2021 Year End Book Round Up, Plus Made-Up Awards

Background: picture of fireworks in the sky. The sky has a pinkish hue.

Black text reads: 2021 Year End Book Round Up Plus made-up awards

As it turned out, 2021 did not fix all the bad of 2020 even though we hoped it would. The good news, though, is that books are still wonderful. As of this post, I’ve read one hundred and one of them in 2021. Because I am 300% a nerd (yes, that’s right– I hit one-hundred percent nerd and then went around a few extra times) I did some analysis. Get ready for graphs, people.

In 2021, I read fourteen more books than in 2020. I attribute the bump to several factors. First, I’ve learned the synergistic relationship between reading and writing. To help my writing, I set a goal of reading one hundred books this year. Second, I joined several book clubs. Getting to talk with people about books nourishes my passion for reading. By the way, I help coordinate one of these book clubs. It’s called Writer’s Virtual Book Club and we discuss books about the craft of writing. New members are always welcome. If you wish to join, you can sign up here.

This year, I also read more nonfiction by percentage– I was only at 9% last year. I credit Writer’s Virtual Book Club for this.

Pie chart on white background titled "fiction vs nonfiction."
Smaller red slice is labeled "nonfiction 22.8%."  Bigger blue slice is labeled "fiction 77.2%"

Of the nonfiction books I read, most were about the craft of writing.

Pie chart. Title: "Craft Books vs Other Nonfiction."
Smaller red wedge is labeled "Other 39.1%"
Bigger blue wedge is labeled "Craft 60.9%"

Within the category of fiction, I read slightly more Adult than YA. Given that I write primarily YA, I was initially displeased with this result. Then I realized I have better things to do than judge myself for this particular percentage. 😊

Pie chart. Title: "YA vs Adult Fiction"
Bigger red wedge is labeled "Adult 52.6%"
Smaller blue wedge is labeled "YA 47.4%"

Looking back at the titles I read this year filled me with a pleasant sort of nostalgia. Though I could happily tell you about how much I enjoyed almost every single book on my list, a few titles stood out particularly as worthy of mentioning. Thus I present…


Funniest Book:
BOYFRIEND MATERIAL, by Alexis Hall. It is challenging to both run and laugh at the same time, but this charming enemies-to-lovers, fake-dating, rom-com had me doing just that as I listened on audio. It was filled with all sorts of hilarious background characters and setting details such as CRAPP, the dung-beetle charity where the point-of-view character works, or the friend who’s almost but not quite on trend with memes. Best of all was the way the opposites-attract main characters played off each other. If you’re looking to laugh and you’re looking for a charming love story, this is your book.

Best Craft Book:
Thanks to Writer’s Virtual Book Club, I’ve read a lot of craft books this year, and many were fantastic. Narrowing it down was challenging, WRITING FROM THE INSIDE OUT, by Dennis Palumbo particularly stood out. Writing is hard. It’s hard to translate an idea from brain to paper, it’s hard to find the time, and it’s hard to receive critique. All of this is before we even start talking about the publishing industry and its many rejections and disappointments. Yet, for a certain portion of the population (clears throat, points at self), writing is also vital for us to function as our best selves. How do we reconcile this hardship and this need? Palumbo, addresses this issue in a book that feels like the adult equivalent of hug and warm mug of hot chocolate without ever crossing the border into saccharine.

Best Comfort Book:
HOLD ME CLOSER NECROMANCER, by Lish McBride. When I was in grad school I went through a rather discouraging time. My aunt recommended this book to cheer me up. It worked marvelously. I was charmed by the banter between the chosen-family cast of characters, the surprising premise, and the references to my old Seattle stomping grounds. This summer I went on a trip with an especially suboptimal travel schedule and needed a book to help keep me cheery despite my likely sleep deprivation. Almost a decade later, Lish McBride’s tale was as charming as ever.

Most Holy Cow How Did You Write That? Book:
Now that I write regularly, I appreciate books differently than before because I know certain types of writing are harder than others (at least for me). For instance, unusual forms tend to be harder than forms with lots of examples and analysis. DAISY JONES AND THE SIX, by Taylor Jenkins Reid is, as far as I know, a one-of-a-kind form. It’s written like a documentary about the eponymous fictional band. The thing is, it somehow feels like an actual documentary. My hat’s off to you, Taylor Jenkin’s Reid.

Congratulations on having survived another year, friends. May this next year treat you well. Cheers to 2022!

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