2021 Book Summary

A la Jessamyn

2021 stats

Total number of books read: 105

average read per month: 8.75 books
average read per week: 2 books
number read in worst month: 4 (April)
number read in best month: 13 (July, Sept.)

percentage by male authors: 34% (36 books)
percentage by female authors: 66% (69 books)

fiction as percentage of total: 90% ( 94 books)
crime fiction as percentage of fiction total: 69% (65 of 94 books)
non-fiction as percentage of total: 10% (11 books)

percentage of total liked: 85% (89 books)
percentage of total so-so or disliked: 15% (16 books)


Some favourite crime fiction this year included Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight Mystery series, Charles Finch’s Charles Lenox series, and Rosemary Simpson’s Gilded Age series, all set around the turn of the 20th century, two in New York City and one in London. I hadn’t really read much historical crime fiction before and what I’d read I hadn’t liked, so these are a great find for me. I initially really liked Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police series, set in contemporary France, but I became disenchanted as the series continued, both with the spy novel nature of the plots and the increasingly rote descriptions of the meals and recipes. I really like Elly Griffiths’ series featuring DS Harbinder Kaur (as well as her Ruth Galloway series). I love Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club mystery series and can’t wait to read the next one.

My favourite book this year may have been The Great Believers (2018) by Rebecca Makkai. I hadn’t known what to expect but found it engrossing, with great characters and a perfect tempo. I also really and surprisingly liked The Enigma of Arrival (1987) by V. S. Naipaul, which is considered fiction and subtitled “a novel in five sections” but reads like a memoir; it was slow and evocative and repetitious, and I wanted to keep reading it. Dial A is for Aunties (2021) by Jesse Sutanto was hilarious. I really enjoyed and appreciated Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (2012) by Maria Semple. Other favourites include We Are All the Same in the Dark (2020) by Julia Heaberlin (gripping); Want: A Novel (2020) by Lynn Steger Strong (resonant and comforting); The House on Vesper Sands (2021) by Paraic O’Donnell (the excellent writing won me over in spite of the somewhat supernatural aspects); Anxious People (2019) by Fredrik Backman, a very compassionate and funny novel; and The House in the Cerulean Sea (2020) by TJ Klune, which started slowly for me but bewitched me in the end. David Sedaris’s A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries 2003-2020 (2021) was sometimes laugh-out-loud funny and definitely quirky, which I like.

Biggest disappointments: A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give A Master Class on Writing, Reading and Life (2021) by George Saunders was probably the biggest let-down; I had expected to like it a lot and ended up admiring it in some ways but never really buying into it. The Book of Delights (2019) by Ross Gay also fell flat for me; I thought it was going to be beautiful and poetic and it wasn’t at all, nor did most of the delights appeal to me. Days of Distraction: A Novel (2020) by Alexandra Chang dragged for me and The Vacationers (2014) by Emma Straub wasn’t nearly as good as I’d hoped, about a family that wasn’t nearly as dysfunctional as I’d have liked. Doug Tallamy’s Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard (2021) was preachy and felt like a swollen magazine article.

Full book list.

number of books read in 2021: 105
number of books read in 2020: 59
number of books read in 2019: 67
number of books read in 2018: 63
number of books read in 2017: 52
number of books read in 2016: 71
number of books read in 2015: 54
number of books read in 2014: 52
number of books read in 2013: 47
number of books read in 2012: 50
number of books read in 2011: 55
number of books read in 2010: 34
number of books read in 2009: 74
number of books read in 2008:
number of books read in 2007:
number of books read in 2006:
number of books read in 2005: 37
number of books read in 2004: 46
number of books read in 2003: 40
number of books read in 2002: 30+ (3 months forgot to count)

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