To Milkman from The Mirror: books read in 2021

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As I’ve done in January for several years, I’m taking this opportunity to list the books I read in the year just gone. The Milkman, by Ann Burns was the last book I completed reading in 2021; the first was Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light. So that’s the title of this piece explained.

Reading Resolution

Since 2016 my standing Reading Resolution has been to read 50 titles in the year. I don’t think I quite managed to keep that in 2021, though I came close. You can count the titles below if you like, but I don’t think you’ll be any the wiser for doing so! A couple are long, encyclopedic books that I admit I didn’t read from cover to cover, though I dipped into them frequently. Also there are a couple of titles missing — full length books I read as a “beta reader”. They aren’t yet published, so I prefer to keep those private.

Another reason I missed my mark, I think, was that I let myself get a bit complacent. To be sure of keeping a resolution, especially one that stretches across a whole year, you really need to do something towards it every day. But I didn’t always read for long enough some days, and even missed a number of days reading altogether. Also, I read a number of rather long novels rather slowly; The Mirror and the Light took me 36 days, The Cider House Rules and The Baron in the Trees took 26 each. I also deliberately slowed down my reading for Louis Glück’s slim poetry book A Village Life, which took 29 days. (Though, to be sure, I was reading other titles at the same time).

Milkman took a long time to read too. In the end it took me 22 days, not because it’s such a long novel (though it’s not short), but because of the style of the writing, which demands quite a lot of the reader. Of this reader, at any rate. It’s a very good read, mind you, but I lost concentration and lost track about a third of the way in and had to restart.

All the books

I don’t want to ramble on more. Here is the list. Maybe there’s a title or two you’d like to add to your own “to read in the future” list. All the books are good reads, each in their own way. Some, though are very specialised. (I’m thinking of Rosie Deedes’ Into the Depths, Kristian Wedel’s Göteborg 400, and Kristina Svensson’s two books especially.)

Book titles link to their GoodBooks page or to a publisher’s page. Author names (and translator’s names) link to an appropriate homepage, Wikipedia entry or equivalent. Some of the Swedish books only link to Swedish language webpages. Parenthetical links go to blog post at TheSupercargo where the book is mentioned.

Previous years’ lists

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2 thoughts on “To Milkman from The Mirror: books read in 2021”

    • Thanks Kristina! Certainly a varied list.
      I thought Gothenburg 400 was a nice coffee-table book. It’s very well illustrated, with a good deal of text for most of the pictures. But for the historian in me the title was a bit misleading as it concentrates on the late-19th and 20th centuries, when photographs were available. The city’s first 250 years are dealt with in a very perfunctory 20-30 pages.


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