The world out there feels a little chaotic, but I may be on a winning streak when it comes to reading. Since 2016 I’ve set a yearly reading goal, and I use the online book site Goodreads to track what I read. I wrote about falling short in 2019, but hitting my goal of 30 books in 2020. I’m a little shocked to report that I surpassed my goal of reading 35 by in 2021 with a final tally of 37.
I must confess, though, that around April of last year I was already really far behind. So I decided to check out several graphic novels to quickly add titles to my list. I read “Monet: Itinerant of Light” by Salva Rubio. This is a beautiful book that utilizes the artist’s style in its illustrations. Learning about the competitive, exclusive French art scene was interesting. Learning about Claude Monet’s personal life was pretty depressing.
I also used the three-volume fantasy series “White Sand” by Brandon Sanderson to up my count. Rounding out my 2021 graphic novels was “Something New,” a lighthearted retelling of author Lucy Kinsley’s efforts to plan her wedding.
My longest read of the year was Sanderson’s “Rhythm of War,” the fourth in The Stormlight Archive series. I really loved the first two books in the series, but I’m finding the characters are beginning to grate a little. Other fantasy reads this year included:
- “Silver in the Wood” by Emily Tesh
- “The City of Brass” by S.A. Chakraborty
- “Foundryside” and “Shorefall” by Robert Jackson Bennett
- “Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo
- “The Starless Sea” by Erin Morgenstern
- “Fable” by Adrienne Young
And, I even read a Sci-Fi book, “Leviathan Wakes” by James S.A. Corey. I must share an unpopular opinion amongst readers: I think the TV series is better.
I dove into some mystery in 2021, which I enjoy most as audiobooks. I listened to “The Searcher” by Tana French and started devouring Inspector Gamache mysteries by Louise Penny, making it through the fourth in the series.
In literary fiction, I tackled:
- “Fates and Furies” by Lauren Groff
- “Everyone in this Room will Someday be Dead” by Emily Austin
- “The Glass Hotel” by Emily St. John Mandel
- “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead
- “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig
- “Chemistry” by Weike Wang
- “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doer
My favorite non-fiction read of 2021 was “The Big Burn” by Timothy Egan which tells the story of a massive, multi-state wildfire in 1910. It includes interesting information on the first forest rangers and the designation of the national forests. Many of the same debates on wildfire management and public lands are still occurring today.
Other nonfiction reads were:
- “The Splendid and the Vile” by Erik Larson
- “Crucial Conversation” by Kerry Patterson
- “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama
- “Dusk Night Dawn” by Anne Lamott
- “Why We’re Polarized” by Ezra Klein
I also enjoyed some great comedic writers this year. Though some of the personal themes discussed were serious and meaningful, these books really helped me relax during an unpredictable year:
- “Dear Girls” by Ali Wong
- “Broken” and “Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson
- “The Best of Me” by David Sedaris
That wraps up 2021, but I’m already working on my goal for 2022. Let me know what should be on my to-be-read list!