2021 Top Ten Book Favorites and Stats

My book a day challenge officially ends tomorrow since I started last year on the 31st. I’ll be including the two books I’m reading today and tomorrow in these stats 🙂 I honestly cannot believe I completed this challenge. It seemed crazy at the beginning of the year, but thanks to my new love of non-fiction kids picture books I was able to get through the more challenging days! On to the numbers…

I read 415 books.

73 books published in 2021 and 40 published in 2020.

The oldest book I read was Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie published in 1934.

249 were fiction and 166 were non-fiction. (this non-fiction is highly unusual for me and due, in part, to the 99 kids non-fiction books I read this year)

280 were written by authors new to me.

Favorite Cover

I visited France 25 times and the UK 17 times through my reading. I also read books set in 16 other countries.

I continued with 11 series ( Jack Reacher, Lady Sherlock, Kinsey Milhone, Dublin Murder Squad, Mrs. Pollifax, Inspector Rebus, Hathaways, Lucas Davenport, Amos Decker, In Death, Ravenels),

started 6 others (Fiona Figg, Runaway Train, Brigertons, Hugo Marston, Jeremy Logan, Seven Sisters)

and read 1 series from beginning to end (Lucy Valentine series by Heather Webber books 1-5).

The longest book I read was The President is Missing by James Patterson and Bill Clinton at 528 pages.

Most read authors – adults – Lee Child with 8, kids – Virginia Hamilton with 5, and illustrator Jerry Pinkney with 8.

I already posted the longlist of my favorite kids books here and my favorite adult books here, but…

Top Ten Books I Read in 2021

Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z
Dictionary For a Better World: Poems, Quotes, Anecdotes From A to Z by Irene Latham, Charles Waters, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini.

I love this book so much! Gage and I read one letter every day, some letters have a few words, some only one. There’s a poem, an explanation of what type of poem it is, a quote, a paragraph about the word written by Charles or Irene, and then an action.

This was the beautiful way we’ve started our learning everyday. We read, we discussed, and used the poems as cursive practice. The book and pages are gorgeous and I’ve already ordered our own copy, since this was a library book. We finished up with Zest and pages of further reading recommendations which I plan on using! This the second collaboration between these authors and I definitely need to get their first book.

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Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey From World War II to Peace by Ashley Bryan

Do yourself a favor and get your hands on this book! It’s a wonderful first hand account of his time in the war with a little of his life before and after. Scroll through the pics. Each the drawings were sketches he made during his days in the military. He would send the hundreds of sketches home when he could and just brought them out for public consumption a few years ago. In addition to the sketches, photos, and commentary, he’s included some of the letters he sent home.

He was there on Omaha Beach working as a stevedore to get cargo from ship to Allied forces. His home was a foxhole he dug himself on the beach.

It’s a story of war, hope, prejudice, and perseverance. If your child needs a firsthand account of someone in WWII or of racial inequality in the war this is a must read. It’s laid out so beautifully it’s sure to hold their attention. And, as an adult, I fell in love with it myself.

The Push
The Push by Ashley Audrain

The Push was our book club choice for April and it generated some very strong feelings. Personally, disturbing as it was, this was a great book. It’s a complicated story about motherhood, all of the ugly parts no one talks about and the absolute highs when you are exactly the mother you thought you’d be.

Blythe comes from generations of bad mothers. The stories of her mother and grandmother are interspersed throughout the novel. Blythe falls in love, gets married and is nervous to start a family of her own. Motherhood comes and I’ll tell you no more.

This debut novel is well written, perfectly paced, and hard to put down. But it’s not an easy read. It’s difficult at times to take in what’s happening and I think a lot of women could be upset by much of what happens. It’s a love or hate book for most and I’m standing on the love side.

The Midnight Library
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

What if every choice you made led to a different life, a different you and it was happening simultaneously to your life right now. What if you were able to visit The Midnight Library and try on each of these lives to see if you preferred them to the one you’re currently living. So goes the story of Nora Seed.

Loved this book. Not only did I love the endless possibilities, I loved the attention to great philosophers, especially Thoreau, who is a favorite of mine. Highly recommend this one for discussion and contemplation. 

Razorblade Tears
Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby

This book was definitely elevated by the excellent narration by Adam Lazarre-White. His rich voice made the story of two fathers, one white, one black, coming to terms with the deaths of their gay sons come alive. There was more violence and also more soul searching than I anticipated going in. Give this one a listen.

The Last Thing He Told Me
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

This lived up to ALL of the hype! It’s so different from her other two books. It’s a thriller. One day a child knocks on Hannah’s door with a note, it’s from her husband and all it says is PROTECT HER. Bailey, the daughter, comes home from school with a duffel bag full of cash that her dad had stuffed in her locker. Owen himself was missing.

That’s all you get. If you like thrillers this is a must read! 

Salvage the Bones
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

This is an unflinching story of poverty, family, and life. Esch is 14 and has just found out she’s pregnant. She’s had sex with lots of her brothers friends because it easier to say yes than to upset them, but she knows who the father is, her oldest brother’s best friend. Another brother, Skeetah, has bred his prized pit bull China so that he could sell the puppies. The youngest brother’s birth cost her mother’s life and left the four of them with a drunk and rough father.

This book takes place in the 12 days leading up to Hurricane Katrina. There is such a richness to the unapologetic language and story. I still feel like a little bit of me is stuck on the coast. There is a brutal dog fighting scene. I had to close the book and sit with my visceral reaction to it. This book takes its time, but at some point it will completely draw you into the Baptiste family and their world.

It’s a National Book Award Winner published in 2011.

The Sun Is Also a Star
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

“Everything happens for a reason. This is a thing people say. My mom says it a lot. “Things happen for a reason, Tasha.” Usually people say it when something goes wrong, but not too wrong. A non fatal car accident. A sprained ankle instead of a broken one.

Tellingly, my mom has not said it in reference to our deportation. What reason could there be for this awful thing happening? My dad, whose fault this whole thing is, says, “You can’t always see God’s plan.” I want to tell him that maybe he shouldn’t leave everything up to God and that hoping against hope is not a life strategy, but that would mean I would have to talk to him, and I don’t want to talk to him.”

What a great way to start the month. I loved the romantic and scientific back and forth on the meaning of life and love. Almost the entire book takes place during one day, the day of deportation and the day Natasha and Daniel meet and fall in love. Jamaica and Korean cultures fill up the pages of this teen American Dream romance.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Persepolis, #1)
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

A graphic memoir by the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors. She tells the story of her childhood during the Islamic Revolution and Iran’s war with Iraq. And then later as she is sent away to live on her own in Vienna at the age of 14.

The black and white illustrations are full of horror, history, and heartwarming and heartbreaking stories. I’m late to the game, but this is a must read. 

The Complete Maus
Maus by Art Spiegelman

Two outstanding graphic books by Art Spieglman (the first winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1992).

It’s the story of the Holocaust based on Spiegelman’s interviews with his survivor father and also of his life with his father as he got older. He, his father, and the other Jewish people are depicted as mice and the Nazis as cats.

So moving, both as a Holocaust history, but also a relationship story between father and son. One I’m not going to forget anytime soon.

You are welcome to check out my end of the year list of books on Goodreads here. You will have to go to the bottom and click on See More Books a few times to see them all.