My Favorite Voices of 2021

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Every year I find writers whose voices stand out among the many things I read online. This year, some of these voices are familiar, and some of them are new, but the following list contains five writers whose work I have really enjoyed throughout the year.

Joanna Castle Miller

Joanna was a member of my writer’s group and I remember being blown away by the first thing of hers I ever read, a play called “Ash” which later became a film. Joanna has had numerous plays produced, and her writing has appeared just about anywhere you can think of. Check out some of the recent stuff Joanna has done in McSweeney’s, for instance.

I’ve often thought that one of the most difficult things to write well is comedy. Humor, as Isaac Asimov once said, is all bullseye. You either hit the mark or miss, get the laugh or not. There is no in between. Joanna makes writing humor look effortless, and this frustrates me to no end, because I’d love to try writing humor, but by aim is nowhere near as true as Joanna’s.

You can find Joanna on Twitter at @jocastlemiller.

Melanie Novak

Each Wednesday, I look forward to Melanie’s Golden Age of Hollywood posts. Her posts are always interesting and insightful, and I enjoy how she dives into the backstory of the films and how they were made. I find myself with an ever lengthening backlog of movies to watch based on the recommendations that come out of her posts.

Melanie has also recently resumed her humorous Sunday posts, after a snake-induced hiatus. I, for one, am glad the snake has been taken care of because I enjoy Melanie’s writing and this means more of it.

You can find Melanie on Twitter at @MelanieANovak.

Charles Duhigg

I’d never heard of Charles Duhigg until I saw him speak at a convention I attended in Denver, Colorado. He was a fantastic speaker and I immediately looked into the books he’d written. I read The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business almost as soon as I was back home from the convention.

Since then, I discovered that Charles writes long-form nonfiction (one of my favorite forms to read) and he seems to be everywhere. Whenever I see his byline, I set aside time to read what he has written.

You can find Charles on Twitter at @cduhigg.

Maria Papova

I’ve lost track of how long I’ve been a subscriber to Maria Papova’s newsletter Brain Pickings, which earlier this year, was renamed The Marginalian. But no matter how long it’s been, I can’t seem to get enough of it. Her writing is eclectic, which is something I don’t see much of anymore. I look forward to the Sunday newsletters and the Wednesday Mid-Week Pick-Me-Ups.

On occasion, I’ve found that she is writing about a book I’ve recently read or written about, and am often chagrined at how sharp her insights are compared to my own. It makes me want to do better, which is another reason why I love to read what she writes.

You can find Maria on Twitter at @brainpicker.

Joe Posnanski

Joe Posnanski blew me away this year with his book The Baseball 100. In addition to being a magisterial book on baseball (it immediately became my all-time favorite baseball book–and I’ve read a lot of baseball books), I was impressed as a writer that he managed to write the 300,000 words that make up those 100 essays in a mere 100 days. They essays themselves were originally published in The Athletic.

Joe’s style of writing reminds me of my own. His voice is always friendly. I enjoy his writing to much that for the first time ever, I paid to subscribe to a blog–his Joe’s Blog on Substack. It has been well-worth the money to have the pleasure of reading Joe’s writing nearly every day. He makes everything he writes about sound interesting–even football, which, speaking as a lifelong baseball fan, says a lot about Joe’s ability to engage and entertain.

You can find Joe on Twitter at @JPosnanski.

Are there writers you enjoyed reading this year? Voice, new or old, that you looked forward to each time you saw their bylines or blog entries? I am always looking for writers to read, so if you have recommendation, let me hear about them in the comments.

And Happy New Year!

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One comment

  1. Thanks Jamie. Proud to be on your list…and with such great company. The admiration is mutual–I’ve learned so much (and taken many great book recommendations) from your blog over the years.


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