It is officially that time of year again, where I look back at what I have read and compile my favourites. You can check out last years post here. I must admit, outside reading for my dissertation and course, I have done very little leisurely reading in the past year. That is not to say I haven’t stumbled across some absolute gems!
Reading in 2021 definitely had more of an academic stance in my life, yet like most novels, they still provided a sense of escapism and education. I think from my insane amount of reading over the years I have gained a love for how much a novel can teach you about cultures, relationships, lifestyles and social issues. Which you can find whether you intensely look through every novel or just enjoy it for entertainment purposes. Reflecting on your reading experience is one of the best ways to fully understand the message an author wanted to convey.
So without further a do… here’s a look back at my favourite books of 2021.
Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing
I don’t think it would come as much of a surprise when I say this is one of my favourite books of 2021. To be honest it is one of the only books I read leisurely over Summer.
A novel that celebrates the deep connection between humans and nature, Owens’ writing has an unexpected depth and an emotional layer that grips the reader.
Often I forget or don’t remember in any detail the reading experience of a novel however this is different. Weirdly I feel a connection to this story and I would implore you to also read it when you get the chance.
I reviewed the novel in further detail in July if you want to read more about it.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun
It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include one of my dissertation novels, especially the one that sparked the deep dive into race and metafiction for me. Adichie’s novel has a strong narrative structure and interesting character development which plays into the Biafran war and Adichie’s mission to give a voice back to Biafra.
Filled with heartache, trauma, class discussions and relationship feuds, this depiction of war is one I have not seen too often. Like Things Fall Apart, Adichie is playing a part in decolonising the stories of the Nigerian Civil war and giving an authentic voice back to the people who lost it for so long.
Is it a long read? Yes! But is it worth it? Hell yes!
Adichie does not fall short when she makes such a book feel like a journey, one which is so important for both the characters and the readers.
Jean Giono, The Man Who Planted Trees
This is probably a surprising addition to my favourites. If you told Sophie over a year ago she’d be adding a book about trees to her favourite books of 2021, she’d probably tell you that you’re nuts. But this is so much more than that!
The short story celebrates nature, the relationship between the elderly and their younger counterparts, modernisation and selfish behaviours.
Giono’s story is extremely heartwarming and I would implore you to get the full version with the introduction, as the history behind the novel is just as interesting as the story itself.
Why not surprise yourself and get this story too!
Percival Everett’s Wounded
I’ve become quite the fan of Percival Everett in the past year with one of his other novels also being in my dissertation. Wounded however sparked my love for his writing.
It deals with quite heavy themes and can be distressing to read at points but its message is extremely important. Set in Wyoming, John (a horse trainer) and his uncle Gus are one of the only black people in their local community. With this comes deep hatred from the local ‘nazis’ and a series of hate crimes.
The death of a local gay man pushes a series of events onto the area and John in particular.
Dealing with loss, prejudice, relationships, racism and sexuality, Everett’s satire does not shy away from addressing these topics in a setting that only accentuates the politics of America.
Hazel Hayes’ Out of Love
Hazel’s debut novel is one I came to with a questioning mindset. She started off on YouTube and I have of course heard horrendous things about novels written by the YouTube cohort (that is not to say they are all like that). However, Hazel proved my doubts wrong and I was stunned by her writing. It is a self published novel and works with both heartache and joy to pull on the readers heartstrings.
Similarly to Where the Crawdad’s Sing, her novel left a lasting impression on me and I will look back fondly on reading this. The narrative style and character development was especially impressive and I only hope she will release another novel.
If you like books that centre character development (especially just the central character) with a particular focus on the trials and tribulations of love and discovering yourself, then I would highly recommend this!
There you have it, 5 of my favourite books of 2021. I must admit it is quite an eclectic mix but in that sense, I hope you found something that sparks your interest!
I’d love to know what your favourite book of 2021 was, let me know in the comments.
With only one term of uni left I am hoping that I will be able to fit in more reading after graduating and expand on what I have encountered on my course. If you have any recommendations then please let me know! Similarly if you want to keep up to date with what I am reading then follow my goodreads account.
Sending lots of love,