Byron's Babbles

These 5 Made Me A Better Person In 2021

Every year at this time I do a few blog posts about my top books of the year. To me I would rather hear an individual person’s picks rather than see top picks done by voting. I want to hear what someone learned from reading a book. Or, what inspired them about reading a book. That being said, feel free to reply to this post, about my top fiction author picks for 2021, with your top fiction picks. I am excited about this post because this is the first year I have read enough fiction books to have picks. I have to say I have grown immensely from reading so many fiction books this year. I wrote about the impact the fiction genre is having on me in Adding Fiction To The Reading Diet. I also have learned The Power Of Fictional Lives can have on us. In fact, I might goes as far to say I have grown more from reading fiction this year than non-fiction. So, because of all the fiction I’ve read, I get to do a “Top 5 In 2021.” I am going to cheat a little and do it by authors instead of books. That way I can include more books. I also am doing it by authors because the five incredible authors wrote multiple books that I absolutely loved this year. And, by the way, I blogged multiple times about all the books mentioned here. So, search the book titles in my blog and find out what I have learned and been inspired by from these books. Here we go – my Top 5 Fiction Authors in 2021:

#1. Amor Towles

#2. Patti Callahan Henry – I am not really sure what to say here except that I love Patti’s writing. She is an amazing writer. Between her and Amor Towles I have overnight become a big fan of historical fiction.

#3. Matt Haig – Matt’s work is amazing. He is the reason I am now hooked on fiction. I also read The Comfort Book by Matt this year and it may just end up on my top 5 of non-fiction.

#4. Maggie Shipstead – Maggie has two other books I want to read in 2022: Seating Arrangements & Astonish Me. As I read this book I found myself googling to make sure this was not a true story. I love Maggie’s work.

#5. Suzy Vitello – Amazing, Amazing, Amazing! I want to read more from Suzy in 2022.

See why I needed to go by author and not by books. I want to close by saying a big THANK YOU as we close out 2021 to Amor, Patti, Matt, Maggie, and Suzy for being part of making a me a better person in 2021. Can’t wait to read more from you in 2022. And my big wish for 2022 is to meet each one of you in person in 2022. Happy New Year!

The Centrifuge That Is Life

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Every so often a book comes along that makes me reflect on many aspects of my own life. This great book, Rules Of Civility by Amor Towles, did that for me. I had pages of notes and quotes when I was done reading. Additionally, I had blog posts that were inspired by Rules of Civility – Visions & Revisions and What Do You Look Forward To?. This book brilliantly took the reader back to Manhattan in 1938, where authentic, human characters inhabit a playground that comes alive with the manners of a society on the verge of radical upheaval. George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Descent Behavior were weaved into the book throughout and were actually all listed at the end of the book.

At the end of the book we realize we’ve had a look back from the protagonist, Katey Kontent’s, 1966 perspective and that we have experienced all the twists and turns of the characters’ lives. This made me think of all twists and turns in my own life and the non-linear nature of our lives. One of my favorite quotes in the book is, “Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Sometimes, it sure seems that’s what life intends. After all, it’s basically like a centrifuge that spins every few years casting proximate bodies in disparate directions. And when the spinning stops, almost before we can catch our breath, life crowds us with a calendar of new concerns.” I thought about all the people who have come and gone in my own life and those that have come and gone and come back. This also made me think about the peoples’ live I have come and gone from. What influence were they on what the portrait, that is my life, looks like today? What influence have I had on others’ portraits?

As Shakespeare taught us, “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.” This book was a powerful reminder that people come into our lives and we enter other peoples lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Also, as a person who believes we should create space in our lives for serendipity, I think about the chance meetings of people who have then become influential in my life. What if characters in the book had shown up at a bar on a different night? Think of all the “what ifs…?” in your own life. When we treat every encounter as a chance to impact, influence, or inspire we bring purpose to our lives. Most people that enter our lives are seasonal and they’re with us for a reason. Once that reason is fulfilled life has a way of moving them on.



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