End of Year List

Several years ago I was inspired by my friend (and poet and novelist and owner of Burke’s Books in Memphis) Corey Mesler to post an end-of-year list. Corey’s lists sometimes include movies and TV shows but always include books.

Books Read in 2021

So here are the books I read in 2021, pretty much in the order in which I read them, although sometimes I forgot to add them to the list and had to guess where to put them later. I enjoyed ALL of these books . . . if I don’t like a book after a chapter or two, I don’t continue reading it. As the saying goes, “So many books, so little time!” So I recommend these, but of course reading selection is very personal. I read fewer books than in 2020, but thankfully I was able to travel, and also spent several months working on a new project. (Stay tuned for news about that after Christmas!) So, here’s the 2021 list:

The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little (historic fiction)

The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington (novel)

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made For Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown (nonfiction)

The Making of a Southerner by Katherine Du Pre Lumpkin (nonfiction)

Nick by Michael Farris Smith (novel)

Jack by Marilyn Robinson (novel)

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (novel)

On Juneteenth by Annette Gordo-Reed (nonfiction)

Studying With Miss Bishop: Memoirs From a Young Writer’s Life by Dana Gioia (essays)

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw (short stories)

The Beauty of Living Twice by Sharon Stone (memoir)

Champagne Widows by Rebecca Rosenberg (novel) – read ARC for blurb

This Magic Moment by William H. Morris (memoir)

The Mama Chronicles by Teresa Nichols (memoir – read ARC for blurb)

The Bridge Ladies by Betsy Lerner (memoir)

The Bridge Club by Patricia Sands (novel)

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert (novel)

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler (novel)

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray (novel)

A Place Like Mississippi by Ralph Eubanks (nonfiction)

It’s a Wonderful Christmas: Classics Reimagined (5 novellas) by Julie Cantrell & 4 others (read for blurb)

From Where I Stand by Caroline Goldberg Igra (novel – read ARC for blurb)

Living in Christ: Essays on the Christian Life by an Orthodox Nun by Mother Raphaela (spiritual)

Sugar Baby by River Jordan (short stories)

Mary as the Early Christians Knew Her by Frederica Mathewes-Green (spiritual/inspirational)

Total: 25


This year’s books fall into these genres:

11 novels

4 memoirs

4 nonfiction

2 short story collections

2 inspirational/spiritual

1 novella collection

1 essay collection


I personally know ten of the authors whose books I read this year. And I read advance copies and wrote blurbs for four books. I watched five of these authors do virtual presentations for their books, including one (William H. Morris) who was on a panel with me for the Mississippi Book Festival.

Compared with 2020:

(read about that list here) (And my 2019 list is here.)

Total: 40 (I guess I read more because I was at home during the pandemic!)

14 Novels/Novellas

13 Memoir

5 Children’s

3 Inspirational/Spiritual

3 Nonfiction

1 Short Stories

1 Poetry

TOP 3!

Last year I published my top 5 favorite books read, but this year I’m going to choose 3. They are representative of the diversity of genres that I love, including historical fiction, contemporary novel, and nonfiction. Here they are:

The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little (historical fiction)

The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington (novel)

A Place Like Mississippi by Ralph Eubanks (nonfiction)