My Year In Books – 2021

A list of books that I read in 2021 along with byte-sized reviews for each, and a short analysis of my reading activity.

For the past 2 years, I have been doing a short analysis of my reading activity at the end of the year. I do that with the help of a spreadsheet that I have created to track my reading activity, and I have been recording the data since mid-2018. Along with this, I also share a short review of the books that I read.

So, let’s get started with that! And in case you are curious about how this data is tracked and recorded, I wrote a post about that here.

books in review 2021

Agatha Christie retains the top spot this year as well! No surprises there!

A quick comparison with 2019 and 2020 data shows that while I read more books than previous years, and also read for more days, the number of pages has gone down, as has the number of hours.

Next, I look at my reading streak:

reading streak 2021

The greens in the above visual indicate the days when I read for at least 10 minutes. There are more greens than in previous years, but as I said before, the total number of hours has gone down this year. This could only mean that I am spending less time reading in each sitting than earlier. I think I can use this as a proxy for my concentration level and see the trend. I feel that I am not able to focus for a longer duration for the past few months, and this data could be a good proxy to check that. I’ll analyze this data and share my findings in another post.

See also  My Year In Books - 2023

I should call out that I did not include e-books and comfort books in this data. As I explained here, a comfort book is a book that, whenever it is re-read, transports you to moments of calm in your own life. When I dip into my comfort books I do not track that activity.
As for the e-books, I decided not to track those as some e-books do not have page numbers. Instead, they use location numbers. While I can modify my template to work with both page and location, since I hardly read on Kindle I decided to skip that.

And now to the books!

Here is a list of books that I read this year (in the order I read):

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Book*Short Review
BorderlandsIn this travelogue, the author traveled to 10 border towns of India and talked about the history, geography, culture, and local traditions. The book is simple to read and full of interesting facts. For instance, Minicoy in Lakshadweep is nearer to the Maldives than India!
Overall a decent read, and if you are interested in history, geography, or travel journals, you will enjoy it.
Uff KolkataThis is Satya Vyas’s latest Hindi novel. If you don’t know him, he has written 5 Hindi novels so far and has created a niche audience for himself just like Chetan Bhagat, or Salman Khan! ‘Grahan’ web series on Hotstar is based on one of his books. He uses rustic language, which probably added to the popularity of his books. But this book, which is a horror-comedy, turned out to be a dud for me. Give it a pass.
Midwinter MurderThis delightful collection of twelve stories of mystery and suspense from Agatha Christie is loosely based around a winter theme. The collection includes 5 Hercule Poirot stories, 2 each featuring Miss Marple and Mr. Quin stories, 1 Tommy and Tuppence, 1 Parker Payne, and 1 story without any of her main characters. You might have read these stories in various other collections, but go for it if you want to enjoy mystery stories with a Christmasy background. Did I mention that the cover is beautiful?
Treasury of Indian Tales – Book 1 and Book 2Published by Children Book Trust this is a collection of Indian folk tales most of us would have read/heard while growing up. I purchased these from the Exotic India website as they were not available on Amazon. Pick this to introduce young children in your family to the folk tales of India, or for yourself to recall the days gone by!
Pigs Have WingsIf you are looking for something to cheer you up, look no further than a PG Wodehouse. I’ll not be exaggerating when I say that he is probably the funniest writer who ever lived. This book is no exception. Pick it if you are looking for dry British humor.
Unusual People Do Things DifferentlyThis book is about real-life interactions that the author had with people from all walks of life and the management lessons from those interactions. The list includes Azim Premji and Mother Teresa on one hand to the broker who helped him purchase his house, a nurse who was with him during his post-surgery recovery, etc. The language is not preachy and I found most of the interactions interesting. The book was published in 2011 and many of the interactions were from the 90s, so it was fun to search the people he mentioned in the book on Linkedin and see how their careers shaped over a period of time.
Partners In CrimeThis is 2nd book in Tommy and Tuppence series from Agath Christe and contains 15 stories featuring the detective couple. I didn’t find these stories as interesting as Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple, but I know that a lot of Christie fans love Tommy and Tuppence. If you are looking for a light mystery with some subtle humor you can pick this.
Picture ImperfectThese classic stories of Byomkesh Bakshi take you back to the old-world Calcutta of the British Raj where Byomkesh is busy unraveling mysteries and fighting crime.

Reading these stories reminded me of the 90s when a tv serial on Byomkesh Bakshi, played by Rajit Kapur aired on DD National. Good ol’ days!

If you like mystery stories, you won’t be disappointed.
Sleeping MurderThis is the last Miss Marple novel written by Agatha Christe. A murder mystery set in the past, the book doesn’t disappoint.
Life Over Two BeersSanjeev Sanyal, who you might know from ‘The Land Of The Seven Rivers’, wrote this collection of short stories. There is a hint of satire in most of the stories, but while the stories are interesting, I found most of them to be lacking depth. Go for it if you want a light read, but even if you skip this you won’t miss much.
The Making Of A ManagerI just loved this book! While new managers would definitely find it useful, I think even seasoned people managers should read this for some great tips on handling various issues one comes across in the people management journey. If you work in a tech company, most of the examples would resonate with you, but even if you don’t, there are some pearls of wisdom that you can pick from this book.
Ghachar GhocharOriginally written in Kannad and later translated to English (and maybe to other languages), this short novella explores the changing family dynamics when a lower-middle-class family comes into sudden wealth. A tightly written plot, you’ll probably enjoy it if you like watching/reading plays.
The English TeacherNot to be confused with the book written by RK Narayan, this one is a collection of short stories written by Kiran Doshi, a retired diplomat.

I’m glad I picked this book, it was a delight to read it. These stories are about women from various walks of life. The writer mentions in the introduction ‘Women are like men, only different, mostly better‘, and all the stories do justice to this statement.

Go for it, I’m confident you’ll like this book.
Love Across The Salt DesertI picked this book because of the title story, which was in class Xth ICSE syllabus. While it was a delight to read that story again, it took a while to get used to the author’s writing style, which was a little too poetic for my taste. But Keki N Daruwalla is a well-known and renowned writer, so don’t go just by my review, you might like his style.

That was all from 2021! Hope to read more this year!

See also  Confession of a Book Hoarder

Wish you a happy 2022! 🙂

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