21 Books In ’21

Here are the books I’ve read in 2021 – a visual log, sort of like my 100 Books Reading Project, which I sloughed away at for two years before finally completing. My new goal is to read – at least – 21 books in 2021. This past year, I’ve mostly been reading fiction. (Although I have been making exceptions for humor) I used to read a lot more nonfiction when I was little, but now I find fiction more absorptive. It’s my way of thinking about the world without thinking about the world.

Also, I’ve copied over the synopsis – none of these are mine.

⭐ Subjective Star Rating System ⭐

3 –  Felt ambivalent about the story.

3.5 – Enjoyed the story. Might recommend to specific people.

4 – Liked the story. Would recommend to specific people.

4.5 – Was moved by story. Would reread and recommend.



Synopsis: “Addie is The Boston Girl, the spirited daughter of an immigrant Jewish family, born in 1900 to parents who were unprepared for America and its effect on their three daughters. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, to finding the love of her life, eighty-five-year-old Addie recounts her adventures with humor and compassion for the naïve girl she once was.”



Synopsis: “With the backdrop of the Japanese occupation of Korea, Pachinko follows the lives of a family living in Korea that re-establishes itself in Japan. The narrative progresses through the years and the events of WWII, and we see the family’s struggles and the sacrifices made in the name of survival. Pachinko is a story of a family told across generations, whose lives are shaped by the events and attitudes of the world around them.”



Synopsis: “One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose of­fice she suddenly lands. As Gottlieb explores the inner chambers of her patients’ lives — a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a young newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness, a senior citizen threatening to end her life on her birthday if nothing gets better, and a twenty-something who can’t stop hooking up with the wrong guys — she finds that the questions they are struggling with are the very ones she is now bringing to Wendell.”



Synopsis: “Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance. In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life.”



Synopsis: “A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.”


Synopsis: “Eckhart Tolle’s message is simple: living in the now is the truest path to happiness and enlightenment. And while this message may not seem stunningly original or fresh, Tolle’s clear writing, supportive voice and enthusiasm make this an excellent manual for anyone who’s ever wondered what exactly “living in the now” means.”


Synopsis: “In The Nickel Boys, Elwood Curtis is a straight-laced and principled boy growing up in the black neighborhood of Frenchtown in Tallahassee, Florida. He works hard and has dreams of participating in the black civil rights struggle. An unlucky encounter lands him in Nickel Academy, a state-sponsored reform school for boys. There, Elwood meets Turner and a host of other black boys looking to navigate the system and work their way out.”


Synopsis: “The eight stories in this new book are all told in the first person by a classic Murakami narrator. From memories of youth, meditations on music, and an ardent love of baseball, to dreamlike scenarios and invented jazz albums, together these stories challenge the boundaries between our minds and the exterior world.”


Synopsis: “Goodbye, Columbus is the story of Neil Klugman and pretty, spirited Brenda Patimkin, he of poor Newark, she of suburban Short Hills, who meet one summer break and dive into an affair that is as much about social class and suspicion as it is about love. The novella is accompanied by five short stories that range in tone from the iconoclastic to the astonishingly tender and that illuminate the subterranean conflicts between parents and children and friends and neighbors in the American Jewish diaspora.”

**4 for the first story, 3 for the rest, which lost my attention.


Synopsis: “Exuberance and dread, attachment and estrangement: in this novel, Jhumpa Lahiri stretches her themes to the limit. In the arc of one year, an unnamed narrator in an unnamed city, in the middle of her life’s journey, realizes that she’s lost her way. The city she calls home acts as a companion and interlocutor: traversing the streets around her house, and in parks, piazzas, museums, stores, and coffee bars, she feels less alone.”


Synopsis: “When a series of inexplicable suicides begin to haunt their community, no one is more fascinated by the terrible phenomenon than young June. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, she sits hawk-eyed at the center, bearing witness to the truth behind pulled curtains: the affairs, the racism, the hidden abuses.”


Synopsis: “This is a memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity. In this story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up the only Asian American kid at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.”


Synopsis: “A young woman’s crush on a privileged former classmate becomes a story of love, lies, and dark obsession, offering stark insights into the immigrant experience, as it hurtles to its electrifying ending.

Raised outside of Boston, Ivy’s immigrant grandmother relies on Ivy’s mild appearance for cover as she teaches her granddaughter how to pilfer items from yard sales and second-hand shops. Thieving allows Ivy to accumulate the trappings of a suburban teen—and, most importantly, to attract the attention of Gideon Speyer, the golden boy of a wealthy political family. “


Synopsis: “A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Xiomara Baptista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acedevo.”



Synopsis: “A bright, poignant, and deeply funny autobiographical account of coming of age as an amputee cancer survivor, from Josh Sundquist: Paralympic ski racer, YouTube star, and motivational speaker.

Josh Sundquist only ever had one girlfriend.
For twenty-three hours.
In eighth grade.

Why was Josh still single? To find out, he tracked down the girls he had tried to date and asked them straight up: What went wrong?”


Synopsis: “From despoiling an exhibit at the Natural History Museum to provoking the ire of her first boss to siccing the cops on her mysterious neighbor, Crosley can do no right despite the best of intentions — or perhaps because of them. Together, these essays create a startlingly funny and revealing portrait of a complex and utterly recognizable character who aims for the stars but hits the ceiling, and the inimitable city that has helped shape who she is.”



Synopsis: “The refreshingly original debut memoir of a guarded, over-achieving, self-lacerating young lawyer who reluctantly agrees to get psychologically and emotionally naked in a room of six complete strangers – her psychotherapy group – and in turn finds human connection, and herself.”




Synopsis: “Covering subjects big and small, and written in an immediate and engaging style, this collection touches on both the personal and political. Loss, love, and memory are investigated, along with the upheavals of our modern age, the reality of our current predicaments, and the ravages of poverty, racism, and social unrest. Oates skillfully writes characters ranging from a former doctor at a Chinese People’s Liberation Army hospital to Little Albert, a six-month-old infant who took part in a famous study that revealed evidence of classical conditioning in human beings.”

7 thoughts on “21 Books In ’21

  1. Thanks for sharing the list of books. I might pick up a few to explore. Crying in H-mart sounds like a good one to read. Are they avaialble on Libby app? I have that app with my local piblic library.

    I tried to read books by Haruki Marukami a few years ago but could not absorb any of them. I am not sure why that was the case. I know a few friends of mine really adore his novels and gave high praises.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Trang!

      Yes, I discovered Crying in HMart on Libby as one of the currently available books. It’s an amazing book. I would highly recommend it….as a daughter (and wild child heh) it really resonated with me! I think you’d love it, too, since you write a lot about food and cooking and motherhood 😊

      Haruki Murakami’s books always make me feel like I’m in a strange dream. There are some books I also find hard to absorb, they seem incomprehensible and odd, but then I really love the others for how surreal they are 🙂


  2. Sorry, I had a few typos in my comments.

    Also, there are three books I read earlier this year that I really like — The American Marriage, The Dutch House and The Long Petal of The Sea.

    For the rest of the year, I picked up crime and suspense, mostly about FBI and CIA related themes. I think it was an interest after watching Jack Ryan series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Amielle! Funny you mention Murakami… I tried to read some of his other books the other day, but couldn’t get into it. I mostly like his stuff when I’m in a weird ‘trippy’ mood, so I don’t blame you!


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