Recapping my year in books.

I’m not sure 2021 counts as a real year so personally I’m just counting it as 2020 part two and holding out audacious hope that 2022 finds a way back to normality, but one thing that last year was good for was staying home and reading books. According to Goodreads I read 180 books, which is very insane until you look a little closer and realize that a shitload of them are graphic novels, which TOTALLY count as real books but realistically I can tear through a dozen a day if given the chance.

I’m trying to get ahead of the game for the Strangelings Book Club this year so I’ve already read 36 early 2022 books that are amazing and it’s making choosing the perfect books such a hard but wonderful problem. Every month I read a dozen strange and wonderful books from unique and diverse voices that we think aren’t getting as much attention as they deserve, and then we highlight my favorites for the month and mail our very favorite book (and other little surprises) right to you. And January is a perfect month to join if you want to support authors and Nowhere Bookshop at the same time. Just click here for details.

(As a little aside, it is 1000% okay if you read zero books last year and instead made 20 scarfs or watched 100 slasher films or cooked 8 cakes or petted 15 cats. I’m incredibly lucky that I get to read books to support a community that I love and that I have the time, energy and fantastic number of books available to me and this is only because of your support of Nowhere Bookshop.)

Want to see some of the books I read last year and loved?

See anything on my list that you loved too? Anything I missed? Anything you can’t wait for next year?

67 thoughts on “Recapping my year in books.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. The Icepick Surgeon was such a fun read! It scratched the Mary Roach itch until her new book popped out of the woodwork. I adore weird science with a good amount of humor.

  2. If you haven’t tried anything by Frederick Backman, I strongly encourage you to read A Man Called Ove (it sounds like it will be a total bummer because it begins with the main character trying to commit suicide, but it’s actually hysterical and touching without being trite) and his most recent novel, Anxious People. His prose, though translated from Swedish, is absolutely gorgeous.

    (A Man Called One is one of my favorite books ever! ~ Jenny)

  3. I love Go Ask Alice! I reread it this year for about the 10th time and each time I read it I get something else from it. I first read it over 10 years ago and it’s amazing how much books change in meaning and understanding as you get older.

  4. That is a lot of books but it is your profession, after all–both being a writer and bookstore owner. I’m going to keep a photo list this year. I think it’s a neat thing to do and trying to write on my small iPhone screen to keep track like I used to is a pain. I’ve read 8 of the books showed above. Most were Fantastic Strangeling Book Club books.

  5. I read 100 books from March – December 2021 and we only have 7 that overlapped! I would recommend The Personal Librarian and The Children’s Blizzard (if you like historical fiction), Rock Paper Scissors (although it gave me anxiety), and Broken (In the Best Possible Way) – oh wait, you may have read that one already. 😉

    (The Personal Librarian is on my towering TBR stack. 🙂 ~ Jenny)

  6. I read 101 books last year which has to be a record for me (well at least since back when I was knocking out a Baby Sitters Club book a day). You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey was one of my favorites, along with Here For It, Crying in H Mart, A Gentleman in Moscow, Early Morning Riser, and One Two Three.

  7. I really tried to like Night Bitch but couldn’t relate and was horrified at what happened with the cat. This was the only book I did not finish in 2021.

  8. I loved The Final Girls Support Group and it’s not my typical genre and I even got a copy from Parnassus in Nashville with a delightful sticker signed by the author that said This Book Belongs to a Survivor. Congratulation on surviving the Nashville Pitchfork Massacre.

  9. My resolution for ‘22 was to get through some books. I’ve been a reader all my life, but this past year was a cascade of awful which culminated in the loss of my mother. I just haven’t had the mental energy. Yet, I know that reading relaxes me and gives me a break from reality. It’s a weird place to be in – to know it would help, but being unable to muster the will. Anyway, here’s hoping for this year!

  10. I have read many (not enough) of these and just added more to my list. Started off the New Year with Into the Garden With Charles, by Clyde Phillip Wachsberger, a gay love story about a lonely man who buys a rundown house in Orient, NY (near where I live) just so he can plant a garden. Totally NOT a typical Strangelings book at all, but it’s a sweet memoir and a wonderful story about never giving up on love. I knew the author briefly and was touched by his lovely story and wanted to put it out there! Looking forward to many more exciting books in 2022.

  11. I loved Hollow Kingdom and Feral Creatures. Read Mrs March. I hope she found a good doctor and medication. I can’t get enough of Frederick Backman. If only I could read faster.

  12. I may have missed 4, but here are my highly recommended books: Caste, Love Songs Of WEB Dubois, How the Word is Passed, and the Personal Librarian.

  13. I liked Ariadne, Circe, Under the Whispering Door and The Echo Wife… I’m still on the hold list at the library for the The Witch’s Heart.

    Have you tried… The Song of Achilles, The Grace Year, The Charmed Wife, or The Guest List? They aren’t on your ‘read’ list. Sorry to potentially make your TBR list longer….

