Favourite books of 2021 📚

Hiya.

What’s the best thing you’ve read this year:

  1. that came out this year?
  2. in general?
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Read: 20 (target 15!)
Favourite 2021 fiction: Detransition, Baby - Torrey Peters
Favourite overall fiction: Station Eleven - Emily St John Mandel
Favourite overall non-fiction: You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat] - Andrew Hankinson
Rubbish: The Beach - Alex Garland

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Gasp!

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my answers would be:

  1. Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan
  2. not sure, maybe also that. also really liked Nomadland by Jessica Bruder
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thanks for the extra info. I read 26 but my target was 40, was on track until about July too

been hearing about that Raoul Moat book for years but always assumed it was a novel

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On book 27, was aiming for anything over 25 so I’m happy with that

Favourite overall would be probably be Station Eleven too, was totally caught up in that whole world and how well she wrote. Big fan

Read precisely one book released this year - Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu. Luckily it was excellent and very close to being my book of the year more generally.

Also read three Chandler novels, so very glad to have finished the Marlowe series finally, after really drawing them out of years previously. Will love to go back and reread them all again within the next year or so

Favourite that came out this year - Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan. Novella from one of my favourite short story writers. Really concise and crisp writing.

In general - Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. Probably the best Pratchett reading experience I’ve had as an adult, really funny and Tiffany Aching is one of his best characters.

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I barely read new books these days lads but good ones I remember:

One of them by Musa Okwonga (about his time at Eton as a black boy on a scholarship), a bunch of Ursula K Le Guin stories that I hadn’t read before, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee was this year I think, liked that a lot, can’t remember anything else new, everything else was a reread :sweat_smile:

Read: 146 books

Favourite 2021 publication: Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith,

blurb

A century of Vietnam’s history and folklore comes to life in this “brilliant, sweeping epic that swaps spirits and sheds time like snakeskin” (Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Survivor Song ).

Two young women go missing decades apart. Both are fearless, both are lost. And both will have their revenge.

1986 The teenage daughter of a wealthy Vietnamese family loses her way in an abandoned rubber plantation while fleeing her angry father and is forever changed.

2011 A young, unhappy Vietnamese American woman disappears from her new home in Saigon without a trace.

The fates of these two women are inescapably linked, bound together by past generations, by ghosts and ancestors, by the history of possessed bodies and possessed lands. Alongside them, we meet a young boy who is sent to a boarding school for the métis children of French expatriates, just before Vietnam declares its independence from colonial rule; two Frenchmen who are trying to start a business with the Vietnam War on the horizon; and the employees of the Saigon Spirit Eradication Co., who find themselves investigating strange occurrences in a farmhouse on the edge of a forest. Each new character and timeline brings us one step closer to understanding what binds them all.

Part puzzle, part revenge tale, part ghost story, this book takes us from colonial mansions to ramshackle zoos, from sweaty nightclubs to the jostling seats of motorbikes, from ex-pat flats to sizzling back-alley street carts. Spanning more than fifty years of Vietnamese history and barreling toward an unforgettable conclusion, this is a time-traveling, heart-pounding, border-crossing fever dream of a novel that will haunt you long after the last page.

Favourite pre-2021 work: Shipwrecks by Akira Yoshimura. Unbelievably bleak tale of life on the margins in feudal Japan, centred around a small coastal community who survive by luring ships onto the rocks and plundering them. Starts out wretchedly miserable, and boy does it get worse by the end.

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These sound interesting and that’s a huge amount of books

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Remember reading a review and being intrigued, going straight on my list now

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Best from 2021 - Piranesi

Best overall - dead heat between The Notebook by Agota Kristof and Tender is The Flesh.

Honourable mentions for Boy Parts by Eliza Clarke.

I finished Infinite Jest this year too.

I’ve always been a fast reader, and plenty of furlough time helped get the number up

Favourite book I’ve read this year was Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (2019). Blew me away.

Think I read only one book which came out in 2021 which was The Fall of Koli by M R Carey so it wins by default but was also the third book in the excellent Rampart Trilogy which started in 2020.

Also really enjoyed Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid (2019)

Oh, The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers was 2021. Stick that in too. Loved that one. So heartening.

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I’ve ‘read’ 47 books this year. Caveat that I didn’t finish two of them - ‘Falling Man’ by Don DeLillo and ‘The Razor’s Edge’ by W Somerset Maugham. I almost reached the finish line but just couldn’t be bothered crossing it with them. I’m not counting Dracula by Bram Stroker because I barely got into it. My lack of patience with Dracula is what caused me to take almost a two month break from reading because I was disappointed with myself. Also, that was around the time that the Euros were happening.

Books from 2021 (again, caveat that some of these might have come out earlier but I just don’t know exactly) that I read: I feel like I can rank these:

1 Jonathan Franzen - Crossroads
2 Kazuo Ishiguro - Klara and the Sun
3 Steven Hall - Maxwell’s Demon
4 Andrzej Tichy - Wretchedness
5 Joshua Ferris - A Calling for Charlie Barnes
6 Charles Yu - Interior Chinatown (I have to admit I liked the idea of this book more than the execution, but it’s a good read.
7 Patricia Lockwood - No One is Talking About This (Didn’t like this one in the slightest)

I think ‘Piranesi’ by Susanna Clarke came out last year, otherwise that would be my number one.

