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
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.
|1||Public Policy in an Uncertain World||Charles Manski||218||7||ENG||NF|
|2||Berlin Rules: Europe and the German Way||Paul Lever||270||8||ENG||NF|
|3||Montags könnt ich kotzen||Thomas Rampge||250||4.5||GER||F|
|4||Wordslut. A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language.||Amanda Montell||295||9.5||ENG||NF|
|5||How to Talk to Robots. A Girls’ Guide to a Future Dominated by AI.||Tabitha Goldstaub||241||8||ENG||NF|
|6||The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation||Jon Gertner||365||5.5||ENG||NF|
|7||x + y: A Mathematician’s Manifesto for Rethinking Gender||Eugenia Cheng||272||2.5||ENG||NF|
|8||Working Hard, Hardly Working||Grace Beverly||212||5||ENG||NF|
|9||Independence or Union: Scotland’s Past and Scotland’s Present||T.M. Devine||282||5.5||ENG||NF|
|11||21 Lessons for the 21st Century||Yuval Noah Harari||364||5||ENG||NF|
|12||Thursday Murder Club||Richard Osman||374||8.5||ENG||F|
|13||How To||Randall Munroe||270||7||ENG||NF|
|14||Mating In Captivity||Esther Perel||220||7.5||ENG||NF|
|15||Scabby Queen||Kirstin Innes||385||7||ENG||F|
|16||Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism||Amanda Montell||283||8.5||ENG||NF|
|17||Humble Pi||Matt Parker||313||7.5||ENG||NF|
|18||The Big Five For Life||John P. Strelecky||226||6.5||ENG||NF|
|19||Handmaid’s Tale||Margaret Atwood||479||8||ENG||F|
|20||The Nordic Theory of Everything||Anu Partanen||337||6||ENG||NF|
|21||The Man Who Died Twice||Richard Osman||423||8||ENG||F|
|22||The Fine Art of Invisible Detection||Robert Goddard||329||5.5||ENG||F|
|23||The City We Became||N.K. Jemisin||434||9.5||ENG||F|
|24||Just Like You||Nick Hornby||309||4.5||ENG||F|
|25||Starting a Revolution – was wir von Unternehmerinnen über die Zukunft der Arbeitswelt lernen können||Naomi Ryland and Lisa Jaspers||194||7.5||GER||NF|
|26||In AI We Trust – Power, Illusion and Control of Predictive Algorithms||Helga Nowotny||162||6.5||ENG||NF|
|27||The Midnight Library||Matt Haig||288||8||ENG||F|
|28||Everything Abridged||Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry||280||6||ENG||NF|
|29||Act Like a Leader Think Like a Leader||Herminia Ibarra||190||6||ENG||NF|
|30||Conversations with Friends||Salley Rooney||321||4||ENG||F|
|31||Raus aus der Mental Load Falle||Patricia Cammarata||205||8||GER||NF|
|32||Es kann nur Eine geben||Carolin Kebekus||336||7.5||GER||NF|