Books I’ve Read, 2021

Gotta start ’em young

I don’t even know how to begin to talk about 2021.

Sometimes I read for joy. Sometimes I read to block out my own thoughts. A lot of the time I was just too tired to read at all.

I abandoned books because I just didn’t want to waste any more of my time reading them. I abandoned books because personal tragedy made it too hard to finish them. I picked up books only to put them down after one page for no real reason at all.

Reading sometimes felt like the last thing I should be doing, and other times like the only thing keeping me going. The fact that I finished any books at all in the second half of the year feels like a miracle, and yet I somehow read 11 from July to December.

The one true bright spot in my reading last year is seeing my daughter start to enjoy books. She’s finally reached an age where she wants to be read to. Sometimes all she wants to do is hear me read book after book to her (and she’ll even take my phone away from me to instigate story time). One of my biggest parenting anxieties is that my kid won’t like reading, so I’m hoping her new book obsession is just the beginning.

My 2021 reading list:

White Teeth by Zadie Smith (book club)
Happy Birthday, Molly! by Valerie Tripp (reread)
Molly Saves the Day by Valerie Tripp (reread)
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel (book club)
Changes for Molly by Valerie Tripp (reread)
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (book club; audiobook)
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (book club)
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (book club; reread)
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (book club; audiobook)
The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey (audiobook)
Open Book by Jessica Simpson (audiobook)
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (book club)
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion (book club)
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (book club; reread)
A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet (library loan)
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (library loan)
Medallion Status by John Hodgman (audiobook)
We of the Never Never by Jeannie Gunn (book club)
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (book club; library loan)
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (book club; audiobook)
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (library loan)
Lumberjanes Vol 2: Friendship to the Max by Noelle Stevenson
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (library loan)
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (book club; audiobook)
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (library loan)

Best Books
I haven’t fully embraced audiobooks, but they were a bigger part of my reading journey last year. Two in particular— The Meaning of Mariah Carey and Open Book—were standouts. Both were read by their celebrity authors, which added depth and nuance to each memoir. I was especially surprised by Jessica Simpson’s reading. It took a couple chapters to get past my personal biases around her voice and accent, but I’m glad I did. This was the most real memoir I’ve read, which was greatly enhanced by hearing it straight from Simpson herself.

This was also my Taylor Jenkins Reid year. Having enjoyed Daisy Jones and the Six, I finally picked up The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and read her latest, Malibu Rising, for a book club. Reid has a natural talent for writing relationships and creating a sense place. I can’t wait to read whatever story she dives into next.

Worst Books
There were no truly terrible books this year, but there were some disappointments.

I had high hopes for The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, so much so that I decided to end my year with it. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work for me. The concept is interesting, but the execution was lacking. It drags in the middle and the ending seemed to come out of nowhere.

Other books I did not enjoy were We of the Never Never (I feel like I’ve engaged with colonial/”Little House on the Prairie” narratives enough at this point) and The Portrait of a Lady (this was just OK). I’m happy to have ticked these classics off my reading list, but doubt I’ll ever revisit them.

What’s coming in 2022
I’ve participated in Goodreads’ annual Reading Challenge for several years now, but this year I’m adjusting my goal a bit. My reading commitment is smaller than in past years (just 16 books). However, this is because I plan to knock a few longer reads off my list. These include Julia Baird’s hefty biography of Queen Victoria, Wolf Hall, and possibly Outlander. That’s a lot of pages to get through!

What are your 2022 reading plans? Comment below and follow me on Goodreads

2 comments

  1. Wow for a tough year that looks like a lot of books to me! With some real heavy hitters – well done! Like you I found it hard to get as much reading done in 2021 – I was much more sensitive to plots and tones than usual, and tended to fall back on things to distract me from everything else going on. So lovely that your daughter is catching the reading bug, I’m sure she’s got some fantastic tales to look forward to. 🙂

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