I read 63 books in 2021 and I’m going to talk about them, because I like talking about books.
I hope you like reading about books. (:
First, if you want to see all the books I read, you can check out my 2021 Goodreads stats page. (You don’t need a Goodreads account to view it.)
On to a tag!
I’m confused about the name of this tag, because it’s not the end of the new year, but the beginning… however it looks like great fun! Thanks to Emily for this tag! Check out her original post for all the details, rules, etc.
How many books did you read this year?
I read 63! I originally wanted to read 100, then 75. Clearly, I did not accurately estimate the amount of reading I would be able to do during college.
What were your top five books of the year?
- Thorn by Intisar Khanani
- Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
- Hillsdale College Western Heritage Reader
- Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
- Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
I don’t have a lot more to say here. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover many books that I loved this year, but I did truly love Thorn, and I’m a cosmere fan for life now. Little Dorrit took a while for me to love it but I really appreciated the ending. And Sorcery of Thorns was just delightful; I read a host of YA fantasy novels this year, and this was one of the only ones that felt unique and memorable. Plus, Silas.
- Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
- The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
- Morning Star by Pierce Brown
- The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope
- Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Was there a story that came to you during a darker period of the year?
I watched Shadow and Bone, then read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, at a difficult point in the year. One month into my first semester of college, I was quarantined, which meant I didn’t see any of the friends I had just made for a couple of weeks. I felt very isolated and worried that no one would really miss me. To top it all off, I was going through a really hard period in my faith — I wasn’t sure if I really believed in Jesus, or if I was going through the motions because I “should.”
Enter Kaz Brekker. 😛
It’s not like the Crows, themselves, helped me through that tough time. But Shadow and Bone was escapism for me, and the duology served pretty much the same purpose. While I think Leigh Bardugo is a fairly good author (and someday, maybe I’ll read her books with the goal of appreciating their quality), it didn’t matter. They could have been the worst books ever, just as long as they drew me into their world and let me love reading and love the characters.
(I’m happy to report that my friends did, in fact, miss me, and that we are all still friends. Also, I came out of that period a stronger Christian than before because I realized that the things I had been taught were true, and that the adage I had repeated to others so many times before — if you are doubting if your faith is enough, it is a sign that you care and that you still believe — was also, gloriously, true.)
Was there a book that left you speechless?
Morning Star by Pierce Brown left me just as speechless the second time. I highly recommend the Red Rising trilogy for adults/older teens. It reminds me of Ender’s Game and Star Wars and The Hunger Games. There’s incredible emotional depth, characters to fall in love with (and hate, but still love), amazing worldbuilding, quality writing, and lots of inspiration from Greek mythology.
You and I keep looking for light in the darkness, expecting it to appear. But it already has. We’re it, boyo. Broken and cracked and stupid as we are, we’re the light, and we’re spreading.
What were your top five films of the year?
Ooh look, we’re not just talking about books in this post!
This is hard to rate, especially because I don’t remember all the movies I watched. Here’s a try:
- Catching Fire
- Song of the Sea
Emma (2020) was hilarious and beautiful, with some really good acting, and such a fun spin on the story while still relatively faithful to the book. Dune (2021), while a little slow, is one of the few successful speculative book-to-movie adaptations I’ve seen, with incredible filmography and casting. Encanto was an enjoyable story, but the music! is so good! (Yay Lin-Manuel Miranda!) The whole Hunger Games franchise is a pretty accurate representation of the book’s plot and atmosphere, but Catching Fire was the best, plus Johanna and Finnick. And Song of the Sea is a truly lovely animated film.
Honorable mention to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for being the only Harry Potter movie that makes sense without having read the books, has a cohesive and contained storyline, and does a good job introducing its new characters.
Also, I liked Spider-Man: No Way Home more than I thought I would.
Was there a film that spoke to you deeply this year?
Maybe Dune? I saw it in theaters twice, and each time I was struck by the skill of the actors, and the choices the director made. The camera focusing on the little statue of Paul’s grandfather fighting a bull while Oscar Isaac’s masterful interpretation of Leto faces down the Harkonnens. Kynes whispering a prayer to the maker. The purposeful placement of Paul’s visions. The Fremen rising from the sand as their blue-eyed leader stands with his beloved. The UK/Scandinavia vibes of Caladan contrasted with the stark sand of Arrakis.
