Random (but not really)

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Books of 2021: Wrap Up

Favorite Covers: Fantasy, Mystery, Romance
Favorite Mysteries
Favorite Romances
Favorite Fantasies
The Rest
Books that got me through the year

 

First

My Favorite Books

 

Top of the list? Murderbot!

All Systems RedThe Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

All Systems Red (2017) 9/10, Artificial Condition (2018) 8.5/10, Rogue Protocol (2018) 8.5/10, Exit Strategy (2018) 8.5/10, Network Effect (2020) 9/10, Fugitive Telemetry (2021) 9/10

Science Fiction

I generally dislike SF, so I put off reading this series. But when I was in desperate need of a distraction, Murderbot was the perfect fix.


A Ladys Guide to Etiquette and MurderA Countess of Harleigh Mystery by Dianne Freeman

A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder (2018) 7.5/10, A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder (2019) 8.5/10, A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder (2020) 8/10, A Fiancée’s Guide to First Wives and Murder (2021) 8/10

Historical Mystery, Cozy

I have always loved historical mysteries–even though the first “historicals” I read were actually Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. This series is a cozy historical series with a female lead, who does NOT go running into danger, but instead tries to be safe and do the sensible thing, but events overtake her.

I am really looking forward to the next book when it comes out.


The Charm Offensive

The Charm Offensive (2021) Alison Cochrun 9/10

Contemporary Romance, LGBT

Initially I didn’t even think I wanted to read this book, but by chapter two I was sucked in and in love with both characters.

I loved how Dev worked to keep Charlie calm and able to get through the day, but even more I loved how Charlie saw how hard Dev was working, and wanted to appreciate him.


A Marvellous LightA Marvellous Light (2021) Freya Marske (The Last Binding) 9/10

Fantasy, Historical, Mystery, LGBT

This is the first book in a new series, and it was full of things I absolutely adored.

It’s historical, with great fantasy world-building, and a side of mystery. And the two characters (eventually) talked about what they were reacting to.


Second

Publisher / Cover Roundup

An Unexpected Peril

Here are all the publishers who had more than a single cover I loved.

Berkley – 9 (Penguin)
self – 8
Kensington – 5
Carina – 3 (Harlequin)
Tangled Tree Publishing – 3 (Hot Tree)
Emporium Press – 2
Forever – 2 (Grand Central Publishing)

 

Although it was close thing, An Unexpected Peril (2021) Deanna Raybourn was my favorite cover, but as a whole, the mystery category had many many to choose from.


Third

I Read a LOT of Books

As I mentioned earlier, 2021 was a terrible year for me, so I went to my favorite form of escapism: reading.

This is the most books I have every read in a single year, since I started keeping track (2003).

Total Books Read: 335
Total Pages Read: 82788
Total Hours Listened: 7 days, 4 hrs, and 12 mins
Average days per book: 5.56
Average pages per day: 123

 

Genre

As you can see, an overwhelming majority of the books I loved were in the romance category. That is, of course, because a romance has an HEA, and those HEAs got me through the year.

Unfortunately for me, that means half the books I read had explicit sex scenes, so that was a downside.

But I did read my FIRST BOOK EVER with a chapter heading for aces!

Content disclaimer This chapter includes a sex scene. If you’d rather not read sexually explicit content, please skip ahead to chapter 23.

 

Author

As a reader of SFF, every couple years a guy complains that there aren’t any good female authors. (Seriously, I’ve been ranting about this since 2005.) So I started keeping track of the sex of the authors I’ve been reading.

As I have every year since 2012, the majority of the books I read this year were written by women, and when you take pseudonyms into account, more than three quarters of the books I read this year were written by women.

Why do I take pseudonyms into account? Because in genres like fantasy and mystery, women frequently take male pseudonyms or use their initials instead of a first name, to hide their gender. So I track those numbers as well: 7% of all the books I’ve read since 2003 have been written by women (overtly or subtly) hiding they are women.

 

 

Characters

 

With a couple of exceptions (Terry Pratchett, Robert B Parker, Ben Aaronovitch, FREX) I tend to prefer books written by women–and when reading primarily SFF, I tend prefer female leads; mostly because there is less blatant sexism and misogyny.

However, as is obvious from my love of SFF, I like reading about experience that are not my own, and so I started seeking out books by and about POC, as well as books set in places unfamiliar to me.

When I started reading romance, I discovered that many of the best books were sexually explicit, which sometimes gives me a feeling of dysphoria, plus, sex scenes are just boring. I soon discovered that MM romance was much easier for me to read, since I don’t feel as if I should be inserting myself into the story, so I also started reading a lot of LGBT stories–not just romances, but across all genres.

What this chart is showing is that I read a LOT of MM stories, and I still have work to do in reading more stories with POC representation.

 

Format

 

I read almost exclusive ebooks at this point, with the exceptions being cookbooks and comics. Since I have barely cooked or baked this year, all the paper books were comics.

And as you can see, almost half the books I read were rereads.

You can see here what years I’ve struggled with my mental health, by the percent of rereads in a year.

 

Fourth

Random bits and pieces

Country of Origin

 

Every once in awhile I come across a genre book / series that is translated into English, and I adore these books, since they (especially mysteries) give a completely different view of another country. And books written in English but set in a country that is not the US or Great Britain are also lovely.

I do need to branch out more, but at least it’s not all US & UK authors.

 

Ratings:

 

This is unsurprising, since I had so many rereads this year. What I did find interesting (and don’t have a way to track, is that some of the comforting rereads were ones I hadn’t rated above a 7 1/2. However, something about the story settled my mind and emotions.

For example, Dahlia Donovan’s Sin Bin series pulled me in and stuck in my brain, even if I didn’t always like the characters, or the trope wasn’t my thing. But for the most part I picked up books I loved, or was pretty certain I was going to love, to read this year.

 

And that’s a wrap for 2021. Any books I read in the next couple days will be shoehorned into 2022, just to make things easier.

I hope y’all read some amazing books this year, and I hope that the next year will be one that requires less comfort and more adventure.

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