2021 was a great year of reading for me. I really hit a great stride with my reading and the books I came across. Like my reading in 2020, I read a fair bit of poetry and discovered some new writers who I already have a list of their books that I want to read for 2022. I definitely delved into a lot of works other than plain old fiction which I am proud of and think I did a really good job of not only hitting my (altered) reading goal of 50 books, but surpassing it by doing 52 – proud bookworm!
So without further ado, these were my reads of 2021…
the princess saves herself in this one, Amanda Lovelace: I loved this book. It is the first Lovelace work I have read and the first in the Women are Some Kind of Magic trilogy. I went into the details a bit more here.
Burning the Books: a History of Knowledge Under Attack, Richard Ovenden: I mentioned this at end of last years reading list – it was a granddad-recommendation and was a really interesting read. I thought it would be good but I didn’t anticipate just how much I would enjoy it which was a pleasant surprise.
The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern: Ugh, this book. I have done a book review here on this one so you can read a bit more detail about it and my thoughts over there but I will just say this book for me was a bit of a let down. There were elements I loved and then ones that just didn’t work for me which was a little disappointing considering The Night Circus is one of my all-time favs.
The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One, Amanda Lovelace: This book is the second in the Women are Some Kind of Magic trilogy and it was both my favourite and least favourite in the trio. I’ve gone into it in more detail here but briefly, while I loved the female empowerment in it it sometimes overstepped that boundary line into ‘man-hating’ which I’m not a fan of.
The Binding, Bridget Collins: A huuuuge let-down and just overall disappointment. This book had been hyped up to be something that it just weren’t for me but I do have a post coming out soon which goes into the details in more depth.
The Mermaids Voice Returns in This One, Amanda Lovelace: The third in the Women are Some Kind of Magic trio and yes, it’s also detailed in this post here with the other two. While I enjoyed this last instalment to the trio, I would say that I wasn’t as connected to this material as the other two and that definitely clouded my enjoyment of it slightly.
Falling Toward the Moon, R.H. Sin & Robert M. Drake: I enjoyed this second collab but nowhere near as much as the first one, Empty Bottles Full of Stories. It just didn’t seem to be as poignant as the first and definitely stayed on the surface level for me rather than delving into deeper thoughts and feelings.
The Timekeeper, Mitch Albom: This was a good read, a bit of a slow-burner and a bit choppy at times with the pacing but it still made for a good read. It followed three storylines connected by time and the timekeeper, and just held so many nuggets of wisdom that made you stop, think and feel throughout.
September Love, Lang Leav: Beautiful -yet another amazing addition to Lang Leav’s catalogue of published works. Her words are eloquent and personal but yet relevant and relatable. I can’t wait to read more of her work in the future.
2am Thoughts, Makenzie Campbell: This was okay-sh. It had some relatable and interesting entries to it but as a whole was a collection of one-liners and sentences strung together haphazardly rather than thought-out poetry.
within these four walls, mindfully Evie: This was a tough read for me at times. I went into it in more depth in this post here. As someone with the same diagnosis as Evie at times her writing stepped over into the ‘sh!t this is a bit too real for me‘ area and reading is a form of escapism for me, so it probably wasn’t the most enjoyable however I think it would be a great read for anyone. I would especially recommend this to those who are family members of a chronically-ill person because it would truly be enlightening for them.
The Dance of the Serpents, Oscar de Muriel: Right lets try not to overwrite this absolute gem of a book… Now, I have a book post here reviewing it in more detail but all I will say here is 5/5 stars from me. The ending messed with me a little but it didn’t take any enjoyment away from my experience of this book. I cannot wait until the seventh and final book to series (for now) comes out in February this year (…just realising that is next month -eeep!).
The Favourite: Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, Ophelia Fields: a very informative and well-researched read but it was quite stiff and dragged in large areas. It was also a bit too long for my liking. There were times when I thought I was reading something that was relevant to what comes next but in reality it was just more information in case you wanted it. I had to finish this through audible or I just wouldn’t have finished it.
break your glass slippers (you are your own fairy tale), Amanda Lovelace: Ugh, this book. This is the first in Lovelace’s you are your own fairy tale trio and this has to be, hands down my favourite of her works. It absolutely oozes female empowerment throughout with its consistent use of fairy tales, princesses and the reoccurring use of fairy godmother says. This is a wonderful start to Lovelace’s new trio.
