My Year of Reading: 2021

After tracking the books I read in 2020 I decided to really track them in 2021. I started and finished 35 books in 2021. As a round up, I collected these stats to showcase my reading experience:

I don't waste my time with books I'm not enjoying. If I'm not enjoying the first 100 pages, I put the book down. My mood does influence the books I read, which is why I'm usually reading a few books at a time. For instance, in September I had 10 books I kept picking up, and 7 of them were new books I picked up that month. 

You can see some of my reads on Goodreads, but today I will highlight my top 9 reads of the year, all rated 5 stars.

How I rate my books:
One star: I don't think I would ever rate a book with one star. 

Two stars: I appreciated the author's hard work and effort, but the content was either flat, the editing was poor, the author was redundant, or the plot was weak.

Three stars: I liked the characters, I appreciated the author's writing and story, but it wasn't captivating enough.

Four stars: I loved the characters, I was happy with the ending, but I was bored at some parts or I felt like the story dragged.

Five stars: I loved the characters, the writing and editing were immaculate, and I kept thinking about the book. A future re-read.

Number 9
"Bookishness: Loving Books in a Digital Age" by Jessica Pressman
I stumbled upon this book at the public library. This book opened my mind to the true meaning of the term "bookishness." It also expanded my idea of what makes something literature. I recommend this book to the lover of books who wants to expand their assumptions about reading and what makes something literature. (My Goodreads review)

Number 8
"Like Water for Chocolate" by Laura Esquivel, Thomas Christensen (Translator), Carol Christensen (Translator)
This was my first time reading magical realism and I was blown away. This is one of those books I would see everywhere growing up, but I'm glad I read it when I did. I borrowed the Ebook from Libby. (My Goodreads review)

Number 7
"The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern
I first heard about this book on one of Booktuber *emmie*'s videos. She read the first line and I was hooked. I purchased a paperback from an independent bookstore. The whole reading experience was like I was living inside of the story. I loved how Morgenstern spoke directly to the reader in some parts. This book is original, romantic, fun, thrilling, and whimsical. (My Goodreads review)

Number 6
"Thanks for Waiting: The Joy (and Weirdness) of Being a Late Bloomer" by Doree Shafrir
I knew I would buy a physical copy of this book but I couldn't wait till then, so I read the Ebook on Libby. Doree is one of my favorite journalists and podcast host. I loved her candor, humor, and vulnerability in this memoir. I have been a fan of Doree's and her work since 2017, when she published her first novel. After finishing her memoir I purchased a copy of my own from Barnes & Noble. (My Goodreads review)

Number 5
"The Four Winds" by Kristin Hannah
My first Kristin Hannah! My February Book of the Month pick, I read this book in June and July. I chose this book because I love strong female character driven books. Then I was in such a mood to read about the Dust Bowl. I was tempted to re-read The Grapes of Wrath, but I picked up this book instead. I took my time to finish this emotional read. Hannah added life and color to a dry and dusty time. (My Goodreads review)

Number 4
"No Matter the Wreckage" by Sarah Kay
Sarah Kay is my favorite poet. I was recommended to listen to her spoken word poetry from my English professor my freshman year of college after I mentioned that reading poetry intimidated me. I watched Kay perform some of her poetry and I was captivated. She's a New Yorker, she delights in beauty and wonder. Yes, she is a kindred spirit. I listened to the audiobook from Libby as I cleaned my apartment. This book will always be a favorite. It's my favorite re-read of the year. I read the physical copy a couple of years ago. The audiobook was a fun experience because it also included some of her live performances and I was charmed by her enthusiasm and wit.

Number 3
"Almost a Woman: A Memoir" by Esmeralda Santiago
OK, Esmeralda Santiago is easily a favorite author of mine. I loved her first memoir, "When I Was Puerto Rican," and have since purchased thrifted copies of her memoir collection. I started this book as an Ebook from Libby but wanted to read it in a physical copy instead. As a physical copy I read the book a lot faster and finished it in a weekend. I just connected with Santiago's challenge of feeling both comfort and anxiety at home, having her heart in another place, and her mind determined to be somewhere else. I felt her inner conflict of maintaining the lifestyle she had whilst longing for a different kind of lifestyle. It also takes hard-work, determination, and perseverance for some Hispanics to make it to where they aspire to be and this book really unpacks that well. (My Goodreads review)

Number 2
"Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo
Les Mis is just a classic that I have always wanted to read. I listened to the abridged audiobook through Libby. I loved this book so much that I purchased an unabridged paperback from an independent bookstore. I would just sit and listen to David Case narrate the story; I couldn't listen to it whilst doing other things, I didn't want to get distracted from the narrative. Never have I sobbed during reading a book than I have whilst reading Les Mis. When I tell you I sobbed, I mean I ugly cried. I was so moved by the compassion, mercy, love and peace in the end. Every element throughout the book came together and it was pure beauty. (My Goodreads review)

Number 1
"Yolk" by Mary H.K. Choi
I am excited that my favorite read of 2021 was published in 2021. After seeing this book around Bookstagram I added it to my To Read list on Goodreads without even knowing what it was about. I think it was the colors of the book jacket that caught my attention the most. The yellow pops at you and the black and white are bold combinations. The hardcover was available at the public library, ready for me to borrow it. Choi's writing is exquisite. She is a wordsmith; her word choices were perfect, her descriptions were deeper than similes and metaphors. Her work on character development and creating individual characters was stunning. I loved the sisterly relationship, as it showed the complex emotions and connection it comes with, I loved the Gilmore Girls references (my favorite show!) and I loved the New York City location. This entire book is a masterpiece. I recommend you read it as a physical copy to experience the beautiful cover art that wraps around to the pages. After returning my copy to the library I purchased a copy of my own from Barnes & Noble. A future re-read, indeed.

In 2022 my goal is to read 40 books! You can follow along with my progress on Goodreads. What's your reading goal for 2022? Any books you recommend I read?


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