I love year-end reviews, the reflection on what worked and what didn’t, what was a highlight and what you wish you could forget. I’m also a sucker for all of the “best of” lists that are published around the new year. Top movies, top hits, top moments, and of course, top books.
It’s even more fun to reflect on your own personal reading year. What books were your favorites? What do you want to do differently in the coming year? And of course, set a goal or theme for your reading year.
Outside of the general craziness of the world, 2021 was a great year for reading – to escape what was happening on the news, to imagine a safer world, to get lost in a previous time period – one where you know how it ends!
I read 142 books last year, blowing past my Goodreads goal of 125! This is my best reading year since middle school. I think it was due to my intentional efforts to read more, keeping a book with me at all times whether it was a physical copy, my Kindle, or an audiobook. I’m happy with this number but for 2022, I’m bringing my goal back down to 100. I read a little compulsively this year, taking away from family time, and I found it was difficult to read a lot while writing. As I hope to write book #2 this year, I think it’s best to set my expectations a little lower.
Thanks to my handy dandy book tracker from the Currently Reading podcast (join as a patron and you’ll get it!), I know the breakdown of my books:
- 142 books
- 2 DNFs (did not finish)
- 47,645 pages read
- 71% physical books, 31% digital, 1% audio (I had a few books in multiple formats)
- 75% fiction, 25% nonfiction
- 80% books for adults, 16% for middle grade, 4% for YA
- 40% of my books were purchased in 2021, 38% were from the library, and 12% were from my TBR (rest came as review copies or Kindle Unlimited)
- Book genre breakdown:
- Historical Fiction: 61
- Historical Nonfiction: 15
- Romance: 38 (including historical)
- General fiction: 13
- Classics: 6
- Memoirs: 5
- Parenting: 2
- Travel/Food: 1
- Thrillers: 1
I’ve really honed in on the types of books I love (historical fiction and nonfiction) but this year, I did break out of my comfort zone and tried historical romance and mysteries, literary fiction, and contemporary romance. I found books that I loved in all of these categories.
With 27 five star books and 52 four and a half star books, I read too many good books to list in a year-end review. I’ve broken my genres down into moods or sub-genres to help you find your next five star read. Here are some of my favorites! A reminder, these aren’t all 2021 releases, just books I read in 2021.
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Favorite Historical Fiction
New Favorite Author:
A Woman of Intelligence (2021 release)
Favorite Author who never disappoints:
Susan Meissner – I’ve read seven of her books!
The Nature of Fragile Things (2021 release)
Favorite Books about a Specific Time Period:
American Revolution: Answering Liberty’s Call
Post-Civil War: Where the Lost Wander
Early 20th Century: Wild Women and the Blues
World War I: Last Christmas in Paris
Favorite Books about World War II:
Favorite multi-generational history: Haven Point
Favorite dual timeline: The Lost Apothecary
Favorite multi-year history: The Women of Chateau Lafayette
Favorite love story: Love, Theodosia
Favorite feel-good book: Once Upon a Wardrobe
Favorite book with a history unknown to me: The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba
Favorite book not set in America or Europe: Sparks Like Stars
Favorite book set in my home state of North Carolina: The Outer Banks House
Outlander – Books 1-5
Favorite Historical Romance:
A League of Extraordinary Women series:
Favorite Historical Mystery:
Maisie Dobbs series
Emily of New Moon series
Favorite Middle Grade:
Favorite Picture Book:
Favorite General Fiction/Literary Fiction:
Book that is now in my top ten books of all time: The Midnight Library
Favorite book about parenting: Landslide
Favorite family drama: Apples Never Fall
Favorite time travel: Oona Out of Order
Favorite book about the writing life: Writers & Lovers
Looking ahead at 2022, I want to make a few tweaks in my reading. I have two vacations to England planned so I want my reading to reflect this. There’s nothing better to me than to read a book about a destination and then go there, walking in the character’s shoes. I’m going to center most of my books around England and Scotland, both historical and nonhistorical books, at least until July.
It shouldn’t be too hard for me to do this since I already read a lot of books about England, particularly in World War II. And with my recent discovery of Outlander, Scotland has become a renewed interest in my reading. I can’t wait to dig into even more books about its history!
My plans also include some classics from Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Bronte, and more. We plan to spend at least one night in Stratford so I can’t wait to introduce my kids to Shakespeare’s birthplace. I’ve already downloaded Romeo and Juliet to my Kindle for January!
After our trip, I’d like to get back to reading Civil War fiction, which was sorely missing this past year as I was finishing my own novel about the war. I’ve been on a reading hiatus from any fiction set during the Civil War while writing and revising but as I’m getting closer to being done, I hope to add this missing piece back into my reading life.
Comment below with your favorite books about England and Scotland or your favorite classic I should add to my TBR!
Happy reading in 2022!