Crush Your 2021 Reading Challenge With These Books

The year is fast approaching and if you are like me, you probably noticed that you have only a couple of weeks to reach your 2021 Reading Challenge Goal (I am 45 books behind of my reading goal). Whether you are using Goodreads Reading Challenge, my challenge on the StoryGraph website, or a challenge you set for yourself, don’t worry fellow bookworms! Victory is only in arms reach and can be fully achieved. I have a variety of books that will help you achieve your goal. And the best thing? They are short and so good that you will finish them in a day!

Manifesto On Never Giving Up by Bernardine Evaristo

MANIFESTO is Bernardine Evaristo’s intimate and inspirational, no-holds-barred account of how she did it, refusing to let any barriers stand in her way. She charts her creative rebellion against the mainstream and her life-long commitment to the imaginative exploration of ‘untold’ stories. And drawing deeply on her own experiences, she offers a vital contribution to current conversations around social issues such as race, class, feminism, sexuality and aging. (Credit: Penguin Books)

Assembly By Natasha Brown

Come of age in the credit crunch. Be civil in a hostile environment. Go to college, get an education, start a career. Do all the right things. Buy an apartment. Buy art. Buy a sort of happiness. But above all, keep your head down. Keep quiet. And keep going.

The narrator of Assembly is a black British woman. She is preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can’t escape the question: is it time to take it all apart? (Credit: Little Brown and Company)

Empress & Aniya by Candice Carty-Williams

When Empress starts at Aniya’s school, they’re not exactly best friends. But, when the two teenage girls accidentally cast a spell on their 16th birthday and end up switching bodies, they quickly learn that friendship is the most important magic of all. South London’s answer to ‘Freaky Friday’, Empress and Aniya is a moving portrayal of the importance of real friendship and the ups and downs of being a teenager. (Credit: Knights Of Media)

The Fell by Sarah Moss

At dusk on a November evening in 2020 a woman slips out of her garden gate and turns up the hill. Kate is in the middle of a two week quarantine period, but she just can’t take it anymore – the closeness of the air in her small house, the confinement. And anyway, the moor will be deserted at this time. Nobody need ever know.

But Kate’s neighbour Alice sees her leaving and Matt, Kate’s son, soon realizes she’s missing. And Kate, who planned only a quick solitary walk – a breath of open air – falls and badly injures herself. What began as a furtive walk has turned into a mountain rescue operation…(Credit: Pan Macmillan )

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

It is 1985 in a small Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant and family man, who is father to five girls, faces into his busiest season. Early one morning, while delivering an order to the local convent, Bill makes a discovery which forces him to confront both his past and the complicit silences of a town controlled by the church. (Credit: Grove Press)

What White People Can Do Next: From Allyship to Coalition by Emma Dabiri

Vital and empowering What White People Can Do Next teaches each of us how to be agents of change in the fight against racism and the establishment of a more just and equitable world. In this affecting and inspiring collection of essays, Emma Dabiri draws on both academic discipline and lived experience to probe the ways many of us are complacent and complicit–and can therefore combat–white supremacy. She outlines the actions we must take, including:

Stop the Denial
Interrogate Whiteness
Abandon Guilt
Redistribute Resources
Realize this shit is killing you too . . .

To move forward, we must begin to evaluate our prejudices, our social systems, and the ways in which white supremacy harms us all. Illuminating and practical, What White People Can Do Next is essential for everyone who wants to go beyond their current understanding and affect real–and lasting–change. (Credit: Harper Perennial)

Kill Joy by Holly Jackson

Pippa Fitz-Amobi is not in the mood for her friend’s murder mystery party. Especially one that involves 1920’s fancy dress and pretending that their town, Little Kilton, is an island called Joy. But when the game begins, Pip finds herself drawn into the make-believe world of intrigue, deception and murder.

