Book Lists, Books, Reading, recommended reading

Non-Fiction Books Everyone Should Read

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below and I may receive compensation for purchases made through the links in this post. These are all products that I highly recommend and have personally used.

I’ve spent the past 378 days looking forward to THIS post! Today I’m sharing my recommended books from 2021 (or some of them, at least)!

Last year I ended up reading 101 books. Aside from the years I spent in college as an English major, this is definitely the most books I’ve ever read in one calendar year. I didn’t start 2021 with the intention of reading 101 books. I had actually set my goal at 50 books, but when September came around and I was already well past 50 I decided, “hey, why not just shoot for 100?!” Now that the year is over, I can actually think of several reasons why NOT to read 40ish books in less than 90 days, but I’m still glad I did it.

I definitely LOVED a lot of the 101 books that I read, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend all of them to everyone. Some of the books that I read and loved were super obscure (fiction written over 200 years ago that is out of print and requires a bit of context to enjoy) or they belong to a very narrow genre that probably won’t interest everyone (education during the Victorian era, etc).

I initially thought that I would be able to narrow my recommended list down to something short and sweet and title it, “My Top 10 Recommended Books from 2021″… but who am I kidding? That’s not going to happen. And since calling this, “The 25ish Books from all kinds of random categories that I think you should read” is a little overkill, I decided to break this into a few different lists.

Today I’ll be sharing the first of 4 lists with y’all: Non-Fiction. Check back in the coming weeks for the remaining lists (Fiction, Parenting/Education and Read Alouds).

Recommended Non-Fiction Books

Who Should Read This Book: Everyone--especially anyone who has recently experienced loss or suffering

This book is an absolute gem. If you’ve spent much time with me, you probably already know that Elisabeth Elliot is one of my heros (see my post about the books that shaped me to read more about this–> https://christinegustin.com/2021/10/22/the-books-that-shaped-me/)

Elisabeth Elliot died in 2015, so this book was published posthumously last year for the first time. I have read a significant amount of what Elliot wrote throughout her lifetime and yet this still didn’t feel redundant. It may be short, but it’s absolutely packed with balm for the suffering soul.

Who Should Read This Book: Everyone in America

This was hands down the MOST facinating non-fiction book that I read in 2021. It sent me down so many rabbit holes (which is one of my favorite things). I’ve found myself bringing it up in frequently in conversations with friends. The authors of this book managed to open several cans of worms and maintain an impressive amount of grace, which is no easy feat. Highly recommend to everyone, regardless of political/religious beliefs.

Who Should Read This Book: People who love to read, but have a tendency to avoid the classics... or anyone who likes reading about reading

Alan Jacobs is one of my favorite thinkers of the 21st century. I am also convinced that he is one of the least pretentious authors of our time. Why drag things on for 300+ pages if you can make your point in less than 200? I highly recommend this little book to anyone who wants some inspiration to read older books. Jacobs writing style can feel a little dry at times if you aren’t used to it (think of C.S. Lewis non-fiction), but I promise that it’s worth the read (as is pretty much everything else that Alan Jacobs has published).

Who Should Read This Book: Everyone with a smart phone (yes, everyone)

Okay, before I say anything about this book, I have to give a disclaimer: the forward by John Piper is weird and I don’t like it. I know that might sound negative, but I almost didn’t read this book because of how turned off I was by the forward. Thankfully, I was once told by someone who is a lot smarter than I am that, you don’t actually need to read the forward or introduction in books. A good rule of thumb that I follow now is that if the forward/intro is written by the author themselves OR by an author that I already know and love, I read it. If not, I leave it until after I’ve finished the book or skip it entirely.

Okay, now that we’ve got that awkward bit out of the way–y’all need to read this book! I’ve read SO many books over the past two years about technology, social media, smart phones, etc and this book is my favorite. Why? Because 1) It’s accessible and concice. You won’t end up in the weeds learning about algorhythms and conspiracy stories about big tech companies, 2) Tony Reinke isn’t a luddite that wants everyone to burn their smart phones and go back to using morse code and 3) It’s got an undercurrent of Biblical truths woven throughout.

Side note–if this is a topic that particuarly interests you, you might love these posts from last year:

https://christinegustin.com/2021/01/19/90-days-anti-social/

https://christinegustin.com/2021/01/28/5-steps-to-streamline-your-digital-life/

https://christinegustin.com/2021/02/05/5-ways-a-digital-hiatus-changed-me/

Who Should Read This Book: Women who want to become more well versed readers (or anyone who just loves solid gold book lists)

Sarah Clarkson is awesome. We haven’t met, but I am absolutely convinced that we would be great friends if we ever did meet. I have found SO MANY of my favorite books from book lists in this book. If you’ve ever found yourself scratching your head or scrolling cross-eyed through Goodreads trying to figure out what to read next, just pick up this book and it will all be okay.

Who Should Read This Book: All women who love Jesus

You guys. I first read this book in 2017 and I have read it every single year since. Every. Single. Year.

When I first heard about this book from a friend in 2017, she told me that (next to her Bible) this was THE most important book in her life. She told me that she was completely out of room to write in the margins and had to tape it back together several times. I thought she was being dramatic, but now I’m that crazy friend telling you the same thing she told me: you HAVE to read this book.

Who Should Read This Book: Christians living in America (who aren't afraid to have their feathers ruffled a bit)

This was one of the first books that I read last year and it just stuck with me all year. I was debating whether I should list this book or not, because 1) I’m not on board with 100% of what Sider had to say and 2) This book has one of the most hideous covers I have ever seen (most petty book review comment ever)… BUT, these two things aside, this book is powerful. It challanged me in the best way. It made me angry a few times. And it prompted me to make some tangible life changes that I’ll be forever grateful for. Go get yourself a brown paper bag to cover the ugly cover of this book and just read it.

Who Should Read This Book: Every single Christian (for real)

If I could, I would give every single one of you reading this blog a copy of this book. I first skimmed it years ago after I meet Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand. I didn’t fully grasp the weight and beauty of their story when I was just a teen, but that meeting altered the trajectory of my life. It introduced me to the Voice of the Martyrs (an organization that probably everyone I know has heard me talk about) and it gave me a global perspective that I might not have developed otherwise.

This past year was the first time I had read the book in over 20 years and it absolutely gripped me. One of the things I love so much about this book is how simple it is to read. I am also constantly amazed by how the Wurmbrand’s were able to talk about really hard and sad things, yet still be full of joy. This book is no different, so don’t be put off by the heavy title of this book–It might be a tough topic, but this book will leave you with joy and gratitude.

Alright, friends. That concludes my recommended book list for the non-fiction category. Check back next week for my fiction list!

TTYS.

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