My 10 favourite books of the year

Here is, in no particular order, my top 10 books of 2021. It has been an excellent reading year, with many life-changing, soul-stirring books, and a strong undercurrent of unapologetic feminism.

All titles below are affiliate links to Amazon, which means that, for every purchase, I will earn a small commission. But, please support local independent bookshops wherever possible.

From What Is to What If: Unleashing the power of imagination to create the future we want
Rob Hopkins (2019)

This book was the invitation I needed to rethink my climate activism so far, from trying to change the unyielding, broken system we live in, to creating the future our hearts know is possible, starting now.

 

Burnout: Solve your stress cycle
Emily & Amelia Nagoski (2019)

An unapologetically feminist book for anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed by life as we know it. Written in a fun and no-nonsense style, it opened my eyes to the many insidious ways the patriarchy still rules most women’s lives, even in affluent, liberal Western Europe. A must read!

If Women Rose Rooted: A life-changing journey to authenticity and belonging
Sharon Blackie (2016)

One of the defining books of the year for me, If Women Rose Rooted started changing my life from the moment I began reading it. Weaving personal storytelling with interviews of trailblazing women and Celtic myths and tales, it invites women on an empowering Eco-Heroine’s Journey. 

This is the book that gave me permission to slow down, embrace hibernation, and lean into the magic of November.

Thin Places
Kerri ní Dochartaigh (2020)

This is a book I have read twice this year. It is like no other – a extraordinary memoir of growing up in Derry during the Troubles, of finding refuge from loss and violence in nature, and of coming to terms with harrowing trauma in thin places. Hauntingly beautiful writing. 

32 Words for Field: Lost words of the Irish landscape
Manchán Magan (2020)

This is the book that sparked my curiosity about the Irish language, and that led to my signing to Scoil Scairte, an 9-week journey into the heart and soul of the Irish language. 

I Am An Island
Tamsin Calidas (2020)

It’s only after reading If Women Rose Rooted (see above) that I realised that this memoir depicts Tamsin Kalidas’ Eco-Heroine’s Journey. The writing is as raw and beautiful as the Scottish island the author calls home. 

 

The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls
Mona Eltahawy (2021)

In 7 essays on the 7 “sins” that women and girls worldwide are conditioned to avoid (anger, attention, profanity, ambition, power, violence and lust), this book defines what it is to be a feminist in this day and age. Powerful, uncompromising and oh so necessary, it will blow your mind with its fury and truth-telling clarity.

Firekeeper’s Daughter
Angeline Boulley (2021)

I don’t read much fiction, but this young adult thriller turned out unputdownable. Tackling issues such as identity, the ongoing oppression of Native Americans, intergenerational trauma and sexual violence, it shines through the fiery spirit of Daunis, the central character, and the beautiful love story at its centre.

Native: Identity, belonging, and rediscovering God
Kaitlin B. Curtice (2020)

Reading this book made me understand why Kerri ní Dochartaigh, author of Thin Places (see above), started learning Irish, her own native language, to reclaim her sense of identity and belonging, and thus deal with her ecological grief.

Savage Her Reply
Deirdre Sullivan (2020)

Following on from If Women Rose Rooted (see above), this retelling of the Children of Lir was calling to me. The well-known tale is told by Aífe, the stepmother who turned the children into swans, and it is as savage and tender as this oh so human woman who was desperately hungry for love and belonging. Her story is peppered with Irish words and calligrams in the shape of Ogham characters – a hauntingly beautiful book.

 

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