Year in Books 2021

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Here is the list of Books I Read for the First Time in 2021. It seems as though I am not going to read anything else new in the next two days, since I am in the mood for re-reading (and napping), so this list is pretty much final.

  • The Haters, by Jesse Andrews (YA)
  • Light From Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki (SF)
  • The Citadel of Weeping Pearls, by Aliette de Bodard (SF)
  • In Other Lands, by Sarah Rees Brennan (YASF)
  • The Assassins of Thassalon, by Lois McMaster Bujold (SF)
  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built, by Becky Chambers (SF)
  • The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, by Becky Chambers (SF)
  • Once More Upon a Time, by Roshani Chokshi (SF)
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015, by P. Djèlí Clark (SF)
  • Ready Player Two, by Ernest Cline (SF)
  • The A.I. Who Loved Me, by Alyssa Cole (SF/Romance)
  • The Life and Loves of E. Nesbit, by Eleanor Fitzsimons (Biography)
  • The Book of Pearl, by Timothée de Fombelle (SF)
  • Upright Women Wanted, by Sarah Gailey (SF)
  • The Echo Wife, by Sarah Gailey (SF)
  • City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert (Historical)
  • On Juneteenth, by Annette Gordon-Reed (Essays)
  • The Nature of Witches, by Rachel Griffin (YASF)
  • A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport, by Ramachandra Guha (Non-fiction)
  • Mike Nichols: A Life, by Mark Harris (Biography)
  • Cathedral, by Ben Hopkins (Historical)
  • Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro (SF)
  • The Dark Tide, by Alicia Jasinska (SF)
  • The Space Between Worlds, by Micaiah Johnson (SF)
  • Under Heaven, by Guy Gavriel Kay (Historical)
  • Castle Shade, by Laurie R. King (Mystery)
  • Paladin’s Strength, by T. Kingfisher (SF)
  • The Absolute Book, by Elizabeth Knox (SF)
  • The Unspoken Name, by A. K. Larkwood (SF)
  • The Star Host, by F.T. Lukens (YASF)
  • China Doll, by David Mamet (Play)
  • The Last Bookshop in London, by Madeline Martin (Historical)
  • There's Something about Sweetie, by Sandhya Menon (YA/Romance)
  • Harrow the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir (SF)
  • A History of What Came Next, by Sylvain Neuvel (SF)
  • The Last Graduate, by Naomi Novik (SF)
  • Remote Control, by Nnedi Okorafor (SF)
  • Love & Other Crimes, by Sara Paretsky (Mystery)
  • The Eighth Detective, by Alex Pavesi (Mystery)
  • Daisy Jones & the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Historical)
  • The Unraveling, by Benjamin Rosenbaum (SF)
  • The Witch Haven, by Sasha Peyton Smith (YASF)
  • A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles (Historical)
  • The King of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner (SF)
  • The Queen of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner (SF)
  • The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry, by C. M. Waggoner (SF)
  • The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, by Dawnie Walton (Historical)
  • The Hidden Palace, by Helene Wecker (SF)
  • Fugitive Telemetry, by Martha Wells (SF)
  • Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead (Historical)
  • Maisie Dobbs, by Jacqueline Winspear (Historical)
  • Bring on the Girls!, by P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton (Theater)

So, what did I really enjoy this year? My favorite books were Benjamin Rosenbaum’s The Unraveling, Becky Chambers A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Sarah Rees Brennan’s In Other Lands, and Ryka Aoki’s Light From Uncommon Stars. If I had to make it a Top Five, I guess I would add The Queen of Attolia, from Megan Whalen Turner’s Thief series.

Statistical note: 52 books from a total of 51 authors, of whom 40 were White, 17 were Men, and 13 were White Men (counting co-authors separately). Of the 29 writers who I read for the first time this year, 19 were White, 8 were Men, and 6 were White Men. So I’m doing a decent job of reading somewhat more widely (demographically speaking) than I used to, although even with my deliberate attempt to read more widely, it’s not like I’m avoiding White Men’s Writing entirely. The further breakdown, keeping in mind that these categories are nonsense and that I could well be wrong anyway, is that of the 29 new-to-me writers, 6 were white men, 11 were white women, 2 were men of color, 8 were women of color, and 2 were white and non-binary.

More statistical stuff: Most of my reading, as usual, was Speculative Fiction (27) and YA/SF (4). I read an unusual number of Historical Novels (9) that had no (or extremely minor) speculative elements. None of them made my Top Five, but I enjoyed most of them just fine. I also included six novellas among the novels and other volumes; they were all published as separate volumes, and most of them I borrowed digital copies and didn’t notice they were novellas until I finished them quickly. I have (more or less) decided that novellas are novels, for my purposes, at least when they are published separately. On the other hand, I included a book of short stories as a single volume, and I think there was a novella in there among the rest. I dunno, I’m just doing this for my own benefit, really—the stats are just to help me compare year against year, and if they aren’t really good stats and I’m learning incorrect things about my reading habits over time, then they probably aren’t the only untrue things I believe, after all.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

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