This post includes my 10 favorite books of 2021, so far.
Yes, I know, we`re already at the beginning of August, but better late than never, right? It took me a while to get off my butt and get going, so I finally compiled a list of my top ten favorite books of this year, so far.
As of today, I’ve read 37 books, not including the four I’m currently reading. I would say the majority of them are average, some pretty good, and a couple that I thought I would like but were a flop as far as I’m concerned.
Usually at the beginning of each year, or should I specify, since I’ve discovered Goodreads, I set a goal of how many books I plan to read that particular year. Well, 2020 was not like any other year, and although my challenge was 70 books and in 2019 I have read 81, it was realistic.
But for some reason, especially towards the end of the year, I found myself struggling to get through it and made reading a chore instead of a pleasurable pastime. So this year instead, I decided not to set a goal and see how it goes.
I would say it’s going pretty well considering I’m at 34 books already and it’s the end of July. Pretty much average for me.
Conclusions I’ve come to from my own personal little experiment:
1. I don’t need a specific goal to force myself to read since I really enjoy reading.
2. I actually miss seeing the statistics Goodreads generates and give myself the extra little push to read more.
Yes, I know, it’s a bit contradictory, but that’s just how my brain operates. I want to feel free to do as I please, in this case when it comes to the number of books read. At the same time, I need the motivation, and the challenge of knowing someone or something, in this case, Goodreads, is keeping tabs on me. Weird, right?
Well, that’s me, take it or leave it. Some people might find it endearing, other people annoying, whatever! As I previously mentioned, since I’ve reached my 40s, these things don’t bother me at all anymore. Like me or not, I’m going to live my life as I please.
Now, back to the order of business. Let me talk about my 10 favorite books of 2021, so far.
10. The Gingerbread House – Carin Gerhardsen
An older Scandinavian novel written by author Carin Gerhadsen and published by the same Swedish team that brought us Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. I rounded it off to four stars from 4.25, according to the Goodreads rating system. Unfortunately, there are only three out of the six books in this series translated into North America, so it’s a bit hard to get your hands on the whole series if you get hooked as I did.
The first book introduces Criminal Investigator Conny Sjoberg and his colleagues at the Criminal Division in Stockholm. They are trying to solve a series of murders that target middle-aged people and that seem to be unrelated at first. But once they discover the reason behind these murders things start to make sense. Gerhardsen’s style is vivid and the pace gripping, so you’ll have a hard time putting it down.
9. Fourth Monkey – J.D.Barker
Nicknamed the 4MK Thriller, this is the first book in a three-part series. This time, the three books made my top ten, that’s how much I enjoyed them. The book starts a bit slow, as J.D. Barker sets the stage for a long back-and-forth intricate story that makes you sit on the edge of your seat. I usually have a good idea of where a book is going, but I was way off with this one.
In the first few chapters, the murder of the 4MK brings some relief to the residents of Chicago, who were terrorized by his killings over a period of five years. Detective Sam Porter, the lead investigator of his tea, has doubts,s though, and he is so right. The killer is far from finished, and we soon find that the killer is a devious psychopath that will continue to taunt his victims even from beyond the grave.
This book is 4 out of 5 stars for me.
8. Fifth to Die – J.D.Barker
In part two of this trilogy, a second killer makes his appearance, and detective Sam Porter and his team are trying to find him while still investigating 4MK’s past to get some answers. As the story unfolds, Porter is convinced that he will solve both cases if he gets in touch with the Four Monkey Killer’s mother.
His boss suspends him when he finds out he’s secretly still working a closed case, but he’s following his gut feeling, bringing him to New Orleans. There he discovers the pure evil that brought a serial killer into the world. Also 4 out of 5 stars for me.
7. Monogamy – Sue Miller
As the first novel that I read by this author, I enjoyed it very much. The story is about a couple’s long-lasting marriage and all that comes with it. Meet Graham, a bookseller, and Annie, a photographer.
Theirs is a complicated yet seemingly effortless and happy marriage, but when Graham suddenly dies, Annie discovers some truths about her husband that bring her on a journey of self-doubt and depression. Her friendship with Graham’s first wife and the mother of his son Lucas, Frieda, becomes a great source of comfort to her while she navigates her emotions during these trying times.
It is a compelling novel that brings to the surface many nuances of all relationships, whether between spouses, friends, or mothers and their children.
A 4.25 out of 5 stars for this one.
6. Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
Although not a mind-blowing novel, I did like the ease with which Jalaluddin writes and transports you through the adventures of Ayesha’s quest for meaning in her life. She dreams of being a poet but settles for taking a job as a substitute English teacher in a Toronto high school. Her Muslim family is large and boisterous, and her cousin Hafsa, who is younger than her already got more marriage proposals than Ayesha, who is considered a spinster by some members of her community.
