Saturday, 5 June 2021

My favourite reads of 2021 so far....

I stumbled across this old post and was prompted to share what I've enjoyed reading this year so far no particular order, these are the books I've enjoyed.

A Constant Hum -This is not the usual thing I read, but I really enjoyed this. I'm still a little traumatised by the bushfires, so while this is the Victorian fires from the time before, it all still resonated strongly for me. Lovely vignettes of experience.

The Noise of Time -
This is a fictional biography of Shostakovich by Julian Barnes. Having just finished a detailed history of his life, I found this a delightful take on certain events. More than that, it's an ode to art. I really enjoyed this one, and it made me love Julian Barnes even more. He's such a masterful writer and storyteller.

Symphony for the City of the Dead - I adore M. T. Anderson (read Feed if you haven't already, or his riotously funny Pals in Peril series for younger kids). So I jumped at this book not really knowing what it was about. Fascinating history, a lot of which I did not know about, seen through the focus on Shostakovitch's life.

The Family Doctor -
This is not my usual thing but I found it very interesting and quite informative on how that abusive mind works. So while it's fiction, it's more interesting than just a story and quite educational(at least for me). Maybe needs a trigger warning as the content is a bit graphic at times for family violence.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Someone picked this for book club and when I first started it, I thought 'This is interesting but I don't see how it will carry on for a whole book' and yet, it's fascinating. I really enjoyed it and became quite involved in how it unfolded. Following the story behind the HeLa cells and the lives of the family and scientists.  (I even felt I was walking around with the HeLa cells at the Jenny Lee exhibition, so it was quite a striking book and story). I think there's a movie coming too (and there's already a documentary).

The Old Filth Trilogys by Jane Gardam. I first read Pangs of Love back in 1987, so picked Last Friends up for $8 on sale because I liked the jacket. I read the third book first (written in 2013), then went back for Old Filth (the first 2004) and finished with The Man in the Wooden Hat (2009). I don't think it mattered but it did give some bittersweet moments because I knew the outcome of some of the characters. I really loved these deeply flawed people, in part of their time and place. Charming and funny, endearing despite their foibles. I am keen to read more Gardam as a result - she has a prolific output so suggestions are welcome as to where to begin.

The Queen's Gambit - I'd watched the series and loved it, so listened to the audio version of the book. The book is a little harsher than the series but equally charming. I don't really understand why this book works but big thumbs up from me.

A Spy Among Friends - Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal
 - Kim Philby kept coming up in books and podcasts so I decided I needed to know more about this saga that apparently is common knowledge that I didn't have. The book is not a brilliant piece of writing but it is an incredible story (incredible in the 'how on earth did that happen?' sense). A bunch of drunks with no background checks because they went to the right schools seemed to be running the Intelligence industry. What could go wrong?).

 - You want to listen to the audio version of this. It's full cast and just engrossing. I picked it because I liked World War Z but when I saw the subject matter, I thought 'This will be stupid". But NO! I listened to it almost non stop. I LOVED it. I don't know if reading it would be the same experience but make it your next audio listen!

Vida Vendela
- I read both The Lovers and The Divers Clothes Lie Empty. They are both easy and enjoyable reads. I think The Divers Clothes Lay Empty was probably the better of the two. Both strong anchors to place so good 'travel reads while we can't travel but not travel books per se.

Special Mention - Julia Morris Makes it Easy This was free on audible so I took it, even thought I'd never watched any of her tv shows. That didn't matter, the book made me laugh out loud frequently. Very kooky humour. Uplifting experience in audio.

I also reread The Dinner by Herman Koch- It's still delightful in its wickedness, ad knowing the story doesn't lessen the experience. I love this author so much and can't wait for any new translations of his work to come!

I read other books but these are the top picks so far. Hopefully there's food for thought. If you buy any of these, please try to purchase at your local bookshop - we need to help these stores stay open!

Linking with #UnlimitedLinkParty  &  #BooknificentThrusdays 



  1. Coffee and books, a perfect pair. At a quick glance, my library has some of these books. I'll add them to my to be read list. Thank you for linking with #weekendcoffeeshare.

  2. sure are a reader.

  3. One of yours is on my tbr list! Visiting you from the anything goes linky.

  4. These are great recommendations!

  5. I was surprised at how much I too enjoyed The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It was recommended reading when one of my daughters went to college, so I picked up a copy for myself too at a used book store. I watched The Queen's Gambit and enjoyed it; not sure if I'll read the book. I usually like to read the book first, then watch the cinematic version. :)

  6. I want to read again! I should just MAKE time, huh!? Thank you for linking up! #KCACOLS

  7. Thanks for the reading recommendations#kcacols@_karendennis

  8. What a fantastic book list, gave me some ideas of books to read x #kcacols

  9. Some good recommendations, I like the sound of Devolution.

    Katrina x

  10. What a fab list of book recommendations. We also watched the Queen's Gambit, but I have to admit that I'd not even considered reading the book before. Thank you for joining us for #mischiefandmemories x

  11. I’m intrigued by Devolution, I loved World War Z but haven’t read anything else by him and am into audiobooks while walking my dog so will give this a go. #fortheloveofblog

  12. No authors here that I recognise but I have been tempted by the TV series of Queen's Gambit. I have never listened to an audiobook, not sure how to fit it in (so much easier to read on my phone at night than hear a book)! Thanks for linking up with #MischiefAndMemories

  13. Great selection - gosh I'm terrible, I really need to get back into reading! #mischiefandmemories

  14. Also popping by from #KCACOLS

    Katrina x

  15. Trying to decide whether to read the Queen's Gambit or watch the movie...

    1. In the opposite of what I usually say, go with the series first. It's 'softer' for want of a better word. The book is grittier and has quite an 'ugly' side (which in the series is either removed or made to look visually so fabulous it doesn't have the same impact.

  16. I don't think I've heard of any of these (well, except for Queen's Gambit but I didn't even know it was a book!). Thanks; I'm always looking for new book suggestions.