Books of 2021

Another year, another book recap (click here for 2020)! Throughout 2021 I am proud that I managed to find time to read a diverse range of books. Altogether I read 9,480 pages across 32 books. 22 of these were non-fiction, ten fiction. The majority of books were written in English (28), four in German, my native language. I will start with the best fiction and non-fiction book, then include a few honourable mentions, talk about a few surprising disappointments, and finish with my complete list with ratings (out of 10) for all books.

The Very Best

Best Non-Fiction Book: Wordslut. A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language – Amanda Montell

This book really has it all: It is outrageously funny (I am in love with Montell’s footnotes), yet it is full to the brim with knowledge that you will not be able to hold back at the next dinner party (and people will actually want to listen to you!). It is warmhearted, accessible, and educational – all without every sounding preachy or condescending. What a fantastic debut!
Read this: as soon as it is available again (I could not find a single copy anywhere in Europe to gift for Christmas!)

Best Fiction Book: The City We Became – N.K. Jemisin

Jemisin’s novel is impossible to be put into any one genre: Some parts read like an enticing poem, others like a fast-paced sci-fi novel. The author paints a vivid world similar, yet radically different, to the one we inhabit. If you ever fell under the enchanting spell of a big, bustling city you might recognise yourself in this book. Caution: might cause severe urges to book flights to New York City. 
Read this: to experience a book unlike any other

Honourable Mentions

An Enthralling Crime Novel: Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman

This debut novel tells the heartwarming story of a quaint retirement village that sets out to to solve a murder. I found all of the four main characters extremely likeable and it was a pleasure to follow them hunting down whoever dared to disturb their well earned peace. It’s an easy read with many moments that made me laugh out loud. 
Read this: for a wholesome, yet thrilling murder mystery fix

A Candid View on Pop Culture: Cultish. The Language of Fanaticism – Amanda Montell

Amanda Montell, again?! Yes, indeed, the author is featured twice in this article, and rightly so! For her second book she takes on the language of cults, both extreme and everyday. In an approachable and engaging manner Montell is your guide through the convoluted world of linguistics. By picking well-known examples and pop culture classics the author excels at writing for any audience, no matter what their prior knowledge is. 
Read this: before you indulge in her podcast “Sounds Like A Cult”

A Thought-Inducing Read: Starting A Revolution. What We Can Learn from Female Entrepreneurs About the Future of Business – Naomi Ryland and Lisa Jaspers

This book offers honest and insightful accounts by women entrepreneurs from a variety of sectors, backgrounds, and ages. It successfully combines testimonies with studies and hands-on recommendations, all following a common goal: re-thinking how we work. Throughout it remains applicable and relevant and it allows you to explore a multi-faceted topic through stories in an almost autobiographical manner. Bonus: this book is available both in English and German.
Read this: if you are curious about new ways of working

Would Not Recommend

  • x + y. A Mathematician’s Manifesto for Rethinking Gender (Eugenia Cheng): I had such high hopes for this book but I was bitterly disappointed. The concepts are ill-conceived, badly argued, and lack all scientific justification. In 2021 I would have expected more of such a book than to clumsily insist on a male vs female dichotomy.
  • Just Like You (Nick Hornby): Full of old tropes, flat characters, and pseudo-woke topics. Unfortunately, it’s just boring.
  • Conversations With Friends (Salley Rooney): I know, I know, I know – so many people adore Salley Rooney. I just have a problem with her blatantly passive characters that all sound the same across her books. You either love Rooney or hate her, and I, unfortunately, fall into the latter category. 

Complete List

TitleAuthorPagesRatingLanguageF/NF
1Public Policy in an Uncertain WorldCharles Manski2187ENGNF
2Berlin Rules: Europe and the German WayPaul Lever2708ENGNF
3Montags könnt ich kotzenThomas Rampge2504.5GERF
4  Wordslut. A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language.Amanda Montell2959.5ENGNF
5How to Talk to Robots. A Girls’ Guide to a Future Dominated by AI.Tabitha Goldstaub2418ENGNF
6The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American InnovationJon Gertner3655.5ENGNF
7x + y:  A Mathematician’s Manifesto for Rethinking GenderEugenia Cheng2722.5ENGNF
8Working Hard, Hardly WorkingGrace Beverly2125ENGNF
9Independence or Union: Scotland’s Past and Scotland’s PresentT.M. Devine2825.5ENGNF
10GritAngela Duckworth3536.5ENGNF
1121 Lessons for the 21st CenturyYuval Noah Harari3645ENGNF
12Thursday Murder ClubRichard Osman3748.5ENGF
13How ToRandall Munroe2707ENGNF
14Mating In CaptivityEsther Perel2207.5ENGNF
15Scabby QueenKirstin Innes3857ENGF
16Cultish: The Language of FanaticismAmanda Montell2838.5ENGNF
17Humble PiMatt Parker3137.5ENGNF
18The Big Five For LifeJohn P. Strelecky2266.5ENGNF
19Handmaid’s TaleMargaret Atwood4798ENGF
20The Nordic Theory of EverythingAnu Partanen3376ENGNF
21The Man Who Died TwiceRichard Osman4238ENGF
22The Fine Art of Invisible DetectionRobert Goddard3295.5ENGF
23The City We BecameN.K. Jemisin4349.5ENGF
24Just Like YouNick Hornby3094.5ENGF
25Starting a Revolution – was wir von Unternehmerinnen über die Zukunft der Arbeitswelt lernen könnenNaomi Ryland and Lisa Jaspers1947.5GERNF
26In AI We Trust – Power, Illusion and Control of Predictive AlgorithmsHelga Nowotny1626.5ENGNF
27The Midnight LibraryMatt Haig2888ENGF
28Everything AbridgedAdam Rutherford and Hannah Fry2806ENGNF
29Act Like a Leader Think Like a LeaderHerminia Ibarra1906ENGNF
30Conversations with FriendsSalley Rooney3214ENGF
31Raus aus der Mental Load FallePatricia Cammarata2058GERNF
32Es kann nur Eine gebenCarolin Kebekus3367.5GERNF
Complete list of books 2021.

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