Books Read (and Listened to) in 2021

The gold lava lamp, second from the right, is the newest addition to my Lava Lamp Choir.  This has become an annual Christmas gift tradition to me from Matt.

I enjoyed so many marvelous books over the past year.  I also, alas, found myself struggling through a couple of duds.  Can't win 'em all, I guess.  2021 marks one complete decade of recording my books in Goodreads.  I find it an interesting and valuable auxiliary practice to my actual reading.

Christmas Day at the In-Laws:  A festive cocktail pairs very nicely with a Christmas puzzle.

On a related note, I thought that perhaps I'd start my 2021 Reading Recap with a question for my fellow book enthusiasts:  What are your thoughts on "quitting" a book?  How do you decide when to give up on a story and when to power through to the end?

Johnny always gets what she wants for Christmas--piles of boxes and paper!

When I was reviewing my 2021 reading records I couldn't decide what had been my favorite book.  There are so many contenders duking it out for the honor.   I went back and forth.  What has greater weight--how enjoyable I found the content or how lifechanging or illuminating?  How do I rank the many series in which one book is so intrinsically linked to the others?  It is hard to say.  I just couldn't decide.  So, I'll fudge it a bit and just stick with a top ten list...that includes several series lumped together as one item.  ;)  

Screenshot from our 2nd Family Christmas Recital.  This year it was a hybrid affair of folks gathered at my grandparent's farm and those scattered across the country joining in via Zoom.  My cousin, Ellen, organized it as a much-needed pandemic diversion last year.  It was so gosh darn fun I hope it becomes a regular annual tradition.  My mom and grandma are playing a duet on the piano in this picture.  Sarah and Keleigh were at my house for a Christmas Eve-Eve celebration on their way to my dad's house.  For our performance Matt and I sang two verses of Stille Nacht/Silent Night in German and then Sarah joined us for a third verse in English, lending her amazing harmonies.  

My Top Ten Reads of 2020, in no particular order.

  • The Earthsea series by Ursula Le Guin
  • We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 
  • The Postmortal by Drew Magary
  • A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss & E.G. Keller
  • The Word for World is Forest by Ursula Le Guin
  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • Hello World: A Celebration of Languages and Curiosities by Jonathan Litton
  • Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
  • A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
  • The MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood*  
    *This trilogy has made the Top Ten list twice before, actually, as a true testament to how spectacular I think it is--in 2015 and 2018.

Looking out the back window on a very white day!  I was so tremendously pleased to have a White Christmas like when I was a kid.

2021 Annual Stats
Number of young adult or children's books: 33
Number of adult books: 37
Number of audiobooks (both adult and YA/children): 33
103 Total Books (one more than the 102 total books for 2020)

There were four books that I read more than once during the year so it is 98 unique book titles.

Matt and Adam playing some Rummikub with their parents.  I love all the smiles.

I am disappointed to report that I broke my three year streak of not having any one-star books on my annual reading recap.  For me a one-star equals "I didn't like it."  It turns out, Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell isn't the book for me.  Not that most people would think it would be, but...  The last time I read any one-star books was in 2018 as part of my Newbery project.  Alas.  I'll try to do better next year.  I can be far too casual in how I select my next read.  Sometimes this leads me to spectacular finds.  Other times it just leads to literary disappointment.  During my 2021 reading adventures I only marked 13 books as a one-star or two-star rating though so that's still a decent record.  My average rating for the year was 3.5 stars.

My buddy, Chantz, had a loooooong layover here on his way home from a holiday visit to see his Mom.  We picked him up and had a swell time hanging out.  He even helped me finish one of my holiday puzzles!

In 2020 I was blown away reading the book Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates.  This prompted me to make my 2021 reading objective to have a greater focus on books penned by women.  I wanted to steep myself in a higher concentration of women's voices, to hear more women's stories.  And that I did.  The final tally would be 68 female authors to 34 male authors this year.  My goal for next year is similar, but with a twist.  I'd like to prioritize reading books written by those from historically marginalized groups--women, people of color, differently-abled folks, the LGTBQ+ community, and the like.  My other reading objective is unrelated.  I want to try out a few of the Dragonlance books Matt so enjoys, now that I've decided that I like the fantasy genre after all.  (Though it is worth noting that Matt's favorites in the Dragonlance universe are co-written by a woman--so maybe not totally unrelated, I guess).

