This list of my best reads of 2021 reveals lives, stories, philosophies, and triumphs I'd never experience on my own.
This year, I listened to my favorite books on Audible. I've shared the hyperlinks to Audible in the titles, below, so you can listen when you travel or do chores around the house. Your first listen is free. Check your local library online for other free listening options. And if you crave the paper version like I still do (you'll want to buy some of these after you listen), please stop at an independent bookseller.
Here's my list:
by Billie Jean King
I only knew Billie Jean King as a famous women's tennis player. She is MORE. The arc of her life intersects and destroys global gender, sex, and racial stereotypes of the last 70 years. She is the reason both the US Open and Wimbledon offer equal prize money for men and women. She earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her prowess as an athlete and change maker dedicated to equality, gender, and social justice issues.
Billie Jean reads the book, and there are times her emotion is palpable as she recounts crushing defeats, personal attacks, losses, deaths, triumphant wins, the Battle of the Sexes, her public outing as a lesbian and so much more. It is a story of hope and a business lesson for the ages.
1) She ALWAYS gave people a second chance, even people who had been awful to her. It's one thing to forgive, but to collaborate years later with those who slandered you? Wow.
2) She used negativity to fuel her determination and generate alternative thinking.
3) When she finally understood that being the best tennis player in the world required specific focus, she cleared her schedule--often at her own expense and the ire of others--to learn, train, and reflect.
4) She had a terrible temper and took responsibility when it got her in trouble and hurt others, on and off the court.
5) The book came out this September, 2021. She turned 78 in November, 2021. Follow her on Twitter to see how she's supporting others and continuing the pay equity dialogue.
I wish she lived next door to me.
What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing By Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Perry, M.D./Ph.D
Oprah built a media empire with her storytelling. Bruce Perry is one of the world's top neuroscientists and mental health experts on trauma's effect on children. Both voice this book. I felt like I was eavesdropping on a fireside chat between two smart people trying to make sense of their life's work.
Heads up: I could only listen to this book in chunks—some of the stories and issues take time to process.
1. "What did you do?" is the question asked by our justice system. If society's goal is to prevent abuse and dangerous behavior, the question becomes "What happened to you?" Perry's research and that of others explains how pain begets pain.
2. Trauma is passed down, often through multiple generations.
2. Our brains have not evolved as fast as our technology. Dr. Perry is adamant that very young children not be exposed to more than two hours of screen time each day. We adults might ponder this, too.
3. Community is the secret sauce that ensures survival, recovery, resilience, and healing after traumatic events (including pandemics and social unrest). We humans need consistent doses of interaction with each other in a loving environment. Oprah begrudgingly acknowledges the role the church and watchful friends played in her youth (despite some baggage she's still processing). Increasingly, today's Americans are opting out of organizations, face-to-face groups, churches, and social structures that provide support.
A lighter, escapist read: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Okay, it's not totally light....it starts with a young woman committing suicide. (Sorry!) She lands at the Midnight Library where she can "check out" and experience every life she might have lived if she'd made one different choice. It's creative, entertaining, and thought-provoking in a not-too-heavy way. The upbeat ending rewards you for your time.
Enjoy! And so many more great books are coming in 2022. I'm eager to hear what you're reading. Share on our DK Communications Group Facebook page.
--By Susan Dosier, President, DK Communications. Group