My 2021 wrap-up: the best and worst books I’ve read this year

My 2021 wrap-up: the best and worst books I’ve read this year

Hello my fellow bookworms! And welcome to my 2021 wrap-up. I’ve made a list of the top 10 best books and worst books I’ve read in 2021. Let me know in the comments what your best and worst books of 2021 are!

In 2021, I’ve read a total of 58 books, not including the books I’m currently reading, One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus, The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bailyss, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen and The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. I’m hoping to finish at least two of these in the last few days of 2021 to reach exactly 60 books (The Midnight Library is a buddy read that ends on the 31st, so I should be alright).

My list of this years’ books includes a number of Dutch books by Dutch authors with no English translation, which I’ve excluded from my list(s) of best and worse books (except for one I REALLY didn’t like). I’ll list the Dutch titles all the way at the bottom of the post for those interested.

The 10 best books I’ve read in 2021 are:

10: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Rating: 4 out of 5.

9: From Fame to Ruin by Jina S. Bazzar

Rating: 4 out of 5.

8: Daughter of the Pirate King & Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

7: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

6: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Rating: 4 out of 5.

5: Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

Rating: 4 out of 5.

4: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Rating: 5 out of 5.

3: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Rating: 5 out of 5.

2: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Rating: 5 out of 5.

1: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Honourable mentions:

  • The Windsor Knot by S.J. Bennett ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Feminists Don’t Wear Pink by Scarlett Curtis ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle (#1) and The Dark Prophecy (#2) by Rick Riordan ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Blackout by Marc Elsberg ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The worst books I’ve read in 2021

It doesn’t quite seem fair to call them the “worst” books, because I don’t think any of the books I read this year are actually bad, so let’s just call them my “least favourite” books of the year, shall we?

5: In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Rating: 3 out of 5.

4: Empath by David M. Clark

Rating: 3 out of 5.

3: How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates

Rating: 3 out of 5.

2: The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

Rating: 2 out of 5.

1: Om nooit te vergeten by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Dutch titles I didn’t include in the ranking:

  • Small Talk Survival by Liz Luyben
  • Damn, Honey by Marie Lotte Hagen
  • Prfct by Saskia Geraerts
  • Waarom je niet zomaar moet stemmen waar je ouders op stemmen by Titia Hoogendoorn
  • Stoorzender by Arjen Lubach
  • Omdenken in communicatie by Berthold Gunster
  • Ja-maar… Omdenken by Berthold Gunster
  • Eerste hulp by hoogsensitiviteit by Elke L.S. Van Hoof
  • Een boek vol taalfouten by Friederieke de Raat
  • Happy Life 365 by Kelly Weekers

Everything I’ve read in November

Everything I’ve read in November: A wrap-up

Good morning/afternoon/night, depending on when you’re reading this! November was a really good month for me, reading-wise. I’ve read a total of 9 books (and bought many, many more new ones, but that’s irrelevant) and there are 4 books that I am currently reading. Since this blog is still fairly new, I thought I’d do a kind of “November wrap-up”-thing to give you an idea on what kinds of books I read and will be talking about and reviewing. I’m just going to go through them one by one, give you my ratings, a short (spoiler free) summary and some of my thoughts. If you’re not interested in one of the books, just scroll to the next one. I’ve put the books in the order that I’ve read them in.

Book 1: Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given

Rating: 3 out of 5.
  • Feminism/Gender studies
  • LGBT
  • Activism
  • Published in 2020
  • Goodreads rating: 3.90
  • Hardcover Edition
  • 224 pages
  • TW: rape, sexual assault

Disclaimer: I use the word “queer” in this review, because that’s the word that Florence Given uses in her book. Please do not take offense if that’s not the term that you prefer or think should be used.

This is Florence Given’s, a London based artist, writer and activist, debut novel. All of the art in the book is made by Given herself.

I initially gave this book 4 stars, but in retrospect I decided to lower it to 3 stars. Mainly because I looked at the back cover and the blurb said: “The game-changing book that every woman needs” and well, it’s really not… Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty good read. I went through it fairly easily and I definitely learned some new things every now ant then, but it’s really more of a summary of the basics of feminism and it focuses A LOT on being queer, which I am not. If you are and you’re struggling with what that means to you and your femininity, I would recommend reading this book, because it does give a lot of useful advice in that department. However, if you’re a straight cis woman, a few of the chapters will not apply to you.

“There is enough room for all women to be whole without tearing each other down.”

Florence Given, Women Don’t Owe You Pretty

You would like this if:

  • You like reading about feminism or are interested in feminism;
  • You’re looking for a smooth introduction into feminism;
  • You’re LGBTQ+ and you’re struggling with femininity
  • You want to read about a queer girl’s struggle with feminism.

I posted a longer review of this book a few days ago, so check that one out if you want to know more. I’ll link it at the bottom of this post.

Book 2: Een boek vol taalfouten (A Book Full of Grammar Mistakes) by Friederieke de Raat

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • Dutch
  • Nonfiction
  • Language
  • Published in 2019
  • Goodreads rating: 3.67
  • Paperback
  • 208 pages

This is a Dutch reference book about common Dutch grammar mistakes. It consists of two previously published books by the same author. It tackles common grammar mistakes and offers grammar rules and mnemonic devices for each type of mistake.

