The adventures, thoughts, and general scrawlings of a classical pianist

2021 in Books

Somehow, without really meaning to, I read 102 new books in 2021. (As always, I only count books in English that are new to me, so re-reads don’t count, my stumbling through children’s books in other languages doesn’t count, and I only count books I’ve finished. I have a very generous “if you truly hate the book you don’t have to finish it” rule for myself.)

Quick aside: ever since I started logging my reading, I’ve been dying to run a bunch of nerdy data analysis; I think it would be interesting to track my ratio of, say, fiction to non-fiction, and to analyze what percentage of my reading is by writers of color, women and nonbinary folks, etc. I also casually noticed that this year, I was sometimes blowing through 10+ books a month, but nearly came to a stop as soon as the Animal Crossing: New Horizons update dropped. (I just think that would be a super funny graph.)

However, I am so tired (we are still in a pandemic) and it was hard enough for me to grit my teeth and make this post, so alas, no graphs and charts for me.

One thing I did do was continue writing a mini-review of every single book I read over on my reading-specific Instagram, @readingwithsharon. I have many thoughts about this activity; there were multiple times through the year that I let my backlog of unreviewed books pile up, and I found myself wondering why on earth I gave myself HOMEWORK in the name of fun. However, it is pretty neat to read through my impressions on every book I read, and helpful for jogging my memory when discussing books with friends, so I think I will continue writing my silly little posts, at least until they make me genuinely unhappy.

The other thing that gives me pause re: the Instagram account for books is that the platform is fundamentally not made for this purpose. I’m constantly maxing out on caption space, I can’t link related books to each other, I can’t search the text of my reviews, and the social aspect is a mess. In 2021 I got a lot of spam from bot accounts, and tapping through the hashtags for the books I’d just read would make me sad, as a lot of posts are by people who haven’t read the book and are just styling hygge-aesthetic-aspirational photos for the ~engagement~. I also don’t love, honestly, pouring so much of my time and brainpower into one of Mark Zuckerberg’s many vessels.

However, you can’t get around the fact that Instagram is incredibly easy to use, and it’s much easier for me to tap out my little reviews when the process doesn’t feel too much like work. Ideally I’d just set up a separate blog for my book reviews, but have you seen how infrequently I update this blog??

Anyway. I love reading (and overthinking) and there were so many bangers this past year. I’ve marked my personal favorites with the star emoji (⭐️) but mind you, this designation is honestly starting to mean less and less; there are plenty of books I thoroughly enjoyed and ended up buying/recommending to other people that for whatever reason didn’t get a star from me.

Finally, one more thing: in last year’s post I linked every book to its corresponding review on @readingwithsharon. I simply do not have the energy to do so this year, so if you’re really curious about my thoughts for each book, you’ll have to go to my profile and find the book in question. Apologies. If it’s more your speed, I do include a “book of the week” in my weekly posts on Patreon.

