Friday, January 7, 2022

Best Books of 2021 Pt. I: Backlist & 2022 Early Reads!

I'm not sure how to start this post because 2021 was truly a whirlwind for me in every sense of the word. I will say that I'm super excited to finally be getting a chance to look through my books from 2021 and pick out favorites and once again feel excited and delighted by the wonderful books I was fortunate enough to read this year. 

As usual, I read far too many books this year to narrow it down too much (or rather, I'm too indecisive to pick only a couple), so I've once again decided to split my lists up. This first post will feature backlist titles I read in 2021 (anything pre-2021 release will be counted) and, because I only have a couple of them, two 2022 ARCs I read that were truly phenomenal. Part II will be up next week, and my annual reading stats post that I love making will be up hopefully by the end of the month. These lists are in no particular order and include those books that I just had a blast reading, am still thinking about, and that make me remember why I love reading so much. So enough talk, let's dive into the books!

Backlist Titles (pre-2021 release, in no particular order):

The Marrow ThievesThe Twisted OnesPiranesiTaaqtumi: An Anthology of Arctic Horror StoriesThe Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard, #3)The Tiger's Daughter (Their Bright Ascendency, #1)

1. The Marrow Thieves by Cheri Dimaline: I read this after reading and loving Dimaline's The Wild and I think I may have loved it even more. This is a hard read that tackles some really intense topics in a way that I found utterly compelling and gut-wrenching. A sequel to this was released at the end of last year and I was fortunate enough to receive it for Christmas, so I'll be diving into that very soon!

2. The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher: I read and adored T. Kingfisher's The Hollow Places last year and had a feeling I'd enjoy more from Kingfisher... and I was right! I can't get enough of Kingfisher's writing; it's witty and down to earth while also manages to fully capture all the true elements of growing dead and creepy horror, with some great dashed of humor throughout to keep us all sane. I need to read even more from T. Kingfisher ASAP!

3. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke: I had no idea how much I would love this book and I'm so happy I finally read it last year! Everything about this book was perfect and I absolutely adored our main protagonist while I was captivated by this really weird premise and world he inhabited. I can't recommend this one enough if you like things that are a bit odd and don't really give the reader too much information. I actually loved how I always felt like I had just enough to follow the story, but no real larger idea of what was happening. A truly incredible book!

4. Taaqtumi by Aviaq Johnston, Richard Van Camp, Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley, et al. : I weirdly don't think I gave this collection of arctic horror stories from indigenous authors a full five stars, but it's one I keep returning to and thinking about because of how much I enjoyed reading through all of these mini horror stories. Something about them has captured my mind and I have been dying to look up more work from the authors who were a part of this.

5. The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch: I feel like this was just going to be a given because of how much I love the Gentleman Bastards series and I think each book is going to be a favorite book at this point. I just love Lynch's characters, plotting, world-building, all the details he includes–just everything. I almost don't know what else to say about this book other than that it's an amazing installment to the series and I haven't met a weak one yet!

6. The Tiger's Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera: This was one of those books that I'd been wanting to read since it first came out, but it took me years to get around to and then when I finally read it, I was floored by how much I loved it and mad I didn't read it sooner. This was so surprisingly beautiful and tugged at me far more than I expected to. Rivera's writing prose is stunning and I was captivated by this complex, unique story. I'm hoping to read the sequel soon!

The Lost City of ZSkeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of SurvivalWatcher of the Dead (Sword of Shadows, #4)A Registry of My Passage upon the Earth: StoriesMapping the InteriorWhat I Talk About When I Talk About Running

7. The Lost City of Z by David Grann: As we all know (or maybe you don't, I promise I'm not expecting anyone to remember random things about me), I love nonfiction about explorers, adventurers survival, anything along those lines. The Lost City of Z is about Colonel Percy Fawcett and his forays into the Amazon to begin mapping it, and I thought it was excellently written and full of so much information both about Fawcett and about the areas in which he explored, while also acknowledging the problems around exploration and perceptions of South America. This was such a fascinating read that prompted me to keep reading more about the area!

8. Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King: And surprise! Skeletons on the Zahara is another survival story that I was so enamored with I could barely put it down. I hadn't really read a survival story set in the desert before, and especially not one like this. This was an incredibly compelling nonfiction account and I appreciated how much research King put into the story, which also prompted me to learn more about the areas, peoples, and time period mentioned. 

9. Watcher of the Dead by J.V. Jones: I have been a huge fan of Jones' Sword and Shadows series and this series usually always ends up in a best books list as well just because they're all so good! I'm obsessed with all the characters and this incredibly huge, detailed world. I'm all caught up now and can't wait until we finally get the next book!

10. A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth by Daniel Mason: This was probably my biggest surprise favorite read of the year. I had never heard of this book until I saw it as a daily deal on Audible and gave it a go–it's also one of the few short story collections that I read and loved this past year. Each story had such a beautiful and engrossing sense of awe that made me unable to put it down. There was something about the messaging that just felt so much bigger than our world and lives, and that is what really captured me. Daniel Mason really did an incredible job with this collection!

11. Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones: Stephen Graham Jones has quickly become a favorite author of mine, and I found myself really captivated by this book. It's a bit weird, as most of his books are, but it's a weird with purpose and has an incredible mix of thoughtfully horrific elements that make it impossible to forget. 

12. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami: As we all know, I'm an enormous fan of Murakami's work, and I found this memoir from him particularly delightful and illuminating. I find Murakami to be an incredibly insightful and thoughtful person and hearing his own thoughts on life and different topics was truly a great experience. Highly recommended, whether you've read any books by Murakami or not!

2022 Advance Reads:

1. The Violence by Delilah Dawson: This book made me forget that I was reading, and that just does not happen much these days with my anxiety and inability to focus on things as fully as I used to. Time would simply fly by while I was reading this and that's how I knew it was a special and amazing book. I don't want to say too much since it's not even out yet, but please put this one on your radar if you haven't! The characters are so wonderfully fleshed out and the storyline is eerily familiar and compelling and truly so haunting. Do be warned it's pretty graphic and hard to read at times, so if you are sensitive to abuse, violence, etc., I would seek out some reviews and content warnings before diving in (I will include some in my review as well, which will be up closer to it's release!).

2. The Carnival of Ash by Tom Beckerlegge: This was a super unexpected read for me that I didn't know existed until I saw it on NetGalley and knew I had to read it. I didn't even mean to read it so early, but it was just calling to me. The format of this book feels a little like vignettes into people's lives that follow the same timeline and I promise it's unbelievably captivating. I thought I would get tired of it at some point, but something about Beckerlegge's writing just lured me in consistently and I ended up being immensely impressed and a little in awe of how he crafted this book. Another one to keep on your radar for 2022!

Have you read any of these books? What backlist titles did you read and love last year?


  1. Arctic horror... that makes me want t look closer at that! And The Twistred Ones has me super curious as well! I'm finding myself wanting to read more horror and horror- adjacent stuff lately... maybe it's the times we're living in haha!

    Honestly though- awesome list! :)

  2. I'm excited to see your best of lists😁 And I'm so excited that you loved The Violence, I have it coming up in the queue soon. And I'll have to check out Carnival of Ash!