21 Books for 2021
Updated: Jan 4, 2021
When I was a kid, I had a friend who used to love rollercoasters. The bigger and more extravagant, the better. Although I liked the idea of rollercoasters, my stomach didn’t enjoy the actual thing so much, so any time I went with her it was out of sheer friendship and with quite some dragging of feet. Anyway, I distinctly remember a particular rollercoaster ride we took together. The thing had loopings, and corkscrews that turned your stomach, only to end in a very slow incline up a hill. Once on top there was almost vertical drop at breakneck speed, which was simultaneously the best and worst part of the ride.
Starting 2021 to me feels like slow incline up that hill. Having survived 2020’s corkscrews, there’s a still something ahead that is equal parts terrifying, and exciting at the same time and my life will probably once again take a swerve into the fast-lane…
Do I think books can be a comforting to hold during that wild ride? No idea, but at least I’ll try.
I’m a person who likes setting goals for themselves, because crazily enough, the give me comfort rather than stress me out. As every year, I set my reading challenge to 100 books, and I make a loose master-TBR I want to complete. This year I’m doing your standard 21 books for 2021, in 4 different categories.
5 star predictions:
Elatsoe - Darcie Little Badger Elatsoe was a book I wanted to read in 2020, but I just didn't get to it. The main reason I've been wanting to read this is the aspect of native American folklore woven through this fantasy story and the fact that it was Kayla from BooksandLala's favourite fantasy of the year, and I completely trust her opinion on these "weird fabulist" stories.
The Wide Starlight – Nicole Lesperance The only 2021 release on my 5-star prediction list has been compared to The Astonishing Colour of After and The Hazel Wood and weaves together grief and arctic folklore surrounding the Nothern lights in a magical realism story about a young girl who grieves her mothers death.
Disfigured: On Fairy tales, Disability and Making Space – Amanda LeDuc The only non-fiction book on this list is about a topic very close to my heart, and one that I really want to hear someone else's well-researched thoughts about to educate myself better. This is about the portrayal of disfigured and disabled characters in literature, from ancient fairytales to modern fiction. To this day, so many times disfigurements or disabilities are used as a visible portrayal of evil, or a source of cheap comedy for the reader. I'm very interested in the thoughts within this book about how this trend can change in the future, because I don't think I need to say this but: IT DESEPERATELY NEEDS TO CHANGE .
Augustus – John Williams Fun fact: I can't even remember the last time I took a book-recommendation from my dad, as we have readingtastes that are as far apart as can be, but this time I'm trusting him on his love for a book. I've had a fascination with Greek and Roman mythology and history since I was a kid, which was only fostered by the incredible teachers I was fortunate enough to have during grammar school. My graduation assigntment covered the reign of Julius Caesar, up to the rise of Augustus to power, and antique letters (mostly by Seneca) written during that time. What this novel promises to do is continue that story, during the reign of Augustus, through imagined letters in the style of Seneca's. I love the idea, and if the execution is a good as my dad says it was, this is sure to be a 5-star for me.
Horrid – Katrina Leno I'm going to say only two things, and you'll know instantly why I'm so excited for this book: grief and haunted house... That's all the catnip you need for me: I'm sold. Like Elatsoe, I really wanted to get to this book in 2020, but due to pandemic-shipping it only arrived in December, and then I didn't have time to complete it before the year was up. Don't worry though, 2021 is the year!
Books I’m intimidated by :
6. The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson Even though I know that Brandon Sanderson is among my favourite fantasy authors, his work is still sooo intimidating to me. Perhaps The Way of Kings even more so than his other works. This brick of a book is over a 1000 pages long, and as much as I hope to enjoy it: that's a hell of an investment to make. In this first book of The Stormlight Archives Saga, we follow the lives of 4 main characters, against the backdrop of a war: a surgeon, forced to forsake healing and fight in the most brutal war of our time; an assassin, who weeps as he kills; a liar, who wears her scholar's mantle over a thief's heart; and a prince, whose eyes open to the ancient past as his thirst for battle wanes.
7. The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch Most fantasy reades will know what this book is about: it's a classic of the genre about a gang of thieves pulling off an impossible heist, set against the grimy background of a Venetian inspired city. I read The Lies of Locke Lamora years and years ago, at a time where I was arguably too young for it, and when English still felt like a very foreign language to me, so I had to put in a lot more effort than was comfortable. As a result I remember very little of this book, and have had plans to reread it ever since 2017 now. The longer it’s been on my TBR, the more intimidating this thing gets, so I’m vowing to read it this year, and perhaps continue on with the series.
8. Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars – Joyce Carol Oates This book was described as "a gripping examination of contemporary America through the prism of a family tragedy: when a powerful parent dies, each of his adult children reacts in startling and unexpected ways, and his grieving widow in the most surprising way of all." Not only the exploration of grief, but the family aspect call to me, and I've heard amazing things about this from reviewers I trust.
9. The Gray House – Mariam Petrosyan I know very little about this novel, and I'd like to keep it that way, so for a detailed description: please visit the linked Goodreads or Amazon pages. The true reason I have this book on my TBR is because of the full cast of disabled characters, and the fact that it's set in a creepy, possibly haunted magical house..? That's enought to get my attention: bring it on.
10. How to Make Friends with the dark – Kathleen Glasgow Kathleen Glasgows latest novel is one that doesn't intimidate me based on lenght, but based on content. I've read my fair-share of hardhitting grief-related novels, and somehow, based on reviews I've heard, this one might just be a bit worse for me personally. Following a teenage girl through the grief and depression that follow the death of her mother, I need to be ready for this one, before I get my heart destroyed at the worst possible time.
ARC’s and pre-orders I’m most excited about: All of these are mentioned under the "Anticipating" tab, so for more information on these books, please check there.
17. The Wise and the Wicked – Rebecca Podos Since Rebecca Podos's novel Like Water made it to my top 10 of 2020, I've been making my way through her backlist; this one being the only one I have yet to get to. The fact that it's about familybonds and witches promises a lot of good, but the mixed reviews make me a little hesitant. Luckily there's only one way to find out where I stand on this story.
18. The House at the bottom of the Lake – Josh Malerman Although I've heard very mixed opinions about this novella it has intrigued me ever since I read Josh Malermans excellent thriller Birdbox. Unfortunately, this book has been out of print for quite a while, so I was unable to get my hands on a copy to check it out for myself. Luckily, a reprint is coming in January 2021, giving me the opportunity to finally see what all this weirdness is about.
19. When the Moon was Ours – Anna-Marie McLemore By the time I post this, I'm already in the middle of this gem: Anna-Marie Mclemore is one of those author I just trust to write something stunning. My expectations for this magical realism romance, featuring Mexican folklore and a trans-romance are equally high.
20. Bloody Rose – Nicholas Eames This one doesn't need much introduction. The loose follow up to Kings of the Wyld, this again promises a wild fantasy ride, more akin to a D&D-campaign on steroids than anything else, but this time featuring an all female gang of heroines. If it's anything like Kings of the Wyld I'm here for all the shenanigans and banter that is to follow.
21. My Dark Vanessa – Kate Elizabeth Russell I feel like everybody and their mum read this book last year, and I'm the only one who has been missing out. Covering some very dark but important topics, this story is about the manipulative relationship between a young teen and her teacher, and the way this girl looks back on that later. It's about grooming, sexual and psychological abuse, and the way our current society pushes young girls into premature "maturity". This promises to be equal parts, harrowing, moving and important all at once.
I wish you all the best on your personal rollercoasterrides for 2021, and I hope the world has better things in store for us than it had in 2020. Happy reading, and until soon!