My Top Books of 2021

Every year is a new reading adventure. This year, happily, was one of the best fiction-reading years I’ve had in a long time. I followed my heart a bit more than my head in choosing titles and ended up with some new favorites, as well as re-reading an old favorite that makes the list again as an honorable mention.

As always, my list is divided into fiction and non-fiction, with a special focus on writing books I enjoyed. I hope you’ll have fun with the list and perhaps pick up a few new favorites of your own!

Total books read: 48

Fiction to non-fiction ratio: 23:25

Top 5 genres: Romance (with 16 books), Personal Growth (with 10), Western (with 10), Fantasy (with 7), and History (with 4).

Number of books per rating: 5 stars (5), 4 stars (31), 3 stars (11), 2 stars (1), 1 star (0).

Writing Books

1. Rereading by Patricia Meyer Spacks (read 5-7-21) Four and Half Stars

I may have to go really meta and re-read this book someday—it’s that good and thought-provoking. In what is really a literary memoir of sorts, Spacks reflects back on the 70+ years of her reading life with thoughtfulness, whimsy, and delightful jaunts into some of my own favorite classics. She inspired me to do a little rereading of my own this year.

2. Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg (read 7-11-21)

Lots of inspiration in beautiful, bite-sized chapters. An insightful and honest look at the down and dirty of the daily writing life and all its many paradoxical challenges.

3. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg (read 12-23-21)

Classic that it is, I didn’t like this one quite as much as Goldberg’s second book Wild Mind (above), perhaps because I read the other first. Still, Writing Down the Bones offers up its fair share of authorial soul-bearing and pithy snippets of advice for the loosing of the creative spirit.

4. The Artisan Soul by Erwin Raphael McManus (read 4-2-21)

Think of this as kind of a “lite” version of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. A quick, inspiring read from a faith-based perspective.


1. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin (read 4-10-21)

Beyond wonderful. Where has this book been all my life? Such wonderful and effortless worldbuilding. Gorgeous prose. And the nuanced and symbolic depth of the narrative is fantasy as its best.

2. Piranesi by Susannah Clarke (read 10-29-21)

In this much-anticipated outing, Clarke does not disappoint. This is an extremely unique book, not quite like anything else I have ever read, and yet it is admirably solid, beautifully written, and poignantly thematic. Helmed by an eminently likable narrator, it is a book that is deeply memorable and full of food for thought.

3. Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen O’Connell (read 11-6-21)

Hit all the buttons for both romance and western. The characters felt effortlessly real and dimensional, the plot always forward-moving without being contrived, and the Colorado setting drawn with a deft and familiar touch.

4. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien (read 2-4-21)

Predictably, this trilogy was an incredibly special experience. Such a powerful, archetypal, truthful story, told with such elegance and empathy. Truly a masterpiece in its complexity. It is easy to understand why it has many imitators but few if any equals.

5. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (read 4-25-21) Four and Half Stars

It’s a Wonderful Life meets Groundhog Day. This is one of those books that does what books are supposed to do—pull you in again and again with the need to know “what’s gonna happen?” I started this book after abruptly quitting on a previous one that triggered my anxiety out of the blue. I almost quit this one too after realizing it was about yet another depressed millennial. But it grabbed me, and even if it’s a little on the nose here and there, it offered a pitch-perfect plot and character arc. It spoke encouraging truths to me, and I loved it.

Honorable Mention: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (re-read 5-14-21)

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This is an honorable mention only because this is the second time I read it (inspired by Patricia Meyer Spacks’s Rereading). I always say there’s no such thing as a perfect novel, but this one comes awfully close. If anything, I enjoyed it more on this second read. It is possibly the most visually evocative book I’ve ever read. Lush, gorgeous, colorful prose brings to life the titular circus as a phenomenally creative and unique story setting. So often I’m disappointed when stories claim “unique and magical” settings that awe their characters, when really, as a reader, they’re places I’ve already seen a hundred times. No so here. Morgenstern has created a spectacle of wonder and imagination that leaps right off the page. The mystery of the plot and the charming characters end up taking a bit of a backseat to the overall splendor of the descriptive prose, but they provide more than enough steam to power the story forward.