My 2021 Book Log

  1. Mary Wollstonecraft / A Vindication of the Rights of Women 
  2. Emily Hashimoto / A World Between
  3. May-Lee Chai / Useful Phrases for Immigrants
  4. Riku Onda / The Aosawa Murders
  5. Pat Barker / The Silence of the Girls
  6. Erik Larson / The Splendid and the Vile ⭐️
  7. Jessica J. Lee / Two Trees Make a Forest
  8. Raven Leilani / Luster
  9. N.K. Jemisin / The City We Became
  10. Ijeoma Oluo / Mediocre ⭐️
  11. Alice Miller / The Drama of the Gifted Child
  12. Maurice Leblanc / The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar
  13. Stephanie Coontz / Marriage, a History ⭐️
  14. Karla Cornejo Villavicencio / The Undocumented Americans ⭐️
  15. Arthur Phillips / The King at the Edge of the World ⭐️
  16. Han Kang / Human Acts
  17. Brit Bennett / The Vanishing Half ⭐️
  18. Yu Miri / Tokyo Ueno Station
  19. Patricia Lockwood / No One Is Talking About This
  20. Maaza Mengiste / The Shadow King
  21. Esi Edugyan / Washington Black
  22. Phyllis Reynolds Naylor / Alice in Charge
  23. Valeria Luiselli / Tell Me How it Ends ⭐️
  24. Daisy Johnson / Sisters
  25. Afia Atakora / Conjure Women
  26. Cho Nam-Joo / Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 ⭐️
  27. Brandon Taylor / Real Life
  28. Courtney Milan / The Duke Who Didn’t
  29. Akwaeke Emezi / The Death of Vivek Oji
  30. Kazuo Ishiguro / The Remains of the Day
  31. Phil Klay / Missionaries
  32. Isabel Wilkerson / The Warmth of Other Suns ⭐️
  33. Ann Patchett / The Dutch House
  34. Sayaka Murata / Earthlings
  35. David Sedaris / Theft By Finding
  36. Nina George / The Little French Bistro
  37. Sue Miller / Monogamy
  38. Tracy Barrett / Anna of Byzantium
  39. Erika Lee / The Making of Asian America ⭐️
  40. Jonny Sun / Goodbye, Again
  41. Adania Shibli / Minor Detail
  42. Kaitlyn Greenidge / Libertie
  43. Lauren Hough / Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing ⭐️
  44. Yaa Gyasi / Homegoing ⭐️
  45. Kazuo Ishiguro / Never Let Me Go ⭐️
  46. Margot Livesey / The Boy in the Field
  47. Stacey Abrams / While Justice Sleeps
  48. Torrey Peters / Detransition, Baby
  49. Vanessa Hua / Deceit and Other Possibilities
  50. Muriel Barbery / Gourmet Rhapsody
  51. Jeffrey Selingo / Who Gets In and Why ⭐️
  52. Akwaeke Emezi / Freshwater 
  53. Bryan Washington / Memorial 
  54. Jenny Lee / Anna K 
  55. Deepa Anappara / Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line
  56. Clint Smith / How the Word is Passed
  57. Simon Rich / Hits and Misses
  58. Simon Rich / Spoiled Brats
  59. Fernanda Melchor / Hurricane Season
  60. Mark Forsyth / The Elements of Eloquence 
  61. Natalie Haynes / A Thousand Ships ⭐️
  62. Victoria Chang / Obit 
  63. Jasmine Guillory / While We Were Dating
  64. Melanie Benjamin / Mistress of the Ritz
  65. Sanjena Sathian / Gold Diggers ⭐️
  66. Simon Rich / Man Seeking Woman
  67. Colson Whitehead / The Nickel Boys ⭐️
  68. Natalie Haynes / The Children of Jocasta
  69. Elena Ferrante / The Days of Abandonment
  70. Samanta Schweblin / Little Eyes
  71. Michelle Zauner / Crying in H Mart ⭐️
  72. Josephine Tey / The Daughter of Time ⭐️
  73. Patrik Svensson / The Book of Eels ⭐️
  74. Lauren Sandler / This Is All I Got ⭐️
  75. Melissa Broder / Milk Fed 
  76. Mary H.K. Choi / Yolk 
  77. Steven Rowley / The Guncle
  78. Chia-Chia Lin / The Unpassing 
  79. Pat Barker / The Women of Troy 
  80. Jessica Pan / Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come ⭐️
  81. Amity Gaige / Sea Wife 
  82. Carolina De Robertis / Perla
  83. Matt Ortile / The Groom Will Keep His Name 
  84. Simon Rich / What in God’s Name
  85. Yaa Gyasi / Transcendent Kingdom
  86. Asako Serizawa / Inheritors 
  87. Valeria Luiselli / Lost Children Archive
  88. Helen Hoang / The Heart Principle ⭐️
  89. Patrick Radden Keefe / Empire of Pain ⭐️
  90. Megha Majumdar / A Burning
  91. Anjali Enjeti / The Parted Earth
  92. Brené Brown / Daring Greatly
  93. Polly Rosenwaike / Look How Happy I’m Making You
  94. Milan Kundera / The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  95. Ta-Nehisi Coates / The Water Dancer
  96. Gillian Flynn / Sharp Objects
  97. Jessica Pan, Rachel Kapelke-Dale / Graduates in Wonderland ⭐️
  98. Barbara Demick / Eat the Buddha
  99. Sally Rooney / Beautiful World, Where Are You ⭐️
  100. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry / Wind, Sand and Stars
  101. Mieko Kawakami / Heaven
  102. Apuleius / The Golden Ass (tr. Ellen Finkelpearl, ed. Peter Singer)

Previous Book Logs

2019 in Books
2020 in Books

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