Hello Korio
22. 02. 2021

Remember when you first got a Goodreads account and started adding every book you could ever remember reading and quickly realized that was an enormous and impossible task, but you couldn’t just add some of them because that would be incomplete and infuriating, but if you just picked up from where you were in book life right then, people might think you’d NEVER READ A BOOK IN YOUR WHOLE LIFE because obviously your Goodreads shelves are empty or have one sad “currently reading” book on them and the whole process of deciding what to include or where to start was so impossible that you just did nothing?

Basically that.

Normally there’d be some kind of introduction in a first blog post, but the only people who I expect to see this are already familiar with the blog that came before this and anyone who is new can get a good idea of who I am as a person from that first paragraph. The important thing is, I can’t start writing a book blog from just some arbitrary point. I don’t have time to be concerned about getting to know each other when I have to carefully decide where to start a thing and what where I start might say about me.

Fortunately, we are still close enough to the beginning of 2021 that I feel I can catch you up on all 15 books I’ve read since then (we are all going to ignore the fact that I finished a book last night, making it technically 16 books I’ve read since the beginning of 2021, but as you can see, that’s probably not a good technicality for either of us to point out to me if we ever want to get anything done here), and from there, carry on as I’d like, as if I’d always been here, which I have, if you think about it.

We all agree to acknowledge the fact that I have read books before 2021, but these are the ones I have read in 2021.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

anxious people by fredrik backman cover art Goodreads | Amazon ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I have said it before and I’m probably going to say it 800 more times: this bitch loves a Backman. The premise of this book is ridiculous – a bank robber who doesn’t want to be a bank robber accidentally takes an apartment full of people hostage. Similar to some other Backman books, the plot was almost an afterthought (to me, not the author). The way Backman writes characters is either very clearly Not For You or 100% Absolutely Your Shit, no in between, and it’s not hard to see what side of that fence I fall onto. I love that the quirks that all the characters have seem ludicrous and overblown, but also rooted in the backstory that Backman provides for each character, and truly believable and relatable once you find yourself thinking about them – you are that way, or you know someone who is that way, or you definitely see why this particular someone would be that way. I love it, I love every Backman I have ever read, I cannot tell you how delighted I am to have found my own “I will read everything this author writes” author while they are still actively writing shit. 

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell 

my dark vanessa by kate elizabeth russell cover art Goodreads | Amazon ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This book. It’s a dual timeline thing – in the past, Vanessa is a 15 year old student at a fancy boarding school who enters into a relationship with her 43 year old English teacher. I don’t like phrasing it like that, but so it is. In the present, several students have come forward with allegations of abuse against this teacher, and have contacted Vanessa to encourage her to come forward as well. The problem is, Vanessa doesn’t believe she was abused. The book jumps back and forth between the timelines, with the past detailing how the “relationship” began and progressed, and the present dealing with Vanessa’s struggle against reframing what she thought was her one true example of loving and being loved and how that affects the whole rest of her life that has already passed and will come to be. By the time I finished, I swear to God I had grown fangs. I think most women can see their younger selves in Vanessa and you can see how things in the past are playing out exactly how these kinds of things play out, exactly how they have always played out and how it feels like they always will play out. Reading this book was kind of a helpless and invading and strangling experience and it feels weird to say I liked it, so I’ll say I “liked” it. I could say so much more about this book and maybe some day I will, or you can message me if you’ve read it and want to talk about, or if you think you might want to read it but want a warning of exactly what kind of triggering content it contains. 

Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst 

harmony by carolyn parkhurst cover art Goodreads | Amazon ⭐⭐
This book contains a lot of my favorite things – isolated groups/locations, building a sort of civilization/community from scratch, group dynamics, but in the end, it was a bit of a letdown for me. The majority of the reading experience itself was fine. It’s about a group of families, lead by a sort of… I don’t know what to call him, a child development specialist? An expert in raising children with various developmental issues? I’m not sure. A guy who likes helping families and has big ideas. He starts a camp called Camp Harmony, with the idea that his core group of initial families (all of whom have children with developmental difficulties of various sorts as well as neurotypical children) will help create the camp/society and live and work there full time, while other families pay to come and stay at the camp for a week or weekend at a time to benefit their children. You know there’s something off from the beginning and it turns out that there is, but for me, this book didn’t really earn its ending. 

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

evvie drake starts over by linda holmes cover artGoodreads | Amazon ⭐⭐⭐
This was a perfectly pleasant adult contemporary novel. A recent widow and a baseball player with the yips end up sharing a duplex and hitting it off. The relationship developed at a reasonable and realistic pace, and was also a reasonable and realistic relationship. There’s some misunderstanding, but of the mature, adult variety – not one person getting offended and running off without giving anyone a chance to explain, not someone misinterpreting something they saw or heard and acting on that knowledge and making a whole mess of things. Just two adult people trying to do their best for each other and not always hitting the mark. Everyone behaved the way we expect adults to behave, or at least hope they will. It was refreshing and comfortable to read. 

