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2021 - My Year in Books

At this festive time of year, a number of the broadsheets are publishing their favourite books of the year. It is a nice way to look back on books that you may have read, been amazed by, thrilled by, terrified by and truly loved. I wrote a Books of the Year post back in 2020, following the email I received about my statistics from Good Reads. But you know what? Books are not about statistics (unless it's a book about statistics of course!). And so this year's awards are going to look a little different.

Read my Books of the Year 2020 post

On a personal note, we had quite a big year. We went to Barbados, celebrated my friend's wedding, I went on a hen-do where I got scared by a book, but by far our biggest project was moving house. We are just over a month in our new house, and whilst I miss our good friends from our previous home, I already love the village and house we are in.

By my dodgy reckoning, I've read 98 books this year. My most read author was Miss Read, purely because I was part of a book group reading Miss Read each month. And my next read authors were Rosamunde Pilcher, Agatha Christie and Karen Swan. (Tell me you are surprised!). Below is the shortlist and at the bottom of the post are my Top 3 books of the year.

Favourite Rediscovery

These are books that I have read before, but have seriously enjoyed re-reading.

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters - I should have included a category called books that made me hoot with laughter, because this would win it! I loved re-rereading this and it was as funny as I remember it.

Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon - This was a book for a moment in time when I needed to slow down with the blog. This book made me do it, because it is a feast for all 5 senses. I loved gentle Guido Brunetti and peeking into Venetian society.

Backpack by Emily Barr - I'm not really sure how I came to re-read this, but I'm pleased I did as it returned to the 1990's and being a bookseller. I loved re-reading this again.

Favourite Fiction Novel

New to me fiction novels.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman - Beartown was such a powerful read and I spent most of the novel reading it in dread wanting the torture of not knowing to end whilst simultaneously NOT wanting it to end.

The Foundling by Stacey Halls - I love this author's atmospheric writing, and seem to have fallen into enjoying her novels around Halloween time. Well-Researched, well-written and with strong female characters. Brilliant.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins - At the time of writing, our family book group are voting on our favourite read of the year, including our favourite book club read. I would put money on this winning that particular accolade. UPDATE - I was right! This book was chosen as our favourite family book club read of the year.

Favourite Comfort Read

One Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan - Perfect summer read. I really enjoyed this, made me want to visit Paris again and celebrated female friendships.

Christmas at the Little Knitting Box by Helen J. Rolfe - Also known as the book I wished I had read sooner. This was perfect for the start of Christmas, cost characters, every Christmas film you could think of. Heaven.

Shipyard Girls Under the Mistletoe by Nancy Revell - My first blog tour! I've loved this series from the start when my lovely mother-in-law picked up a signed copy for me. It's set at Christmas, and continues the story of a brilliant group of women working in Sunderland's shipyards during the Second World War. Loved It!

Favourite Non-Fiction Book

Wintering by Katherine May - Just beautiful. A book about the times in your life when you need to 'go fallow' and how other countries, nature, and customs prepare for this. It also mentioned 2 of my favourite children's books.

Relentless by Alistair Brownlee - Written through a series of interviews with people at the top of their sport, this provides a rare insight into the sacrifices that sportsmen and women must make to be top of their game. Written by my favourite athlete, he also provides some humorous insight into his own career.

The Almanac - Lia Leendertz - At the start of each month, I have been reading the entry for the month which details nature, tide times, sun and moon information and customs for the month ahead. It's a lovely meditative book for the month ahead.

Favourite Crime Novel

The Appeal by Janice Hallett - Amazing, original idea, about a murder set around an amateur dramatic production. We are presented the evidence in order, through emails, flyers and messages. We don't know who has gone been murdered, or who has been wrongly convicted. Already looking forward to The Twyford Code.

The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves - Read this at the start of the year and then proceeded to read 2 other books by this author from different series. Vera is great and the books are moody and atmospheric.

Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson - I loved this for nostalgic reasons. Set in a bookshop, in Boston at Christmas, it follows manager Malcolm Kershaw as he attempts to solve murders based on his blog posts about the 'perfect murder'. It also reads like a who's who of crime fiction, and made me want to read ALL of the crime novels.

Book that Scared me Witless

Ungodly by Braedon Riddick - Picture the scene if you will folks. A plucky blogger enjoying a night out in Manchester to celebrate the marriage of one of her best friends. Unknowingly she has managed to pick up a book so terrifying, it would lead her to dance around her room in the morning, deciding whether to knock on the door of one of her fellow hens, to see if she can sleep with them rather than alone with the book. But man this was good! I still get goosebumps now just thinking of it.

And so.....drumroll please, My favourite books of the year are....

1st Place - Beartown by Fredrik Backman

2nd Place - The Appeal by Janice Hallett

3rd Place - Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon

Please do let me know your favourite read of the year!.

I will be back on 31st December with my December wrap-up, may I wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas. I hope it is relaxing, peaceful and maybe a book or two finds its way to you. Thank you for following along all year. I've loved talking with you all about books.

Merry Christmas. xxxx