Favourite Books of 2021 / Books I read in January 2022

Is it February of 2022 and I’m only just posting this? Yes, that’s right, and it’s been several months since my last post. All of this is irrelevant, please enjoy the post regardless.

Favourite Books of 2021

I had less-than-average reading years in 2019 (14 books) and 2020 (5 books), so I was happy that midway through the year I started to enjoy reading again. I ended up reading 28 books! A lot of them were great, but I’ve narrowed it down to five favourites. Check out the 28 books I read here.

The Queen’s Gambit by Tevis Walter
Rating: 5 stars

The Queen’s Gambit is about a young chess prodigy who discovers her love for chess while living in an orphanage. The orphanage forces her to take tranquillisers, which is the beginning of a drug and alcohol addiction that continues into adulthood.

I read The Queen’s Gambit because I watched the miniseries and loved it. It is a very good show and translated to the screen amazingly. The book is also fantastic – the writing was astounding and eloquent. Beth was a remarkable protagonist; her love for chess was strong through the pages.

It only took me a few days to read and even though I knew the story very well from watching the show, I was still hooked. It is just a great story, I really loved it.

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Rating: 5 stars

Red, White & Royal Blue is a very addictive romance between an English prince and the son of the US president. They initially loathe each other, but then begin a secret love affair.

I read this book earlier in the year after seeing it raved about many times on TikTok. I think it’s a very strange book to read post-2020, because most of it is set in 2020. The characters are very likeable and the romance in the book is strong. One of the only things I didn’t like was how cheesy it was, as I found the ending predictable. Aside from that, it was a heartfelt, entertaining read.

Normal People by Sally Rooney
Rating: 5 stars

Normal People follows Marianne and Connell, two students from a small town in Ireland. Their story begins in high school, when Marianne is a loner and Connell is popular. Their social status gets in the way of their love affair and over the years they continue to see each other during separate points in their lives.

Normal People is a raw and thought-provoking romance. It reads like literary fiction and invites you to think about love and life more critically than a typical romance. The beginning was masterfully written and captured my attention immediately. I resonated with Marianne and then, after a while, I resonated with Connell. As the book went on I felt more connected to Connell but still enjoyed reading from Marianne’s perspective. These characters are very original and I feel like I haven’t read characters like these before. The premise is so simple yet worked really well because the writing flowed well and the characters had interesting thoughts and experiences.

Becoming by Michelle Obama
Rating: 5 stars

Becoming is a memoir by Michelle Obama and it’s the only non-fiction book on the list. It’s also the only non-fiction book I read in 2021. I didn’t expect the book to be so captivating and enthralling. Her life before Barack was so interesting – she grew up in Chicago and had a very wholesome family and upbringing that was mixed with living on a low income and racial injustice. Her writing about her time in the White House felt like a random citizen being told they were now living in a castle. It was pretty cool. I also learned a lot from her – what a great role model she is.

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney
Rating: 5 stars

Conversations With Friends is about a woman named Frances and her friend, who used to be her girlfriend, and their relationship with an older, married couple.

Sally Rooney is a new favourite author. She has an incredible writing style; her prose draws me in, even when nothing is happening. I read this after Normal People and that book was unflawed in my opinion while I did have a few gripes with this book (i.e., unlikeable characters). However I just totally admire Rooney’s writing and feel so inspired as I read. I also read her latest release, Beautiful World Where Are You, this year and thought her first two books were her best. My favourite is Normal People, though I still loved Conversations With Friends.

Books I read in January 2022

Thankfully I have been keeping up with my reading habits and in January I read three books. They were all pretty enjoyable!

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
Rating: 5 stars

Last Night at the Telegraph Club was my first read of 2022 and also my favourite book of the month.

I wasn’t sure I’d like this book because it’s categorised as YA and I’m not as much of a YA reader anymore but I think I enjoyed it so much because the writing is very mature. The descriptions of the settings were so realistic and captivating, and I never found myself skimming over them.

The characters felt real, and it was a story that definitely could have happened during 1950s San Francisco. The history aspects were very well fleshed out. I liked the story too, which added an overall sense of dread to the narrative as I read, and it was very tense towards the end. It’s a 400-page book but it didn’t feel like it! 

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
Rating: 4 stars

Yes, I read this because of the hype. It was a good romance, which is sometimes hard to find. There were times where I was getting really invested with the characters and their shenanigans. The story bordered on far-fetched at times. It kind of felt like putting a silly, quirky storyline in a serious setting, like a university, which is where it is set.

The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Rating: 3.5 stars

I can understand why this book is so highly rated. The main character, Selin, is an intellectual person attending Harvard, and provided the reader with many insights to ponder. She meets a lot of people, who share their wisdom, and I found myself learning a lot while reading.

I enjoyed the first half of the book, which took place during Selin’s first year at Harvard. Not much happened but it was nice to read. The scenes were very quick and time passed quickly, so scenes were like little snippets of her life. Where the book started to lag was the second half, when it’s summertime for Selin. There’s no more Harvard life until the next semester, and she *idiotically* goes to Hungary to teach English. This part wasn’t as exciting, or as interesting as Harvard, and I started to think a lot of it was unnecessary. I really think a lot of it could have been cut.

Overall, I’ve had a good time reading.

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