Books I Loved Reading in 2021

In 2021, I read a total of 40 books (thus far) — which is the lowest amount of books completed in a single year in about a decade. Over the past two years in particular, I’ve found it harder to focus on reading and have turned to other forms of media to fill in my entertainment needs.

However, in reading less books per year, I’ve found that the quality of books has gone up. I’ve enjoyed or outright loved the majority of books that I’ve read, which has been a blessing — and has also made it difficult to narrow this list.

Note that the books listed here are not necessarily objectively the best, but they are the books I personally enjoyed or connected with throughout 2021.

Fiction

Network Effect and Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells

Network Effect and Fugitive Telemtry by Martha Wells

Basically, I could list the entire Murderbot Diaries among my favorite books for the year, since I read all six books (most of which are novellas) and then reread many of my favorite scenes throughout various points of the year. The series follows the adventures of a socially awkward android Sec Unit named Murderbot, who only wants to sit back and watch serial dramas, but often finds itself saving humans from doing stupid things that could get them killed.

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Exploring the Self by Honoring the Magical: Lessons from Lisa Marie Basile’s Magical Writing Grimoire

Photo by petr sidorov on Unsplash.

I’ve long been fascinated by the concept of witchcraft — the idea that ritual, spells, and willpower can effectively shape the world around you. No doubt movies like The Craft and Practical Magic had a significant influence on this interest. As a teenager, I would roam through the public library seeking out some old leather-bound tome to guide me (something that always seems so easy to achieve in movies).

If it had existed back then, The Magical Writing Grimoire by Lisa Marie Basile would have been a book that I would have found compelling. Even as a teenager, I already had the sense that the written word — and poetry in particular — had a kind of magic to it. Reading was empowering for me, conjuring up deep emotions and manifesting new perceptions of the universe around me. At a time when I was just starting to figure out who I was as a writer and a human, this book would have felt like a gift.

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The Resounding Humanity of Sarah Kay’s ‘No Matter the Wreckage’

No Matter the Wreckage poetry by Sarah Kay

“You may not even crack the spine.
You may place this on the bookshelf,
or worse, under a stack of papers.
You may forget it and regift it later
to someone as a Secret Santa.
I will never know.”

— from “The First Poem in the Imaginary Book”

I’ll admit that Sarah Kay‘s No Matter the Wreckage has indeed been a resident of my bookshelf for too long — though it was never forgotten. Every time I perused the shelves, I would notice it sitting there and remember, Oh, yes, I need to read that. Then I would place it somewhere nearby with the intention cracking open and turning its pages, only to have it slip out of sight as my busy days shifted my attention.

In a way, though, the delay was a blessing, as the beautiful words on these pages feel like they have come to me at the perfect time.

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Litquake: A Conversation Between Rivers Solomon and Charlie Jane Anders

Rovers Solomon and Charlie Jane Anders

Today, I was fortunate to be able to tune in to the Litquake virtual event with Rivers Solomon and Charlie Jane Anders. This event was supported by Green Apple Books in San Francisco and 48 Hills, a source for SF news and culture.

Both Solomon and Anders are phenomenal writers of science fiction and fantasy with several books under their name. I’ve bought, read, and loved all of the books each of these authors has written thus far — so I was so excited to be able to hear them read from and discuss their recently released books.

Here are some bits of goodness from the event.

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Books I Loved in 2020

Among the many other challenges presented this year, my reading has dropped significantly. As of writing this, I’ve finished reading a total of 40 books this year — certainly not bad in the grand scheme of things, but far below my personal average of 90-100 books from a few years ago.

Though, I can’t blame the drop entirely on 2020 (for all it’s anxiety and stress), since my reading has been dropping each year. In general, I’ve had a more difficult time focusing on reading, particularly longer books. So, I’ve shifted somewhat to shorter, quicker reads.

Nevertheless, I’ve read many fantastic books this year — more than I can fit on this list. Lately, I’ve been wanting to get back into reading more of the horror genre (which I’ve been writing lately as well). Horror seems to hit a certain intellectual itch in me, providing a safe means to explore and process my anxieties. So, it’s no surprise that horror fiction makes up a large portion of the works mentioned here.

(ETA: If you want to know the movies, shows, and other media I loved this year, check out my post on Medium.)

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