What I Read – 2021

In 2021 I read 74 books. This was short of my goal of 100 books for the year but still a number I feel proud of. I’ve set the goal of 100 books for the past 3 years and only reached it in 2019 and I’m beginning to wonder if setting a goal number is a helpful thing for me personally. I read 87 books in 2020 so comparatively I’m doing worse but I don’t know if that’s a fair comparison to make because different years have held different things for me. I do enjoy looking at the end of year stats for my reading so here we go!

I read 52 fiction books, 17 non-fiction, and 4 poetry. That’s a small number for poetry but still an increase for me and a number I’d like to continue to see go up next year.

45 of the books I read were by female authors, 23 by men. The remainder were either anthologies or with authors where gender was not clearly stated. I’m happy to see my reading continue to be dominated by women.

In 2021 I read 4 short story collections, 7 translated works, and 1 graphic novel. I read 3 books that I classified as Christian writing and 1 parenting book. I didn’t read any kids or YA books but I also didn’t track or count the books that I read at bedtime with my own kids. I had 2 re-reads.

Most of my books came from the library. 28 to be exact. 13 were books I bought new (either this year or from previous years). 17 were ARCS, 8 were thrifted, 4 were borrowed, and 2 were gifts. 23 were read in e-book format while the rest were hardcopies.

As for author nationalities, Americans and Canadians were very close in my reading this year which makes me happy because as much as I try to read Canadian fiction, Americans always seem to end up dominating. I read 29 Americans and 26 Canadians. The Brits came next with 11 writers and then the Chinese with 5. I read 3 Japanese authors and 2 each for Palestinian and Nigerian. Also represented were Bosnia, Mexico, Ghana, and Korea. Looks like I might need to work on my South American representation.

My best reading months were April, October, and November with 8 books each. My worst was January with 4 (though I read a lot of short stories that month).

I participated in 2 challenges in 2021. The first was the Asian-Canadian Literature Challenge started by Claire. I read 7 books that counted toward this. While I didn’t fulfill all of the prompts, it did encourage me to read some books that had been on my TBR for a long time. I do prioritize Canadian writers in my reading and I think I naturally am interested in books from Asian writers so I’m not sure if this challenge meant I read more Asian-Canadian Lit than I would have otherwise but it did make me more thoughtful in my consumption so that’s a good thing.

My second challenge was one I made up and dubbed A Virtuous Reading Challenge. I read 5 of the 12 books on the list. My goal is to finish off the remaining 7 in 2022. 3 of the books were re-reads for me but the other 2 were definitely not books I would have chosen on my own so I’m glad to have read them.

As for the blog, I reviewed 59 of the books I read in 2021. This too was short of my number last year but, I think, a decent percentage of what I actually read. WordPress tells me that my blog stats for 2021 and 2020 are actually pretty similar. As someone who is not out to dominate the world of book blogging, I prefer to focus on the interactions I have and the enjoyment I got out of blogging and following other blogs. Is it too cheesy to say that you really can’t put a value on that? I write about books and I read about books because I enjoy doing so and I enjoy interacting with other who like these things too. I really truly appreciate each person who takes the time to read my little blog, to comment, to share an opinion. It is delightful to think that anyone out there gets enjoyment out of following my little life on here. Thank you.

