The Year of Trash Fires and the Books Within

Past year in books recaps:

2021 was a continuation on a legacy of suckage in most respects. Covid continues to be a thing – and is actively getting worse by the day. Tensions continue to mount day by day. However, there was a bright light in my corner of it all. As of October, I’ve been published! Which is… still, such a wild, incomprehensible thing to me, if I’m being honest.

I had a goal to read 40 books, which I beat out at 46 books. I read a combined total of 12,987 pages, with the shortest book at 22 pages and the longest and 752. I also maintained my average rating of 3.8 stars. All in all, I read two books less than last year, but I rated them better on average! Here’s my breakdown in visual form:

All in all, quite a productive year was had.

I think I can attribute some of my more positive shift to be because I made a more conscious decision and effort to seek out books I knew I was going to like. Books that had me excited. And also, books I had been reading for a while and needed to tie the loose ends on.

Normally at this is the time I would recap the best and worst books of the year. I’m still planning to do this, but a bit differently. I want to highlight more books, if I can, and sort them not so much by best and worst but rather moreso by category. Let’s get started.

Best Fiction Book of 2021

My answer isn’t quite the same as it was in the middle of the year, but that’s only because I made the decision to split this into “best fiction” and “best nonfiction”. While I don’t read as much nonfiction as I would often like to, I think it deserves its own category.

But we’re not there yet.

I think my answer for this category remains mostly the same as it did in the middle of the year. One of the best books I read this year was Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink. However, since that post, I also got to read Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson and, honestly? What a treat. I was having a blast the whole way through. I can’t really pick between either of these books, honestly. They were both so fun and refreshing in different ways.

Worst Book of 2021

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki immediately comes to mind here. I highlighted this book in my mid-year post as “Biggest Disappointment”… My father told me I needed to read it as he had recently became interested in stocks and investing, and that he knew it would make me angry. I don’t think he knew in just what way this book would anger me, though. I knew I would hate this book going into it, but the way Kiyosaki talks about poor people and the working class, calling them lazy or unintelligent because they aren’t rich. People like this man disgust me, honestly. Not only because he wrote this book, but also because my research into him before, during, and after reading this book shows me he’s just full of shit. Even now, thinking about this book and this person has me seething. Anyway.

Most Disappointing Book of 2021

This is going to go to Hellenismos: Practicing Greek Polytheism Today by Tony Mierzwicki. For a while, now, I’ve been trying to lean more into Greek polytheism in terms of spirituality. And in some parts, this book was a lovely guide to getting started in that. However, the author also made some pretty odd comments at parts, including ragging on GMOs in places where that wasn’t really… relevant? At all. That said, this book comes with an extensive list of resources at the end of every chapter, which is good for further research. I don’t know, though. This book at times just rubbed me pretty wrong.

Book That Most Surprised Me

Do I think this book was perfect? No. Did I enjoy myself the whole way through? Yeah. The book I picked for this category was The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci. I have a hard time with books wrote by… “influencers” doesn’t quite feel like the right word. Regardless, more often than not, I find books by these kinds of people to be lacking. I talked about this a couple years ago when talking about The Cellar by Natasha Preston. However, The Savior’s Champion was a blessed change. Again, it wasn’t a perfect book. It definitely could have been pared down some, and there’s some choices I don’t agree with. But for the most part, I had a lot of fun! And I liked this book so much I bought the next one. We’ll see how that goes.

Favorite Cover

I’m not often one for judging books by their covers, but I figured I would do this for fun. I had a couple of books in mind when thinking about this category, and I’ve reduced my choice down to two. The first is Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann. I’m really happy there’s more and more people of color being featured on book covers, and I really love the font here and just. The general layout of it. It pleases me. The other cover I had in mind was In the Dark by Loreth Anne White. I really am a sucker for more minimalistic covers, or ones that get funky with the text.

Best Nonfiction Book

I don’t read as much nonfiction as I do regular fiction, admittedly. However, I mentioned this book in my mid-year post and my answer remains the same – that is to say, my favorite nonfiction book of 2021 was Know My Name by Chanel Miller.

This book broke my heart. It really did. If you’re unfamiliar, Chanel Miller is the woman that Brock Turner raped back in 2015. I first heard about this book via the YouTube channel “withCindy” (formerly “ReadWithCindy”) and knew I had to read it. And it hit… so close to home so many times. Chanel writes about it all in such a poignant manner. And you know what? She shouldn’t have had to write this in the first place. She shouldn’t have been put through everything she did. Just… If you’re going to read any book, read this one.

Book Plans for 2022

In years past, I’ve named books that I had not, in fact, gone on to read. Still, I wanted to highlight my reading plans for this year, what I’ve already read, and what I’m currently reading or plan to before the year is up.

This year, I’m getting a little ambitious and saying I would like to read 52 books, one book for each week of the year. I’ve already read 3 as of making this post – Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson, Branches by Adam Peter Johnson (the Twitter Indie Book Club reading choice for January) and The Legend of Zelda, Vol 4: The Minish Cap/Phantom Hourglass by Akira Himekawa. I’m off to a good start! Here’s the next few books that are on my list to be read or are currently being read:

  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Sir Terry Pratchett
  • The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
  • The Eye of the World, Book 1 in The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
  • Going Postal by Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Rivers Run Red by A. D. Green
  • Jade City by Fonda Lee
  • Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
  • Dreams and Deceit by Freya Bell and Nicole L. Soper Gorden

What about you? What were some books you read last year? What are you planning to read this year?

Author: draconako

Alex is a queer writer, game-maker, and mountain of incomprehensible goo living in the Pacific Northwest. When they aren’t being paid to manage insurance accounts, they’re researching whatever interests them, reading from their arsenal of books, playing video games, or spending time with their partner. They can be reached at @draconako on most of the internet or at authoralexharvey@gmail.com

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