7 Books I read in 2021 that I highly recommend (plus one honorable mention!)
I read 22 books in 2021. Here are my top 7 picks for books of the year (in no particular order) from my personal reading list (these books were not necessarily published in 2021):
1) Malice (The Kyoichiro Kaga Series, 1) by Keigo Higashino was definitely one of the best mystery books I read in 2021, and I read it super fast! Published in 2015, it's a true page-turner set in Japan. This murder mystery involves two writers who have known each other since childhood. What I loved about this book is the suspenseful atmosphere, the psychological twists, and the simple elegance of the writing. Find out more about the book here.
2) Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha is a suspenseful gem set in Los Angeles and based on true events. Published in 2019, the book examines the aftermath of a shooting of a black teenager through the lens of two characters/families. What I loved about this book is the layered and nuanced description of racial tensions while also being an engrossing read/character study. Find out more about the book here.
3) Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong is a poet's memoir. Published in 2020, this humorous, vulnerable, and engaging collection of essays presents provocative reflections on culture and race through the lens of one Korean American poet. What I loved about this book is how brutally honest it is and how it made me feel less alone; it names the "minor feelings" that we all experience in one form
or another and can find challenging to name. Find out more
about the book here.
4) The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris is an engaging thriller set in New York that looks at microaggressions and workplace racism through the point of view of a 26-year-old editorial assistant at Wagner books. Published in 2021, the book has a visual-thriller quality that would translate well to the screen. What I loved about this book is the suspenseful writing, the messy yet controlled narration, and the way it presents microaggressions through the lens of a
thriller/horror mood. Find out more about the book here.
5) On Writers and Writing by Margaret Atwood is part memoir and part writing inspiration. Published in 2015, the book shares anecdotes, advice, and tips. What I loved about this book is the intimate perspective it provides into the life and writing career of one of my favorite authors. She reads the audio version, which makes it even better (if you decide to listen). It inspired me to write! Find out more about the book here.
6) The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good by Elizabeth Cline is a must-read for anyone who loves thinking about fashion and personal style but also values minimalism, the environment, and conscious living. Published in 2019, this inspirational guide got me to think about the high cost of fashion. What I loved about the book is its practical advice on ethical
shopping and embracing your personal values through style.
Find out more about the book here.
7) Bestiary: Poems by Donika Kelly is a fantastical and stunning romp that conjures beasts, animals, mythological creatures, and monsters. Published in 2016, this gorgeously dark collection takes you on a journey into mythical mind states and metaphors. What I loved about this book is the wild imagery and intensity of the read. As a fan of fairy tales and horror stories, this poetry collection ignited my imagination. Find out more about the book here.
And one stunning Honorable Mention!
A Swim in the Pond in the rain by George Saunders is a sizable quality book on the art of writing. We read it for our Spring English Department book club. Published in 2021, Saunders presents the class he's been teaching at Syracuse University for 20 years on the Russian short story in a book. What I loved about this book was the gorgeous writing, the inclusion and
analysis of great stories, and the meaningful advice. Find out
more about the book here.