  1. What Kind of Woman – Kate Baer (Harper Perennial 2020)
  2. The Arsonist’s City – Hala Alyan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021)
  3. A History of My Brief Body – Billy-Ray Belcourt (Hamish Hamilton, 2020
  4. A Treasury of Short Stories – edited by Bernardine Kielty (Simon & Schuster, 1947)
  5. How to Pronounce Knife – Souvankham Thammavongsa (McClelland & Stewart, 2020)
  6. On Reading Well – Karen Swallow Prior (Brazos Press, 2018)
  7. Land-Water-Sky/Nde-Ti-Yat’aKattia (Roseway Publishing, 2020)
  8. Eggshells – Caitriona Lally (Melville House, 2017)
  9. Indians on Vacation – Thomas King (Harper Collins Publisher, 2020)
  10. Salt Houses – Hala Alyan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)
  11. Wuhan Diary – Fang Fang (Harper Via, 2020)
  12. Klara and the Sun – Kazuo Ishiguro (Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2021
  13. Butter Honey Pig Bread – Francesca Ekwuyasi (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2020)
  14. Tom Jones – Henry Fielding (Barnes & Noble Classics, 2004)
  15. White Ivy – Susie Yang (Simon & Schuster, 2020)
  16. The Push – Ashley Audrain (Viking, 2021)
  17. Satellite Love – Genki Ferguson (McClelland & Stewart, 2021)
  18. Salt Fat Acid Heat – Samin Nosrat (Simon & Schuster, 2017)
  19. Shuggie Bain – Douglas Stuart (Grove Press, 2020)
  20. My Heart – Semezdin Mehmedinovic (Catapult, 2021)
  21. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald (Longman, 1992)
  22. The Dogs are Eating Them Now – Graeme Smith (Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2013)
  23. Utopia Avenue – David Mitchell (Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2020)
  24. The Quiet American – Graham Greene (The Viking Press, 1967)
  25. How to Raise a Reader – Pamela Paul & Maria Russo (Workman Publishing, 2019)
  26. We Want What We Want – Alix Ohlin (House of Anansi Press, 2021)
  27. The Orange Tree – Carlos Fuentes (Harper Perennial, 1994)
  28. Forgiveness – Mark Sakamoto (Harper Collins, 2014
  29. The Past is Red – Catherine M. Valente (Tordotcom, 2021)
  30. Villette – Charlotte Bronte (Vintage Random House)
  31. This Place: 150 Years Retold (High-water Press, 2019)
  32. Sufferance – Thomas King (Harper Collins Publishers, 2021)
  33. A Children’s Bible – Lydia Millett (W.W. Norton, 2020)
  34. A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry ed. by Czeslaw Milosz (A Harvest Book, 1996)
  35. Made in China – Anna Qu (Catapult, 2021)
  36. Hao – Ye Chun (Catapult, 2021)
  37. The Samurai – Shusaku Endo (A New Directions Paperbook, 2018)
  38. The Devil and the Dark Water – Stuart Turton (Harper Collins Publishers, 2020)
  39. Transcendent Kingdom – Yan Gyasi (Bond Street Books, 2020)
  40. Notes on Grief – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Alfred A. Knopf, 2021)
  41. What Strange Paradise – Omar El Akkad (Penguin Random House Canada, 2021)
  42. Interior Chinatown – Charles Yu (Panthéon Books, 2020)
  43. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens (Bantam Books, 1989)
  44. The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller (Ecco, 2012)
  45. Blanket Toss Under Midnight Sun – Paul Seesequasis (Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2019)
  46. Front Desk – Kelly Yang (Scholastic Inc., 2018)
  47. Fight Night – Miriam Toews (Penguin Random House Canada, 2021)
  48. The Awakening – Kate Chopin (Duke Classics, 2012)
  49. The Manningtree Witches – A.K. Blakemore (Catapult, 2021)
  50. Piranesi – Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020)
  51. Happy Hour – Marlowe Granados (Verso, 2021)
  52. Five Little Indians – Michelle Good (Harper Perennial, 2020)
  53. Jesus and John Wayne – Kristin Kobes du Mez (Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2020)
  54. The Anthropocene Reviewed – John Green (Dutton, 2021)
  55. A Womb in the Shape of a Heart – Joanne Gallant (Nimbus Publishing, 2021)
  56. Minor Feelings – Cathy Park Hong (One World, 2020)
  57. Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey, 2020)
  58. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain (Canterbury Classics, 2012)
  59. Strange Beasts of China – Yan Ge (Melville House, 2020)
  60. In Fine Form – edited by Kate Braid & Sandy Shreve (Caitlin Press, 2016)
  61. Lemon – Kwon Yeo-sun (Other Press, 2021)
  62. Nostalgia is Heartless – Sarah Lahey (She Writes Press, 2021)
  63. We Run the Tides – Vendela Vida (Ecco, 2021)
  64. I Hope This Finds You Well – Kate Baer (Harper Perennial, 2021)
  65. Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch – Rivka Galchen (Harper Perennial, 2021)
  66. Out of the Sun – Esi Edugyan (Anansi, 2021)
  67. Obasan – Joy Kogawa (Penguin, 2016)
  68. The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty – Vendela Vida
  69. These Precious Days – Ann Patchett
  70. Ghost Forest – Pik-Shuen Fung
  71. Gentlemen of the Road – Michael Chabon
  72. The Most Wonderful Time of All Years – Darrell W. Johnson
  73. 26 Knots – Bindu Suresh
  74. People from my Neighbourhood – Hiromi Kawakami

13 thoughts on “What I Read – 2021”

  1. How lovely that you read a Dickens novel! I need to read another one, probably aloud to Nick. I’m impressed that you know where all your books come from (gift, used, new, etc.). I don’t keep track of stats like that, just owned or library. I see you have several books that are not reviewed at the end of your list. Will you review People from my Neighbourhood? It sounds interesting.

    Also, Anne Logan @ I’ve Read This got my into Dawn Dumont, an Indigenous Canadian author you might enjoy.

    1. I hope to read The Pickwick Papers this year – I’ve never read it. I kind of fell behind on reviews over December. There were some interesting books there so I’d like to review them but it will probably depend on how this week at home with both kids goes for me!

  2. Looks like you had a great year of reading even if you didn’t meet your target. I set targets more to remind me of what I want to read than to achieve them, if that makes any sense. Like the saying says, quality over quantity! Hope you find plenty of excellent books in 2022!

  3. I agree about not really being interested in my blog stats – I just enjoy talking books with my blogging friends. I think that would actually be less manageable if my blog got bigger. The only stat I ever really look at on WordPress is the world map, because it’s exciting to see all the different countries where I’m connecting with people!

    1. I like tracking nationality. I started doing it because I was trying to read more Canadian books but I really like seeing how broadly I read. It’s always something I’m working on.

  4. I have never set a reading goal (as in # of books), because I always just read what I can. And I like not having one. I don’t even count as I go along, so it’s always fun to find out the number at the end of the year!
    Anyone with any number of children of any age is doing well to read ANY books! 🙂

    1. It’s so interesting to me to hear how different people read and their habits around it! For me, setting goals helps me read more but there is a definite sweet spot of still allowing myself freedom so that I enjoy the way I’m reading!

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