The Best Things of 2021
Edition 34: December 2021
Welp. We made it to the end of another ~unprecedented~ year. But it wasn’t all bad! I made some great new friends in the bookish newsletter game, and if you aren’t reading What to Read If and Books on Gif yet, what are you waiting for? I also went HARD into the world of Bo Burnham obsession—did I tell y’all I got a tattoo inspired by Inside? I also received one of few golden tickets in the form of a white tube sock—my very own Socko!—with my merch order. This life is a weird one.
In October, I started a new fitness program and, in nine weeks, lost 5 pounds and 1 percent body fat, and I still cannot believe it. It is hard and I hate it most of the time, but it feels good to know I’m respecting my body.
Normally this is the time when I make a bunch of lofty goals, but I think I’d rather just make a blanket goal for being more present in my life and doing things that fill up my soul.
Before I say adios to this year, here are some of my favorite books and things I wrote in 2021.
What I read in 2021
Everything Is Fine: A Memoir by Vince Granata
An absolutely gutting book about grief and love from the eyes of the brother of a man with schizophrenia who, in an unmedicated state of psychosis, kills their mother.
Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me: Depression in the First Person by Anna Mehler Paperny
A vulnerable blend of memoir and journalistic work on how the medical field does a disservice to psychiatric patients, especially when it comes to suicide.
Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell
If you like learning about cults and/or language and/or LuLaRoe, you need to get your hands on this book. My pick for Book Riot’s Best Books of 2021.
The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green
The perfect book for all humans who need a reminder that the world is beautiful, if look close enough.
The Way She Feels: My Life on the Borderline in Pictures and Pieces by Courtney Cook
A really moving, raw, and colorful memoir in comics, essays, and lists about a life with borderline personality disorder, among other things.
Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal
Leni and Nelly are two BFFs on the cheerleading squad who organize taking a knee during the national anthem. But the only one who gets punished for it is Nelly, who is Black. Their friendship is on the line, as are their futures.
The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson
After solving her first cold case at Ellingham Academy, Stevie Bell gets called up to solve another at a summer camp. Hijinks and crime-solving ensue. You’ll stay up past your bedtime with this one.
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
A romance that touches on heavy topics: Anna and Quan have to learn to trust each other when they’ve been unable to trust others for most of their life.
What to Miss When by Leigh Stein
A little bit of satire, a little bit of heart. It is a flawless time capsule of the COVID year and the universal experience of so many privileged Americans.
What I wrote in 2021
Pairing Books with Bo Burnham’s Inside
Also known as the piece that John Green tweeted about.
Or, that time my brother told me a story about someone emptying a Little Free Library and filling it with Bibles and I had to rage-write about it.
7 Things You Didn’t Know about Ernest Hemingway
The piece I’ve been working on in my heart since I started writing for Book Riot in 2016.
Since we last met, I wrote about the Millennial writer (a topic I’ve been noodling on for years), mused on the role Sylvia Plath plays in pop culture, and rounded up this delightful list of books with sexy fruits on the covers.
I hope y’all have a magical end to your year and get some very good reading done.
Head’s up! I’m an affiliate with Bookshop.org and may earn a commission if you click through any book links and make a purchase.
Thanks so much, I've really enjoyed your newsletter the last couple of months. I look forward to your newsletters in the coming year. Happy New Year!
Thanks for the shoutout Ashley! I really liked your piece on "millennial writers." Is there a male millenial writer?