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Goodreads | Amazon ⭐⭐sharp objects by gillian flynn cover art
I’ve said before that when I’m reading thrillers (is this a thriller? suspense? either way) that I feel like I’m a visitor in a genre that is not mine. I do enjoy them from time to time, but I feel like I don’t have a good grasp on what makes a good one vs a not so good one, so you’ll just have to take my opinion on this book as how it was for me, not how I am suggesting it would be for you, because I know that this book is well-reviewed and I absolutely trust the kind of people who like this kind of book to have a better idea of what is good and what isn’t than I do. That said, this crossed too far into weird for me. I didn’t feel so much thrilled or suspended? Suspensed? As I did just kind of weirded out. I didn’t feel like the main character had any sort of internal logic I could connect to. Not for me, but definitely take someone else’s advice on this one. 

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Goodreads | Amazon ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐know my name by chanel miller cover art
Chanel Miller is Emily Doe of the Brock Turner Stanford rapist trial. Know My Name is her story from the night of the assault all the way through the trial. I listened to the audiobook, which is read by the author, and I definitely recommend that route if audiobooks are your thing. Before I started this book, it was hard to imagine being more angry at the state of the world shown through the lens of the Brock Turner trial as it happened, and I don’t know if I’m more angry. I don’t think I could hold more anger on this topic. But I was angry all through that trial and the ridiculous sentencing and the bullshit, and through all of that, Chanel Miller was Emily Doe and we didn’t know anything about her. This feels like necessary context. 

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

the couple next door by shari lapena cover art

Goodreads | Amazon ⭐⭐
This is pretty standard suspense stuff, what we’ve become used to over the last few years. I am not a person who gets upset if I figure out who did a thing or didn’t do a thing or predict a twist that is coming – I don’t feel like I need to be smarter than the book to enjoy it, if it’s well written. And this one was. It was pretty good, for a while. Standard, like I said, but if a formula works, it works, right? It’s just, this one went to the toppings bar and added just a couple too many kinds of sprinkles. Just one or two steps too far. 

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 

never let me go by kazuo ishiguro cover artGoodreads | Amazon ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Goodreads says I gave this book four stars, and since I rate things immediately after I finish reading them, I believe me, but at the same time, I can’t for the life of me remember why. This is another one that had more of my favorite stuff – special schools, weird dystopian elements. Other than that, though, I couldn’t really tell you much about it, and I only finished it a couple of weeks ago. This is a terrible review and this is exactly why I had to catch up on all 15 now and keep up from here on out, because obviously there was something about this book that made me think it was great, but I feel no particular pull to reread it or talk about it. 

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

Goodreads | Amazon ⭐⭐⭐my favorite half-night stand by christina lauren cover art
Sometimes Christina Lauren is hit or miss for me, but I did like this one. Another of my favorite things, where two people are internet talking and either one or both of them doesn’t know that they’re actually talking to each other. I was really pleased with the way the female lead, Millie, uses her fake profile to explore/set free parts of herself that she’s held back from her closest friends in the past, and her path toward meshing those two parts of herself together as the story goes on. 

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

Goodreads | Amazon ⭐⭐⭐⭐the dreamers by karen thompson walker cover art
I don’t know if you want to read a virus book in a pandemic, but if you do want to read a virus book in a pandemic, maybe it could be this one? It was published in 2019, and I think if I had read it then, I would have rolled along more merrily, but since I read it now, there was a whole new weight given to scenes of kids crowded in dorm rooms, sharing shot glasses, and kissing all up on each other. Also, the parts about the government and human response to the illness might have seemed “oh come on, that would never happen like that!” if I’d read it in 2019, but guess what I read it in 2021. There were parts of it that I wish were just more – more fleshed out, more explained, more with this or that character – but all in all, I liked it a lot. 

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams 

Goodreads | Amazon ⭐⭐the bromance book club by lyssa kay adams cover art
This is a “not for me, but maybe for you” contemporary romance. It says on the tin that this book (and series) is about a group of guys who read regency romances in order to learn how to deal with/connect with/solve problems with women. I feel misled by that, I would have liked to see more of like… a book club! The guys sitting around and talking about a book together! You know, like one does at a book club! Not just handing a man a book and hovering around at random as he reads it on his own and tries to figure out what to do with a single fictional case study. To be completely fair, I should have by rights backed out of this book from the start, because I don’t generally like romance with an established relationship. Our main couple is married but currently suffering from a major issue – I will leave it to you to figure out what that issue is, exactly, but upon finding out myself, I had no patience for either of them. 

Writers & Lovers by Lily King 

writers & lovers by lily king cover artGoodreads | Amazon ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is a book about an aspiring author, not yet published but closing in, living in the tiniest of places with the dickheadiest of landlords, working at a restaurant because she wants to and it suits her and the kind of life she wants to have, her supportive friends and her not so supportive man friend, her distant brother and the seemingly less great man friend. There are no big dramatics, no speeding or slowing of the plot, what the is of one. It’s about living your life in a way that lets you do what you want to be doing, about your personal good man and your personal potentially great man, fitting yourself into someone’s existing life while they don’t shove over for you or choosing to be with people whose lives flow around your life with no one having to displace or be displaced or feel out of place. I think. I liked it! 

