I dissociate from real-world problems with fictional universe problems, we all know this. So it should come as no surprise to you that I smashed my reading goals for 2021. I didn’t quite read as much as 2020, given that the country opened up for the summer, and we got 3 doses of the Covid vaccine before the year was out. That being said, I did diversify by “reading” to audiobooks this year, my addiction to stories sated once more.
A quick shout out to Leeds Libraries – I cannot explain enough how fantastic it feels to finally be a member of a local library and to live somewhere long enough to actually make use of it!
Here’s a quick snapshot of what I read in 2021.
Top Books Of 2021
Picking the best from this list is hard, as always! Haters will say it’s cheating but I’ve taken the easy way out by choosing the best of a genre, instead of choosing the best of the best.
I first watched this show in 2020 and absolutely loved it. So when it appeared in the Library as an audiobook, I simply had to borrow it. It is easily one of the best stories I’ve read this year, challenging the horror genre and making it more inclusive. If you haven’t read this book or watched the show, I’d encourage you to do both!
I have to admit that the cover of this book is what drew me to this read. It is a very heartwarming read about misunderstood and utterly charming characters, finding your reason for being, and tonnes of magic and fantasy. If you’re looking for a feel-good read in the fantasy and/or YA genre, this is LOVELY!
I was a fan of Japanese Breakfast before I heard of this book. Tbh, I would’ve picked this book up just from the cover. This memoir really hit home about the struggle of identity for an immigrant where language and culture is out of reach, but food is what keeps you close to what seems out of reach. This is Michelle’s story of growing up biracial in America, trying to not lose her Korean connections, her relationship with her mother, and how Japanese Breakfast came about. It made me cry, and has easily been on the top 3 of my reads this year.
My sister gave me this book a while ago, and I left it on the shelf assuming it’s some sort of fat people self-help book. But this truly helped me unlearn a lot of my thoughts re: body and abelism. It isn’t a body positivity book. It is a revolutionary book about understanding how your body works, your sexuality, your gender identity, your health, and what role community places in it. I would recommend this to every person who has a body. If you don’t, I’m sure you’ll still find something to takeaway from this.
This was my first ever Manga, and first ever digital one. As all traditional Japanese Manga, this book reads from back page to front so it goes against all regular book reading instincts. I really enjoyed that and the artwork. Although not my most favourite plot, I really enjoyed reading it and also the mad details in each panel. I will hopefully pick up more this year and became part of the fandom. Who knows!
I didn’t think that I would enjoy a graphic novel about a college ice hockey team. But I did. And then I went on to read the sequels. Designed and written by a black Texan woman, this book was published thanks to a Kickstarter campaign. If that’s not the most wholesome thing you’ve heard, then you’re on the wrong part of the internet for a pandemic year!
I love children’s books but if anyone asks, I have niblings whose books I
steal borrow 🙂
The Boy In The Cupboard is an LGBT+ children’s story about a boy who loves playing dress up in the cupboard. It is published by Gaysi Family and Lettori Press, an independent and progressive publishing house that is telling diverse Indian Stories. I had to snap this up for my nibling, but not without first reading it myself.
Zoey and Sassafras is a STEM-based adventure series of a girl named Zoey and her cat Sassafras. I first saw this book on holiday with my nibling. The book was literally unputdownable aka she was even reading it while WALKING to a restaurant for a meal. I’m happy to announce, she has good taste!
This audiobook was an eye-opener and a crash course in what it is to be Black and British, and the unique privileges and problems that come from it. She asks deep questions about what it means to be black, how class affects being a person of colour, and what defines being “British”.
This was one of the most bizarre and hilarious Audiobook I have ever listened to. Interspersed with stories from his own life, Richard Ayoade reviews the 2003 movie View From The Top starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark Ruffalo. I didn’t know how much I needed this till I listened to it. I hope there’s more to come.
Books By Indian Authors
Being raised with an English book reading habit, I’ve found over the years that in my growing up, I read a lot of what the industry pushed as the epitome of good writing. As a literature student, this habit continued. But, I have made a conscious effort over the last decade, and especially over the last 3 years to diversify my reading and re-consider what is “good”. In that attempt, I have reconnected with beautiful Indian literature, as well as some contemporary Indian authors I’ve truly enjoyed reading. These were my favourites from the year.
This is one of those surreal, magic-realism books but set in a fictionalised village in Tamil Nadu. It feels a bit folklorist and is about how an old couple receives an orphan kid (of the goat variety). Being very different to all other goats, through her eyes, you reflect on ownership, society, desire, and love. Through the story, you also hear a commentary of our times, and how writers and artists are being suppressed by governments worldwide. The emotions are so strongly expressed, I was sad for all animals in captivity for a great many months.
I never knew Nitin in his lifetime but I have known of him and how profoundly he’s touched the lives of those around him. So when this book of his unfinished writings came out, I had to read them immediately. The book is named after a story called Bekkina Gudda that he wrote exactly a year before he passed. It is a book of short stories set in India and with an intense flavour of magic realism and folklore. It is available on your Kindle Store and is only 186 pages. If you read anything in 2022, let this be it.
2022 Book Intentions
I started 2022 by asking my Instagram friends and followers to suggest books for me to read. These filled out faster than I had expected, but it gave me a list of books I wouldn’t normally have touched. So my theme for 2022 is to try books and genres I wouldn’t normally have even considered. And also to include at least a couple of long-form books or series.
One of my favourite local bookshops in Bangalore also put up their own reading challenge. I might pick a few books that ticks these categories when I am stuck for what to read next.
What are your reading goals for 2022? Any books you’re dying to read? Any from this list you’d like to give a go? Let me know.
Until then, happy 2022 my lovelies!