Here we are at the end of 2021! This year didn’t quite go how I thought it would. I’d planned to be reading for my qualifying exams, but I decided to push them off until Fall 2022. I also wanted to read way more than I did. I ended up in a reading slump for a good chunk of the year. But I still found some great new books and reread some favorites. These are my reading stats according to Goodreads, the first and last books I read, and my top 6 new (to me) books and top 3 rereads of 2021!
I set my goal at 100 books but only ended up reading 73. That is down from last year, when I set my goal at 75 and read 100.
My shortest book was Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, which I read for my Feminist Theory course. The longest was Middlemarch by George Eliot, which I read to prepare for my qualifying exams. My average book length is back up from last year. It usually lands somewhere in the 300s, but last year it was at 295. I’m going to thank the ridiculously long classics I read for school (looking at you, Middlemarch, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Wives and Daughters).
The most popular book I read was My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, which fully deserves it’s popularity. It was so much fun! My least popular is no surprise to me. It is Bread Upon the Waters: A Governess’s Life by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik. It’s a very little known Victorian novel that I read for my independent study in the spring. Quite frankly, it was dreadful and probably should be forgotten.
My average rating is down even further from last year at 3.6. It used to sit in the 4.0 to 4.4 range. I’m definitely getting more picky about what deserves a 4 or 5 star rating. But I think I also just read less things that I liked this year. A lot of them were for school, and I took classes in American literature and feminist theory, neither of which I’m very into.
The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee just came out this year, and I read it for my Feminist Theory course. It was excellent and important, and I think it definitely deserves such a high rating.
First and Last Reads
First Read of 2021: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
This was actually a reread. The ebooks were on sale at the beginning of January, so I bought and read them. I actually liked Every Heart a Doorway much more upon rereading, and my rating went up. This is the first book of The Wayward Children series, which focuses on kids who go to portal worlds.
Last Read of 2021: The Latinist by Mark Prins
This book comes out on January 4 2022. I had an ARC, and I just finished it last night. It focuses on a young woman getting her doctorate in classics whose supervisor sabotages her with a bad letter of recommendation. I had a few small problems with it, but overall it’s very good. There will be a full review on the release date.
Top 6 New (to me) Reads of 2021
For these two lists, series count as one and I’m limiting myself to one book per author. We’re starting with my sixth favorite and ending with my most favorite.
6. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
My doctor “assigned” this to me over winter break last year, and it was so helpful. The Nagoskis explain everything in an accessible way, and it provided me with a bunch of strategies to deal with the stress and stressors I encounter in daily life. I would recommend it to anyone. Full Review
5. Glass Town: The Imaginary World of the Brontës by Isabel Greenberg
I read this back in January (I think) and I’m still not over how gorgeous the art is. It’s easily one of the most beautiful graphic novels I’ve ever seen. Greenberg fuses history with fantasy in this exploration of the Brontë siblings’ imaginary world, Glass Town. I absolutely loved it. Full Review
4. None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney
This thriller focused on college-aged students helping the FBI interview juvenile serial killers was a book I had been looking forward to. And it was excellent! The characters are complex, flawed, and real, and it was just overall a good time (which sounds weird to say about a book involving serial killers). Full Review
3. Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire
This was one of my most anticipated 2021 releases, and it is currently tied for my favorite in the series with In an Absent Dream. It seems to be for a younger audience than the rest of the books, and that’s actually what I liked about it. And of course the world-building is as wonderful as always with McGuire. Full Review
2. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
This was an unexpected favorite. It was the only novel assigned for my Feminist Theory course, and I’m so glad the professor included it. Dangarembga tells a coming-of-age story of a young girl in Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe) getting an education. It’s gorgeous and heartbreaking, and should absolutely be assigned in schools.
1. These Violent Delights by Micah Nemerever
God, I adored this book. It falls into the dark academia subgenre and follows to college boys as they form an obsessive and toxic relationship. Nemerever’s writing is beautiful, the characters are compelling, and it’s just overall an extraordinary novel. Full Review
Top 3 Rereads of 2021
Last year I did my top 6 rereads, but I realized while writing this post that I hated most of the books I reread this year. Oops. But at least I got to reread these three, which are some of my absolute favorite books! Picking the order was really hard!
3. The Raven King and The King‘s Men by Nora Sakavic
I finished my third? fourth? fifth??? (I don’t know anymore) reread of this series. I had reread The Foxhole Court last year and wanted to finish the series. As if I don’t already know what happens. These books are some of my biggest comfort reads, and I continued to need that this year.
2. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
This was on the syllabus for my independent study on Victorian women writers (the syllabus that I created). Anne Brontë is criminally underrated, and everyone needs to go read this amazing feminist novel. I’ve waxed poetic about it plenty of times on here, so I won’t bore you with more. Full Review
1. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Wintersong is my absolute favorite fantasy novel, so it had to take first place here. I knew I would adore it even before it was released in 2017. It combines so many things I love, and it’s just perfection in my eyes. I will make up any excuse to reread it. Full Review
Happy new year, everyone! I can’t wait to see what 2022 brings!