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Photo provided by Jon Sinden.

Write On Ottawa: Read all about The Hot Mess that was 2021

By Hannah Manning on December 21, 2021


Just when we thought it couldn’t get any crazier than 2020, 2021 happened.

Local author Jon Sinden is back with a follow up to the 2020 ABC yearbook The Sh*tstorm That Was 2020 with a new book: The Hot Mess that was 2021. From A to Z, relive the highs and lows of the last year. Whether you’re looking to commemorate the highlights or commiserate the low points, here’s hoping 2022 is much more boring (and therefore undeserving of its own book!). This holiday season, you can support your favourite local bookstore and pick up a copy of The Hot Mess that was 2021 from Black Squirrel Books, Octopus Books, or through the author directly (more on that below!).


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I reached author Jon Sinden by email to learn more about this year’s book. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Apt613: As a reader, it can feel very cathartic to laugh about everything we went through over the last year. What was your experience as the author?

Jon Siden: We are still living in strange days. Once we think we are turning a corner, BAM, we take a step back. 2021 was filled with the weird, wild, and some wonderful, and I tried to capture that in the book. At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t sure I was going to do a follow-up to the 2020 book, but then I saw a shirtless man in a viking-style buffalo hat storm the U.S. Capitol and I knew a book was needed. And the cherry on top was Bernie Sanders’ mittens. That was so perfect in so many ways. The endless memes. It was magical.

2021 was filled with the weird, wild, and some wonderful, and I tried to capture that in the book.

There were also many serious and important events that happened this year and I attempted to shine a light on those as well. The Every Child Matters movement and Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation—these are major events and the conversation, education, and learning needs to continue all year long.

There’s an option to get the book directly from you this year. Can you talk about Shelter Movers and why you’re supporting them this year?

Last year (The Sh*tstorm That Was 2020) was mass distributed, all across the world. It was cool, seeing my book in bookstores in Australia and Europe. Even though local Ottawa bookstores and big chain stores all carried the book, I felt I wasn’t making an impact locally. I did make a donation to my local community centre, The Firehall in Old Ottawa South, but felt I could do more. This year I put more focus on self-distribution. So now I’m the author, the publisher, and the distributer.

Yes, you can buy my book on Amazon and locally at Black Squirrel Books, but now you can also buy it from me. How direct and local is that? I offer porch pick-up, just like you were buying something off Facebook Marketplace. It’s proven to be very positive, and I’m able to customize handwritten blurbs on the inside front cover. I think it’s super cool to be able to write the names of people and thank them personally. As an added benefit, the constant stream of footsteps on my porch is keeping my dogs on their toes. Both rescues from Barbados, the constant action plus the snow on the ground is blowing their minds.

Shelter Movers Ottawa is not very well-known, and they should be. The work they do is super meaningful. They move women and children out of bad situations and into shelters. I’m not sure many people think about the moving process and how important it is. During the pandemic, Shelter Movers has seen a 40% increase in move requests and the volume is not slowing down. About $200 helps facilitate one move and I hope to raise enough to facilitate a few moves.

Last year, one of the things you said in our interview was that the best part of the experience was seeing how the book resonates with people, and that living through a pandemic has been a shared experience. What has your experience over the last year been like?

It definitely rings true again. It’s like we are all watching yet another season of Black Mirror together. Haha. What I find so fascinating is that everything in the book actually happened. It’s a chronicle of the year. All facts. And even with this knowledge, it still seems unreal. Like, did we all sit and wait for updates when that container ship blocked the Suez Canal? You bet we did! Did we all jump for joy when the Canadian women’s soccer team took gold? Again, yes we did. 2021 is a massive shared experience.

Anything else Apt613 readers should know?

I run a marketing agency, Nine Brains & Three Hearts, that represents many clients in a variety of sectors. I am now a twice-published author. These things would not have happened without the pandemic. I was let go from my fancy sports marketing job because of the pandemic and I had to find new avenues of income. I know I was not alone in trying to pivot during the pandemic. We saw it across many industries. So again, that is a massive shared experience.

Community is everything to me, so I’m always looking for ways to be a part of it. This porch pick-up programme is pretty cool, because I can socially distance meet some neighbours and raise some awareness and money for Shelter Movers Ottawa.

If 2020 was a Sh*tstorm and 2021 was a Hot Mess, what does 2022 have in store for all of us? Time will tell, but every holiday season there will be another ABC yearbook to tell the sometimes unbelievable tale.

You can find The Hot Mess that was 2021 in local bookstores and major retailers. Follow along on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter @TheABCyearbook. To purchase a copy directly from the author, visit