As we’re approaching the mid-way point of 2021 and I’ve already passed my yearly reading goal of 50 books (although, honestly, I set the bar lower than I actually wanted so I didn’t stress myself out trying to hit an arbitrary number), I thought it might be interesting to look back on the last 6 months and share my favourite reads of the year so far. I wonder how much this list might change by December!
So here they are, my top reads of 2021 so far!
An immediate and obvious pick, and I’ll be surprised if it leaves my top reads by the end of the year. I LOVED Annihilation and the entire Southern Reach trilogy. I’m so glad I gave this book/series a chance because I watched the film first and then read the book, and I don’t typically pick up the book once I have seen it on screen but I was drawn in by the stunning covers.
Annihilation is a fairly short novel which follows four women on a mission into Area X, a strange part of the world that has been taken over by something. This group is the twelfth expedition sent in to try and find out what Area X is and what it wants.
Jeff is the master of the ominous, the uncanny and the quietly creepy. All the way through, I was on the edge of my seat wondering what was going on and his writing is just sublime. I cannot recommend the book or the film enough.
I didn’t really know what to expect from this book but it has stuck with me since I read it at the beginning of January. I loved the short chapters, the gorgeous writing and the claustrophobia of the world that our protagonist lives in, and the weight of the decisions she must make and those that have been made for her.
Blue Ticket follows Calla, a woman born into a world where the decision as to whether you’ll be a mother or not is made for you. The story unfolds as Calla begins to question whether the life she has been assigned is the right one for her.
Wow. So, I read this book in February and I am still pretty obsessed with how amazing it was. I was blown away by the perfect combination of the writing, the plot and the style. I love a simple premise that’s executed well and this is exactly that. It’s short, sharp, tense and beautifully written. I was hooked.
The Push tells the story of one woman’s troubled experience of motherhood – and how it is not everything she’d hoped it would be.
An unexpected gem from this year. I’m so grateful to have received a proof copy of Brood as I’m not sure it’s one that I would have immediately thought would be my cup of tea, but I fell in love with it. It’s a book that has firmly lodged itself inside my heart.
Brood is about a woman who is trying to keep her brood of chickens alive despite the challenges they face – but it’s also about so much more. It’s such a strange but warm book that tenderly explores grief, loss and life through a seemingly simple premise.
I loved reading this book! I cannot wait to read it again. The Apparition Phase had been sat on my shelf for a little while before I got around to it (namely because it was a chunky hardback and I was daunted by the prospect of starting it) but I am so glad I did. It was spooky, gripping, and a perfectly haunting read.
This book tells the story of Tim and Abi, siblings who play a trick on a classmate by faking a ghost photo in their attic room. However, this sets off an unexpected chain of events and things take a much darker turn.
Another fantastic discovery this year! I’m a bit late to the party with Paper Girls but it meant I could dive straight in and read my way through all 6 volumes in less than a month (I definitely could have read them quicker but I tried to stagger myself).
Paper Girls is a mystery/science fiction story which follows four 12 year old paper girls as they uncover mysterious forces from the future… time travellers warring across all time. Absolute chaos ensues!
I adored the colours and drawings, they’re so bold and beautiful. It was great to read a series that was fantastical and weird, and one primarily focused on kick-ass women and girls.
I was lucky enough to get my hands on a proof copy of Chouette and I immediately devoured it. Chouette was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. If you’re into books that can be described as ‘strange’ or ‘weird’, then this one is absolutely for you. It’s coming out towards the end of the year so add it to your TBR list.
Chouette is about a mother who discovers she is pregnant with an owl-baby. The story follows her journey to giving birth, and learning to love and care for this predatory bird-child. So strange, and so great!
Some honourable mentions
I just wanted to throw a couple of honourable mentions into the mix too. If any of these have been catching your eye and you’ve been thinking about giving them a go, then here’s the sign that you definitely should! These are all books that I really enjoyed reading and would highly recommend.
- The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
- The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado
- Under the Blue by Oana Aristide
- Yes Yes More More by Anna Wood
- Salt Slow by Julia Armfield
- We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib
- Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
What’s been your favourite read of the year so far?
I’d love to hear about your favourites or what you’re looking forward to picking up during the rest of 2021. Let me know in the comments!
Don’t forget to follow me over on Twitter at @HannahDurham_ to get up-to-date book reviews and recommendations throughout the year!