Through some interesting circumstances, she meets Khalid, a very religious and conservative Muslim young man. They are as different as oil and water, but something pulls them together, and they both have to make some choices. Will they follow their hearts or oblige their families’ wishes?
I didn’t really get the reference to the classic Pride and Prejudice it got compared to. I thought it was a light, eye-opening tale of soul-searching and real-life issues some young Muslims that live in North America face every day and still take place in our current society.
It wasn’t a five-star, but at 4.25 I liked it well enough to include it in my top ten.
5. The Sixth Wicked Child by J.D.Barker
In the third and last book that concludes the 4MK series, the twists and turns have you literally going back and forth wondering if you missed something. J.D.Barker wrapped it up cleverly in this riveting conclusion that delves into the sick mind of a psychopathic killer.
Super fast-paced yet complex, the story unfolds in a direction I would’ve never guessed. Once you get to know this killer’s childhood and the reasons behind his killings, a small part of you will try to justify his actions. But then you just feel pure disgust at the ruthlessness with which he committed all his crimes and the lengths he went to cast doubt on the very man who will end up solving this twisted case.
This was very close to a five-star for me, so I rounded it off for a rare five-star on Goodreads.
4. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Wow, how can I describe this novel? Most previous reviews by literally thousands of people categorized this brick as a heart-wrenching, deeply, and profoundly moving book that gets to your very core.
They cannot all be wrong! I fall into that category as well, and although I’m generally a pretty fast reader, I couldn’t handle reading more than a few pages at a time.
The premise of the book seems pretty average: four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to try and get their careers started. The book follows them through decades of challenges, heartbreak, and ambition, but one of the four friends, Jude, is at the center of this novel.
Their relationships are all intermingled and very complex, yet it endures the test of time despite many ups and downs. Definitely recommend it, but I suggest you read it at a time when you’re in a good place mentally, otherwise, it can be pretty difficult to finish.
I rounded it off to four stars on Goodreads, but it’s very close to 5 stars for me. The reason I didn’t give it a five is that I found it was very long. In my opinion, the author probably would have spared us some pain if she cut about 200 pages from it.
3. The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano by Donna Freitas
This book is so important to read as a woman, as it touches a subject that affects our lives and we bear the brunt of it: whether or not to become a mother. I will not go into too many details here because a more in-depth review and topic discussion will soon follow.
Just think about this though: as a woman, the decision to have children is ultimately ours to make. I don’t judge anyone, whether you choose to have children or not. People say that your partner’s opinion and feelings should be taken into consideration and to some extent I agree, but my opinion is really not the point here.
In this book, Donna Freitas shows how any decision Rose makes affects her life and the impact it has on all her relationships. She goes back and forth smoothly throughout the book from each of the nine scenarios she created. In my opinion, she does it beautifully.
The book still has me thinking about it weeks after I’ve finished it, and although I rounded it off to 4 stars, it was more like 4.5 stars for me.
2. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
I recently finished this one, and although it’s still not a five-star, I found myself not being able to put it down.
The book starts with Owen Michaels’s disappearance. His wife Hannah finds a note from him that asks her to protect his daughter Bailey. Everyone thinks Owen disappeared because of some possible fraud at the startup tech company he works for.
Hannah decides to take matters into her own hands and try to clear her husband’s name. But then she discovers the real reason Owen left, and the truth is far worse than she expected.
Without giving away any spoilers, I highly recommend this book. It reads really fast, and the action has you engaged from the first page. I rounded it off to only a four, but it is another 4.5 stars for me.
1. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
And last but not least, my favorite book of 2021 so far. A rare five-star read for me!
I know I’m a bit late to the game because the book was published in 2019, but I’m so glad I finally got my hand on a copy.
I love Makkai’s writing style, as it transcends two storylines that take place in the 80’s Chicago, and Paris in 2015. Her description of the characters and the hard subject the story is based on makes you feel compassion, anger, and disbelief in the face of the AIDS epidemic that took the 1980s Chicago’s gay community by surprise.
The relationships between Fiona and Yale, Richard, her daughter, and the new relationships she develops in Paris are complex and as real as they get. Fiona, who first lost her brother Nico, then subsequently a few of his friends to this virus, is as real as she gets.
You can’t help but feel for her, but will get angry at some of the other characters. Just like in real life, they all have their issues. They try their best to deal with their ups and downs as well as the know-how.
Strongly recommend this book, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Have you read any of these books? If you did, how did you rate them?
Till next time, keep reading my fellow bookworms!