Author Topic: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?  (Read 1961 times)

cool7hand

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What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« on: April 17, 2021, 07:12:30 AM »
Somehow I missed this classic for years: Hyperion, by Dan Simmons. It's a wonder in both ideas and prose.

Jorey

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2021, 07:14:59 AM »
NK Jemisins Broken Earth series.
Ursula K Le Guin

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Zikoris

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2021, 09:50:52 PM »
I have a few notable favourites, which are much easier to find now that I started tracking what I read this year for the first time. Here are my top ones so far (mostly series):

1. Special Circumstances (2 books) - John Ringo
This series is about a deeply religious housewife who also battles monsters. Lots of interesting religious discussion between epic battles.

2. Dr Charlotte Stone (4 books) -  Karen Robards
A great series about a psychiatrist who hunts serial killers, with the help of ghosts.

3. Wicked, Ugly, Bad (4 books) - Cassandra Gannon
A hilarious set of loose fairytale retellings. I had to take breaks often because I was cry-laughing too hard to read. Like I almost peed myself laughing on many occasions.

4. Abhorsen (5 books) - Garth Nix
A dark fantasy series about a family of necromancers and their allies trying to protect the world from being overrun by all sorts of nasties. I could not put these books down.

5. Mistborn (6 books) - Brandon Sanderson
The first three are an amazing epic fantasy trilogy, and then the author decided to suddenly turn it into a steampunk western for the rest. It shouldn't work, but somehow it just DOES, and so well.

6. The Others (7 books) - Anne Bishop
A gritty urban fantasy series where humans live alongside various supernatural societies. Lots of politics and plotting, and horrible bad guys getting their comeuppance.

7. I, Robot (lots of books, but I only read this one) - Isaac Asimov
This was so, so good. It was so interesting reading science fiction with highly advanced technology, like AI and interstellar space travel, yet computers don't exist.

8. Buyology - Martin Lindstrom
A fascinating and terrifying look into the world of neuro-marketing. I learned so much about the subtle things companies do that don't even register as marketing, yet are highly effective.

Right now I'm working my way through Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series, an 18 book urban fantasy series focused on werewolves and vampires, and having a great time with that. Also Agatha Christie's 45 book Hercule Poirot series, though that's going to take awhile with the number of library holds on them.

Also, on the opposite end of the spectrum I have a new book that wins the spot of "Dumbest Shit I've Ever Read in my Life": The Kraken's Heart by Annie Rider. It showed up as a Goodreads recommendation (fuck if I know why), was short, on Kindle Unlimited, and I was curious. So there's that.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2021, 09:53:51 PM by Zikoris »

Linea_Norway

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2021, 03:50:38 AM »
I cut this post out of the best book in 2020 thread and paste it in here, as we read it in 2021.

Quote from: Linea_Norway on April 12, 2021, 03:27:22 AM
DH was really impressed by The Nature Fix, by Florence Williams. It contains the scientific evidence behind why nature is good for you, like hugging trees and other things that sound very new age.
I have loaned it from the library and will read it after I finish my current book.

I just finished the book myself. And just Wow! What a book.

It is not about hugging trees, but why being in nature is good for your health. People who don't get enough of nature get ADHD, anxiety, become violent, cure less fast from illness. It shows that many cities have a great challenge
« Last Edit: April 18, 2021, 03:53:47 AM by Linea_Norway »

wenchsenior

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2021, 08:39:24 AM »
I cut this post out of the best book in 2020 thread and paste it in here, as we read it in 2021.

Quote from: Linea_Norway on April 12, 2021, 03:27:22 AM
DH was really impressed by The Nature Fix, by Florence Williams. It contains the scientific evidence behind why nature is good for you, like hugging trees and other things that sound very new age.
I have loaned it from the library and will read it after I finish my current book.

I just finished the book myself. And just Wow! What a book.

It is not about hugging trees, but why being in nature is good for your health. People who don't get enough of nature get ADHD, anxiety, become violent, cure less fast from illness. It shows that many cities have a great challenge

Another good book in this vein (specifically focused on how the human brain responds to water) by an acquaintance/classmate of mine is "Blue Mind"

https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Mind-Surprising-Healthier-Connected/dp/0316252115

NotJen

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2021, 08:46:32 AM »
Yes, I need some ideas!

