I seem to be the last one to name favorites, but I wait until the last minute to gather the statistics and make sure I don’t forget a book (would I forget? have you even a clue how forgetful I am? That’s the secret reason why I keep a blog, folks!) and make sure to *not* finish another book at the end of the year.
I read a lot in 2021, even more than in 2020 which was already a personal record: 96 books… But shh, some of them are mangas which I devour in one afternoon apiece.
In retrospect, the theme of 2021 seems to have been “on repeat”. 2021 was the second year of the pandemic and I felt that not much new occurred, which is of course, not true. We are no longer in the “unprecedented times”, and I can’t say it’s a good or a bad thing. I might have transposed the feeling of “same old” into my literary choices: I wanted some continuity and some comfort, and so I read many books by the same authors. The truth is, I often say I would return to a beloved author and I rarely did… up to now. 5 books by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (!!), 4 by Simenon, 3 by Ann Cleeves, 3 by Elly Griffiths, 3 by Michael Connelly, and lots of pairs. I even tried parallel reading (2 books by the same author at the same time) and I will do it again.
I kept my review copies at a low level (only 13 books this year, well below the target I’d set, probably because I’ve become more selective with Netgalley) and managed to read 43 books from my own shelves. I read 10 short story collections, which is the same figure for the 3rd year (ugh…), but most of them were awesome (Between Sylvia Townsend Warner, Lily King and Margaret Atwood, don’t make me choose one) but I managed to bump up the number of Asian writers to 20, and the share of non-US/UK writers to 42% (in part, I confess, thanks to my love of mangas).
I’m glad to have read more non-fiction this year. This opened up new possibilities (investigative journalism! medicine books! historical true crime!) and I’m eager to continue in 2022. It was difficult to choose my favorite non-fiction this year (such a new feeling!): I eventually picked The Ratline by Philippe Sands, an investigation into the life and mysterious death of a Nazi dignitary.
In literary fiction, several titles have been dazzling. The first is a French classics (on the verge of non fiction even): Dora Bruder by Patrick Modiano. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2014:
“for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.”From the Nobel Prize page
A second title was a confirmation of an author I discovered with Station Eleven. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel was just as great: evocative and layered and a whole world that is difficult to sum up in a few short words.
The third title is a complete discovery (and a chance one at that, it was just a last minute grab from the library new acquisitions shelves!): Claire Keegan’s Foster was precious and emotional, and I loved every line of the writing.
I have not set any concrete goals for 2022 (yet) but at the very least I’ll read something by those 3 writers!