This is Part 1 of 4 posts about the books I read in 2021. I’ll start with the shorter reads.
Amazon Kindle has teamed up with some great story writers for a series of short stories in various themes that are available only as Kindle books or Audibles. I read a few that were powerful reads.
This year, I also read some books from the romance genre, from the literary to the unabashed soft porn. I wasn’t blown away by any of them, but they were good in-between reads—a palette cleanser, if you may!
I couldn’t catch up on any poetry collections published this year, mainly because I didn’t have the time to research the titles I wanted to read. I’m still looking for an easier way to get a list of books from different genres and regions without spending hours researching.
Short Stories I read in 2021
- Emergency Skin by N. K. Jemisin (Forward Collection)
I loved the concept of this dystopian world, taking into account all that’s messed up in a Capitalist society. It drops some major truth bombs in a few short pages.
“For all these centuries, the Founders told us that the Earth died because of greed. That was true, but they lied about whose greed was to blame.”
- Zikora by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A powerful short story from the POV of a woman who’s just given birth. She talks about her role in society, her relationship with the baby’s father, and her relationship with her own mother. How all of this changes after she gives birth is a revelation.
“You can’t nice your way to being loved.”
- Graceful Burdens by Roxane Gay (Out of Line Collection)
There’s no doubt she hits the nail on the head every time she writes. This is reminiscent of the Handmaid’s Tale where the government controls a woman’s reproductive choices, but the similarity is only in theme. The story talks about the emotional toll on a woman who is not allowed to reproduce.
“Many unlicensed women took to other women because they had no need to put up with men.”
Books on Romance
- The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
This was quite a disappointment. It started off on a promising note of a centuries-old mystery that was quite a damp squib by the end. Too many happy coincidences and not enough character to the story made it a one-dimensional read. The present-day romance was cringe-worthy.
“History doesn’t record the intricacies of women’s relationships with one another; they’re not to be uncovered.”
- The House by the Sea by Louise Douglas
Honestly, it was such a depressing topic that whatever romance was presented became more of a downer. I just couldn’t finish this book.
“We will never regain what we have lost, but we have accepted that the losing was not the end we thought it was.”
- Call me by your Name by André Aciman
Check out my full review here. I liked this book filled with teenage longings of first love. Most of us would identify with the obsessiveness we felt when we first fell head over heels. The writing flows smoothly as a summer’s breeze.
“He came. He left. Nothing else had changed. I had not changed. The world hadn’t changed. Yet nothing would be the same. All that remains is dreammaking and strange remembrance.”
- The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn
This was my indulgent read of the year. The storyline is similar to the famed Bridgerton series but this was the first book of Quinn’s that I read. Needless to say, loads of steamy sex scenes keep you glued to the pages. There’s a semblance of a story somewhere, but who’s paying attention to that, really?
“Society is capricious and rewards the bad as often as the good. But it never rewards the quiet.”
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
The books from this fantasy fiction series have flooded my Instagram for ages, so I finally gave in and tried out the first book. It is a poor representation of the Beauty and the Beast story for adults, with a lot of sex thrown in. I struggled to finish it, cringed throughout, and don’t think I want to pick up book 2.
“I was as unburdened as a piece of dandelion fluff, and he was the wind that stirred me about the world.”
- Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi: The World Of Urdu Ghazal by Anisur Rahman
I couldn’t appreciate the book in its entirety as I had to keep checking translations for words. Some of them completely lose their charm in the rough translations. The history of the art form and the poets are fascinating, though.
Hum ko un se wafaa ki hai ummeed
Jo naheen jaanate wafaa kya hai
Translation: I want love, loyalty from one
For whom love and loyalty, what?
- While the Earth Sleeps We Travel by Ahmed M. Badr
Ahmed has collected works of poetry and prose from displaced people he’s met and added a few of his own. While it may not go in the halls of fame in terms of lyrical beauty, the content is haunting and gives us an insight into the lives of people we read about as just a number.
- The Book of Rumi by Maryam Mafi
Having read the translations by Farrukh Dhondy, these stories and translations seemed childlike. The prose was similar to the stories with morals for children, and I couldn’t finish this book.
“Once the arrow has left the bow it will never return, and so are words that leave our lips.”
- Best Love Poems of All Time published by Fingerprint! Publishing
This collection relies heavily on some famous names in classic poetry. If you’ve read Browning, Shakespeare, et al., you’ll find many of their work included but nothing new of interest.
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