I’ll be short about this, because nobody probably cares about this book. Basically, it does the trick. It’s not really meant to be réád, it’s more of a reference book for common Dutch grammar mistakes and it’s a pretty good one. It’s clear and funny with lots of good examples. Although for a reference book, I would have chosen to give the chapters a name that makes it easier to recognise the mistake you’re looking for.

You would like this if:

  • You’re Dutch;
  • You’re a grammar guru;
  • You’re confused about spelling and grammar and you need a book for reference.

Book 3: Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • Mystery/crime
  • Fiction
  • Classics
  • First published in 1937
  • Goodreads rating: 4.11
  • Hardcover (Dutch)
  • 252 pages

This is the seventeenth book in the Hercule Poirot-series by Agatha Christie, though they do not have to be read in that order to make sense. As the title suggests, this book takes place in Egypt, where detective Hercule Poirot is supposed to be on vacation. In a resort, just before he leaves on a cruise on the Nile, Poirot runs into a young, wealthy girl named Linnet Doyle, who just married her best friends fiancé. She tells Poirot that her best friend is following her and threatening her. When Poirot starts his cruise, Linnet Doyle is there and so is her best friend. Now look at the title of the book and see if you can figure out what happens next.

I don’t mean to brag, but.. I figured out exactly what happened before Poirot did. Maybe I should consider a change of occupation.. All kidding aside, I really enjoyed finding out who the murderer was. Agatha Christie has a way of keeping the drama alive (pun intended) until the very end. Even though I was pretty sure I knew who’d done it and how when the murder was committed, she keeps you on edge until you finally find out if you were right. There’s just two things that bothered me a little about this book. 1: the murder isn’t committed until almost halfway through the book, and 2: character-wise, it’s like you’re reading Game of Thrones. The first hundred pages, it feels like she’s introducing a new character every page and half of them have no importance to the story whatsoever. I tried taking notes on the characters throughout the book to see if I could figure out who’d done it before Poirot figured it out, but I stopped after about a hundred pages because it felt completely irrelevant.

You would like this if:

  • You’re a true crime fan;
  • You like a good “whodunnit” mystery;
  • You like a slow-burn crime/mystery novel;
  • You’re looking for an accessible classic novel;
  • You like Agatha Christie.

Book 4: It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Romance
  • Fiction
  • Published in 2016
  • Goodreads rating: 4.43
  • Paperback
  • 376 pages
  • TW: (domestic) abuse

Just a warning in advance: I read this book without reading any reviews or summaries and I think it really ads to the experience, so if you’re thinking of reading this book, I would recommend skipping to the “you would like this if” or to the next book. For this exact reason, I will skip the summary for this book and go straight to the review. If you’re headstrong and still want to continue reading, I tried keeping the review as spoiler-free as possible.

The best way I can describe this book is.. it was a rollercoaster. An emotional rollercoaster. It’s really not your typical romance novel. It’s not even your typical Colleen Hoover novel. This book truly is one of a kind. You will go through so many emotions, I can almost guarantee an existential crisis after finishing this. The characters are unique and amazing, the writing is gorgeous and the plot and the layout of the book are genius. Trust me, read. this. book.

You would like this if:

  • You like having your heart broken by fictional characters;
  • You’re looking for something to have an existential crisis about;
  • You’re looking for a romance book that can make you laugh out loud and sob even louder.

Book 5: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • Young Adult
  • Murder mystery/crime/thriller
  • Fiction
  • Published in 2019
  • Goodreads rating 4.36
  • Paperback
  • 433 pages

Five years ago, a girl named Andie Bell was murdered by a boy named Sal Singh. The boy then killed himself. Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure, though. She thinks Sal is innocent and the real killer is still out there. She takes it upon herself to investigate the murder. When she starts getting anonymous threats, she knows she’s onto something.

For some reason it really bothered me that the main character is called Pippa. I know it’s a young adult novel, but she’s not a toddler, nor a cartoon character.. Anyway, once I got over the name, I really enjoyed this book. It’s pretty lengthy, but it felt like a breeze! Like all murder mystery novels, it starts off a little slow, but the fact that it alternates between Pippa’s life and her Production Log entries, keeps it interesting. The book has a huge plot twist that I wasn’t expecting, followed by another plot twist that I wás kind of expecting and then ANOTHER plot twist that took me completely by surprise. Like most good mystery novels, you struggle through 100 pages of information, then it starts getting good and the pace picks up and then suddenly the story is over and you just stare blankly into space for a few hours trying to wrap your head around it.

You would like this if:

  • You like a good murder mystery;
  • You like a badass High School girl who’s determined to get to the bottom of things;
  • You like plot twists.

