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  • Writer's pictureLily Burns

2021 reading review

Updated: Apr 8, 2022

recommendations from 2021 + my 2022 book list

recommendations from 2021

I used to love reading, but I think I actually went years without having read a book- with the exception of books required for class. Come Spring 2021, I was getting so many books on my TikTok For You page. While I struggled to make time to read them during the Spring semester, I wrote most of them down so I could read them over the summer. These are my good reads from 2021, half from TikTok and the other half either recommended or picked up at a book store (when I was supposed to be just browsing). I had read a couple that I couldn’t get into and finish, but I won’t list those.

tiny beautiful things by cheryl strayed

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed was probably my favorite book from this past summer. It was a fairly quick read, filled with letters written to an internet advice columnist for the Rumpus, Sugar, and her replies. This book was filled with a lot of ups and downs. It was sad and sweet and funny and encouraging. I’m planning to reread it this year and likely many years to come.

the road trip by beth o’leary

Okay, so toward the end of the summer I was thinking, I need a romcom on my booklist. Something easy and entertaining. Maybe an overseas love story?, because romcoms are my favorite movie genre and who doesn’t love an engaging European love story to escape? I’m in the middle of my Barnes and Noble going up and down the book cases, picking up and putting down books on the front tables, trying to find my European romance. The only book that I could find that day -The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary- about a European romance was this book and it was based in Scotland. Not what I had in mind, but it’ll do. I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of the book takes place in France in the summer.

I’ve gone on too long about the location of this. The plot. It’s sad. It’s sweet. It’ll make you giggle. It’ll make you say, “what the f*ck?”. It’s a lovely romcom and I’m glad I went for it. When I read reviews about it, some people weren’t very fond of the format. It goes back and forth, between past and present and the couple’s different perspectives. I really liked this format- a lot of detail into two active perspectives. I finished it in a weekend and would highly recommend it.

the girls by emma cline

The Girls by Emma Cline was all over my TikTok for quite some time! It was included in those videos that read, “pov: you’re a hot girl that reads”. When I found out what it was about, I was excited and weirded out to read. It’s a coming of age story based off of the Charles Manson murders. It focuses on the point of view of a young teen girl who gets involved with the cult the summer of the murders. The book is still fictional. I enjoy crime and psychological shows, movies, and books, but at the same time I find it weird and disturbing to indulge in this material, especially when it has actually happened and the stories have affected real lives. Still, I found this book intriguing.

women don’t owe you pretty by florence given

Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given is a beautifully executed book and illustration on intersectional feminism. It’s an eye opener, as well as an eye catcher. Given is a writer and graphic designer, so the book is bright and colorful, filled with her own designs in her iconic style. If you ever wanted to read about feminism or leading a better, more inclusive life, I’d highly recommend this!

where the crawdads sing by delia owens

I had been recommended Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens by a friend of mine. I wanted to start a book club, she wanted to join, she suggested we read this first. I ended up getting a handful of people to join the club but once it came to discussing the book... no one showed up to the Zoom. How tragic. My friend, who’d recommended the book but didn’t read it, came and let me just explain all the great little twists and turns of this intriguing novel.

Pathetic story about a failed book club aside... this book is a coming of age/murder mystery about a young girl that is forced to find her own way through life while society rejects her and nature nurtures her.

normal people by sally rooney

I had seen Normal People, the show, before I’d known it was a book, written by Sally Rooney. Both were so heartbreakingly good and they were quite similar. The story feels so simple. It’s about a young love through high school and college, communication and mental health. It’s one of those shows/books that you watch/read just so you can feel something. We all have those.

my book list for 2022

Now, the list I curated last Spring is much longer than the above. I also came across a few books that caught my interest on my own this year. Below is the list of books I would really like to read this year as I try to make more time for reading, and other neglected hobbies. Though, I hope to be reading much more than this.

women, race & class by angela davis

Angela Davis is, if you don't already know, a civil rights activist and scholar. This book explores feminism and the feminist movement and the racism and classism woven into it.

the undocumented americans by karla cornejo villavicencio

My first book of the year is The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, I’m over halfway through with it. It’s a personal discussion of undocumented Americans that are too often misjudged in media. It discusses specific stories of undocumented Americans from all over and the communities built, many out of the indifference of the larger American community and government.

antes de ser libre by julia alvarez

Antes de Ser Libre by Julia Alvarez is about a young girl who is living under a dictatorship in the Dominican Republic in 1960. It’s about her facing the world around her while also growing up. I had bought this book without really knowing what it was about years ago as a motivator and tool to learn Spanish. I’m hoping this year I’ll have improved my Spanish enough to read it!

say nothing by patrick radden keefe

Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe discusses a murder in Northern Ireland during the Troubles- a time of violence and conflict- and the repercussions. I saw this over the summer and became quite interested in it as it’s written about a place and time where my parents grew up.

on earth we’re briefly gorgeous by ocean vuong

I found On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong in the an airport and took a picture of the cover to save for later. Good reads wrote that it’s “at once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity.” They also wrote, “The question of how to survive, and how to make it a kind of joy, powers the most important debut novel of many years,”.

envelope poems by emily dickinson

Emily Dickinson is a poet I’ve never read. I’d also like to read more poetry and enjoy it. So, I added Dickinson’s Envelope Poems, a compilation of her later work, to my list.

happy hour by marlowe granados

I recently moved to Bedstuy, Brooklyn, went for a walk one day, and found myself in a book store, no idea how that happened... Anyhow, they had a whole section dedicated to local authors. To be honest, the book caught my eye first because of the title and the gorgeous cover. Bought it for the description, even though I was trying really hard not to buy anymore books because I had so many at home! The book is about two young women doing their best to thrive in New York City. Cannot wait to read.

As you can see, my list of books for the upcoming year is long. This doesn’t even include required reading for school. Welp. I’m still excited to tackle the year and make it my year of reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these books if you’ve read them or some recommendations of books or authors to read. Okay, I’m off to find the perfect reading nook.

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