At the start of 2021, I aimed to read 100 books before the year was out. Not we’re at the final days and I can announce I managed to read 200! Reading is not a competition and whether you’ve read 1 or 100, the fact you’re reading at all is all that matters. I’m lucky that I’ve had a lot of time this year to devote to reading. I also decided to start this blog this year as I wanted to connect with the like-minded book community. So I’ve decided to talk through my favourite books of the year. Please let me know in the comments or on my social media what you thought of my picks and suggest some of your own favourites!
Nell is forced to move back to London after losing her business in New York and breaking up with her fiancé. She lands a job writing obituaries and becomes good friends with eighty-something widow Cricket, and together they help each other with love, grief, ambition, and adventure.
This was one of the first books of the year I read and most certainly lived up to the hype it was getting. It was a genius of a book with genius writing, and whilst at over 500 pages could have felt intimidating, it was very friendly, and I read it in a day as I couldn’t tear myself away from Nell and Cricket’s story.
Agnes is a silhouette artist in Victorian Bath who seeks help from a child spirit medium after her sisters start being killed off shortly after seeing her.
You can always count on Laura for a terrifying and addictive gothic thriller. She is perfect at threading deception and red herrings throughout her narrative, paying off with the ultimate shock endings.
Based on a true story, the story of Nat, draw to England’s Queen of 1625, and how he helped save the royals at a time when he was struggling with his own identity and place in the world.
This is definitely up there with one of my favourite books of the year. It is perfect in just about every way that there is nothing negative I can really say about it. It is a debut novel which I found amazing as it is so accomplished. It is so authentic and compelling and feels so real; some historical novels can feel difficult to relate to, but this just sucks you in and holds you in a tight and warm embrace.
An unofficial prequel to The Great Gatsby, we explore who Nick Carraway was before he met the infamous Jay Gatsby.
This was the book I had unknowingly waited for my whole life. On the whole, I’m not a fan of prequels or sequels or remakes of famous novels as I’ve never deemed them particularly necessary. But this is spellbinding. You can read it as a prequel or as a standalone. The writing of the war as well as the troubles of Nick’s civilian life is so sensitively done. I’m sure there will be many more Great Gatsby adaptations now the copyright has lapsed, but I’m not sure any will come close to capturing the beauty managed here.
A dual narrative of terminally ill 17-year-old Lenni and recovering 83-year-old Margot as they meet in the hospital and begin to share their combined 100 years of life.
This book isn’t for everyone as it does cover some difficult topics, but it is far from morbid; in fact, it is heartwarming and comforting and funny. Marianne has painted vivid pictures of Lenni’s short life and Margot’s long one and has combined sadness with joy so expertly considering it’s her debut.
Anna has been calling her late husband’s phone for the last three years, leaving to his voicemail and leaving messages. But one night, his number is transferred to someone else, and she strikes up a troubled virtual friendship with the person on the other side. But both have secrets that neither are willing to share quite yet.
This is such a gloriously beautiful book. Fiona has been so sensitive when writing about death and grief, and yet it is so brutally honest and real. At first glance, this may not be the happy and cheerful book we all need, but I was left with such a glowing feeling that I think will resonate with a lot of people.
The astonishing true story of Peter Scott-Morgan, who after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, decides not to accept his terminal status, and instead decides to use science and technology to combine his physical form with AI to become a full cyborg and live a good and long life with Motor Neurone.
I watched the Channel 4 documentary on Peter prior to reading this book and it was so inspiring. Yes, Motor Neurone is difficult and can throw up immense challenges which affect your physical, mental, and emotional health, but this book looks at the positives and the amazing advances in disease management. Not everyone has the financial means or the time or the ability to proceed with these kind of changes, but just the idea that a previously terminal disease can be staved off gives hope to so many people, and allows you to own your condition, your symptoms, your pain, and ultimately your life.
In the midst of a life crisis, Birdy takes on a job as a world-class sommelier in a luxury Scottish hotel. The only problem is the job was meant for her best friend Heather. But she didn’t tell them that. In fact, she told them she was Heather. The only problem with that? She knows nothing about wine. Will she succeed?
This book was such a breath of fresh air. Lizzy has written in such a way that I fell in love with Scotland (not hard to do), with the hotel, with wine, and with the lead man (wink, wink). The basic storyline is well known, but there’s so much more to this; there’s something that makes this book so unique it’s like no other author could do it justice the way Lizzy has.
In 1957, Jean, a feature writer in a local newspaper, starts writing a story on a young woman, Gretchen, who believes her daughter is the product of divine intervention. Jean will soon discover more than she bargained for.
This was probably one of the most hyped-up books of 2021, and it is thoroughly deserved. It wasn’t like anything I’d ever read, even if some characters and plot points were slightly familiar, it is so unique and powerful. It was long listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction award, and I was astounded it wasn’t even shortlisted let alone win.
The year is 2025, and a pandemic is sweeping the world, but there’s one thing in common with the victims. They’re all men.
It was predictable that the pandemic would start seeping into the world of fiction. What is even more shocking is this was written prior to the pandemic, which is a bit scary if you think about it. Some of it is a little close to home which makes it so frighteningly real and gives you more empathy for the characters. Whilst this is a fictional world, it does hit hard that we must remember what we’ve all lost in the last two years.
A pilot is given an ultimatum. Crash the plane and kill the 143 passengers, or his entire family will be killed.
This is a debut book. And an unbelievable one at that. I devoured it in less than a day because I just couldn’t bear the idea of putting it down without finishing it. It’s fast-paced and exhilarating, with twists and turns throughout. It is heart pounding and heart stopping and a definite edge-of-your-seat thriller.
Charlee moves to Whitsborough Bay to open up her own chocolate shop. But with an unsupportive boyfriend and an untraditional family support system, her past starts to creep in and weigh her down.
This was my first Jessica Redland book, but it definitely isn’t my last. It’s one of my favourite festive books, not just of this year, but of all I’ve read. It’s so smart and witty and warming, set in the perfect little village, it’s such a gloriously warming book to curl up with.
Keep tuned for part two, coming tomorrow…