My Achievable Reading Goal For 2021 (& The Best Books I Read Last Year!).

You would think that in the middle of a pandemic, I would have had nothing better to do than lots of reading but I sadly only managed to read 18 books in the whole of 2020. I am quite a keen reader so this number was quite disappointing to me but I think I found it very hard to “switch off” last year, and honestly, reading wasn’t my main priority.

I do really want to do better with my reading though as it’s something that I truly love. I’ve got a fair few books waiting to be read at the moment but I thought I’d take you through just some of the books that I did read and love last year first before touching on some that I’m hoping to read in 2021.

Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams

“Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle-class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.”

I always recommend this book – it highlights the BLM movement and also the casual racism and racist comments that Black people and POC get daily. It’s quite an uplifting story about someone realising that they have the strength within themselves to overcome hard times and although I found a lot happened at the end of the book, it was a very realistic story as it didn’t have a perfect ending and highlighted the fact that the main character had to keep working on themselves.

The Flatshare – Beth O’Leary

“Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…”

I really enjoyed this book – it’s definitely a “Rom-Com” but it’s lighthearted and also a fairly quick read. It’s got a really interesting note aspect to the writing which I didn’t see coming and also focuses on gas-lighting and emotional abuse in relationships. I really like that this book highlighted this as I felt it wrote about it in a realistic way.

The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell

“Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported living at Cheyne Walk were gone.”

This was a book full of twists and turns. It started off fairly strong but got a bit slow towards the middle – EVERYTHING happened at the end. It’s very dramatic and exciting and a tiny bit strange at times too.

The Image Of You – Adele Parks

“Twins Anna and Zoe are identical in appearance and utterly different in personality. They share a bond so close that nothing – and no one – can rip them apart. Until Anna meets charismatic Nick. Anna is trusting, romantic and hopeful; she thinks Nick is perfect.
Zoe is daring, dangerous and extreme; she thinks Nick is a liar. Zoe has seen Anna betrayed by men before. She’ll stop at nothing to discover the truth about Nick.”

This is a really good, fast-paced book to start, a tiny bit slow in the middle and then somewhere along you end up hating all the characters! The ending was SO good, really gripping and something I didn’t see coming either.

I really did not read much at all in 2020 so I’m hoping to change all that this year by sticking to my reading goal and buying lots of interesting books that I just can’t wait to read! A few that I have my eye on already are:

My Dark Vanessa – Kate Elizabeth Russell

“Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.”

This is apparently quite a dark subject matter and a heavy book to read but I quite like something dark every now and again to combat all the romances I read! I definitely think this is going to be a popular book for 2021.

Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid

“In the midst of a family crisis one late evening, white blogger Alix Chamberlain calls her African American babysitter, Emira, asking her to take toddler Briar to the local market for distraction. There, the security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar, and Alix’s efforts to right the situation turn out to be good intentions selfishly mismanaged.”

This is a very popular book – I have seen it all over Instagram and it definitely sounds like my kind of book.

Dolly Alderton – Ghosts

“Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he’s going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan.

A new relationship couldn’t have come at a better time – her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of time passing and opportunities dwindling. Friendships are fading, ex-boyfriends are moving on and, worse, everyone’s moving to the suburbs. There’s no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who’s caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing in slow-motion into dementia.”

I love Dolly Alderton – she is a gorgeous writer who is very talented and captures moments so well. I’ve read “Everything I know about love” and it was such a good, potent book that sticks with you.

Small Pleasures – Clare Chambers

“1957, the suburbs of South East London. Jean Swinney is a journalist on a local paper, trapped in a life of duty and disappointment from which there is no likelihood of escape. When a young woman, Gretchen Tilbury, contacts the paper to claim that her daughter is the result of a virgin birth, it is down to Jean to discover whether she is a miracle or a fraud. As the investigation turns her quiet life inside out, Jean is suddenly given an unexpected chance at friendship, love and – possibly – happiness. But there will, inevitably, be a price to pay.”

This seems like such an interesting book with a very unique story – I’ve not read anything by Clare Chambers before but she is a celebrated author so I’m looking forward to reading this.

Just like you – Nick Hornby

‘On an average Saturday morning in a butcher’s shop in North London, Lucy and Joseph meet on opposite sides of the counter. She is a teacher and mother of two, with a past she is trying to forget; he is an aspiring DJ with a wide-open future that maybe needs to start becoming more focused. Lucy and Joseph are opposites in almost all ways. Can something life-changing grow from uncommon ground?”

This is another highly recommended book that comes from the same author of “About a boy” which is a great read (and film!). It follows the relationship between Lucy, a white 42-year-old single mother of two, unexpectedly finds love with Joseph, a black 22-year-old man of multiple part-time jobs.

I’m very fortunate that I have a Kindle that Elliot got for me a few years ago, it’s great for travelling and is something I pick up all the time when I want to buy some books from amazon – it’s very handy especially now when I can’t go shopping for books or to the library.

I’m really hoping to read more this year as I miss getting lost in a good book, I’m definitely a more relaxed and happier person if I have a book to get lost in and there are so many new titles out at the moment. Correct me if I’m wrong but I swear it’s one of the only industries that doesn’t seem to have been affected too badly by the pandemic!

What’s on your reading list this year?