With all this spare time on our hands, sometimes it is so much time you don’t ever get round to using it. Somehow, it’s taken me until lockdown 3.0 to realise it’s been the perfect chance to get back into reading.
I for one have always been a huge reader.
From the day I discovered the magical world of Harry Potter, I pretty much always has a book (or three) on the go. I completed my English Literature degree course, which obviously incorporated vast amount of reading -- and by vast I mean a shit tonne.
But shockingly, due to the lack of motivation of living in a covid world, I lost my reading buzz. So, when the new year came around, I decided it was time to get back on my reading train and snap out of my reading dry spell.
I’ve set myself a seemingly ambitious challenge of reading 50 books in a year (as a kid this would have barely have seemed like a small drop in the ocean).
That’s not to say I didn’t do any reading in 2020, it was just considerably the lowest book count I’ve had in a year since I learnt how to read!
In order to read 50 books in 2021; I need to read 4.3 books a month, so roughly a book a week.
As a result, I’ve already made my way through a few books this year and some of them were AMAZE and I highly recommend you add them to your 2021 TBR (to be read) lists.
So, along with some of my favourite picks from 2020 and my 2021 ones so far here are my 7 recommended reads, in no particular order, for you to discover in 2021:
The Flipside – James Bailey
Okay so I might have already reviewed this book on my own blog so I’mma try real hard to not copyright myself!
Bailey’s novel was fuelled with cringingly all too realistic dating disasters and heartbreaks (I know I’ve said it before but I really hope for Bailey’s sake they weren’t from real first-person experiences).
The protagonist, Josh, is ultimately on a quest to find love but has found himself making some terrible decisions and experiencing a failed proposal and consequently decides to leave all his decision to ‘fate’ by flipping a coin.
The coin sees him trying to find ‘the one’ across European cities – which will make you miss travelling – and meeting many strangers along the way whilst still corresponding with his most supportive and wholesome friends back in England.
At the end of the day the novel is a romance but it is SO feel good and ultimately that’s what we all need during lockdown.
Ghosts – Dolly Alderton
If you haven’t seen people raving about this novel on social media, where have you been?
Alderton could be talking about anything and her writing style and voice would captivate me!
Anyways, about the book: Relationships; romantic, platonic, parental, and relationships of past is truly what this novel is about. Although it focuses on Nina’s experiences with dating apps and modern dating, the scope of the novel is much bigger than that.
I’ve taken the title Ghosts to mean the way relationships, past and present, shape* us as individuals and teaches us things about ourselves and where we want to go and who we want to be in life.
*I wanted to say ‘haunt us’ but that is a bit spooky and puts a negative spin on something that can actually be rather beautiful.
Ultimately (as I realise, I still haven’t summed up what the book is about), Ghosts follows a year in Nina’s life as she struggles to maintain friendships with friends who are in the midst of parenthood, battles with the emotional struggle of her father being ill, and decides to give dating apps a go.
White Teeth – Zadie Smith
White Teeth is worthy of all its titles and awards. It explores the fake-ness of society and comments on the unnaturalness of these conventions in our everyday lives.
The novel follows to wartime friends, Bangladeshi Samad Iqbal and the Englishman Archie Jones, who have since moved to London and had families of their own.
The narration moves between perspectives to focus on the identities and struggles of some of the members within the families.
Religion, race, values, and differing beliefs, as well as the societal expectations leads some characters to take very different paths and act upon conflicting opinions.
The Dilemma – B.A. Paris
I’ve always been a fan of B.A. Paris after being hooked by one of her other novels Behind Closed Doors, so I was very excited to give The Dilemma a whirl.
It does not disappoint.
Without giving any spoilers, The Dilemma follows the birthday party of Livia.
Now that’s not much to go on so I’m going to tread carefully here: Adam (Livia’s husband) discovers some news and is faced with the dilemma of how long to hide it for in the best interest of his wife being able to enjoy the party. Livia also has something she’s been keeping from Adam… the question you keep asking throughout the novel is when are they going to tell each other.
When you know the secrets, you cannot put this novel down!
Girl, Woman, Other – Bernardine Evaristo
If you haven’t heard of this book, how?
Girl Woman Other follows the lives of 12 different woman. Their struggles of living in a patriarchal society and battles against racism and homophobia and sexism, raises lots of questions and issues throughout the novel about our society today.
The 12 female characters of the novel that Bernardine writes, cleverly interlink as their lives intertwine; some are family members, friends, or just people that they have bumped into.
There is not a particular plot, just a moment in time that each of these women are living in and the struggles, but also the pleasures they are experiencing at the time.
It is unlike any novel I have read before, but I loved it!
Found – Erin Kinsley
Found was an emotional rollercoaster.
A boy is taken on his way home from school but then shows up almost a year later.
Obviously, he is traumatised and chooses not to speak. He finds comfort in his grandparents’ home in the country as he feels safe away from the rest of the world. Then, another boy is taken and he is reluctant to find his words.
This is another book that you won’t be able to put down – which is ideal when you’ve got a lot of books to get through.
The Switch – Beth O’Leary
I have saved The Switch till last because this has to be my favourite read of 2020 and I will be rereading it this year. Unsurprisingly I have also reviewed this on my blog, so again, I will try not to copyright myself.
I adored the characters and the relationship between Grandmother and Granddaughter, it is positive and heart-warming.
Leena (the granddaughter) is in need of a break and some overdue time off; she has recently lost her sister and needs to take life a bit slower and not burn herself out so stays at her Grandmothers. Eileen (the grandmother) is in need of some excitement; she is ready to start dating again and switched places with Leena to stay in her apartment in London.
It is a feel-good novel that focuses on the familial love between these characters but also O’Leary includes some exciting romance for these loveable characters.
If you read The Flat Share, you need to read this too.
So, whether you have a to read target like me or are just looking for some inspiration for your next novel, I hope this list helps and you have Happy Reading time!
By Abi Purvis
Hi I’m Abi!
I am a freelance writer and blogger.
I also have my own lifestyle blog and Instagram (@abislifeinwriting) where I share what I’m up to, what I’m reading, what hiking and climbing adventures I’ve been on, as well as my efforts to become more environmentally minded and sustainable.