2021 Reading List – The Final

Organizing my favorite books of the year is always a challenging task. How to sort through so many remarkable books, particularly when preferences are so subjective? How to make some sort of sense or cohesion out of such a disparate array of texts? Ultimately, the books that made the final cut are the ones that stuck with me, that my brain kept coming back to, and that I kept recommending to other people to read.

Favorite Reads of 2021

  1. My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem, a.k.a. Most Practical, Heart-Centered Work for Racial Justice
  2. Ring Shout by P. Djèli Clark, a.k.a. Best Black Girl Magic, a.k.a. Best Trolling of the KKK, a.k.a. Best Novella
  3. The Library of the Dead by T. L. Huchu, Best Haunted Future, with a Library!, a.k.a. Best Fantasy
    • Honorable Mention: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  4. Redemptor and its sequel, Raybearer, by Jordan Ifueko, a.k.a. Best Fantasy to Give to Your Bad Ass Young Person
  5. All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions to the Climate Crisis, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katherine K. Wilkinson, a.k.a. Most Motivating to Get Involved to Solve the Climate Crisis
  6. The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in the Capitalist Ruins by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, a.k.a. Most Motivating to Embrace Whatever Comes Next
    • Honorable Mention: Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction by Annalee Newitz
  7. The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, a.k.a. Most Horrifying Reckoning with Past Sins
  8. The Carrying: Poems by Ada Limón, a.k.a. Most Heart Exploding Poetry
  9. The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey, a.k.a. Best Bone-Chilling, Thought-Provoking Your Ex-Husband Clones You Book, a.k.a. Best Sci-Fi
  10. What Strange Paradise by Omar El-Akkad, a.k.a. Most Heart-Breaking Realist Fairy Tale
  11. Hamnet, a Novel of the Plague by Maggie O’Farrell, a.k.a., Most Impossible to Describe Without Making it Sound Boring and Thus Doing a Disservice to this Remarkable Novel
  12. The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley, a.k.a. Most Beautiful, Compulsively Readable Re-Telling of Beowulf.
  13. Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life by Lulu Miller, a.k.a., Most Likely to Make You Run Up to People and Say, “Read this!”

Last, an Honorable Mention, I suppose. I re-read Parable of the Talents this year. I’m mostly done with Wild Seed, reading along with the Octavia’s Parables podcast on it. Just read Octavia Butler. Do it.

82 books read, 22,300 pages. (More texts, less pages than 2020.) 11 re-reads, 71 first timers.
For the first half of the 2021 list, see this post. For last year’s list, go here.
There are longer posts for many of these books on the blog as well.
One star = I thought it was quite good; Two stars = I thought it was really good.
Zero stars is not a value judgement beyond that, some I liked quite a bit, others not so much.

*43. RaybearerJordan IfuekoN
44. Emily ClimbsL.M. MontgomeryY
*45. The Library of the DeadT. L. HuchuN
46. The PlotJean Hanff KorelitzN
47. A Darker Shade of MagicV. E. SchwabN
*48. On Immunity: An InoculationEula BissN
*49. The Marrow ThievesCherie DimalineN
**50. Parable of the TalentsOctavia ButlerY
*51. What Strange ParadiseOmar El AkkadN
**52. The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in the Capitalist RuinsAnna Lowenhaupt TsingN
53. Shadow and BoneLeigh BardugoN
54. Marrow IslandAlexis M. SmithN
*55. Gods of Jade and ShadowSilvia Moreno-GarciaY
56. Women and Other Monsters: Building a New MythologyJess ZimmermanN
57. The Ordinary PrincessM.M. KayeY
58. A Master of DjinnP. Djèli ClarkN
59. Our RichesKaouther Adimi. Trans. by Chris AndrewsN
60. The Blue CastleL. M. MontgomeryY
*61. My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauman and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and BodiesResmaa MenakemN
62. Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban AgeAnnalee NewitzN
63. RedemptorJordan IfuekoN
64. My Heart Is A ChainsawStephen Graham JonesN
65. A Wrinkle in TimeL. M. MontgomeryY
*66. Build Your House Around my BodyViolet KupersmithN
*67. Exhalation: StoriesTed ChiangN
**68. Holding Change: The Way of Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Mediationadrienne maree brownY
69. The Future of Another TimelineAnnalee NewitzN
70. The Final Girl Support GroupGrady HendrixN
*71. Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass ExtinctionAnnalee NewitzN
72. BecomingMichelle ObamaN
**73. Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Live, and the Hidden Order of LifeLulu MillerN
*74. Wintering: The Power of Retreat and Rest in Difficult TimesKatherine MayN
75. When the Tiger Came Down the MountainNghi VoN
*76. On Fragile WavesE. Lily YuN
77. Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York’s Legendary Chelsea HotelSherril TippinsN
78. BintiNnedi OkoraforN
79. Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and AlcoholMallory O’MearaN
80. The Ministry for the FutureKim Stanley RobinsonN
*81. Ninth HouseLeigh BardugoN
*82. Oceanic (poems)Aimee NezhukumatathilN