It was another great year of reading. Is there ever a really bad year of reading? As long as there are books I'll be happy. Looking back over 2021, my spreadsheet says that I read 148 books in 2021. That's compares well to 2020 when I read 146 books. Since I started tracking in 1995, I've read 1757 books. Most are Audiobooks but I do pick up a paper book from times to time. I'm surprised I read so many this year since I've also developed a Podcast habit.
According to my spreadsheet, these are these were my favorite books of the year:
All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle
Ship of Gold by Gary Kinder
The Girl Behind the Gates by Brenda Davies
Chronic by Stephen Phillips
The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey
Feast of Sorrows by Crystal King
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
The Fossil Hunter by Shelley Emling
We may not agree on what makes a good book and what makes a bad book so I'd be very interested to know your favorite books of 2021.
Here's my report for December. I didn't read as many books as usual but, aside from the 2 DNF books, they were all winners!
15 Seconds by Andrew Gross - The protagonist is supposed to be an intelligent professional but makes 3 really stupid decisions right at the start. I just couldn't follow a stupid character like that for a whole book.
In Search of a Kingdom - By Laurence Bergreen - It might be interesting but the narrator has made it into a sleep aid
Podcasts I enjoyed this month:
This is Actually Happening - Each episode tells a remarkable story of a survivor. The only speaker is the person who had the experience so you know that they survived whatever they went through. Recent episodes tell the stories of a woman who found out that her father wasn't her biological father, a man who survived living in public housing and doing drugs who became a prominent member of the community and a young woman why was abducted and raped. It's actually a quite uplifting podcast.
Myths and Legends by Jason and Carissa Weiser. Jason retells myths from all sorts of cultures but with a modern method of telling. He makes mythology relatable. I think kids might enjoy this one.
The Good Son
By Michael Gruber, Read By Neil Shah
Sonia Laghari is a religious woman (practicing Muslim and Catholic) and a Jungian psychologist. She and several other professionals are on at a peace symposium in Afghanistan when they are abducted by terrorists who may have stolen nuclear materials.
Sonia's son, Theo, grew up in Pakistan but is now an American and ex-Delta Force soldier. He is trying to use his wealthy Laghari family members and military connections to rescue his mother before it's too late. The terrorists are beheading one captive each time American kill Afghan
That summary makes this sound like a straight forward spy/mystery/thriller but it's a lot more than that. It (possibly) provides insight into Arab culture and the book reflects on philosophy, religion, psychology, anthropology, and political theory. Gruber does a masterful job of discussing issues from all sides. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Long and Faraway Gone
By Lou Berney, Read By BRian Hutchison and Amy McFadden
I read Berney's November Road back in September and liked it so I decided to give this one a try. This book explores how victims of violent crime affects the survivors. The crimes were two events in Oklahoma City in 1986. In one, a young woman was abducted from the state fair leaving her younger sister abandoned. In the second, a mass shooting/robbery at a small movie theater leaves 1 person alive. Neither crime was solved.
Twenty five years later, Wyatt, the theater survivor is a private investigator in Las Vegas but is sent to Oklahoma City on a case and it reopens old wounds and questions. Juilanna finds out that one of the original suspects has resurfaced and is determined to get answers from him.
I mostly liked this book but found the intersection of the two storylines to feel kind of forced and only for the purpose to make two short stories into one novel. It kind of jumped all over the place with 2 time periods and 2 storylines in each.
Andy Warhol was a Hoarder
By Claudia Kalb, Read By Lisa Larsen
The cover is deceiving. This book is NOT humorous. It's an exploration of various mental illnesses as told through the stories of celebrities through history. Many of the celebrities (Einstein, Lincoln, Howard Hughes, etc.) were not every officially diagnosed with any of these mental illnesses.
In the end, it was actually very interesting and at the end of each chapter it explores the pros and cons of treating some of these "illnesses". For example, when we treat an entire generation of children with ADHD medicine do we lose some important creative geniuses?
It was a good book but it's serious and not light-hearted.
By Nick Petrie, Read By Stephen Mendel
This is the 6th book in the Peter Ash series and, in my opinion, they get better each time. This series is best reading order because Peter Ash's history and development through the books is important.
In this book Peter, his girlfriend, June, and their friend Lewis are in the wrong place at the right time and are able to interrupt a crime that put a lot of school children at risk. Unfortunately, Peter needs to be low profile and this doesn't help.
They find themselves involved in a big tech theft and arms development problem. The book starts fast and keeps up the pace. Book 7 comes out in January and I can't wait.
The Woman in Red
By Diana Giovnazzo, Read By Edita Brychta
I don't know who recommended this book but I'm glad it was brought to my attention. This is a historical fiction account of Anita Garibaldi. She was the wife and partner of the famous hero of the Brazilian Resistance, Guiseppe Garibaldi. There are/were statues to her in Brazil and Italy honoring her heroics in fighting alongside her husband. (I said "were" because who knows what statues still stand anywhere after the last 2 years.)
The book was a fun read but does have a bit of a romance novel storyline going through it. I didn't mind that because she is such a fascinating character.
By Dennis Lehane, Read By Jonathan Davis
This is the 3rd book in the Kenzie and Gennaro series. I have not read the first 2 and only got this one because it was on a Chrip deal one day. I will mention that the Chirp description of the plot of this book is all wrong! It's the description for Book 4. But, no worries, it's still a good read.
Trevor Stone is a billionaire who is dying and his only heir, his daughter, is missing. He's hired Kenzie and Gennaro to find her.
The trail starts in Boston, travels to Florida and back as they investigate a corrupt grief therapy organization and search for the missing daughter. Along the way it's hard to figure out the good guys for the bad. If was fast paced and fun.
I haven't read a Lehane book since 2006 but I think I'll get more in this series.
Find Your First
By Linwood Barclay, Read By George Newbern
Barclay's books, in my opinion are hit or miss. I hated Broken Promise but loved No Time For Goodbye. Fortunately, Find Your First was a winner for me.
Miles Cookson is a tech millionaire but once in his life he was financially strapped and donated sperm to make a few extra dollars. It's now 20+ years later and he's just found out that he has Huntington's Disease and he wants his "children" to know and to take care of them. He finds out that there are 9 and his wealth gets him access to the names. He's told his brother, and only heir, that he will be cared for but that the majority of his wealth will go to these 9 people. The brother's wife is not happy about that.
As Miles is searching, one of his children, Chloe, is searching for her biological father and finds someone who is a half brother. She and Miles eventually connect but a lot of things start going bad very quickly.
It was a fun ride with lots of twists and turns and a very spectacular ending involving a Winnebago.
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I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.