” There are so many more good things about the book that I don’t have time to talk about – read it, you won’t regret it. I have a quote from the book written on my white board at work:

“If you choose courage, you will absolutely know failure, disappointment, setback, even heartbreak. That’s why we call is courage. That’s why it’s so rare.” 

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