It’s fun to look back at the books I’ve read (and listened to) during 2021. I think it’s a diverse list but two major themes are history and nature. No surprises there! I’m glad I read more poetry and I hope to keep it up in 2022. Jamaica Kincaid’s At the Bottom of the River was such a welcome and inspiring surprise. Kincaid’s poetry is often described as prose poetry (there’s some debate about the genre of this collection) and it feels honest and imaginative. I’ve returned to this one many times as it really gets my creativity flowing.
I also enjoyed reading non-fiction, particularly Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane. He explores the significance of language and landscape – one of my research interests. Another book that made a lasting impression on me is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I had so many aha-moments listening to this audiobook and I’ll probably reread it in the future.
As 2021 dragged on with Covid-waves and the usual daily challenges, I wanted to read more fiction to give my mind a break. The fiction books were a mixed bag; some I enjoyed a lot, others just didn’t keep my attention. I think this was partly due to the generally bleak mood. I wanted to be swept away by a story and the characters, to lose myself for a few minutes in another world. My favourite read was Circe by Madeline Miller. The lyrical tone was something to get used to but suited the content and her storytelling style. Epic, raw, and utterly beautiful. I could not stop reading. I also enjoyed Piranesi by Susanna Clarke. Different and poetic in its own way, I wouldn’t mind rereading this one, and that says a lot as I very (very!) seldom reread fiction books.
Here’s my 2021 list! I hope you find some reading inspiration here and if you have any book recommendations, please let me know in the comments below.
Happy reading and happy 2022!
- Selected Poems – Kathleen Jamie
- Dearly – Margaret Atwood
- Journey to the Sleeping Whale – Jane Robinson
- At the Bottom of the River – Jamaica Kincaid
- Dart – Alice Oswalt
- The Wild Places – Robert Macfarlane
- Surfacing – Kathleen Jamie
- The Second Baby Book – Sarah Ocwell-Smith
- Landmarks – Robert Macfarlane
- My Garden – Jamaica Kincaid
- The Hidden World of the Fox – Adele Brand
- Discipline without Damage- Vanessa Lapointe
- Writing Down the Bones – Natalie Goldberg
- Piranesi – Susanna Clarke
- Lucy – Jamaica Kincaid
- The Enigma of Arrival – V.S. Naipaul
- The Familiars – Stacey Halls
- The Midnight Library – Matt Haig
- Oryx & Crake – Margaret Atwood
- The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood
- Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke
- Sugar Money – Jane Harris
- The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman
- Circe – Madeline Miller
- Things in Jars – Jess Kidd
- The Old Drift – Namwali Serpell
- The Sea – John Banville
- The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
I’m also including some podcasts I enjoyed:
- Habits for Happy Children – Tim Sharp
- A Grown-up Guide To Planet Earth – Prof. Christopher Jackson
- A Grown-up Guide To Oceans – Prof. Ben Garrod, Ellie Sans
- Lore (a longtime favourite) – Aaron
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