Late on Christmas Day Matt and I did a (virtual) paint-a-long with our friend Lacie of MT Art Educator.  We're pleased with our happy little Christmas trees!

Below is the complete list of books I read or listened to during 2021.  An asterisk indicates that it was an audiobook.  They are in reverse chronological reading order and color-coded by the author's gender.

  • T'was the Night Before Christmas--Featuring a Coca-Cola Santa Tribute (Clement C. Moore & Hallmark)
  • Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (Simms Taback)
  • Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (Simms Taback)
  • Girl, Interrupted (Susanna Kaysen)
  • Sex and the City (Candace Bushnell)
  • Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk (David Sedaris)*
  • Shine, Shine, Shine (Lydia Netzer)*
  • Three Lines in a Circle: The Exciting Life of the Peace Symbol (Michael G. Long & Carlos Velez)
  • How to Be an Antiracist (Ibram X. Kendi)*
  • Subpar Parks: America's Most Extraordinary National Parks and Their Least Impressed Visitors (Amber Share)
  • Secret Sexual Positions: Ancient Techniques for Modern Lovers (Kenneth Ray Stubbs)
  • Tad Lincoln's Restless Wriggle: Pandemonium and Patience in the President's House (Beth Anderson & S.D. Schindler)
  • A Vote for Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (Karen M. Greenwald & Sian James)
  • Sexual Adventure in Marriage (Julia Rainer & Jerome Rainer)
  • Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate (Melissa Stewart & Sarah Brannen)
  • The Heart Goes Last (Margaret Atwood)
  • True Grit (Charles Portis)
  • Rotkäppchen (The German Project)*
  • This Day in June (Gayle E. Pitman & Kristyna Litten)
  • I am Jazz (Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings, & Shelagh McNicholas)
  • Prince & Knight (Daniel Haack & Stevie Lewis)
  • High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict's Double Life (Tiffany Jenkins)*
  • A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo (Jill Twiss & E.G. Keller)
  • Educated (Tara Westover)
  • Diane Arbus: Monograph (Diane Arbus)
  • Death: A Reader (Mary Ann G. Cutter)
  • Is This Anything? (Jerry Seinfeld)*
  • Is There Still Sex in the City? (Candace Bushnell)*
  • The Postmortal (Drew Magary)
  • Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie: The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell (Kristiana Gregory)*
  • Cat's Cradle (Kurt Vonnegut)*
  • Shakespeare in Montana: Big Sky Country's Love Affair with the World's Most Famous Writer (Gretchen E. Minton)
  • Ruthie Fear (Maxim Loskutoff)
  • August (Callan Wink)
  • Silver on the Tree (Susan Cooper)*
  • Ornithological Photos (Todd R. Forsgren)
  • Powers (Ursula Le Guin)
  • Sucker's Portfolio (Kurt Vonnegut)
  • Voices (Ursula Le Guin)
  • Gifts (Ursula Le Guin)
  • They Grey King (Susan Cooper)*
  • Rescue Josh McGuire (Ben Mikaelsen)
  • Greenwitch (Susan Cooper)*
  • The Other Wind (Ursula Le Guin)
  • The Dark is Rising (Susan Cooper)*
  • Tales From Earthsea (Ursula Le Guin)
  • Over Sea, Under Stone (Susan Cooper)*
  • A Corner of the Universe (Ann M. Martin)
  • Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter (Kate Larson Clifford)*
  • Hello World: A Celebration of Languages and Curiosities (Jonathan Litton)
  • Heads of the Colored People (Nafissa Spires-Thimpson)*
  • The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country (Amanda Gorman)
  • In Conclusion, Don't Worry About It (Lauren Graham)
  • The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness (Susannah Cahalan)*
  • The Great Indoors (Julie Falatko & Ruth Chan)
  • Jurassic Park (Michael Crichton)
  • Goldlöckchen und die drei Bären (The German Project)*
  • Die Drei Kleinen Schweinchen (The German Project)*
  • Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness (Susannah Cahalan)*
  • Love is an Attitude (Walter Rinder)
  • Tehanu (Ursula K. Le Guin)
  • The Diamond of Darkhold (Jeanne DuPrau)*
  • And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street (Dr. Seuss)
  • Oh, the Places You'll Go (Dr. Seuss)
  • There's a Wocket in My Pocket (Dr. Seuss)
  • Green Eggs and Ham (Dr. Seuss)
  • McElligot's Pool (Dr. Seuss)
  • The Butter Battle Book (Dr. Seuss)
  • The Prophet of Yonwood (Jeanne DuPrau)*
  • A Room of One's Own (Virginia Woolf)
  • The People of Sparks (Jeanne DuPrau)*
  • She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World (Chelsea Clinton & Alexandra Boiger)*
  • She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World (Chelsea Clinton & Alexandra Boiger)
  • She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History (Chelsea Clinton & Alexandra Boiger)*
  • She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History (Chelsea Clinton & Alexandra Boiger)
  • The City of Ember (Jeanne DuPrau)*
  • The Witches: Salem, 1692 (Stacy Schiff)*
  • Fox in Socks (Dr. Seuss)
  • We Should All Be Feminists (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)*
  • The Word for World is Forest (Ursula K. Le Guin)
  • Dept. of Speculation (Jenny Offill)
  • This One Summer (Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki)
  • The Farthest Shore (Ursula K. Le Guin)
  • The Butter Battle Book (Dr. Seuss)
  • What Pet Should I Get? (Dr. Seuss)
  • Hospital Sketches (Louisa May Alcott)
  • Black Beauty (Anna Sewell)
  • Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows (Balli Kaur Jaswal)*
  • The Tombs of Atuan (Ursula K. Le Guin)
  • Requiem (Lauren Oliver)*
  • A Wizard of Earthsea (Ursula K. Le Guin)
  • Art Forms in Nature: The Prints of Ernst Haeckel (Ernst Haeckel)
  • Perception: A Photo Series (KC Adams)
  • Pandemonium (Lauren Oliver)*
  • The Gate Thief (Orson Scott Card)
  • Delirium (Lauren Oliver)*
  • Her Fearless Run: Kathrine Switzer's Historic Boston Marathon (Kim Chaffee & Ellen Rooney)
  • MaddAddam (Margaret Atwood)
  • The Year of the Flood (Margaret Atwood)
  • Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert)
  • Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert)*
  • Oryx and Crake (Margaret Atwood)
Sharon and Matt baked sugar cookies and then I helped them with the decorating part.  That's always a treat!  I mean, who doesn't like edible art projects?!?!  There were many more--and much more traditional ones like stockings and stars--but this odd little arrangement I created (two angels, the Holy Ghost, and a couple cyclops) was my favorite cookie photo.

