My Best Reading Year Ever: Introduction


 My best reading year ever occurred in 2021. That’s a big statement. 

When I started out to write a year-end review I wanted to focus on my biggest wins for the year. I started out thinking about my biggest challenge: learning to be kinder and more patient and compassionate with myself. Midway through the year, I began to feel progress in this area. 

Part of that change came from the incredible books that filled my world that year. It was as if I’d put out a call to the universe for help and the universe responded by sending to me some of the most heart-warming, compassionate books I’ve ever read. Couple that we a series of nonfiction books that brought home the message in a different way.

Watch the Video

I go into more detail about my biggest challenge…and I suspect yours as well, in the video below. 

And as I promised in the video I’ve included the lists of books that made it my best reading year ever below the video. You’ll find my top 5 new authors, top 5 fiction books, and the top 5 Non-Fiction books I read this year. 

Now before I go on I want to extend a personal invitation to join our Private Facebook Group: Be Inspired Enthusiasts. Join a community of like minded people who have a passion for personal change and growth. Take part in our challenges, and conversations.

Top 5 New Authors and The Top 5 Fiction Books

 These are not in any particular order. This one happens to be the first one I read in the New Year of 2021

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER! Finalist for the 2020 Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. 

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure, and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories await in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic. 

Source: Amazon review 

Here is just a tiny little bit of this lyrical work. 

If we address stories as archaeological sites, and dust through their layers with meticulous care, we find at some level there is always a doorway . A dividing point between here and there, us and them, mundane and magical. It is at the moments when the doors open, when things flow between the worlds that stories happen.

Source: Alex E Harrow

Where the Forest Meets the Stars

This is another debut book and another example of why this was my best reading year ever. 

It starts with a mystery. A little girl, Ursa,l steps out of the woods at the home of Joanna and claims to be from the stars. 

From that moment on you are fully engaged as the stories of Uras and Joanna begin to emerge from their recently very different traumas.

Fear and mistrust give way to the beginning of fragile trust that eventually blooms into love and healing.

Have your heartstrings plucked expertly by this fabulous new writer. 

The House in the Cerulean Sea

T J Klune is new to me yet he is a fairly well-established author.

I am not sure how this book found me but it certainly answered the call for something deep and uplifting.

The book takes place in a world where a lot of very strange, very different children are raised in various orphanages around the country. 

Linus Baker works as a caseworker, for the ministry in charge of Magical Children.

When Linus is assigned to “audit an orphanage on the Island of Marsyas for a month nobody is really prepared for the magic that ensues.

The magic of love and bonding and caring and acceptance. 

Linus thinks of himself as very ordinary but it turns out he has his own special kind of magic.

To the children on Maysas Island, I am so happy I got to meet you and learn about your special magic. 

The Psalm for the Wild Built

I love Becky Chambers who is new to be this year. Her writing is original and delightful.

In this story, a Tea Monk meets a Robot with a burning question. What do people need? The robot needs to find some answers and he enlists the tea monk in his task. They end up going off on a prohibited trail into the wilderness to find the answer.

This book isn’t about big earth-shaking things happening. It’s quiet almost zen-like story that will hold you spell-bound all the way through.

In fact, these first four books aren’t about big. daring adventures. They are instead explorations of our inner landscape. 

A Memory Called Empire

Arkady Martine is again a new name to me. But this book is profoundly different in scope moving us from the micro into the macro of a sprawling space-based Empire. 

Here are some of the accolades the book garnered.

Winner of the 2020 Hugo Award for Best Novel
A Locus, and Nebula Award nominee for 2019
A Best Book of 2019: Library Journal, Polygon, Den of Geek

An NPR Favorite Book of 2019
Guardian Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Book of 2019 and “Not the Booker Prize” Nominee
A Goodreads Biggest SFF Book of 2019 and Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee

I give you that information because I have no way to describe the book that would even come close to a semblance of plot and character. 