I just finished Artemis by Andy Weir (author of The Martian).  Liked it more than I thought I would; it's a fun, easy read.  I'm not sure why I let it sit on my digital library's wish list for so long.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2021, 09:47:15 AM by NotJen »

salt cured

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2021, 09:20:39 AM »
I recommend The Glass Hotel.

314159

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2021, 09:32:11 AM »
I read The Glass Hotel just a couple weeks ago. It was well written, but in the end it wasn't my cup of tea. I think I was looking for an on-the-edge-of-the-Candian-wilderness setting, and it turned out a lot the book took place New York City.

I enjoyed Martha Wells's The Murderbot Diaries last month. Each novella is rather short, but fits a full book's worth of plot.

Psychstache

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2021, 10:08:58 AM »
Just finished Think Again by Adam Grant. Could not put it down.

freeat57

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2021, 01:39:02 PM »
I'm not a big fan of fiction unless it is truly a classic (i.e. things you should have read in school).  So far I have been rereading nonfiction books that came out in my youth.

Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon.  I was blown away by how contemporary some of this sounded.  He examines issues like race relations, rural vs. urban divide, conservative and liberal views and religion, spirituality and secularism.  It truly is a "journey into America".

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig.  Again, shockingly relevant to current issues in the world.  This one, however, is a VERY challenging read and I am still intellectually disturbed by some of it.  I need to spend some time rereading parts of it.  It was written in response to the societal upheavals of the 1960s, but could just as well be about human behavior as revealed in Trumpism, response to COVID, vaccine trust/distrust and climate change controversies.

BussoV6

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2021, 07:39:15 AM »
East West Street by Philippe Sands. I could not put this book down.

My life and Rugby. An autobiography of Eddie Jones, a well known international coach. Great insights for fans of the game.

Sandi_k

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2021, 10:28:37 AM »
The Water Dancer, Ta-Nehisi Coates

honeybbq

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2021, 12:41:30 PM »
Just finished Hidden Valley Road. A true story about a family with 12 children and half have schizophrenia.

It's a very interesting historical biopic.

FIRE 20/20

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2021, 06:08:20 PM »
After FIRE, I set as one of my goals to read at least one novel from each of the Science Fiction Writes of America's (SFWA) Grand Masters of Science Fiction.  "Way Station" won the Hugo in 1964 and was written by Clifford D. Simak, the third person named a SFWA Grand Master.  I expected it to be horribly dated but I think it actually holds up very well.  It came across to me as a quiet, almost meditative work that offered plenty of space to breathe.  Apparently Heinlein said, ""to read science-fiction is to read Simak. The reader who does not like Simak stories does not like science-fiction at all.", and after reading "Way Station" I agree. 

I've also read most of the books in Ursula K. LeGuin's Hainish cycle recently, although only a few this year.  "The Left Hand of Darkness" and "The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia" were by far my two favorites. 

While he didn't win the SFWA Grand Master award, Iain M. Banks is by far my favorite SF author.  The entire Culture series is amazing, but this year I re-read (for the third time) my favorite book of his - "The Player of Games".  It's the second book in the Culture series, but you don't miss very much if you jump right into the second book.  If you think you're likely to want to read the series then starting with "Consider Phlebas" would be recommended, but it's not as good as "The Player of Games". 

StarBright

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2021, 06:54:23 PM »
The Water Dancer, Ta-Nehisi Coates

!! So Good !!

crazy jane

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2021, 08:18:30 PM »
Posting mostly to follow, but also to say I started The Nature Fix. Thanks for recommending.

slappy

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2021, 07:12:09 AM »
I just finished Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins, and it was exactly what I needed in my life.


jrhampt

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2021, 08:27:45 AM »
I've read many that I should probably recommend, but my absolute number one pick for this year is Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (you may remember her from Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell).  Short read but very, very good.  It's fantasy.

utaca

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2021, 08:28:31 AM »
I recommend The Glass Hotel.

I really enjoyed The Glass Hotel when I read it. I also read her previous book Station Eleven which is supposed to be turned into an HBO miniseries. It was also pretty good and topical - pandemic wipes out most of the earth's population and the survivors (including a strange, violent cult and a troop of Shakespearian actors. I don't read a lot of dystopian fiction but I thought it was well done.

