Hi friends! This year I’ve hit a personal record for number of books read. My goal was 120 books and I definitely surpassed that. I still have a full-time day job that doesn’t involve reading books but my side gig with Book Riot is what has me reading so much. This year may have also been my most diverse reading year as well. Book Riot has a reading tracker that gives some fun stats for the books you’ve read. The 2022 tracker hasn’t been released yet but I’ll be sure to share it when it has been.
If you want to diversify your reading and don’t know where to start or if you want a bit of a roadmap, there are reading challenges to help lead the way. Of course, I’m partial to Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge but I found this 2022 Master List of Year-Long Reading Challenges that you might be interested in checking out as well. Make sure to look at the comments for even more links.
Best Books I Read That Were Published in 2021
I read so many excellent books this year that you can see on my Goodreads profile. I wasn’t going to share each and every one here so I narrowed it down to my favorites that were also published this year. Here they are in alphabetical order. I’m not going to say too much about each book, but if I recommended it on the podcast I’ll link the episode. The Bookshop and Libro links are affiliate links and if you want to give a gift of a Libro.fm subscription, here’s my link for that.
I’ve been working on learning more about ableism and disability justice and this book has been such a remarkable addition to my knowledge. On top of that, the author is wonderfully snarky and employs liberal use of footnotes to make sassy comments.
I’ve also been doing a lot of reading and learning about anti-fatness and how anti-fatness is rooted in anti-Blackness. This book also talks about the intersections of anti-fatness, anti-Blackness, and transphobia and it has been indispensable in my learning and growth.
Jenny Mei is Sad by Tracy Subisak (Bookshop)
This book must have been written by the Pixar writers’ room because it made me bawl my eyes out. It’s such a lovely picture book that teaches kids empathy and the importance of sticking by your friends, even when they’re having down days (or months, or years). I’ve lived with depression for years and I’m so grateful for the friends who sat by me, even on my saddest days.
I just finished reading this book a few days ago and oh wow, I love it with all my heart. My favorite Auntie has lived in North Beach for most of my life and San Francisco’s North Beach and Chinatown are very special to me. This is historical, queer nonfiction that centers on a queer Chinese-American teen girl and how she is trying to navigate having one foot in Chinese culture and the other in queer culture.
I don’t even know how to describe this book. It’s sci-fi/fantasy that takes place in the San Gabriel Valley, CA, where I lived for 7 years. There’s so much going on. A cursed violin. A deal with the Devil. Intergalactic refugees. Queer romance. A trans teen and found family. The only thing I regret about this book is that I will never again read it for the first time and I am incredibly jealous of those of you who have yet to read it.
I absolutely adore this author and I’m not just saying that because she may be reading this right now. This book is nonfiction and yes it’s a book about writing but, like writing, it’s about so much more. It’s about surviving, living, and maybe even once in a while thriving. This book has been both a blessing and a curse because a lot of you may not know but aside from musical theatre, my Bachelor’s was in creative writing. After reading this book and attending Fiyahcon again this year, I don’t know how much longer I can avoid writing fiction before nonsense starts oozing from my fingers. This is one of the few books this year that has made me reconsider what I do with my time.
I rarely read superhero comics but holy shit. I didn’t know I needed this comic until I read it and then I don’t know how I’ve lived so long without it. It gave me all the feelings. So well done.
I was not the audience for Luvvie’s first book and so I was lukewarm about it. But this book? It’s just Luvvie hyping you up (you = the reader) for hundreds of pages and I felt like I could conquer the world after reading this book. I loved it.
I’ve talked about Blair Imani & her series, Smarter in Seconds, here in my newsletter. This year she had a book come out and it is exactly what I expected and also what I wanted. It is such a great place to start with so many topics. She has a way of making information accessible without being condescending that I’m finding to be more rare than I would hope.
The Set Boundaries Workbook: Practical Exercises for Understanding Your Needs and Setting Healthy Limits by Nedra Glover Tawwab (Bookshop)
I know you’re probably tired of hearing me rave about this book but seriously, it’s a must-read for all adults.
Mean girls. Werewolves. Queer main character. And it’s set in my backyard (lol like I have a backyard I live in a tiny apartment). This book came out in October and I’ve already read it twice. Might read it again before the year is over because I love it so much.
I totally talked about this in a recent newsletter and you can also hear me rave about it on the podcast with the link to All the Books! above. I’m giving it a reread right now.
I’m mildly obsessed with this book. Magical Black girl. Greek mythology. Plants plants plants. Queer moms who are hilarious. Warning, it ends on a cliffhanger but the second book comes out in 2022.
Am I recommending two of Charlie Jane’s books in this issue? Yes the fuck I am! She actually had three books come out this year and I’m sure the only reason I’m not recommending Even Greater Mistakes is because I haven’t read it yet. This book, however, I did read and oh I just love it so much. In my opinion, sci-fi should fill a reader with limitless possibilities and this book did just that. This book, too, ends with a clear opening to the next, which is out in 2022.
This book rocked my soul. Historically, I have been very averse to yoga, or rather, the American yoga industrial complex. The vibe, the appropriation, the introspection. All of it. Jessamyn Stanley lays it all out there and gives voice to all my dislikes about American yoga. I was so floored by this book that it actually made me want to start doing yoga, which I tried in the past and hated. We now own yoga mats.
I know a lot of folks who are super into Brené Brown’s work but as a Black, Asian, queer woman, I have found so much of it to be inaccessible. Vulnerability in most situations is flat out unsafe for someone like me. Apparently I am not the only person who has had this experience with Brown’s work hence Tarana Burke reaching out to team up on this anthology.
That’s it for this week! You can shop any books I’ve mentioned in this newsletter at my affiliate shop, The Infophile’s Bookshop, and support independent bookstores. If you want to send me some snail mail, you can find me at P.O. Box 21481, Oakland, CA 94620-1481. If you want me to send you some happy mail, feel free to give me your address.
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