One thing I was not great at this year was reading new releases. I’m going to talk about it more in a different post, but all of the reading experiments I did really got in the way of just being able to pick up books I was interested in. So there are quite a few 2021 releases I just didn’t get around to reading (even though I wanted to).
I feel like this post is just about me talking about the new releases I really wanted to read this year with all of you as it is about reminding myself to pick them up in 2022. Because I own more than half of these (and plan on treating myself to a couple more soon).
Anyway, enough of me rambling, let’s get to the books:
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
I’m kind of sad about this one, because not only did I pick up a copy and genuinely want to read it, you voted for me to read it a few months ago. And then I didn’t read it. Which was a little bit my fault because I was pretty burnt out at that point in the year. I’ve been struggling to keep up with work and blogging and reading everything I need to read for posts and this one just didn’t happen.
But I still am very interested in reading it. It’s about two women working in a publishing house who have some sort of weird competition. And when I discovered it, it was pitched as Get Out meets The Stepford Wives, which just sounds right up my alley. Now that I’m writing this, I am sort of realizing my expectations for this book might be a little high. Especially considering the mixed reviews it has gotten. So maybe I’ll give it some time before I jump into this one with inflated expectations and set myself up for disappointment.
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
This is an ambitious book. It spans hundreds of years, and connects stories of five characters as they deal with various challenges and their hopes for the future. I think it’s also at least a little bit about books and libraries. Which just sounds amazing. Especially from Anthony Doerr – I loved All the Light You Cannot See.
However, I do think this is one of the books that might have benefited from me not reading it this year. Because I simply didn’t have the time or energy to dedicate to it. I just feel like this is one of those books that I want to be immersed in for like two weeks, and that wasn’t going to happen in 2021. I am going to address some of my reading habits going into next year, so hopefully I can create a better space to read books like this. Because there are definitely a few of them I want to get to (including quite a few on this list).
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
This one is honestly not at the top of my list, but it has been catching my eye all year. It’s about three women – transgender and cisgender – whose lives collide. I added this to my list because one thing I do want to read more of is transgender literature – both books with transgender characters and by transgender authors. It’s just something I have little experience with and want to understand more. This book is actually about transgender characters AND the author is transgender, so it checks both boxes.
However, the reason I’m a little iffy about this book now is that I don’t do all that well with that kind of multi-character/stories intersecting narrative style. Absolutely no idea why, but it doesn’t work for me; I have trouble connecting with the characters enough to immerse myself in the story. However, I think I might still give this one a try just because it’s gotten good reviews and I’m hoping it gives me some more insight into the trans experience.
Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby
This is a thriller about two fathers – one black and one white – who disapprove of their son’s marriage. But when their sons are murdered, they come together to find out what happened. This sounded like a great thriller that addresses race (and homosexuality) in a way I haven’t read before. And I picked it up thinking it would be a great read when I was in the mood for a thriller, which usually happens a lot in the fall.
But this year, the urge to pick up a thriller just did not happen for some reason. And when I am choosing books outside of my reading experiment posts, I do like to go with my mood, because I tend to enjoy books more when I do that. So, unfortunately, I just didn’t get around to reading this one. Hopefully I am in the mood for it soon, because I am excited to see where this story goes.
The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
I absolutely loved A Gentleman in Moscow when I read it a few years ago. And I had all the best intentions to read The Rules of Civility. But instead, I’ve just been glancing at it on my bookshelves every so often. So, naturally, I preordered this book the second I heard about it. I don’t feel too bad about not having read it yet because it is pretty big and it hasn’t actually been that long since it was released (and I’ve been working crazy overtime since before this book arrived at my house).
But I have a feeling I’m either going to fly though this book and not be able to put it down, or it’s going to take me a while. It does take place in ten days, so I’m hoping it’s a faster pace. But it’s also nearly six-hundred pages and told from multiple points of view, so there is a chance that won’t be the exciting read I’m hoping for. Either way, I’m going to read it, and I think I’m going to love it. But I do want to take my time and appreciate this story.
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
This book just sounds fantastic. It’s about a female aviator and the actress who is hired to play her in a film nearly a century later. (Side note: am I the only one who is weirded out by the fact that the 1920s were a hundred years go? That just doesn’t sound right.) For some reason, this book is giving me The Huntress vibes, which is a book by Kate Quinn I read earlier this year and really enjoyed.
But this is one of the few books on this list I did not purchase this year (though it is currently in my cart for when I feel the need to treat myself to a book sometime soon), so it wasn’t the first book I would have gotten to on this list if I had gotten a little extra time. But again, I think I might make this one a priority in 2022.
The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr.
One of my biggest reading goals this year was to read more diversely. And this book checked so many boxes, I’m a little annoyed with myself for not finding the time to fit it in. I think I was maybe just reading a lot of historical fiction for my reading experiments, that I just wasn’t in the mood for it that often when I did have free time to read.
This book just sounds amazing, though. It’s about male two slaves on a plantation who fall in love. And when one of the older slaves on the plantation starts preaching the gospel, people start to turn on them and their relationship. Their love is no longer simple, it’s seen as sinful. I’ve seen the word “tragic” used to describe this book very frequently, which made me a little hesitant to pick it up. I wasn’t in the best place for a lot of this year, and I don’t think reading such a devastating book would have gone well. Just ask A Little Life, which put me in a depressive funk for like three months.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
This is the first time a new Andy Weir book has come out since The Martian and I didn’t immediately read it. Yes, I even read his graphic novel about fairy tales (and liked it). So I’m honestly a little bit sad I didn’t get to this one in 2021. Especially because it’s been landing on so many favorites lists lately.
But for some reason, I haven’t been in the mood for sci fi really at all lately. Maybe I just read a lot of it in the past few years and felt like branching out, I don’t know. Either way, I haven’t had that moment where I really wanted to read this, so I’m just kind of waiting for me to be in a good headspace to really enjoy this. Because based on what I’ve been hearing, I think I’m going to love it.
The Light of Days by Judy Batalion
I’m a little surprised I didn’t end up with one or two more nonfiction books on this list, but hey! We got one! This one is about the female resistance fighters in Hitler’s ghettos. I really love reading stories like this that are so often overlooked, but are just as important as the ones we are familiar with. As soon as I read the synopsis of this book it was added to my TBR. It is a bit chunkier, but hopefully I’m able to get to it next year, because it sounds amazing.
Matrix by Lauren Groff
Earlier this year, I did a crazy reading experiment that involved me reading the entire Harvard summer reading list, which was almost entirely medieval literature. One of those classics was The Lais of Marie de France. Which I had read a few time before (because I also signed up for medieval literature courses in college AND grad school, because I enjoy hurting my brain). This time around, I picked up a different translation and thoroughly enjoyed it.
So when I saw that Lauren Groff – who also wrote Fates and Furies, which I read and enjoyed last year – published a new book about Marie de France (right after I finished my experiment, too), you know I had to pick it up. And it’s just been sitting in a pile near my desk for the last three months. I am pretty excited about it, so I think this might be one I pick up in the next couple of months. Fingers crossed.
Alright, that’s it for the top ten books released this year that I didn’t get to. To be fair, I didn’t get to very many new releases this year at all. And there are a lot more on the giant list I have, these are just the ones I’m most disappointed to have not read this year.
What 2021 releases do you wish you had read this year?
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