Rebekah’s Top Ten Reads of 2021

I had hoped to get this post out a little earlier, but life with a newborn has made for an interesting change of pace. But better late than never, so I present my ten favorite books of 2021 (listed in the order that I read them, to keep things simple):

The Guest List: Lucy Foley (fiction)
I’m a sucker for a good mystery and this one had complex layers and heart-grabbing characters. It was also interesting to read a book knowing one of the characters was going to die, without officially knowing (called it!) who it was going to be. Super fun, engaging read.

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise: Dan Gemeinhart (MG fiction)
I don’t always cry while reading middle grade novels, but when I do… Hot dang. This beautiful story of a father and daughter dealing with (read: running from) grief destroyed my emotions in the best possible way. Do yourself a favor and read this gem, but probably don’t read it in public.

The Trials of Morrigan Crow: Jessica Townsend (MG fiction)
Another middle grade novel, this one whimsical and fun and much less likely to make you sob. I read the first two books in this series back to back and they were both absolutely delightful. I need to get my hands on the third book.

Everything Sad is Untrue: Daniel Nayeri (fiction, sort of )
This is quite possibly the best book I have ever read. The author’s true story is presented in fictional form, written as if he is still twelve years old and living in the thick of it. A poetic tale of immigration and faith, there is not a single person I know that I would not recommend read this book.

Prayer in the Night: Tish Harrison Warren (non-fiction)
This book saved my life. No, really. It was air to my spiritual lungs when I was drowning in the sea of miscarriage. By the time I surfaced from these pages, I was starting to feel alive again. It is probably designed for a very specific audience, but it just so happened that I was that audience, so five stars from me.

All You Can Ever Know: Nicole Chung (memoir)
Memoirs aren’t usually my cup of tea. I find that real life, especially a life that is still in the midst of being lived, often feels sloppy and unfinished in book form. However, the hot button topic of interracial adoption was hard for me to pass up. I love the way Nicole gives credit to both sets of parents, discussing the trials she faced as an adoptee, but also acknowledging the hardships she may have faced had her birth parents made a different choice. This is a beautiful exploration of identity.

Hunt, Gather, Parent: Michaeleen Doucleff (non-fiction)
A story in which a journalist takes her toddler to live among various cultures around the world in order to learn better ways to parent? Yes, please. This book exposes all of the things Western culture has lost and issues an invitation to reclaim them.

The Dirt Cure: Maya Shetreat-Klein (non-fiction)
Aside from the fact that this book will make you never want to buy food from a grocery store again, it was an amazing read. A fascinating look at the things we consume and the need for good germs in our lives.

The Queen Will Betray You: Sarah Henning (YA fiction)
This is the sequel to The Princess Will Save You, which can be described as a gender-bent Princess Bride. Fun, frivolous, wonderful read.

Skyward: Brandon Sanderson (YA fiction)
A sci-fi adventure where humans are just trying to survive on a destitute planet, featuring a heroine who wants to make a home in the stars. I read all three of the current books in this series in pretty quick succession.

If you’re looking for book recommendations, those are mine. I even put my top three in bold print for you so you know which ones to prioritize.

Party of One: A Book Review

Listen, we all know that singleness is my jam, so it should come as no surprise that I still collect books on this little fascination of mine. Honestly, most of them say the same old thing, which is why I’m popping in here to gush about finding a fresh perspective on the subject.

Party of One by Joy Beth Smith is not about providing more cliche answers, but about making room for the discussion the church is not having about sex and singleness. (And might I just add, it’s about dang time.) I did my fair share of blushing and cringing through a certain chapter, so I can confidently say that I don’t agree with every opinion voiced within these pages. Heck, I can’t say that the author agrees with every opinion she presented on behalf of her fellow single women, but at least we’re finally having the conversation.

While I’ve heard a whole lot of complaints over the years about purity culture and Joshua Harris’ infamous I Kissed Dating Goodbye, I didn’t understand how these things were to be blamed for a broken view of sexuality… until Joy Beth broke down all the things I was taught in youth group and so graciously explained how these teachings may have been harmful to me. Guys, it hurts how right she was. By the time I put this book down, I was feeling absolutely liberated.

My favorite concept from this book, however—the one that will stick with me forever—was the perspective a twenty-eight year old woman shared with Joy Beth on her ongoing struggle with still being single.

“It’s not what I was prepped for,” she said. “It’s not what I envisioned.”

She goes on to say that her whole life she was taught to be a wife and mother, but no one ever taught her to be a woman.

“My biggest struggle is knowing what womanhood looks like, what identity and completion look like, apart from the goal of marriage.”

And that, my friends, is why I champion the cause of the single Christian woman. Because we’re all struggling to find value in ourselves when church culture has taught us to find our worth in marriage and motherhood. Because we deserve better than to spend our lives waiting for a husband who may never come. We deserve to be validated as a Party of One.

Fall for Him ~ A Book Review

Up until about a month ago, I had never been asked to write a book review. But when I got an email from Brenda Rogers asking if I would look over her e-book, I couldn’t refuse. Especially when I hopped over to check out her book website and found the words, “You do not have to recover from singleness. There is a better way.”

Yep. Hooked.

So I told Brenda to send me the book. After all, it’s only natural for an author to be curious about someone who wrote about the same subject from a completely different angle. …And that’s where the whole review thing got hard. Not because I didn’t agree with what she was saying, but because I couldn’t relate with what she was saying.

The subtitle should have given it away. Fall for Him: 25 Challenges from a Recovering Single. I am not—and have never been—a recovering single. There are girls who say, “Woe is me. I’ll never find Mr. Right. Just call me an old maid.” And then there are girls who are all like, “Whoo! I’m single! Footloose and fancy-free, that’s me.” *happy dance*

Now, those are two extremes, but on a scale of Sobbing to Celebrating, I’m doing a moonwalk on the C. I’m happy with my life as it is. I’m truly content to be single until God brings the right man into my life. And if that’s where you are, then this book isn’t for you.

But… what I saw in this book is a lot of what I was seeing when I decided to write Beyond Waiting. Because there are girls who struggle with their singleness. There are women who are struggling to find contentment regardless of their relationship status. And Brenda does a better job connecting with them than I ever could, because Brenda lived there. Brenda knows what it is to long for marriage more than she longs for her Savior.

And while Fall for Him was written for a woman much different than me, I was still able to pull out a few very profound truths.

fall for himLike, Brenda rocks that verse about God giving you the desires of your heart.

She reminds us that, marriage and talents aside, our only true calling is to bring glory to God…

And that community is essential to any human being…

That “shame is not present in holiness”…

And (preach it, sister) there is more to being equally yoked than just being saved.

So if singleness is a struggle for you, I’d encourage you to check out Brenda’s book. It may just change your outlook on life as you know it.