Morning Glory

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2021, 08:48:41 AM »
After FIRE, I set as one of my goals to read at least one novel from each of the Science Fiction Writes of America's (SFWA) Grand Masters of Science Fiction.  "Way Station" won the Hugo in 1964 and was written by Clifford D. Simak, the third person named a SFWA Grand Master.  I expected it to be horribly dated but I think it actually holds up very well.  It came across to me as a quiet, almost meditative work that offered plenty of space to breathe.  Apparently Heinlein said, ""to read science-fiction is to read Simak. The reader who does not like Simak stories does not like science-fiction at all.", and after reading "Way Station" I agree. 

I've also read most of the books in Ursula K. LeGuin's Hainish cycle recently, although only a few this year.  "The Left Hand of Darkness" and "The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia" were by far my two favorites. 

While he didn't win the SFWA Grand Master award, Iain M. Banks is by far my favorite SF author.  The entire Culture series is amazing, but this year I re-read (for the third time) my favorite book of his - "The Player of Games".  It's the second book in the Culture series, but you don't miss very much if you jump right into the second book.  If you think you're likely to want to read the series then starting with "Consider Phlebas" would be recommended, but it's not as good as "The Player of Games".

Leguin and Banks are my two favorite science fiction authors also. I think I have read all of their stuff but it's been a while, wouldn't mind revisiting. Banks's regular fiction is good too, although the ones that were popular in the US are a bit too violent for my taste.

Never read Simak, will have to try.

Sandi_k

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #20 on: April 21, 2021, 09:24:36 AM »
The Water Dancer, Ta-Nehisi Coates

!! So Good !!

Agreed!

Another good one: The Rose Code, by Kate Quinn

SpareChange

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #21 on: April 21, 2021, 09:37:54 AM »
Somehow I missed this classic for years: Hyperion, by Dan Simmons. It's a wonder in both ideas and prose.

Wow, haven't heard that name in a long time. Read it many years ago. So good. One of the books that probably got me interested in reading. 

salt cured

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2021, 09:41:12 AM »
I recommend The Glass Hotel.

I really enjoyed The Glass Hotel when I read it. I also read her previous book Station Eleven which is supposed to be turned into an HBO miniseries. It was also pretty good and topical - pandemic wipes out most of the earth's population and the survivors (including a strange, violent cult and a troop of Shakespearian actors. I don't read a lot of dystopian fiction but I thought it was well done.

Station Eleven is on my Kindle, just gotta finish a few others first.

Dave1442397

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2021, 07:05:12 PM »
The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix Harrow.

Just read it, and I liked it a lot.

firestarter2018

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2021, 08:18:25 PM »
A few favorites from my recent reads -- I read mostly nonfiction with some novels and memoirs thrown in:

- Homeland Elegies, Ayad Akhtar
- Hidden Valley Road, Robert Kolker
- Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America, Conor Doughtery
- Why We're Polarized, Ezra Klein
- Adrift, Steven Callahan

Cannot Wait!

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #25 on: April 21, 2021, 08:54:11 PM »
The Overstory by Richard Powers.
Will make you think...and give you hope...maybe?

wenchsenior

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #26 on: April 22, 2021, 11:17:26 AM »
The Overstory by Richard Powers.
Will make you think...and give you hope...maybe?

I gotta get to that...been meaning to for several years.

Goldielocks

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #27 on: April 24, 2021, 09:09:01 PM »
Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America

By Chris Wylie

OMG Brain exploding.   I could definitely relate to some of those business meetings he talked about early on and how one small step led to another, and another.  I recognized some of the character types from my own work life.   

This really explains what happened with the whole idea of using Facebook to change people's minds, politically.  Writing is excellent and engaging, and I don't think much ghost writing was involved (compared to most). 

Road42

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #28 on: April 27, 2021, 05:06:30 AM »
Seconding both Piranesi and The Overstory - I loved them. Best things I’ve read recently:

Finally making my way through Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Hilarious and delightful.

