2021: Some Reading, Much Listening, Very Little by Way of Watching …

Well, folks, it’s been a year, hasn’t it? Another year, another covid variant, or two, or three… And here we are again, Zoom-bound and footie-pyjamas-donned, growing more feral and introverted. At least I am.

This year, I gave up any attempt to bake bread and Twitter. While I didn’t read as many books as I wanted to, I regained some reading focus, got through more grading, and started to take a daily walk, all formerly abandoned by mindless Twitter scrolling. I gave up trying to raise my Netgalley stats by reviewing ARCs and stopped requesting them. (I have an ARC “backlist” stretching to “the crack of doom,” so you’ll still see me review one occasionally. At this end of another pandemic year, I have a diminishing desire to read romance; sad, but there it is.)

I ordered more books and maintained a TBR I might get through if I have a future as Methuselah. I saw a friend and went to a café (at the same time; I don’t do things by halves, when I go, I go BIG), something I haven’t done in two years. I haven’t been to a museum, restaurant, or movie, and don’t think I ever will. I did read some books, not as many as I wanted to (see Twitter addiction, now broken), but 2022 looks good reading-wise.

I did a lot of cooking and baking and listened to podcasts while I did. Emerging from lockdowns meant commuting again, so I listened in the car too. Here’s my listening and reading year, or at least what I remember of it. (I used to watch films; this year, I managed two: News of the World, which I loved, and Nomadland, which I hated. I did watch my southern neighbours cut through the Gordian knot of their democracy on January 6th and, to mix my allusions, remain convinced no one can put Humpty-Dumpty back together. I also watched, with deep shame and horror, the revelations of my own country’s reprehensible treatment of indigenous peoples. Again, like most, I watched covid news with equal parts dread and hope.)   

Book of the Year: Tana French’s In the Woods

Romance of the Year: Kate Clayborn’s Love At First

Non-Fiction Book of the Year: Richard Greene’s Russian Roulette: The Life and Times of Graham Greene

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Favourite Podcast: The Rest Is History

Favourite “Limited Series” Podcast: LRB’s Encounters With Medieval Women (especially episodes 1 and 2, on Mary of Egypt and Julian of Norwich, respectively)

Best New-to-Me Podcasts: Something Rhymes With Purple & Fireside

Favourite “Books” Podcasts: Writ Large and Backlisted

Favourite Podcast Episodes: Writ Large on Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Encounters With Medieval Women, Episode 2, “Anchoress” (on Julian of Norwich), Fireside on and with Elaine Pagels, and Backlisted on E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children

Podcast Episode That Made Me Re-evaluate My Life: Ministry of Ideas’ limited series, Making Meaning, episode 1, “You Don’t Have to Be Special”

Podcast That Taught Me Things I Didn’t Know: C-SPAN’s Lectures in History, “Anti-Semitism Between WWI & WWII,” with Professor Pamela Nadell of American University and “Food During the Great Depression,” with Professor Pamela Riney-Kehrberg of Iowa State University

What about you? What did you read, watch, or listen to that left you enthralled, disappointed, or indifferent?

19 thoughts on “2021: Some Reading, Much Listening, Very Little by Way of Watching …

  1. Hi Kay, so good to read your thoughts- many similar to mine at this point. I hope 2022 is a year of hopes fulfilled, joy expanded and welcome surprises for you.

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  2. Tana French!!!! Is Into the Woods your first of hers? I read it years ago, along with all the other Dublin Detectives, but I recently acquired her latest two at a used book store—maybe I’ll take a romance break and read a psychological mystery or two. (The Likeness is my favorite, but that might be because it was the first one I read and her writing blew me away.)

    Wishing you the best in 2022!

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    1. I know! I have these HUGE GAPS in my reading. You’re not alone in your love for The Likeness. I have a reading plan (no longer a TBR) and it’s moved up the queue.

      Happiness and health in the new year!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Looking forward to hear what you think of it! I admit it’s been *years* since I read it, so it might be the case that I’ve built it up in my head and that I wouldn’t like it as much now.

        Wishing you the best in 2022!

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  3. Hi Kay, and Happy New Year! So lovely to see an end of year post from you. I can’t believe we’re still where we are, or rather not where we were but not where we hoped to be. But not much to do about it. I hope you are well. We are fine and at least we get to see a few more people than we could in 2020. No movies or concerts for us either.

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    1. Sunita, months of occasionally wondering how you are and here you are, commenting on my post while I was so happy to read yours!!

      Happy, healthy, cheery new year to you and your family!

      We are currently locked down and curfewed to the nth degree. We’re in a bad way, but mama and I are hanging in there and doing our best to stay cheery.

      No worries about the reading, I didn’t read much either this year, which may be where romance and I part company. I’ve thought about you a lot about that and about leaving Twitter. (It’s been good for me.) I have a good feeling 2022 may be a better reading year for us all!

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      1. I am so glad to hear that Mama B is holding up as well! We will drink a toast to you both tonight before we tuck ourselves in at our usual 10pm bedtime. 😉

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        1. MamaB is suffering from memory loss, but she is still sharp-tongued and able-bodied and a lot of fun! We’re really living it up tonight. We’re going to stay up till 10:30, maybe 11…

          “Le chaim”!