  14. _Electric Kingdom_ was amazing. _Hollow Kingdom_ was also amazing. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel _Feral Creatures_ this year. I thoroughly enjoyed _Book of Accidents_. _Hummingbird Salamander_ is Jeff Vandermeer at his best, again (still!). Several of these book are in my TO-READ pile based on your goodreads review! I must recommend _Outlawed_by Anna North.

  15. My total in 2021 was 402. Ebooks from the library have been a lifesaver during COVID. Some of my favorites were:

  16. Thanks for posting your list. We overlapped on just a few. My all time favorite was The Gentleman In Moscow. It took me longer to get through The Gentleman because I stopped to reread paragraphs that were so beautiful that I wanted them to sink in and stay with me.

  17. I read Still Life after seeing it featured in the Nowhere newsletter. Then learned it was in the Book Club, as well (too bad I only have time for maybe one book per year, but in 2021 THIS was the book!). Wow, what an opportunity to just meld with the characters, who are all the friends you wish you had. Lovely prose, amazing visuals, and a wild (yet reflective) ride. It was such a tasty treat.

    It also just happened that I was about to leave for Italy when I started reading (set in Florence, largely) and I was literally one block away from their piazza, but due to my fuzzy brain I couldn’t recall the exact site. I’m already planning my return trip to rectify that error.

  18. I came up a little short on my “reading” 2021. Only managed about 318 audiobooks.

  19. I picked up World Of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil when I was in a bookstore, and I couldn’t put it down. It’s about lessons the author learned from flora and fauna about life’s little lessons. It’s told through the eyes of the author at the time that they experienced it, from childhood onwards. I found it fascinating, and it reminded me of the things that I used to observe as a child filled with curiosity and still learning about the world around me, but as adults we often stop observing and learning from the natural world around us, because we are too busy or we think we know everything already.
    I love yours and your follower’s book and movie and tv suggestions, they always give me more ideas to check out that I might have missed otherwise.

  20. I have read seven of the books you posted, not counting the FS books that I received but haven’t had the time to read yet. That said, I also read about 100 romance novels that are pretty much all the same book, more or less, which is why they bring comfort in these troubled times. I also read “Go tell the bees I’m gone” by Diana Gabaldon and “Bomber Mafia” by Malcom Gladwell, just to shake things up. Oh, and “The Night Watchman” by Louise Erdich. Books are good. Thank you, Jenny for keeping us in a wealth of books to soothe the soul.

  21. Have you read House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland? If not, it is 100% up your alley. 3 sisters return from…somewhere, after being missing for a month. Upon returning, they’ve developed strange powers and an unusual appetite, not to mention they are being hunted by a minotaur.

  22. I read Still Life by Sarah Winman based on your recommendation— it was one of the best books I read all year!! I wanted it to go on forever! Thanks for the suggestion!

  23. i read 130 books and none were graphic novels and 5 were the same as yours which shows that altho i adore you mostly i don’t like the kind of books you read.

  24. @anonymous. or at least one of ’em, I, too, love Fredrik Bachman, and I really liked Anxious People, and I LOVED My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. I didn’t really LOVE A Man Called Ove, but I think I need to revisit it, because so many people I like talk about it. Who knows? Maybe I was just in the wrong mental place when I read it. That happens with books.

  25. The Final Girl Support group is one of my all time favorite books! I heard it was going to be a tv show, not sure if that’s true but I really hope it is!

  26. This is such a beautiful post – all those covers are so alluring and make me want to read all the things! Based on what you read – I wonder if you’d like Dark Things I Adore (a tale of juicy revenge) or The World Gives Way (set on a failing generation ship).

  27. Wonderful list! I could never share mine because I literally only read erotica and those covers are just porn and well, I like to just keep that to myself. LOL.

  28. Damn, girl, you read a LOT of books. Good for you, especially with everything else going on in your life. I read 151 (first time over 150 in some time), and 68 of them were anthologies or other short story collections. I set a personal record of 920 short stories read. Not likely to reach that total again. (Previous high was 820.)

    Of your total, I’ve read exactly one, Go Ask Alice, read a good 50 years ago. I did read your three books last year.

  29. There are a lot of books on my TBR on this list. I accepted through the Strangelings book list and would say I’m interested in reading about 99.99999999% of them. I just don’t know if I can opt in because I almost exclusively read ebooks because carpel tunnel.

    I cannot believe people can read so many books! I’m a slow reader. 3 to 5 a month.

  30. Only one mutual book this year – You are Here 🙂 I keep the “intimidating person” page saved on my phone for in case of emergencies haha. I reached a personal best of 32 books read this year!

  31. Have you read –
    The Daevabad Trilogy
    Alif the Unseen
    The Windup Girl
    The Girl Who Drank the Moon
    The Hangman’s Daughter
    The Falling Woman
    The Golem and the Jinni
    The Cemetery of Forgotten Books
    – all great.

    Looking forward to many on your list, but also:
    How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House
    The Gilded Ones
    The World Gives Way
    A Burning

  32. I don’t see the Matt Haig book I just listened to and enjoyed on audiobook, The Midnight Library. Kate Bowler’s book No Cure for Being Human was a good memoir, but I’m pretty sure Broken (in the best possible way) was my favorite for 2021.

