Thursday, January 6, 2022

The 2021 Wrap-Up and My List of Favorites


Another "Pandemic Year" has come to an end. For my family, 2021 was easier than 2020. We had a quiet winter in Florida (no visitors), got vaccinated in the spring, and spent most of the summer in Connecticut before returning to Florida at the end of September. Now we're boosted, but still cautious. Over the holidays we enjoyed the company of our fully-vaccinated/boosted daughters and their boyfriends... and hope we can continue safe gatherings into 2022.

On the reading front, 2021 was a very satisfying year.

By the numbers:

  • 61 books read, exceeding my goal of one book per week
  • 66% fiction, 34% nonfiction
  • 79% female authors
  • 10% classics
  • 5 books in translation
  • 3 short story collections
  • 2 plays
  • 1 book of poetry

What worked in 2021?

Read/listen combinations: Rather than reading a print book at home and a separate audiobook on my walks, I used a read/listen combination for 75% of the books read. I seemed to finish books more quickly, too.

Using the library: In order to get both print/ebook and audiobooks at the same time, I used my libraries 60% of the time.

A monthly reading plan: This was a change from my quarterly reading plans. I allowed flexibility for library holds/impulse reads and found it to be a huge success.

A return to classics: The New York Times  T Book Club read a series of American classics in 2020/2021. I'm hoping they bring it back this year. I also read several classics discussed on the Novel Pairings podcast. I think they'll be back from maternity leave soon.

An element of surprise: I enjoyed a 6-month Shelf Subscription (Annie's picks) from The Bookshelf in Thomasville, GA. 

Plans for 2022


  • Set a low goal on Goodreads (no stress!)
  • Focus on bookish events rather than challenges 
  • Read/listen to more books I own, older books, and books by favorite authors


  • Continue writing Sunday Salon/Weekly Update posts
  • Be more consistent with monthly wrap-up posts
  • Bring back book briefs (short reviews)

Favorite Books Read in 2021


Count the Ways by Joyce Maynard

MORE FICTION FAVORITES (listed in order read)

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

(listed in order read)

How the Word Is Passed by Clint Smith

How was your 2021 reading? Did we share any favorites? 
Here's to 2022... and another year of good books and bookish friends!


  1. Congrats on hitting your reading goals! And good luck with this year's goals. I've also found the combination of print and audio to work well. I prefer reading in print, but I love audio for runs and work.

    1. Aj - Read/listen combos have been perfect for my morning walks, but audios will never replace sitting down with a print book. Glad my library has such a great catalog!

  2. I loved your goals for 2022. I can't believe how similar our faves for 2021 were(Count the Ways was #1 for me too) and, Crossroads also made my tops list - Olive, Again made my faves list in 2020. I also had a large number of combo read/listens in 2021 - and, yes, it did help me to read more books. I didn't read any classics last year but hope to remedy that in 2021. Have a great reading year.

    1. Diane - The overlap on our lists is amazing! Read/listen combinations are working so well for me right now and I'm hoping that continues for a long time. I'm going to try not to get so caught up in new releases this year... seems like all my favorite authors published something in 2021! Hope you have a great reading year in 2022 as well.

  3. It's been too many years since I've read Jane Eyre. It's time for a reread. We were able to see my extended family for the first time in 2 years in December. There were 40 from various states and not all vaxed. We wore masks. It was weird but good. Here's hoping for some normalcy in 2022!

    1. Stacy - There were whole sections of Jane Eyre I'd forgotten about entirely! Really loved this reread after so many years. I'm glad you were able to spend time with your extended family. Here's hoping 2022 gets us all a little closer to normalcy!

  4. I like your idea of setting a low reading goal for the year to keep stress down! The Splendid and the Vile was a great book.

    1. Angela - I tend to stress over reaching goals, which is ridiculous when it comes to an arbitrary number of books, so this should be good for me, lol. I'm planning to read In the Garden of Beasts this year... My daughter got me a copy for Christmas.

  5. You read a lot of good books, and I benefited by seeing the books you liked and finding them and reading them.

    I like how you make a monthly reading plan. I now do that, too, and it helps me focus.

    1. Deb - The monthly reading plan was a real game-changer for me last year... it helped me stay focused, too. I'm always interested to see which books you're reading each week and have gotten so many great recommendations. Thank you!

