books

i read 67 books in 2021!

Hello my loves,

Last year I read 91 books (a big helping of which was due to lockdown) and I did a yearly roundup of all the books I’d read along with my Goodreads stats etc. and this year I am of course going to do the same! I didn’t read as many books this year, purely because this year we weren’t in lockdown and last year we were, which is why I ended up reading around 30 extra books than I normally would. First I’ll start with my Goodreads stats, and then I’ll do a list of all the books I read, favourite and worst reads of the year etc. and so on.

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Goodreads

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And here’s a list of all of the books I read in 2021 – ones with reviews will be linked but I feel behind with my reviews after August, so from September onwards there unfortunately isn’t any, but I will be starting fresh again from this month. Apologies! I’ll add reviews and ratings underneath the titles here that I haven’t already posted about if anyone’s interested on my thoughts.

Breathless – Jennifer Niven

The Girl Who Drank the Moon – Kelly Barnhill

The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides

Florida – Lauren Groff

Scythe – Neal Shusterman

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

Elatsoe – Darcie Little Badger

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 – Cho Namjoo

everything i know about love – Dolly Alderton

Paper Girls – Brian K. Vaughan

Illuminae – Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

One of Us is Next – Karen M. McManus

The Mothers – Brit Bennett

The Waves – Virginia Woolf

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Bone Meal for Roses – Miranda Sherry

Notes from the Underground – Fyodor Dostoevsky

Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo

The Water Cure – Sophie Mackintosh

Fangs – Sarah Andersen

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell

Reviving the Hawthorne Sisters – Emily Carpenter

Ghosts – Dolly Alderton

Radio Silence – Alice Oseman

The Book of Longings – Sue Monk Kidd

He loved me some days, I’m sure he did – Charlotte Eriksson

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde – Eve Chase

Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Anthropocene Reviewed – John Green

The Girl at the Back of the Bus – Suzette D. Harrison

The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom

Gods of Jade and Shadow – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Bunny – Mona Awad

Punk 57 – Penelope Douglas

Please Look After Mom – Shin Kyungsook

The Master & Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov

A Study in Charlotte – Brittany Cavallaro

Days of Blood and Starlight – Laini Taylor

Solitaire – Alice Oseman

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires – Grady Hendrix

This had been on my TBR for a long time as I really wanted to buy a physical copy of it but couldn’t find one that wasn’t ridiculously expensive however, I ended up finding it for free via the online library and so of course, decided to read it. This story is about Patricia Campbell, a southern housewife who lives in a safe neighbourhood and who attends a monthly book club along with all the other southern wives that live there. One day a man named James Harris moves in across the street and everyone is completely swept away by him as they think he’s a great guy, Patricia however isn’t convinced and, after a series of terrifying events and things that simply just don’t add up, she becomes suspicious of who he is. No one believes her however, as they think she’s essentially gone crazy from looking after the children and cleaning the oven too many times a day and, in order to relieve herself of this boredom and monotony, she’s decided to create ridiculous stories that aren’t true. Will the women of the book club believe her and, more importantly, who really is James Harris?

I really enjoyed this book. I don’t read many like it often because I guess the whole genre of gore / horror / vampires (no thank you Twilight) just isn’t my thing but I did really enjoy this one, I had a feeling I would the moment I first saw the book which is why I wanted to buy a physical copy of it. Really well written and I of course am a sucker for a Southern novel. I don’t know if this counts for anything either but if I hadn’t known otherwise I would have thought that this novel was written by a woman, and considering it’s all female POV and the whole book is essentially written about women…good job Grady Hendrix. Finally a man who can write women for once – I’ve seen some people who hate this book and find it problematic completely counteract this point and say they’re not sure what planet the people who believe this are on, because they believe the book is incredibly sexist but…I didn’t find that at all, and that’s coming from a strong feminist. There’s also a lot of backlash in this book surrounding the depiction of black people, which I’d also like to address, because it would be all too easy and ignorant for me not to.  I understand how people feel that this book basically undermines black people and their importance / value, the same way that I can understand why some people feel that the book is sexist – all I will say is that this is a deep Southern novel set in the 60s (?) and therefore in my (white) opinion (so I acknowledge that it counts for basically nothing), the content and the way that the story was told was…historically accurate, for lack of better wording. The plot was within a time period and setting and the story followed that – but yes a white man wrote it and therefore I understand why that in itself is problematic. Also, this book literally involves vampires and so…historical accuracy is no excuse here. I cannot comment further on the racism aspect itself because of course I am a white woman but I can however comment on the ”sexism” part to try and explain my point of view which again, is that there was a time period and setting to follow and that’s what was being done – I assume the sexist aspect of this book comes from the idea of Southern housewives having nothing to do (I’m guessing as again I personally didn’t find the book sexist) but for me again that’s just the time period and setting of the book, which is what you read it for. I don’t know. Just wanted to comment on these things because I’m aware of them and don’t want to be ignorant, as it’d be all too easy for me to brush over them and pretend I’m unaware of some of the problems people have with the story. I personally very much enjoyed it though.

Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney

This book has been on my TBR for years now because ever since I read Normal People (and loved it) I knew I had to try Conversations with Friends. It didn’t appeal to me as much as Normal People however and so it was never very high up on my list of things to read – I just knew I’d eventually get to it at some point. My friend recently tried to read it and said she absolutely hated it which brought it back onto my radar again but it was something I wasn’t really that keen on spending money on as I didn’t know if I was going to like it, but then I saw it for free at the local library and so reserved it straight away.

I absolutely loved this book. It was in my opinion, outstanding.

I really wish I’d read it on Kindle because there were so many quotes I would’ve highlighted, though I still screenshotted them as I was reading it on the library app on my phone anyway. This book follows Frances, a millennial poet who performs spoken word poetry with her ex-lover / best friend Bobbi, who is a lot more boisterous and outgoing than Frances, who is quite shy and reserved. At one of their performances, the two meet a woman named Melissa, a photographer who finds the pair interesting and wants to take photos and do a feature on them etc.

Bobbi becomes enamoured with Melissa, and so gets really excited when she begins inviting them around for drinks and to different events. Melissa has a husband called Nick, and it’s kind of like the two are paired off – Melissa and Bobbi, Frances and Nick. The whole book is essentially one big commentary, and Frances’ observations on the relationships, people and the life going on around her. I absolutely loved Frances and the way her mind worked, the way she felt things and the commentary she gave and the observations she made, as well as all the feelings she was experiencing. It was very human and incredibly specific yet so relatable, and even though the content wasn’t exactly beautiful, the emotional and observational narrative was. It was very human. I wish I could go into more detail but it’d involve spoilers, but Sally Rooney really knows how to tap into a feeling and describe it perfectly…it was just brilliant.

It’s a book I definitely want to re-read, I bought the physical copy when I was near the end of finishing it because it’s definitely one I want on my shelf, especially so I can go through and highlight all of the quotes and lines I really loved. Sally Rooney has done it yet again, and I’m so surprised because I absolutely did not think I’d like Conversations with Friends more than normal people (as I said, CWF just didn’t appeal to me, hence why it’s taken me so long to read it) but I just loved it so much. It’s just one big fantastic narrative I could read over and over again. It was just brilliantly human and poetic and real – something I absolutely needed at the time and something I will need again in future, I feel like I want to just carry it around with me everywhere like a little guide – somewhere my emotions are formulated into words because I think all of us are a little bit like Frances and sometimes it’s nice to know you’re not alone and that we’re all human underneath.

This for me was between a 4.5 and 5 star (rounded up to a 5) because it was so well deserved and I liked it even more than Normal People, which I gave 4 stars. Sally Rooney is a queen and she can just take all my money because the way she writes is fantastic and I want to read all of it. Yet another brilliant book from her – I’m so excited for her next one!

The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison

Very glad I finally got around to reading this one as it’s a classic and has been on my TBR for a long time. It’s not a very long novel and I read it on my phone over the course of a couple of days – I gave this 3 stars but I’ll be honest I’m not comfortable talking about it / giving a review on it because I don’t believe I’m in a position to do so and therefore, I won’t. This book is set in the 1940s after the great depression and mainly focuses on a young black girl named Pecola, who believes her black features make her ugly and therefore she wants to have blue eyes, hence the name of the novel. Trigger warnings for rape, child molestation and things of that nature in this book. It’s incredibly poignant and I have a lot of respect for Toni Morrison and plan on reading more of her work soon.

