2021 in books

Although in terms of quantity of books, I didn’t read as much as last year. But I blew my goals of 70 books out of the water reading books this year! Working full-time most of the year, I was more mindful with what I picked up and had a better average rating. I also participated in reading challenges that pushed me out of my comfort zone so I’m very proud of my reading year.

Check out my 2020 in books post for my last year’s picks too!

This post will include:

  • GoodRead stats
  • My stats
  • Reading challenge wrap-up
  • My top ten books
  • My bottom five books
  • DNFs, or “Did Not Finish”, and rainchecks

Let’s get into it!


Here are my stats courtesy of GoodReads…

My stats

I also kept my own spreadsheet of my own data…

Please forgive the shoddy quality of my graphs, next year I hope to be more proficient in R or another program that would more aesthetically display my reading stats. But it was a solid reading year with mostly 4-stars, reading more physical books, about half fiction/non-fiction split (I hope to make it closer to 50% still next year) and the majority of the books coming from the great library selection.

My page average was 307 pages per book (85 books) and I read 26,073 pages this year. Here’s my books/pages per month distribution…

Reading challenge wrap-up

You can see my PopSugar TBR here with updates on what I read and what assignments I missed. I completed 38/40 of the regular prompts and 4/10 of the advanced prompts for a total of 42/50 prompts completed!

You can see my Non-Fiction November reading wrap-up here.

I wanted to focus my reading to 21 books for 2021 and I picked up 18/21 books (although I didn’t finish them, at least an attempt was made)

I also challenged myself to read the top five rated books on my TBR, check out that post here!

My top ten books

Now, these all might not be five stars but I chose the ones that first popped into my mind and that had the most enjoyable reading experience. In no particular order…

How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan (science, psychology): I read this really early in the year and still can’t stop thinking about it and recommending it to anyone even mildly interesting in psychedelics. I really want to re-read this soon already. His new release This Is Your Mind on Plants almost made this list, too.

Know My Name by Chanel Miller (memoir): This was heartbreakingly beautiful. I also read this earlier in the year and it has really stuck with me. She brings real nuance to rape culture with on point metaphors and vulnerability.

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene (classics, mystery): I’ll be the first to admit this isn’t for everyone and a big part of my love for this book comes from my love for Brighton. A classic mystery book with a killer (literally) first line: “Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton for three hours, that they meant to murder him.”

Billion Dollar Loser by Reeves Wiedeman (business): What a wild ride. Even as someone who isn’t super interested in business, this story was accessible and engaging. You can’t help but get sucked in.

The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler (history, feminism): Especially in the wake of changing abortion laws in the US, this is such an important read about the young, unmarried women who were forced to carry out their pregnancy in homes.

It by Stephen King (horror): This wasn’t my new favorite book of all-time, but this reading experience was great and the story is something I’m glad I finally familiarized myself with.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (historical fiction): This was one of the last books I read this year to which I said: “I often talk about non-fiction books that read like fiction, but this is the first fiction that some points read like a non-fiction book in a good way. I felt like not only was this an incredible story, I learned things about African history and culture from a more personal perspective by storytelling. I loved the format of short stories through centuries connected in a simple but effective way. This is a fabulous debut novel with a breathtaking atmosphere.”

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn (travel, memoir): I’ve read a handful of travel, especially walking, memoirs but this one is a real stand-out. In my review, I mentioned “[a] lot of travel memoirs are about young, single, fit usually middle-to-upper class people but this one was about homeless, middle aged couple who felt years beyond their age.” This was especially down-to-earth and loved hearing about the English coast.

The Push by Ashley Audrain (thriller): It takes a lot to make me totally gooped at a thriller book and this did just that. The second person perspective is something I’ve never experienced, I’m a sucker for a dual timeline and the tension was palpable without being overdramatic.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (memoir, social justice): I read this as a highest rated on my TBR challenge and it did not disappoint. This is a tough read but an important one about the gross injustices against poor, disabled and people of color and those who tirelessly fight for them.

My bottom five books

Because I love being a hater…

People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd (thriller): The message of putting too much of your life online was lost in the awful writing and lack of build-up.

Bunny by Mona Awad (dark academia): The writing was confusing and the “twist” was a tired one.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Mason (non-fiction, self-help): There is so much wrong with this book, but basically just another contradictory, shallow “self-help” book for middle class white men.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (fantasy): This book was criminally overrated and problematic. This was my attempt to get more into fantasy and it only made me bitter.

The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis (historical fiction): After enjoying the insanely popular Netflix series, I wanted to see how the book stacked up and it wasn’t great. The writing was dry and crude descriptions of pubescent girls “discovering” themselves made my uncomfortable.

DNF and rainchecks

I’m doing DNF books a bit differently: DNF is something I tried and have zero desire to return to. “Raincheck” is something I wasn’t totally hating, but wasn’t engaged enough to continue and can picture myself liking it another time.

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi (young adult, dark academia): I DNF’d this @ 25%. It wasn’t even fun to dislike and the sex scenes between children were far too uncomfortable. The shitty GoodReads rating of 3.14 is telling.

Travels in Alaska by John Muir (non-fiction, nature): I was listening to this as an audiobook and had to DNF @ 50%. I didn’t like the narrator and it wasn’t keeping my attention.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (fiction, romance): I DNF’d this @ 20%. I couldn’t get passed the adult man talking to his future wife as a child as a lover. Ick.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (thriller): I DNF’d this a few chapters in. This is so overwritten, it really sucks the life out of what seemed like a good story. Here’s the second sentence of the book just as a sampler: “But since we’ve been separated, I may most miss coming home to deliver the narrative curiosities of my day, the way a cat might lay mice at your feet: the small, humble offerings that couples proffer after foraging in separate backyards.” Girl, what?

The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins (non-fiction, science): Anyone who has read Dawkins know that his writing is dense. I just wasn’t up for this book at this particular point so I shelved it for another time.

Thanks for reading this far! What was your favorite/least favorite read this year?

Photo by Veronika Jorjobert.


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