  33. I loved A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw! I discovered her by reading Winterwood and bought A History.. and The Wicked Deep. I loved both. I really enjoyed The One Hundred Years of Lenni and a Margot. So BEAUTIFUL! An author I discovered this year is Glendy Vanderah. LOVED her books so much I emailed her. Reading is my happy place! Love love love you

  34. “Dream Girl” by Laura Lippman
    “The Drowning Kind” by Jennifer McMahon
    “The Survivors” by Jane Harper

    P.S. I’ve never followed a blog before. Is it rude to post the same thing here and on Facebook?

    (Not rude at all! ~ Jenny)

  35. 100 Years of Lenni and Margo- the audiobook with accents was my favorite book of 2021. Absolutely delightfully exactly what I needed for a laugh and a cry.

  36. Some of my ABSOLUTE favourites from last year were: Comfort Me with Apples by Catherynne Valente, Kaleidoscope by Brian Selznick (I think it was the most innovative read of the year, with bonus beautiful art), was The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen last year? It was my favourite graphic novel. In nonfiction I loved Letters to Camondo by Edmund de Waal and The Book Collectors of Daraya by Delphine Minoui (translated from French, beautifully). My favourite children’s novel was Kate DiCamillo’s Beatryce Prophecy with beautiful art by Sophie Blackall. Picture books… Ooof. What Is Love by Mac Barnett and Carson Ellis is a top contender, and Jon Klassen’s The Rock from the Sky, but it was a great year.

  37. My favorite book that I read in 2021 is A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum. Profound and powerful and I tell everyone I know to read it. It’s one of those books I wish I could read again for the first time. Plus she owns a books shop in NC!

  38. Naomi Novak has become my favorite author over the last few years–I am so impatient for the last book in the Scholomance trilogy.

  39. Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury is something akin to Charles Mackesy’s ‘A Boy, a Mole etc.’ with many beautiful illustrations and a few wise words.

    Books by Laurie Frankel – This is How it Always is, a story of a family going through the process of a child’s gender ‘change’. I think roughly based on Frankel’s own experience as a parent. Then One, Two, Three – which I loved almost as much. Also Goodbye for Now and Atlas of Love.

    Matt Haig – The Midnight Library

    And if you haven’t read the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, it’s much superior to the Amazon show. (You’ll need a long time to read these, though, he makes Lord of The Rings look like a pamphlet.

  40. Super impressive list! I did 74 this year. OK, so I try to post my year in reads every year and I have to do weird screenshots and crops and break it up into like 10 pics. How to you post it like you have done here as one big pic? When I click on the pinterest or FB or whatever to “share” it gives a link where people have to sign into Goodreads rather than the actual pic!

    (Mine is totally just 10 screenshots too. I can’t figure out a better way to share it either. 🙂 ~ Jenny)

  41. Just finished Once There Were Wolves and I didn’t see the ending coming at all! That is rare for me.

  42. Not gonna lie, I’m totally jealous to see books on your “read” list that I can’t even get hold of yet. Totally awesome benefit of having your job! Chasing the Boogeyman and The Guide were good books published last year that I didn’t see on your list. And Finna and Defekt are short, wacky, and pretty doggone funny books that I think I didn’t see on your list either.

    (Honestly the best part about owning a bookstore is getting all the books early. ~ Jenny)

  43. Read all the Kyle Stark comic “novels.” Sexcastle, Kill Them All, Rock Candy Mountain, Old Head.

  44. I really enjoyed Ariadne and Circe. Also, loved The Song of Achilles by Circe’s author. If you haven’t read it, read it. I recommend The Lost Apothecary.

  45. I recommend The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman; there’s also a sequel called The Man Who Died Twice. They’re about four people from very different backgrounds all living in the same retirement home who end up investigating murders. Hopefully you can get it in the USA, I’m not sure what the distribution is like outside Britain!

  46. You’ve got a couple of Authors I already love on here. But for Octavia Butler, you gotta read the Parable of the Sower series.

    Nnedi Okorarfor is amazing. I haven’t gotten around to Noor yet, but I love Zaharah the Wind Seeker. It’s mandatory for anxious gifted stranglings. And also the Binti series pulled me out of a place where I literally hadn’t been able to read anything new for a couple of years. I’m re-readng it right now. So good.

  47. The Last Supper Catering Company
    by Michaelene McElroy

    One of my most favorite of favorite reads. I highly, highly recommend this layered, lyrical, lovely novel. I don’t know how to classify it–quirky, certainly (I adore quirky). Poignant. A ghost story that will make you smile.

    Read this book.

  48. Have you read Girls Made of Snow and Glass? A scene has stuck with me (little spoiler alert)…one character has no heart unbeknownst to her adopted daughter, and whenever they held hands, the daughter felt their heartbeats sync…but really her heart was beating enough for the both of them. It is a WONDERFUL book

  49. Can you please make a poster of your curated list, like what to read in 2022, with all the cover art and then under each cover image you have like a scratch and sniff or a smiley face or a note from you or one of your favorite lines from the book or something?

  50. Finally started The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina. I’m in denial about how much of the book I have left. And A History of Wild Places was, well, wild.

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