Just *Some* of the Incredible Books I Read in 2021…

AKA Honourable Mentions- because I am lucky enough to have read SO MANY AMAZING BOOKS! One post just isn’t enough to cover them all. I won’t be going into detail about a lot of these, because we’d be here all day, but I’d happily recommend EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THESE A MILLION TIMES OVER! Okay, I’ll try to tone it down, here’s the books worth squealing over:

Yes there’s a lot there! And that’s after trimming it down! I’d definitely like to spotlight some attention on the WAY TOO UNDERRATED YA contemporary The How and the Why. And if you need something super sweet, I’d go for Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse or Tea Dragon Society of course! And the Fire of Joy definitely made me joyful! Or if you’re in an entirely different mood, the thriller standouts I read were the Appeal and the Michaelides books. The Ivies was a cutting YA thriller- with an emphasis on FUN! Kingdom of the Wicked had the wicked edge I enjoy in YA fantasy. Echo North was a gorgeous retelling and I’d be remiss not to mention it as a standout read this year. And Winterwood was witchy, atmospheric and bordered on the uncanny. Malibu Rising will give you a taste for the 80s surf scene. Finally, if you’re feeling a little lost, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is a wonderful self-help-y non fic. And of course, I have to recommend Happiest Man on Earth again for a life-affirming memoir.

And that’s all for now! Have you read any of these? Did you love them as much as me? And BE PREPARED for EVEN BETTER BOOKS in the next post…

Books I’d Recommend to Everyone!

Working in a library, I often get asked to recommend “anything”… which as you can imagine is a pretty tricky one to answer! Especially with nothing to go on! But I do my best and here are some of my usual suggestions:

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine– I’m starting with an unusual book that’s universally loved- and for good reason! Before I read it, I thought it was going to be a standard contemporary about falling in love… but this book turned out to be so much more than I expected. In truth, it’s a story about discovering yourself, finding true friendship and overcoming trauma- which I think everyone can get something out of.

A Man Called Ove– I always describe this as an adult version of Up (which I’d also recommend to everyone). This is one of the most uplifting and beautiful books I’ve ever read- and it’s also a great introduction to a wonderful author.

Where the Crawdads Sing– one of the best books I’ve ever read- and I don’t say that lightly- I’d recommend this to *everyone*. It has so much going for it. A story about love, friendship, coming of age, nature, crime… there’s beauty in this that anyone can enjoy.  

A Thousand Splendid Suns– a tremendously moving story about life for women under the Taliban. It’s unfortunately become more relevant in recent months- which makes me want to recommend it all the more.   

Homegoing– Gyasi’s powerful intergenerational epic is highly original and an absolute work of genius. You cannot go wrong giving it a try.

Kindred– because this book is simply glorious. Wonderfully written- it’s different to anything I’ve ever read before. Technically sci fi, it delves more into historical fiction territory, exploring the horrors of the slave trade with a modern gaze.

The Familiars– a subtle story, this historical fiction is cleverly crafted story that seems to be about one thing, but turns out to be something else entirely. While I was expecting a purely witchy experience, this ended up being a magical tale of friendship and family. I’ve absolutely fallen in love with Halls’ work in the last few months and I’m sure other people will enjoy this discovery too.

Wolf Hall– a more human story than I imagined I would be, Mantel’s reimagining of Thomas Cromwell’s journey to power is a masterpiece.

The Huntress– a thrilling example of historical fiction, this book had my heart racing. With two timelines chasing each other, the story tells of the elusive Nazi called the Huntress and those who wish to bring her to justice.

The Nightingale– I don’t read very many WW2 books and here I am recommending two of them! But this is the kind of book that is an emotional hard-hitter and well-loved for good reason. Telling the story of two sisters, who live different wars, this is one that will stay with you a long time after you read it.

The Secret History– utterly unique and absolutely brilliant, this murder mystery told in reverse is a real showstopper.

The Thursday Murder Club– who doesn’t love the idea of old-aged pensioners solving crimes? This quirky crime novel was a delight.

How to Stop Time– Matt Haig is another commonly loved author- and for good reason! His novels are full of joy and sorrow in equal measure- and How to Stop Time is a great example of that. A great introduction to magical realism, it explores the reality of what it might be like to be immortal.  

Song of Achilles– I’ve been told multiple times by people that they didn’t really expect to like it, because it’s not normally their thing, but ended up loving it. And for good reason! Miller is a phenomenal writer! Her retelling of the Iliad is not only beautifully written, but unbelievably emotional. I know that this is an excellent choice if you want to get readers branching out into fantasy (not that I have a hidden agenda or anything 😉).

House in the Cerulean Sea– I’d suggest this to everyone because it’s so damn heartwarming- and I defy you to read this and not have a big fat dopey grin plastered on your face by the end!

The Martian– speaking of books that make me smile, this adventurous book is something anyone can enjoy! Yes, it’s sci fi, but even laymen like me love it! Because beyond all the science-speak in the novel, it’s truly a story about determination and the human spirit!

So, what do you think? Do you agree with my suggestions? And what books would you recommend to everyone? Let me know in the comments! I could use the help! 😊