Last year, I read 42 books. (My goal was 52, but I’m satisfied with where I landed.) Of those 42, I only gave 6 books 5-out-of-5 stars. These are those books, as taken from my 2021 Reading Log (if you’re curious what else I read, what else I recommend, and what I DON’T, you can find the whole log here).
1) The End of the Alphabet by C.S. Richardson — An all-time favorite of mine, this was my fourth or fifth reading. A brief story of a marriage on a final journey, poetically told. 5/5; Highly Recommend.
2) The Hike by Drew Magary — Contender for favorite read of the year. Ben goes for a hike that turns south when he witnesses a murder and finds himself plunged into an alternative dimension with no clear way to get back home. Alice Through the Looking Glass meets The Odyssey. A mid-life-crisis bildungsroman for the millennial reader, this book is going on the re-read list. 5/5; Highly Recommend.
3) The Martian by Andy Weir — Astronaut Mark Watney gets accidentally marooned on Mars and must survive off his own wits or perish. Lots of science and engineering, but told in an engaging and accessible way. Excellent sci-fi. 5/5; Highly Recommend.
4) Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan — Clay Jannon is out of work when he stumbles upon Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and lands a job as the clerk for the old man with his name above the door. He quickly realizes there’s more to the store than it seems: most of the eccentric clientele don’t buy anything, but rather check out ancient and intriguing tomes, often in the middle of the night. As he tries to sort out what’s going on, Clay is sucked into something far bigger than he planned. Delightful and bookish, this is one of my favorite reads of the year. 5/5; Highly Recommend.
5) Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason — There’s something wrong with Martha — there always has been — but it’s not until her life is falling apart around her that she begins to understand what the real problem is, and what it would mean to change. A devastating, wry look at mental illness and the stories we internalize, this book was emotionally hard to read, but so, so worth it. 5/5; Highly Recommend.
6) Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton — S.T. is a domesticated crow who finds himself as the last hope of humanity when a zombie-like plague begins to kill off the MoFos (humans), including S.T.’s person, Big Jim. Irreverent, crass, and laugh-out-loud funny, this book has a direct line to my funny bone. If you don’t like big swears or graphic depictions of zombie carnage, this isn’t the book for you, but it’s an all time fav of mine. This was my second read-through. 5/5; Highly Recommend (to the right audience).
That’s it! There are a lot of good books on the full list, these were just my very favorites. If you’d like to see what I’m reading this year, here’s my 2022 Reading Log, which I’ll be updating once or twice a month.