Book 6: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Rating: 3 out of 5.
  • Fantasy
  • Young Adult
  • Published in 2015
  • Goodreads rating: 4.06
  • Paperback
  • 384 pages

Kell is one of the last Antari, magicians with the ability to travel between parallel universes through a magical city. There is Grey London, Red London, White London and there used to be Black London. Because of his ability, Kell works as a messenger between the Londons, but he is also a smuggler. After a deal goes horribly wrong, he runs into Delilah Bard, a pickpocket of Grey London. She attempts to steal from him, which links her to Kell.

This book didn’t grip me as much as I’d hoped. I was really hyped for ADSoM, because I LOVED The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (if you haven’t read that one yet, drop everything right now and go read it) and this book (series) was really hyped up everywhere. It didn’t really live up to that hype. I mean, it’s good, the characters are really well-written, I love the whole concept of multiple Londons and the dialogue is great. Also, the book is divided in 14 parts, which have about 3 to 5 chapters each, so that makes it really easy to read. I read this book very quickly, but in a lot of small reading sessions, because I couldn’t concentrate on it for too long at a time. I just didn’t grip me as much as I’d expected it to and I’m not sure why. Still, it’s a really good book and I’m still going to read the rest of the series.

You would like this if:

  • You like reading about a completely different magical world;
  • You’d like a story about a badass heroine who is actually a thief.

Book 7: Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • Fantasy
  • Young Adult
  • Dystopian
  • Published in 2014
  • Goodreads rating: 4.00
  • 285 pages

Four: A Divergent Collection is a collection of short stories from the Divergent universe from Four’s perspective. It contains four stories; The Transfer, The Initiate, The Son and The Traitor, as well as some exclusive scenes from Divergent.

I read the Divergent books almost 10 years ago, probably (the first one came out in 2011), so I kind of remembered the story, but not much else. Turns out Veronica Roth is actually a really good writer! I figured the story would be kind of interesting, since the Divergent books and movies don’t tell you that much about Four’s back story, so I was just going to read through it and add it to my trophy shelf with the Divergent books. I really had not expected to like it this much. So naturally, I added the Carve the Mark books by Veronica Roth to my TBR-list.

You would like this if:

  • You have read the Divergent books and liked them;
  • You want to know more about Four’s back story.

Book 8: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • Dystopian
  • Young Adult
  • Fantasy
  • Romance
  • Published in 2011
  • Goodreads rating: 3.92
  • 338 pages

It’s going to be really hard to summarise this without spoiling anything, but I’ll do my best. Juliette is locked up for murdering a small child by accidentally touching him. Her touch can hurt or kill a person. After 264 days of isolation, Juliette suddenly gets a new cellmate. Two weeks later, The Reestablishment is letting her out to be used as a weapon. She recognises one of the soldiers as her former cellmate.

After reading the first few pages, I was really disappointed with this book. It read like it was written by a 5-year old and I HATED it. But since this book had been hyped up so much, I decided to keep going. I am so glad that I did. It turned out really good. I’m not sure whether the writing got better or it just stopped bothering me, but it’s clear that Mafi went for a diary-like vibe in the beginning (the main character carries around a notebook). The story, even though it feels a little all over the place like she’s trying to fit 8 different kinds of stories into 1, is pretty amazing. You definitely have no idea how the story is going to progress and I loved that. It turned out to be one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read.

You would like this if:

  • You like dystopian/post-apocalyptic books, but with a twist;
  • You like an enemies to lovers story;
  • You’re bored of knowing exactly what’s going to happen in a book;
  • You like a story about a supernatural girl who has no idea what she’s capable of.

Book 9: Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Memoir/Autobiography
  • Comedy
  • Published in 2016
  • Goodreads rating: 3.93
  • Kindle Edition
  • 229 pages
  • Reading time ca. 5 hours

The full title of the book is Talking as Fast as I Can: from Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between, so.. there’s your summary! Just kidding, I’ll be a little more thorough. The book is a memoir of Lauren Graham’s life, which includes two essays/chapters on Gilmore Girls (What It Was Like, Part One and What It Was Like, Part Two) and some chapters on her childhood, various endeavours, such as Project Runway and some small plays she starred in, the series Parenthood and her book Someday, Someday, Maybe, amongst other things. The book is written in chronological order with plenty of pictures.

I was actually really afraid to start on this book, because I absolutely love Gilmore Girls (I’m rewatching it for my 6th or 7th time right now) and I love Lorelai and Rory so much, so I was afraid that it wouldn’t meet my expectations. Also, I read some reviews in advance and they said that there was a lot of not Gilmore-related content and I actually don’t know any other stuff with Lauren Graham in it, but then I figured that I could just skip over those bits if they weren’t interesting. I ended up reading the whole thing, start to finish, in 3 days (WHILE also reading Shatter Me). I had so much fun reading this.

You will like this if:

  • You’re a Gilmore Girls fan and you’re curious to know about what was happening behind the scenes and the life of Lauren Graham.

Obviously if you have no idea who Lauren Graham is and you’ve never seen Gilmore Girls, don’t read this book. You won’t enjoy it.


That’s the end of my November wrap-up! If you liked this kind of post, let me know and I’ll see if I can do more of these wrap-ups. I’ll definitely do a 2021 wrap-up with my favourite books from this year. Check out the full reviews for some of these books below.

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