The Martian by Andy Weir 

the martian by andy weir cover artGoodreads | Amazon ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Listen, I believed everyone who said it was good, I really did, but still, there was a spaceman on the cover and it was a Matt Damon movie and I didn’t DOUBT that it was good but perhaps not my kind of good but Y’ALL IT WAS SO FUCKIN GOOD. 

 

The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

the black witch by laurie forest cover artGoodreads | Amazon ⭐⭐⭐⭐*
There’s a lot of controversy that surrounded this book before and when it first came out, and that makes it hard to know how to talk about it – I don’t want to dismiss anyone’s concerns as “not a big deal,” because I liked the book just fine. This is a fantasy book set in a world with a huge amount of systemic racism – against fantasy races, but the parallels are clear and easy to draw to real life. I find it really hard to grasp whether it is a racist book or a book about racism, and I want to read a lot more opinions from a lot more voices before I make a final decision on whether I’m going ahead with this series. That said, I did like the story, which is unusual, because fantasy isn’t really “my” genre. I hope to have more to say about it when I can organize my thoughts. 

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

in five years by rebecca serle cover artGoodreads | Amazon ⭐⭐⭐
I really like books that play with time in a lot of different ways and this is definitely one of the more unique ways I have seen. The whole reading experience of this book felt very on a knife’s edge, because you think something bad is going to happen, but then you think it might not, but then you think it might but possibly it’s justified, but then again you think it might not happen but maybe it should, then things move along in such a way that you think oh bitch that better not happen, but then again, if it did, maybe it would be fine, but also it seems like it has to happen, but does anything really have to happen? It’s like you’re standing on the edge of disliking it/liking it with every page turn. 

 

So those are the 15 books I’ve read so far in 2021, and from here on out I will proceed as if I am a normal human who reads books a normal amount and tells you about them in a normal way. Mostly. There’s some other stuff I want to do. This site isn’t finished yet but honest to fuck I can’t stare at one more line of incomprehensible garbleage telling me how to change link colors and it not working for one more second today NOT ONE MORE SECOND. This will do for now. I hope the comments work, but I haven’t checked. If you follow me on Instagram where I’ve been posting a metric fuckton of book content on my stories, please consider following @hellokorio instead, a totally empty account, because I am terrible at taking pictures, but do intend to in the near-ish future move my book-specific content over there, because I feel like if a person is going to change up their whole THING, it is only polite that it be opt in rather than forcing you to unfollow me on my main account which I wouldn’t hold against you, but would pretend I held against you to make you uncomfortable because that’s who I am as a person and I’m too old to change.

11 responses to “The 15 Books I’ve Read in 2021”

  1. Kristina says:

    *Sighs* Opens library website. Adds seven books to holds lost. *Sighs again*

  2. June says:

    Fine. I’ll read The Martian.

    • korio says:

      You won’t be sad about it! Someone told me the first 40 pages are math and from then on it’s fine, and I found that to be accurate, and also I didn’t have to DO the math, so it didn’t really matter.

  3. Kara says:

    I also read The Dreamers this year. And it was either the best or worst time ever to read it. I’m still deciding. But it was a great book, so I can’t complain much.

    I’m currently reading In Five Years, and I’m not sold on it yet. I’ll probably finish it, because it’s short, but not really love it. I am most excited about Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #6). I’m on the waiting list at the library for that one. I’m almost done with Inheritance Games by Jennifer Barnes, and it’s lots of fun.

  4. LeighTX says:

    I read My Dark Vanessa and Notes on a Silencing within a week or so of each other, and I think that made my feel even more enraged than I would have otherwise felt. Both are great and worth a read, but . . . prepare to get mad, I would say.

  5. Suzanne says:

    I’ve been waffling on My Dark Vanessa, and your review makes me simultaneously want to read it less and read it more.

    Your description of Never Let Me Go is almost exactly how I feel about it — although I read it a million years ago. I retain the general feeling of liked-it-ness, but can’t quite remember what it was about or why I liked it. Perplexing.

    • korio says:

      The thing with My Dark Vanessa is that… there’s not really any BENEFIT in reading it. Like you won’t come out of it with any new perspective, just infuriating reinforcement of infuriating things you already know. But at the same time, I do personally find benefit in KEEPING THOSE FIRES STOKED.

  6. Kate says:

    I’m in for the Martian since I had the exact same misgivings but wasn’t brave enough to take the plunge, and the Dreamers because that sounds like my jam. Have you read Station Eleven?

    • korio says:

      I did read Station Eleven, but… I didn’t really like it. It’s so funny, I was debating about The Glass Hotel and a number of people told me “It’s good, but Station Eleven was better.” Well. I didn’t really like Station Eleven. So. I guess… that’s a no.

      • Kate says:

        It might be worth a try? I loved Station Eleven but couldn’t get into the Glass Hotel at all, so if you *didn’t* like Station Eleven, maybe that one’s for you?

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