How I Read in 2021

What a year this has been! But this post isn’t about all that other stuff, let’s talk books.

You can check out the rest of my year-end summaries here:

2020, 201920182017201620152014, and 2013.

2021: 258 (how did that happen? I feel like I read less this year…maybe a lot of comics!)

2020 total: 207 

2019 total: 244

2018 total: 226
2017’s total: 216
2016’s total: 234
2015’s total: 286
2014’s total: 217
2013’s total: 223
2012’s total: 227
2011’s total: 171 

Armchair Travel

My reading has taken me to countries like Argentina, Australia, Hungary, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mozambique, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Zimbabwe, and many more.

Gender

Reading Diversely

Another aim for next year is to read more POC authors!

Book Formats

I borrow a lot of books from the library, pretty much all the books read this year were library books.

Just 5.3% of books were print books, 1.8% audiobooks, and a solid 93% were ebooks.

Books in Translation

Just 12% of my reads were translated works. I want to read more translated books next year.

Publication Date

Published in the 1900s – 20

Published in 2000s – 13

Published in 2010s – 132

Published in 2020 – 65

Published in 2021 – 53

Fave Book Covers #amonthoffaves



A Month of Faves is hosted by GirlXOXO

Today’s topic:

Fave Book Covers 

Out of the books I read this year, these are some of my favourite covers. Please note that while these were my fave covers, doesn’t mean I enjoyed reading them all 😛

Folklorn – Angela Mi Young Hur

Lonely Castle in the Mirror – Mizuki Tsujimura (highly recommended!)

The Majesties – Tiffany Tsao

The Taking of Jake Livingston – Ryan Douglass

Edie in Between – Laura Sibson

Arsenic and Adobo – Mia P. Manansala

The Wolf and The Woodsman – Ava Reid (DNF)

Tweet Cute – Emma Lord

How We Fall Apart – Katie Zhao

Library Loot (December 29 to January 4)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Welcome to 2022 – if you’re reading this post in January!

Claire has the link-up this week.

What I got from the library this week:

The Emissary – Yoko Tawada

Good Neighbors – Sarah Langan

Infinite Country – Patricia Engel

Faves on the screen and in my ear #amonthoffaves



A Month of Faves is hosted by GirlXOXO

Today’s topic is:

#AMonthofFaves On the Screen or in Your Ear

Run BTS

This year, one show has never failed to cheer me up. Run BTS. If you’ve followed my blog, you may know that I’m quite a fan of the Korean band, BTS. I became a fan of them last year. I started listening to some of their songs (Spring Day is one of my ultimate faves). But then discovered that they have their own variety show. And it’s in their variety show where I learnt how funny they are. They play games, they learn new activities (table tennis, flower arrangement), have funny debates, race around trying to trick each other….Whenever I’ve got it on my tablet, headphones on, and I’m laughing or grinning away, my husband knows I’m watching Run BTS.

Reply 1988 and Hospital Playlist

Despite being a fan of BTS, I’ve not really watched much Kdrama. But I did enjoy these two series this year. Hospital Playlist is a new series, while Reply 1988 aired in Korea in 2015 and 2016. But they’re by the same writer and director. I really enjoy how these shows are about a group of people – Hospital Playlist is about a group of doctors who have been friends since medical school and Reply 1988 is about 4 families who live in the same street in 1988 Seoul.

Baking Impossible and School of Chocolate

I really like these two recent series on Netflix. Baking Impossible teams up an engineer and a baker (who’ve never met before the competition) to make some fascinating bakes that have to pass stress tests. Like a boat that actually floats and a robot that can make it through an obstacle course. And it’s edible! Amazing.

I had already followed chocolatier Amaury Guichon on Instagram before the show launched, so I had already known of his amazing creations. But I really like that it’s not a weekly elimination type of competition. That these chefs actually get to learn and grow.

Library Loot (December 22 to 28)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Library Loot Day. Oh wow, it’s the last Library Loot post of the year. Thank you so much for reading and participating!

