Hello, friends! Welcome back to GraceofStorytelling in 2021! I’ve started this year with a pretty optimistic mindset. I have an internship that keeps me busy, and I am really enjoying it. My semester at school is also going pretty well so far. I am grateful that my course load is a lot less demanding and stressful this semester.
For the first time in my college career as an English major, I am not taking any literature course! This means I won’t be assigned any major literary works to read for the next few months. Hopefully, this means I’ll have more room in my life for recreational reading. That’s good, because there are A LOT of books on my TBR (To Be Read) list!
For my first blog post in 2021, I was inspired by Christine Riccio, also known as polandbananasBOOKS on YouTube. I watched her video, Book I Want to Read in 2021, and it got me thinking about all of the books I want to read, especially in the next few months.
My TBR is mostly made up of recent YA, but the titles cover a variety of topics and subjects within that range. The list is extensive, ambitious, and I am very excited to share it. So, without further ado, I present my Spring 2021 Reading List!
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
I am reading this one right now in preparation of my book club’s February meeting. (As of writing this, I am 77% complete, according to my Kindle). It’s about a 25-year-old Black woman who is employed as a baby-sitter for a white woman, who is a blogger and motivational speaker. There are a lot of discussions about privilege and power dynamics, especially in regards to race. While that is all well and good, I don’t exactly love this book so far (and I’m pretty far in). We spend a lot of time with characters that I find somewhat icky. The bright side is that the prose reads quickly and easily, so I’ll be finished with it soon.
Goodbye, Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
Goodbye, Mr. Terupt is the fourth and final book in the wonderful Mr. Terupt series, which is one of my all-time favorites. I remember when the third book in the series, Saving Mr. Terupt, came out in 2015. I got my copy at Barnes & Noble as soon as it was available and read the whole thing that day! Similarly, I purchased my copy of Goodbye, Mr. Terupt on its release day in December 2020 and started reading it almost immediately. However, I’ve barely picked it up since then, for a few reasons. One is that I loved Saving Mr. Terupt, and I’m worried that I won’t like the next book as much. Another is that I may not be ready for the series to be over. I’ve cared so deeply about these characters and everything they've been through in each book. I grew up with these characters, and I treated Saving Mr. Terupt like it was the conclusion of our journey together. I don’t want to say goodbye to Jessica, Luke, Danielle, Anna, Jeffrey, Peter and Alexia again.
Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
For the last year or so, I’ve been making my way through the past selections of the Barnes & Noble YA Book Club. I’ve gotten through a few so far, and the next on the list Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen, the selection from February 2020. Abigail Hing Wen was a guest on a podcast I like, Marissa Meyer’s The Happy Writer podcast. I got to learn about the author and what her book’s about, which made me really excited to read it. I’ve had it downloaded and ready to go on my Kindle for a couple months now.
“When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be…Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat…Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart?”
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
I'm not sure if I will actually read this book or not. Three Women is the March selection for my regular book club, which is the only reason why it’s on my list. From what I can tell, Three Women is the result of one journalist’s long-term research on the lives of (you guessed it) three women. I skimmed through various Goodreads reviews, and some of the comments I found indicated that I might not love this book. Since it’s for my book club, I’ll still give it a shot. I’ll probably check out the ebook from the library and read it until the loan expires.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
If the appearance of The Hunger Games on this list is a shock to you, let me reassure you: I HAVE read The Hunger Games. I was a huge fan of Suzanne Collins’s other series, The Underland Chronicles, right before The Hunger Games exploded into pop culture, so I was ready for more content from her. I read the trilogy at the height of its popularity and I really enjoyed it. While I’ve reread The Underland Chronicles many times, it’s been a while since I’ve revisited The Hunger Games. I reread the first book back in 2014, but Panem has been far from my mind ever since. I want to revisit the trilogy with the mindset of a young adult and see if it still holds up, and I want to read it with the more critical eye I have developed since my preteen days. I also want to read the prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, so I need to refresh my knowledge of the story world.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
This is the Barnes & Noble YA Book Club selection from March 2020. The B&N team has introduced me to works of striking contemporary, colorful fantasy, vivid historical fiction and wild speculative fiction, and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is their first murder mystery.
“Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn't so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden.”
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
While I reread The Hunger Games in 2014, I don’t think I’ve touched either of its sequels since I first read them back in middle school. I don’t think I’ve even seen the movies since they were in the theaters. This time, I want to experience the whole trilogy.
Most Likely by Sarah Watson
This is the Barnes & Noble YA Book Club selection from April 2020. In Most Likely, four best friends face their senior year, working to overcome obstacles and achieve greatness. I am looking forward to reading a story that focuses on four different female characters.
“This is the story of four best friends who have one another's backs through every new love, breakup, stumble, and success--proving that great friendships can help young women achieve anything...even a seat in the Oval Office.”
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Honestly, I could probably tell you how Mockingjay ends, but I could not tell you how the characters get to that epilogue. I should reread it.
They Went Left by Monica Hesse
Yet ANOTHER Barnes & Noble YA Book Club pick! They Went Left is the May 2020 selection, and it’s about a young woman who searches for her younger brother after they are liberated from a German concentration camp. They Went Left was recently recognized as an Honor Book for the Young Adult category of the Sydney Taylor Book Award as well.
"Zofia's last words to her brother were a promise: Abek to Zofia, A to Z. When I find you again, we will fill our alphabet. Now her journey to fulfill that vow takes her through Poland and Germany, and into a displaced persons camp where everyone she meets is trying to piece together a future from a painful past..."
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
My Hunger Games reread is all leading up to this! I haven’t heard a lot about other readers’ reactions to The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, but I remember being super intrigued when I first saw how BIG the book was. Seriously, the hardcover looks almost as long as the three Hunger Games paperbacks stacked together. Also, this prequel was released ten years after Mockingjay. Since it took Collins such a long time to write such a long book, there must be quite a story within those pages.
Also, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was the “Bonus” May selection for the B&N YA Book Club. (Surprise!)
Bonus: Manga Classics
Manga Classics is a publisher that produces manga adaptations of classic Western literature. Through my internship, I was able to take home copies of their versions of Emma by Jane Austen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I think they’re really cool, and I hope to sit down and read through one (or all!) of them soon.
Aaaaaand that’s my Spring 2021 Reading List. Whew, that’s a lot! I may not get through them all before this summer, but I sure am going to try! To follow along on my journey, be sure to follow my “bookstagram” account, @graceofstorytelling on Instagram, and check out my Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/graceofstorytelling