Loveless – Alice Oseman

After reading The Bluest Eye I wasn’t really sure what to read next but I felt like reading something comforting, which is what I’ve found Alice Oseman’s books are for me – they’re very familiar and relatable and I love the British academic atmosphere she creates – school, sixth form, uni etc. – as I’ve said before I love the fact that I can picture my own academic experiences as I’m reading the stories she’s telling, she sets the scenes very well. Loveless is about a girl called Georgia, who has for her whole life been obsessed with romance and the idea of falling in love, she reads romantic fanfics and has seen every romantic movie there is and one day hopes that she herself will also have her fairy-tale ending. The one “problem” she has though is that she’s 18 and has never even kissed anyone yet, let alone anything else. Her mission is to get herself out there and find the love of her life and, with her first year of university just around the corner, she sees this as the perfect opportunity to meet new people and potential love interests.

The plot is a lot less shallow than that, as it follows Georgia’s journey through discovering her identity and sexuality, and I think this is an incredibly important book for people to read – especially young people, I can only imagine the amount of teens it’s already helped. It was such a quick read for me (think I read it in 2 days) and I really enjoyed it – a very important book and I’ve loved seeing how Alice Oseman’s writing has grown throughout all of her stories so far.

Hot Milk – Deborah Levy

Not really sure how to describe or review this book. It’s been on my TBR for a while and so when I saw a second-hand copy in the shop I snatched it up straight away. This story follows Sophie and her mother Rose, who has problems with her legs but no doctors can diagnose her illness or cure her, and therefore they’ve travelled to the Gomez clinic in Greece in order to see if the famous Dr Gomez can figure out what’s wrong with Rose.

The story is told from Sophie’s perspective, and I can’t really describe what happens because the whole thing is so dreamlike and whimsical, it essentially doesn’t really make a lot of sense…but in the best way. You’re kind of left trying to figure out what’s real and what isn’t, because it’s all so illogical and dreamy, but I really liked that about it. I think Deborah Levy’s writing is the type that you either appreciate or you don’t, but I definitely do appreciate that kind of writing. It’s cryptic almost, like only the person who wrote it will be able to understand what it actually means – something I do a lot of in my own writing. I enjoyed the story and objectively I think it deserves 4 stars because I did really like it – it was a good book, I just don’t think it left an impact on me as such in order for me to bring myself to rate it 4 stars, but it does definitely deserve that.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold – Toshikazu Kawaguchi

This was a quick little read and I only read it because everyone and their grandma is raving about it right now – the story follows a café that can take you back to the past / future if you follow a specific set of rules, the only catch is that even if you go back to the past, nothing you say or do will change the present, and the same goes for the future. We follow 3 characters who want to go back to the past / future and their experiences in doing so. The story was off to a bit of a slow start for me and I felt like I was definitely reading for the sake of it, but after the halfway mark I was enjoying it and am glad I read it. I think it’s one of the best ideas / concepts for a book I’ve read in a long time, and I keep thinking about it even now. The cover is also very cute! A very nice little concept for a book and a nice little read, I’m glad I did so.

Letters from an Astrophysicist – Neil DeGrasse Tyson

My boyfriend and I have been watching a lot of Neil deGrasse Tyson content lately (he got me into him) and I’ve been really enjoying it, so of course when I saw this available at the library I picked it up. Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist and an incredibly intelligent man that talks about science and space in a very accessible way meaning anyone and everyone can learn about it and understand it. This is a collection of 101 pieces of correspondence where people have written to Neil via letter, email etc. asking him questions about the universe, religion, life after death and so on. This book is a collection of those questions and Neil’s answers to them. I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read more of them, a few were actually already on my TBR which I didn’t realise so that was quite cool – science and the comos are generally, very cool, so it’s great to be able to read about them in a way that makes sense.

This Winter – Alice Oseman

A short little novella as I read Solitaire in August. I find Alice Oseman really quick and easy to read as well as comforting – her books are “safe” for me and so at the minute I’m missing the fact that I’ve read all of them and she doesn’t have another one I can get around to reading yet. Hopefully soon!

Infinite Country – Patricia Engel

One of the most beautiful book covers I’ve seen in a while, it always catches my eye and had been on my TBR for a while before I finally picked it up. I really enjoyed it – I’m writing these reviews a couple of months after the fact which is a shame because I’ve now forgotten basically everything I would have wanted to say about the book, but I really liked the characters and thought the story was told beautifully.

