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Happy New Year! For my first post of 2021, I decided to put together a list of the 10 books I am most excited to read this year. January is brightening up just thinking of them! Wishing you all a year of happiness in both the real and fictional world…
1) Troy by Stephen Fry
Anything related to Greek mythology fascinates me, and the Trojan War involved some pretty incredible characters – I can’t wait to become absorbed in their lives. I also got a beautiful hardcover edition of Troy for my birthday so it’s looking very tempting on my bookshelf!
2) Henry V by William Shakespeare
I’m taking a module on Nation & Race in Early Modern Europe next semester which I’m very excited for, and Henry V is our first set text. I hadn’t read any of Shakespeare’s history plays until last year and I loved them. Hopefully this one will provide even more violence, drama and royal feuds!
3) Love in Colour by Bolu Babalola
I enjoyed watching the Between the Covers book club (if you’re in the UK you can catch up on BBC iPlayer) and this was one of their weekly picks that instantly caught my attention. Love in Colour is a collection of short stories aimed at decolonising love, retelling well-known romantic mythologies from a West African perspective.
4) Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
I hadn’t heard of this novel until it won the 2020 Booker Prize! It sounds very raw and powerful, especially as the story is set in poverty-stricken 1980s Glasgow. The focus on family relationships and the love between a mother and son is what first attracted me to this book, plus any author whose debut novel wins the Booker deserves checking out!
5) Empireland by Sathnam Sanghera
Empireland is released in January 2021 – it’s a non-fiction book that examines ‘How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain’.
Here in Britain, I think we often fall into thinking that racism is an American problem, failing to acknowledge how pervasive it is in our society too. Empireland sounds like a really important read to help correct this problem.
6) Austerlitz by W.G Sebald
Austerlitz is another book I am reading for uni, this time for a module on Literature & Evil – which sounds pretty dark but also very moving. Dark and moving basically sums up the premise of this novel, as a boy rescued from Germany on a Kindertransport in 1939 goes in search of his lost history.
7) Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
Another award winner – Hamnet picked up the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2020! It’s set in early modern Britain, imagines the story behind a Shakespeare play, and brings to life one of history’s forgotten women. How have I not read this yet?!?
8) Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
This one was recommended to me by the lovely Alyson Woodhouse and I can’t believe I’ve never read it before as it sounds right up my street! I always enjoy feminist non-fiction and, from the synopsis, it seems like Gay strikes the perfect balance between informative empowerment and fun relatability.
9) Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes
More feminist non-fiction! More Greek mythology! Natalie Haynes’ novel A Thousand Ships was one of my favourite reads of 2020 so I was very excited to hear she had released a non-fiction book about women in the Greek myths. You can read my review of A Thousand Ships here.
10) The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
This one is a recommendation from Stephen @ Stephen Writes who has brilliant taste in books! I don’t usually read much fantasy but this one sounds deeply embedded in real-life historical issues such as the struggle for women’s suffrage – it’s made me want to step outside of my comfort zone!
Have you read any of these books? Which one should I put to the top of my list? Let me know what you think in the comments – I would love to hear from you!