We’re just a few days away from a new year. And I am pretty excited because 2021 was not my favorite year, let’s be honest. It was maybe slightly better than 2020, but not by very much. I am absolutely ready for a fresh start. But before I start getting ready for next and setting my 2022 goals and finalizing my reading list for the year, I thought I’d take a look back and see how I did this year.

Lets look at my 2021 reading list first, and then we’ll jump into my reading goals for the year.

Reading List

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

This took me like eight months to finish, but I did it! And I loved it. I do think that was partly because I read the biggest chunk of this book during a month where there was a lot of shitty things going on at work, so it was super fun to read an epic revenge story. I am really glad I decided to add this to my reading list this year, because it was a great read.

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

This one was just okay. I wanted to love it, because it’s such a fun story, but it just didn’t click with me. Still not quite sure why this was on my reading list for the year – I don’t remember wanting to read it particularly badly – but whatever.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

This is one of the books I read this year that made me realize that books containing several separate, but intersecting stories don’t work for me for some reason. I had heard amazing things about this one, and I honestly didn’t dislike it at all, but just not my thing, unfortunately.

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

This one I loved! It honestly feels like a while since I’ve read this one, but it has definitely stayed with me. It was just lovely reading a book about a culture I am familiar with (being a second-generation Palestinian-American), but hadn’t seen in a book before.

I Am a Cat by Natsume Sōseki

This is the book that inspired the reading experiment in which I read five Japanese bestsellers that are all about cats. It was probably my most fun reading experiment that I’ve done in a while, just because it’s such a ridiculous idea. So of course this was my least favorite of the bunch. At least it made for a fun post.

Now, for the nonfiction! 

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

I did just finish reading this one, and actually loved it. I wasn’t really expecting this to be a five-star read for me (it is very long, and I figured it might be kind of dense), but it was honestly really nice to relive my first election experience and remember when it used to be kind of fun to participate in the process, instead of terrifying.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Slight spoiler: this is the only book on this list I did not read. I just kept putting it off because I had so many other things I had to read for posts. And then by the time I did have time to dedicate to this it was the holidays. I’ll be honest, I’ve had a rough month. And reading a book about cancer did not sound fun, so I decided not to force it. I’ll definitely read this one eventually, just not when I’m already in a sad mood.

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight

I can’t say this was my favorite biography of the year, but I did really enjoy it. It was especially interesting to read after having read Frederick Douglass’s own memoir/narrative earlier in the year. I’m also glad to have read another biography of a person of color, and definitely want to find more to pick up soon.

Barracooon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston

I liked this one! Not quite what I was expecting, but still interesting. It’s also a valuable piece of history, and I am glad that books like this exist to tell stories we wouldn’t otherwise get to experience.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

I did not enjoy this one quite as much as I had hoped, but I did really enjoy it. I think this might actually be one of those books that works better as a film, so I was excited to see that it’s being adapted. Because this is a really interesting story.

How Did I Do?

Not perfect, but still pretty good. Honestly, I am proud of myself for deciding to skip the last book on my list, even though I was very tempted to just push through it. That probably would’t have been the best idea given how my reading is going this week. But overall, I’m pretty happy with how far I got with this list

Now, onto my….

Reading Goals

Read at least one nonfiction book a month

This is probably the easiest goal I set for myself at this point. It has definitely become a habit, and I really enjoy doing it. This year, I also made an unofficial goal of reading at least 25% nonfiction, because as much as I enjoy it, I tend to read primarily fiction. And I’m happy to report that I am actually at 32% so I definitely hit my goal. I’m thinking about making this a tiny bit more challenging for next year. But I also might keep it simple. We’ll see.

Read six classics

I thought I was being so ambitious when I set this goal. Like reading a nice chunky classic every other month would be a huge addition to my reading for the year. But I decided to laugh in the face of this goal and read a total of twenty-two classics this year. And no, they were not all little ones (though a few of them were long poems). This year, I not only read The Count of Monte Cristo, but also The Canterbury Tales and The Decameron. I remember setting this goal and just hoping to pick up an Austen or Brontë at some point. I was not planning on reading a bunch of classics I’d been putting off since high school, but sure.