General Non-Fiction

1. Romancing the Shadow by Connie Zweig and Steve Wolf (read 7-5-21) Four and Half Stars

A well-rounded look at many different aspects of shadow work (relationships, work, etc.), bolstered by many examples from the authors’ personal practices.

2. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck (read 12-2-21) Four and Half Stars

Rightfully a classic. Moving, eye-opening, challenging, and inspiring. Full of lots of seminal ideas about self-growth that are simultaneously demanding and benevolent.

3. Egypt: A Short History by Robert L. Tignor (read 2-15-21) Four and Half Stars

A brisk, articulate, and engrossing overview of the mammoth subject of Egyptian history.

4. The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser (read 11-16-21) Four and Half Stars

Excellent, in-depth, entertaining exploration of a perennial topic. Fraser puts the focus not on Henry but on the women who made him (in)famous.

My Books

And if all these goodies aren’t enough to fill your To Be Read pile this year, here’s a few more! 🙂

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! What were your top books of 2021? How many books did you read? Tell me in the comments!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. It’s awesome that you got so much reading done! I try to read one big classic every year and this year I finally crossed The Tale of Genji off the list. A Wizard of Earthsea has been on my to-read pile for a while– I need to check that out even more now with your recommendation.

  2. Just bought the rereading book as looks fascinating. I’ve read a few of your recommendations and especially like Natalie Goldberg’s work. I bought a pack of cards of Writing down the Bones this year… books I enjoyed this year include The History of the Index, The World According to Colour, Successful Television Writing, and my favourite fiction was The Reading List…

  3. I’ve been doing a lot of re-reading this year. I re-read `Dreamlander’ and `The Pickwick Papers’. (I still love Sam Weller. But so does everyone, including Victorians.) One new book I read was `The End of the Spear.’ It is an autobiographical book, and truly beautiful. I’ve also been reading `The Knights of Arethtrae’ by Chuck Black. It’s a children’s Christian fantasy series that my best friend lent me. It took me a couple books to really get into it, but I am enjoying it.

  4. I always enjoy hearing people’s assessments of their reading for a year. I haven’t done my tally yet, but my reading this year went waaaaaaaay down. Something like 57-58 books in 2020 and will probably be less than 10 books this year. Had to spend so much time digging for real info vs. mainstream talking points that there wasn’t much time or interest in reading books. But that’s okay. 2022 is around the corner and time to re-start! 😎 😎 😎 I hope writing in 2022 will be more productive as well.

    Best wishes to all in your reading/writing journey.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      My average tally has gone way down in recent years as well. But I’m reading lots of good stuff, so can’t complain. 🙂

    • I can relate to this so much. Having to spend way too much time having to discern reality vs talking points. Yes! 2022 is a new year! For reading and writing.

  5. I’m glad you put The Night Circus on the list. I had not heard of Morganstern before and read The Starless Sea first. When I want to post my review on Goodreads I was surprised by all the people who were angry that this was so unlike The Night Circus that I realized I had to read it too.

    The Starless Sea is a wonderful book in its own right and it’s easy to see how the author’s talent transfers, but the reviewers are correct. It is not The Night Circus. To quote from the Hitchhiker’s Guide, it was “almost, but not entirely unlike” the Night Circus. The magicalness is all there, and the non-sequential narrative. But after that, it all goes crazy. And I’d highly recommend it.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I haven’t read that one yet. I looked it up after reading this one again this year and saw those same reviews. I’m sure I’ll read it eventually, but it did make me hesitant, since I don’t want to color my experience with this book. I’m weird like that. :p

      • I have read The Night Circus several times, and I love it for different reasons each time. So glad you reread it.

