138. My 10 Favorite Books From 2021 For Gifting
Looking for gifts to give? Well, here you go. It's actually 11 books but 10 authors.
I’m going to take a short break from leadership jibber-jabber in order to bend your ear about gifts. ‘Tis the season for gift-giving, and all that jabberwocky.
Jeff’s Bucket List
[ ] Visit the Guinness factory
[ ] Play shortstop for the Yankees
[x] Use "jabber-" in two consecutive sentences
[ ] Ride a camel, elephant and ostrich, all in one day
The Gift of Certificate
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10 Favorite Books I Read in 2021 To Give As Gifts
I will read 75 books this year. Yup, I read a lot. Here are 10 authors and 10 books that you must read…. or must gift to other people to read. These are not in any sort of order. I just put numbers because I like counting.
“The Maid” by Nita Prose
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
“The Maid” is Nita Prose’s debut novel and, trust me, she’s coming out swinging. This book is being released in early 2022 and I predict it’ll shoot to the top of the NY Times best seller’s list. It is that good.
Molly, the main character, is a hotel maid. She’s a simple woman. Maybe she’s even somewhere along the spectrum. During her room cleaning duties she finds Mr. Black laying in his bed, deceased. What follows is an unraveling of characters and incidents that bring everyone and everything into question.
I couldn’t put this book down. Not surprisingly, it’s already being made into a movie.
“The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller
“Circe” by Madeline Miller
Genre: Historical Fiction, Greek Mythology, Romance, LGBTQ
OK, OK, I know this is two books but I couldn’t decide which one to mention so I just listed them both.
Nobody, but nobody, writes about the Greek Gods like Madeline Miller. Homer wrote the classic (The Oddessy), James Joyce wrote the unreadable () but Madeline Miller writes the stories for the masses.
She brings humanity, morality and struggle to the ancient stories. Both Achilles and Circe, are somewhat reluctant Gods. They are Gods who want to live un-Godlike lives.
This is the brilliance of Madeline Miller: her ability to make Greek Gods relatable.
I can’t get enough of her books. (I also read “Galatea”, a quick read and equally as good).
“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Tara Jenkins Reid
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Historical Fiction, LGBTQ
Confession: I’m addicted to Tara Jenkins Reid’s writing. Earlier this year I read “Daisy Jones and the Six” and since then began binging. I’ve read 4 of her books and have 3 more queued up.
Mark my words: Tara Jenkins Reid will be a household name. At least two of her novels are being made into major films, that should help.
“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” is a tour de force. It’s a story about the meteoric rise of movie star Evelyn Hugo, and the secrets and scandal that led to seven husbands.
Evelyn’s a little bit Marilyn Monroe, a little bit Elizabeth Taylor and a lotta bit a strong, commanding, tragic female hero. You’ll love her and hate her - often at the same time.
Tara not only writes characters that seem real, but she creates characters that I actually wish were real. The world would be a better place (albeit more complicated) if her characters were in it.
“Code Breaker” by Walter Isaacson
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography, Science
Walter Isaacson is a popular author for a simple reason: he’s one of the best biographers ever.
“Code Breaker” is not just a compelling story of Jennifer Doudna’s journey through science, it is a really important book about humanity. We are at a turning point in our evolution. CRSPR technology is a game changer.
All those science fiction movies about cloning, or creating a perfect race of people, or any of that other seemingly far-fetched malarkey… that is all possible and very real. Right now. With CRSPR.
It is both amazing and downright frightening and y’all need to read about it.
“My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me” by Helen Naylor
Genre: Memoir, Mental Health
If you think your relationship with your parents is troubling, read this book. You’ll feel better about yourself.
Helen's mother was insane, in my non-clinical opinion. She is an extreme narcissist with Munchausen's Syndrome. In other words, she pretends to be sick in order to have other people take care of her. But not like the “I can use some chicken soup” type of sick. No, no… Helen’s mother pretended to have Parkinson’s Disease and Dystonia. She mimicked the symptoms to get attention.
It’s f***ed up.
Helen’s debut novel explores the challenges she faced with a messed-up mom and the coming to terms with the realization of being lied to her entire life by the one person you’re supposed to trust.
Helen does a masterful job in her storytelling. It’s no surprise that after only a few weeks this is already a best-seller.
“The Invisible Life of Addie Larue” by V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
"The Invisible Life of Addie Larue" is one of the most memorable books I've read all year. Haunting and heartwarming.
In 18th century France, young Addie Larue makes a Faustian deal with the devil, selling her soul in order to avoid marriage. Her curse is that she lives forever, but is immediately forgotten by everyone she meets.
This is a brilliantly constructed book that follows the complex relationship between Addie and the devil over a span of two centuries and multiple countries. Every page will prompt you to rethink your existence and ponder the lonely life of never being remembered.
“The One” by John Marrs
Genre: Thriller, Fiction
A company has discovered a foolproof way to determine your true soulmate via DNA analysis. That’s the good news.
With a 97% success rate, 1.5 billion people have signed up for the service. That’s the problem.
Husbands and wives discover they aren’t soulmates. Serial killers learn about their true loves. Those are just two of the scenarios in this rollercoaster ride. The book focuses on four or five different people and the impact this technology has on their lives.
True love brings out both the wonderful and crazy in humanity, all of which are revealed in this book. It is a quick and easy read that will get you thinking about the concept of true love in a way you never have before.
“The Guest List” by Lucy Foley
Genre: Thriller, Fiction, Suspense
Suspense books are a dime a dozen these days. Most are mediocre at best. So when I stumble upon a novel like "The Guest List”, I am beyond ecstatic.
Lucy has written one of those mystery suspense books that has great characters and surprising, unforseen twists.
The book is like a large pot of water that is turned on to boil. At first the water is pleasant, cool and calm. But as time goes on, it slowly starts heating up, then bubbles start rising and then, in the end, it's a steaming hot cauldron of chaos.
I couldn't put it down.
“Hunt, Gather, Parent” by Michaeleen Doucleff
Genre: Parenting, Non-Fiction
If you have children under six years old, the book "Hunt Gather Parent" should be required reading. My daughter is 9 years old and I'm kicking myself that I didn't hear about this book earlier.
The author visits cultures that consistently raise extremely generous, kind and helpful children. Children that don’t whine and yell and nag - which would make my life a lot more pleasant. I’m not much for self-help books, but this one sure helped me learn a lot. Even better, it’s working.
“K: A History of Baseball In Ten Pitches” by Tyler Kepner
Genre: Parenting, Non-Fiction
For Fans of: “Moneyball”
All baseball fans should read "K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches".
First of all, the author is the baseball columnist for the New York Times. He’s a wonderful writer who has the ability to combine his knowledge of the sport and his intense research, into a highly compelling analysis that reads like a good story.
He tells the history of the sport as seen through the evolution of ten different pitches. It’s not just a unique angle to view the subject matter, but it left me with a completely new appreciation for the sport. I will never watch baseball the same again.