Hello, my fellow Spirals!
2021 was such a blur. To me I can barely seem to distinguish when 2020 ended and 2021 started. And now the same is happening with 2022. However, last year was one of the most eventful years of my life. I underwent so many changes and witnessed so many personal achievements. Not to forget, I also started this blog during 2021!
My reading goal for 2021 was initially 40 but I increased it later to 100. Eventually I ended up reading 106 books which I am pretty proud about. Since that’s a huge amount of books to talk about, I’ll instead pick some of my favorites of the year and mention it here. These are the books that I gave 5 ⭐ to. I am listing the books in chronological order rather than ranking them.
Now let’s get into it!
1. In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat – John Gribbin
Towards the end of 2020 I was really interested in quantum physics for some reason. I think reading Big Bang by Simon Singh spurred this but anyways, I ended up reading a few books on the said topic. For someone who loves science in general and adores reading about it, this book was an absolute treat. In my opinion, this book should have been recommended to me during school which would made me develop an interest in what I was studying. The concepts were so neatly explained and the diagrams added clarity to it as well. I annotated the hell out of this book. Now I own another book by the same author called “In Search of the Big Bang”.
2. Atomic Habits – James Clear
I don’t think I really need to explain why I loved this book. It gave me the much needed perspective about how we can shape our habits and consequently our life. Sadly, even after reading I didn’t end up applying it to my life. The blame definitely falls on me for that.
3. Recursion – Blake Crouch
If I had to pick my favorite book of the year, I think it will have to be this one.
First of all, look at the cover. It’s gorgeous. The inside of the cover page and the spine is orange which looks stunning on my bookshelf.
Sometime you read a book and you like it. Sometimes you really like it. Sometimes you like it more than any other book you have read.
But once, just once, you experience a book that is beyond your wildest imaginations, thoughts and worlds that are completely inconceivable by your mind. This book was that for me.
If I love a book or am hooked to it, I’ll read it at one go. But this book, the only book, which was so interesting and insane that I had to take breaks to comprehend what I had just read. My brain was fried, like a circuit board, after every 10 pages (which is ironically what happens in the book too).
This book is an AMAZING mix of thriller, suspense, mystery, science, love and passion. I don’t think I have ever read a book as wonderful that rips my heart and brain at the same time. It’s an ABSOLUTE MUST for every reader to experience this book.
4. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V.E. Schwab
I read this book at a time of the year where I was super stressed out about one of my college projects. So I distinctly remember getting into bed, picking this book up wanting to distract myself. And it always worked. The magical realism in this book was absolutely phenomenal and you get so invested in Addie’s adventures. For me, this book achieved 5 stars mainly because of Henry and the way he compares choosing a discipline or career as shutting the door to several other opportunities. That paragraph resonated with me so much.
5. The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women – Valerie Young
If I had to pick a book that had the largest impact on me then I would pick this one. This book absolutely opened my eyes about the world and made me understand myself a lot more. It made me accept that some things were just out of my control and taught me how to adjust my thinking to it. Small insight about myself: I suffer from major Impostor Syndrome. Every little to big thing that the author mentioned in the book, I had experienced it. But I was able to understand the reason behind my thinking and alter it accordingly. Impostor Syndrome is a phenomenon where you strongly believe that the reason behind all your success or achievements is luck, partiality or just a mistake. You fail to acknowledge your own strengths and accomplishments. If there’s a chance that you suffer from it too then I would HIGHLY recommend this book for you. Even if you don’t, still read it. It talks so much about feminism and patriarchy that forced us women (and sometimes men too) to develop this syndrome.
6. Becoming – Michelle Obama
Let’s wrap this up super quick because everyone knows what this book is about and how it would be. Inspiring, moving, light hearted yet serious, wise and a must read.
7. Grown – Tiffany D. Jackson
This book pleasantly surprised me. It’s the only YA novel that made it to 5 stars for me and that’s a huge deal. The book starts with such a bang where the legendary artist Korey Fields is found murdered and Enchanted waking up with no memory and blood on her hands. It starts with Enchanted, an aspiring singer, spotted by Korey at an audition but then goes on shed light on the various horrific atrocities that occur behind the curtains. There’s so much manipulation and brainwashing of a teenager and how easily impressionable they are.
This book may be YA but the issues discussed are VERY MUCH REAL.
8. The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah
This was my first Kristin Hannah and I really didn’t expect it to move me as much as it did. This book takes place during WW2 in France and Germany. It’s a story about two sisters, one who is gentle, motherly, and wants to protect her family while the other is rebellious, reckless and searching for purpose and joins the Resistance. In their own ways, both sisters play a crucial role in the war and have to face their obstacles with strength and courage.
