10 Books I Want to Read in 2021

Last year, I did a post about the 10 books I wanted to read before the end of the year. I did manage to get to a few of them, but there were still several books I didn't read by the time New Year's rolled around.

With the new year, I wanted to put together a new list of books to tackle. Most of them are books that have either been on my list for awhile, are intimidatingly long, or are on the verge of losing my interest. Some of these are even roll-overs from my previous list - ones I didn't get to.

Whether or not I get to all the books on this list, I'd like to check off just a few. Enough that I can get rid of the ones I no longer want and keep the ones I do enjoy. It's a good way to purge my shelves and get me to read more diversely than I usually do.

little women by louisa may alcott

This was on my list last year, but I didn't manage to get to it before the new year came around. I still want to read it for the same reasons, namely that I haven't read it through in years. So many people I follow online have been reading this and watching the recent adaptation, which makes me want to read this even more/

There's little that I remember about this story except for my frustration that Teddy and Jo don't end up together. Pretty much everything else about the story is a giant blur. And now that I'm older, I'd like to see what kind of appreciation I can develop for the story and the writing.

the goldfinch by donna tartt

Another one that was on my list from last year, I do want to get through this at some point. It's a hefty book that I could easily use to defend myself if necessary, and I've heard a lot of people say that it's really rewarding in the end. Emotionally heavy and hard to get through, but rewarding. And if I'm being honest, I actually have no idea what this is about.

It's literary fiction and there's a kid (?) and all I know is that once I've read this, I'm gonna feel like a fancy reader for having finished a Donna Tartt book. Yeah, that's 50% of why I'm reading this. It's gonna be super satisfying to say that I'm one of the people who knows what the book is about and I can finally start saying that I read literary fiction from time to time.

china rich girlfriend by kevin kwan

Sequels are my biggest downfall as a reader. I'm terrible at finishing anything with more than one book and chronically late to the hype train. Since I read the first book last year, I'd like to finish the trilogy this year. It's also a connection back to home and the Chinese language that I miss so much.

The story is ridiculous, but there are a lot of things that ring true. The expectations of Asian families, the extravagant wealth some families have and how they abuse that privilege, and even the classism that exists. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of my high school days. Sure, my friends weren't this wealthy, but there was a wealth gap and I felt it. And I know a lot of other people who lived wild lives because they had the money to do so. Sometimes I miss hearing those stories, and these books help quench that a bit.

sharp objects by gillian flynn

This is the last of Flynn's popular novels that I have on my list, and truthfully, I have this here because I want to get rid of it. Yeah, I could just donate it without opening the book, but I do want to give it a shot because there's still a chance that I can like this. Flynn's other two books, Gone Girl and Dark Places didn't go over so well with me, but this could.

In general, something about Flynn's writing doesn't do it for me. I haven't been able to put my finger on what exactly it is yet, but I'm hoping that this book will shed some light on that. At least enough that I can explain it to myself, even if it never makes sense to another person.

and the mountains echoed by khaled hosseini

I read Hosseini's other book, A Thousand Splendid Suns, for class a few years ago and have been meaning to pick up another one of his books since. His writing is very compelling and I felt like I learned a lot from his work. The fact that Hosseini is a highly educated man shedding light on a lot of misconceptions and conflicts in his home country makes his work even better.

Something about reading his books makes me feel smarter. It's like I have a better understanding of the world and the people in it. And with the world the way it has been over the past year, I need something that shows me the goodness and the hope amidst a very broken and twisted world.

to all the boys i've loved before by jenny han

Okay, so I've seen the first two Netflix movies and haven't read the book. At this point, I think I'm a little beyond the age demographic for the story, but I would like to see what the original story was like. And I do plan on reading the rest of the trilogy eventually, but that would require starting the first book.

This will be the first time I read a straight romance book featuring a half-Asian main character, written by an Asian author. And though the romance genre isn't something I tend to venture into, I'm looking forward to the representation from someone who understands and to see how an own-voices author portrays Asians in a positive and attractive light. Especially as an Asian girl, this balance is delicate and difficult, requiring nuance to keep attraction from becoming a fetish.

Strangely, I am excited to read this because I've enjoyed Han's work in the past and I think I'll enjoy this too.

the light between oceans by m.l. stedman

I bought this awhile ago because someone on BookTube recommended it at some point and I don't read enough historical fiction. There's a strong chance I'll like this as I've heard nothing but good things about the book, and the cover is really pretty.

Generally speaking, I would really like to read more historical fiction again. Years ago, I went through a phase where that's all I would read, and I think there's a lot of value in reading well-written books set in the past. Often times, it's a lesson of caution for the future and I think the world could use a little more of that right now. Historical fiction also tends to be incredibly atmospheric and it's been awhile since I've read something like that.

blindness by josé saramago

This is a book I don't know much about. At some point during my sophomore year, my best friend Liz gave me the extra copy that she had for some reason. We talked about reading it together but that never happened, and I don't actually know if she still has her copy. And I have no idea what this is about.

Even though I know nothing about this, something gives me the feeling that I'd rather it be that way. The book strikes me as the kind I'd enjoy if I allowed myself to discover everything while reading. Hopefully, I do end up enjoying it. I mean, it won a Nobel Prize for Literature so there has to be a lot of good things about it, right?

the namesake by jhumpa lahiri

Once upon a time, an English professor told me to read Lahiri's writing to learn something. What that something was, I don't remember. I just saw this at a library sale and picked it up. Do I have any idea what this book is about? Nope. Do I want to read it to see what I think and learn? Yeah, and then I'll probably donate it.

In hindsight, it was a hasty decision to buy a book that I knew nothing about just because an English professor told me I could learn something from it. I think that something was supposed to be plot related, but I'm not really sure. At least it was a cheap purchase and I won't be too upset if I don't end up enjoying it. The goal is always to enjoy what I read, but considering I don't have any reading tastes in common with the professor who recommended Lahiri's work to me, I have no idea if this is up my alley at all.

the expatriates by janice y.k. lee

I read The Piano Teacher last year for the Asian Readathon and unfortunately, didn't really like it. Mostly, it was an issue with the characters and my lack of connection to either of them. But I'd like to see if that changes with a story set in a more modern Hong Kong. Interestingly, the copy I have is an ARC that was donated to the library and I bought it at a library sale. Technically, that makes it kind of illegal cause you're not supposed to sell and buy ARCs, but I'm going to hope that no one tracks me down because of that.

The reason I mention that it's an ARC is because things could change in the final version. If I read and like this, maybe I'll switch it out for a final copy, but otherwise, most ARCs aren't super different from the finished version that hits bookshelves.

Once again, I have little to no idea what this is about. Just based off the title, I'm assuming that it's about expatriates in Hong Kong and their lives there. I've met several expats during my time living there, so I'm already quite familiar with hearing stories about their lives and how they transition to life in Asia. I'm really hoping that I'll like this because I want to enjoy something set in a country I've called home for years. It's rare enough to find books set there written by people who know what they're talking about, so I'd like to be able to say good things about this one.

As a major fan of lists, I'm hoping that putting this out there and having it on the Internet will help keep me accountable. I also have it written down as a checklist in my reading journal, but it never hurts to tell other people about my reading plans.

I'd say that for half of these books, it's a way for me to cull my TBR and make space for books I'd actually enjoy. The other half is me trying to motivate myself to get to books that I do want to read and already know I'll have fun with. Sometimes, all it takes is announcing a reading list to the world and things magically start getting read.

What books would you like to read this year?

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