2021 summary


for 2021, my reading list includes two things:

  • a 3-word description of each book
  • a cross-training “workout” (a related book, article or blog post, movie, TV show, podcast, product, recipe, or even a swim workout)

reading list by month


  • 1. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
    family, ingenuity, progress
    cross-training: A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle)
  • 2. The Operator (Gretchen Berg)
    secretive, unexpected, atmospheric
    cross-training: Mad Men TV series
  • 3. Ready Player Two (Ernest Cline)
    sentimental, digital, slow-starter
    cross-training: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
  • 4. Writers & Lovers (Lily King)
    sensitive, single-chapter, crescendo
    cross-training: Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
  • 5. Why We Swim (Bonnie Tsui)
    familiar, storytelling, collective
    cross-training: Charles Tomlinson’s poem, “Swimming Chenango Lake”


  • 6. The Library Book (Susan Orlean)
    nostalgic, puzzling, journalistic
    cross-training: The Giver of Stars (Jojo Moyes)

  • 7. All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr)
    captivating, detailed, beautiful
    cross-training: The Nightingale (Kristin Hannah)
  • 8. The Sun is a Compass (Caroline Van Hemert)
    expansive, resilient, adventure
    cross-training: the Banff Mountain Film Festival


  • 9. The Thursday Murder Club (Richard Osman)
    meddling, funny, warm
    cross-training: Murder, She Wrote TV series
  • 10. On Writing (Stephen King)
    dedicated, pragmatic, fangirl (me)
    cross-training: The War of Art (Steven Pressfield)
  • 11. Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
    lengthy, significant, expressive
    cross-training: The Girl with the Louding Voice (Abi Daré)
  • 12. Without Reservations (Alice Steinbach)
    good-natured, introspective, confident
    cross-training: Wild (Cheryl Strayed)
  • 13. Nathaniel’s Nutmeg (Giles Milton)
    risky, competitive, explorative
    cross-training: Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)


  • 14. Daisy Jones and the Six (Taylor Jenkins Reid)
    compulsive, rock and roll, mockumentary
    cross-training: A Star is Born (2018)
  • 15. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (Deesha Philyaw)
    provocative, honest, identity
    cross-training: Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

  • 16. The Island of Sea Women (Lisa See)
    friendship, heartbreaking, tradition
    cross-training: Sky Burial (Xinran)

  • 17. Zen in The Art of Writing (Ray Bradbury)
    process, poetry, memories
    cross-training: On Writing (Stephen King)
  • 18. I’d Rather Be Reading (Anne Bogel)
    bookish, relatable, connected
    cross-training: How Reading Changed My Life (Anna Quindlen)
  • 19. They Never Learn (Layne Fargo)
    twisted, calculated, avenged
    cross-training: Strike Me Down (Mindy Mejia)
  • 20. The Girl with the Louding Voice (Abi Daré)
    brave, transformative, educating
    cross-training: The Vanishing Half (Brit Bennett)


  • 21. Endure (Alex Hutchinson)
    researched, technical, concrete
    cross-training: Peak Performance (Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness)

  • 22. The Greatest Salesman in the World (Og Mandino)
    guidance, action, habits
    cross-training: The Man on the Mountaintop (Susan Trott)
  • 23. How Reading Changed My Life (Anna Quindlen)
    introspective, quick, collection
    cross-training: Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott)
  • 24. Greenlights (Matthew McConaughey)
    alright, alright, alright
    cross-training: Dazed and Confused(1993)
  • 25. Beginners (Tom Vanderbilt)
    imperfect, inspired, learning
    cross-training: The Pursuit of Perfect (Tal Ben-Shahar)
  • 26. The Storytelling Animal (Jonathan Gottschall)
    wired for story
    cross-training: Building a StoryBrand (Donald Miller)
  • 27. The Biggest Bluff (Maria Konnikova)
    self-awareness, wealth of skill, embrace uncertainty
    cross-training: Turning Pro (Steven Pressfield)
  • 28. Me Talk Pretty One Day (David Sedaris)
    ordinary, witty, identity
    cross-training: We Are Never Meeting in Real Life (Samantha Irby)


  • 29. The Art of Gathering (Priya Parker)
    how-to, purposeful, etiquette
    cross-training: The Culture Code (Daniel Coyle)
  • 30. Trick Mirror (Jia Tolentino)
    blunt editorial awareness
    cross-training: Bad Feminist (Roxane Gay)

2021 dnfs

  • Lonesome Dove (Larry McMurtry)

past reading lists

Follow @thebookishathlete for updates on what I’ve been reading lately. Book recommendations are always appreciated, and I’m happy to throw out some ideas as well!