Worth pointing out that I’m halfway through ‘The Every’ by Dave Eggers, which might be fairly high on the list (I’m enjoying it) and on my Christmas reading list I have ‘The Books of Jacob’ by Olga Togarczuk, which I have a feeling will either be my favourite book published this year, or I’ll end up throwing it against the wall, the size of which might cause a load-bearing wall to collapse. I also have ‘The Passenger’ by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz on my list to read before the year is out. Neither of the aforementioned books in this list are 2021 book (‘The Passenger’ was published in 1937 in Swedish (I think) and The Books of Jacob was first published in Poland in 2014) but I wouldn’t have had the chance to read in English until this year so I guess they count?

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that my favourite book that I’ve read this year is ‘The Colour of Memory’ by Geoff Dyer. I honestly can’t remember if I bought this book when I lived in the UK (IE 11 years ago) or if I either bought it online since then, or picked it up on one my brief trips home in the last decade). But it had been sitting on my shelf for absolutely ages, until I had an urge to read a book sent in London. Picked it off the shelf and absolutely loved it. It doesn’t really have a plot, it’s just a series of snapshots of life in London in the late 1980s, almost like Dyer is narrating a series of photographs or commentating on home movies (it’s not that - it’s definitely a novel, but has that kind of spirit) and just did an incredible job of placing me at exactly that place and that time, even though I wasn’t there and then. It was also published in the late 1980s so it also had that sense of nostalgia for the present, rather than the author looking back at a bygone era. Absolutely loved it.

Other books I’ve loved this year:

Kiego Higashino - Malice (this was recommended to me on this forum) absolutely delightful crime thriller that has so many bait-and-switch moments that reminded me of ‘Knives Out’ in that a very detail is revealed early on but the rest of the story plays out in a more of a whydunnit or howdunnit that a whodunnit. I recommended it to my Taggart and Ruth Rendell loving parents, who have since sought out as many other books by Higashino as they can find. I haven’t done so, but will do.

Susanna Clarke - Piranesi (as mentioned above. I love a puzzle-story, and this is up there with the tightest, clockwork (not a criticism) mysteries. Just the best example (this is how I feel, not sure if it’s how Clarke planned it) of a story where I felt the book was written backwards, but you understand it forwards.

Ali Smith ’ The Accidental’ - baffled by the ‘Daily Mail book club!’ recommendation on the cover. Loved how the narrative floated around either giving me too much detail, or not enough.

Daisy Johnson - ‘Fen’ and ‘Everything Under’. The former is just a great example of why a book of short stories is worth the time and effort - just a great case of interconnecting stories which all seem to take place in the same village, without being too ‘Roysten Vasey’ about it. The latter was one of those books where I was a bit ‘Not sure if I can bothered with a Greek myth retelling’ but was really entertaining without really knowing much about the mythology.

Wilkie Collins - The Moonstone - I literally approached this in the same way I did with ‘Citizen Kane’ when I saw that. Like ‘OK, This thing is going to tell me a lot about how plot and language work’ but it’s actually a really entertaining book, and although it’s told in increasingly smaller accounts of what took place, the mystery/crime element is surprising, and there are a good many reasons why it’s classed as a pioneering classic of the crime genre. Just look at the Wikipedia entry for the sheer amount of tropes of crime genre it introduced or reintroduced for a wider audience. Staggering.

W Somerset Maugham - The Moon and Sixpence. Until I struggled through and eventually gave up on The Razor’s Edge I thought this dude might be my new favourite writer. This, and Of Human Bondage are both fantastic. and I’ve ordered a copy of The Painted Veil to try and restore the balance. This is a classic book 'about character x by narrated by character y; like The Great Gatsby etc.

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I finished this last week and agree so hard with this opinion.

Glad you and your parents enjoyed this so much! I’m not as clued in on books as I am with music or movies but I know if I finish one in a matter of days it’s a good one!

She seems great going off her Twitter but I also think this looks way too heavy and so I’ve not got around to getting it. :frowning:

Looks like I read four books published this year:

Detransition Baby
Klara and the Sun
The Appeal
Leviathan Falls

Probably enjoyed Leviathan Falls the most but then it’s the finishing book of The Expanse so it’s hard for others to match up to that.

Probably The Appeal was the book I enjoyed most of the other three although it was tight. It’s a murder mystery told purely over emails and messages (can’t recall the term for that sort of book). It’s cheesy but just very very hard to put down.

Favourite book I read overall this year was probably A Brief History of Seven Killings but I read a bunch of really good stuff

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Read 122 books so far this year. Lockdowns and working from home helps with that massively, but also read one a month for a book group and try to keep up with the Backlisted podcast books as well.

New novel: Small Things Like These - Claire Keegan
Old novel: A Goat’s Song - Dermot Healey
Non-fiction: Albert and the Whale - Philip Hoare

Other new books that almost got my vote for best 2021 release:
My Phantoms - Gwendoline Riley
Under the Blue - Oana Aristide
Klara and the Sun - Kazuo Ishiguro
Sea State - Tabitha Lasley

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