2021 Wrap-UP

A symbol of rebirth in some cultures. May it be so for 2022

2021 was a year, wasn’t’ it?!! Maybe not as challenging as the one before, but for me, at least, changes came into my life that frustrated my ability to stay focused, somewhat on reading, but definitely on writing. Thus, I did not post on my blog very much this year.

Instead, I found satisfaction with shorter posts on Goodreads and especially on Instagram. I discovered I can participate in readalongs, book challenges or buddy reads without needing to write up everything I read, which has always been a struggle: what to write up formally in a blog post and what, with just a few sentences, can go to Goodreads. I flung myself too far on this side. Next year I hope to find a balance.

I don’t mind that I am a slow reader, but I am also a slow writer. The adjustments I’ve had to make in my personal life this year, while so good in many ways, have defied a daily uninterrupted writing schedule. It’s just easier on my brain to read! However, I do not believe this is permanent. I have no intention of giving up this blog, because it means so much to me, not only my own writing, but in connecting with the community of bookbloggers. I just have to be patient until I have a vision for blogging again.

With all that being said, I did read some wonderful books this year and in reviewing my blog and Goodreads Challenge I was surprised at the range. Along with my love for classic literature, I read several classic children’s books for the first time and a few horror novels; several became favorites for the year.

Without any ado my top books of the year:

The Magician, W. Somerset Maugham
Maugham really delivered on this creepy character driven horror story about a necromancer who tries to pass himself off as an affable old man. The scenes in his laboratory were written with troubling realism.

At the Mountains of Madness, HP Lovecraft
What captivated me about this novel is the meticulous research that went into creating the Antarctic civilization that existed before the historical record. In addition to making up a reasonable “history” of the place Lovecraft made up its arts, architecture, geology, political and social structure and the biological aspects of the creatures who populated the area. This is my favorite Lovecraft so far, surpassing even The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. I have so much more to read before I choose “my favorite,” though.

Sister Carrie
, Theodore Dreiser
There are some autobiographical aspects of this novel about the small town girl with big plans for her life if only she can get to the big city. Dreiser used his time in New York City when he was unemployed and lived with his sister to develop the atmosphere of a city that ate up the people, no matter how hard they struggled or how strong was their will to succeed. The realism in the writing kept me connected to the characters and it was easy to feel their plight.

A Stitch in Time, Penelope Lively
There is a lot I can relate to in the character of 11 year old Maria Foster. She is curious and smart and a mystery to her parents. Their summer at the seaside is a healing experience for everyone.

The Loved and Envied, Enid Bagnold
I found this book at a used bookstore and the only reason I bought it is because it is a Virago and I want to read more of them. But I was not prepared for the brutal, but refreshing honesty Bagnold tells through her characters of the aging process. Each one has an unforgettable story.

Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy
My first Thomas Hardy after Under the Greenwood Tree, which certainly did not prepare me for the “real” Hardy. I admit it, I cried over this book.

Daniel Deronda, George Eliot
Classic literature is rife with antisemitism and anti-Jewish tropes. I don’t get offended as much as I am disappointed, especially in a favorite writer. Context is everything and I take into consideration the time period in which the novel was written. In this case, I was not only shocked at the warmth of Jewish family life and community portrayed by the Jews of London, but that all Daniel went through to discover his heritage was so realistic and interesting. After doing some research I found out Eliot had visited synagogues in Germany and Jewish book shops to gather research.

 I have no idea what 2022 will bring, but I hope this weary world and all its inhabitants finds some ease against what we can't control. Happy New Year. Emphasis on the happy!
I just hope we all continue to “Book On!”


9 thoughts on “2021 Wrap-UP

  1. Loved your list! I read Daniel Deronda many years ago (I was on an Eliot kick) and absolutely loved it (in fact, it’s due for a re-read). As you say, an amazing novel & such a refreshing change to the antisemitism that turns up so frequently in classic works. Hardy? Well, I need to spend some more time with Hardy, as at this point I’m not a big fan. To be fair, however, I’ve only read a couple of his novels. Penelope Lively is a different story, as I adore her work. I’m also a Lovecraft reader, although I do think he’s a bit over the top at times. That being said, some of his things are really masterpieces of horror. I’ve read mostly the shorter works; here I’m thinking The Dunwich Horror, Pickman’s Model and The Rats in the Walls. I’ve yet to try Bagnol, but — she’s on the list. I read Sister Carrie so long ago I remember little, except I liked it pretty well. Your Maugham novel looks very interesting; I’ve read a fair bit of Maugham’s work (he’s a great storyteller, isn’t he?) but not this one.

    I noticed elsewhere on your blog that you’re a big Edith Wharton fan. So nice to meet one, as she’s absolutely one of my favorite classic writers (second only to Henry James). My own pick among her novels is Age of Innocence, which I’ve read several times. This year I read, but didn’t post on, The Reef (not first tier IMO but a great read nevertheless) and two story collections, Old New York & Ghost Stories.

    I really identified with your 2021 experiences. I, too, am a very slow writer who finds reading so much more relaxing! In fact, 2021 was sort of a disaster for me as far as posting about my books (the reading, by contrast was fine; almost back to pre-pandemic levels). I’m sure with your changes/reevaluation you’ll get back to the writing. I look forward to reading your reactions to your interesting range of reading selections.


  2. So true that Under the Greenwood Tree may not prepare a reader for the real Hardy. Greenwood Tree is so lighthearted. Jude is harsh and unjust. Having read it, though, do you think you would consider another Hardy? If so, maybe you should try Far From the Madding Crowd. It’s a touch of Hardy’s twisted tragedy, but with a comforting ending.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Some great writers among your favourites this year. although mostly I haven’t read these specific books. Always good to see someone else fall under Lovecraft’s spell! Have you tried any of his short Gothic stories? They’re very different from his longer weird stuff, but also very good,

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Great books you had had this year, Laurie. Now I want to read Daniel Deronda too!

        Don’t worry about the writing slumps, it will go away. Like you, I’m a slow writer too, and need discipline and allocated time to do it. Lately I’ve been trying a new method: just jotting down my random thoughts, and posting it on my blog. It might not be a proper review, but hey… my blog, my rule, right? As long as I can share my thoughts on books I read, I’m okay!

        Good luck for 2022, Laurie!

        Liked by 1 person

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