2021 in Review

Not much to say about 2021 really.

Lots of intimate family time at home, lots of walking every street and byway in my suburb, again and again and again as well as a hard slog at work. A quick two week driving tour to Melbourne and back (between lockdowns) to see family at Easter was the highlight. The rest is a blur.

Except for the books!

The Books

My 2021 reading started off with such promise and anticipation. But the end results were a mixed bag.

  • I did indeed complete the Wolf Hall trilogy readalong, but postponed the Edith Readalong until 2022.
  • I found myself unable to join in any of Nick’s chapter-a-day readalongs, but I did read three of the Master & Commander books for the four-year Aubrey/Maturin readalong.
  • I read The Pea Pickers for Bill’s Gen 3 Week, although it ended up being about two months late!
  • I read my least-favourite (to date) Zola book for Zoladdiction in April with Fanda.
  • I read books for both the 1936 Club and the 1976 Club.
  • I failed to read one single Anne Tyler book for Liz’s readalong, even though I had three unread books on my TBR.
  • I’m very grateful that I finally read Benang for Lisa’s Indigenous Literature Reading Week.
  • One lonely Maigret was consumed for Paris in July (I normally would read 2 or 3).
  • But I did read an abundance of Australian biographies for AusReading Month.

But how to pick a winner? Do I even want to?

So it is with thanks and relief to Melanie at Grab the Lapels for coming up with the phrase that I’ve been seeking for years to describe my best/favourite/top reads of the year. I give you….

Which books read during 2021 have left a lasting impression?

This allows me to think about those memorable books that have stayed with me all year. There are always books that I keep thinking about or referring to when talking with others or blogging. Sometimes it is their flaws that have stayed with me. Lasting impressions also doesn’t limit me to numbers.

Fiction

Australian

Classics

Non-Fiction

Rereads

The Stats

This was my first year on WordPress, so it will be interesting to see how these stats evolve as I have more time in this space.

According to Goodreads I read 100 books in 2021, but nine of the books were for children and a few of them were short stories. Of the 91 adult titles, I read 67 books by female writers and 24 by men.

As expected, I mostly read Australian books this year.

32% of books read in 2021 were contemporary fiction, 28% were non-fiction, 16% were short stories or novellas, 10% were classics, 9% were children’s books and 5% were poetry. I actually read many more illustrated picture books for children than the 9% suggests, but I haven’t kept a record of all the ones I read at work.

10% of my books were by Indigenous Australians and 17% were books in translation.

On the Blog

I wrote 177 posts during the course of 2021. My most popular posts of 2021 were:

Honeybee was by far the most viewed post of 2021, but I was thrilled to see two of my poetry posts in second and third position. Some People is a post from 2019 from a Nobel Laureate that combines translation comparisons. Thanks to my move from Blogspot a year ago, finding older posts takes a concerted effort so to have one such post in the top 3 is outstanding. And I’m also thrilled to see our book club choice about Lord Lucan has come in at number 9!

Community Love

This is where I get to say a BIG thank you to my fellow bloggers for sharing the love. Whenever you include a URL from one of my posts, other bloggers click through from your original post. If you’ve ever wondered if it’s worth the effort hunting down URL links, it is. And I thank you all for taking the time to do so.

  • Lisa @ANZ LitLovers
  • Bill @Australian Legend
  • Jennifer @Holds Upon Happiness (how wonderful that so many people are reading poetry posts)
  • Cathy @746 Books
  • Kay @What Me Read
  • Kim @Reading Matters
  • Carol @Journey Destination
  • Sue @Whispering Gums
  • Sheila @Book Journey
  • Nancy @NancyElin
  • Liz @Adventures in Reading
  • Tamara @Thyme for Tea

2022

I’m not ready to make too many plans just yet. But I do know that I will read a few more Master and Commander books, I will do my Edith Readalong this year (dates TBA) and I will read my next Zola (Son Excellence Eugène Rougon). There’s a 1954 Club in April as well.

The rest is open to speculation and serendipity at this point in time.

Thank you to my blogging family for following me across to WordPress and for all your thoughtful and entertaining comments and discussion throughout the year. Even when I struggled to keep up. Especially when I struggled to keep up.

I cherish our bookish chats. Here’s to many more in 2022.

51 thoughts on “2021 in Review

  1. What a wonderful reading year you’ve had! (I like that snappy circular graph, it looks very classy!)
    For me, the highlight was Rumer Godden Reading Week. I really enjoyed revisiting her work, and I probably wouldn’t have got round to it if you hadn’t hosted the week.
    Really, I don’t know how you manage it all when you are working, but I’m glad you do.
    Here’s to 2022 ( think…)

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    1. Thanks Lisa, I simply typed in free pie chart and found this one that gave me an option to turn it into a donut.

