2 Stacks of 5 books - The Flat Share, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, The Midnight Library, The Sight of You, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, The Switch, Ghosts, No Such Thing As Normal, Shagged Married Annoyed
Books

10 Of My Favourite Reads From 2021

When I look back at the amount of books I read in 2021, I’m quite surprised. It felt like I had no spare time on multiple occasions, so how I managed to read a whopping 47 books is beyond me. According to Goodreads, that’s 14,411 pages read. Shiiiit. I’ve been covering my reads in the form of my monthly reading wrap ups, which I’ve really enjoyed writing, and they’ve also helped me to really connect with what I’ve been reading each month. I’m toying with the idea of whether or not to review books individually, or to stick with my monthly wrap up posts, so watch this space while I attempt to make up my mind. Another exciting thing on the books front is that I’ve started my own Bookstagram account – my friend Cheryl introduced me to the world of it and I’ve since become addicted! If you’d like to give it a follow, I’m @amesreadsstuff.

But out of those 47 books, which ones were the best? Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been looking back through my reads from 2021 and put together my top 10 for the year – here’s what I’ve come up with. Just a side note, as you’ll soon see, this list consists solely of books I’ve read in 2021 as opposed to books that were released in 2021 –  just to clear that up!

My Top 10 Reads of 2021 Pinterest graphic

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Cover artwork for The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

TW: Domestic abuse, suicide

One I was late to the party with was The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and oh my god, it was fantastic, hence why it earned the title of my highest rated of 2021. When reclusive Hollywood actress Evelyn Hugo decides she’s ready to tell her story, it’s unknown magazine reporter Monique that she chooses. While Monique can’t fathom why Evelyn has picked her, she still agrees to write the story of her scandalous career and romances. Jenkins Reid paints two contrasting sides of Hollywood – the glitz and the glamour we all see on TV, but most importantly, the darker, twisted side.

There is so much that I loved about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, but in particular, the foreshadowing, the plot twists and the beautiful imagery the author creates were the things I loved the most. It’s powerful, gripping, and if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to put it down.

The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

Cover art for The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

TW: Suicide, depression

Beautifully written, The Midnight Library is a book that I loved every minute of. It tells the story of Nora who, on the night she decides to end her life, is transported to a library full of infinite choices on alternative lives she could live, presenting her with the chance to undo regrets and take roads not travelled. It’s this wonderfully unique story that brings with it some powerful life lessons when it comes to choices and living with regrets – something which, at the time, I needed to read.  

While the main plot point could be triggering for some (while suicide isn’t discussed in too graphic terms, it’s clearly stated how Nora attempts to end her life), I would urge you to give this incredible novel a read if you can. It will stay with you well after you’ve reached the final page, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be wanting to read it again and again.

The Flat Share – Beth O’Leary

Cover artwork for The Flat Share by Beth O'Leary

If you’re a fan of the rom-com genre, you’ll definitely love this one. The Flat Share was my first book of 2021 and it remains one of my favourites from last year. After reading a lot of hype about it I was a little worried that it would be a let-down, but I needn’t have worried. It tells the story of a rather unusual living arrangement between Leon and Tiffy – they share a bed, but because of their jobs, they’ve never met. As things progress you can see where their situation is going, but honestly, I didn’t care. I still didn’t want to put it down and I loved every page. Plus, given that we had just gone back into lockdown, it provided some much-needed lighthearted relief to the shitshow that we were all facing.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Cover artwork for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

TW: Alcohol abuse, self harm, suicidal idealation, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse

Despite it coming out in 2018, I didn’t discover Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine until 2021, and I can see exactly why everyone fell in love with it. Eleanor Oliphant herself is a highly unique and complicated character with a troubled past (which is only revealed in small snippets throughout the novel), and while she can be difficult to like at first, as the story progresses, you can’t help but warm to her.

Her story is one of friendship, kindness and learning to forgive yourself, and while it can be a tough read with some heart-breaking moments, overall, it’s one that I enjoyed from start to finish. I’m just annoyed I didn’t read it sooner!

