It’s amazing how many memories were conjured up by this 2021 reading review. I’m not that disciplined on Goodreads so I ended up copying and pasting all our old entries into an Excel spreadsheet instead. Tracking our family activities has been one of the great benefits of keeping this blog going and a main reason for checking in every month.
I won’t lie – the first part of the year was tough. Juggling work, homeschooling and isolation was a struggle, but we got through it. The world exploded after this and like others, we probably overdid things, especially at the end of the year. Great for seeing people and doing stuff, but not so much for personal projects. We plan to balance this better in 2022.
Reading was success on the whole. Between us, we read 132 books – more than in 2020 and this doesn’t include the titles that Martha read for school (probably around 50). We bought a huge amount of books (estimate 200) from indie bookshops to support them through a tough year. No regrets although we’ll be reducing buying new books substantially in 2022 to lower our consumption after researching the carbon impact of the book industry a few months ago. Al and I cross-read 8 books, generally with the same verdict. I also want to say special thanks to my bookstagram friends, The Lady Who Reads and The Book Bug for buddy reading Patrick Leigh Fermor and Octavia E Butler titles with me this year.
As with our monthly round-ups, we’ve summarised everyone’s reading progress – listing the top rated titles below:
My main achievement was to crack my 80 book goal with a final total of 84 titles read. I went with my mood most of the time and ended up reading a lot of fantasy and literary fiction with a good chunk of self development via audiobook.
Surprisingly 72% of the authors were male and 28% female. I put this down to male domination in the fantasy genre (I read most of Rivers of London series and a fair few Pratchetts to deal with the Covid gloom) although it’s clearly up to me to seek out female fantasy writers next year. Maybe connected to this, Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, a blend of surreal fantasy and real-life metaverse, was my favourite book of 2021. Here are the others.
- The Fall of Koli by M.R. Carey (last in a trilogy)
- Mr Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo
- Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson
- Atomic Habits by James Clear (audiobook)
- The Science of Storytelling by Will Storr (audiobook)
Al had a better reading year in 2021 – finishing on 23 books. In all of these, he enjoyed the succinct writing and the first two in particular had a significant impact on his world view. Al actually bought 2 copies of the Eddo-Lodge but gave them away before I could read it so that’s on my 2022 radar. The author gender split was 30% female and 70% male – very similar to mine.
- Questions I am Asked About the Holocaust by Hédi Fried
- Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
- The Year of the End by Anne Theroux
- Laurie Lee – Down in the Valley: A Writer’s Landscape – edited by David Parker
Martha read 25 books at home in 2021. She enjoys reading but reserves books for evenings at the moment, which can be hit and miss depending on other activities. Nevertheless, as long as she continues to dip in, we’re happy. Reading should always be fun – that’s one of the reasons we subscribed to the Phoenix Comic this year, which Martha reads cover to cover every week. I think we can safely say that the Scarlet and Ivy series by Sophie Cleverly came top of her list, with Jamie Smart’s Bunny vs Monkey series a close second.
If you want to find out more about any of the books listed on our 2021 reading review, you can see them all on our Bookshop.org page.
We’re now planning ahead for 2022, but for brevity’s sake, I’ll be sharing our ideas about books, life and learning in the next post. We’re excited to see everyone else’s plans too!
Mel, Al and Martha