      And I’m glad you enjoyed Rumer Godden week. I’m looking for ways to help me read long overdue books on my TBR pile, which it did help me with that, except I went and added three more to the pile thanks to all the great reviews that came in!!

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      1. Haha, of course it did.
        But, while I never worry about the size of my TBR, I do sometimes wonder about the quality of it… am I storing books that turn out to be duds? And so a dip into the books that have been there for a while is reassuring when you find that yes, you’re glad you bought it when you did because otherwise you’d have missed out on a great book. (I don’t know if bricks and mortar booksellers still do this, but there was a time when a book had about 6 months to earn its space on their shelves and then it was gone. It didn’t happen to bestsellers, but it did to the kind of books I like to read.)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That said, I am weeding my TBR pile – though very abstemiously and not as much as I probably could. There are books there that probably are good but I realise I never will read. The are better off with friends or with Lifeline.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I weed my pile every couple of months too. I usually read the first half page or so to see if the book still grabs me. If it doesn’t, I return into to our tbr pile at work for one of my colleagues (although there are very few on staff atm who read as much or as widely as I do).

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              1. I have to be brutal sometimes, especially with the ARC’s that come my way. They creep into my house one or two at a time. It usually takes B21 making a comment about the pile of books by my desk that has doubled. I then sit down to write a Stories & Shoutout post to help me process/assess what has turned up.

                Liked by 1 person

    1. When the club was announced, I made a list of which books from 1954 I had already read and noted down which ones I had on my TBR pile. Three options are open to me – The Sound of Waves | Yukio Mishima, Madame de Pompadour | Nancy Mitford & The Tortoise and the Hare | Elizabeth Jenkins.

      Have you read any of them?

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  2. Ooh, I made your top ten referrers! You’re in my list but it has a long tail. And feel free to read your Anne Tylers this year – none of my projects are ever “Finished” really … ! Happy 2022 and have a good reading year.

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      1. Yes! I am supposed to be getting an advance reader’s copy but am not sure of that, and I will definitely round off the project with that one. I’ll look forward to reading it alongside you!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great statistics, Brona.

    I have taken part in the 1976 club and want to do the next one but don’t have a book , yet. Still looking for one from 1954.

    Other than that. I have read all the Wolf Hall books and loved them. The last one a little less since I knew what was coming and that it was the last one but it was also great. I read “Master and Commander” years ago, it was a nice read. And Nathan Harris’ book is on my wishlist.

    Here are my Statistics 2021.

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    1. Thanks Marianne. I notice that you also list books with numbers, place names, people’s names and colours in the titles. I’ve seen a few bloggers do that now. It’s an interesting way to think about the books you’ve read over a year 🙂

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      1. Depends on my post. If I do a list of books according to place names, I highlight them. “Spell the Month in Books”, I put the initials in colour, “Six Degrees of Separation”, I highlight what links the books etc. More fun.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It looks to me that you’ve had a rich and productive reading year! (I enjoyed your post on the Sappho poem very much BTW) I was very happy to see that you included Station Eleven among the 2021 books that left a lasting impression on you; long after I finished it, it reverberated with me as well.
    I very much look forward to reading about your 2022 selections!

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      1. Don’t you think that frequently happens when a book is “translated” into film or TV? Sometimes the screenwriters just do a bad job and replace originality with formula; sometimes, for me at least, I have my own ideas/impressions, which I prefer to those of the screenwriters. I read Station Eleven so long ago I’ve actually forgotten part of the plot & some of the characters, which helps with viewing the mini-series (In the U.S., we’re up to episode 7). I must admit that I’m enjoying it and think it’s surprisingly well done. Even so, I infinitely prefer the book! Also, I suspect I’m going to dislike on of the upcoming big plot changes!
        P.S. Have you read Mandel’s Glass Hotel? I thought it would be awful but ended up thinking it was almost as good as Eleven!

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        1. Somehow the first episode failed to capture the panic of that first day as the virus spread. Although maybe I’m just immune to those scenes & images now? Mr Books has read Glass Hotel and ended up enjoying it too. It’s now waiting patiently by my bed for me to get to it 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m impressed you can read at this level and blog while still working. You must be super efficient Brona. Interesting to hear you didn’t care for the Zola. That one is a long way ahead for me since I’m reading them in the recommended order rather than publication order. But Father Mouret is next in line for me too.

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    1. I have always read at this level, ever since I can remember. Only illness and emotional upheaval have slowed me down.

