My favorite reads of 2021

I’m going to do something a bit different this year. Much less on the numbers other than the top line of 85¹ books read this year with 50.1% by women and 38.6% by non-white authors.

I’ve been a bit better about finding time to read without my commute by “L” to give me the time with my books. Even so, 85 is less than my goal of 100.

I started the year with a few books by women, with Siân Griffith’s The Heart Keeps Faulty Time being the first book that really blew me away. It’s a slender book, but I can remember being torn between savoring it and tearing through it as I read.

Charles Yu’s How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe came close on the heals of reading Griffiths. Everyone else was reading his latest book, Interior Chinatown, but this popped up higher on my to-read list and it was an amazing book and made me eager to read more of Yu’s writing.

As part of my Dewey Decimal Project, I read Eduardo Galeano’s Memory of Fire trilogy² and was absolutely blown away by it. It feels in many ways what Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States should have been. This is the book that I keep bringing to other people’s attention.

I only read one book in Spanish this year, and it was the slender La Historia de mis Dientes by Valeria Luiselli. I read Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive last year and wasn’t that impressed by it. My sense, coming at this book, is that Luiselli is a more compelling writer when she writes in her native Spanish than when she writes in English which seems to make her more conventional in her voice.

Kristen Radtke’s Seek You: A Journey through American Loneliness was a revelatory read. Radtke managed an amazing mixture of words and pictures for her illustrated essay that allowed the text to have even greater strength than it would have on its own.

  1. Assuming that I do indeed finish the two books I expect to finish by Friday.
  2. Strictly speaking, I only read the first volume as part of my Dewey Decimal Project but I was so taken by it that I made a point of reading the other two volumes at the first opportunity.


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