What I got from the library this week:

To Be Taught, If Fortunate – Becky Chambers

In her new novella, Sunday Times best-selling author Becky Chambers imagines a future in which, instead of terraforming planets to sustain human life, explorers of the solar system instead transform themselves. 

Ariadne is one such explorer. As an astronaut on an extrasolar research vessel, she and her fellow crewmates sleep between worlds and wake up each time with different features. Her experience is one of fluid body and stable mind and of a unique perspective on the passage of time. Back on Earth, society changes dramatically from decade to decade, as it always does.

Ariadne may awaken to find that support for space exploration back home has waned, or that her country of birth no longer exists, or that a cult has arisen around their cosmic findings, only to dissolve once more by the next waking. But the moods of Earth have little bearing on their mission: to explore, to study, and to send their learnings home. 

Carrying all the trademarks of her other beloved works, including brilliant writing, fantastic world-building and exceptional, diverse characters, Becky’s first audiobook outside of the Wayfarers series is sure to capture the imagination of listeners all over the world.

Are You Listening? – Tillie Walden

Bea is on the run. And then, she runs into Lou.

This chance encounter sends them on a journey through West Texas, where strange things follow them wherever they go. The landscape morphs into an unsettling world, a mysterious cat joins them, and they are haunted by a group of threatening men. To stay safe, Bea and Lou must trust each other as they are driven to confront buried truths. The two women share their stories of loss and heartbreak—and a startling revelation about sexual assault—culminating in an exquisite example of human connection

Christmas Cookies with an Asian Twist #amonthoffaves



A Month of Faves is hosted by GirlXOXO.

Today’s topic is: This is How We Do Christmas

Ah Christmas. It always sneaks up on us!

We usually keep it simple during Christmas. Christmas tree, presents, and cookies!

I’m just going to focus on cookies I made for Christmas this year.

So the past few years, I’ve been making and sending cookies to Seattle. That’s where my husband’s mentor lives – they used to work together but his mentor since retired. A few years ago, his wife sent a big box full of Christmas goodies, from fudge and peanut brittle to cookies of all sorts. It was

This year, I made stamped matcha shortbread and melt-in-your-mouth peanut cookies (links are to recipes). The matcha shortbread recipe is adapted from a citrus shortbread recipe, I just added about two tablespoons of matcha powder to the recipe instead of the citrus zest and flavour.

I was quite pleased with this adaptation. This is a matcha Neapolitan cookie. The original recipe calls for both matcha and hojicha powder. I didn’t have hojicha but guessed that cocoa powder would do fine. And it did work. Also, I like that it’s relatively easy to make.

World Peace Cookies by Dorie Greenspan.

This is a delightful cookie. As I can’t leave recipes alone, I added some five spice powder and some freeze-dried strawberries. Five spice powder after all has cinnamon and cloves right, so I figure it’s Christmassy in an Asian way keke. I think I’ll add more five spice next time. And yes, there will be a next time. These cookies were delicious. A little bit harder to cut from the logs though, so just be careful when slicing them.

Sesame Biscotti

I always use this recipe for biscotti. But this year, I added some black sesame seeds.

Underrated Books that Deserve More Buzz #amonthoffaves



A Month of Faves is hosted by GirlXOXO

Today’s topic is:

Underrated Books that Deserve More Buzz

Once There Were Wolves – Charlotte McConaghy (17,752 Goodreads ratings)

This is one of my favourite reads of the year. It’s so beautifully atmospheric with a hint of eeriness to it. It’s set in the Scottish Highlands and the main character is a biologist trying to bring wolves back to Scotland.

The Lost Village – Camilla Sten (12,659 Goodreads ratings)

I listened to this one and the audiobook narrator’s voice really added to the creepiness of this book!

Miss Meteor – Tehlor Kay Mejia (1,670 Goodreads ratings)

A really cute story about inclusion, about bullying, about a beauty pageant in a small town.