The soldiers crying “Atreides. Atreides. Atreides.” and the bagpipes playing as the Sardaukar descend.
Which fictional characters ruined your ability to think straight this year?
Matthias and Nina, Kaz and Inej, Kate and Christopher, Gen and Irene…
I will happily die for a good OTP.
What was your top genre (or genres) of the year?
I read the most fantasy, and while fantasy is still my favorite genre to read, I think the sheer amount of mediocre YA fantasy books I read taught me two important things:
- “Fantasy” is not my favorite genre; good fantasy is. And “good fantasy” often includes fairytale or mythology retellings, epic high fantasy, and slower-paced stories.
- I like reading mediocre YA fantasy anyway.
It’s not my favorite, but it’s a lot of fun.
Side note: the Queen’s Thief books manage to be mythology-inspired, epic, slow-paced, and YA all at once.
Were there any TV shows that stood out to you this year?
- All Creatures Great and Small
- Emma (2009)
- The Chosen (season one)
- Wives and Daughters
- Shadow and Bone
All Creatures Great and Small is one of my favorite kinds of shows: it’s a period drama, it’s got beautiful shots of the English countryside, it’s got a sweet romance, and it’s family-friendly. Emma is quite well done, and was fun to compare with the movie. The first season of The Chosen is so, so good (I didn’t like the second as much), especially Matthew. Wives and Daughters still reigns supreme as my favorite period drama (yes, I like it more than Jane Austen). Loki was a spectacular show that cemented Loki as my favorite Marvel character. And Shadow and Bone, though it has its faults, is quite good.
Did you attend any live theater productions this year?
Yes! I saw Pilgrim twice, as well as a few other shows, but my favorite by far was my college’s performance of Henry V. It was so good I saw it twice. If it were a movie I’d have bought it. The acting was incredible, the original music just right for the story, and the unique twist — multiple different actors playing Harry throughout the show — captivated me and has made me, maybe, a Shakespeare fangirl. (Maybe.)
Did you play any beautiful story-driven games this year?
I love this question, and I wish I could say yes, but unfortunately no. I don’t play video games, and most of my favorite board games are not at all related to stories. I am thinking of starting to play D&D sometime in 2022!
my favorite book covers this year
2022 reading goals & plans
I want to read 75 books in 2022. I have ten or so books that I’ll be reading for my spring semester, and probably about the same in the fall, so that takes care of some of my goal (and also, it’s lots of nonfiction, which is something I want to read more of).
My short-term TBR:
- A Conspiracy of Kings, Thick as Thieves, and Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (finishing up my Queen’s Thief reread!)
- Death By Living by N.D. Wilson
- The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton
- Eve in Exile and the Restoration of Femininity by Rebekah Merkle
- The Door on Half-Bald Hill by Helena Sorensen
- Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
- Operation Lionhearted by Maribeth Barber
- The Songkiller’s Symphony by Daeus Lamb
- The God of the Garden by Andrew Peterson
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
- I still haven’t read Les Mis. But I did watch the musical. *hides*
- I read Dust (and Shadow) but I didn’t really like them
- I read The Heaviest Lightest Things (by Weez) and I liked it!
- I have not yet read all of Emberwood (by the Grim Writer) but I read some. ’twas lovely 😀
- Sing! has been pushed off until I feel like it xP
- Dark Age has been pushed off until the sequel comes out so I don’t have to wait for it.
- The Gift of Fire is currently a summer 2022 planned read.
- Pilgrim at Tinker Creek seems to be destined to be a DNF. 😦
- The fifth Dragonwatch is on hold for now… maybe someday? MG fantasy is not My Thing anymore.
- The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was read last year (well, 2020), and I loved it.
- I haven’t read Ignite or The Emperor’s Gift yet but I still want to!
- I read The Theft of Sunlight, which was okay. I’m looking forward to book three.
- The Yearling, Echoes of Light, and Echo North are still on my TBR, but I did read An Enchantment of Ravens, Into the Heartless Wood, and Fable.
Thank you again to Emily for the tag, and to everyone who recommended me books to read this year!
What did you read in 2021? What are your plans for 2022?
the stories are true,