2021 Reading Challenge – Part 4

I had set the goal of completing 104 new books in 2021. This includes physical books, ebooks, and audiobooks. I ended up completing 119, which was frustrating because after completing the initial goal early, I set an internal goal of 120 by year-end, which would have been ten books per month.  The full list of completed books for the last few years is posted here.

Highlights of 2021

It was, for the most part, a year of fantastic sci-fi stories. I enjoyed the Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal, which takes place in the 1950s and 1960s, starting with a catastrophic disaster that fast-tracks the US space program. I loved the historical setting, and the author clearly has a passion for the subject. A fourth book in the series is due later in 2022.

If you’ve had a look at my complete list for 2021, you will see one name popping up over and over; Jeremy Robinson. I’ve smashed through dozens of his books this year, starting with the Nemesis Saga, a five-part story about Kaiju. What I love about Jeremy’s work is the meta, self-aware approach it takes. In the Nemesis Saga, characters talk about Godzilla, Cthulhu, and all sorts of other fictional monsters. His other stories are littered with Easter eggs to other books of his. A few weeks ago it was announced that his last few works were part of an extended shared universe, the Infinite Timeline. Whilst many of his readers thought the books were building to something, as characters hopped from book to book, it was still an exciting moment to have it confirmed this was leading to an “Avengers-style crossover”

The Infinite Timeline, posted here with Jeremy Robinson’s permission.

In addition to the various series I’ve enjoyed, there have been some excellent stand-alone books as well.  I’ve tried to branch out and explore concepts, ideas, or subjects that I’ve little knowledge of.  Men Who Hate Women by Laura Bates was an eye-opener into the world of misogyny and incels.  Claire North’s incredible work of fiction, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, and Matt Haig’s emotional rollercoaster, The Midnight Library, both explored the idea of parallel worlds and history repeating itself.  I loved both of these works.  Anyone who enjoyed them would do well to check out Replay by Ken Grimwood, which looks at similar concepts.

The Worst of 2021

As good as some books were, others were so bad I wanted to repress them from my memory, but then I realised I’d probably end up reading them again if I’d forgotten about them, and I’d end up in a cycle of reading the same rubbish over and over.

2034: The Future Laid Bare by Grant Williams was…. something… The first half of the book is an alternate timeline of events, in what is an extended prologue.  The second half of the book switches from one perspective to another without warning and is just a mess.  The ideas in the book were great, but they could have done with a skilled author to put those ideas down on paper.  

Apart from a few other questionable works of fiction, the only other book that I found incredibly annoying was The Truth by Neil Strauss.  It’s a book about the author’s experiences of trying non-traditional relationship types.  It might be one of the most self-indulgent pieces of writing I’ve ever read.  Unintentionally funny in parts, and lacking any sort of self-awareness.  

A Brief Interlude

I’ll never hide this blog behind a paywall, but it does cost money to run the site.  I spend a minimum of six hours each week writing the blog, and maintaining the other parts of davidscothern.com.  It is a labour of love.  However, many of you have asked how you can show your appreciation.  I set up a Buy Me A Coffee page but the main feedback was that you couldn’t pay by card.  Well, now you can!  My page now supports card payments and Apple Pay.  So, if you want to show your support and appreciation for the content I create, please buy me a coffee.  

The 2022 Reading/Listening Challenge

I’ve decided to not be so focused on the number of books I complete and instead focus on the types of books I want to explore.  So, I’ve set the following two goals for the year:

1 – Complete 10 “classic” books.

  1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)
  2. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
  3. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)
  4. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
  5. The Iliad by Homer (8th century BC)
  6. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844)
  7. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1867)
  8. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859)
  9. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1862)
  10. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1605)

 2 – Read 10 authors I’ve not read before.

I’m going to be honest here, I know nothing about Don Quixote except for the name, Rocinante.  If you know, you know, sasa ke?

I probably won’t make much progress until I complete the Chess Team series by Jeremy Robinson, and until I’ve shaken Covid.  Reading text on the page makes me sleepy at the moment, and the floaters in my vision give me headaches.  I don’t understand why it doesn’t affect my writing or reading on screen though.

As always, I’m on the lookout for new books; in particular any hard sci-fi out there.  I’m not too bothered about military sci-fi though.  If you have a recommendation, please let me know.


You can now find all my social media pages by checking out my Biolink at bio.link/davidscothern.

Please show your support

I spend several hours each week writing this blog and make it freely available to all readers.  I do not hide my content behind a paywall.  However, maintaining a website incurs costs.  If you can afford a small donation, it would be gratefully accepted.  Click on the Buy Me A Coffee image to be taken to my supporter page.  You can either make a one off donation, or sign up to a monthly subscription.  If you can’t make a donation, please share my blog on your social media.

You can still see Sweep’s Instagram @sweep_the_kelham_island_cat.  

Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s fantastic blog at darrenscothern.com.

2 thoughts on “2021 Reading Challenge – Part 4

  1. Good luck with your reading. Of the classics, I’ve read The Iliad (when I was a teenager!) Maybe I will try to squeeze in a classic or two this year although what is the definition of one? Written before 1960 and well known/read in schools?

    And looking at the books I read last year, it looks like I tried 8 new (to me) authors.

    Liked by 1 person

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