The Sight Of You – Holly Miller

Cover artwork for The Sight Of You by Holly Miller

Out of all the books I read in 2021, The Sight Of You is probably the one that put me through the emotional ringer the most. If you’re a fan of weepie love stories such as The Notebook, this is one you’ll be sure to love. It tells the story of Joel – who has visions about the future of the people loves, both good and bad – and Callie, who is feeling lost after the death of her best friend. Starting as your typical love story, things are soon compromised when Joel has a vision about Callie. I loved how clever the writing of the book is, because while you’re essentially told what’s going to happen halfway through the book, you’re still kept guessing when it comes to the finer details.

Alongside Joel and Callie’s love story, there’s also a long running theme of letting go of your past and living for today. It had me welling up on multiple occasions and I was so engrossed in the plot that I finished the book in under a week. I bloody loved it.

Shagged Married Annoyed  – Chris & Rosie Ramsey

Cover artwork for Shagged Married Annoyed by Chris and Rosie Ramsey

You don’t even have to be a fan of the podcast either – the book is still a fantastic read alone – although, podcast fans will find plenty of similarities including Chris and Rosie’s bickering (even in book form) and the ever-popular Let’s Talk About Shit section. Don’t ask. Just read the book.

No Such Thing As Normal: What My Mental Illness Has Taught Me About Mental Wellness – Bryony Gordon

Cover artwork for No Such Thing As Normal by Bryony Gordon

Bryony Gordon’s memoir Mad Girl is one of my favourite books of all time, so it’s no surprise that No Such Thing As Normal made my top ten for 2021. With lived experience of mental illness herself, Bryony provides some incredible advice and insight on asking for help and living well with your illness. It’s one of the most informative books on mental health that I’ve read, and the advice she gives is actually realistic. For example, she talks about making simple things like ensuring you eat well and getting enough sleep a priority. Alongside the informative side of things, Bryony also shares her own experiences of mental illness, which instantly makes you feel as though you’re not alone.

I was loving the book to start with, but it was her Brief History of Worries section – where she details some of the irrational and often bizarre thoughts that OCD has caused her to have – that sealed the deal for me. It was honestly one of the most cathartic things I’ve ever read. Where we’re all affected by mental illness in some way or another, this is 100% a book that everyone should read.

The Audacity – Katherine Ryan

Cover artwork for The Audacity by Katherine Ryan

TW: Controlling behaviour, pregnancy loss

2021 was the year that pretty much every comedian released a book, and one of the ones I instantly pre-ordered was Katherine Ryan’s The Audacity. If you’re a fan of Katherine’s stand-up, or her podcast, Telling Everybody Everything, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll love her book. She has some fantastic stories to tell – such as the hilarious time she and her friend auditioned for a Sean Paul music video – from her early days growing up in Canada to her experiences of being a single mother to her daughter, Violet.

Alongside are stories from her career on the comedy circuit to how she reunited with, and subsequently married her high-school boyfriend, all of which are told with the brutal honesty she’s so well known for. What I love the most about The Audacity is that Katherine also gives some great life advice alongside her stories. Whether it’s dealing with toxic relationships or simply learning how to be yourself, she cuts the bullshit and gives it to you straight, and I think it’s a refreshing take on the lessons that young women are taught.

The Switch  – Beth O’Leary

Cover artwork for The Switch by Beth O'Leary

After loving The Flat Share as much as I did, I was really excited to get started on The Switch. While it wasn’t quite as good as its predecessor, The Switch still remains one of my favourite reads of 2021. The story of Leena and her grandmother, Eileen, swapping lives isn’t the most realistic one, but the idea and the antics that follow are highly entertaining. O’Leary has a tendency to write such likeable characters, and I think this is something that makes her books so enjoyable. The Switch is lighthearted, funny, and wonderfully heartwarming, and it’s the perfect choice if you need a bit of a pick me up.

Ghosts – Dolly Alderton

Cover artwork for Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

Dolly Alderton’s debut novel Ghosts is the most recent read on this list, and I feel it was one I picked up at the right time. It follows Nina, a successful food writer in her early thirties, who has pretty much everything she could want –  a new home, her dream job, great friends – but everyone in her life is moving on. Her ex is getting married, her friends are having kids and moving away, and her father is living with dementia while her mother is set on starting her life over. Ghosts explores how our relationships evolve over time, and I found Nina’s place within her friendship group highly relatable. At the same time, it had plenty of humour and heartwarming moments, and I loved the theme of friendship that ran throughout.

What were the best books you read in 2021? What are your suggestions for 2022? Let me know in the comments!

3 thoughts on “10 Of My Favourite Reads From 2021”

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