For the fifth year now, I am doing my best books that I read in this year in a category list rather than in raked order, Why? Because why I loved these particular books matters more to me than the order in which I would place them. How I interacted with them, how they affected me, how they stayed with me is what is important here because that is why they are my personal "Best."
Some of the categories are the same from year to year, others change. This is because the books I read create their own experiences and categories to me personally and I want to capture that experience each year along with the titles. I am not a robot, I am a human reader, even if reading and suggesting titles is my job. In order to remind myself [and all of you] of the joy in what we are paid to do, I am trying to create a year end best list that captures, celebrates, and acknowledges that.
Also, by this time, lots of people have already weighed in with critically acclaimed "best" lists for weeks now, so why do you need more of that from me? I played my part in that side of the "best" debate with my Best Horror of 2021 list as part of #LibFaves2021. That is a place where my opinion on what is the BEST matter from that expert perch.
What I bring here on the general blog that is most helpful to all of you out there in the trenches, is a list that reflects my best experiences as a reader. This is a list that is personal to me, my tastes, and my weird quirks. You can use it to help other readers, yes, but because it is so specific to me, it is actually better used by you as a conversation starter.
For example, you can ask people "What is the most fun you had reading a book this year?" or "What title was the biggest surprise to you?" Those are questions readers can answer much more quickly and easily than "What was your favorite book?" These are also questions that encourage longer conversations.
The categories I have listed here provide great conversation starters to offer to your patrons. You can even use my answers to keep the conversation going by saying, "I was thinking about this question because Becky said [fill in the title] as her answer."
The point of my "Best" list is to both offer books that I loved this year, while also presenting an example of a regular reader view of a "best" list.
Below you will find my list of the best books I experienced in 2021 [regardless of publication year] in 13 categories created by me. It is arbitrary but so what? It's my list of what mattered to me the most this year. Each title links to a longer review which will explain why it is the "best" book for that category, and will include my "Three Words."
After creating the list I also audited it. So in the 13 categories there are 15 books, 10 are by women [which is an all time high for me], 7 are POC, and 3 are LGBTQ. This is what happens when you make an effort to diversify your reading by the way, you end up with a diverse lists of best titles. I filled out my categories first and did the audit second. If it had turned out to be too white, cis, and male, I would have owned it publicly as I have before.
All titles link to my full review.