Reading Goals and Challenges: 2021 Wrap-Up

Hello, dear reader friends. Happy New Year! What a year this has been… Despite everything that’s going on (and if you’re reading this in early 2022, you know what I mean), silly things like reading challenges still exist and those among us crazy enough to participate actually care about their stats and “winning” a challenge. So let’s look at how I did in 2021:


Goodreads Reading Goal

I have once again surpassed my Goodreads reading goal and unlike last year, it wasn’t due to a whole lot of graphic novels.

When it comes to page count, which makes things a little more accurate and easier to compare years, I ended up quite behind 2020 but I still read almost 35,000 pages. It’s not a new best, but it’s a second-best and that’s enough to make me feel proud.


Beat the Backlist Challenge

This was the only official year-long challenge I took part in this year but I wasn’t all that eager to fill the entire Bingo card. It mostly helped me choose backlist books when I wasn’t sure what to read next.

  • Prompts fulfilled: 34/52
  • Bingo: Yes, twice

Reading the Hugo Awards

This two-part challenge was very one-sided in 2021 but that’s okay because technically, I did some groundwork for an older Hugo winner (meaning I read the first three Foundation books so I can read the Hugo-winning one soon-ish). As for current finalists, I did much better. The fact that WorldCon happened in December as opposed to AUgust definiteley helped me to catch up on the Best Series finalists. Here’s where we ended up:

  • Best Novel: 6/6
  • Best Novella: 6/6
  • Best Novelette: 6/6
  • Best Short Story: 6/6
  • Best Graphic Novel: 6/6
  • Lodestar: 6/6
  • Astounding: 2/6
  • Best Series:
    • Daevabad: 3/3
    • Murderbot: 5/6
    • Interdependency: 3/3
    • Lady Astronaut: 3/3
    • Poppy War: 3/3
    • October Daye: 3/14

That’s not too bad! Sure, I would have really liked to read the Astounding finalists as well but by that point, I was close to a Hugo burnout and I want to keep reading fun, after all.

The second part of this challenge is to read a few past Hugo winners or finalists. I had a handful picked out at the beginning of the year but I haven’t done too well so far. I hope I can do two more this year.

Past Hugo winners/finalists read: 1

Well… we can’t win all the time, I suppose.


Magical Readathon: Orilium – The Novice Path

G’s Magical Readathon is back and it is cooler than ever! Naturally, I participated in the very first introductory chapter which took place during September.

The prompts (as always) helped me pick up a variety of books, some of which I wouldn’t have read this soon otherwise. Most of my reads were fantastic and I got to go on a magical journey and create my very own character for future readathons by reading them.

NOVICE PATH STATION/
CHARACTER TRAIT
BOOK TITLE
Novice Path EntranceRobert Jordan – The Great Hunt
Ashthorn TreeJohn Scalzi – The Consuming Fire
Mists of SolitudeNicole Kornher-Stace – Firebreak
Ruin of the SkyeKatherine Arden – Small Spaces
Obsidian FallsSarah Gailey – The Echo Wife
Tower of RuminationJordan Ifueko – Redemptor
Orilion AcademyTori Bovalino – The Devil Makes Three
IltirianColson Whitehead – The Underground Railroad
ElfMary Robinette Kowal – The Relentless Moon
KeradorLinden A. Lewis – The Second Rebel
UrbanAlaya Dawn Johnson – Trouble the Saints

Since we only had to fulfill two journey prompts and still have time until April 2022 to get all our character reading done, my readathon was very successful. And even better, I’m all set to start the next Magical Readathon with my character Sistani.

Sistani belongs to the Archivists, which is your sort of guild at the fictional Academy, and I cannot wait to see what that means for the 2022 readathons. I’m sure I’ll have to read a 500+ page book or something.


Read More Black Authors

Well, I suck. Or at the very least, I sucked this year whan it came to reading books by Black authors. I kind of knew it was going to end up this way what with my Stormlight Archive re-read and me starting the Wheel of Time and reading a bunch of white authors for the Hugo Awards…

Books by Black authors read: 15/20

Technically,I read an additional three short stories by Black authors, but I only counted novels for this challenge.

And to put this all into perspective, I did read 32 books by Authors of Color, but many of them are Latinx, Asian, or Indigenous so I didn’t count them toward this challenge. Which is why I’m adapting it next year to include all sorts of authors and not focus on merely one group


New Releases

I did okay with this one. There are still a lot of books from 2021 that I want to read before nominating for the 2022 Hugos, but I have already discovered some favorites as well as some others I can safely ignore for my ballot.

2021 releases read: 28

Favorites: The Past is Red by Catherynne M. Valente, The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He, All the Murmuring Bones by Angela Slatter, The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey, Noor by Nnedi Okorafor.

My biggest wish was to find a new favorite book by an author I hadn’t read before and – hooray – it was fulfilled. First came Firebreak by Nicole Kornher-Stace. And very late in the year (November and December) two more books came up that I absolutely loved: Little Thieves by Margaret Owen and This Marvellous Light by Freya Marske. Three new author crushes in one year is pretty damn nice!


Five Star Predictions ★★★★★

This year’s predictions just go to show how misleading blurbs and markting campaigns can be. Especially newer books that have super hyped early reviews and little else can end up far from what I had hoped.

Alechia Dow – The Sound of StarsRead1.5 stars
Everina Maxwell – Winter’s OrbitRead3.5 stars
Vonda N. McIntyre – DreamsnakeRead4.5 stars
Catherynne M. Valente – The Past is RedRead5 stars
Hannah Whitten – For the WolfRead1 star
Fonda Lee – Jade LegacyNot Read

In this case, Cat Valente and Fonda Lee were my sure thing and Valente did not disappoint. Sadly, I haven’t managed to read Jade Legacy yet. Dreamsnake is old enough to have garnered all sorts of reviews, many of which I found helpful, even ones that didn’t like the book (because they disliked it for aspects that I tend to enjoy in books). Winter’s Orbit was buzzed about a lot but not in a crazy way, if you know what I mean. And I ended up quite liking it.

Now the one book that received what I would call hype, and way before it even came out, was For the Wolf. The author posted aesthetics and playlists and quotes out of context that sounded super dramatic and impactful. And then it turns out this book is about nothing. Even the one thing it seemed to want to tell – the sappy romance – wasn’t well developed. Ironically, it may have the the worst book I read all year! Followed closely by another 5-star-prediction, but at least The Sound of Stars had some nice ideas and very basic world building.

What I have learned through this experiment is not to trust early reviews (if I don’t know the people who post them) or the sort of hype that is based mostly on pretty pictures or Pinterest mood boards. If all you have to say about your book is that the characters are really pretty then it’s probably not for me. So. Overhyped books will not be read too soon after publication. I’ll give them a year or so to stew. Critical reviews, both positive and negative, can be trusted more than over-excited, gif-filled, cover-focused, character-appearance-adoring ones.
Lesson two: Favorite authors are favorites for a reason.


And this wraps up my2021 reading challenges and goals. I did pretty well on most of them but there is room for improvement next year. How did you do on your challenges? Do you participate in 20 of them each year as well or are you normal? 🙂

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