      I went to and fro on the pub order vs rec order for Zola when I started reading them five or six years ago, settling on the pub order as that is how I read some of the other authors that I want to read their entire œuvre. If I ever get around to a reread of Zola, I will go rec order 🙂

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  6. I can’t say how lovely it is having you on WordPress. I am having even more trouble than usual commenting on Blogger Blogs, because I think they are withdrawing functionality. This month I think I’m going to migrate my reading group’s blog over to WordPress. Wish me luck, as I’ll have to train up my main helper in using something new.

    I have been using the word “highlights” for years for my end of year reading list, as there’s no way I want to rank, but I did like Melanie’s “lasting impression” description too.

    Anyhow, I enjoyed reading your highlights and stats of course, and love that you are tackling poetry. I’ve done a little over the years but not much lately.

    BTW I subscribe to your blog by email, and it has been coming into my in box as FROM Brona (This Reading Life), but this post was FROM WordPress.com. Did you do something at your end? I get quite a few blogs (including 746 Books, The Drabble) FROM WordPress.com and it’s not very useful when you have a lot of emails and are deciding which ones to click on and read! Weird. I’ve never understood why a few blogs come like this, while the majority come in under their own name, like yours (until now!)

    And I could not post this last night because it wouldn’t let me in, and wouldn’t display the pop up sign in box. This morning I got a message asking me to allow the pop-up box! Last night I tried on my laptop using Safari and Firefox, and on my iPad using Firefox. It was So frustrating!

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    1. I’ve had trouble with WordPress log ins in the past 24 hrs too – perhaps there has been an update?
      I did change the arrangement on my blog header & tagline. I wonder if that has had an impact on your email subscription, although it still seems fine on Feedly?

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      1. Maybe there has … I’m having great trouble editing a post at the moment too. (Well this afternoon, as we’ve been to the movies and I’m going to leave it until tomorrow. I really wanted to finish the post today but am too frustrated!

        However, on the positive, these comments from you have came into my inbox as brona’sbooks.com again. I’ll see how your next post comes.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I laughed about the walking again and again and again, that sums up 2021! Noting which books have left an impression is a very good way to think through titles, choosing favourites is impossible, there’s a different favourite for every occasion. Have a very happy 2022 and hope it’s full of good reads!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m very glad to have finally finished it. I’ve now done the same to the Lucy Barton trilogy and plan to do the same to the Edith trilogy later this year. I get to a point when I Just need to be done with a story so I can move onto something else.
      I hope you find time for The Mirror and the Light this year.
      There’s enough of recap that you could probably pick it up again fairly easily.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a great year! I really enjoyed your Rumer Godden and AusReadingMonth events. I’m not making many plans for 2022 but I do want to join in the 1954 Club so I’ll look forward to seeing your choices. Happy reading in 2022 Brona!

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    1. Thank you Madame B. I was thrilled how successful Rumer Godden reading week was, so will definitely host it again this year.
      I love the yearly clubs, seeing what I’ve already read from that year and what I might have on my pile for the next. I’ve learnt to start looking as soon as the previous one finishes so it doesn’t suddenly catch me by surprise in April and October!!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great end of the year post. You have achieved a lot during 2021, with a variety of genres. Some of them have ended up on my to read list. Thank you for all your reviews and tips. Always enjoy reading your posts. Have another great (reading) year 2022.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m sorry I didn’t find you until after Rumer Godden week but I did enjoy Australia month, and The Secret River was one of my favorite books / most lasting impressions of 2021.

    Wishing you a Happy 2022!

    Constance

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  11. It sounds like a magical number, that you’ve read exactly 100 books. There’s an emoji for that! 🙂

    And that’s a cute graphic for the new year turnover.

    I’ve read read the Patrick O’Brien books, but I remember when the TV series was also a THING. They do seem like the perfect kind of pandemic reading somehow (even though I’ve not actually read them).

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      1. The series might be more entertaining from a laugh-at-it perspective now. It was made for public television and I think it aired in the late ’90s. But it was very popular, even among people who weren’t normally interested in sea stories. And some of the chatter was rather like that about Colin Firth in the P&P mini-series….

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        1. Ahhhh I’m just wondering if you have the Hornblower series mixed up with Jack Aubrey? Ioan Gruffudd was a very sexy Hornblower!!! As far as I know there was only the one movie made of Master & Commander starting Russell Crowe.

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          1. More than one thing to watch with tall ships and men in tight breeches? That’s a problem I’m sure many would love to sort out. I honestly can’t recall, but maybe? I think it aired in the U.S. on what was called the Art & Entertainment network (which we could view from Canada via a cable package) and I used to have them on homemade VHS tapes but finally realised that I just wasn’t ever going to get around to watching them because I try to read the books. Different men in different breeches?

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