        I was at first unhappy about The Starless Sea, but I reread it almost immediately, and I will say it was better on the second go round. However, I am still feeling sticky from swimming in all that honey…

  6. A sad thing about writing as something I do as well as a full time job. I find the more I write, the less I read. I’m always working on a book, and usually two, but I work through them very slowly. Also, my author/editor mind fires up sometimes, and for books I might have passed through like popcorn, I find myself noticing little things like “huh, everybody in this world seems to be a sociopath – that seems unlikely.” However, I did gulp down a couple of Terry Prachett’s (“Mort” and “Equal Rites”) and these were great. I also loved to death the “Wayfarer” dramatization.

    In terms of non-fiction, I took a fair amount from Penn’s “How to Market a Book”, though I wished it had less advertisements in it, Peterson’s “Twelve Rules for Life” and LeGuin’s “Steering the Craft”.

    It has been a long time since I read LeGuin’s “Earthsea”, and I thought it was great at the time, but “Left Hand of Darkness” was genius.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Aww, I’m so glad you enjoyed the Wayfarer audio presentation. I’ve been pretty tickled by it myself. 😀 And, yes, I hear you on sometimes feeling like there isn’t enough time in the day to both read *and* write, on top of everything else.

      • Giuliana Amidala says

        About reading *and* writing, my mentor said “I would be able to tell their stories not because I was a writer but because I was a reader,” so I always took her advice as a most sensible bit of rationalization for counting reading as wrtiing 🙂

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          I agree with that. I’ve always held with Stephen King’s well-known dictum, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

      • I was remiss in not mentioning “Storming,” which I’d forgotten I read this year. I particularly liked the world building in that one.

  7. Grace Dvorachek says

    This past year, I’ve been reading quite a few classics, and I have several more on my pile for next year. (I’m particularly proud of having read through the entire original Sherlock Holmes books and short stories, which were extremely intriguing and everything I expected.) Right now, I’m just finishing up “Oliver Twist.” I’d read the abridged version when I was younger, but never the original. I’m enjoying it even more than I thought I would!

    I’ve also picked up a few writing books that I’ll be reading soon, as well. “The Anatomy of Storytelling” came highly recommended to me, so I especially can’t wait for that. I’ll definitely be looking to this list once I run out!

  8. If you liked Natalie Goldberg, perhaps you would enjoy Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott. I discovered them both years ago and enjoyed them. You are probably right. I read Writing Down the Bones first and prefer that to her later one.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I read that one many moons ago and remember really liking it. I should dig it out and try it again!

  9. The Road Less Traveled is one of my absolute favorite books of all time. I read it over 35 years ago the first time and it is now on my kindle permanently. I also always recommend “The Gift of Fear” Which is now on Kindle Unlimited.

    The thing about that book is that it might trigger some as it tells some scary examples of how someone’s gut reaction saved their lives. But, working with violent offenders for a living, I recommend this to coworkers and to people wanting to protect themselves from future violence or who, like I was when I first read it, am dealing with a stalker. I swear, the information in that book saved me from my stalker once. (He has stopped stalking more years ago now. but I still keep that book in my library just in case I want to read it again.)

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Thanks! I will check it out.

    • Colleen F. Janik says

      Seinnabloom, I read ‘The Gift of Fear’ years ago and thought it was a great sort of self help book, especially for anyone who lives alone or travels alone a great deal. I gave my copy to someone and then forgot about it. YOU ARE RIGHT—it has probably saved MANY LIVES and can change more. WE ALL NEED A COPY!!!

  10. Love your blog! My favorites were The Peasant Queen by Ashton Dorow, a retelling of Queen Esther; Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar, about Rahab; Dear Clara by Shelly Powell, a regency romance; The Seven Lives of Grace, a humorous urban fantasy by Elena Shelest; The Mark of the Raven, first in a fantasy trilogy by Morgan L. Busse; Mazarine, a mermaid faiey tale by Cece Louise; and my own novel, Waykeepers of Valdeor by Sandralena Hanley.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I re-read a couple of my own books this year too and quite enjoyed them. 😀

      • Colleen F Janik says

        That’s so reassuring that we can enjoy our own work and not feel the need to keep revising it. Yours are so well written that I can see you have no need of regrets after they’re printed and sent out to all of us grateful readers.
        I pray I can do so well with my novels as well.
        Do you ever read what you’ve written with a sort of amazement and think, ‘wow, did I really write that?’ That’s such a great feeling!!!

