Whilst doing my usual nerdy googling of best books to read at the moment, I came across an article Goodreads posted at the end of last year on their most-read books of the year.
I had a look through the list of 23 books and realised that I’ve seven of the top ten books. You’d also be surprised by the fact that not all of these books are modern books either – there are some classics on there.
Part of my mission last year was to do a bit of catching up. After finding the likes of Bookstagram and Book Twitter, I found a lot more books that people considered “must-reads” that I picked up that I wouldn’t have possibly read if I hadn’t started blogging and joined these social media.
Of the top ten books on this list, I was pleased to see that I’d read seven of them – honestly more than I was expecting. However, in hindsight, I guess being part of Bookstagram and on Book Twitter has made me more aware of the most popular reads.
Anyway, enough babbling. Below are the top ten books on this list with links to the reviews of the ones I’ve read!
10. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
This isn’t one of the books I’ve read. Because I’ve not read it, I almost entitled this article “I’ve read seven of the top nine…” but decided this sounded a little awkward and so rounded it up to ten.
However, I will say I’ve heard lots of good things about this book and with a rating of 4.19 on Goodreads, it appears a lot of people think this is a brilliant book and is likely one I think I’ll have to pick up in 2022.
Goodreads’ synopsis of it is: “Twins, inseparable as children, ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds: one black and one white.”
9. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
This is the first book on the list that I have read and I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a fascinating read by Madeline Miller that covers a few different subjects including a gay relationship and how people change as they grow and have to adapt to their new surroundings.
It’s a book that will definitely tug on your heartstrings, have you angry with the characters but ultimately come out of it at the end knowing you’ve read a very good tale.
Goodreads describes it as: “Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.”
8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The second book on this list that I’ve not read. Pride and Prejudice is one of those books that I know at some point I will have to read. I don’t think there are many English speaking people on the planet who wouldn’t have some understanding of Pride and Prejudice. It’s one of the very first love stories told in modern literature (if you can call it that) – it was one of the first and is one of the most successful books written by a woman at a time when women weren’t regarded as equal to men and often shunned from having any sort of creative hobbies.
As I said, I know it’s a good I must one day read – who knows, maybe 2022 is the year I’ll pick up my first Jane Austen?
What’s interesting here though is this is the first – and not the last – classic book on this list. This shows there was either a resurgence of reading classics in 2021 or that classics are still read just as much every day in our day and age as the latest, hottest novels.
7. 1984 by George Orwell
1984 by George Orwell is one of the most celebrated novels in history. It’s a book about “big brother” and about how in the far distant future we’ll all be controlled by a corporate power who will decide what we do and when.
The story itself isn’t mind-blowing, nothing particularly exciting happens. However, it’s the way George Orwell articulates the world in which he’s envisioned and the actual idea of the concept he’s describing too. Orwell has become well known for writing books that are clearly fiction but also very clearly relate to something larger going on in our society.
Goodreads describes 1984 as: “Among the seminal texts of the 20th century, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a rare work that grows more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell’s nightmare vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff’s attempt to find individuality. The brilliance of the novel is Orwell’s prescience of modern life—the ubiquity of television, the distortion of the language—and his ability to construct such a thorough version of hell. Required reading for students since it was published, it ranks among the most terrifying novels ever written.”
6. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Where the Crawdads Sing is one of the very first books I put a review up on my blog. It’s a book that I saw recommended on Amazon as it had consistently been one of the top sellers for a very long time. When I picked it up, I literally had no idea what to expect except the basic understanding that I was about to read about a girl who lived in a swamp (which I honestly thought was going to be more of a superhero story to be honest, ha!)
However, when I started reading, I soon realised that this was one of my favourite books of the year. Where the Crawdads Sing is a book that takes you on an emotional journey through the life of one girl. Kya was born in a swamp and slowly all of her family leave her to fend for herself – so she must learn about education, money, society and most importantly – relationships with other human beings. Alongside this, in present-day (as we are following her life from young child to present day in the other storyline) there’s been a murder of which we’re slowly figuring out who the killer is.
Goodreads describes Where The Crawdads Sing as: “In Where the Crawdads Sing, Owens juxtaposes an exquisite ode to the natural world against a profound coming of age story and haunting mystery. Thought-provoking, wise, and deeply moving, Owens’s debut novel reminds us that we are forever shaped by the child within us, while also subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.”
5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby is another of those classic novels that have gone on to transcend literature. Not only has it become very popular again over recent years as a result of the Laz Burmann film featuring Leonardo Di Caprio and Tobey Maguire but even before any of that, it’s a book that many people will recognise.
I’ll admit, when I read it, I’m not sure I got it. I’ve heard a lot of people refer to this as one of their favourite books of all time and so having not really enjoyed it, I feel like I may have missed something. However, there’s definitely the possibility that people are affected by books in different ways as a result of their different life experiences.
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill A Mockingbird is currently my favourite book of all time. It’s a story that sits you down and engrosses you in many life lessons. It’s a story about Scout and Atticus Finch. Scout is an innocent young woman who defies many of the “womanly” things that her society says she must do. Atticus Finch is the town lawyer defending a black man who has been accused of raping a young white girl.
This story involves a lot of lessons as Atticus teaches Scout as well as he can about life and about everything she needs to know as she grows up in a world with no true mother figure.
Goodreads describes To Kill a Mockingbird as: “Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, “To Kill A Mockingbird” takes readers to the roots of human behaviour – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humour and pathos.”
3. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a book I see absolutely everywhere on my Instagram – it’s a book I’ve heard a lot of good things about too and one that I think is a must-read for me in 2022.
However, having not read it, I currently can’t comment on how good I think it is. Though the 4.48 rating it currently has on Goodreads suggests it may not be too shabby.
Goodreads gives a brilliant teaser by writing: “Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.” If that doesn’t make you want to pick it up – what will?
2. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a book that I kept seeing pop up on my timeline. When I did some more research and found out that it was about a woman who’d had a curse put on her that meant she couldn’t age and so had experienced multiple lifetimes and many loves, losses, failures, successes and more, I was very intrigued.
However, unfortunately when I finally picked it up, started reading it and kept finding myself wanting more, I finished the book feeling massively underwhelmed. As it suggests, there’s a lot of potential to have Addie discover herself, struggle, suffer and find the perfect way of living life in the shadows. However, these heights and the potential just weren’t reached for me.
I believe a lot of people really liked this book and I’m not going to sit here and write that those people are wrong – it just didn’t connect with me in the same way it connected with others. It just didn’t hit the depths I wanted from the premise.
1. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
The Midnight Library, for a period of last year at least, was all everybody was talking about. It’s a story that sees a woman die and go to a world where she can explore a wide variety of different versions of her life where certain moments in her life had or hadn’t happened prior.
What she realises is that every single version of her life has its ups and downs and that the life she really ended up living is all the life she’d really need. There are notes about suicide in this book, about living your best life, about appreciating everything you do have, despite that which you may not have. It’s a book that could well affect someone’s life deeper than simply reading a fictional novel. I won’t say it did this with me but I will say that I found the quotable moments rather well written – they weren’t jargony but were profound enough to not sound corny or unreliable.
So there you have it – those are the seven of the ten books from Goodreads’ most-read books of 2021 that I’ve read so far as of 13 April 2022. If you’re reading later than this, you may well find reviews for the latter books too now as I fully predict these will be books I pick up in 2022.
Which of these books have you read? Are you surprised to see so many classics? Are you surprised to see a certain book on the list? Or alternatively, are you surprised that a certain book isn’t on the list? Let me know via the comments below or by messaging me on social media!