Hello everyone! I hope you are all having an amazing holiday so far, and if you’re in the midst of exams/uni work, I hope you’re doing well and taking breaks! You got this! 🙂
As the title depicts, I will be sharing with you all my favorite books of 2021! I did not read very many books this year (relatively speaking and as compared to previous years), which was a good and somewhat bad thing! The good thing is that I wasted no time putting down books that did not interest me. Instead, I was picky with my reads and read only books that gripped me from the very beginning. That said, a bulk of the books I read were AMAZING. Out of the 14 books I read this year, there are five books in this list (listed in no particular order apart from my favorite book of the year) that made it to my favorites list.
I really want to do the same thing in 2022 where I don’t pressure myself with the number of books I read, and instead be selective with the books that I continue reading each time I pick them up. What do you guys think about this about this? I know there are still a ton of people out there who sets reading goals for themselves every year (which is sooo amazing!), so I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂
Anywho, that’s enough with my reading year reflection. Onto my favorite books of 2021!
1. How Do You Live? By Genzaburo Yoshino
Anime master Hayao Miyazaki’s favorite childhood book, in English for the first time.
First published in 1937, Genzaburō Yoshino’s How Do You Live? has long been acknowledged in Japan as a crossover classic for young readers. Academy Award–winning animator Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle) has called it his favorite childhood book and announced plans to emerge from retirement to make it the basis of a final film.
How Do You Live? is narrated in two voices. The first belongs to Copper, fifteen, who after the death of his father must confront inevitable and enormous change, including his own betrayal of his best friend. In between episodes of Copper’s emerging story, his uncle writes to him in a journal, sharing knowledge and offering advice on life’s big questions as Copper begins to encounter them. Over the course of the story, Copper, like his namesake Copernicus, looks to the stars, and uses his discoveries about the heavens, earth, and human nature to answer the question of how he will live.
This first-ever English-language translation of a Japanese classic about finding one’s place in a world both infinitely large and unimaginably small is perfect for readers of philosophical fiction like The Alchemist and The Little Prince, as well as Miyazaki fans eager to understand one of his most important influences.
This one’s a beautiful coming of age story that’s full of charm. It centres around friendship, science, and humanity. We get a glimpse of the wholesome relationship between a boy and his wise uncle, who writes him invaluable advice about life through letters. Oh, and world-renowned director Hayao Miyazaki has also announced that he will be adapting this novel into a film!!! I cannot wait to see what Miyazaki has in store for us. The books is truly delightful, and so wholesome. I highly recommend it if you feel lost and need a gentle, yet impactful pick-me-up (and perhaps a sprinkle of uncle’s magic and wits)! ❤
2. The Girl and The Galdurian: Lightfall Book 1 by Tim Probert
Deep in the heart of the planet Irpa stands the Salty Pig’s House of Tonics & Tinctures, home of the wise Pig Wizard and his adopted granddaughter, Bea. As keepers of the Endless Flame, they live a quiet and peaceful life, crafting medicines and potions for the people of their once-prosperous world.
All that changes one day when, while walking through the woods, Bea meets Cad, a member of the Galdurians, an ancient race thought to be long-extinct. Cad believes that if anyone can help him find his missing people, it’s the Pig Wizard.
But when the two arrive home, the Pig Wizard is nowhere to be found—all that’s left is the Jar of Endless Flame and a mysterious note. Fearing for the Pig Wizard’s safety, Bea and Cad set out across Irpa to find him, while danger fights its way out of the shadows and into the light.
Will these two unexpected friends find the beloved Pig Wizard and prevent eternal darkness from blanketing their world? Or has Irpa truly seen its last sunrise?
This is the first graphic novel I’ve ever picked up and it became a fast favorite! I have a whole review of it here, but essentially it is a beautiful tale of a girl and her travel companion who are off on a quest to find her missing grandfather, to which they discover some secrets along the way. The art is breathtaking, with lots of beautiful autumnal themes and warm colors to depict the richness of the world that the author has created (literally and physically!). The anxiety representation is incredible, and the overall story is just so fun and pure. I wish I savored it more.. I really tried my best, but I absolutely devoured it at the end. A fantastic, beautiful, and wholesome read overall. I am so excited for the sequel!
3. The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang
When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.
This is a pretty recently finished book (to which I have written a book review for here as well. Please note the abundance of trigger warnings that I’ve pointed out within the linked review), and one that I undoubtedly love to bits. This book gripped me from the very beginning. It is intense and unflinching… which is one reason why I think it was such a fast-paced read for me. I literally could not turn those pages fast enough, and every time I pick it up after putting it down for a week or so, its pace just picks up immediately. This is precisely why the book made it to this list. It’s hard for a book to grip me for a long amount of time nowadays due to my short attention span, so for a book to be able to intrigue me at any moment within the story is a clear winner for me. I love literally every second of this book.
4. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.
Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.
One of my favorite audiobooks ever. Love, love, love every second of it. The narrator is the author himself, and he did such an AMAZING job bringing his own story to life. I love the way he explored apartheid, his childhood, and his pathway to becoming the person that he is today through a tone that is hilarious, witty, impactful, and sad all at the same time. You learn so much, and there is not a dull moment in this book. This is the perfect book for if you’re in a slump (or not.. it’s the perfect book to pick up anytime really!). It’s memorable, brilliant, and entertaining. Love it.
5. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
This favorites list is not supposed to be in any particular order, but The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is hands down my favorite book of the year. It’s the kind of book that makes you lose track of time. I remember just plopping down on my bed with my head buried deep in the pages of this book without even realising that 2 hours has passed and I have read 150+ pages. I also successfully read the book without looking at my phone once in those 2 hours, which is sadly very rare for me to do when I read books nowadays… anyway, no other book has had that effect on my since my peak reading days (which probably dates back to 2014-2015.. yikes..). That said though, the book is electrifying and magnetic.. it grips your attention from page one and does not let go. It’s dramatic, sexy, and so fleshed out. You would find yourself second guessing whether or not Evelyn Hugo and her husbands are real or not. It’s bold and, at times, intensely painful to read.. you just go through so much with the characters. It’s a rollercoaster ride of emotions, and overall one of the best books I have ever read.
And that concludes my favorite books of 2021 list! Did you see any of your favorites? What are some of your favorite book of this year?
I hope you all have the most amazing 2022. Here’s to a gentle new year filled with delightful books ❤ Take care, and happy new year!