2021 in Books

Calibre program window

In Calibre, I now have 2529 ebooks and e-magazines, 2026 unread. To be fair, I get a free book from Tor.com and Amazon.com every month. This also counts any ebooks I’ve bought for the kids, many of which I will not end up reading. (I also have some number of physical books and audiobooks I do not wish to count)

I started off the year continuing previous trends – reading sequels and programming books. Speaking of sequels, I finally finished The Expanse (well, there’s one more short story or novella coming, but the main series is done)  I added in the Discworld series as a series I can read while waiting for the microwave at work or other places where I usually don’t have my phone with me. I’d intended to read the Tor.com blog posts on the Discworld read-along, but never got around to it in 2021. Then, sometime around the summer, the 2021 WorldCon Hugo nominations voting copies were made available so I scrambled to try and read as many of those as I could before voting time in order to make an informed voting choice. Programming books fel by the wayside. I didn’t really make any kind of significant dent in my cookbooks, either. 

Before getting to my favorite book and Goodreads stats, a few things I wanted to highlight some things from this year’s books. The Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents were the most depressing books I’ve ever read. This year they were just about matched by Riot Baby. However, what made the parable books even more depressing is that they were written in the 1990s and yet they seemed even more likely to happen now than ever. There are definitely days where I’m legitimately scared for the future that we’re leaving our kids. 

The Interdependency Trilogy shows why Tor pays Scalzi the big bucks. It was an incredibly fun series with memorable characters and, if it hadn’t been for the Murderbot Diaries, it would have been my top vote for the series category in the Hugos. I listened to just about all of the first book on a car trip with my dad and it was a very fun time sharing that with him. The Poppy War trilogy also had a very awesome first entry and I can’t wait to get to part 2 later in 2022. 

My favorite book of the year was not a book, but the Murderbot Diaries. It’s very rare for a book or series of books to live up to the hype – especially the hype that these books have garnered among the SF world. But I found that Martha Wells managed to strike the perfect balance of humor (including mixing workplace humor with military workplace humor), emotion, and drama. The world continued to unfold with each novella and book and each new reveal was an amazing delight. At the Hugos I heard Ms. Wells do a reading of her next book (a fantasy book – I’m pretty sure she was more well-known for fantasy before the Murderbot Diaries) and it sounds like something I’m definitely going to need to put on my To Read List. (No matter how ridiculously long that is)

Honorable mentions to Ancillary Mercy (the final book in that trilogy) for ending it exactly perfectly, given what Leckie had set up in the previous two books. Also Project Harmony for hitting me so hard for a book I had no idea was going to be so great.

GoodReads Stats:

  • 20,444 pages read over 65 books (18,189 pages last year)
  • Shorted book was The Most Dangerous Game at 48 pages
  • Longest book was: Progrmaming Perl at 1174 pages
  • Average book length: 314 pages (279 last year)
  • Most Popular Book: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
  • Average rating 3.6 (3.8 last year)
  1. The Light Fantastic
  2. Equal Rites
  3. Mort
  4. Sourcery
  5. The Official Scratch Book
  6. A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking
  7. The Great Hunt
  8. Wyrd Sisters
  9. Third Daughter
  10. Parable of the Sower
  11. Cook’s Illustrated 2019
  12. Pyramids
  13. Parable of the Talents
  14. Princess Academy
  15. Investigators Off the Hook
  16. Guards! Guards!
  17. Eric
  18. Wayward Stars
  19. The Boys, Vol 1
  20. Palpitations
  21. The Gryphon’s Skull
  22. Legion: Lies of the Beholder
  23. After the Fall Before the Fall During the Fall
  24. Introducing Go
  25. Moving Pictures
  26. Programming Perl
  27. Generation Xbox
  28. Lightspeed Magazine: April 2014
  29. Death Masks
  30. Auberon
  31. Final Fantasy VI
  32. The Most Dangerous Game
  33. Reaper Man
  34. Crimson Son
  35. Black Powder War
  36. Necessity
  37. All Systems Red
  38. Artificial Condition
  39. Rogue Protocol
  40. Exit Strategy
  41. The Collapsing Empire
  42. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
  43. Witches Abroad
  44. The Consuming Fire
  45. Lightspeed Magazine: Women Destroy Science Fiction
  46. Small Gods
  47. Network Effect
  48. Django 2 By Example
  49. The Last Emperox
  50. Lords and Ladies
  51. Axiom’s End
  52. Riot Baby
  53. Hackers
  54. Cook’s Illustrated 2020
  55. The Ruin of Kings
  56. Learn You a Haskell for Great Good!
  57. Men at Arms
  58. The Poppy War
  59. Head First Go
  60. Koreatown
  61. Wild Cards: Aces Abroad
  62. Ancillary Mercy
  63. Harmony
  64. Rave Master Vol 10
  65. Rave Master Vol 11