Long Live the Queens: Mighty, Magnificent and Bloody Marvellous Monarchs History’s Forgotten, Emma Marriott: This book is mentioned in my Favourite Historic Reads Lately post and has a lot more detail about it there. I did enjoy this book. It’s very much like What Would Boudicca Do? (detailed in my Mistresses of Cliveden & Other Historic Great Reads here) with the same short, easy-to-read chunks of info and even some cross-overs with the ladies involved except Long Live the Queens is strictly Queens.
Intimations: Six Essays, Zadie Smith: a bit of an impulse buy at the Waterstones check out but what a wonderful impulsive buy it was! Absolutely beautiful collection of writing full of little vignettes from throughout 2020. Really quite stunning and I thoroughly enjoyed the process of reading it. I went into more detail about it in this post here.
Pandora’s Jar: Women in the Greek Myths, Natalie Haynes: An interesting read but somewhat too academic for my liking. I did enjoy some chapters more than others and went through it all here, in this post.
Twilight, Stephanie Meyer: ugh. a reread and total journey of nostalgia but so so good. Sometimes it’s just good to reread certain books – this took me back to when I first read it, as a twelve-year-old girl trying to fit into secondary school whilst also trying to figure out if I was team Edward or team Jacob.
New Moon, Stephanie Meyer: another reread of course. I actually have the LP of the movies soundtrack which I absolutely love so I did crack that out whilst reading a few times.
No Shame, Tom Allen: This book was brilliant. I would say it’s up there with my favourites this year and I even had to get it on audible too just to hear Tom Allens voice narrate his hilarious words to me. It was so insanely good and beyond hilarious! Ugh, I could talk forever about this book but I’ll just redirect you to this post here where I got to gush about it a bit more.
The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern: Another reread but at this point I think I revisit this book annually now. It’s my absolute favourite and I don’t think I will ever get tired of its magic (post here).
I hope you stay, Courtney Peppernell: As you’ll go on to read, I have really enjoyed and fallen in love with Peppernell’s work this year but this one wasn’t as enjoyable as the others I have read. I would still recommend it but it just wasn’t my favourite.
shine your icy crown, Amanda Lovelace: A good second book to the new trio, you are your own fairy tale, but not groundbreakingly impressive. Having said that, this also had the same sense of female empowerment and unity as break your glass slippers; I especially liked the Big Sister Says pieces.
Make Your Bed; small things that can change your life and maybe the world, Admiral William H. McRaven: a reread but still as poignant as my first read. This was enjoyable and gave me a bit of an oomph that I needed around a certain part of the year.
Where hope comes from; poems of resilience, healing and light, Nikita Gill: While there were some gems in this one, I felt like I weren’t ready for this book. It has a lot of pieces wrote and inspired by 2020 and the pandemic that were absolutely beautiful but also heartbreaking; and a bit too familiar and recent for me to enjoy. I went into more detail about this one here.
The Virago book of wicked verse, Jill Dawson: a total fluke of a find (I stumbled upon this at a secondhand bookstore) and a total gem it is. A great collection of poetry from wonderful women.
Pillow Thoughts II: Healing the heart, Courtney Peppernell: Not quite as good as the first Pillow Thoughts book but it did have some beautiful pieces and themes to it which I really enjoyed.
Pillow Thoughts III: Mending the Mind, Courtney Peppernell: This is where my enjoyment and love for Peppernell’s work really picked up and gained traction. She just has such a way with her words, both depicting and conjuring emotions which is really quite a beautiful process to read.
The Road Between, Courtney Peppernell: I enjoyed this book but I think I enjoy the Pillow Thoughts series much more. I did like how this was sectioned into chunks that related to nature though.
Queens: 3,000 years of the most incredible women in history, Victoria Crossman: This one is probably targeted towards a younger demographic than me but I still did really enjoy it. I especially loved how it factored in mythical queens and indigenous chiefs such as Biawacheeitchish but I went into this all in my post here.
The Truth About Magic, Atticus Poetry: Some nice pieces but not up there with my favourites of the year. I would definitely revisit this in the years to come though – it seems like a body of work that would age well.
The Crossroads of Should and Must, Elle Luna (reread): I revisited this book alongside doing a Skillshare course by Elle Luna which made it all the more enjoyable to read.
Tales of the Jazz Age, F. Scott Fitzgerald: A nice collection of some of Fitzgerald’s shorter fictional works. The Tale of Benjamin Button was included which was a really great read, especially given that I had only ever seen the film before.
Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury: ugh. so. bloody. good. I do have a post coming out with all my thoughts about this beautiful book. It was so much more than I could have ever expected and I anticipate it will be an annual autumn read for me from here on out.
