Books I Read – 2021

In 2018, I started keeping track of all the books I read throughout the year, challenging myself to finish as many as I can. The goal is always to read more than the year before, and thus far, I’ve succeed. Between my day job, creative writing projects, tons of travel, academic applications, and other personal goals, I was stretched beyond thin in 2021. But I still managed to read more books than ever.

For the first time, I read more than 50 books in a single year. I know this isn’t a notable accomplishment for some people, but it was for me, especially this year. I finished 2021 with a total of 52 books, averaging exactly one per week (though some took less than a week to read, others more).

In 2021, not only did I challenge myself with the number of books I read, but with the types I chose to read as well. I still read many arguably “non-literary” books, childhood favorites and commercial fiction. However, I also made it a point to read more “canon classics” and books with simply a higher page count than those from years prior. I checked many off my list that I’ve been meaning to read for ages. As other bibliophiles surely know, my TBR list grows more rapidly than I can keep up with.

Below are all the books I read in 2021 in the order in which I finished them. To be frank, some of them were not great, even somewhat painful to get through at times. Yet others were remarkable, essentially transformative. I find that books at both ends of the spectrum can teach us valuable lessons, but the best are those that evoke deep feeling and remind us of what’s most important in this life.

No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.

Atwood H. Townsend

  1. Rediscover the Saints by Matthew Kelly
  2. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  4. Axis Mundi by Karen Holmberg
  5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  6. The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons
  7. MacNolia by A. Van Jordan
  8. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol
  9. Her Favorite Color was Yellow by Edgar Holmes
  10. Clara’s War by Clara Kramer
  11. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  12. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  13. Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories by Joyce Carol Oates
  14. Saint Bernadette Soubirous by Anne Eileen Heffernan and Mary Elizabeth Tebo
  15. Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules by Davis Sedaris
  16. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
  17. Ariel by Sylvia Plath
  18. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  19. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  20. There There by Tommy Orange
  21. Small Avalanches and Other Stories by Joyce Carol Oates
  22. Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper
  23. The Past by Tessa Hadley
  24. Nancy Drew Mystery Stories: The Clue in the Diary by Carolyn Keene
  25. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  26. Lisey’s Story by Stephen King
  27. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
  28. The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich
  29. The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau
  30. I am No One You Know: Stories by Joyce Carol Oates 
  31. Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn
  32. Selected Poems by E.E. Cummings
  33. Radiance by Alyson Noël
  34. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
  35. Torch by Cheryl Strayed
  36. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  37. Mother Teresa: Her Essential Wisdom by Carol Kelly-Gangi
  38. Sensing God by Joel Clarkson
  39. Beach Read by Emily Henry
  40. The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
  41. Poems from the Women’s Movement by Honor Moore
  42. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  43. Main Street: Needle and Thread by Ann M. Martin
  44. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  45. The Grass Dancer by Susan Power
  46. Diary of a South Beach Party Girl by Gwen Cooper
  47. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (audiobook)
  48. Coming Home to Her by Emily Juniper
  49. Heat and Other Stories by Joyce Carol Oates
  50. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (audiobook)
  51. The Powerful Purpose of Introverts by Holley Gerth
  52. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

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