But as Pip plays detective, teasing out the identity of the killer clue-by-clue, the murder of the fictional Reginald Remy isn’t the only case on her mind…(Credit: Electric Monkey)

Heaven by Mieko Kawakami

A bold foray into new literary territory, Kawakami’s novel is told in the voice of a 14-year-old student subjected to relentless torment for having a lazy eye. Instead of resisting, the boy chooses to suffer in complete resignation. The only person who understands what he is going through is a female classmate who suffers similar treatment at the hands of her tormentors.

These raw and realistic portrayals of bullying are counterbalanced by textured exposition of the philosophical and religious debates concerning violence to which the weak are subjected. (Credit: Europa Editions)

I Am The Rage by Martina McGowan

This evocative collection of thirty poems puts readers in the position of feeling, reflecting, and empathizing with what it means to be Black in America today. Dr. Martina McGowan, a doctor and grandmother who has been a victim of and an advocate against social, racial, and sexual injustices, uses powerful free verse poetry to express the range of emotions, thoughts, and grief she had following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, and the ongoing attacks against the Black community.

For those who are moved by the poetry of Amanda Gorman and Maya Angelou, Dr. McGowan’s poems are a glimpse into the Black experience and will stay with you long after you’ve read them. Her unforgettable words are brought to life through powerful illustrations by Diana Ejaita, whose work has been featured in Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and The New York Times, making it a beautiful poetry gift book for women and men. (Credit: Sourcebooks)

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

In a crowded London pub, two young people meet. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists–he a photographer, she a dancer–and both are trying to make their mark in a world that by turns celebrates and rejects them. Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence, and over the course of a year they find their relationship tested by forces beyond their control.

Narrated with deep intimacy, Open Water is at once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity that asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body; to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength; to find safety in love, only to lose it. With gorgeous, soulful intensity, and blistering emotional intelligence, Caleb Azumah Nelson gives a profoundly sensitive portrait of romantic love in all its feverish waves and comforting beauty.

This is one of the most essential debut novels of recent years, heralding the arrival of a stellar and prodigious young talent. (Credit: Grove Press)

Too Young, Too Loud, Too Different: Twenty Years of British Poetry from Malika’s Poetry Kitchen

In the early years of the new millennium, poets Malika Booker and Roger Robinson saw the need for a space for writers outside of the establishment to grow, improve, discuss and learn. One Friday night, Malika offered her Brixton kitchen table as a meeting place. And so Malika’s Poetry Kitchen was born.

Kitchen’, as it became known, has ushered in a new generation of voices, launching some of the most exciting writers, books and initiatives in British poetry in the past twenty years. Today, Kitchen is a thriving writers’ collective, with a wealth of talented poets and branches in Chicago and India. (Credit: Corsair)

Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan 

In 1973, twenty-year-old Moll Gladney takes a morning bus from her rural home in Ireland and disappears. Bewildered and distraught, Paddy and Kit must confront an unbearable prospect: that they will never see their daughter again.Five years later, Moll returns from London. What – and who – she brings with her will change the course of her family’s life forever. Beautiful and devastating, this exploration of loss, alienation and the redemptive power of love reaffirms Donal Ryan as one of the most talented and empathetic writers at work today. (Credit: Penguin Books)

Northern Spy by Flynn Berry

A producer at the BBC and mother to a new baby, Tessa is at work in Belfast one day when the news of another raid comes on the air. The IRA may have gone underground in the two decades since the Good Friday Agreement, but they never really went away, and lately bomb threats, security checkpoints, and helicopters floating ominously over the city have become features of everyday life. As the news reporter requests the public’s help in locating those responsible for the robbery, security footage reveals Tessa’s sister, Marian, pulling a black ski mask over her face.

The police believe Marian has joined the IRA, but Tessa is convinced she must have been abducted or coerced; the sisters have always opposed the violence enacted in the name of uniting Ireland. And besides, Marian is vacationing on the north coast. Tessa just spoke to her yesterday.

When the truth about Marian comes to light, Tessa is faced with impossible choices that will test the limits of her ideals, the bonds of her family, her notions of right and wrong, and her identity as a sister and a mother. Walking an increasingly perilous road, she wants nothing more than to protect the one person she loves more fiercely than her sister: her infant son, Finn. (Credit: Viking)


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