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          All the time! 😀

          • Adrienne Nesiba says

            Well I can tell you what I just ordered- it’s called “Building Better Characters” by Eileen Cook. I thought that sounded like a good one.
            I am still perusing your recommended books on character archetypes and planning one with your Character Arcs Workbook. That is a fantastic book! Thank you for writing it!

          • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

            So glad you’re finding it useful!

        • Years and years ago I remember reading something I had printed and thinking to myself, “Wow. That is good! Who wrote it?”

          And then I realized that I had written it. I actually had a hard time believing it. It was as if I had been struck with a strange form of amnesia. LOL

        • Does rereading your stuff and thinking “that wasn’t as completely hopeless as I expected it to be,” count? I have a couple of trunk novels that I wrote many years ago that I’d completely discounted because I’ve learned so much since I wrote them, but I find myself thinking, “sure, these need a redraft and heavy editing, but there were some interesting characters and good ideas in here…”

  11. It was great to see so many of my much-loved reads here in your list. Scott Peck was pivotal to my life development, actually, before I decided to write. I worked my way through Writing Down the Bones using her material as prompts for my morning pages one year, and then went on to the True Secret of Writing.

    I”ll have to add some of your other to my perpetually growing TBR list. I finally read the first volume of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire this year. Read some Erica Jong (newest), and lots of genre fiction on my ereader, mostly to get the tropes into my system.

    I recently loved Miriam Toews’ Fight Night.

    I am going to TRY to keep track of my reading next year. It is challenging as I don’t tend to read front-to-back or even thoroughly, unless there’s a massively compelling story.

    I so appreciate your work. Please keep doing it.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, I kept running into Peck quotations in so many of the other books I was reading, I finally decided I better go to the source. Looking forward to reading some of his other stuff as well.

  12. Thank you, KM. I’m interested to see the book I gave myself for Christmas – a random bookstore choice (placed in full view for a reason, perhaps). You and I have other overlaps so this list is a great jumping-off point for some new-to-me authors.
    BTW, your work heavily influences my picture book writing. Thank you for that too.

  13. Colleen F. Janik says

    You do have an impressive reading list. Although I’m positive I haven’t read nearly that many this year, I do have a little list of my favorites. One of them I was SO EXCITED about when I finished reading it inspired me to start a new system for my book shelf. I bought different colors of ribbon, and the ones I liked the best get a green ribbon tied around them with a bow. That’s with the binding to the back. Some books get pink ribbons…
    My favorites for the year: The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson, House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier (couldn’t put that one down!) Bird by Bird by Anne LaMott, Midnight Library by Matt Haig, and…Wayfarer (had GREAT characters).

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Du Maurier is great. Her premises were always killer. And thanks for the Wayfarer shout out. So glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  14. I’m up to 104 books on my “have read” list, but I know there are a few I wrote down and didn’t finish. Most of those are audiobooks or else I’d never get through so many. I loved the Wizard of Earthsea when I read it many years ago, but as someone already mentioned, The Left Hand of Darkness is a symbolic masterpiece. I was inspired by the Night Circus, and admired the way the plot sucked you in and spit you out at the end.

    I’m not very good at reading nonfiction, though I’ve read several of your writing books and they have helped me understand scene structure and character arcs much better. I love your blog and try to read it regularly. I did enjoy Charles Martin’s They Turned the World Upside Down.

    My favorite fiction books from the past year were from Brandon Sanderson, Charles Martin, Jordan Ifueko (Raybearer), Sandra Fernandez Rhoades (Mortal Sight), and Amy Harmon.

