• Avantika Singh

2021 Sucked But At Least I Read Some Good Books

In many ways, 2021 shaped up to be a worse year than 2020 for me. 2020 was awful, yes, (beginning of the pandemic, yada, yada), but at least I knew it was going to suck a quarter of the way through. 2021 was the year I had high hopes for, the year I thought would mark a return to pre-pandemic living, the year I came into myself and became the main character of a Sally Rooney novel, cool, intelligent, and slightly pretentious. In reality, 2021 was the year of should-have-beens and supposed-to-bes.


In the words of Gracie Abram’s song “I Miss You, I’m Sorry” (which I listened to non stop because I missed life before COVID and was incredibly sorry for taking it for granted), nothing happened according to my plans. My mental health was rocky at best, and COVID didn’t take the hint and leave the world alone. Worst of all, I didn’t even get to eat away my troubles at Fire and Ice, my favorite pizzeria in the world, because it wasn’t safe to go to Nepal during the summer.


The only silver lining to 2021’s suckiness was that because of all the time I had to kill at home with nothing to do but lay in bed (by then, I’d become too lazy to do anything else), I picked up reading again. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Avantika, why didn’t you do that in 2020, when everybody else was trying new hobbies and things they’d never be caught doing pre-lockdown? Well, I spent the entirety of 2020 watching children’s cartoons on Netflix, binge-eating junk food, and crying, so cut me some slack, okay?


Anyway, over the twelve, excruciatingly long months that made up 2021, I read some pretty good books that I liked a lot. Hopefully, after reading this, you’ll pick them up and like them a lot, too. If you do, feel free to tell me all about it the next time you see me in the library scrolling through Pinterest when I’m supposed to be doing my math homework. I’m always down to procrastinate and talk about books. Not all of these books were published in 2021; rather 2021 was when I read them. Also, they are ranked in alphabetical order, not according to preference. And now, without further ado, is the list.


Anxious People by Frederik Backman

Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery

Publication: 2019

My Rating: 5/5

My Thoughts: Funny, heartwarming, and heartbreaking, this story of an accidental hostage situation and the struggles of juggling all your responsibilities made me laugh and cry in equal measures.



Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Genre(s): Fiction, Romance, Young Adult

Publication: 2017

My Rating: 4.75/5

My Thoughts: Such a beautiful, heartbreaking story about first love. I cried multiple times while reading it.




Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian

Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary, Magical Realism

Publication: 2021

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Thoughts: Relatable and realistically flawed characters, razor-sharp prose, immigrant tales, and Old West mythology combine to form a masterpiece.




If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery

Publication: 2017

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Thoughts: Dark academia, murder, Shakespeare, and some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read.




Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

Genre(s): Poetry

Publication: 2016

My Rating: 4.75/5

My Thoughts: Some of the most beautifully-written self-reflective poetry I’ve ever read.





Normal People by Sally Rooney

Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary, Literary

Publication: 2018

My Rating: 5/5

My Thoughts: A class-conscious exploration of first love and young adulthood written in cutting prose.





Not Here to be Liked by Michelle Quach

Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Publication: 2021

My Rating: 5/5

My Thoughts: Funny, relatable, and cute, this is one of the best teen fiction books I’ve ever read.





Sabrina and Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Genre(s): Fiction, Short Stories

Publication: 2019

My Rating: 4.75/5

My Thoughts: The first short story collection I’ve read that I didn’t hate. An insightful exploration of mother-daughter relationships.




War of the Foxes by Richard Siken

Genre(s): Poetry

Publication: 2015

My Rating: 5/5

My Thoughts: I don’t even have the right words to describe this, so I’m going to borrow some from a friend: “The poems are like sweeping brush strokes that create a beautiful final image that only becomes visible after finishing the entire collection”.




White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamad

Genre(s): Nonfiction, Feminism, Politics

Publication: 2020

My Rating: 5/5

My Thoughts: The best primer on the dangers of white feminism and a call for an inclusive, intersectional one.