2021 – in Books

Grab a cup of tea and settle down for the annual year in books review – we could be here a while.

Before we start though, let’s recap December’s reads

December Reads

As always, December was about festive reads:

  • Midnight In The Snow, by Karen Swan
  • The Christmas Bookshop, by Jenny Colgan – my book of the month…and not just for Christmas
  • A Highland Christmas, by MC Beaton
  • A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens – and read gloriously by Hugh Grant
  • The Merry Christmas Project, by Cathy Bramley
  • One More Christmas At The Castle, by Trisha Ashley
  • The Christmas Chronicles, by Nigel Slater – something I re-read every year
  • Underneath The Christmas Tree, by Heidi Swain
  • The Magic of Christmas, by Trisha Ashley

Also in December, I finished Charlotte Bronte’s The Professor. As it was a book club read, it was followed by a book club bake – this time Yorkshire Parkin. You can find the recipe here, and here we all are mid-bake.

2021 in Books

Alrighty, 2021 in books. It was a year with mostly hits and just a few disappointments. 

According to Goodreads, last year I read 88 books. That’s them below. I’ve included a few cookbooks that I read from cover to cover for the stories.

The longest book?

The longest book I read was Kate Quinn’s The Rose Code at 604 pages, and the shortest was Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, at 104 pages.

The average length of the books I read last year was 325 pages.

Any new series?


  • Katherine Kovacic’s Alex Clayton art mystery series.
  • Sophie Hannah’s Agatha Christie series
  • Debbie Young’s Sophie Sayers village mystery series

Additions to favourite series?

  • The Moonflower Murders and A Line to Kill – both by Anthony Horowitz
  • The Man Who Died Twice, by Richard Osman
  • A long-awaited new Phryne Fisher, Death in Daylesford, by Kerry Greenwood

Series I missed this year?

Nope. All good.

Revisiting the classics…

2021 was very much about the classics as our book club began reading our way through the Bronte sister’s novels:

  • Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
  • Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte
  • Jane Eyre, Villette, and The Professor by Charlotte Bronte

We’re currently reading Shirley – the last on our Bronte list. I also read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Thanks for the recommendation…

I rely on my book blogger friend Debbish for additions to my to-be-read pile, and she certainly didn’t let me down in 2021. Special thanks for book recommendations also to my stunning fellow book club members and thanks also to everyone who has linked up or contributed through comments in What’s On Your Bookshelf.

Any books adapted into a movie?

No – unless you count Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and A Christmas Carol.


Over the last couple of years, I’ve been reading more non-fiction than I had previously. This year was no different.

Food memoir was covered off with fabulous offerings by Jay Rayner, Annabel Langbein, Rick Stein and Antoinette Truglio Martin. Outside my usual genre, I also read about Scottish mythology, true crime by Katherine Kovacic, and, as part of my research into the world of antique dealers, the life of an auctioneer by Philip Serrell.

Craft books read?


Any business books?


What about cookbooks?

Of course…

  • Beatrix Bakes, by Natalie Paull
  • A Year of Sundays, by Belinda Jeffrey
  • Hia Kai, by Monique Fiso
  • Home, by Rick Stein
  • Butter, by James Martin
  • Shelf Love, by Yottam Ottolenghi
  • Time For Tea, by Tom Parker Bowles
  • Crave, by Ed Smith
  • A Table for Friends, by Skye McAlpine
  • Lagom, by Steffi Knowles- Dellner

Keep an eye out during the year as I work my way through these.

Festive Reads

See above for my round-up of books read in December

I actually intend to read less this year – and write more, although I said that last year too.

I have books on my bookshelf – both physical and virtual – that are crying out for attention and yet last year (and the year before and the year before that and…you get the idea) spent the equivalent of a very good holiday on books. I intend to work my way through some of these this year. And yes, I said all of this last year too! 

Stand out reads?

In order of the month I read them, here are my favourite reads. Some months it was tough keeping it to just one…so I didn’t.


Anthony Horowitz is an absolute master. A book within a book, I’m in awe.


While this book is about the death of Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet, it’s so so so much more than that. I was so invested in the characters I dreamt about them and couldn’t wait to read more.


I started this one on the flight home from Cairns, was almost disappointed when we landed on time, but was, for the first time, grateful for the (nearly) 2 hour train journey back to the Sunny Coast from Brisbane.


I’ve long been a massive fan of Annabel Langbein’s – ever since I read a copy of Savour The Pacific in my bestie’s Wellington kitchen almost 20 years ago. I rushed out and bought a copy before I came home.

Bella is Langbein’s memoir and it’s a fabulous read. There are, of course, also recipes, but because this is mostly memoir it doesn’t count as a cookbook – and that’s what I’m telling my husband.

A close second for the month was Monique Fiso’s Hia Kai

A birthday present from my dog (she always knows exactly what I want), as each recipe contains at least one indigenous ingredient I knew I wouldn’t be able to cook a lot from this book. For me, it’s about the stories, the ingredients, the culture, the language, the custom, the traditions, the history. All of that. And how it all ties into Fiso’s own story of self-discovery.


In a month of amazing reads, Kate Quinn’s The Rose Code was an absolute stand-out – and one of the best books I read all year.


Cosy crime set on the Kent coast of England amongst the oyster leases.


Another good month with 3 books I had problems separating for my read of the month:

The Nancys and Nancy Business by RWR McDonald.

Set in a small country town just outside of Dunedin, the star of this particular show is 11-year-old Tippy Chan. Tippy is enchanting, but it’s the quirky cast of characters that makes this book so fabulous. I almost forgot there was a mystery involved.

Spring Clean For The Peach Queen, by Sasha Wasley

An Aussie author, and a great story about second chances and starting over, this one drew me in by the cover and the title and didn’t let me go until I’d finished.


