2021 in books

The past year may be a personal best for number of books read, at least since my childhood when I remember reading this many and more during the golden days of summer vacation. I am a little surprised at my total of 92 but will attribute it to one part motivation to reduce the mighty stacks of to-be-reads and one part blinkered escape from the world.

Here’s how it sorts out. I read about the same number non-fiction as last year with 26. The novels added up to 66. There were 22 books translated from other languages into English. Atypically for me, a little more than half my list had been published (either new or in the English translation) since 2015. That reflects the pandemic buying binge to support bookstores creating the afore-mentioned mighty stacks.

It’s very gratifying to review my reading list and see so many very good, satisfying, well written titles. My 10 Best list feels a little arbitrary. Several were easy picks but others might have been different another day. So here is my list of ten plus a few. I don’t claim that I chose the best, but these are ones I most enjoyed.

Non-Fiction

China In Ten Words by YU Hua (translated from the Chinese)
Fire & Brimstone: The North Butte Mining Disaster 1917 by Michael Punke
Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchiking Japan by Will Ferguson
A Stranger To Myself, The Inhumanity of War: Russia 1941-1944 by Willy Peter Reese (translated from German)

Fiction

The Great Swindle by Pierre Lemaitre (translated from the French)
Reading In The Dark by Seamus Deane
The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich
The King At The Edge Of The World by Arthur Phillips
Human Acts by HAN Kang (translated from the Korean)
The Memory Police by OGAWA Toko (translated from the Japanese)

Special Multi-Novel Achievement Category

the five “Patrick Melrose” novels by Edward St. Aubyn
Never Mind
Bad News
Some Hope
Mother’s Milk
At Last

Special Unexpected Pure Reading Pleasure Category

The Distance by Eddie Muller

Author: abookwomansholiday

The perfect holiday for a lifelong reader is one with a stack of books and few distractions. Retiring after three decades as a bookseller, I look forward to reading my way through the stacks and shelves and lists of books waiting for me. This blog will be something of a grab bag or commonplace book of reviews, quotations, notes on the history of books, the contemporary book trade, and anything connected with books and language. Reading is a great pleasure. Thinking and talking about books multiplies and intensifies that pleasure.

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