2021 Book Challenge


For the 5th year in a row, my dad and I are embarking on the Popsugar reading challenge. It’s been a fairly slow reading year for me what with one thing and another, so I haven’t read much at all this year but here’s what I’ve read in 2021

Book 1: The Survivors, by Jane Harper

Category: A book published in 2021

I love this author. Her first book The Dry was AMAZING and has just been made into a movie. I didn’t love Force of Nature, her second book, but her third The Lost Man and this one were both also excellent. They are proper, gripping, page turners. There is almost always a murder or suspected murder and a whodunnit style exploration of a small town and it’s inhabitants, who all seem to have secrets and motives etc. They are quintessentially Australian and the scenery and setting is vividly pictured.

This was technically released in Australia in 2020, but is not released in the UK until later in Jan 2021 so I’m counting it. My friend in Oz sent it to me as a Christmas present so I was able to read it before it’s even released here, and I literally raced through it in 2 days. A strong start to the year!

Book 2: The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas

Category: A book about a social justice issue

This was ok – an interesting insight into gang culture and being black in America, but overall it wasn’t terribly well-written, and I found it hard to stick with it.

Book 3: Does anybody else look like me? A parent’s guide to raising multiracial children, by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

Category: A book about a subject you are passionate about

This was an interesting look at mixed-race identity and well-researched, though once again showed mainly American cultural viewpoints, like many of these type of books.

Book 4: Where the crawdads sing, by Delia Owens

Category: A book set mostly or entirely outdoors

This was lovely and fascinating and I raced through it in a couple of days. Very sad in places, and not only a wonderful narrative woven across the years, with a whodunnit murder thrown in. but also a very powerful and accurate depiction of what abandonment can do to a child and how attachment issues can continue into adulthood, manifesting as difficulties trusting others.

Book 5: Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, by Kiran Desi

Category: A book by an indigenous author

This book was a bit silly but quite fun and weird. I enjoyed it a lot.

Book 6: Before the coffee gets cold, Tales from the Cafe, by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Category: A book set in a restaurant

This one was also quite odd. It was interesting and nice, but I felt they could have done more with the time-travelling themes.

Book 7: The Rosie Result, by Graeme Simsion

Category: A book set somewhere you’d like to visit in 2021

This was a fun and easy read, I’ve read the others so I enjoyed this one too.

Book 8: The Adoption Papers, by Jackie Kay

Category: A book with less than 1000 reviews on GoodReads or Amazon

This was really powerful and I really enjoyed it. Telling the story of an adoption in the 60’s/70’s/80’s through the eyes of the birth mother, adoptee, and adoptive mother, it was powerful and brilliantly written.

Book 9: The A to Z of therapuetic parenting, by Sarah Naish

Category: None

This was fantastic – for parents of adopted kids or kids with issues this is such a helpful and insightful book. LOADS of tips and tricks in here!

Book 10: How to give up plastic, by Will McCallum

Category: None

This was ok – not terribly mind-blowing, some good ideas but mostly things I am doing already so nothing much that was new in here.

Book 11: Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Category: A book with a black and white cover

This was ok, a little slow in places, slightly more sci-fi / robot themed than I usually like. i found the longer story in the middle dragged on a bit too much.

Book 12: After you’d gone, by Maggie O’Farrell

Category: A book featuring three generations (grandparent, parent and child)

This was good – gripping page-turner and easy to read. I love this author and most of her books are excellent.

Book 13: The Midnight Library, Matt Haig

Category: A book about do-overs or fresh starts

This was good, light and easy reading. an interesting concept (what if you could go back and change that one thing in your life that you always regretted and see how differently your life might have turned out?)

Reminded me a bit of Eleanor Oliphant but not so dark and sad.

Book 14: Humankind: A hopeful history, Rutger Bregman

Category: A book you think your best friend would like

I’m still reading this one so may not finish it before the end of the year (it’s pretty hefty!). It’s interesting pop-psychology in a nutshell, all about human nature being kinder than we think it is. A nice one to end the year on.

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