WOW, 2021 is over and it was a hellish year so good riddance! It’s time for the IT post and that’s my favorite books of 2021! Like I said in my reading year in review, I had an overall good reading year, with lots of books that I enjoyed, but when I look back, there weren’t that many that I LOVED passionately this year. I did make a separate post for romance novels, check it out here. But overall, I only gave two books 5 stars. Nevertheless, there were a few gems, and I am excited to share them with you! Let’s jump into it!
7. Luster by Raven Leilani
This was a perfect “disaster woman”, “depressed woman moving through the world” book for me personally. Like it worked on all fronts. Edie was a brilliant main character, she is so perceptive and so smart, and yet she does the stupidest shit ever. AND WE RESPECT THAT. Making single brain cell decisions while also being aware they are stupid is my brand as well. She is so relatable and so annoying, and I really loved her. It’s also one of the few books that handles class discussion in a way that I found both satisfying and nuanced. This was also an incredibly easy to read novel, to the point of being compulsively readable – I was so engaged at all times, and I never wanted to stop reading, which wasn’t a regular thing this year. The book gets more surreal as it goes on, and there’s a sense of foreboding at all times, which just gives this perfect, delicious, dark atmosphere to the novel. If you want to know more, here’s my review. But I LOVED it and would highly recommend.
6. Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden
Thank you to the Brood and to Hannah specifically for bringing this book into my life. This is an incredibly accomplished memoir, that feels familiar in that it tackles themes many memoirs do, but it’s also quite refreshing, as Madden takes on this non-linear storytelling approach, keeping the reader constantly engaged. In fact, this was a one sitting read for me. I found it sad, and unflinchingly honest, and I truly adored it. The book was written with such care and that was obvious in every sentence. I could not recommend it more, I absolutely adored it.
5. Catch the Rabbit by Lana Bastašić
A lot of my love for this novel stems from the fact that it’s so relatable and familiar to me, but even overlooking that, I feel like Bastašić is a fantastic writer. This novel is often compared to Ferrante, and I do see the resemblance, but as I pointed out in my review, the theme of female friendship is not central for Bastašić. Yes, it’s there, however, it’s a way for the author to explore the narrator’s complicated relationship with her country and her identity. This book is very much about memory, about how we make and distort them, and how we’re all unreliable narrators of our own histories. It also explores war trauma in a subtle, yet impactful way, and it’s also a really layered text. Bastašić uses elements of other stories (like Alice in Wonderland) to tell her own, and is quite successful at it in my opinion. I really loved this one, and I highly recommend it.
4. Blueberries by Ellena Savage
Wow, did I love this. This is a galaxy brain collection of essays and it was so freaking good, and humbling. Like, I was humbled by how smart Savage is. This is Savage’s take on cultural criticism and writing, but through her own experiences. If you did not catch it already, I love discussions of memory in my narratives, and Savage does them brilliantly. The titular essay is by far one of the best discussions of the class struggle that I read in a while. It’s self-aware, and intelligent, and the way she discusses how performative progressive politics can be in privileged spaces lives in my mind rent-free. If you want to read more of my thoughts, you can find them here, BUT PLEASE PICK THIS UP, I loved it.
3. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
This is probably the biggest surprise of the year for me, because I had no idea what to expect going into this novel, but I ended up absolutely adoring it. Piranesi is THE himbo of literature in 2021, and we love him for it. I am so glad that a work of speculative fiction/Fantasy won this year’s Women’s Prize and I was in fact the only person who guessed that it would EVEN BEFORE I READ IT. I love being right. I don’t want to harp on about this, because you need to go into this novel blind, but know that this book says HIMBO RIGHTS. And know that it is intricate, and beautiful and explores once again memory in a way that is completely unique and wonderful. PLEASE READ IT.
2. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
NO ONE IS SURPRISED. Of course a Rooney book is on my list, and so high up. The release of this novel brought about so much discourse, which is NOT the vibe and we hate it, so I am just going to tell you that I loved this novel. I feel like it explores friendship and romantic relationships in a genuine and honest way, and I feel like it’s her most accomplished novel in that regard. Her writing also feels more mature here, and I love the way she sets and describes a scene. I also fall into the camp of people who loved the structure of the novel. I can totally understand the criticism of this novel, but I also think that Rooney gets so much heat for NO REASON. She is nonetheless a great writer and most importantly a keen observer of the human experience, and I will continue to hate the discourse and to love her writing. Full review here, but the gist of it is I loved it and it’s my favorite romance novel of the year.
1. Brood by Jackie Polzin
I don’t even know what to say here – what would do justice to both this book and the overall reading experience and just pure joy it brought about? First of all, this is like THE book of the year not just because it’s my favorite but also because I made it my whole online identity. This also brought about new friendships and it just overall shaped the reading experience of 2021 for me. But the book, okay. It’s a chicken book. Truly it is. It’s about a woman trying to take care of her chickens while grappling with grief and loss. This book haunted me even before I read it, which is a feat in and of itself. Jackie Polzin’s writing is rhythmical, perceptive and insightful, and it was just perfectly suited to my tastes. This book is unassuming and quiet, but ends up creeping up on you. It’s funny and it’s sad, and I just cannot even put into words how much I loved it. I also made so many different readers pick it up and everyone enjoyed it WHICH IS MY BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT OF THE YEAR. Forever grateful to Willow of Books and Bao for bringing it into my life. And obviously this book hammered my belief that chickens should NOT BE PERCEIVED ever, which is also an important piece of knowledge this book brought into my life. I truly hope that there is someone out there who worked in some capacity on this book and KNOWS how much I loved it. I have singlehandedly sold like at least 10 copies of this book. THE BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT OF MY BLOGGING CAREER. Anyway, here’s my full review. I LOVED IT, PLEASE READ IT, IT’S SO IMPORTANT TO ME THAT YOU DO.
I desperately want to hear from you – what were your favorite books of the year? What’s your chicken book of the year? Tell me all about it!
In the meantime, happy reading
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