How are you? What have you all been reading? I hope your week has been fabulous so far. I’m pretty good – I think the fact that I have been thoroughly enjoying the books I have been reading has been helping with my mood! It might not be obvious, but I really love reading.
I know it’s literally the last week of January when this post will go live, but I did want to briefly talk about my absolute favourite books of 2021. I read so many incredible books last year. I think in terms of five star reads, I had the most in 2021 (around 32-35, I believe). But for the purpose of this post, I’m going to just be talking about the top 10. It was so bloody hard to narrow down my favourites of the year to only ten. I might make an ‘honourable mentions’ post, because I read some freaking masterpieces this year.
But the ones I’m going to talk about here, are the ones that I can’t get out of my head. They are the books that made an impact, that made me think, that shocked me, made me see something in myself that perhaps I didn’t want to acknowledge. These books reached out with their words, embedded themselves under my very skin and have made a home there. They’ve become a part of me – that’s how I know these books have become absolute favourites, not only of the year, but most of these are all-time favourites now.
Before I blabber on, let’s just get straight into it, shall we?
These are in no particular order, because that would have actually caused a brain explosion. So I’ve grouped them loosely; classics, literary, fantasy and sci-fi, and memoir. I’ll start with memoir as I only have one book in this ‘group’.
If you have read any of my previous posts from last year (and I know, there aren’t many), I preached my love for 𝑰𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒎 𝑯𝒐𝒖𝒔𝒆 by 𝑪𝒂𝒓𝒎𝒆𝒏 𝑴𝒂𝒓𝒊𝒂 𝑴𝒂𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒅𝒐. I don’t know what else to say about this novel that I haven’t said before. If you want to see some of my thoughts, I talk about this book here and I also dedicated a little review of it over on my instagram here. This was an incredibly unique piece of non-fiction, in which the genre itself is turned on it’s head. I will literally read anything that 𝑪𝒂𝒓𝒎𝒆𝒏 𝑴𝒂𝒓𝒊𝒂 𝑴𝒂𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒅𝒐 will write in the future.
My favourite classic of the year, to no-one’s suprise, is 𝑾𝒂𝒓 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑷𝒆𝒂𝒄𝒆 by 𝑳𝒆𝒐 𝑻𝒐𝒍𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒚. This. Freaking. Book. The question is, did I read it or did it destroy me?
I read 𝑾𝒂𝒓 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑷𝒆𝒂𝒄𝒆 over two months as part of the Dickens vs Tolstoy read-a-long/bookclub. It was a book that I wanted to read at least once in my lifetime. And I did. What can I say about this book? I loved it? I feel like that means nothing in the face of how much 𝑾𝒂𝒓 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑷𝒆𝒂𝒄𝒆 held me, enchanted, for 1215 pages. I think I have mentioned this on my blog before, but before reading this book, one of my clearest memories of 𝑾𝒂𝒓 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑷𝒆𝒂𝒄𝒆 was a friend of mine from highschool reading it – I think it was in year 11 or 12 possibly – and I remember her raving about it. Just bursting with emotion. Maybe her feelings have changed about it now, but I went in to reading this with that memory super clear in my head (hi Emma, if you’re reading this! I hope you’re doing amazing!).
But I laughed, I cried and I physically threw the book across my bed. It was a roller coaster of emotions. Was it flawless? No. Could it have been edited down? Yes! Part two of the epilogue for example didn’t need to exist within the actual body of the novel. But did I love it? OMG YES.
𝑨𝒏𝒏𝒂 𝑲𝒂𝒓𝒆𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒂 is still my ultimate favourite, but 𝑾𝒂𝒓 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑷𝒆𝒂𝒄𝒆 is a close second. I wrote a little review here.
