I used to be able to devour a book a week without really even thinking about it. Back then, I was a carefree college student with absolutely no idea how lucky I was to have so much spare time or even an awareness of how much time I actually did have.

But things have changed. We’re in the Twenties now and life has filled much more of my time with essential tasks than I would like. Consequently, last year was not the greatest of years for my reading. Knowing this I set a modest goal of reading 20 books.

And I managed it.

But only just. I scraped in under the wire, finishing my last book with a few hours to go. Some great, some not so great — as always.

“But which were the great ones?” I hear you ask.

These are the top five picks of my reading year.

5. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

By V.E Schwab. Let’s start with this. Although since I started reading it at the end of 2020 does it still count? Enjoyable, well thought out read. It only hits at number five because it hasn’t stayed with me long term.

4. The Ivies

By one of my favourite YouTubers Alexa Donne, whose videos I’ve been watching for almost three years . I wanted this to be good so badly, and I’m so relieved to say I wasn’t disappointed. There were lines in this that were beautiful.

3. The Vinyl Detective

By Andrew Cartmel. The premise sounded intriguing … it does what it says on the tin and is someone who tracks down rare vinyl records but somehow always ends up on the trail of a murderer. Our hero goes everywhere, both in record history and around the world and yet the pacing still feels like a leisurely read. Love it. And I’m only half way through the series. Win.

2. Spinning Silver

By Naomi Novik. This was a present. It’s a retelling of Rumplestiltskin, which is not something I’m usually in to so it’s unlikely I would have picked this up if it hadn’t been. I’m so glad it was a gift. It’s utterly brilliant. Compelling, ingenious and beautifully written.

1. Berlin Stories

By Christopher Isherwood. This was terrifying. If you don’t know it, ‘Berlin Stories’ is Isherwood’s diaries of his time in Berlin in the early 1930s, documenting the rise of the Nazi Party from the perspective of both an outsider and not knowing what was to come.  There were so many things I recognised from todays world. Terrifying. Pure and simple.

What was the best book you read in 2021?