This post is going up a little later than I originally planned however, just after Christmas I decided to take a social media break and ended up taking the whole of January off as well and I feel a lot better for it.
2021 was one of my best reading years. I managed to read a total of 122 books. Out of the 122 books it was so hard to narrow it down to my favourite books. However, I managed to do it in the end. So without further ado here are 15 of my favourite books of 2021.
The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida – Clarissa Goenawan
“The summer had left Miwako Sumida forever.”
Beautiful, heartbreaking, breath taking, stunning and bittersweet! I read this one back in March 2021 and I still think about it everyday.
Tower – Bae Myung-Hoon (Tr. Sung Ryu)
In life, there are times when one must give something to someone with no guarantee of getting anything in return.
The premise of this book hooked me completely. It comprises of 6 interconnected short stories that are based on a 674 story skyscraper. This book was my gateway into translated science fiction and I cannot wait to read more by this author in the future.
Before the Coffee Gets Cold – Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Tr. Geoffrey Trousselot)
If you could go back, who would you want to meet.
I absolutely adored this one. Before the Coffee gets Cold hit me in more ways than I ever thought it would. I knew I was going to love this book. But I just didn’t realise it would surprising and unexpectedly make me shed tears during a late night reading session.
Strange Weather in Tokyo – Hiromi Kawakami (Tr. Allison Markin Powell)
She just loved the things she loved, and hates the things she hated.
This book was everything I love about Japanese Literature. Strange Weather in Tokyo was my first book by Hiromi Kawakami and quickly made this author an auto-buy author for me.
The Vegetarian – Han Kang (tr. Deborah Smith)
It’s your body, you can treat it however you please. The only area where you’re free to do just as you like. And even that doesn’t turn out how you wanted.
The Vegetarian was a book that really packed a punch! Its such a lyrical book yet it was also perfectly atmospheric and haunting. Ultimately The Vegetarian was devastating, tragic and utterly fascinating!
Sweet Bean Paste – Durian Sukegawa (Tr.Alison Watts)
We were born in order to see and listen to the world.” In the words of the author Durian Sukegawa himself: “It’s a powerful notion, with the potential to subtly reshape our view of everything.
Sweet Bean Paste was such an impactful yet simplistic book which is exactly why I adore Japanese Literature. Apart from being a book lover I’m also a big foodie and this book believe me when I say the food descriptions were equally beautiful and delicious and made me hungry 99% of the time. The power of friendship within Sweet Bean Paste was also absolutely phenomenal.
Heaven – Mieko Kawakami (Tr. Sam Bett and David Boyd)
Something really painful happened to them. Something really, really sad. But know what? They made it through. That’s why they can live in perfect harmony. After everything, after all the pain, they made it here. It looks like a normal room, but it’s really Heaven.
Heaven was a novel that I knew was going to be close to my heart as someone who experienced physical and mental bullying at school from a young age. In so many ways this book broke my heart and in a strange way also mended it at times. Heaven was phenomenal, impactful, unique, devastating and utterly thought-provoking!
Kitchen – Banana Yoshimoto (Tr. Megan Backus)
The night was so deathly silent that I felt I could hear the sound of the stars moving across the heavens. The glass of water soaked into my withered heart.
Kitchen is another book that I literally can’t stop thinking about. The first thought that came to my head when finishing this one was ‘Do you ever have a moment where you pick up the right book at the right moment in your life?’ Well, that’s exactly what Kitchen was for me!
The Cat Who Saved Books – Sosuke Natsukawa (Tr. Louise Heal Kawai)
There are timeless stories, powerful enough to have survived through the ages. Read lots of books like these – they’ll be like friends to you. They’ll inspire and support you.
The Cat Who Saved Books was another book where the power of friendship plays such an important role as well as a Grandchild/Grandfather relationship. If you know me well you will know I absolutely adore stories were there is a Grandfather/Grandchild bond. This novel really conveys a sense of belonging.
A Single Rose – Muriel Barbery (Tr. Alison Anderson)
The world is like a Cherry Tree.
A Single Rose is a lyrical, evocative story that is not only a love story to Japan but it’s also a story that shows the healing power of nature. I ended up reading A Single Rose twice last year and loved it just as much the second time as I did the first time. I was also invited to a Zoom event for this book by the Golden Hare books and it was such an amazing online event with them and the author.
Mary Barton – Elizabeth Gaskell
If you dare to injure her in the least, I will await you where no policeman can step in between. And God shall judge between us two.
I buddy read this one with Matt over @qu.lit and everything about this experience was brilliant. The suspense, the atmosphere, the plot, the characters – I loved it all!
Middlemarch – George Eliot
It was wicked to let a young girl blindly decide her fate in that way, without any effort to save her.
This was another book I buddy read with the lovely Matt over @qu.lit and once again the reading experience was everything! I can honestly say after reading Middlemarch hands on my heart I have fallen in love with George Eliot’s writing.
Dracula – Bram Stoker
I am longing to be with you, and by the sea, where we can talk together freely and build our castles in the air.
This one was most definitely overdue I have loved Vampires since I was a little girl so to go all them years without reading the key Vampire text was mental to me. But I’m so glad I have read it now and that I was worried about not liking it for absolutely no reason because I bloody loved it!
Horseman – Christina Henry
But you don’t really want to be a farmer just like him anymore, do you? You want to ride through the woods under the starlight.
Christina Henry has literally gone and done it again. The Horseman was the perfect dark, intense, atmospheric and jaw dropping sequel to Washington Irving’s classic horror story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. This story was one hell of a ride.
Heroes of Hastovia #3 In Memory of… -Mark Boutros
If the Realm of the Dead were a person, she was that person. Numbing, mysterious, and mostly terrifying.
In Memory of… is the final book in the Heroes of Hastovia Trilogy and it was the perfect conclusion. Even though this was the third book the characters still continued to completely steal my heart.
What books made it onto your 2021 favourite books of the year list?
(cover photo from Unsplash & text added my me).