Eliza and Her Monsters – Francesca Zappia

This is a YA book about anxiety, basically. The story follows Eliza, anonymous creator of an online web comic – Monstrous Sea – that amasses millions of followers and readers but of course, no one knows Eliza is the creator. Eliza herself has no friends and is bullied at school, until one day she meets Wallace, they strike up a friendship as she discovers that he also really loves Monstrous Sea but of course, doesn’t know Eliza is the creator of it. I read this book at a time when I needed it, my anxiety was particularly bad and so reading about a character who also suffered from anxiety was comforting.

Mr Salary – Sally Rooney

How to Stop Overthinking – Chase Hill

Again, my anxiety was particularly bad during the time period I was reading this (hence why I did) and so I was looking for anything that may ease how I felt. It wasn’t the best thing ever, it was just one of those blasé kind of books that you find floating around, but I was willing to give anything a go. This gave some tips on how to I guess cope with anxiety or things to remember about your anxiety, and as I was reading it on Kindle I highlighted a lot of things that I plan (and already have) gone back over to remind myself of when feeling particularly anxious or panicky, so overall the experience was positive. There was a lot of content in there that for me was unnecessary as it didn’t apply, but for what I did use I’m glad I read it.

The Four Agreements – Miguel Ruiz

Another book that had been on my TBR for years, this is quite a short book about the ‘four agreements’ every human should follow (apparently). Only 2 out of the 4 agreements were actually useful to me but ever since I’ve read the book I remind myself of both of them daily.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz

At the Clinic – Sally Rooney

Even if You Beat Me – Sally Rooney

Concord 34 – Sally Rooney

Colour and Light – Sally Rooney

Beautiful World, Where Are You – Sally Rooney

The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

Klara and the Sun – Kazuo Ishiguro

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

Oh Madeline Miller. I feel like I don’t have to explain this book because everyone and their grandma has read it by now but I however was late to the party because…I didn’t think I’d like it. I really want to read Circe but I wanted to read Achilles first so I could read them in order of publication etc. so I finally got around to it and…well. This book is about a boy called Patroclus, a young prince who gets exiled for a reason I won’t spoil, but he’s then sent to live with another King (who kindly takes in people like Patroclus) and this king has a son called Achilles, a boy who is seemingly perfect and is the boy everyone wants to be, he’s kind, loyal, intelligent and extremely skilled in…well, everything. Patroclus is an outcast amongst the other exiled boys at the King’s castle, but Achilles takes a special liking to him for reasons Patroclus can’t understand.

This book was beautiful, my favourite part was definitely the first 50% as I felt it was a lot more whimsical and poetic compared to the latter half, which was focused more on war rather than childhoods etc. A lot of people said this book broke their heart and made them sob and surprisingly enough (since I’m the most emotional person ever) I didn’t shed a single tear throughout the book. I got teary eyed near the end but nothing more, I think it was because I would have liked there to have been more emphasis on the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles through the latter half of the novel like there was during the first half, and then it would’ve probably had the impact I desired. Overall though no complaints as it was a very beautiful book, and now I’m excited to read Circe as I can only imagine great things!

The Mermaid of Black Conch – Monique Roffey

This was a book that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy too much, especially at the beginning as it was (I felt) off to quite a boring start, reminded me of The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway which, even though I gave it 3 stars, was actually still quite monotonous subject matter. I was thinking really…again? This book is about a mermaid who is discovered by a fisherman called David in a place called Black Conch. One day however, the mermaid is captured by white men who plan to sell her and make millions. I won’t say more than that as I feel as though it would be spoiling the story so I’ll leave it there. I really, really enjoyed this story. I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads though my rating is 3.5, but I might actually round it up to 4 stars on Goodreads as I can’t stop thinking about it and I think that because I was planning to not like this book and be underwhelmed by it, the fact that I then wasn’t made it even better. I really, really enjoyed it, I got invested in the characters and cared about them, especially Aycayia (the mermaid). It was such a nice little surprise and the plotline was something I basically never read about – mermaids and islands and the sea etc. so it made a nice change to read something a bit different. Would highly recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in reading it, plus the cover is really beautiful!

This is How you Lose the Time War – Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

Summer Crossing – Truman Capote

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Favourite book of the year?

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney by a million miles, I put off reading it for so long because I didn’t think I’d like it as the cover and title just didn’t appeal to me, but this year I thought I’d read it just to get it out of the way and…now it’s one of my new favourite books of all time. I’m absolutely obsessed with it. 

