2021 End of Year Book Survey

I always enjoy doing this year-end survey that Jamie, the Perpetual Page-Turner, created. It’s a fun way to reflect on things I read in the past year. It’s also very long, so this time I’ll only do the first part, which focuses on books read.


2021 Reading Stats

Number of books read: 66

Physical: 41
Audio: 14
E-books: 11

Number of books reread: 10

Number of books I Did Not Finish: 7

Genre I read the most: Fantasy


BEST BOOK I READ IN 2021

In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce

It’s probably my favorite book of the year. And it’s one I couldn’t stop talking about. I recommended it to everybody, although it’s not one that will appeal to everyone. It’s a historical thriller about a female serial killer and is based on a real person. I think Bruce did a fantastic job with it. It’s my first time trying one of her books and I look forward to reading more.

BOOK I WAS EXCITED ABOUT AND THOUGHT I WOULD LOVE BUT DIDN’T

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

The hype got me interested in this one… and seriously let me down. It’s a contemporary thriller about a young Black woman working at a popular publishing company where she’s the only Black woman. She endures several racial microaggressions there and things get weird when another Black woman is hired. It started out good but didn’t work for me.

MOST SURPRISING
(IN A GOOD WAY OR BAD WAY)

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

Good surprise: Black Buck — I didn’t expect to like a book that’s recommended to those who like Wolf of Wall Street (I hated the book, which I DNF’d, and no longer like the movie much) and is about someone working in sales. It’s actually a contemporary satire about a young Black man working in sales at a startup in NYC, the microaggressions he experiences there and how his experience at the company changes him.

Bad surprise: The Colour of Magic — I didn’t expect a Discworld book to let me down. I’m glad it wasn’t my introduction to the series, although it is the first book in the series. It’s fantasy about the failed wizard Rincewind travelling around Discworld with a tourist.

BOOK I “PUSHED” THE MOST PEOPLE TO READ
(AND THEY DID)

In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce
Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

I couldn’t shut up about these two. Both are fantastic reads. I got my aunt to read Bruce’s book and now my mom wants to read it too, and when I worked at the bookstore, I convinced several customers to try both Bruce and Askaripour’s books.

BEST SERIES I STARTED; BEST SEQUEL; BEST SERIES END

Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham, illus. by Lan Medina
Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey
Tea Dragon Tapestry by Kay O’Neill (illus.)

Best series start: It was hard to choose. I started so many great series last year, but Fables was one of the best. It’s a fantasy comic book series about fairytale creatures living in exile in NYC. The first volume is a whodunit as Bigby Wolf tries to uncover who killed Rose Red.

Best sequel: Another difficult choice, but Kushiel’s Chosen was the best. I even enjoyed it more than the first book. It’s the second in a fantasy series about a courtesan who uses her training as a spy to help her country.

Best series end: Well, this one was an easy choice. I’m great at starting things, not ending them, so I only managed to complete two series last year, and the Tea Dragon series was the best of the two.

FAVORITE NEW AUTHOR I DISCOVERED

Camilla Bruce

Camilla Bruce, of course. And you know I’ll be reading more of her stuff this year.

BEST BOOK FROM A GENRE I DON’T TYPICALLY READ/WAS OUTSIDE MY COMFORT ZONE

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

I don’t often read romance, but that is slowly changing. Of the romance novels I read last year, The Duke and I was the best. It’s the first in the Bridgertons series, historical romance about the matriarch of the large Bridgerton family trying to marry off her eligible children.

MOST ACTION-PACKED/THRILLING/UNPUTDOWNABLE BOOK

DCeased by Tom Taylor, illus. by Trevor Hairsine

Oh man! I enjoyed this comic book so much! It’s about a zombie apocalypse in the DC universe, and it’s dark and gruesome and so exciting! It’s the zombie superhero story I’ve always wanted.

BOOK I READ IN 2021 THAT I’LL MOST LIKELY REREAD IN THE NEW YEAR

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins, Vol. 1 by Matthew Colville & Matthew Mercer, illus. by Olivia Samson

Most likely it’s be this comic book. It’s the first in a D&D-inspired fantasy series about how a band of warriors was formed. It’s based on a popular D&D webcomic.

FAVORITE COVER OF THE BOOKS I READ IN 2021

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Easy. It’s The Beautiful Ones. I love the cover so much that I’ve decided to keep the book although I didn’t like it much and have no intention to reread it. It’s a novel of manners about a telekinetic girl being introduced to society and a famous magician seeking to reconnect with, impress, and run off with his lost love.

MOST MEMORABLE CHARACTER

Delly from The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by C.M. Waggoner

Delly is a major reason why I had such a great time reading this book. She’s a down-on-her-luck fire witch who gets the opportunity to make some money when she gets a gig to join a group of women protecting a young woman from assassins before her marriage. Delly made this one a fun read. The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry is gaslamp fantasy and is set in the same world as Waggoner’s first book, Unnatural Magic.

MOST BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN BOOK

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

Oh man! I melt whenever I think about the prose in this book. I love it so much! This historical fiction novel is a beautifully written book about a renown chef who’s kidnapped by the pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot and made to cook her exquisite meals every Sunday in exchange for his life. The characters and situations are entertaining, but it’s the writing that kept me reading… and hungry.

MOST THOUGHT-PROVOKING/LIFE-CHANGING BOOK

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

It was thought provoking because it made me wonder why it got so much buzz. (I didn’t like it.) But I must admit that it is a good book club read. Made for some great discussions.