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    1. It was wonderful. Even months later, I’m thinking about and relishing it. It has so much to say to us. Reading The Dawn of Everything now, which posits that Indigenous people provided a critique of Western ways of being and living, I often think about one particular moment in the film. Do you remember? When the little girl sees a long line of Indigenous people walking (it must be the Trail of Tears) and they give her a horse. When they have nothing, they give it to her. It and other scenes have stayed with me.

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  4. Happy New Year Kay! I wish you and MamaB a happy and healthy 2022 full of love, hope, and joy.

    Like you, I have almost entirely given up on Romance, but I have rediscovered some excellent SFF (yay), and there are always the mysteries.

    I still haven’t broken the Twitter addiction, but I’m working on it. I have mostly managed to break my FB addiction. Staying off of social media is one of my goals for this year.

    The best books of the year for me was “How to Pronounce Knife” by Souvankham Thammavongsa, and “Hope Matters” by Elin Kelsey. My favourite podcast discovery has been Malcolm Gladwell’s, “Revisionist History.”

    I was out to a couple of restaurant patios, and even dined inside twice before everything went to hell again, but the idea of going to a cinema or concert gives me hives! We managed to get together with friends and family this year which was wonderful. The things that I miss the most are my Scottish Country dance group and travel.

    Take care of yourself, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that we might be able to meet at Stratfest this year!!

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    1. Thank you so much! I wish you and your family the same, for the world to be healed of this pernicious plague and for people to congregate again, especially in Stratford. That would be so great: I often think of that lovely walk up to the Festival theatre, wandering the gardens, checking out what people are wearing, grabbing a drink and then lining up for the wonderful “thrust” stage and all the wonders it offers. The first time I brought my church-y group to the ‘fest, the first play we saw was Camelot, and the first scene saw a falcon? peregrine? fly across the stage before a massive golden tree emerged from the stage trap…

      I’m going to check out your book titles and I too enjoyed Gladwell’s Revisionist History!

      You too, take good care and it’s great to hear from you! It sure would be wonderful to meet in our Canadian Stratford!

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  5. Happy New Year Miss Bates …I wish you and your loved ones all good things in the year to come, wherever you might find them.

    On your recommendation I’ve just finished Love at First and liked it so much, thank you. I’ve also made a start on listening to some of the podcasts you recommend (just the LRB Medieval Women so far, they’re fascinating), and look forward to exploring the others. My current favourite podcast is Fortunately with Fi Glover and Jane Garvey, BBC Sounds, perhaps you might enjoy it.

    Tana French is a wonderful writer. There’s was a dramatization of Into the Woods that was available on one of the streaming services and it was excellent as well; have you seen it? It survives the transition from novel to tv very well. I wonder if you would also like Denise Mina’s thrillers? I’ve recently really enjoyed listening to The Less Dead by her and have just started listening to Conviction.

    I think my favourite book this year (not a romance) was Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, although it brought me to tears more than once. Very disconcerting I’m sure for the fellow walkers I encountered as I was listening. I’m not sure if there was for me a favourite romance — I’ve been tending to reread old favourites instead.

    Thanks for all your interesting and articulate book blogs this year; I’m looking forward to the ones to come.

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    1. And a happy new year to you and yours!!! I’m so glad you enjoyed Love At First: it’s such a gentle, thoughtful romance, not enough of those being written these days. Everything is so strident. Harder and harder to find good romance. I’m gravitating to rereads or trads these days too. I also still like the historical mystery with a good romance, like Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell series. You’d like those.

      We must be on some kind of common book-plane or something because Hamnet is the next book on my 2022 reading plan! I especially look forward to it now and hope you’ll tune in for my thoughts and share yours. I have Mina in the TBR too. As well as that French series, though I understand it’s comprised of the first two books, so I’d like to read The Likeness before I watch it.

      May the new year bring you good health, good cheer, good books and healing for the world!

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  6. Happy New Year! I’m glad to hear you and your mother are good company for each other. Thank you for the podcast recommendations. I am down here in New Jersey trying not to contract the Omicron variant. At least I was able to attend a small family Thanksgiving gathering before things got worse again. I really, really, miss museums. I was never a movie theater goer, but the best thing I watched was “Night Train to Munich”, a great little film from 1940, which I borrowed from the library over Christmas weekend.
    I am still reading historical romance. The latest is a surprisingly good medieval series, Champions of Saint Euphemia, by Claire Delacroix. It’s set during the Crusades, and the author appears to have done her history homework. I would say my two favorite new(to me) authors are Evie Dunmore and Harper St. George. I have cut way down on Facebook(just doing a quick check once a day), but still waste too much time scrolling through Twitter and Instagram.

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    1. And a happy, healthy, healing new year to you too! We are too, that is, here in Montreal, Quebec (our covid numbers are so bad and health care system so fragile, the Canadian Army had to come in and rescue us), trying not to contract the Omicron. I have to admit, I don’t miss restaurants, or movies, but I do love a good museum perambulation, as long as it’s not too crowded. My fondest memory of the last time I was in Europe was being at the Louvre and having the Davids all to myself: the mobs were in the Mona Lisa room. I also really really miss live theatre. 😦

      I think I’ve seen that film??!! And Dunmore is on my TBR, among hundreds of others! Keep well, great to hear how you’re faring, and don’t sweat the scrolling: I scroll news sites now, LOL! Hope 2022 proves a better year for us all, where we can once again, gather and gab and break bread!

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