Kate’s Top Books of 2021

I feel bad making this post because I don’t think I reviewed anything in 2021. And I barely read anything. I just haven’t had the bandwidth for books. Maybe it is that I need to really focus and put down my phone more because social media has broken my brain. or maybe it is the pandemic. Perhaps it is that I work in an industry where the bulk of the employees, myself included, are on varying lengths of short-term contracts and I am never not looking for my next job. Meh. I don’t know. So, I don’t think I finished five books this year. I have listened to a fair number of podcasts that have inspired my reading, so here are my faves from this year, as thin on the ground as they are.

In April, I listened to Jamie Loftus’s Lolita podcast. I think Vladimir Nabokov is a thoughtful and adept writer and his controversial classic, Lolita, falls into my favorite genre of horror, where the absolutely horrifying thing is presented as normal or even desirable. (Dolores Haze is twelve years old when the book begins. Twelve.) So, I was interested in the podcast and found the added context and the number of different ways of approaching the material presented interesting. Following the podcast, I listened to the memoir Being Lolita by Alisson Wood. This is also a thoughtfully presented, if uncomfortable, narrative about an inappropriate relationship between a high school student and a teacher.

Most weekdays I start my day with a series of news podcasts and some music. Spotify makes a couple of lists. What a Day from Crooked Media is often on the list. I like Gideon Resnick and I love former co-host, Akilah Hughes. The new co-hosts Josie Duffy Rice, Tre’vell Anderson, and Priyanka Aribindi have big shoes to fill, but they’re doing a good job. More than once this year they interviewed Stacey Abrams. I already knew she wrote romance novels, but through these interviews, I found out her first thriller was released this year. It’s called When Justice Sleeps and a big part of the story is about what we do when a supreme court justice is incapacitated but not dead. The founding fathers did not anticipate a world in which there were living wills and life support. I don’t read a lot of thrillers, but this was a lot of fun. I do recommend it.

I read a book that incorporated the lore surrounding the Salem Witch Trials. It was okay, I guess. I don’t actually remember a lot about it. How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather. The book trailer is here. It wasn’t a bad read around Halloween. I started Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco, but I haven’t finished it. I will, though. If I can get back to it. I’m also listening to the Ripper podcast and I would like to read the book The Five by Hallie Rubenhold but I haven’t gotten to it yet. I know I’ve listened to a few romance novels on various road trips but… I can’t remember which ones or what they were about. Except romance. Obviously.

This year has been a lot. Last year was a lot. Next year one of my goals is to get back to listening to audiobooks while I cook. If you have suggestions, I am all ears! What have your favorites (in particular non-fiction) been?

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