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.
Although I am, at this point, really dragging, unable to get back to any emails in a reasonable amount of time, and needing to lie down multiple times a day, I am gritting my teeth and making myself write this post, because it is February 2021 and if I don’t get around to this now, I never will.
2020 was a real [obscene hand gesture] of a year—I won’t bore you with details because, well, it communally sucked for everyone, didn’t it? If you’re interested, I wrote a whole piece over on Substack that is my best attempt at describing the suspended state of despair I think we were all in, and specifically describes the futility of making music in that state.
If you missed it, I also put together a blog post in August summarizing the things I had managed to accomplish; for the highlights of what else I was able to do after that, kindly see the press page on my website.
My reading goal in 2020 was to read more new books than I had the year before; since I finished 64 new books in 2019, my goal for 2020 was 65. I ended up blowing past that number in August, and by the end of December had finished a nice round 100. I have no idea what my reading goal is for this year, if any, since a goal of 100+ gets you into the realm of reading for the sake of reading, which goes against everything I stand for, so for now I’m just 🤷🏻♀️ about my reading goal for this year.
Before I get into my list, several observations I took away from a year of reading:
Here is a gift guide, because I felt like writing one. Did anyone ask for this? No. Do I have enough clout to justify the effort? Also no. Here it is anyway.
(If you are one of my friends or family, and you are close enough to me that it is likely I will be giving you presents in December, STOP READING!!!)
There are no affiliate links in this, because despite the weird emails I get asking me to promote stuff, I’m not an influencer. There are also no Amazon links here—that’s right, this is an AMAZON-FREE GIFT GUIDE. (Of course, most of the stuff here can be bought on Amazon, but I strongly urge you to buy from small businesses—local if possible—or at the very least, direct from the companies themselves.)
Every single item on this list is a thing I have bought or used myself, that I seriously love, and can wholeheartedly recommend. Again, there is zero monetary incentive for me to post this stuff. There isn’t a super strong theme here, although I kind of noticed that everything fits in the category of “stuff that makes life at home more enjoyable,” because travel is a distant memory at this point.