Thursday, December 30, 2021

2021 Year in Reading

My year in blogging here was a bit hit or miss, so it only seems right that I do a big dump post of my year in reading, instead of my nicely planned out posts like last year.

First off, the general Goodreads goal. I wanted to read 125 books this year, and I read 142. Despite that leap, I'm only going to aim for 100 books in 2022. I want to read slower, feel less guilty about reading slumps, and focus more on my writing.

My son's Goodreads goal was 200 books, and he "only" read 165. I set his goal as high as it used to be because we'd read picture books together, but now we mostly read chapter books. He also reads on his own, so it's understandable he's reading fewer books even if we still read just as much. So his goal for 2022 will be 80, because there are some picture books I can't resist reading to him! So much good stuff out there, so my librarian heart needs an outlet.

It's hard to choose my favorite books of the year. This year I did my Beverly Cleary author study, and so many of those are amazing books, even as an adult reader. I also read a lot of small press books, and those are fantastic as well. If I was on my game, I could have done round-up posts for Beverly Cleary on her own, middle grade, young adult, graphic novel, small press, and adult books. And probably more subdivisions if I really tried.

But ain't nobody got time for that, so I'll just pick my favorite book from each month, whether it's old or new, small press or big 4, for kids or for adults.


Some of the Times by Gina Myers. I attended an online zoom reading event and heard Gina Myers read and was absolutely blown away. I love how she paired poetry with photos in that particular event, so I wanted to get some of her work. Her poems are really powerful on their own, but the last portion of this book includes photos that accompany her poems, and they both help elevate the stories told. More than words alone or images alone, they work together to lift your imagination up so it can run wild.


The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw. Deesha Philyaw read part of “Peach Cobbler” at an event I attended and I was hooked from the first line: “My mother’s peachy cobbler was so good, it made God himself cheat on his wife.”

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this collection, and once I got it I was torn between racing to finish it and wanting to drag it out so I’d have longer with these multi-layered characters. I can’t pick a favorite from this collection because they’re all that. damn. good. I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know, and that includes you. It’s the perfect mix of gossip, drama, and breathtaking storytelling you need in your life.

I usually try to not re-read a book until a year after my last reading, but this is one I’ll be coming back to more often than that. I can’t stop thinking about it and I want more. I've also gifted copies to several people.


Little Feasts by Jules Archer. This collection blew me away. From the cover alone I knew I was in for a treat (no pun intended), but the actual writing far exceeded my expectations. Each piece was so weird and delightful, like peeking into an entirely different world.


Love Like That by Emma Duffy-Comparone. Short stories that address all of the different relationships you have in your life. I loved getting sucked into each person’s life for a brief moment. So many of these were absolutely amazing.


The Trouble with Language by Rebecca Fishow. I heard Fishow read at a book launch and was blown away by her writing style. I ordered her book before the event was over. As soon as it arrived, I sat and read it in a day, and am already wanting to read it again. The stories are so delightfully strange that they seem almost too real, and there is always something to notice hiding beneath the words that are written.


Revenge by Yoko Ogawa. A classmate in a writing workshop recommended this collection and I was blown away by it. I love the simple language that tells such powerful stories. I love how they’re connected. I’m already going to read it again just to study it.


Watching Edie by Camilla Way. I liked another Way book I read, but I think this was much better. The twists were well done and I think this is the only borderline-unreliable narrator book I’ve enjoyed. If you know me at all, you know unreliable narrators are one of my biggest pet peeves, so that it was well-done impressed me.


Cheating and sharing two because they're worth it - plus they're short, so grab them both and read them in one sitting and thank me later.

Daughters of the State by Leigh Chadwick. Chapbook of prose poems about girls in foster care. Very powerful.

Signs by Massoud Hayoun. Psychological thriller with a suspenseful storyline and nice twist at the end. Love the structure of the story.


The Evolution of Birds by Sara Hills. This collection is so beautiful I can’t stand it. I kept highlighting and underlining so many phrases that were powerful or awe-inspiring. Definitely one to revisit frequently.


A Carnival of Snackery by David Sedaris. As much as I love anything Sedaris writes, I think his diaries are my favorite. Yes, he has a lot of weird shit happen to him, but he even makes the mundane humorous and noteworthy, and I think that’s a great trait to have. So much of this book had me laughing, though he got serious as well.


Eternal Night at the Nature Museum by Tyler Barton. I loved Barton’s first collection, The Quiet Part Loud, and was eager to read more. Some stories are flash and some are longer, but all really resonated with me. I kept underlining beautiful phrases and find myself wondering about the characters even though I was only in their lives for a brief moment.


My Share of the Body by Devon Capizzi. Amazing story collection exploring grief and growth in so many different ways. It’s definitely one I’ll keep coming back to. I can’t get the egg urn from the title story out of my head as it is, and this whole collection is full of great details like that.

If you're interested, check out my 2021 Writing in Review post.

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