Poems Dead and Undead (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets Series) by Tony Barnstone, Michelle Mitchell-Foust and various poets: a collection of spooky poems by poets, both known and unknown to me and from a variety of centuries which made it more of an interesting read.
Christmas Light: Ten Poems for Dark Winter Nights by Various Authors, Candlestick Press: a quick, but festive read from Candlestick Press – I mentioned it here, in my Christmas Reads for this Season.
Lamentation, C. J. Sansom: a recommendation from my grandfather. This is the sixth in the Shardlake series (I think) but I had no previous reading or knowledge of that fact. It was a slow burner but had so many plot twists and was a really great historical fiction read.
A Family Under the Christmas Tree, Terri Reed: I mentioned this book in this post and also gave it it’s own review here so I don’t want to repeat myself but I will say that I enjoyed the festive and romantic vibes it gave off.
Shy: How Being Quiet Can Lead to Success, Annie Ridout: I am currently working on a post dedicated to this book. While there was some surface-level stuff in this, it also had so much great information and gems of advice that I really want to highlight and share so stay tuned for that!
Poems for Christmas, (Macmillan Collector’s Library), Various Authors: a beautiful little collection of cozy poems for the Christmas period. I was surprised by the amount of hymns and carols included in its print but of course a lot of songs come from written poetry. I touched on this here.
7,300 Days, Isabella Mente: some beautiful pieces on depression and self-love but outweighed by traumatic and somewhat over-sexualised poetry for my own personal taste. My copy was also a used one with musings scribbled in pencil by the previous owner which made my reading so much more magical.
Magic Lessons, Alice Hoffman: This was an okay-ish read. It had elements that I really loved but there were other parts of the plot line that I could not get on board with at all. I haven’t read the four books that come after this though so maybe I’ll give those a go.
Introducing Marx, Rius: Having visited Highgate Cemetery (post to come!), my grandfather lent me this utter gem. This was such a great read! I felt so enlightened after reading this.
The Space Between Us: Poetry & Prose, Courtney Peppernell & Zack Grey: ugh. This book was amazing. I don’t know how I have never read any of Zack Grey’s work before but I need to get my hands on more of his stuff pronto! I will be going into this more in an upcoming post but it was amazing.
“Why is This Night Different from All Other Nights?” (All The Wrong Questions #4), Lemony Snicket: a long-awaited read of mine – the fourth and final in the All The Wrong Questions series. This is more in the children’s literature demographic but my A Series of Unfortunate Events nostalgic heart had to give this series a read. It wasn’t the ending that I wanted but it was definitely good to tie up loose ends and complete the series.
The Purple Palace and Other Poems, Shayna Klee: Not what I expected – and we’ll leave it at that.
The Society of the Crossed Keys: Selections From the Writings of Stefan Zweig, Inspirations for the Grand Budapest Hotel, Stefan Zweig, Wes Anderson & Anthea Bell: An anthology of pieces by Stefan Zweig, the writer whose pieces inspired Wes Andersons Grand Budapest Hotel – a personal favourite of mine. I will be going into this in more detail in an incoming post but it was very obvious to me what elements Anderson drew on the most for the film.
*Only Dull People are Brilliant at Breakfast, Oscar Wilde: a neat collection of the witticisms of Wilde and all that he embodied. A great little edition to keep on your person for light reading here and there. This was completed a few days into the new year so it is technically for next years list (oops) but I did start it this year.
*A Dance with Dragons 1: Dreams and Dust (A Song of Ice and Fire #5), George R. R. Martin: I started this book at the beginning of the year and I’m still yet to finish it – I know, it’s awful of me. I even got the audible to try make it more accessible and have less of an excuse not to read it but here we are so clearly that didn’t work out as planned. I will say that I am in the last quarter of it so you know, not far off but I really wanna get this done for 2022… and part 2!
I think for 2022 I want to read more books like Shy, the type of ones that help you grow and evolve a bit more but I would also love to read more informative, reference books. I already have a few to hand ready like this Art Nouveau one (I’m seeing the Klimt Immersive experience in August – covid permitting, so this will be a perfect read beforehand) and I also have a book called Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures & Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs which yes, I know sounds (and looks) weird but having read the first few pages already sounds absolutely fascinating so I cannot wait to devour that. I’m now wondering if I should write a To Be Read post… we’ll see. Anyways, I hope you all had a good year – particularly with your reading, watching, or whatever your thing is!
Cheerio for now!