The 2021 Top Ten

Last year, I opened the Top 10 with a comment about how much 2020 had sucked. Given that we are still grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, it did leave me with a lot of time on my hands in the early part of the year to devour books like a madman. So, much like last year, it’s not all bad.

As of this writing, I have finished eighty-seven books. That said, it seems like as good a time as any to put together my top 5 fiction and my top 5 non-fiction books for 2021!

FICTION

Five Decembers – James Kestral (2021)

While I don’t normally like to establish a hierarchy within my year-end lists, James Kestral’s debut novel is absolutely number one with a bullet. This was a hell of a read and a novel I wish was even longer despite its already impressive page count.

Hench – Natalie Zina Walschots (2020)

Selected alongside four other books as a part of CBC’s annual Canada Reads debates, Walschots’ novel about the collateral damage caused by superheros was a definite hit with me – even if it came up short in the competition.

Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry (1985)

Every year, I like to tackle at least one extremely long novel. Most years, that ends up being Stephen King. This year, however, I decided to saddle up with Gus and Call and hit the dusty roads of the old west. There is simply nothing I have ever read that has better encapsulated the power of friendship than McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove.

The Turnout – Megan Abbott (2021)

Megan Abbott released a novel in 2021, so of course it lands on my year-end list. This time around, Megan tackles an unspoken horror bubbling under the surface of a family who are all teetering on the edge of disaster. Oh, and it’s about ballet too.

The Book of Accidents – Chuck Wendig (2021)

Akin to a long-lost 70s Stephen King novel with Chuck Wendig’s stylish and addictive prose, The Book of Accidents follows a family who believe moving out of the city will ease their troubles. Unfortunately for them, things are about to get a whole hell of a lot worse.

(honorable mentions: The Devil All The Time – Donald Ray Pollock, Billy Summers – Stephen King, The Complete Calvin & Hobbes – Bill Waterson)

NON FICTION

From Here to Eternity – Caitlin Doughty (2018)

Funeral home proprietor and YouTube content creator Caitlin Doughty travels the world engaging with various cultures and uncovering their relationships with death. A truly eye-opening read. I recommend the audiobook, if possible.

The Storyteller – Dave Grohl (2021)

With a wealth of time on his hands, rock star Dave Grohl decided to sit down and write a memoir. The Storyteller is probably the most fun I’ve ever had reading a musician’s life story. Dave has just about done it all. Not a bad story in the bunch.

Murder on the Inside – Catherine Fogerty (2021)

Tackling the infamous riot at the Kingston Penitentiary exactly fifty years ago this year, journalist Catherine Fogerty retraces the steps of the inmates and prison officials to try and uncover how such a thing could have happened.

Care Of – Ivan Coyote (2021)

Like the aforementioned Dave Grohl, storyteller and performer Ivan Coyote found themself stuck inside in 2020 without much of a creative outlet. Coyote searches through their large pile of correspondence, writing back to fans and answering questions. A touching read.

My Life in Wrestling – Gary Hart (2009)

This was one book I had heard about for years, but I did not have a way to read it. Luckily for me, I was able to secure an e-copy through a friend. Hart was someone who had crafted a legendary wrestling career outside the walls of Vince McMahon’s WWF and his life story is an incredible one.

(honorable mentions: Paperbacks from Hell – Grady Hendrix, Yearbook – Seth Rogen, Game Change – Ken Dryden)

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