Friday, December 31, 2021

Books I Devoured in 2021

Image credit here.

2021 has been a crazy year. Normally around this time I look back on all of the albums I couldn't get enough of, but to be honest, I wasn't overly impressed with music this year. (Or maybe I've just been reading too much, oops.) Here are some of the books that stuck with me this year (titles not necessarily published in 2021). And, if you're curious, my comprehensive 2021 reading list can be found here.

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

I first got a taste for Sally Rooney's fiction when I brought Normal People on a family trip to Michigan some years back. (I mention this only because I feel like I will forever associate the book with that trip and the plane ride. 💖) To me, Normal People and Rooney's debut, Conversation with Friends, have a similar style and subject matter, but Beautiful World, Where Are You feels like a departure. To me, it seemed a bit lighter, less tortured, though there's some definite navel-gazing and requisite existentialism going on. The book follows the lives of two friends and the emails they send to each other, with Rooney eventually weaving the stories into one in the later chapters. You can definitely feel the author grappling with her own literary success through her character, Alice. It was an interesting read, and I liked the epistolary device used throughout.

The vibe: A little contemplative, a little world-weary, but also focused more on the complexity of jealousy and joy in friendships and relationships in your twenties 

Read if: You've enjoyed Rooney's previous works, or if you are looking for a character-driven novel that also asks big questions about society and success

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

I positively devoured this book! The story explores the lives of Emira, a babysitter, and Alix, the mother of the child Emira babysits. The main plot point is an altercation that takes place at a grocery store when another shopper assumes Emira (who is black) kidnapped the child she babysits (who is white). Although I imagined the novel to be a little more high-stakes/action-y or political than it actually was, something kept me turning the pages. Like Beautiful World, Where Are You, this story explores the perspectives of both of its leading ladies. Maybe I just really like that back-and-forth dynamic? The writing in this one is less dense than Rooney's, making for a quick read. And that cover! To be honest I think the cover is what caught my eye initially. Such a fun age? Such a fun cover! (You can lob tomatoes at me now.)

The vibe: Easy, breezy, beautiful, CoverGirl reading, with an interesting contrast between Alix, the "girl boss" mommy blogger-type, and Emira, a twentysomething who is guarded, growing, and finding herself

Read if: You've ever been a babysitter or nanny, or you want a quick read that touches on the dynamics between employee and employer 

Open Book by Jessica Simpson

I have to admit, I'm not a Jessica Simpson fan. Or at least, I wasn't before I read this book. It's not that I was a Jessica Simpson hater, she just wasn't really on my radar. But I had heard good things about Open Book, and I enjoy a celebrity memoir every now and then, so why not? Well, folks, this one did not disappoint! I don't know what I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised. I really admired Simpson's candor, and she shed light on experiences that can be difficult to discuss (addiction, divorce, body image). There were also passages about her faith and family relationships, which were just as interesting. I think anyone who has the guts to write something as revealing (and, at times, heartbreaking) as this deserves props, even if I can't relate to all of her experiences.

The vibe: A refreshingly honest recollection of a life spent in and out of the limelight

Read if: You like Jessica Simpson or, like me, have a vague but growing interest in celebrity memoirs

Severance by Ling Ma

By now, it's embarrasingly obvious to me that a lot of my interest in reading a book is based on how gorgeous/intriguingly designed its cover is. (And also, horrifyingly, what kind of typeface is used for the copy? If the font bothers me, I seriously will put down the book. Fun!) So I'd be lying if I said the millennial pink memo vibes here didn't play a factor. Regardless, Severance was such a unique read. At times it felt academic, and at others, claustrophobic. The book was written before the pandemic, but its focus on a fever that ushers in an apocalypse was a little...too prescient? And yet, so intriguing. This book is simultaneously a creepy dystopian and commentary on capitalism. (I know, just go with it.) Definitely a very specific read, but not one I regret.

The vibe: The Walking Dead, if the zombies were more mundane, and not at all bloodthirsty, mixed economics class?

Read if: You want a heaping helping of race, class, and society with your dystopian thriller

I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

Creepy, creepy, creepy. I can say with ease that this is the creepiest book I've ever read. It's only this year that I've started venturing into reading thriller-type books at all, having previously preferred witty and gentle YA works, reading nothing more upsetting than The Fault in Our Stars. Who is she? WHO EVEN KNOWS. All I have to say is: Thanks, Kaylie, for recommending this one, because it scarred me for life. It was a great, fast, can't-put-it-down read, but so! Scary! As in, I started feeling paranoid in my own house. And that ending....*deep sigh*. Do not read this if you're faint of heart. Do not read this if you like happy books. Do not read this if you thought Courage the Cowardly Dog was scary (which, wow, it really was). There is no way I will be watching the Netflix adaptation of this book. I'm simply here to say: Creepy, creepy, creepy!!

The vibe: U T T E R  D E S P A I R

Read if: You like fast-paced, psychological thrillers that keep you guessing

Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke

And finally, folks, we have this dandy. Several People Are Typing is a book I flirted with buying several times whilst on trips to Barnes & Noble, but couldn't quite pull the trigger. It's written entirely in the format of Slack messages (look up the workspace app Slack if you're not familiar), and focuses on Gerald, an employee who has accidentally found himself stuck in the Slack interface. As in, his consciousness has been uploaded into Slack. Y'all, the dude is trapped in the app. And it's pretty dang hilarious. I borrowed this from the library and finished it in two days. It's a witty, lightning-fast read and made me snort-laugh many, many times.

The vibe: Workplace humor coupled with a bit of romance and existential dread

Read if: You've got a weird sense of humor and also can relate to the specific dynamics of working in an office

And that's all, folks!

I hope you enjoyed this post, because I had a ton of fun writing it. I may do more book recommendation posts in the future, seeing as I am reading myself out of house and home.

If you have any recommendations for what I should read next, please feel free to leave me a comment! I am always looking for new books to enjoy. That's it, that's the post. I hope to have more to say on this blog in 2022, lol.

Happy New Year,


  1. Omg yes!! Been waiting for a dose of reading inspo for the new year - and can't wait to do a round up of the books that touched me in 2021. I LOVED Such a Fun Age too. Happy new year Erin! :)

    Zoe xo

    P.S: I very much appreciated and chuckled at the "easy, breezy, beautiful, Cover Girl" reference - I quote that at least once a month lmao.

    1. Ooo, I'd love to read your list of faves! I want to read as much as humanly possible this year, that's for sure. And yes! Such a Fun Age was a page-turner! And lol thank you for appreciating that joke, I'm always saying that too bahaha. :)

      Hope your 2022 is off to a wonderful start!

  2. I haven't read any of these, but I've been meaning to pick up a Sally Rooney book. They all sound great.

    1. Sally Rooney's stuff is kind of what started me along the path of reading more contemporary adult/literary fiction, so I'd definitely recommend! Her writing style is very interesting. :)

  3. Bookmarking these for later because I have neither read nor heard of any of them! Book wrap-ups are the best.


    1. Ooo I hope you enjoy them for later! I am doing the same thing, reading through favorite book blog posts and saving up my favorites. :)


Go with grace.