Happy New Year! I hope those of you celebrating had wonderful holidays.
With another year’s reading wrapped up, I find myself pondering the changes to my annual reading totals over time. 2021 was my sixteenth year of gathering data. Prior to 2015 (which was my first full year of running the Earl Grey Editing blog), I wasn’t consistently reading more than 100 books. Starting the blog almost doubled the previous year’s total. 2016-2019 stats were influenced by judging for the Aurealis Awards, which is what consistently pushed my annual reading totals into triple digits.
2020 was a year without judging and largely without reviewing. Even without these factors, I still managed to read 169 books. This gives more weight to my feeling that judging has permanently changed the way I read.
2021 seems to have played out a little differently. While I have once again managed to reach triple digits, the final total wasn’t quite as high as I’d expected. One difference to last year was that I was reviewing, but while this has surely pushed up the total somewhat, it didn’t entirely counter the lulls. This was particularly the case towards the end of the year. It’s hard to say whether stress was a factor or whether this is simply part of a new pattern to my reading. After all, continual growth is not sustainable. Perhaps 2022 will shed some light.
Mt TBR Status
Mt TBR @ 1 January 2021: 426
Mt TBR @ 30 November 2021: 361
Mt TBR @ 31 December 2021: 360
145. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. Non fiction. Book club read. Part graphic novel, part memoir essays, largely dealing with mental health. While there were some very relatable parts, I can’t say I enjoyed the book much. The moments of insight only served to highlight the lack of insight in other places.
146. A Song of Flight by Juliet Marillier. Historical fantasy. Final book in the Warrior Bard series. When her oldest brother is attacked and the prince he was guarding disappears, Liobhan looks for answers. A satisfying conclusion to the series. The book did an excellent job of continuing to subvert many gendered fantasy tropes. It was also nice to see the first gay relationship I can recall in Marillier’s work, though it was pretty understated and between secondary characters.
147. Dark Rise by C.S. Pacat. Historical fantasy YA. Review forthcoming.
148. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. Historical middle grade fantasy. On his eleventh birthday, a young boy must embark on a quest to unite six artefacts in a bid to defeat the dark powers that are awakening. Another classic that I missed when I was growing up. Not being of the right age for it, it didn’t do a whole lot for me and was read mostly to provide context for the above-mentioned review.
149. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals Oliver Burkeman. Non-fiction. A book that takes a critical look at the modern philosophies of time management. I suspect I’ll be returning to this one regularly to combat the idea that I could somehow be organised enough.
150. Ravenfall by Narrelle M. Harris. Contemporary fantasy m/m romance. A former British soldier turned vampire teams up with a streetwise artist to investigate the disappearance of several of the artist’s homeless friends. This definitely shares some DNA with Harris’s Sherlock fic, making for a wonderfully tender romance and a thrilling crime narrative. The banter was fun, though the dirty talk didn’t work for me.
151. Scar Tissue and Other Stories by Narrelle M. Harris. A collection of short stories, some speculative, others contemporary (and some both). It includes short stories connected to many of the author’s other works (including Ravenfall). I enjoyed the variety.
152. A Psalm for the Wild-built by Becky Chambers. Reread.
153. Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall. Contemporary m/m romance. The disgraced son of a rock star needs a fake boyfriend in order to keep his job and finds it in a perfectly put-together criminal lawyer. There’s a lot of heart in this book and you really feel for the first-person narrator, even as he’s making terrible decisions. A lot of the characters feel very satirized or caricatured, but it’s so well-observed and funny that it works, and does a good job of balancing out the emotional reality of the main characters. Highly recommended, especially for anyone looking for a follow-up read after Red, White and Royal Blue.
The Sable Moon by Nancy Springer
The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian
Ravenfall by Narrelle M. Harris
Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur
Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
Sanctuary by Andi C. Buchanan
The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison
Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn
No Man’s Land by A.J. Fitzwater
Written by Katheryn Moon
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
Lady Liesl’s Seaside Surprise by Tansy Rayner Roberts
Often reading goals are a good motivator for me, but I seemed to lose the knack in 2021. I set a Goodreads goal of 150 books and made 131. This is the first year I’ve missed a Goodreads goal since 2015.
I also made a goal to read the 10 oldest books on Mt TBR. I didn’t make it through any of them, so I’ve decided not to replicate that goal this year.
In fact, I’ve decided to steer clear of goals, aside from Goodreads, which I’ve set at 125.
Wish me luck! In the meantime, if you have reading goals for the year, I’d love to hear them.