2021 Reading Wrap-Up
Here is 2020’s reading wrap up. Many of those books are ones I’m still talking about, thinking about, and recommending, especially:
- The picture books On Account of the Gum by Adam Rex, Lift by Minh Lê and Dan Santat, My Best Friend by Julie Fogliano and Jillian Tamaki, and Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina and Sonia Sánchez
- Early reader and chapter book series (Elephant & Piggie, The Princess in Black, Ivy & Bean, Dory Fantasmagory, Clementine)
- Nearly all of the middle grade books I listed, including Show Me A Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte, The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead, and Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson
- Adult novels The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, and The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
- Nonfiction: the History Smashers series by Kate Messner. Even more titles came out this year and I’ve been recommending them all to students and teachers alike.
Now, on to 2021. This year was another good year for reading, even if it wasn’t good by (m)any other metrics. Betsy Bird did her marvelous and comprehensive #31Days31Lists again, and though I’ve read many of the titles she mentions, I requested a bunch of others from the library – they’re already starting to roll in!
Total number of books: 743. Yeah, this is a lot, even for me – I was surprised when I counted them up, especially since the number of picture books stayed approximately steady from last year to this year. Early readers, chapter books, and YA went up a bit, while middle grade dropped some (that was a surprise, too); graphic novels went way up.
Partially read or started-didn’t-finish: 19. Again, a cookbook, a book of poetry, and some children’s books that the kiddo wasn’t into (or took away to read by herself).
Picture books: 327.
Note: I’m limiting my list of standout picture book titles to those published in 2020 and 2021, because…327 books! In the other categories below, I haven’t limited myself to books published in 2020-2021, though many of them were.
- When We Are Kind by Monique Gray Smith, illus. Nicole Neidhardt
- What A Lucky Day! by Jashar Awan
- Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho
- The Polio Pioneer by Linda Elovitz Marshall, illus. Lisa Anchin
- All the Way to the Top by Annette Bay Pimentel, illus. Nabi Ali
- A Small Kindness by Stacy McAnulty, illus. Wendy Leach
- Laxmi’s Mooch by Shelly Anand, illus. Nabi Ali
- Scarlet’s Tale by Audrey Vernick, illus. Jarvis
- The Midnight Fair by Gideon Sterer, illus. Mariachiara DiGiorgio
- Avocado Asks: What Am I? by Momoko Abe
- Oh Look, A Cake! by J.C. McKee (reminded me of I Really Want the Cake!)
- I Am Not A Penguin: A Pangolin’s Lament by Liz Wong (reminded me of The Angry Little Puffin)
- Watercress by Andrea Wang, illus. Jason Chin
- Don’t Hug Doug (He Doesn’t Like It) by Carrie Finison, illus. Daniel Wiseman
- A Map Into the World by Kao Kalia Yang, illus. Seo Kim
- Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. Floyd Cooper
- The Oboe Goes Boom Boom Boom by Colleen AF Venable, illus. Lian Cho
- Dad Bakes by Katie Yamasaki
- Maybe… by Chris Haughton
Early readers: 42.
- “Living In…” series by Chloe Perkins
- Disgusting Critters series by Elise Gravel
- Elephant & Piggie by Mo Willems
- Fox & Chick by Sergio Ruzzier
- Pea, Bee, & Jay by Brian Smith
- Chick & Brain by Cece Bell
- Flubby Will Not Play With That by J.E. Morris
Chapter books: 55.
- Zoey & Sassafras series by Asia Citro
- Twig & Turtle series by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
- Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke
- Ruby Lu by Lenore Look
- Unicorn Rescue Society series by Adam Gitwitz and others
- Princess Pulverizer series by Nancy Krulik
- Lunch Lady series by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (graphic novels)
- Book Buddies: Ivy Lost & Found by Cynthia Lord
Middle grade (some overlap with YA and GN): 56.
- Letters from Cuba by Ruth Behar
- Starfish by Lisa Fipps
- Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon
- The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book by Kate Milford
- The Sea in Winter by Christine Day
- A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold (all three Bat books)
- Chance to Fly by Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz
- The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz
- The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo
- Imaginary by Lee Bacon
- The Boys in the Back Row by Mike Jung
- Flight of the Puffin by Ann Braden
- Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston
- Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca
- No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen
- The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy by Anne Ursu
- Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff
- Simon B. Rhymin’ by Dwayne Reed
- Ban This Book by Alan Gratz
- Yusuf Azeem Is Not A Hero by Saadia Faruqi
YA (some overlap with MG and GN): 51.