Conversations with Friends: from the internationally bestselling author of  Normal People: Amazon.co.uk: Rooney, Sally: 9780571333134: Books

Bunny by Mona Awad would have also made this list but I ended up giving it a 4 star rating overall because the ending was just…eh. The actual writing itself was 6 star, literally some of if not the best writing I have ever read, but the ending of the book just spoiled it for me. 

Bunny: Amazon.co.uk: Mona Awad: 9781788545440: Books

Worst / least favourite book of the year?

Last year I had quite strong feelings about my least favourite book but this year when trying to think of an answer to this question nothing instantly sprang to mind, there were definitely books that I gave 2 stars because I wasn’t that keen on them but nothing really offended me per say, I think I just read quite a lot of “eh” books which is a shame. I did however read This is How You Lose the Time War at the end of the year and was really disappointed by it, I had such high expectations and it all sounded so promising and then I read it and it might as well have been written in German for all I understood, so I think that’ll probably get title of least favourite book of 2021.

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar

Also possibly Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas because it was essentially graphic, abusive porn disguised as teenage enemies to lovers Bonnie and Clyde shit which is one of my biggest hates / pet peeves. Not a fan. Not sure why everyone was raving about it so much, definitely one I wouldn’t recommend.

Punk 57: Douglas, Penelope: 9781539427766: Amazon.com: Books

Book with the best cover?

The 50th anniversary edition of The Master & Margarita is absolutely stunning and one of my favourite books I now physically own. 

The Master and Margarita (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition): Amazon.co.uk:  Bulgakov, Mikhail, Askew, Christopher Conn, Fishman, Boris, Pevear,  Richard, Volokhonsky, Larissa: 9780143108276: Books

Also Elatsoe which has such a beautiful cover – even though I wasn’t that keen on the actual story itself, it’s a book I’ll never get rid of because physically it’s just so beautiful to own.

Elatsoe : Little Badger, Darcie, Cai, Rovina: Amazon.co.uk: Books

Also an honourable mention to Malibu Rising because the cover is so pretty (even though I didn’t enjoy the book that much itself and was quite disappointed by it).

Malibu Rising: THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER AS SEEN ON TIKTOK: Amazon.co.uk:  Jenkins Reid, Taylor: 9781786331526: Books

New favourite author/s?

Sally Rooney is my new queen. Also Silvia Moreno-Garcia, though I’ve only read 2 of her books and one was a hit and one was a miss, so I still need to read the others before I can make a good judgement on that yet.

Honourable Mentions

  • Have already mentioned but Bunny by Mona Awad (so close yet so far !!)
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – absolutely gorgeous, I gave it 5 stars.
  • Beautiful World, Where Are You (the queen strikes again)
  • He loved me some days, I’m sure he did – cliche Tumblr poetry has taken over the whole poetry genre for me and I find it so hard to find poetry that doesn’t fall into this category these days, but this is a collection of essentially diary entries that are so specifically accurate they hurt, and it was like someone had taken my own diary entries and published them. I can’t read this again because it’s dangerous, it hurts and hits home too much in every single way.
  • Mexican Gothic – so good !! Exactly what I needed and so many people don’t enjoy this book as much as they should which I don’t get at all.
  • Eliza and her Monsters – this is essentially about anxiety and I read it at a time when I was going through an extremely anxious phase, and it was comforting.

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And there we have it loves! 

All my love,

Chloe .xx

Goodreads – ChloLuna

5 thoughts on “i read 67 books in 2021!

  1. This is really awesome. I also read a lot of books in 2021 but I don’t usually keep check of the books I have read. I think I will start doing that this year. I focus more on Chinese translated books and when I try to branch into American novels or originally written in English books, I loose interest. So maybe I will try one of these books you have read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Goodreads is definitely my favourite “social media” site / app – I absolutely love keeping track of my reading! I also think it’s really motivational and encourages you to (want) to read more. If you read any of these books do let me know!

      Like

  2. I’m definitely interested in reading Conversations With Friends now, thanks for recommending, I’m glad you enjoyed it! I haven’t read the four agreements but I’ve read ‘The Mastery Of Love’ which I’m sure is either by the same author or his father – Don Miguel Ruiz!? That’s one of my favourite books so I’m so excited to see the four agreements on your list! Happy 2022!

    Liked by 2 people

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