I know few people found this book slow paced or boring, but for me this was not the case at all. Despite being a chunky book, I never noticed how long it was. It utterly captured me. AND after a very long time, I sobbed like a baby while reading a book.
9. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – JK Rowling
I am not sure what triggered me to re-read the entire Harry Potter series this year but I am extremely glad I did. I forgot so many details about the universe and characters. But dipping into this book specially was so perfect for me at a time of stress and anxiety. This book bundled me a up in a warm blanket, held me, sung to me a lullaby and said “it’s going to be alright”. I laughed out loud, awed at the scene building and fell in love with each character. Reading this book literally made me so nostalgic and think about my childhood and school days. What a delight!
10. Thunderhead (Arc of Scythe #2) – Neal Shusterman
To me this book started out a little confusing. All of a sudden there were so many characters (which increases again in The Toll) and suddenly Thunderhead’s perspective was also given. But boy did it literally shake me to my core towards the end. The ending, OH MY GOD, it’s like I could literally see the horrifying scene taking place in front of my eyes. The screeching sound, the fights, the aquatic animals (if you know what I am talking about) was so realistic to me that I was literally like 😲 throughout the end.
11. Ghachar Ghochar – Vivek Shanbhag
I have raved enough about this book but let me go once again. This story follows an Indian family who experience sudden richness after struggling with poverty for a long time. We get to see how the different family members functioned together before being rich and how the money changed each of their attitude.
When I finished this book I was like “eh what was that abrupt ending” and didn’t get it. Upon Googling the ending explained, I was SHOOK. I realized that I had failed to read between the lines and the implications behind them. The ending literally gave me goosebumps after reading it again!
12. Pachinko – Min Jin Lee
Yes this is one massive book but forget all that. At its core, it’s a very beautiful, honest and raw portrait of a Korean teenager, Sunja, who gets pregnant and later accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. After that it is an account of her, her son’s and then their children’s life in Japan while being Koreans.
This book spans multiple generations so along with their life you get to see the evolution of Korea and Japan as well. To me, reading about Korean culture interspersed with Japanese culture was fascinating. I would strongly recommend everyone to check this book out.
13. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
I really didn’t expect to enjoy this classic as much as I did. I usually have a hard time understanding the essence of a classic book but with this, I faced no trouble. I feel like each character was given so much depth and despite being a long book, it had a lot going on to keep you interested.
Since the story starts from Jane’s childhood, it gives a nice touch to her character development (i.e. from an angry and temperamental kid to a rational and strong willed woman).
I have this strange belief that romance in classic literature is so much more like-able and relatable than in the recent romance novels which are more cliché. Maybe its just me.
14. The Rise of Kyoshi – F C Yee
I mean, I was a mildly skeptical thinking the book won’t live up to the Avatar show. But it proved me wrong. While I still wouldn’t compare it to the show, the book definitely took a darker and a more serious tone which I was all for.
Plus there was LGTBQ rep, while tackling real issues like feminism, politics, outlaws and growing up as an orphan. The audiobook was also phenomenal where the same narrator did different voices for each character.
You can check my review here.
15. Midnight in Chernobyl – Adam Higginbothams
A non-fiction investigative book that has a scientific aspect to it? I was immediately sold. This book is definitely a more documentary styled story but while reading it pans out more like a thriller. Each scene is described in such rich detail and builds up so much that it keeps you hooked and leaves you gasping at several parts.
But more than that, I learned so much about nuclear plants and how they could fail. It’s crucial to understand the shortcomings and the mistakes made because nuclear power is the future for electricity.
16. Infinite Country – Patricia Engel
This was such an unexpected 5 ⭐ read. I picked this on a whim and I wasn’t disappointed at all.
It is a heartbreaking portrait of a family dealing with the realities of migration and separation from Colombia and The States. One thing I really liked about this book was that it talked a lot about the country’s heritage and culture which is always what I am looking for. This book to me was beautiful, raw and honest to me in so many ways. I was listening to the audiobook on a car ride and tears were practically streaming down my face.
17. Firefly Lane – Kristin Hannah
I knew Kristin Hannah was becoming a new favorite author and she has the power to break me. But I (idiotically) didn’t expect this one to make me cry again. If you have watched the show then forget about it. It is NOTHING like the book. The stories are completely different.
This book, at its core, is about Tully and Kate’s friendship over the years. But along the way you get to see so many different aspects of the world, career, ambition, family and love. I was (again) ugly crying at the end and pretty much sobbing into my pillow.
Will DEFINITELY post a review for this book soon!