- The Selection (series) by Kiera Cass
- I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
- Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (re-read)
- Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon, Angie Thomas, & Nic Stone
- Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
- The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
- Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
Graphic novels: 88.
- Graceling by Kristin Cashore and Gareth Hinds (YA)
- Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte (MG)
- Haylee & Comet by Deborah Marcero (early reader/chapter book)
- Hildafolk (series) by Luke Pearson (MG)
- Jukebox by Nidhi Chanani (MG)
- Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang (YA)
- Blancaflor by Nadja Spiegelman and Sergio García Sánchez (children’s)
- Witches of Brooklyn by Sophie Escabasse (MG)
- Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks (MG)
- Bear by Ben Queen (?)
- All Summer Long by Hope Larson (MG/YA)
- Friends Forever by Shannon Hale (MG/YA)
- Act by Kayla Miller (MG)
Adult fiction: 34.
- Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia
- We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
- Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
- A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
- This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith
- Skye Falling by Mia McKenzie
- We Are the Brennans by Tracy Lange
- Matrix by Lauren Groff
- Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
- The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
Nonfiction (adult): 28.
- You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington by Alexis Coe
- The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green
- Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
- Conditional Citizens by Laila Lalami
- Candyfreak by Steve Almond
- From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty
- Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach
- Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe
- Learning in Public by Courtney E. Martin
Nonfiction (children’s): 87.
- The Great Stink by Colleen Paeff, illus. Nancy Carpenter
- Rescuing Titanic by Flora Delargy
- If the World Were 100 People by Jackie McCann, illus. Aaron Cushley
- Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge by Rachel Dougherty
- Drowned City by Don Brown
- Yummy: A History of Desserts by Victoria Grace Elliott (GN)
- Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas by Cheryl Bardoe, illus. Jos A. Smith
Short stories/essay collections: 13.
- Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self and The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans (stories)
- The Souvenir Museum by Elizabeth McCracken (stories)
- Ancestor Approved by Cynthia Leitich Smith et. al. (linked stories)
- Calypso by David Sedaris (essays)
- The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green (essays)
- Starry River of the Sky and When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin, narrated by Kim Mai Guest
- Elana K. Arnold’s Bat books, narrated by Patrick G. Lawlor
- No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen, narrated by Nissae Isen
- Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff, narrated by Jax Jackson
- The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, narrated by Graeme Malcolm
- The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, narrated by Judith Ivey
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale
Five-star ratings: 33. Sometimes I’m blown away by a book when I finish it but it fades in my memory; others stay vivid. There were some of each this year; those that made a sustained impact include (in order from picture books to adult books) Sootypaws, All the Way to the Top, The Polio Pioneer, Haylee & Comet, Castle Hangnail, Amari and the Night Brothers, Red White & Whole, Imaginary, Winterkeep, The Firekeeper’s Daughter, Piranesi, Braiding Sweetgrass, Say Nothing, and Cloud Cuckoo Land.
Re-reads: Not so many this year, other than familiar series (Ivy & Bean, Lunch Lady, Clementine) and picture books (we revisited This Is A Dog, Bo the Brave, Binny’s Diwali, A Small Kindness, On Account of the Gum, The Last Loose Tooth, The Magic School Bus Explores Human Evolution, and others), and the graphic novel Witches of Brooklyn by Sophie Escabasse.
#WeNeedDiverseBooks: 161. That’s about 20% of the total, which feels low to me – better next year. I use the #WeNeedDiverseBooks tag any time the creators of or characters in a book are outside the dominant narrative (white, straight). These stories are essential.
LibraryThing has changed their “stats” page to “charts and graphs.” As in previous years, I read more female authors/illustrators than male ones, and more living authors (1,560) than dead (304). And as the genre chart below shows (no surprise), I read a lot of children’s books!
LT also provides a map of authors’ nationalities. I read mostly American, Canadian, Australian, and UK authors, but some Iranian, Indian, Pakistani, Mexican, Japanese, Russian, Nigerian, and others as well. If anyone has books to recommend by authors from outside the US/Canada/UK, please share your suggestions!
And that’s the 2021 reading wrap-up. Onward to 2022! What books are you looking forward to this year?