I rediscovered my love of fantasy and sci-fi last year. 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑷𝒓𝒊𝒐𝒓𝒚 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑶𝒓𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆 𝑻𝒓𝒆𝒆 by 𝑺𝒂𝒎𝒂𝒏𝒕𝒉𝒂 𝑺𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒏𝒐𝒏 was a freaking masterpiece. How? Seriously, how? This epic book was beyond any and all of my expectations. The world, the magic, the characters? Just, an incredible feat of writing. I adored this book and I am so hopeful that 𝑺𝒂𝒎𝒂𝒏𝒕𝒉𝒂 𝑺𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒏𝒐𝒏 will write a sequel because Sabran and Ead deserve happiness.
I’m putting 𝑨𝒓𝒊𝒂𝒅𝒏𝒆 by 𝑱𝒆𝒏𝒏𝒊𝒇𝒆𝒓 𝑺𝒂𝒊𝒏𝒕 in this group because I consider it fantasy as a mythology re-telling. And this was perfection. I have to admit that I went into this novel with high hopes because my love for 𝑪𝒊𝒓𝒄𝒆 by 𝑴𝒂𝒅𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒆 𝑴𝒊𝒍𝒍𝒆𝒓 is infinite and 𝑨𝒓𝒊𝒂𝒅𝒏𝒆 sounded similar in the sense that it was going to follow, supposedly, one figure from Greek mythology through a feminist lens. This was so much more than that. This was a love letter to women and womanhood. Of the different experiences women – from Ancient mythological stories to contemporary reality – and the way that women empower themselves. It was just such a beautiful reading experience. The last paragraph of this novel has to be one of the most stunning paragraph I have ever read. This book will stay with me for a long time. I wrote a little review here.
The last book in this category was such a huge surprise to me. I read 𝑫𝒖𝒏𝒆 by 𝑭𝒓𝒂𝒏𝒌 𝑯𝒆𝒓𝒃𝒆𝒓𝒕 in December of last year, and it was exceptional. No wonder it is considered a sci-fi classic. The writing, the world-building, the characters. 𝑭𝒓𝒂𝒏𝒌 𝑯𝒆𝒓𝒃𝒆𝒓𝒕 was ahead of the trend. You follow Paul, essentially an unlikeable character, a messianic figure, the ‘chosen one’ – but the book itself (especially the sequel which I finished in the beginning of January) is the gradual realisation that Paul is actually the villain. Oof. It was phenomenal. I also wrote a little review here.
Technically the next one is an entire series, but I’m going to count it as one ‘entry’.
The 𝑺𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒐𝒏𝒂𝒍 𝑸𝒖𝒂𝒓𝒕𝒆𝒕 by 𝑨𝒍𝒊 𝑺𝒎𝒊𝒕𝒉 was a series that I read throughout last year. I read 𝓐𝓾𝓽𝓾𝓶𝓷 in July (so technically on the cusp between Autumn and Winter) and I absolutely adored it. I then made a decision to try and read each book of the rest of the quartet in the season of their namesake. I read 𝓦𝓲𝓷𝓽𝓮𝓻 in October (cusp of Spring), 𝓢𝓹𝓻𝓲𝓷𝓰 in November and 𝓢𝓾𝓶𝓶𝓮𝓻 in December. This quartet is breathtaking and i am so surprised that it hasn’t one the Booker prize because it really deserved it. 𝑨𝒍𝒊 𝑺𝒎𝒊𝒕𝒉 created these intense character studies taking place in the aftermath of Brexit. We see how these characters’ lives are changed as a result, we explore the cultural and societal repercussions of Brexit. These characters are varied and we follow different characters per book; they are flawed and some, incredibly unlikeable, but they are so totally human. As the reader, you empathise and pity. These are just ordinary people trying to maintain the routine of their lives, but life can be incredibly unpredictable. This series is now one of my favourite series of all-time, because it had such an emotional impact on me and it made me think and explore issues through a different lens. 𝑨𝒍𝒊 𝑺𝒎𝒊𝒕𝒉 is a genius.