Here is to a brand new year filled with enthralling books and other pleasant adventures!  Happy reading!


  1. Beautiful blog. Happy new year ��

    1. Thanks! I hope you have a happy and bountiful New Year!

  2. Come by to wish you a Happy New Year Beth and please don't begrudge me for not coming by often, my blogging days are lagging. Love this blog post. My parents had a lava lamp when i was growing up and D got me one for my Birthday last month. I should show it off. so snap! ps saw you made Teresa's cookies, they look good too. My goodness that is a lot of books your've read. i am a slow reader in comparison. I am not familiar with many of them. May check out Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows (Balli Kaur Jaswal) and Heads of the Colored People (Nafissa Spires-Thimpson).

    1. I hope you have a happy and blessed New Year! I always enjoy your posts when they appear, but it takes heart and soul, not to mention time to write and take photos and share with us. Worry not. I'll drool over your recipes and culinary creations and garden endeavors whenever you find the metaphorical bandwidth to write. There is so much going on, especially this pandemic that goes on...and on and on and on. It takes a lot out of a person sometimes.

      I am a bit of a reading obsessive. I've been an avid reader since I was a kid, but it really has taken on a life of its own in my adulthood. :) I read every day now, often several times a day--whenever I can sneak it in. :) Despite not making the top ten, I thought both of those books were quite good. Enjoy whatever and how many ever books your read this coming year!


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