  15. I’ve never read Goldberg’s Wild Mind, but I have read Writing Down the Bones. Was not a fan of WDtB. One friend, who is a pro writer/editor in the traditional publishing industry, thought WDtB was completely useless for the fiction writer. I don’t know that I would go that far.

    One thing I have found useful — and I *think* I got this from WDtB — is sitting to write and just write, write, write for a minimum of 10–15 minutes. It can be a free write, or you can have a goal in mind. But the point is to get beyond the influence of that internal editor. For me 10–15 minutes was about right, although it might be longer for others. That was when things really started to flow and I felt more connected with what I was writing and less like an outsider.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I don’t think I would have connected with Goldberg at all had I read her in years past. Her process is completely different from my mine. But I’m at a point where I’m able to see the value of her more “chaotic” approach in balancing my own hyper-orderly one.

  16. Great list and thank you for a year of truly outstanding posts — your sound insights are some of the best “anchors” a fiction writer could ever hope for, and I get more out of them with every read. Some day I’d love for you to apply your beats to the mystery genre if you haven’t already….thanks!

  17. My favorite books on writing include ‘Several Short Sentences About Writing’ by V. Klinkenborg; ‘The Writer’s Portable Mentor’ by P. Long; ‘Best Words, Best Order- Essays on Poetry’ by Stephen Dobyns. And two of my favorite novels this year: ‘Hamnet’ by Maggie O’Farrell and ‘Washington Black’ by Esi Edugyan. And my favorite oldie but goodie philosophy book : Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

  18. Richard Kirk says

    Have you read Thomas, Wizard’s Son by Joseph R Mason? I found it an easy read with a great main and several good sub-plots. Lots of laughs too.

  19. Thank you so much for the ‘On Rereading’ recommendation. Lately I’ve been looking into books about understanding the people who read books. I recently read I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel which has good insights, and I have other books already in my home to try, including Free for All (a librarian’s memoir, I’ve already read a couple chapters and it’s witty), The Diary of a Bookseller (self-explanatory, haven’t read it yet), and When Books Went to War (which is about how fiction books impacted the morale of U.S. Army troops in WWII, haven’t read it yet). Now I’ll add ‘On Rereading’ to that specific TBR list.

    I was lucky to meet Ursula K. LeGuin in person as a child, after I’d already read A Wizard of Earthsea (and her Catwings books). Thanks go to my dad, who recognized the significance of this opportunity and made sure I attended the event. He read quite a few of LeGuin’s books (including, IIRC, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed) shortly after they were first released.

  20. This year I reread a personal favorite.
    ‘The Widow of Larkspur Inn’ by Lawana Blackwell and the ‘Vicar’s Daughter’ by the same.
    The writing, the characters, the plot are all so enjoyable. Would defiantly recommend.

    And I am currently working through ‘Outlining Your Novel’ and am enjoying it. Thank you Miss Weiland!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Thank you for this list and all you do. I will end my reading list with 50 books read this year. I’m in the middle of the last two which will be finished in a few days. Earlier this year, I read The Midnight Library and it was an enjoyable read – quite fascinating. I’ll have to add Writing Down the Bones and The Road Less Traveled on my list for next year.

    Happy reading, writing and Happy New Year, everyone.

  22. Thank you for the list. I see several I want to read. One of my favorite books read in 2021 is Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. I’ve never read anything quite like it.

  23. My favorite book of this year is Tolkien’s Modern Reading: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages by Holly Ordway. This book not only enriched my understanding of J. R. R. Tolkien as a person and as a writer. It made me reflect on my own reading and the authors that have influenced me in my writing. I enjoyed this book so much, I reviewed it on my blog back in March. It’s a must-read for Tolkien fans and fantasy writers.(Here’s a link to the full review doe anyone interested:

  24. Peter Moore says

    I’m going to add Naomi Novik’s latest series – The Scholomance. The first two books, A Deadly Education and The Last Graduate, have been released. Brilliant dark protagonist in a magic school bent on killing off its students. Ms. Novik writes internalization and exposition in these books better than anyone I can remember. Highly recommend them to any fantasy fan.

