My 10 Favorite Books of 2021

Now that the new year has begun, it’s time for me to wrap up and tell you about my 10 favorite books of 2021. Actually, there are eleven of them, but one didn’t make it all the way to the photo session.

My reading goal for 2021 was rather ambitious. As I managed to read 50 books in 2020, I thought I’d go wild and crazy and aim for 100 books. Well, to say the least, I grossly overestimated my capabilities. In the end, I landed at a nice 70 books. This (70) is my target for 2022. Before I continue with the list of my 10 favorite books 2021, let me ask you: what was your reading goal for 2021? Did you make it? And what’s your target for 2022? Which was the best book you read last year?

My 10 Favorite Books of 2021

Here it comes, the list of my 10 favorite books of 2021, in no particular order.

  1. You and Me on Vacation (Emily Henry). Who doesn’t love to travel? Especially during these times when travel is less common, it was nice to spend some time visiting different places around the world. The main character comes from a small town and one of the reasons she travels so much is her fear of getting stuck in a tiny place again. For some reason, I could sympathize with this. This is a feelgood book and also the perfect beach read.
  2. Writers & Lovers (Lily King). Lily King is one of my favorite writers and Writers & Lovers is a lot of things at once: dreamy, raw, and beautifully written. The protagonist, Casey, is trying to deal with her mother’s sudden death while trying to hold on to a creative life while all her artist friends switch to more “normal” lives.
  3. 1 % -metoden (James Clear). This is the Swedish version of bestselling Atomic Habits. If you search for ways to change you habits on the internet, you’ll probably come across this book. Yes, it’s good. I think anyone who wants to change their habits should read it, as it has a lot of useful tips on how to start new habits and quit old ones. The core message is that small changes over time will lead to great success.
  4. The Memory Police (Yōko Ogawa). What happens when we start forgetting the meaning of things and objects around us? Science fiction is usually not my cup of tea, but the simplicity and melancholy of this story immediately caught me and I was not able to put the book down before I had finished it.
  5. Malibu Rising (Taylor Jenkins Reid). Malibu Rising was one of the books I knew I had to read as soon as I set my eyes on the cover. It didn’t disappoint. During one disastrous night in Malibu, everything turns into flames and the story that unfolds is one of love, family, hope, fame, and disappointment. This is another beach read!
  6. Beautiful World, Where Are You (Sally Rooney). I’m going to tell you a secret. The people in Sally Rooney’s books are probably the most annoying characters I know. I’m also very much annoyed about the fact that she doesn’t use quotation marks. But she writes well and I must say that she never underestimates her readers. Or maybe she’s just a tad pretentious, who knows. This novel is a modern take on love and relationships. Through letters and conversations, it also deals with a lot of important issues such as the climate, class, and religion. The funny thing about Rooney’s characters is that no matter how annoying they are, they start haunting you.
  7. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Ocean Vuong). The most touching book I read in 2021. This debut novel takes the form of a letter from a son to his illiterate mother. It is deep and it is dark, far from an easy read. The language is poetic, emphasizing the cruelty of domestic violence, war, migration, and addiction.
  8. Mål i mörker (Ricardo Piglia). Does it ever happen to you that you find a random book in your shelves and wonder how come you’ve never read it before? Well, that’s the story of this book. Ricardo Piglia was an Argentine author who was awarded a number of different awards. This book is called Nocturnal Target in English and Blanco nocturno in Spanish. It’s set on the Argentine countryside where a mysterious stranger is killed. Nothing is as it seems as the story begins to unfold. You also learn a bit about agriculture.
  9. Last Night (Mhairi McFarlane). Mhairi McFarlane is one of my favorite writers because her stories are rather happy and cheerful without being stupid and she really knows how to write. Last Night isn’t one of her best books but good enough to make my 10 favorite books of 2021. It also made me want to go to Scotland. I’m already waiting for the next one!
  10. Velvet Was the Night (Silvia Moreno-Garcia). I love books that catch my attention so badly that I stay up all night. They don’t cross my path very often, but this book fits the bill. Set in Mexico City in the 1970s, it’s a whirlwind of gangsters and (anti)heroes, political corruption and a mystery that needs to be solved. Noir at its best!

The Plus One

Those were my 10 favorite books of 2021. However, in the very last few days of the year, I read a book in one sitting and I really feel that I need to mention it here because it might be one of the most important books of last year, at least if you live in Sweden.

In the past few years, the conflicts between different gangs in the Stockholm area have become more and more violent. In Tills alla dör (Until Everybody Dies), journalist Diamant Salihu tries to understand the reasons behind the escalating violence. This book is the voice of teachers, gang members, family, friends, policemen, social workers, and others who are directly involved in or working with these conflicts. The one word that comes to my mind when I want to describe this book is bleak. Yes, the writer does a great job and the writing is good. But the world that he deciphers is indeed bleak and the future doesn’t look particularly hopeful.

Once in a while, we write about books on this blog. Here you can find other posts about the topic >>

Now, let’s get ready for many great reads in 2022. Happy new year!

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