Hello there, happy Saturday!
One of my intentions for 2021 has been to fall in love with reading again, and so far, I’ve definitely kept to my word – I set myself the goal of 30 books and by the end of January I’ve already burned through 10. I somehow have a feeling I may exceed my goal a little bit by the end of the year.
The first 10 books of the year were quite a random mixture of… everything to be honest: from contemporary novels to plays, and even a couple of books en español.
And even more bizarrely, my 2021 reading challenge kicked off with a cookbook!
1. 15 Minute Vegan by Katy Bescow
I’m not sure if everyone would count this as a proper book, however I did read it and have been using it religiously because it is INCREDIBLE, so in my eyes it would be criminal to leave this out.
As you probably know if you have read anything at all on my blog before, I am a vegetarian (Vegan for lent) which has become a key part of my personality at this point, and therefore is why I thought it was so important for me to learn to properly cook rather than living off Quorn nuggets for the rest of my life; and as I’m hopefully heading to Uni next year (WHAT?!) I need to be able to fend for myself a little bit while still maintaining the ‘15 minute cooking’ mantra (hence the name of the book).
I know for a fact that this will become a staple in my life as all of the recipes are quick, easy and healthy; containing ingredients that you will most likely already have at home, so if you’re also veggie/vegan or just looking to experiment with recipes without meat, I 100% recommend this!
2. The Tanglewood Teashop by Lilac Mills
The first real novel of the year was actually one of the iBook ‘free book of the week’ features and I must say I quite enjoyed it. I had been in a bit of a reading slump for a while and this story just really really evokes a cosy atmosphere.
The story basically follows a girl who loses her job at a Michelin Star restaurant and moves to a small town to open a Teashop with an inheritance her aunt Peggy left her – there’s a little bit of romance but not so much that it’s cringe which I thoroughly enjoyed.
I hate being harsh but this wasn’t anything special or extraordinary by any means, however it was enjoyable and lighthearted which is what I needed at the time, and definitely better than a lot of free books from Apple.
3. El Principito by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The first Spanish book I have ever decided to tackle!!!
As some of you might know, I’m studying Spanish for A-Level, and hope to study it at University alongside Law, so I’m really trying to raise my level as doing 4 subjects allows you to focus a lot more on it (more Spanish posts coming soon!)
El Principito (The Little Prince) is a classic children’s story that I’m sure you know the story of so I won’t bore you with the details. I will say that I haven’t read this in English before, so I had to look up a few things to grasp the symbolism within it, however overall I really enjoyed this and found that I could get through it without too much hassle.
Also, something I find quite amusing is that this book was originally published in French (Le Petit Prince) so technically, I was reading in the 3rd language!
4. Our Town by Thornton Wilder
Truthfully, I was inspired to read this play as both of my English Lit teachers have mentioned it a few times and they gushed about the bittersweet message it portrays and I agree with them.
I understand why some people would like the concept of Wilder’s work as the surface plot is basically just a regular day in a small town in each act, and how it has a narrator who talks directly to the audience which I was confused about at first. However, once you get into it you’ll realise how beautiful Wilder expresses the cycle of life as the 3 Acts are split into life, marriage and then death.
After reading, it really made me ponder on my own life as the main message is how we don’t appreciate life while we’re living it – so maybe we should stop and just take it all in once in a while and ‘not sweat the small stuff’?
5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Ok don’t kill me but…I HATED this.
I understand the whole point of the book was that Catherine and Heathcliff were terrible people but were each other’s soulmates at the end of the day, and we weren’t supposed to like them; but to me I at least need someone to root for in a book. By the time I got to the end of reading it I just wanted to get it over with because I simply didn’t care enough as to what happened to the characters.
And don’t even get me started on the narration from the housekeepers – it just made it seem so out of touch with the emotional aspects of the characters.
I know most pools do like this book, so I guess read it at your own risk – I do love some classics, but this just wasn’t it for me.
One thing I did take away was that just because a book is a ‘classic’ doesn’t mean it’s good, and I don’t think we should have to act as if they are if we hate them.
6. Normal People by Sally Rooney
Now this is a book I did enjoy.
The story basically follows two teenagers from a small town in Ireland who go to the same school but lead very different lifestyles, ending up in a secret ‘friends with benefits’ sort of situation. Rooney captures their growth from teenagers to young adults and how they always seem to find their way back to one another, and how communication (or lack of it) can really affect a relationship.
Normal People was really popular last year and was adapted into a BBC Tv programme, so I definitely recommend this one and the TV show as well, as I think it reflects the book really well.
7. The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, and
8. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
I thought I’d just clump these two plays together as I read them both to aid my English coursework I was working on for ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’.
I recommend that you read all 3 of these plays as they explore the idea of the New and prosperous America in the 1930s/40s and how various illnesses/desire can lead to the demise of central characters.
I really love studying Tennessee Williams, and if you research the context of his life, it’s very interesting how he incorporates those ideas into his work.
9. This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith
I think this is one of my favourite books so far of 2021. For once, I managed to read a newly released book pretty close to the time it was published, so maybe it enhanced my experience as I hadn’t heard much about it before.
“On a rainy October night in Kentucky, recently divorced therapist Tallie Clark is on her way home from work when she spots a man precariously standing at the edge of a bridge. Without a second thought, Tallie pulls over and jumps out of the car into the pouring rain. She convinces the man to join her for a cup of coffee, and he eventually agrees to come back to her house, where he finally shares his name: Emmett.
Over the course of the emotionally charged weekend that follows, Tallie makes it her mission to provide a safe space for Emmett, though she hesitates to confess that this is also her day job. What she doesn’t realize is that Emmett isn’t the only one who needs healing–and they both are harboring secrets.”
I enjoyed this book immensely: I felt the theme of suicide was dealt with quite delicately and I loved all of the characters. The one thing I will say is I thought the ending could have been a little bit stronger, but overall, a great book!
10. Cuentos de la Selva by Horacio Quiroga
Again, this was a Spanish book that consisted of short stories about animals in the jungle (aimed at children) and although I didn’t love this quite as much as El Principito, I could get through it just fine!
And there we have it – the first 10 books of 2021!
To sum up, this selection was relatively successful as I enjoyed the majority of the books, although I wouldn’t say there was anything outstanding that changed my life – but this batch was more to get me out of a slump, so in my eyes a huge success!
I’m going to be doing one of these posts for every 10 books I read, so I guess it depends how much I’m reading how often there will be a recent reads post!
If you’re curious to keep up with my reading progress, in depth reviews and tbr, be sure to follow me on GoodReads.
What have you been reading recently? Let me know!