  25. I love rereading my favorite books. This year I reread The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster– How I love that book! The best books are just as great as the first read, no matter if it’s your second or your twelfth time reading it!
    I also read (for the first time) my favorite book: Jane Eyre! It was in February (I think…) but it feels like it’s been much longer. I gifted my friend with that book for Christmas… It’s just so amazing.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, I have a special place in my heart for Jane Eyre. I did an especially-for-writers annotated version of it for Writer’s Digest many years ago, and I probably learned more from writing that book than anything else I’ve ever done.

  26. Peter Linton says

    I read 44 books, some graphic and some novella…
    My faves in no particular order.
    The Subversive Simone Weil: A Life in Five Ideas
    by Robert Zaretsky
    by Simone de Beauvoir
    On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century
    by Timothy Snyder
    The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity
    by David Graeber & David Wengrow
    I guess I favor non-fiction. However, I also reread books in the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series.

  27. The Murder Bot Series by Martha Wells (four short books), Lilit’s Brood by Octavia Butler (three books), The Foundation series by Iassac Asimove (5 books), The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (7 short Books), Power of Thee and Power Multiplied by Cathy Parker (third one on the way}, The Crystal Singer Triology by Anne McCafferey, This is How It Begins by Joan DempseyThe Spell Song Cycle by L.E.. Modesitt Jr.,, Buzz by Steohen Braun, The Imagers’ Portfolio (three books), and Madness in Solidar (prequel to tge Imager Portfolio) by L. E. Modesitt, Jr., Legact Trill by Heather Brewer, Trminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines, The Robots of dawn by Issac Asimov, The Naked Sun by Issac Asimove, Changing Planes by Ursula K. Le Guin, and others I can’t find in my collection.

  28. This year I read more than I have in many years and it was delightful! I don’t re-read much, but one of the novels I revisit every few years is The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde PIlcher. It just hits all the right buttons for me with characters and settings. This time I mixed it up and listened to the audio book read by Hayley Atwell and it was perfect! My other favorites that I read this year were The Gifting series by K.E. Ganshert as well as her book The Contest. I joke that I plan to start reading more “dead people” books LOL and classics, so I’m in the middle of reading The Divine Comedy by Dante with an online group.

    The Midnight LIbrary has been on my to-read list for years. I think I’ll have to move it up before it gets buried and The Wizard of Earthsea is one I haven’t read since I was a kid. Maybe I’ll revisit that one this year. Thanks for a great list!

    • Ignatius Ngoma says

      This year I also stumbled upon “writing down the bones”….and could not waste a second or so delve in it….great collection!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I need to read The Shell Seekers. Saw a movie adaptation of it this year and enjoyed it.

  29. I downloaded a sample of Piranesi because I enjoyed JS&MN by Susannah Clark and I am hooked! Thank you for the recommendation. It’s next up after I finish this hummingbird book. 😀

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      It’s a totally different animal from Jonathan Strange but just as good in its own right. Enjoy!