The Last Fallen Star – Graci Kim (1,359 Goodreads ratings)

This middle-grade read has great blending of Korean mythology into modern times.

We Are Satellites – Sarah Pinsker (1,467 Goodreads ratings)

I loved the idea behind this one – a brain implant that helps your brain work faster. What happens to those who refuse to get it? Or just can’t? A really thoughtful and relevant piece that more people should read.

The Shadow King – Maaza Mengiste (8,972 Goodreads ratings)

This book is set during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. Its focus is on the women fighters of the war. It was really an eyeopener, but also a really gripping story full of great characters. This was on the 2020 Booker Prize shortlist. So I’m a bit surprised that it’s got so few ratings!

Love is for Losers – Wibke Brueggemann (1,478 Goodreads ratings)

A funny and honest book about a 15yo girl. It’s a coming of age story, also a learning what love is kind of story.

Library Loot (December 15 to 21)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Library Loot Day! Claire has the link-up this week.

What I got from the library this week:

Maybe because it’s the holiday season, I’m going for some lighthearted reads this week.

Life’s Too Short – Abby Jimenez

A brilliant and touching romantic comedy about two polar opposites, one adorable dog, and living each day to its fullest.

When Vanessa Price quit her job to pursue her dream of traveling the globe, she wasn’t expecting to gain millions of YouTube followers who shared her joy of seizing every moment. For her, living each day to its fullest isn’t just a motto. Her mother and sister never saw the age of 30, and Vanessa doesn’t want to take anything for granted.

But after her half-sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in custody of her infant daughter, life goes from “daily adventure” to “next-level bad” (now with bonus baby vomit in hair). The last person Vanessa expects to show up offering help is the hot lawyer next door, Adrian Copeland. After all, she barely knows him. No one warned her that he was the Secret Baby Tamer or that she’d be spending a whole lot of time with him and his geriatric Chihuahua.

Now she’s feeling things she’s vowed not to feel. Because the only thing worse than falling for Adrian is finding a little hope for a future she may never see. 

Meet Cute Diary – Emery Lee

Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.

When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.

In this charming novel by Emery Lee, Noah will have to choose between following his own rules for love or discovering that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script.

Love Lettering – Kate Clayborn

Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing beautiful custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Like the time she sat across from Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée, and knew their upcoming marriage was doomed to fail. Weaving a secret word into their wedding program was a little unprofessional, but she was sure no one else would spot it. She hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid . . .

A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out—before he leaves New York for good—how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline, a fractured friendship, and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other about their lives, work, and regrets, both try to ignore the fact that their unlikely connection is growing deeper. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .

Light Perpetual – Francis Spufford

Lunchtime on a Saturday, 1944: the Woolworths on Bexford High Street in southeast London receives a delivery of aluminum saucepans. A crowd gathers to see the first new metal in ages—after all, everything’s been melted down for the war effort. An instant later, the crowd is gone; incinerated. Among the shoppers were five young children.

Who were they? What futures did they lose? This brilliantly constructed novel lets an alternative reel of time run, imagining the life arcs of these five souls as they live through the extraordinary, unimaginable changes of the bustling immensity of twentieth-century London. Their intimate everyday dramas, as sons and daughters, spouses, parents, grandparents; as the separated, the remarried, the bereaved. Through decades of social, sexual, and technological transformation, as bus conductors and landlords, as swindlers and teachers, patients and inmates. Days of personal triumphs, disasters; of second chances and redemption.

Ingenious and profound, full of warmth and beauty, Light Perpetual illuminates the shapes of experience, the extraordinariness of the ordinary, the mysteries of memory and expectation, and the preciousness of life.

Ok this one is definitely not lighthearted. But this hold happened to come in this week!

Diagnosis – Lisa Sanders

As a Yale School of Medicine physician, the New York Times bestselling author of Every Patient Tells a Story, and an inspiration and adviser for the hit Fox TV drama House, M.D., Lisa Sanders has seen it all. And yet she is often confounded by the cases she describes in her column: unexpected collections of symptoms that she and other physicians struggle to diagnose.