BOOK I CAN’T BELIEVE I WAITED UNTIL 2021 TO READ

Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham, illus. by Lan Medina

I’m still a little peeved at myself for not starting on it earlier. It’s been recommended to me so many times, but I procrastinated because I didn’t like the cover or the illustration style. I’m glad I stopped going by my preferences and tried it.

FAVORITE PASSAGE/QUOTE FROM A BOOK I READ IN 2021

“…the gods had a habit of going around to atheists’ houses and smashing their windows.” The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

“Reader: If you are a Black man, the key to any white person’s heart is the ability to shuck, jive, or freestyle. But use it wisely and sparingly. Otherwise you’re liable to turn into Steve Harvey.” Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

SHORTEST AND LONGEST BOOKS I READ

Oona by Kelly DiPucchio, illus. by Raissa Figueroa
A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

Shortest: Oona at 32 pages — a picture book (and all the other 32-page picture books I read)

Longest: A Clash of Kings at 1010 pages — a reread novel

BOOK THAT SHOCKED ME THE MOST

In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce

There are lots of shocking moments in this one.

FAVORITE BOOK I READ IN 2021 FROM AN AUTHOR I PREVIOUSLY READ

Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey

It was superb and more exciting than the first book, although the tense moments between Josceline and Phèdre sometimes annoyed me.

BEST BOOK I READ IN 2021 THAT I READ BASED SOLELY ON A RECOMMENDATION FROM SOMEONE ELSE/PEER PRESSURE

There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool

There were many such books, and I’ve already mentioned several of them, so instead I’ll go with Pool’s book, which I haven’t yet mentioned. It’s YA fantasy set in a time that resembles ancient Mediterranean period (so it seems to me) that was recommended to me through one of Mary’s posts. It’s about how the actions of several individuals signal and cause a prophecy to come about.

BEST 2021 DEBUT I READ

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

Easy. It’s Black Buck. Such a good read. I’m eager to see what Askaripour writes next.

BEST WORLDBUILDING/MOST VIVID SETTING

Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey

I’m going with Kushiel’s Chosen for this because part of its appeal was the world building. I enjoyed visiting new places with Phèdre in this one and learning about other cultures in this world and how they regard the D’Angelines.

BOOK THAT PUT A SMILE ON MY FACE/WAS THE MOST FUN TO READ

Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu by Junji Ito (illus.)

I’m trying not to include rereads, so I chose Junji Ito’s Cat Diary, which was quite fun. I picked it up intending to finally try one of his scary reads but instead got a funny story about his cats.

BOOK THAT MADE ME CRY OR NEARLY CRY

I don’t have an answer for this category.

 HIDDEN GEM OF THE YEAR

Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Pena, illus. by Christian Robinson

A contemporary children’s picture book about a boy riding the subway and drawing what he imagines the lives of the people around him to be like. It’s a wonderful story about how biases and stereotypes affect what we assume of others. It was published last year, and I hope many others will discover and enjoy it too.

MOST UNIQUE BOOK

Park Bench by Christophe Chabouté (illus.)

A wordless graphic novel about a park bench. We see how people and animals use it over the years and how it changes. It’s not that unique since I have read similar things before, but the concept is still new to me — when a book focuses on only one area and tells us what happens there over time.

BOOK THAT MADE ME MAD THE MOST
(DOESN’T MEAN I DIDN’T LIKE IT)

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

It was the most frustrating read, more than other frustrating books I read because I didn’t like anything much about this one.

BEST BOOK TITLE
(THIS IS A CATEGORY I ADDED TO THE SURVEY.)

DCeased by Tom Taylor, illus. by Trevor Hairsine

Such a cool title and very fitting too.


Yep, that was long, but it was fun to do.
I hope you discovered something new here to try out (or something old to revisit), although I repeated several things.

15 thoughts on “2021 End of Year Book Survey

  1. Park Bench is totally on my TBR: just my cuppa. And I laughed when you said you were keeping a book just because you love the cover. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that exactly (unless I was choosing between two editions of a book that I somehow had two copies of) but I have been very glad to get rid of a book with a cover that unsettled me! I think I was the person or one of the people who recommended Black Buck to you and I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it because I think our opinions varied a little on TOBG. if I’d seen the blurb comparing BB to Wolf that would have put me off too (it could very well BE the blurb on the cover and I didn’t read it LOL cuz I’m so wary of spoilers). I hope you’ve got lots of good reading ahead of you in 2022!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol, I’m wary of blurbs too but because I think they mislead me sometimes.
      I recall you recommending me a book about a Black guy on a book tour. I thought I placed it on my Goodreads TBR, but I can’t find it, although that could be because I forgot the title. I hope I remember it. I’d like to eventually read it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. OhOhOh, you’re right, it wasn’t Black Buck that I recommended, I think I had just picked up my hold of BB at the library when you posted about it, whereas the book I mentioned was Jason Mott’s Hell of a Book! I dunno if it’s just me, but the two covers seem really similar. (Then again, if I missed that Wolf blurb, I have to ask myself if I shouldn’t spend a little more time LOOKING at book covers. Heheh) Now I’m wondering if I’ve also started to confuse the two books’ storylines in my mind, but I’m not sure either author would be too troubled by that thought, because they’re both making so many similar points about consumption and culture, industry and inequity. I would like the characters in certain books to be able to befriend characters in other books sometimes!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hell of a Book!!! That’s it! Yep, I have that one in mind to read too.
          Lol! Same here. I’d like characters from different books to meet and sometimes work together.

          Liked by 1 person

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