  30. Miriam Harmon says

    I’ve done quite a lot of reading this year, since I’m trying to find new sources of inspiration and different examples of character voice and writing styles (and because I love reading). But out of all the new (for me) books I’ve read this year, my favorites hands-down are:
    Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.
    I’d never heard of Howl’s Moving Castle before I started reading your blog, and your description of it caught my attention. And now it’s one of my top favorite books ever. So thank you so much for exposing me to greatness! 😄
    The Keeper of the Lost Cities series has been ginormous help for me in understand how to take the protagonist from reaction to action at the Midpoint. I never understood how to successfully do that until I read the KotLC series, which does it in the best way I’ve ever seen. The protagonist starts by reacting to calmer but still extremely significant story events until the Midpoint comes—which, by the way, revolves around the name of that specific book (like the book called Flashback revolved around the protagonist dealing with mentally and physically dangerous flashbacks haunting her dreams)—at the Midpoint, the protagonist makes a decision to act according to what she believes in, instead of just going through the motions and letting others make the hard choices, she chooses to make her own way and solve the problems by her own standards. And the best part is that choice changes the entire story to follow, and every choice she makes after that does so as well. It’s incredible to see that so clearly in a story, where as normally this change is harder to spot. I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a well-written story that’ll give you a good laugh (and maybe even a good tear-shedding).
    And last but not least, the Mysterious Benedict Society I’d never heard of before until I watched the tv series on Disney+, which is amazing. I decided to pick up the original book, which definitely has a different type of POV than the previous two stories. HMC has a good third person view in protagonist Sophie Hatter’s POV, while KotLC has an extremely well-done deep third person POV from protagonist Sophie Foster (I know, I’ve read two awesome stories with a protag called Sophie…). But MBS has a slightly more distant POV that focuses on main character Reynard “Reynie” Muldoon. It’s different than what I’m used to, but a fun read even so, full of humorous characters and the promised juicy mystery.

    Thank you for reading this, have a Happy New Year (full of tons of books) everyone!
    And, again, thank you KM for introducing us to amazing stories. I’m sure I speak for a lot of us when I say I don’t know what I’d be doing with myself if you hadn’t introduced me to not only great reading options but also to the concept of writing stories that soulfully matter. Thank you for everything, really. 😄

    P.S. Anyone who’s reading this, I also recommend reading (or listening!) to Wayfarer. That’s my favorite of KM’s stories and even if you’ve read it, go read it again. 😂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I love Howl. If you haven’t seen the Studio Ghibli movie adaptation of it, I highly recommend it as well. It’s ultimately a different story, but just as wonderful. And thanks very much for the kind words and the shout out for Wayfarer! 🙂

  31. I spent some time listening to audio books this year, favorites were the woman in the window by a.j. finn, pretty girls by karin slaughter, also the good daughter, and coptown, you can go home now by Michael elias, and Gillian Flynn books, gone girl, dark places and short story the grownups.

    Also, buying your novel writing books to read next so I can move from short stories to novel writing in the new year. 😁 Very nervous about that, but hoping with help of your books workbooks I can do it!

  32. Boyan Petkov says

    I’ve read two exceptional books this year and cannot wait to share them with you. They are “The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom”
    by Corrie ten Boom, John Sherrill, Elizabeth Sherrill and “Quo Vadis”
    by Henryk Sienkiewicz. They are both very thought provoking and no light reads.

  33. Caridad Laack says

    Thank you for providing your book list and recommendations. It has given me new authors to explore. I devoted 2021 to audiobooks while working from home. I’ve listened to the entire Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Luise Penny, and all the book by Anthony Horowitz. My biggest problem is that if I sit to read, I fall asleep. No matter if the book is riveting or not. So my only way of reading is listening to the unabridged versions.
    I’m retiring in 2022 and plan to get back to book reading and writing. Right now I’m doing research on the Pedro Pan Children refugee program from Cuba.


  34. Cathy Robinson says

    Thanks for continuing to share your top books each year. Every time I find new gems that I haven’t read and smile when you discover some of my favorites. Thanks!

  35. Just found you. Curses. Going to take weeks to explore your digital presence never mind absorb some of the wisdom I intuit is to be found here. Obviously a gift from you to me/us. A gift back perhaps? Wizard of Earthsea been with me for over 50 years. Read the Books of Earthsea
    The Earthsea cycle brilliant pieces of storytelling that they are, are also an exercise in a writer learning her craft. I’d be interested in your view on this. Also her writing on writing is in my opinion essential reading ie steering the craft.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I’ve only read the one listed here, but definitely plan to keep going, so will have more rounded view of her growth as an author later on. All the best!

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