Most of my favourite books of 2021, however, come from the ‘literary’ slash ‘contemporary’ fiction. That was also a huge surprise to me – I never really thought that I would read so much more literary or contemporary fiction novels, but 2021 was the year of finetuning my reading habits!
2021 was the year of 𝑺𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝑹𝒐𝒐𝒏𝒆𝒚 for me. I began my 𝑹𝒐𝒐𝒏𝒆𝒚 journey – my Rourney, if you will – and I am now wholeheartedly a fan. Even though only two of her books reached my top 10, my first Rooney novel was 𝑪𝒐𝒏𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒔 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝑭𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒏𝒅𝒔 and I loved it. I gave it five stars and it’s one of my favourites of the year and I had to mention it BUT, it wasn’t in my top 10. 𝑵𝒐𝒓𝒎𝒂𝒍 𝑷𝒆𝒐𝒑𝒍𝒆 and 𝑩𝒆𝒂𝒖𝒕𝒊𝒇𝒖𝒍 𝑾𝒐𝒓𝒍𝒅, 𝑾𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝑨𝒓𝒆 𝒀𝒐𝒖? are two books that I still cannot get out of my head. I loved them both so much. They both impacted me in different ways, but holy hell, did they hit me. I think 𝑺𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝑹𝒐𝒐𝒏𝒆𝒚 is now a favourite author since I have given three of her books five stars, so for me, I will be consuming everything that she publishes. At the moment, Rooney books in order of how much I loved them:
- 𝑩𝒆𝒂𝒖𝒕𝒊𝒇𝒖𝒍 𝑾𝒐𝒓𝒍𝒅, 𝑾𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝑨𝒓𝒆 𝒀𝒐𝒖?
- 𝑵𝒐𝒓𝒎𝒂𝒍 𝑷𝒆𝒐𝒑𝒍𝒆
- 𝑪𝒐𝒏𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝑭𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒏𝒅𝒔
Anyone else have a similar list?
2021 was also the year that I experienced 𝑶𝒕𝒕𝒆𝒔𝒔𝒂 𝑴𝒐𝒔𝒉𝒇𝒆𝒈𝒉 for the first time. I finally read 𝑴𝒚 𝒀𝒆𝒂𝒓 𝒐𝒇 𝑹𝒆𝒔𝒕 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑹𝒆𝒍𝒂𝒙𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 and this book, THIS GODDAMN BOOK, absolutely destroyed me. Reading it felt like I was in the middle of a hallucination or a dream, where you know nothing is real but still you can’t escape it, you can’t wake up. It’s losing the threads of sanity and unraveling. I wrote a mini review here on my blog if you want to read more about my thoughts, because this book is one that I will never forget. And I can’t even recommend it because it really isn’t a book that I can blanket recommend to everyone as the audience for this book is small, I think. The narrator is a terrible person but fuck if you don’t understand her.
I think that is the end of it. My top 10 books of 2021. I seriously cannot believe that we are already in 2022 – these past few years have blurred altogether and if that isn’t evidence of time being meaningless, I don’t know what is.
I really hope you enjoyed my post! What were your favourite books of 2021? Let me know!
Until next time friends, happy reading!
All the love,
3 thoughts on “books that were the creme de la creme of 2021”
Wow, it looks like you read some amazing books last year! Ariadne is one of the next books on my reading list so I’m really pleased to hear it had such an impact on you. I’ve also always wanted to read War and Peace but been daunted by the length – it sounds like it’s well worth it though! Hope you have another wonderful reading year in 2022! 📚❤️ X x x
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omg yes Ariadne was so incredible and i will never stop talking about it haha. the length of war and peace is intimidating but it helped spreading it over a few months and reading 20-30 pages a day and taking it a bit easy because it is such a dense read! i love tolstoy’s writing though so i am biased ahaha. i hope you have a fabulous reading year this year also lovely! xxx
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