Books I’ve read (or listened to) in 2021

Following on from last year’s inaugural end of year reading/listening summary, and under the continued spectre of COVID-19, I have once again attempted to make a conscious effort to read/listen to books for pleasure. It still feels far too easy to lose an hour at the end of the day messing around on your phone, or scrolling on Twitter, but it was noticeable to me last year how beneficial it was to disconnect and to pick up a book or listen to an audiobook.

As you see from this year’s list — again including a number of re-reads, annotated by [⟳] — it’s largely dominated by fiction (primarily sci-fi/fantasy, including some easy listens from my teenage years), but with an eclectic smattering of science, history and autobiographies. I was again surprised at how many books I’d finished this year, but acknowledge the distinct shift to audiobooks over reading physical books (primarily whilst running or cycling). However, my consumption is still worryingly disconnected from the number of books I still purchase, adding to the stack of books that I’ve been collecting over recent years.

So, in reading/listening order for 2021:

My favourites of 2021 were as follows:

  • The excellent Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy (2015-2016) by Cixin Liu, which describes a future where the Earth is awaiting an invasion from the closest star system. Not only grounded in engaging science and technology (current and potential), it is also framed by morality, ethics and rationalism — including the existential dilemma of “where could/should mankind go from here”.
  • The Sandman (2020) by Neil Gaiman; in which Morpheus, the immortal king of dreams, stories and the imagination, is caught and imprisoned for decades. On escaping, he must restore his power, crossing paths with characters from DC comic books, ancient myths, and real-world history. This audio adaptation of Gaiman’s best-selling graphic novel, adapted and directed by Dirk Maggs, is performed by an ensemble cast with an original score, and narrated by Gaiman himself.
  • And an honourable mention to the hugely informative Neutrotribes audiobook (2016) by Steve Silberman, offering the wider historical context and evidenced-based insight into autism spectrum disorder and neurodiversity.


One thought

  1. While I absolutely love epic fantasy and sci-fi, I never managed to enjoy Dune – I found the writing to be too grammatically odd (missing conjunctions especially being something that grated with me, filled me with disappointment); for me, an eccentric writing style is a risky gambit – you might well end up losing bits of your potential audience that focus on the writing itself as well as the story.

    I also – perhaps unfairly – judged Dune harshly for being the fifth or sixth series that I attempted that followed the “young lad gets drawn on a long journey and discovers his true enormous role in the universe” path; by the time I got round to it, I’d done Star Wars, the Belgariad, the Wheel of Time and the Sword of Truth, and probably a few more.

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