When I heard that Katherine Kovacic was writing the novel to go with the first of the screenplays from the TV series Miss Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries, I wasn’t sure what to think. I inhaled her Alex Clayton art history mysteries, but what would she do with someone else’s work? The answer is, she improved on it. 


I have no words for how I feel about this book…well, I do, but they don’t make sense. The possibility of infinite lives made my head swim in such a good way. I confess to suspecting how it would end and was very satisfied that it did end that way. Loved loved loved loved loved this one. (Did I mention that I loved it?)


I wasn’t able to put this down. In the last outing, Osman introduced us to the Thursday Murder Club, the mystery, while fabulous, was almost secondary – it was all about the characters. This time around, the mystery is stronger and getting to know the characters a tad more has only made me impatient to know what they get up to next time.


Horowitz is in fabulous form for this one, a series that just keeps getting better.

Your turn…

DebDonnaSue and I would love you to share what you’ve been reading. Feel free to grab and use the graphic below and the linky is below – and it’s open until Monday evening (AEST).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

57 thoughts

  1. Well, you’ve certainly kept the book sellers in business Jo! Great to check out all you’ve been reading (and I love the matching aprons on the 4 chefs!) I’m not sure I trust your reviews after the glowing one you gave Hamnet (gosh I loathed that book!) but each to their own x

    1. Lol re Hamnet, and I have to admit that most of the books on this list were borrowed from the library this year. While that does contribute to author earnings, it’s not the same as buying – but far better for my bank balance.

  2. Hi, Jo – What an awesome list of books. Very impressive! I especially like your ‘2022 book-related resolution’ (to write more). I’ll be the pesky friend reminding you of this as the year progresses! 😀

  3. Oh my goodness, so much to savor here. I love your list of books and intend to check out many of them (I already have a few of them on my hold list at the library). I also LOVE the picture of the four of you on Zoom! I’ve added a new short story I wrote to your WOYB? link-up. I know it doesn’t exactly follow the challenge rules… but, since it’s about a TBR pile, I thought it would be okay.

  4. Hi JO, loved your list and I’ve read some you’ve mentioned. I adored Hamnet, the Rose Code and the Midnight Library. I decided not to set a reading goal this year and take my time savouring my books which will now include some off your cookbook list as well as the Sophie Sayers Village mystery series. Thanks for co-hosting WOYBS and I think another successful month of reading can be ticked off. Let the new month begin. xx

    1. I’m the same – reading less but savouring more. Thanks for the recommendations you’ve given me over the past 12 months.

  5. So many great reads on your list Jo. Midnight Library is probably my favourite. I’m keen to read The Paris Secret just because I like the title. I have the same “unread books on my bookshelf” issue so hoping to get through a few of them in 2022. Thanks for continuing #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge in 2022 Jo.

  6. This is a great way of looking back at your year of reading Jo and I love the various sections! No craft or business books – nah me either! I enjoyed many of the books you read and highlighted, Hamnet, The rose Code, Midnight Library, The Nancys and Thursday Murder Club to name a few…I really want to read Anthony Horowitz as I’ve not ready any of his to date – I’ll have to fix that! I always enjoy our monthly catchups and being a co-host with you!

  7. WOW! What-a list!! And thanks for including my cookbook, Becoming America’s Food Stories.

  8. I am trying like crazy to read books I have around the house and on my Kindle that I have been ignoring forever but it’s so hard to not pick up a few others here and there while I’m out and about!

  9. An impressive list of books, Jo. Read less write more is an excellent goal since you’re a writer. Thank you for linking up with #weekendcoffeeshare.

  10. Thanks so much for the book suggestions. I really enjoy reading and look forward to looking into these titles. I have not heard of most of these.

    1. Each month in my monthly round-ups I call out my read of the month – otherwise I truly wouldn’t be able to choose! Thanks for dropping by.

  11. I certainly havevn’t gotten through that many books, but I also opened my libby app and put a few on hold! Thanks for sharing, we’ll see what they’re like when I get them.

    1. I love my library app – I go through and pop things on reserve and always end up with more than I can read.

  12. I love the Daniel Hawthorne books – Horowitz is SOOOOOO funny and it’s such a brilliantly clever idea. The next one is due out April I think. Just hanging for it! #Lifethisweek

  13. I’d planned to contribute a bookish post this month and even have one started, but failed to get it done!

    One of the things I love at the moment is how many books are being translated into streaming services. Often I don’t even realise that a show or movie ‘was’ originally a book but mostly I see that authors are sharing that their books will become films and I think streaming services have helped a lot in that respect.

    I’ve had a slow reading start to the year. A couple of frantic weeks of work meaning I don’t want to write at night or even read but rather vege in front of the TV.

    1. Thanks Marsha… I’m a shocker for those photos – or the ones where my dog photo bombs the pic. You did a great job with our interview, thank you.

      1. You are welcome. I love your photos, especially the dog photo bombs! They add a lot. Reading isn’t an active sport or one that involves many people, but when you picture someone (yourself) doing it, it brings some activity to the sport. What would be cool is if you could record some pieces of your book club conversations and post snipits into your posts. For one thing, you hae the accents going for you!

  14. So, this tells me you like books? Ha. As if I did not know. Jo, you are an amazing and prolific reader AND author and I am so glad you have your passions! I wasn’t sure about Midnight Library which I listened to via Audible but ended up getting very interested…and from that found Matt’s Comfort Book…which by the way, I finished listening to in a PCR Queue at Wyong!! It’s been great to see your post in the link up for Life This Week at Denyse Whelan Blogs.
    I look forward to seeing you again next Monday if you have a post to share. Thanks so much. Denyse.

Comments are closed.