Another year of mostly staying at home=another year of consuming a ton of television!
Inspired by Emily VanDerWerff over at Vox, I wanted to compile a list of my favorite tv shows of 2021, although focusing more on why I loved them rather than the intense (self-imposed) pressure to put them in rank order.
“So in making my 2021 list, I opted not to try to have a comprehensive survey of “the best” because I’m increasingly convinced that no one person can watch enough television to reasonably say what the best even is. What I watched this year was completely arbitrary. I long ago gave up on trying to ‘keep up with’ TV as a medium, and I really only watched shows in 2021 if I thought I would find them interesting. So consider this list even more idiosyncratic and personal than it normally would be.”
VanDerWerff, Emily. 2021. “The Very Best TV Show of 2021”. Vox. Available here.
VanDerWerff and I share the same favorite show, which I’ll outline below, followed by the rest of the television I really enjoyed last year.
My Favorite Show of 2021: The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime)
12 Other Shows I Really Loved in Random Order:
High on the Hog (Netflix):
Station Eleven (HBO):
Reservation Dogs (Hulu):
Mare of Easttown (HBO):
Ted Lasso Season 2 (AppleTV+):
The Great Season 2 (Hulu):
Succession Season 3 (HBO):
The Other Two Season 2 (HBO):
Mythic Quest Season 2 (AppleTV+):
Special mention: Never Have I Ever Season 2 (Netflix), Why Are You Like This (Netflix), Only Murders in the Building (Hiulu), Landscapers (HBO), The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+), Dopesick (Disney+), The Shrink Next Door (AppleTV+), and For All MankindSeason 2 (AppleTV+).
Currently: Reading: Recitatif (Toni Morrison) Watching: Pam & Tommy (Hulu) Listening: American Prodigies (Blue Wire)
My favorite hobby–and thankfully one of my responsibilities as a librarian technician–is researching and reading allthebooks. This year I wanted to share a few different reflections of my overall favorite books of 2021, although you can skip to the bottom of the post for my list of top reads.
Last year I started using StoryGraph as a way to track my reading. An alternative to Amazon’s (ack) Goodreads, the program was founded by Nadia Odunayo to organize your books, develop data and statistics on your reading, and provide tailored recommendations. I completely understand if you’re anti-tracking your reading–it can be another way to pressure yourself to reach a certain goal and can feel commodify-y of your hobbies (double ack)–but I personally like the data aspect of the app.
I also wanted to include a list inspired by my favorite book podcast, The Stacks, hosted by Traci Thomas. She always asks her guests a questionnaire of favorites / recommendations and I thought it would be a fun way to reflect on my own reading from last year.
A quick caveat: I’m only including books published in 2021 in my top list for the year. But I read SO MANY older books that were amazing as well.
My Reading Statistics:
2021 at a Glance:
The Stacks 2021 Questionnaire:
Two Books You Love:
One Book You Hate:
Last Great Book Someone Recommended to Me:
Book I Love to Recommend:
Book That Made Me Laugh:
Book That Made Me Cry:
Book That Made Me Angry:
Book That I Felt I Learned A Lot:
Book I’m Embarrassed I Still Haven’t Read:
Book I’m Proud to Have Read:
A Book People Would Be Surprised to Know I Love:
Book I Would Assign in High School:
A Book I Would Like to See Turned Into a Movie of TV Show:
Book That I Would Require the Current President to Read:
My Favorite Books of 2021:
5. Foodheim: A Culinary Adventure (Eric Warheim) 4. Provecho: 100 Vegan Mexican Recipes to Celebrate Culture (Edgar Castrejón) 3. Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora (Bryant Terry) 2. Amber + Rye: A Baltic Food Journey (Zuza Zak) 1. New Native Kitchen: Celebrating Modern Recipes of the American Indian (Freddie Bitsoie and James O. Fraioli)
10. Libertie (Kaitlyn Greenidge) 9. Milk, Blood, Heat (Dantiel W. Moniz) 8. Harlem Shuffle (Colson Whitehead) 7. Red Island House (Andrea Lee) 6. The Gilded Ones (Namina Forna) 5. Honey Girl (Morgan Rogers) 4. The Sentence (Louise Erdrich) 3. Yolk (Mary H.K. Choi) 2. Under the Whispering Door (TJ Klune) 1. Great Circle (Maggie Shipstead)
10. Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir (Ashley C. Ford) 9. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life (George Saunders) 8. The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story (Nikole Hannah-Jones) 7. Becoming Abolitionists: Police, Protests, and the Pursuit of Freedom (Derecka Purnell) 6. The Debt Trap: How Student Loans Became a National Catastrophe (Josh Mitchell) 5. The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone (Heather McGhee) 4. Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism (Amanda Montell) 3. Wake: The Hidden History of Women Led Slave Revolts (Rebecca Hall) 2. Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty (Patrick Radden Keefe) 1. How the Word is Passed (Clint Smith)
Currently: Reading: Goliath (Tochi Onyebuchi) Watching: Euphoria Season 2 (HBO) Listening: …And I Return to Nothingness (Lorna Shore)