Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Book List: Books Read in 2021



Every January, I try to remember to post a list of the books I read the prior year. Somehow, I completely forgot to post my list of 2021 books. I was really busy at work in early 2022, getting ready for a big trial that started in March. A lot of non-work stuff fell out of my brain. I didn't realize that my 2021 list was missing until I went to post my 2022 list. Oh well. Life happens. 

Here now, a year late, is the lit of the 134 books I read in 2021, in the order I read them. I usually read 100 - 110 books a year and have no idea how I read so many in 2021. You can find an explanation of my rating system below the list. 

  • Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctrow ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Ship of Fools by Katherine Ann Porter ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • The Time Machine by H. G. Wells ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Reflex by Dick Francis ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Shugie Bain by Stuart Douglas ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Whip Hand by Dick Francis ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • The Lighthouse by P. D. James ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • The Library Book by Susan Orlean ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Old Filth by Jane Gardam ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Mystery Man by Colin Bateman ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Dead Cert by Dick Francis ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Last Friends by Jane Gardam ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Obasan by Joy Kogawa ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Faithful Place by Tana French ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Consequences by Penelope Lively ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • The Dead Bell by Reid Winslow (reviewed here) ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Skios by Michael Frayn ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Twice Shy by Dick Francis ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน1/2
  • Wry Martinis by Christopher Buckley ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Labyrinth by Kate Mosse ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน1/2
  • Anxious People by Fredrik Backman ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • The Darlings by Cristina Alger ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • The Choir by Joanna Trollope ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Uncommon Clay by Margaret Maron ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • A Changed Man by Francine Prose ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Split Images by Leonard Elmore ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • BUtterfield 8 by John O'Hara ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Funerals are Fatal (aka After the Funeral) by Agatha Christie ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Past Tense by Lee Child ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน1/2
  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • March Violets by Philip Kerr ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • Dr. Yes by Colin Bateman ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน
  • LaBrava by Elmore Leonard ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน1/2
  • Final Curtain by Ngaio Marsh ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน1/2


In 2020, I switched to using roses for my rating system, since this is Rose City Reader. My rating system is idiosyncratic and ever-changing. It is a mix of how a book subjectively appeals to me when I read it, its technical merits, and whether I would recommend it to other people. For example, I might rate a book highly if it's a social comedy set in a British country house because that kind of story checks all my boxes. On the other hand, I will probably rate a book on the low end if it lacks any humor, takes itself too seriously, or intolerantly espouses a point of view I disagree with ("intolerantly" is key in that sentence). 

With those general guidelines in mind:

๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน Five roses for books I loved, or would recommend to anyone, or I think are worthy of classic "must read" status." Examples would be Lucky Jim (personal favorite), A Gentleman in Moscow (universal recommendation), and Great Expectations (must read).

๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน Four roses for books I really enjoyed and/or would recommend to people who enjoy that type of book. So I give a lot of four roses because I might really like a book, but it isn't an all-time favorite. And while I'd recommend it to someone who likes that genre -- mystery, historical fiction, food writing, whatever -- I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who asked me for a "good book."

๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน Three roses for books I was lukewarm on or maybe was glad I read but wouldn't recommend. This is where my subjectivity really shows because I will often give a book three roses simply because it isn't a genre I like. I will read sci-fi books, for example, because they are on some Must read list I'm working on, then not enjoy them because I don't like sci-fi. So when I give a sci-fi book three roses, take it with a big grain of salt.  

๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน Two roses if I didn't like it. I like most of the book I read because I chose to read them and I read what I like. But I occasionally pick a clunker. And I often dislike the book my Book Club picks. ๐Ÿ˜‰

๐ŸŒน One rose if I really didn't like it. I don't know if I've ever rated a book this low. The Magus might be my only example and I read it before I started keeping my lists.

I use half roses if a book falls between categories. I can't explain what that half rose might mean, it's just a feeling.

Here is a link to the star rating system I used for years. I include it because the stars I used in years past meant something different than these roses, so if you look at my lists from past years, the ratings won't mean quite the same thing.

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