Miranda’s Favorite Books of 2021

In 2021, I read 192 books, surpassing my goal of 150. My best month was July, where I read 28 books (though a large chunk of them were easy picture books or graphic novels/manga). Maybe in 2022 I’ll put my reading challenge at 200 books — but maybe not. That’s a lot of books.

This year I tried to branch out into reading more horror. I’m still getting my toes wet, but I’m making good progress, I think.

In the past, I haven’t typically done reading goals. I’m a huge mood reader so I fail challenges a lot because I’m not in the right mood to read something that qualifies for the challenge. That being said, there are two challenges I’m setting for myself for 2022:

  • Read at least two classics.
    I’m thinking Jane Eyre will be one of them, definitely, but I’m still undecided on the second. Any suggestions?
  • Read at least 3 books from my weeding piles at work a month.
    I work in a library and we do a thing called “weeding” — basically pulling old, damaged, outdated books with inaccurate information, or otherwise unpopular books from the shelves and taking them out of the system. This frees up much needed shelf space for new books. We give the weeded books to Better World Books, but we’re free to pick from the pile whenever we want and take the weeded books we find home.
    I have… a very large pile. No, not just a pile. Several. They’ve been slowly growing over the last seven years of my employment, and I can’t take them home because I’m out of shelf space. So! New goal: Clear out my weeding piles by actually reading the books, then sending them on their way to BWB.

Now on to my favorite books of 2022! I narrowed it down to four that really stayed with me after I read them. They are:

Little Thieves by Margaret Owen

As I said in my review, I’ve long been a fan of Margaret Owen. I was stupidly excited to get an ARC of this through NetGalley, and I devoured it eagerly. Not only that, though. Y’all, I actually went out and bought a hardcover copy. My protocol is, if I’ve read it for free, I don’t buy it, and since I can get most books through my job, I don’t buy a lot of new hardcovers due to the cost, but… I had to own this one. I had to. Especially because it came with Owen’s drawings that weren’t included in the ARC. I’m so excited that we’re getting a sequel.

Revelator by Daryl Gregory

This is probably my biggest surprise of 2021. I hadn’t heard of Daryl Gregory before this. I stumbled across this title by looking at a list of some sort — I can’t remember, but it might have been a best Gothics or best horror list — and the premise intrigued me. However, I’m very picky about what male authors I read, and modern Gothics tend to be hit or miss for me. Still, I decided to request it from work and see.
Surprisingly, I loved it. I had worried it would be a little more literary than I like, but the writing style wasn’t at all too literary. I loved the characters, the worldbuilding was fascinating, and the plot had me hooked. I definitely kept thinking about Revelator long after I finished it. I’m looking to read some of Gregory’s other work now, and I hope it’s just as good.

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

After Revelator, this is probably my second biggest surprise of 2021. I read Starling’s The Luminous Dead and, while I liked it, it hadn’t wowed me. I was on the fence about reading this at all, but I’m a sucker for Gothics. I decided to go ahead and give it a try.
This is definitely not going to be a book for everyone. It gets weird. Really, really, super duper weird. But I loved every batshit second. I thought the magic system Starling created was interesting and I loved Jane’s character. It goes bonkers in ways that a lot of modern Gothics don’t have the courage to do, in my opinion. As soon as I finished it, I told my workplace we needed to buy Yellow Jessamine by her, as it looks to be more Gothic goodness.

All the Feels by Olivia Dade

The second book in her Spoiler Alert romance series, All the Feels left me laughing and crying. Like, a lot of crying. Alex and Lauren’s relationship was a joy to read about, and the banter was hilarious and endearing. This just barely made the favorites of 2021 list, as I read it on December 27th and 28th. It squeaked by with tires screeching and I’m so glad it did. As a fat woman myself–one who still participates in fandom and writes fanfic–I loved seeing bits of myself in Lauren. I liked especially how the big split near the end wasn’t a case of the man doing something stupid and having to make it up entirely to the woman, as sometimes happens in romance books. Both characters make huge mistakes that cause the break up. And both characters have their apology moment as well. I’m impatiently waiting for Dade’s third entry to this series, of which we know nothing, but I’m sure it’ll be another great romance.

Honorable Mention

Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson

I read the first book in the series, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, and found it to be a likeable but pretty predictable debut. I loved Pip’s character, though, and I wanted to see what Jackson did with the character after the traumatic plot she went through in the first book. Plus, I tend to give second novels a try if I like the debut well enough — once an author finds their feet in the publishing world, their writing typically gets better. I wanted to see if that was true for Jackson.
Holy wow, was it. The writing was much more subtle this time around, and the red herrings were much more convincing. I wasn’t able to predict what the mystery was or where it was going like I had in the first book. I even cried through the ending.
Not only that, but I went out and bought the hardcover of the third book, As Good As Dead, because the waitlist for a copy at my job is just too long. I intend to make it my first read of 2022.

So that’s it from me! Gina’s favorites will be posted tomorrow. What were your favorite reads of 2022?

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