My favourite books of 2021

This year has been long, but it has also gone by so fast I’m amazed we’re days away from 2022. I spent most of this year reading, rewatching Gilmore Girls, eating crisps on my sofa covered with a cosy blanket, and drinking too much tea. A combination of multiple lockdowns and my fun introvert lifestyle.

I’ve never read as many books in a year as I have in 2021. Being bored out of my mind and having nowhere to go has helped me achieve the insane number of 90 books in 365 days. (It might not be insane for the book influencers out there, but it is for me, a mere bookish girl).

Out of these books, I’ve selected my favourites. The ones I will remember forever and will probably reread soon. You can see all the books I read here.

Best fiction books

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

I discovered Dolly Alderton this year, and I’ve developed a bit of a crush on her writing. I need more of her books ASAP. I read Ghosts in May, and it remains my top favourite this year. It’s about finding your way as a woman, choosing what you want from life, love and friendships. The book is so well written, and it has some of my favourite quotes ever. Like:

Sometimes, when I felt despondent, I liked to calculate how many minutes of my remaining life I would spend removing upper lip hair if I lived until I was eighty-five and think about how many languages I could have learnt in that time.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This book broke me completely. I read it during peak SAD, and it destroyed me, but I also love it so much. I was definitely not fine reading this book. It talks about mental health and loneliness, and how to adapt to the social world around you, with a very funny, very weird protagonist.

These days, loneliness is the new cancer—a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way. A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it; other people don’t want to hear the word spoken aloud for fear that they might too be afflicted, or that it might tempt fate into visiting a similar horror upon them.

Olive by Emma Gannon

I remember reading this book in February and thinking it was like someone had written my own thoughts for me to read. This book is about a woman in her thirties that decides to stay childfree and how people around her view that decision.

Holding a new baby is like a new test every time. Will I now, finally, maybe, feel something? I’d think. Whenever women shouted, ‘Oww, what a cute baby! My ovaries! They just twitched!’ I would think there was something incredibly wrong with me because my ovaries have never twitched. There was no desire. Not even a slight, mild ache.

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

I wasn’t prepared for how good this book is. It’s not a story I want to read again, it’s focused on an abusive partner, but I loved the book anyway. Some parts were hard to read, but that’s what makes stories like this one stand out.

Maybe love isn’t something that comes full circle. It just ebbs and flows, in and out, just like the people in our lives.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

This book was a bestseller in 2020, and I can see why. I loved the concept of a woman who’s forgotten by everyone she meets and how she lives her immortal life, travels the world, has mysterious lovers, and is completely free. It immediately became one of my favourite books when I read it in January. 

There is a rhythm to moving through the world alone. You discover what you can and cannot live without, the simple necessities and small joys that define a life.

Best YA reads

The Hawthorne legacy

The Inheritance Games Series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

This has been a popular series this year, and I’m obsessed with the story. I need the third part ASAP. It’s a Knives Out meets YA meets Pretty Little Liars.

We aren’t normal. This place isn’t normal, and you’re not a player, kid. You’re the glass ballerina—or the knife.

None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney

YA thrillers are one of my favourite genres, and this book has it all. Set in the 80s, two teenagers team up with the FBI to catch a serial killer. Add a few sociopaths and a bit of romance, and you have the perfect book.

There are no monsters. Only people.

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin

I needed something beautiful to end the year, a feel-good story with witches and charming characters, and I found all that in this book. I loved every second of it, the writing was so beautiful, and the story is so relevant right now. Witches are linked to the seasons and are trying to fix the climate change created by humans and all the natural disasters the come with it.

But I like winter. Winter is the truest of the seasons. It’s what remains after everything else is stripped away. The leaves fall. The colors fade. The branches get brittle. And if you can love the earth, understand it when all the beauty is gone and see it for what it is, that’s magic.

Best non-fiction reads

little book of hygge

The Audacity by Katherine Ryan

I love Katherine Ryan, she’s such a great comedian. Her memoir was a must-read for me, and it was so funny. I listened to the audiobook that she read, and it made the book even better.

It’s actually amazing that I haven’t got body issues as an adult because I remember her trying on my clothes and remarking, “Isn’t it funny, Katherine, your jeans are too big for me but your tops are too small!” Yes, Mum. You’re a human Barbie doll while I’m 15 with a fat ass and no tits. That IS funny.

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

I know this book is a classic, and most people are over it by now, but I read it this year during a time when I was feeling low, and this book helped me feel better, so for me, it’s a perfect read.

Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down.

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

This book also made me feel better, it helped keep me sane this year. I loved the short essays analysing the world and how it affects us. It pointed out things I never noticed before but that have made me anxious in the past.

Living with anxiety, turning up, and doing stuff with anxiety takes a strength most people will never know.

I’m glad 2021 is over. I had a lot of fun reading all these books, and I liked most of the ones I picked for the year. You can see the full list on my Goodreads. I can’t wait to read new and exciting books next year, though my TBR list is insanely long, so I don’t think I’ll be able to finish it in just 365 days. We’ll see!

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