Read at least 50% by POC Authors

Last year, I wrote an entire post about why this is a lot hard than it should be. I took a hard look at what I was reading and why, and also why only 34% of the books I read were by authors of color even though I was actually trying to read more of them. So I promised to try harder in 2021 and shoot for 50%.

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite make it. I was actually doing super well and then a few reading experiments – particularly the one where I read the Harvard summer reading list – got me way off track. I did pick it back up, but I am ending the year with a total of 47% of the books I read this year by authors of color. Still better than last year, but I did not hit my goal. I will definitely be trying again in 2022 – hopefully having a better balance between reading experiments and reading purely for fun will help.

Read books from at least ten different countries

I just went through my reading stats and it turns out I actually doubled this goal! I really wanted to read more outside of the US and UK, but if I am including the US and England, I’ve read from a total of twenty different countries this year. Which is super cool. I think next year, I want to focus on reading more outside of the US, because books set in America still accounted for 54% of my total reading.

Read every day

This is not something I am planning to do ever again, but I did it! This goal actually had a purpose, and that was to get me back into the habit of reading. And I do think it helped, but I’m curious to see how it carries over into 2022. Because there were some days where I was just busy or tired, and forcing myself to read a few pages before falling asleep. Just for the sake of hitting this goal. Which wasn’t fun. I do want to keep up with reading as many days as possible, but I would like to be able to take breaks when I just don’t have time.

Read 100 books

I met this goal a couple months ago, and am ending the year at a total of 128 books. Not the most I’ve read. but not bad at all. And I succeeded my goal, so I’m pretty happy.

How Did I Do?

Not too shabby. I exceeded every single goal except one, and I did come pretty close to hitting that one. I will be keeping most of these going into 2022, but altering some slightly, and adding some new ones for things I want to work on going forward. I’m still really happy with what I achieved this year.

Let’s see if the same is true for my…

Blogging Goals

Publish one reading experiment post each month

I did this and published twelve reading experiments this year! Which was a lot. I just posted a wrap up of all the reading experiments I published, so go check that out if you missed any of them!

Share and talk about more diverse books

I think I did okay with this one. I definitely could have done a little better, especially in the latter half of the year, but it wasn’t a total fail. If anything, I read a lot of great diverse books and talked about every single one of them.

Write more fun and/or interesting posts

Other than my reading experiments, I don’t think I totally succeeded here. Honestly, I have been working a lot of overtime and just generally been stressed and tired for a huge chunk of this year. So I wasn’t feeling the most creative. Which is what it is, but this one didn’t go the way I planned. Hopefully this gets better for next year, and I can come up with some cool post ideas, especially since I don’t plan on doing as many reading experiments as I did this year.

Give myself breaks when I need them

Well, I definitely met one of my blogging goals! I did take a lot of breaks this year, both planned and unplanned. I did a lot better feeling guilty about it, and I’m okay with blogging being the one thing I let slide when there is just too much on my plate. I think next year, I’m going to really try to write posts farther in advance, because I’ve been doing them all the day before, and it’s kind of a lot. So I want to be better about that.

How Did I Do?

Not great. I am happy with my reading experiments, but I don’t think I was putting out the level of posts I wanted to be, outside of those. I definitely need to work on that going into 2022, because I plan on doing fewer experiments so I have more time to read purely for my own enjoyment.

And that’s it for my 2021 goals! Overall, I am pretty happy with what I accomplished this year, but definitely see areas I can work on next year. Did you meet your reading goals this year?

Check out my bookshop, where you can go and buy books and also shop my curated collections of my personal favorites AND all of the books I’ve read for my reading experiments.Or you can just buy whatever books you want to. I get a small commission at no extra cost to you, and you get to support your choice of indie bookstores – it’s a win all around! 

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8 thoughts

  1. I am in awe of anyone who can read as many books as you manage to read in a year and then write very intersecting reviews about them that makes others go, “Hmmm… I think I’ll give that book a second look. Thanks for sharing your reading journey and for not being shy of books who are written by lesser-known authors. What a way to grow mentally and emotionally as an engaging intellectual. Keep up the good work and please keep the posts coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If you enjoyed The Count of Monte Christo, you may find ‘The Star’s Tennis Balls’ by Stephen Fry (previously published as Revenge) interesting. It’s a modern retelling and I really enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

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