Amazingly, it’s already the end of 2021; where has the time gone?! I had a stellar reading year – I read some fabulous books and surpassed my goal of reading 21 books (27 books). Throughout the year, I’ve been writing quarterly reviews, and this post includes a list of all the books from 2021 (see links to those review posts below). I also include my thoughts on the books I’ve read in autumn 2021, though admittedly my reading has slowed considerably the past few months. Returning to on-site work in September and an attempt at “normal life” meant more time working and commuting than reading. Most importantly, I’ll tell you which were the 5 best fiction books of 2021, and why these were my favourite reads. Let’s get to the books!
- Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh
- The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey
- The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
- The Overstory by Richard Powers
- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
- The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames
- The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene by Simon L. Lewis and Mark A. Maslin
- Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
- The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
- Life in the UK Test Handbook
- There’s Something In the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous and Black Communities by Ingrid R.G. Waldron
- Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
- In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje
- Harvest by Jim Crace
- The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy
- The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
- Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
- Circe by Madeline Miller
- The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
- Out by Natsuo Kirino
- Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent by Andrew Nikiforuk
- Wanderland by Jini Reddy
Books I Read in Autumn 2021
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
This has been on my TBR for a while but I needed to wait until I was in the right head space to read a book… about a pandemic. Thankfully Station Eleven doesn’t mirror our reality too closely. I love dystopian fiction and this was such a fantastic novel. There were some really interesting characters and the theme of resilience resonated with me. My only criticism is that my favourite story line featuring Jeevan seemed too disconnected from the rest of the characters towards the end. I would 100% recommend this book to anyone who enjoys dystopia/ post-apocalyptic fiction.
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
I aim to read a pulp thriller at least once a year. I consider the large font and easy language a bit of a break from some of the other non-fiction and complex literary fiction I’m normally drawn to. I’ve never read Lisa Jewell before and this book didn’t disappoint! It was easy to read, entertaining, and exactly what I needed to wind down at Christmas.
The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr.
I really thought I’d love this book since so many people gave this debut novel 5 stars and heralded it a best book of 2021. Unfortunately, I struggled to get through it and almost gave up a few times. I found the biblical references confusing, the writing style overly-complicated, and the metaphors clouded the narrative. Though I appreciated the idea behind the story and queer representation, it was underwhelming and disappointing. This review mirrors my thoughts fairly closely.
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Be Right Back! by Julie Naismith (Separation anxiety in dogs)
5 Best Fiction Books of 2021
- The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna
This book has stuck with me the most. I think about it on a regular basis, both the characters and the story line. This historical fiction gave me rich insight into what it would have been like as an Italian immigrant family in America in the early 20th century. It was compelling, emotive, and beautifully written, and the characters were wonderfully complex.
Again, this book has remained with me since I read it in spring. I found Migrations unnerving and slightly haunting. The emotion and trauma from the protagonist shone through in the writing, and the the narrative about climate change and extinction was powerful.
This was such a fun book to read! I’ve always loved Greek and Egyptian mythology and I’d never read a re-telling before. The story was captivating, well-written, and I felt invested in the characters. I’m very much looking forward to reading more of this style of fiction!
This was a chunky book and it was the one that I couldn’t put down the most. Out is such a great thriller with fantastic character development and scene setting. Although somewhat dated, being published in 90s Japan, it’s nonetheless a thriller that I would highly recommend.
- The Underground Railroad
Although the story itself hasn’t stayed with me fully, I thought the idea behind this book was superb. It was such a creative and powerful approach to this important part of history and I really do think this book should be on high school curricula.
Ready Player One and Station Eleven because a) dystopia is my favourite genre and b) they were well written.
There you have it – all the books I read in 2021 and my 5 favourites. I’m looking forward to what I read next year and I’m aiming for 22 books for 2022. What were your favourite books this year? I’m always looking for recommendations.
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