I can’t be the only one who feels that 2021 has lasted far longer than a year. But that doesn’t mean my reading total is at an all-time high, in fact, I had to cram in a few titles over the last few weeks to reach my goal of a minimum of 50 books. If anyone is looking for excuses for almost any aspect of daily life, just getting through 2021 is more than enough. To add to that, amongst other life stuff, I also moved house which resulted in a major lifetsyle change and eventually a renovation and extension (if we can ever pin down the necessary trades who seem rarer than unicorns!).
The 50 books I did read though were a great mix. Again, I factored in a few memoirs and a sprinkling of non-fiction and short story anthologies (one which featured the first chapter of my latest novel which was great to see it published). But my heart will always belong to contemporary fiction, albeit I’m continuing to push myself to keep an open mind and even dabbling with different genres, such as Jenni Fagan’s gothic novel, Luckenbooth. I really enjoyed her other novel, The Panopticon, and although Luckenbooth is very different in style, it’s just as good. A very clever structure with a series of highly inventive interconnected plots which even feature the devil’s daughter!
From my top ten, Luckenbooth was a close runner-up as my favourite novel of 2021. But in the end, from a very strong list of fantastic reads, I chose Sugar by Bernice L McFadden. This novel will stick in my mind for a long time. It took me to a place and time I know very little about and shone a light on the very dark existence for the main character, Sugar. It’s an emotional read about two broken but otherwise very different women and the healing power of friendship that transpires between them. Be aware, it’s not an easy read in the sense that there are several graphic descriptions of sexual violence but the unlikely friendship and bond between Sugar and Pearl provides welcome relief to these disturbing scenes.
The other 8 highly recommended reads for me included…
Summerwater by Sarah Moss
Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan
The Weekend by Charlotte Wood
The Fell by Sarah Moss
Under the Camelthorn Tree by Kate Nicholls
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout
Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen
Damian Barr’s, The Big Scottish Book Club and Sara Cox’s, Between the Covers has once again provided me with book recommendations on the telly. Whilst online, my go-to sources of new titles are as always, the excellent blogs, A Life in Books and The Literary Sofa. Thanks for keeping my tbr list mountainous!
What was your favourite read of 2021?
5 thoughts on “2021 in Books”
Thanks for the link, Helen. So pleased you’ve singled out Luckenbooth, too. I’d loved to have seen it on the Women’s Prize for Fiction lists.
Yes, it deserves recognition.
I haven’t read much this year – only 18 titles. Too much other stuff going on 😟. My top 3 (all book group choices) were The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, and The Mercies by Kieran Millwood Hargrave. Mayflies is our January choice so I’m looking forward to starting that.
It’s been a tough year for you Anabel and I’m sure the first festive season without your mum won’t have been easy. I’ve only read Hamnet from your selection and loved it – very moving. You’ll need a hanky at the ready too for Mayflies! All the best for 2022.
And to you, Helen!