My Year in Reading 2021

I finished one last book on New Year’s Eve to get my totals to 89 books and 31,852 pages. That is a big improvement over 2020. 18 more books and 7548 more pages. My goal in 2022 is to stop caring about totals and focus more on enjoying my reading time. I will also try to stop mindlessly scrolling on my phone and replace that time with reading. Now, the books.

Top Ten Books in No Particular Order

Broken by Jenny Lawson – I was surprised by a package in January. I won a copy of this on Goodreads. Lawson is one of my favorites. This was the first one I read in 2021 that made me want to read all day.

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour – It is not usual for a book to live up to the hype for me. This one did. A satire about a young man given a shot at stardom as the lone black salesman at a mysterious, cult-like startup. One of my 5-star books.

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry – I read this when it was an Alex Award winner for 2020. The story follows the Danvers High field hockey team as they discover that the dark impulses of their Salem ancestors may be the key to a winning season. I am rarely disappointed in Alex Award winners.

The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune – I know no one who has read this one who didn’t love it. A caseworker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth goes to a house on a mysterious island where several magical youths are in the charge of the enigmatic Arthur Parnassus. A delightful book about found family.

Eternal by Lisa Scottoline – A departure from her norm, Eternal is a historical fiction set in 1937 Italy. The love triangle and friendships of Elisabetta, Marco, and Sandro are set against the backdrop of the rise of Mussolini and the fascists. One of her best yet.

The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig – The Graves family moves back to their hometown after the death of Nathan’s abusive father. Long ago, something sinister and hungry walked in the tunnels and coal mines of the town. Now what happened long ago is happening again to their son Oliver. Can the family’s love for one another be enough to overcome the dark magic? A great horror novel with alternate worlds interconnecting with ours and an evil trying to end them all.

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner – Cash and Delaney live in a small Appalachian town. Cash has lost his mother to opioid addiction and lives with his ailing grandfather. Delaney works at the local Dairy queen. When Delaney makes a scientific discovery that secures them both scholarships to an elite prep school in Connecticut, Cash has to choose between his love for his grandparents who need him, and a chance at a new life. Zentner is one of my favorite authors and this is one of his best.

Razorblade Tears by SA Crosby – Randolph is a black man 15 years out of jail and now a successful landscaper, Buddy Lee is a white man who is still connected to the criminal world. They have two things in common – they both rejected their gay sons and their sons, now married, have been murdered. When they work together to solve the murders, they confront their own prejudices about their sons and each other. A very good thriller that is deeper than most.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman – A friend recommended this one. When I got it from the library and discovered it was about a group of senior citizens solving a murder I was sure I would hate it. I was wrong. It was a very good mystery with a very good cast of characters. I’ve also read the second in the series. One of the best mystery books I’ve read in a while.

The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley – Daunis is a biracial unenrolled tribal member and product of a scandal who feels like she doesn’t fit in her hometown or at the nearby Ojibwe reservation. She stays local for college to care for her mother and things start looking up when she connects with the newest member of her brother’s hockey team. When she witnesses a shocking murder, she is thrust into the middle of a criminal investigation. Daunis is a great character and the story is compelling.

Honorable Mention

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix – In a horror movie, the final girl is the last girl left alive at the end. This book revolves around a support group for real-life final girls. When one of them misses a meeting, Lynette realizes that her worst fears have come true. Someone knows about the group and wants them dead. Very violent, but entertaining.

Wonder Rush by Dan McKean – I got this one from NetGalley. You can read my review here. A teen assassin realizes the people she works for might not be the good guys.

The Night the Lights Went Out: A Memoir of Life After Brain Damage by Drew Magary – Drew’s story of his collapse, his time in a coma, and his recovery. I might be biased because I’ve read Drew’s work for years and he did a library event for me at a very reduced price,

Book I Would Most Recommend

This year is tough. I read so many good books it was hard to come up with only the ten best. I would go with House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune here. It is just a great, funny, touching book. I can’t imagine anyone not loving it.

Worst Book I Finished

Sooley by John Grisham, Just terrible. A waste of time. A good premise ruined by a ridiculously inaccurate portrayal of how the NCAA basketball tournament works and a terrible, unnecessary ending.

Books I Dustbunnied

I think there were two this year –

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – I know people loved this one, but I just couldn’t get into it and eventually gave up.

Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler – another one with great reviews that I couldn’t finish. I hated the characters and didn’t care about their stories.

Final Thoughts

It was nice having a year where I read so many good books that it was hard to pick the best ten. I think this is the first year I’ve read Stephen King books and didn’t have them in my list of best books. It’s not that they weren’t good, it’s just that I read so many good books this year. Here’s hoping this year is the same.


4 thoughts on “My Year in Reading 2021

  1. Good roundup! I either have read or want to read quite a few of those same books. It’s nice to get confirmation from someone else for both lists.

    Liked by 2 people

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