Tyll by Daniel Kelhmann - amazing magical realism/historical fiction mashup. Kehlmann takes the German folkloric trickster figure of Tyll Eulenspiegel through the phantasmagoria of the Thirty Years’ War in the early 17th century. It is an incredible novel - and I also highly recommend Kehlmann’s earlier work, “Measuring the World.”

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell - historical fiction about the death of Shakespeare’s 11-year-old son Hamnet. Why would the playwright name his most famous character after this child? Why do none of his works mention plague? This one is up there with my fave historical fiction about this time period, Geraldine Brooks’s “Year of Wonders.”

I also just started the new translation of Beowulf by Maria Headley and it’s amazing.


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Raenia

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #29 on: April 27, 2021, 08:24:55 AM »
5. Mistborn (6 books) - Brandon Sanderson
The first three are an amazing epic fantasy trilogy, and then the author decided to suddenly turn it into a steampunk western for the rest. It shouldn't work, but somehow it just DOES, and so well.

This is generally considered two separate series, though the take place in the same world.  The original trilogy is Mistborn Era 1, and the remaining 3 are part of Era 2.  Coincidentally, the author is currently writing the fourth book of Era 2 right now, which is supposed to be the final book of this Era.  I believe there is an Era 3 and Era 4 planned as well, set in the future of the same world.

Books I've particularly enjoyed this year:
 - The Black Company (Glenn Cook) - A trilogy of high fantasy, following the adventures of a mercenary company as they travel the world on their contracts.
 - Dragon Prince and Dragon Star Trilogies (Melanie Rawn) - Great classic high fantasy, with a focus on politics and inter-state conflict
 - Digital Minimalism (Cal Newport) - Nonfiction on how to make technology serve your priorities, instead of getting sucked in.  I passed this one along to DH, and once he's done we're going to do some of the exercises as a household.

Reaching into last year, I'd add:
 - Every Word is a Bird we Teach to Sing (Daniel Tammet)
 - The Sparrow (Mary Doria Russell)
 - Anything by Ursula K. Le Guin

jamesbond007

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #30 on: April 28, 2021, 05:41:00 PM »
I recently read The Moor's Account by Laila Lalami. I am not into fiction, but I enjoyed this historical fiction very much. I also recommend reading her recent book Conditional Citizens.

wenchsenior

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #31 on: May 04, 2021, 08:19:56 AM »
The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix Harrow.

Just read it, and I liked it a lot.

So, I just read this (after a year of looking forward to it), and I must say I am baffled at the love it's been getting (not just from you, but from critics and another person who rec'd it to me).  There was hardly any plot or action, the characters were not developed (except maybe the 'uncle' a tiny bit) and didn't have any discernible arcs, the romantic relationships were either insta-love or paper thin, with no relationship dynamics or emotional stakes shown, and the promised 'thousand doors' idea was barely utilized.  But those weren't even the biggest flaw, which was that the author didn't take you through most of what little action there is WITH the characters, but instead has one character tell another character about the interesting parts of the story in big expository dumps.

Oh, and the basic framework of the story was a rip-off of His Dark Materials.

It was incredibly disappointing, and now I have no interest in reading her also well-reviewed "Once and Future Witches," which I was formerly looking forward to. 

*SIDE NOTE: I have had the misfortune to very recently run across this same problem of high expectations for another novel that fell into the  'telling not showing/expository dumping/time-skipping over interesting events/poorly handled epistolary"  trap.  That one was "Everfair" by Nisi Shawl, which got my hopes up high with its 'alternate universe steampunk Belgian Congo' set-up and then fizzled like a long, boring, damp squib.  So my tolerance for this is pretty low right now, granted.*

I realize that reading taste is individual, but can you give me any specific ideas about what you enjoyed here?  So confused.

bloodaxe

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #32 on: May 04, 2021, 08:23:37 AM »
Civilized to Death by Christopher Ryan.

The "Civilization Makes us Crazy" argument is not novel, but Ryan makes it in a refreshing way. He also addresses the criticisms of it brought forth by Pinker, the New Atheists, and Matt Ridley.

ChpBstrd

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Re: What books have you read in 2021 that you would recommend?
« Reply #33 on: May 04, 2021, 01:36:51 PM »
Theologian Under Hitler, Robert P. Ericksen
Hitler's Pope, John Cornwell