The book is about identity in all its myriad forms. What is it? Where does it come from? Is it genetic or cultural? How fluid and flexible and fragile is it? If we weren’t born into Empire but prefer its culture, its language, and its poetry can we ever truly bet part of it? Are we betrayers or traitors? Will we always be torn, not completely one or the other? And how will we be seen by the people on either side? Can we ever belong? How do we find our own peace?

All wrap in lovely language and world-spanning space opera. 

And now for the mon-fiction.

Best Ever Reading Year: Top 5 Non Fiction


This book stole the show this year for me.

What do we need to flourish?  This is beyond just happiness. What are all the elements of flourish?

Martin Seligman is the father of the modern positive psychology movement. 

The most important aspects of the book are the 5 qualities that makeup well-being and our ability to flourish. 


Positive emotions, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, and accomplishments. 

As an example, we used the Formula for PERMA to evaluate our goals for 2022

See Goal Planning Session 3. Your 2022

The book is also filled with useful exercises. My favorite is What Went Well Today. 

If you only have room for one book this year. Read this one. 

 Growth Mindset or Fixed? Who has a growth mindset, and who has a fixed mindset, and what are the ramifications of each.

Carol Dweck’s book is essential if you are interested in teaching, learning, creativity, and how to deal with failure and success.

The graph below shows the differences between the two mindsets.

Mindset Info-graphic about two mindsets

The good news is that we with training, move from the fixed mindset to one that allows for our growth and success. 

This is Jay Shetty’s first book. A student and I did a deep dive into the book over 2 months. 

The thing that impressed me most about the book was the practical exercises and suggestions to help us all train that slippery ell of a mind. 

It’s a great blend of personal experience from his time living as a Monk in India.

Couple that with personal stories and references to all the modern research and you have a practical textbook on training your mind so that you can live a fuller, calmer more purposeful life. 

 Alexander the Great set out to conquer the known world. Which he did. Yet it crumbled into fragments shortly after his death. 

After reading Mary Beard’s beautifully detailed book I came to the conclusion that the Roman Empire happened largely by accident. Rome absorbed the world through a kind of cultural osmosis. A  “let’s play it by ear and see what happens. ” approach to Empire building. 

In the Here and Now

From reading the book you get a sense that even now the Roman Empire lingers on in so many of our institutions’ customs, and beliefs. 

Take away our modern technology and life hasn’t changed much in all those intervening years.  In an eerie way, these worlds had a way of melding in unexpected ways.

Deepen your understanding of our world by reading this book.

SPQR (The senate and the people of Rome. 

The last book in my best reading year ever is Be Here Now

I never read this book during the late 60’s early 70’s when it was hugely popular.

So in 2021, I decided to do something about that lapse.

One of the things I love about Ram Dass is that he has a unique talent to cut through all the significance and get down to simplicity with a few succinct words.

The book is filled with the vast wisdom of eastern philosophies, amazing quotes, humor, and most of all love.

Cookbook for A Sacred Life

I especially like the chapter called, Cookbook for a Sacred Life And his explanation of who a guru is and if you need one.

My only quibble with the book if you download the Kindle version, is that it’s very hard to navigate with the book but this could be a lot to do with the original formatting of the book.


Hoping to repeat my best reading year ever, I’ve already created a reading list which I will add to as books cross my awareness. That is the intentionality I talk about in the video.

Plus staying open to the messaging from the universe. Books are trying to find me. If I stay open and receptive I will notice them when they tap me on my shoulder. 

My tips for having your best hearing year ever are:

  1. read widely
  2. create a list of books you want to read this year and keep it close to you so you can add new ones as they surface.
  3. Stay open to the clues about the books that are seeking you. The universe is sending them to you for a reason.
  4. Take notes on the insight you gain from the books you read.



Further Resouces

My name is Nick Grimshawe and I help people seeking to live extraordinary lives to use the tools of affirmations, gratitude, mindfulness, and Meditation to live the life they envision. I share one new video a week on one of those topics. Wednesdays I do a Facebook Live at 2 PM eastern. Each week I include a free piece of content either a check sheet cheat sheet or resource to help you move forward with your adventure. You can connect to me on social media through the links below.

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