This has become something of a tradition over the past couple of years – turbulent and challenging years that they have been! – as the final hours of New Year’s Eve draws on, and the little one sleeps in bed we look back at the year just gone.
The books I finished reading this year are currently scrolling along the top of this post! The total number of books completed in 2021 (including Exit, which I finished last night) is 56.
That seems a drop in the ocean for some of you, perhaps, but it is an achievement for me! In fact, it bucks a trend that has been remarkably stable over the last three years!
Look at that, exactly 39 books per year for three years, and then 17 more this year! And that is not even counting the books that I have read with my daughter, which are becoming increasingly “real” books – Podkin One-Ear, Brightspark, A Pinch of Magic, Howl’s Moving Castle…
The most popular genre was Crime – and specifically the sort of crime novel that borrows from comedy and pathos and quirky characters: Richard Osman, Janice Hallett, Belinda Bauer, these are not writers who offer us hard boiled detectives, are they?
Espionage is a growing genre for me too. I wonder whether these novels – and the crime – speak to a desire for order in the world that we are living in. Narratives that reassure us that the world may descend into chaos, but will right itself again.
Equally, science fiction is a growing genre, and along with fantasy and even historical fiction, is the offer and promise that books give us of travel, in a world were travel is fraught with risk and restrictions.
Literary fiction is always going to be a high ranking genre too because I do try to cover the Booker Prize and Women’s Prize longlists. And because, whilst I love my escapist fun reads, I do also love those thought -provoking and challenging reads too.
Piranesi, Susanna Clarke
For sheer, pure inventiveness though I would choose Clarke’s Piranesi, the haunting narrative of Piranesi in the empty rooms of the impossible House.
Shortest: Redhead By The Side of the Road, Anne Tyler
Page Count: 192
A lovely gentle narrator quietly going about his ordered and routine life when life in all its unruly messiness intervenes in the form of a girlfriend (although he refuses to call her that at their age) who wants to move in, a possible son who reaches out, and an extended family of sisters who interfere.
Longest: Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
Page Count: 674
Thomas Cromwell. Henry VIII. Anne Boleyn.
An exquisite read – so much so that this was a re-read – but not quite, in my opinion, as strong as Bring Up the Bodies.
For my blog, these are the categories of diversity that I chose to focus on – being fully aware that there are a myriad of others, all of whom deserve recognition and representation too. Again, when choosing to shadow the Women’s Prize, it is unsurprising that gender representation comes out high on this list!
In terms of geography, my reading has primarily felt either British or fantastical in its settings, but we did explore a range of the world in this year:
I discovered a total of 18 new-to-me and debut authors this year:
- Carmen Maria Machado
- Anne Tyler
- Douglas Stuart
- Raven Leilani
- Silvia Moreno Garcia
- Marie-Louise FitzPatrick
- Naoise Dolan
- Mick Herron
- Clare Chambers
- B. P. Walter
- Amanda Craig
- Amal El-Mohtar
- Max Gladstone
- Rachel Cusk
- Patricia Lockwood
- Janice Hallet
- Monique Roffey
- Robert Peston
And if I have to choose a favourite from them, it would probably be Silvia Moreno Garcia – not only was Mexican Gothic a sublime gothic tale and her writing exquisite, the range and scope of her other novels is extraordinary!
Unsurprisingly,the United Kingdom, United States and Canada are the top three viewers of the blog.
I managed 31,022 views this year which is massively humbling and I cannot say how grateful I am for each and every one of them. It is slightly down from last year’s 33,849, but in terms of footfall and visitors it is slightly up from last year: 20,767 compared to 19,183 visitors over the year.
Thank you all, each and every one of you.
Most Popular Page:
Welcome Page, 3,823 views
Most Popular Book Reviews:
Moonflower Murders, Anthony Horowitz, 1158 views
Small Pleasures, Clare Chambers, 786 views
A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, Becky Chambers 665 views
Most Popular Top Ten Tuesday List:
Best Books I Read in 2021, 110 views
And as the new year approaches, I raise a glass to you and to all the new friends and connections, the like-minded readers and explorers who have joined with me in the last year.
May I wish you all a safe, and a wonderful, New Year and a healthy 2022.