My Best Reads of 2021

Time for my annual post of great reads for the previous year. Without further ado, here are My Best Reads of 2021 based on the results of my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge.

My 2021 in Books

  1. Number of books read: 62 
  2. Ratings: 5 stars = 16; 4 stars = 30; 3 stars = 11; 2 stars, 1 star, or unrated = 5
  3. Fiction: 59; Non-Fiction: 3
  4. Books with a Minnesota connection: 9 (6 rated 4 or 5 stars)
  5. Pages read = 18,685

The Best Book I Read in 2021–Finalists

IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
  1. Frederick BackmanBeartown
  2. Allen EskensNothing More Dangerous
  3. Raymond ChandlerThe High Window
  4. Raymond ChandlerThe Little Sister
  5. Agatha ChristieAnd Then There Were None

My Best Read of 2021–WINNER

Raymond Chandler–The Little Sister

WHY? Choosing was really tough this year. Each book was outstanding. I highly recommend them all. I chose Chandler mostly for his body of work. (The Big Sleep was a finalist in 2019.) I’m a mystery/thriller writer, which means I gravitate toward the genre when I read. Each of Chandler’s books, including The Little Sister, contain intricate plots; some of the wittiest, sharpest dialogue you’ll ever read; and immerse you so thoroughly in the world of Depression-Era Southern California that you’ll swear your walking alongside Phillip Marlowe as he tackles each case. Marlowe is a great protagonist–conflicted yet principled, tough yet tender, cynical yet ultimately hopeful. Chandler’s novels aren’t easy to read compared with today’s leaner, tighter style, but his command of prose is second to none in the literary wor


My Rating System

I follow the Goodreads.com guidelines. A three-star rating means I liked a book and thought it was better than average although not a book I would enthusiastically recommend. The curve is naturally skewed because truly awful books rarely get published, despite the revolution in independent publishing that literally allows anyone to publish any piece of writing for a relatively low cost. I also factor in my reading experience and ability to filter out the worst books from my reading list and populate that list with books I expect will be better than average.

I put a lot of stock in the consensus of reviews, especially when a book has received enough reviews that the rating will be representative of a large number of readers and not skewed by “friends-and-family” reviews.  F-and-Fs are reviews that seem to be written by people who know the author and either want to give or are coerced into giving a glowing review because of personal pressure or a sense of obligation. Those reviews are pretty obvious when a book has less than ten or twenty reviews, especially when there exists a one- or two-star review that takes the author to task for poor editing, proofreading, or in some cases, inferior craft. A few books received no stars– not because they were worse than one-star books, but because I chose not to rate them for personal reasons.

My Questions for You: How many books did you read in 2021?  What was your “best book I read in 2021?” What do you think of my finalists?

THANKS FOR THE REVIEWS

Online reviews are crucial for the survival of most authors. Good or bad, a review indicates that someone took time and/or spent money to read a book and share their opinion. The more reviews posted, the more likely it is that others will buy the book and read it. And especially this past year, book sales by non-bestsellers have suffered. Why? Because we can’t meet readers and customers live at bookstore signings and book festivals. So if you read a book, especially a book written by a less well-known author, please consider posting a brief, honest review of that book on Goodreads.com, Amazon.com, Bookbub.com, or any other online review website.

If you’d like to post a review or rating of either Straight River or Castle Danger, click on the images below, which will take you to their respective Goodreads.com pages.

Straight River Cover

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