This year I read 139 books with a total page count of 47,713 (~343 pages/book). I now present you with my sixth annual best and worst reads of the year lists (titles linked to my full review if I wrote one; excludes re-reads; presented in groups of five unranked; & starting with the “worst of” list so we can end on a positive note…no purchase necessary; void where prohibited):
Worst of the Year:
- The Divine Comedy: Paradise by Danté (Translated by Dorothy L. Sayers): Between the constant reference to contemporary Italian politics and what I consider to be idolatrous reliance on Mary and the Saints, I found this hard to get through.
- Jamaica Inn by Daphne DuMaurier: If you like melodramatic Harlequin-esque “historical romance,” this is for you…but that’s not my genre at all.
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac: drugs, sex, jazz, blah blah blah…aren’t I deep!
- Ripley Underground by Patricia Highsmith: a disappointing sequel to the interesting Talented Mr. Ripley. The complete non-ending was the worst.
- The Tinfoil Dossier Trilogy by Caitlin R. Kiernan: A mashup of Cthulhu and black helicopter style conspiracies is a cool idea, but the execution was trippy to the point of incomprehensible and just plain gross (in both the splattery and moral senses).
- Bleak House by Charles Dickens: If you like Dickens, be sure to read this one. However, this isn’t a good place to start if you’ve never read him before.
- Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez: This is pretty silly and episodic. Not great literature, but a lot of fun as the author plays with classic supervillain tropes.
- The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells: This series (5 novellas and a novel so far) is top-tier sci-fi with an AI protagonist/narrator that any introvert can appreciate.
- The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones: I don’t usually enjoy revenge slasher horror, but this “literary horror” worked surprisingly well.
- Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir: Another masterpiece from Andy Weir for those who like a lot of science in their science fiction.
- Gentle & Lowly by Dane Ortlund: A thoughtful reminder that “Yes, Jesus loves me,” and biblical Christianity is not based on “Try harder to be better.”
- God Against the Revolution by Gregg L. Frazer: In a departure from the “fan fiction” version of American history, Frazer examines the anti-revolution arguments of loyalist clergymen in colonial America.
- Nuking the Moon by Vince Houghton: This examination of various eventually-abandoned-due-to-stupidity military and espionage plans is equal parts funny and frightening.
- The Secular Creed by Rebecca McLaughlin: One of my new favorite authors interacts biblically with the kinds of statements that appear on yard signs beginning with “In this house we believe…”
- Stephen Fry’s Greek Myths Trilogy (Mythos, Heroes, Troy) by Stephen Fry: I’m not sure if this exploration and retelling of the Greek myths counts as fantasy or non-fiction, but either way it’s a lot of fun.
That’s it for 2021. My reading goal for 2022 is my usual standby of “at least 100 books with an average page count of 300+.” Postings to this blog will probably continue to be sporadic unless work become unexpectedly less hectic, but we’ll see what happens. Happy New Year!