Top Ten Tuesday: My Ten Favorite Reads from 2021

Final Top Ten Tuesday of 2021!

The Old Man and the Boy, Robert Ruark. Stories of a young boy growing up under the watchful eye and biting wit of his grandfather, who teaches him to be a man who lives and works with respect to the land and creatures around them — even the ones they hunt. A mix of nature writing and human interest, as if Aldous Leopold and Rick Bragg came together, it was an instant favorite.

Beyond Tenebrae: Christian Humanism in the Twilight of the West, Brad Birzer. Reviews how Christian intellectuals (Lewis, Kirk, Solzhenitsyn, etc) responded to the acceleration of Western decay in the 20th century.

How Emotions are Made, Lisa Feldman Barrett. A critical attack on the conventional explanation for human emotions, one which argues that specific emotions are a learned language of sorts.

Project Hail Mary.A man wakes up alone in a spaceship. His mission? Save Earth from the Sun’s destruction. One problem: he has no idea how.

Eagles at War, Ben Kane. A fantastic historical-fiction account of the Battle of Teutoberg Forest, Rome’s greatest military defeat.

Midnight in Chernobyl, Adam Higginbotham. A detailed but very human history of the Chernobyl nuclear accident which poisoned parts of the western Soviet Union

Ava’s Man, Rick Bragg. This has displaced The Best Cook in the World as my favorite Bragg work. I’m going to post an altogether review of it and the other books in this trilogy (All Over But the Shoutin’ and The Prince of Frogtown).

Touching History, Lynn Spencer. A history of 9/11 as experienced by air traffic control, airline employees, and US air defense.

Good Reasons for Bad Feelings, Randolph Nesse. An analysis of emotion and mental problems from an evolutionary psychological perspective.


The Razor’s Edge, W. Somerset Maugham. A young socialite goes to war and comes back searching for answers — a compelling character drama driven by the human need for meaning.

Honorable mention:

Natchez Burning, Greg Iles. A disturbing but engrossing thriller, driven by a two-part story — with a beginning in the Civil Rights movement of the sixties, and ending in the present day, each with a series of deaths. As huge as it is, it’s scary to think Iles wrote an even larger sequel called The Bone Tree

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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11 Responses to Top Ten Tuesday: My Ten Favorite Reads from 2021

  1. Cyberkitten says:

    I’m hoping to get to the Adam Higginbotham book next year. I have a few on that disaster to schedule in. My Best Of 2021 will be up in a few weeks.

  2. lydiaschoch says:

    Midnight in Chernobyl does sound good. Thanks for stopping by earlier.

  3. I haven’t read any of these, but my mom really liked Midnight in Chernobyl.

  4. Susan says:

    I really want to read MIDNIGHT IN CHERNOBYL. I checked it out from the library earlier this year, but it came due before I had a chance to read it. One of these days I’ll get back to it. Glad you enjoyed it and all these others.

    Happy TTT!


  5. Midnight in Chernobyl is such a powerful story. Thanks for sharing your favorites from 2021.

  6. Great list! I read The Old Man and the Boy many years ago, but it was sorta not kinda my type of book. On the other hand The Razor’s Edge is one of my all-time favorites that I have read and reread over the years (I’m due for another reread if I can fit it in my schedule which, since it is much smaller than yours, I don’t have any excuse to not include it.) The 1946 film version with Tyrone Power, Clifton Webb, and Gene Tierney is also a favorite.

    • It may vary by the audience — it was just my sort of thing, a nice mix of southern culture + nature writing + old codger humor.

      I enjoyed the ’46 movie, but the ’84 movie was surprisingly good, too — far more risque, though.

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