My 2021 in Books (and Stories)

Since I had success with my 2020 reading plan, I made a spreadsheet to track my reading more in depth, and I added a new-to-me category to my tracking this year as well.

Here’s how 2021 went:

Holy shit.

I cracked open 216 books, and finished 211 of them. For a variety of pandemic-related reasons, I don’t expect this total to be bested anytime in the near future. Of those 216 books, 35 were rereads, and 77 were graphic novels (both increases from last year), which inflates the number a bit, but books are books, and I’m counting them.

I read 30 books by BIPOC authors (three times as many as 2021!) and 30 by authors I know to be LGBTQ2S+ (four times as many as 2021!). I wanted to improve both of those numbers in 2021, and am thrilled to have done so. Once again, I spent most of a year hitting my to-read stack goals without having to order a new book or visit the library to make my stacks. I don’t think I’ll be able to build my stacks in the same manner without purchasing new books or supplementing from the library anymore, but two years was a pretty good run.

Only 83 of my books were by women, which was a bit disappointing, as I wanted to hit 50-50 parity this year. I’m not surprised though, once again, the amount of old graphic novel rereads and superhero comics skewed the numbers. In 2022 I’ll be aiming for an equal mix again.

I caught up on 20 books written by friends (twice as many as last year). Sorry it took me so long! I also read 56 books by authors who were new to me (meaning I’ve never read their work before, not that I’ve never heard of them).

Non-fiction was a bit of a disappointment again. I read 15 non-fiction books in 2021, three times what I read in 2020, but still a slim percentage of my total reads. I tend to read non-fiction much more slowly than fiction, as I often make notes to myself of things I’d like to remember, or things that give me story ideas, this hasn’t changed, I don’t expect it to change.

I read 17 roleplaying game handbooks in 2021 (five more than in 2020), which means once again I probably read more RPGs than I played in game sessions. Another bad year for gaming for me, sadly. What games I played were fun, but pandemic brain definitely caused me to step back from actual game sessions (and as good as Roll20 is at what it does, I vastly prefer to have my gaming take place in person). Still, I played in at least three game systems that were new to me, and was able to be a mostly-regular player in my ongoing campaigns.

Of the 216 books I cracked open in 2021, I liked 138 of them enough to recommend to others, and there were no real stinkers. Even the books I set down had some pretty admirable qualities, they just weren’t for me.

Here’s the books and stories I enjoyed the most in 2021 (not necessarily published in 2021, obviously).

Favourite Fiction Reads

  • Savage Legion by Matt Wallace
  • Liquor by Poppy Z. Brite
  • This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone
  • Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander
  • Doppelgangster by Laura Resnick
  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones
  • Witchmark by C.L. Polk
  • Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots
  • The Break by Katherena Vermette

Favourite Non-Fiction Reads:

  • Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty
  • The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman by Nancy Marie Brown
  • The Wave by Susan Casey
  • The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris
  • Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga

Favourite Graphic Novel Reads:

  • Pulp by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
  • Immortal Hulk Vol. 1: Or Is He Both? by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett
  • Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang & Gurihiru
  • Scene of the Crime by Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark
  • Stumptown Volume One: The Case of the Girl Who Took her Shampoo (But Left her Mini) by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth
  • Pretty Deadly Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Emma Rios
  • Once & Future Volume 1 by Kieron Gillen & Dan Mora
  • Black Widow Vol. 1 The Ties That Bind by Kelly Thompson & Elena Casagrande

Favourite RPG Reads:

  • Troika! by Daniel Sell
  • The Vast in the Dark by Charlie Ferguson-Avery
  • Spire by Grant Howitt and Christopher Taylo

As for short fiction, one of my 2021 reading goals was to read more of it. I was slow to get to it in the early parts of the year (I’d only read three new stories by August), but I definitely picked up by the end of the year, finishing 61 stories by year’s end. Of the 61 stories, 6 were by BIPOC authors, 10 by authors I know to be LGBTQ2S+, 8 by friends, and 30 by women (just short of that 50-50 parity I wanted, and I would’ve made it too, except the final anthology I finished, while good, was predominantly filled with male authors). I liked 33 of those 61 stories enough to recommend them, and only 3 were pieces I chose not to finish. Not accounting for the single anthology I read, which contained 18 stories, most of them came from OnSpec (17), Uncanny (10), Lightspeed (4), and (3).

Favourite Short Fiction Reads:

  • The Back-Off by Aeryn Rudel (OnSpec)
  • Remember Madame Hercules by Kate Heartfield (OnSpec)
  • Wait for Night by Stephen Graham Jones (
  • So You Want to Be a Honeypot by Kelly Robson (Uncanny)
  • Beyond the Doll Forest by Marissa Lingen (Uncanny)
  • The Bone-Stag Walks by K.T. Bryski (Lightspeed)
  • Jenny Greenteeth by Alison Littlewood (The Mammoth Book of Folk Horror)
  • The Offering by Michael Marshall Smith (The Mammoth Book of Folk Horror)
  • Shards by Ian Rogers (
  • Pastrami on Rye by Sarah C. Walker (OnSpec)

Everything I read in 2021:

Here’s what I read in January.

Here’s what I read in February

Here’s what I read in March.

Here’s what I read in April.

Here’s what I read in May.

Here’s what I read in June.

Here’s what I read in July.

Here’s what I read in August.

Here’s what I read in September.

Here’s what I read in October.

Here’s what I read in November.

Here’s what I read in December.

Also, check out the roundup of my 2020 reading here.