Happy New Year readers! (belatedly) It’s finally time for me to reveal my
. I really struggled to compile this list because 2021 was an altogether spectacular reading year for me, (with the odd bad egg). But overall my firm approach to DNFing meant that I was able to read more great, gush-worthy books and even exceed my reading goal of 100 books for the year. I’ve also included a few honourable mentions, so make sure you keep reading until the end to find out what they are. These books have each impacted me greatly and will stay in my mind for a long time. I hope you enjoy reading this post and are encouraged to give these books a read! Top 10 Favourite Books of 2021
Also please make sure you keep reading until the end of the post to respond to my contact box!
A quick look back at 2021 in photos
In 2021 I turned 30, met some of my favourite authors, read some amazing books, grew my Booktube channel, made some new friends and discovered some new places. Here’s to another great year!
photo captions from left to right, top to bottom:
Photography from the book The Art of Making Memories by Meik Viking, me holding a copy of the book Black Joy, me and a friend visiting the bookshop Gay’s The Word in Euston – London, my fantasy bookshelf, some manga books, me and Cherie Jones (author of How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House) at the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021 reading/book signing event, me holding an open book with two bookmarkers, me holding books in a Waterstones store, me and a friend meeting Bernadine Evaristo – Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021 Chairwoman and author of Mr Loverman, inside Daunt Books bookshop in Marylebone – London, pile of all my favourite books of 2021.
Natives is a non-fiction cum memoir book that looks critically at the state of lingering racism and racial inequality that continues to persist in the U.K…a crucial book that anyone who claims to care about human rights should read.
How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is an audacious debut novel, set in Baxter’s Beach, Barbados. It starkly depicts the stories of those people living on the jagged edges of Paradise. For readers that struggle with books that are slow burners at the beginning, this book does get much better if you stick with it and the payoff is well worth it. I loved the dauntless, unwavering nature of this book.
A Decolonial Feminism is a robust, sweeping collection of essays which despite its small size (under 100 pages) offers a panoramic view of what constitutes ‘decolonial feminism,’ a movement that encompasses a vast range of social issues. This book is crucial for helping all those truly committed to the feminist cause to reimagine society, completely unbound by the shackles of modern-day colonialism.
Stay with me is the gut-twisting debut novel about the intense tribulations of motherhood, as told through the story of Yejide. Her story coincides with the military regime of 1980s Nigeria. Stay with me is about loss, severed relationships, regret and the chance for redemption in the face of flawed humanity. Adébáyò’s writing perfectly captures the acuteness of Yejide’s suffering as well as the other characters, their anger and guilt and pain. The dialogue was superb. I have to praise the excellence of Adjoa’s Andoh’s narration of the audiobook. She gave a truly heartfelt performance.
These Women is a crime thriller for the modern-day. It focuses on a serial killer case in South L.A., where victims are mostly female sex workers. Pochoda excels at creating intuitively thoughtful POV perspectives that make you empathise with the characters. These Women is a far-reaching book with a powerful feminist voice.
This razor-sharp domestic thriller is about a 17-year-old Asian senior called Kamram, who attends the very affluent Hampton’s college for boys. After his weekend plans get cancelled, he ends up staying on campus and attending an alcohol-fuelled party with his friends. In his inebriated state, Kamran is raped by one of his peers and battles over whether to report the incident to police. Truth be Told isn’t just a brilliant story, it is also a denouncement of ‘the cage’ of hypermasculinity, the stigma of male rape and the devastating effects that come with the fear of having one’s sexuality outed.
Black Joy – Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff & Timi Sotire
Black Joy is a collection of essays which express the many ways in which Black people can find joy in spite of the relentless racial challenges and othering that typically signifies our experiences. From essays about revolutionising the way we perceive masculinity to Carnival to Caribbean food to creating spaces for Black people to enjoy cultural expression, these essays discuss how Black Joy can either be a deeply personal or collective experience.
Home Fire is a searing book told in multiple POVs. It is set in the working class London neighbourhood where orphaned siblings, Isma and the much younger twins Aneeka and Parvaiz have to deal with the daily stresses of being Muslim, especially given the legacy of their jihadi father. I thought this book was intense, sentient and remarkably written.
Sister Outsider represents the very best of feminist literature. It includes a collection of essays, speeches and interviews that are timeless, quotable and fiercely inspirational.
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Barrington Jedidiah Walker aka Mr Loverman is a smooth, sauve and extremely dapper gentleman who brings the Carribbean spice of Antigua to Hackney in South London. Now as a retired pensioner, Barry faces the damning internal conflict of facing up to who he really is and following through on his plans to divorce his wife and live the rest of his years with his lover, Morris. Evaristo gave me zestful, flavoursome writing and hilarious tongue-in-cheek banter that left me just as smitten as Barry and Morris are with each other.
The Codes of Love is about the power play between a wealthy middle-aged married couple, Ryan and Emily. They have an open marriage arrangement which Emily believes is the secret to a long-lasting marriage without the strain disillusionment and Ryan decides to go along with. But the tightly woven fabric of their arrangement begins to fray once Ada comes into their lives. Her carefree and slightly mysterious nature exerts a pull on Ryan and Emily that neither of them can resist. I thought it was a darkly delicious debut! home body – rupi kuar
An unforgettable collection of poetry; it was heartbreaking, cutting, sensuous and spiritual. rupi kaur is beautifully simplistic with her poetry that embraces femininity and womanhood. I thoroughly loved reading the sun and her flowers and this book did not disappoint!
Open Water – Caleb Azumah Nelson
Now this is my kind of love story! It follows a young Black couple, both of whom are artists, trying to navigate love and relationships in a society rife with racial complexities. It was tender, it was vulnerable, it was boundary-pushing, sentient poetry! Yes, the writing style and the structure of the narrative is very peculiar BUT I love the rule-bending nature of it, I love how the narrative challenges traditional storytelling.