A twenty-eight-year-old man, vacationing in the Bahamas for his birthday, tries some barracuda for dinner. Hours later, he collapses on the dance floor with crippling stomach pains. A middle-aged woman returns to her doctor, after visiting two days earlier with a mild rash on the back of her hands. Now the rash has turned purple and has spread across her entire body in whiplike streaks. A young elephant trainer in a traveling circus, once head-butted by a rogue zebra, is suddenly beset with splitting headaches, as if someone were “slamming a door inside his head.”

In each of these cases, the path to diagnosis–and treatment–is winding, sometimes frustratingly unclear. Dr. Sanders shows how making the right diagnosis requires expertise, painstaking procedure, and sometimes a little luck. Intricate, gripping, and full of twists and turns, Diagnosis puts readers in the doctor’s place. It lets them see what doctors see, feel the uncertainty they feel–and experience the thrill when the puzzle is finally solved.

Book thoughts: The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

THE MARROW THIEVES by CHERIE DIMALINE, pictured with a cup of Stumptown Holler Mountain coffee and a digestive biscuit.

This book knocked the stuffing out of me and left me sad and empty. Set in a world ruined by global warming, and where people can’t dream anymore, except for indigenous people. As a result, indigenous people are kidnapped and imprisoned in “schools” to extract their bone marrow, which are thought to be the key to dreaming. 

The story is mostly about a group of people on the run from the government. It centers very much on the characters and their stories, and less about the dystopia they live in. It doesn’t quite explain the science or pseudo-science behind the dream-bone marrow link. 

There’s Frenchie, a teen, who joins up with a group of various indigenous people of different ages, led by Miigwans. The narrative of them trying to survive off the land and heading north is interspersed with flashbacks of the characters’ separation from their families. 

I really loved the way that Dimaline wrote her characters and the community, the family that they create while on the run. Her dystopian world is frighteningly real, grounded in colonialism and racial violence of our past and present. 

Popular Books Worth the Hype – and some not #amonthoffaves




A Month of Faves is hosted by GirlXOXO

So how to define popular books? Well, some of these books are on “best of” lists, others I came across on Instagram. So anyway, here are some books that seem to be popular (?) that I think are worth the hype.

Earthlings – Sayaka Murata

A bizarre book that’s not for everyone, but for me, completely unforgettable

Shuggie Bain – Douglas Bain

I listened to this one, and I really enjoyed the narrator. I guess his Irish accent really helped make this book come alive for me.

Crying in H Mart – Michelle Zauner

This memoir was honest and emotional.

The House in the Cerulean Sea – TJ Klune

Just delightful! It felt like a mug of hot cocoa on a chilly day.

The Love Hypothesis – Ali Hazelwood

A cute romance about scientists!

The entire Truly Devious series – Maureen Johnson

This series set in a private school was just so much fun. A mystery that’s decades old. Riddles and puzzles. A true-crime enthusiast.

Little Eyes – Samanta Schweblin

Another strange book that has these mechanical stuffed animals that have cameras for eyes and can be controlled by people. You can buy the stuffed animal or you can pay to become the stuffed animal, controlling it and watching what’s going on.

Luck of the Titanic – Stacey Lee

I just like books set on boats actually. But I especially love that this story is about the actual forgotten Chinese passengers onboard the ship.

Sharks in the Time of Saviors – Kawai Strong Washburn

I’m not usually a fan of magical realism but I really liked this book set in Hawaii.

NOT worth the hype

Milk Fed – Melissa Broder

It’s probably just me, because this book is on quite a few Best Of lists. I also DNF-ed The Pisces so well, I guess I’m not going to try reading anymore of her books.

The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

I get it, I think. I get why it’s so popular. I just felt very manipulated as a reader. Maybe the best way to describe it was that it’s very preachy? I did finish reading it though.