  6. Well done! I decided to start to keep a little notebook of book recommendations so I can go back and see who mentioned a book that I read this year. You & Diane have several on my list. :) Like you, I also intend to have a plan of specific books for each month. It really worked well for me last year, so I'll continue doing that. I'm looking forward to Count the Ways and Olive, Again. I bought my husband a copy of In the Garden of Beasts for Christmas and can't wait to read it since I loved The Splendid and the Vile. I'm savoring Taste and will go back later and listen to the audio. I'm listening to one for book club right now (Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - read it a few years ago, so this is a refresher listen) and then I want to get back to the Stephen King books that I paused in November. I bought a copy of These Precious Days and will wait for the "perfect" time to savor that one, as well. Too many distractions right now. I'm a juror on a criminal case that will last a couple of weeks... Not used to getting up so early and being gone all day, but I'm enjoying the experience.

    Have a good weekend, JoAnn!

    1. Les - Love the idea of keeping a notebook for book recommendations! There have been so many times I pick up a book based on a blogger or podcaster recommendation, then can't remember who it was. Diane has been a great source for me this year, too. We have quite a bit of overlap in our reading taste.

      You've got some good reading ahead! The two nonfiction books I got for Christmas are In the Garden of Beasts and A Woman of No Importance. I'll probably start with the second because my daughter wants to read it it, too, and I'd like to have it ready for her to borrow on her next visit. So glad you're enjoying Taste, and I remember liking Major Pettigrew several years ago.

      So interesting to be on a jury! Hope you can tell us more about it later...

  7. I have not read a single one of your favorite books from 2021. How is that possible?! Of course, I intend to read a few of them, I just haven't gotten there yet.

    1. Helen - I read a lot of newly published books last year. So many favorite authors has new releases, plus several more just caught my eye. I plan to go back to a better mix of old and new this year and hope you get to enjoy some of my favorites, too.

  8. What a great reading year you had, JoAnn. I smiled when I saw not one, but two, Elizabeth Strout books listed among your favorites of the year. She's become one of my must-read authors now, too, and I immediately jump on one of her new books as soon as I can get it.

    Your fiction/nonfiction ratio reminds me of how poorly I've been doing with my nonfiction reading for the last couple of years. It seems that reading more nonfiction is a goal for me at the beginning of every year, but I never get there.

    Have a great 2022!

    1. Sam - I'd have to say Elizabeth Strout is my favorite author. Thought I'd read all of her books, but Diane reviewed Abide with Me last week and I think I may have missed that one. It makes me happy to know there's a "new" left to read this year.

      My nonfiction reading has been steadily increasing over the last decade (with the exception of 2020) even though I didn't make a conscious effort. It's probably because I especially enjoy nonfiction on audio.

  9. You had a good year, though it seemed busy at times. Many high quality reads too! The read/listen combo sounds good but I'm not sure I could get both from our library at the same time. The wait lists are often long for both! I still plan to read several of these on your list. Happy 2022 to you .... love the beach sand photo.

    1. Thanks, Susan. I'm very happy with my 2021 reading, especially after such a dismal 2020. I've been very lucky in getting audiobooks close to the time I'm ready to read them... overdrive's 'deliver later' feature has been a godsend. Also, I have access to two libraries here in FL and can still borrow electronic materials from my NY library. Hoopla has been very helpful, too. I'll use an audible credit as a last resort, but really try to make them last all year. Happy 2022 to you, too.

  10. You have a few books on my holds list - Crossroads, the Tucci book and Ann Pachett. Lookign forward to ore reading time in 2022!

    1. Tina - I'm glad you're going to give those books a try... all so good! Hope 2022 is off to a great start for you and Doug.

  11. I have my book challenge/resolution sign up post scheduled for tomorrow and one of my goals is to read less. I have other projects to work on and I'd like to get back to actually reviewing books instead of just tossing out a rating! So a less-stress reading year sounds like a great idea to me.

    I've only read Jane Eyre and, of course, How the Word is Passed but I love them both. I believe I added Infinite Country to my TBR after you recommended it in Nonfiction November. I just commented on Les's blog that I need to get back to reading Erik Larson again. The same goes for Elizabeth Strout and Ann Patchett.

    Happy 2022!

    1. Jen - I'll be looking forward to your challenge/resolution post. More bloggers are moving away from reviews, but I still enjoy reading them and will try to write more this year. They'll be brief though.

      Infinite Country is excellent, but carries a trigger warning for sexual assault. All three of the other authors you mention are among my favorites.


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