You know you’re in a bit of a rut when you can cut and paste the header from the previous year’s Books of the Year round-up. But here it is:
I have to begin with a disclaimer. I read a lot of books in 2020, but not very many new books. And in particular not a lot of fiction (outside of SF). This is something that I’ve noticed is only getting worse. I’d like to read more new fiction, but much of it seems to be getting lost in the shuffle of pages.
In 2021 this trend continued. I shouldn’t be surprised. At some point I think every committed reader starts to think about the number of books they have left in them, which then leads to a deeper consideration of where one’s time is best spent. And that time is usually not best spent reading new books. Still, I would like to do better in 2022. There’s always hope!
Best fiction: Looking back on 2021, I guess one way of picking a winner here is thinking of the book I remember the best. I know that’s only one criteria, but I think it’s an important one. And if I had to pick the work of fiction that’s stuck in my head the most it would be Pasha Malla’s Kill the Mall, which is another working of the recently very hot field of Weird fiction in Canadian writing.
Best non-fiction: I will go with The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow just for its sweep, provocative point of view, and readability. I will then rush to add that it’s a book that I had a lot of disagreements with. Much of it I think is just wrong. But it’s a book of the year.
Best SF: Quite a few titles suggest themselves here but I’ll go with Izumi Suzuki’s Terminal Boredom. This is maybe stretching the idea of a new book a bit since it’s a collection of stories written in the 1980s (Suzuki committed suicide in 1986), but I think they’re mostly new translations and the book itself is new. In any event, I really liked it and even found it a bit surprising that what I thought one of the freshest and most groundbreaking SF titles of the year was actually written forty years ago.