2021 has felt like an endurance test at times, and the start of 2022 is going to be difficult. Thank goodness for books and the online reading community. They are good for my sanity, preventing me from obsessing on the madness that is all around.

Although Rossetti says I’m part of that madness. The library, which was tidy for an instance in 2021, has now been renamed the warehouse. No need to guess why – double-stacked shelves and bags full of books have now been joined by boxes, also full of books. This is something I need to deal with in 2022, but for now let’s bring 2021 to a close.

2021 Reading Statistics

  • Books read : Number reviewed 105:80
  • Library Books : Purchases : Review Copies 3:51:51
  • Written in English : Translated from 12 languages 41:64
  • Translated from German : Read in German 26:2 (A lockdown casualty : I have little motivation to read in German when I know I won’t be travelling.)
  • Number of books chosen for reading projects and social reading events: 50 (More details here.)
  • Number of countries afforded virtual visits: 37
  • Number of publishing imprints read: 58
  • Favourite publishers (in terms of numbers read): Europa Editions (6), World Editions (5), Bitter Lemon Press (4), Faber and Faber (4), MacLehose Press (3), NYRB Classics (3), Pushkin Press (3), Scribe UK (3), V&Q Books (3)
  • Number read from pre-2021 TBR: 37 (Must do better)
  • Number of 2021 releases/reissues: 49

Reading Highlights

Best of 2021

Links to my reviews, where these exist.

Best Biography: Days In The Caucasus – Banine

Best Classic Crime: In A Lonely Place – Dorothy B Hughes

Best Contemporary Crime: Winter Counts – David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Best Classic German Read, Best Short Story/Novella Collection and Biggest Surprise: Motley Stones – Adalbert Stifter

Best Contemporary Novel, Best German Novel: You’re Not Dying – Kathrin Schmidt

Best Historical Crime, Best Scottish Novel: The Long Drop – Denise Mina

Best Historical Novel and Book of the Year: Remote Sympathy – Catherine Chidgey

Best Non-Fiction: Snow – Marcus Sedgwick

Best Novella: The Pear Field – Nana Ekvtimishvili

Best Pandemic Novel: Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead – Barbara Comyns

Best Recommendation from the online reading community: The Balkans Trilogy – Olivia Manning (The Great Fortune, The Spoilt City, Friends and Heroes)

From an Author who never lets me down: A Guardian Angel Recalls – W F Hermans

Most Chucklesome Impostor (aka the German novel pretending to be Scottish) The Peacock – Isabel Bogdan

Most Inspirational Literary Event: Around The World in 10 Books at the London Library Literary Festival which inspired my Favourite Post of the Year, Around the World In German Literature Reading List.

Most Harrowing (and a reminder that life could be so much worse than being grounded with piles of books to read) Planet of Clay – Samar Yazbek

Most Poignant Read, Best Graphic Novel: The Summer of Her Life – Thomas von Steinaecker

New-to-me authors with (substantial) backlists to explore Barbara Comyns, Mario Llosa Vargas, Olivia Manning, Denise Mina

One I should have read earlier: Death In The Andes – Mario Vargas Llosa

Publisher of The Year: I enjoyed 6 of their books this year, including two magnificent historical chunksters, one of which is my book of the year. That’s clinches it for Europa Editions.

Series of the Year, Most Stunning Cover Design : A Poem For Every Winter / Spring / Summer Day edited by Allie Esiri (I read the Autumn volume last year.)

So good I read it twice: The Blacksmith’s Daughter – Selim Özdogan