This Bookshelf: 2021 Books
Links to All Steve Hopkins’ Bookshelves
Web Page
Link to Latest Book Reviews:
Book Reviews Blog
Links to Current Bookshelf:
Pending and Read
2021 Books
2021 Books
Links to 549 Books Read or
Skipped in 2020
2020 Bookshelf
2020 Bookshelf
Links to All Books from 1999
through 2020 Authors A-G
All Books Authors A through
All Books Authors A through
Links to All Books from 1999
through 2020 Authors H-M
All Books Authors H
through M
All Books Authors H
through M
Links to All Books from 1999
through 2020 Authors N-Z
All Books Authors N through
All Books Authors N through
Book of Books: An ebook of
books read, reviewed or
skipped from 1999 through
Book of Books
This web page lists all books reviewed by Steve Hopkins at during 2021 as well as books pending (The Shelf
of Possibility) or relegated to the Shelf of Reproach or the Shelf of Ennui. You can click on the title of a book or on the picture of any
jacket cover to jump to where you can purchase a copy of any book on this shelf.
Key to Ratings:
I love it
I like it
It’s OK
I don’t like it
I hate it
Title (Click on Link
to purchase at
Click on Picture
to Purchase at
The Turnout
Ballet. In her novel titled, The Turnout,
Megan Abbott choreographs a complex
story about three characters twirling
around each other at the Durant School of
Dance. Sisters Dara and Marie have
danced forever at the ballet school founded
by their mother, and prize student Charlie
married Dara. The balance in their lives
pirouettes out of control as the story
develops. Readers who enjoy dark novels
with interesting characters and complex
plots are those most likely to enjoy this
While Justice
Keene. Knowing how busy Stacey Abrams
has been for years in her day jobs, I wasn’t
sure what to expect when I picked up her
legal thriller titled, While Justice Sleeps. I
was thoroughly entertained by the clever
and engaging story, the fascinating
characters led by protagonist Avery Keene,
and the fine writing. Keene is a law clerk
who finds herself appointed as legal
guardian for her boss, Justice Howard
Wynn who is in a coma. She learns that
Wynn has been investigating a case and
what he has learned is alarming. Keene
must solve a complex puzzle while
powerful people are rushing to carry out
their plans. I still don’t know how Abrams
found the time to write to write this novel,
but I’m happy she did. I was hooked and
delighted by the story.
Scenario: Inside
the Trump
Response to the
Pandemic That
Changed History
Infighting. If someone you loved died of
covid-19, take a pass on reading a book by
journalists Yasmeem Abutaleb and
Damian Paletta titled, Nightmare
Scenario: Inside the Trump
Administration's Response to the
Pandemic That Changed History. Your
heart will be broken again when you read
about chaos, incompetence and infighting
as the Trump administration responded to
the pandemic. For readers interested in
public policy, reading almost five hundred
pages on this subject will involve reliving a
recent experience with the guidance of
journalists. This is the story of a tragedy in
how a crisis was mismanaged. Despite my
focus on what failed as described in this
book, it’s fair to say that the authors also
call attention to good things that were
done. The running count of deaths as time
went on overshadowed what good steps
were taken in response to the virus.
2034: A Novel of
the Next World
Realignment. Many of us have the
tendency to think that the way things are
now will continue into the foreseeable
future. In their novel titled, 2034: A Novel
of the Next World War, former military
officers Elliot Ackerman and James
Stavridis present a plausible realignment
of the world order in the relatively near
future. We often read fiction for a good
story about people we recognize as fully
human. The authors provide readers of
this novel with a cast of compelling
characters from multiple countrisaaies.
Each main character is called upon to play
a role or complete a mission, and through
luck or fate they take actions that forward
the strategic interests of their respective
countries. Ackerman and Stavridis capture
the individual and collective vulnerability
we face and prompt readers to consider
how likely it is for their fictional tale to
become true.
Notes on Grief
Visceral. Wracked with grief following
the death of her father in 2020,
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote a book
titled, Notes on Grief, about her personal
experience and as a loving tribute to her
father. Through her fine writing, we
participate in the visceral aspects of grief
and want to howl with her at the great loss.
Her words expose our own grief as well.
During the past two years millions of
people have experienced forms of
pandemic grief as our world changed
unexpectedly. Our connections to each
other can become stronger in the context
of grief, and this finely written book will
connect deeply with every reader with a
grief story of our own.
The Divorce
Imagination. If I were forced to place
César Aira’s book titled, The Divorce, into
a category, I would create a new one for
this author’s imagination and skill: post-
magic realism. Within the course of a few
pages, we move from one coincidence to
another. We think we can separate
imagination from reality, and then realize
we can’t. When we’re sure we are hearing a
mundane story, something magical seeps
in. Aira moves readers along as fast as we
can read, taking us tighter and tighter into
his imagination. This book is short enough
to read a second time for a different take,
but trust me, multiple readings may not
lead to greater understanding, just more
Leave the World
Safety. One of the reminders we all
received as we opened the gift of the
pandemic is that life can change in an
instant. Rumaan Alam offers readers a
finely written novel titled, Leave the World
Behind, that places characters into a
setting of uncertainty in which they face a
world that has changed. A couple and their
two children rented a rural house for a
week’s vacation away from New York City.
The owners show up at the house late at
night and ask if they can stay there because
something caused a massive blackout in
the city. Alam explores the ways in which
we respond to shock and change, and what
creates a sense of safety or threat for us.
Readers find themselves in the middle of
issues of race, class, privilege and
ambiguity. Perhaps all we desire is to
survive whatever comes at us so we can
live for another day.
Straight from the
Horse’s Mouth
Shelf of Ennui 2021.
The Hospital: Life,
Death, and Dollars
in a Small
American Town
Sick. Few Americans love our healthcare
system. Readers of Brian Alexander’s book
titled, The Hospital: Life, Death, and
Dollars in a Small American Town, will feel
sick about the situation he describes.
Rather than taking a policy approach to
examining healthcare, Alexander focuses
on one town, Bryan, Ohio, its local
hospital, and a handful of people in the
community. I finished this book with a
deeper understanding of what’s broken in
our healthcare system, and how the
incentives for change are misguided. Most
readers will feel deeply for the personal
stories in this book, and the plight of all
the characters involved. Through
understanding some of the root causes of
our current situation, we should be able to
work toward good solutions for the benefit
of all.