Okay, so let’s get the most important disclaimer out of the way. By ‘worst books of 2021’, I mean for me, personally. If you love any of these books, it is not a personal attack on you. It just means that these books didn’t work for me. If they worked for you, great! I’m happy for you! But I didn’t like them, which is why they’re here. I think I’ll have to do a whole separate blog post about opinions and reader shaming to make my point. 😛
What I’m trying to say is: welcome to the last in my 2021 wrap up videos in which I talk about the books that I wasn’t happy with in 2021. There are 10 books in here, in chronological order as and when I read them. Let me know in the comments what you think of them and if this post helps you decide whether to pick them or stay away from them. Let’s go!
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1. Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan
I started off the year with this book and it was probably a sign as to how the year was going to go. This is a book that talks about love and glorifies infidelity to the point where I almost threw the book across the room. Yes, I see why this glorification can be beautiful, but COME ON! Let’s not do it, yeah? It would probably have been a tolerable read if all of it had been told from a neutral perspective. But somehow, the way the author has written it, it just comes off as praise, and that isn’t something that I’m on board with. I just hope her other works aren’t similarly controversial because I’d really like to give her another chance!
2. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
A crowd favorite this was at the time of the Booker Prize 2020 and I’m wondering why this won the prize. I mean, I can see the intensity and everything, but when a book is titled Shuggie Bain and I find a major part of the story concentrating on Shuggie’s mother and her alcoholism and not on how it and other circumstances affect Shuggie, I’m going to give it a no. Cool that the author won the award and cool that people liked it, but it was just not my cup of tea.
3. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Another controversial pick which won the Man Booker Prize. I’m only just finding out that this is supposed to be part of a genre that’s called ‘Picaresque’ that follows a protagonist from a lower social class. It’s supposed to be satire but The White Tiger seems like a series of unholy punch after punch of ‘everyone who has more than me is an a-hole’. Yet, that isn’t the problem that I have with it. It’s the writing style. It tries to be relatable, but instead, falls flat on its face because it doesn’t recognize that not everybody will relate. It doesn’t have a body, a spirit of its own. And for that, this went into the Worst Books list.
4. I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
This was a DNF, as I’ve spoken about in my Books I DNFed in 2021 blog post. I got through about 67-70 pages before I was fuming so much that I had to put it down. What a pile of sexist, misogynistic garbage this is! To quote my own post: “It is filled with toxic masculinity and the fxcked up idea that women exist only to seduce men. It is condescending, filled with sexist drivel that the author seems to revel in, and has a main character that is full of himself.” I cannot believe this crap is being made into a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Just shelve it already!
5. Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar
If I have to read one more book like this, I will stop reading altogether. Nah, just joking. I’ll gladly DNF it.
Shveta Thakrar’s ‘Star Daughter’ promises the stars and ends up falling flat in the icy regions of Antarctica. The author uses Hindu mythology as a ruse to pull the reader in, throws around words and concepts like nakshatras and star songs, and instead, comes up with a lame excuse for a competition that’s supposed to decide the fate of the characters. How does one even go back from this? I usually try to give authors second chances but this is one author that I don’t think I will. I might change my mind later, but right now, nuh-uh!
6. Before She Sleeps by Bina Shah
This is a Handmaid’s Tale wannabe in which the dystopian world has come to the point where women have formed a secret organization which offers comfort to rich men willing to pay for it. WHAT? Are you seriously, once again, slotting women into solely comfort givers? That is how women are supposed to make themselves useful again? And throughout the book, it is very obvious that the characters think that they won’t be able to do anything without the help of a man. Plus, I would have been okay with it if there was something else that the women were trying to do. But nuh-uh. The very memory grinds my gears and as I read it, I ground my teeth, trying not to chuck the book across the room.
7. Mapping Love by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
Okay, listen. Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari is a huge name in Bollywood and is known for her pathbreaking films. But her book, Mapping Love, follows a character on her quest to find her missing father and watches as she falls in love with a man who she has only just met and has absolutely no justification to falling in love with. I initially tried to see the bright spots, but things quickly deteriorated and I was going, ‘Nope, nope, nope’ as I progressed. The plot tries too hard and fails to evoke emotions. The writing could be so much better. And I’m here like… Why?
8. Bring Me Back by BA Paris
This one, I stayed up all night to finish and it made me so, so, so angry, I went and ranted on my Instagram stories about it. But in a nutshell, I found this book very draggy, super convenient, unsatisfying, and ridiculous. The twist was so infuriating because the male MC wasn’t that big of an a-hole that he wouldn’t have seen it coming. I picked this just because I liked the author’s earlier book, Behind Closed Doors, but this just didn’t cut it. I will still read one or two of the author’s other works before I decide whether I want to continue with her works or not.
9. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen
Seemed to me like 2021 was a bit of a thriller rut for me, because this is another one that bit the dust. The authors stretch the rubberband to a point where it snaps your brain in half. It annoyed me so much, at every turn. There was no point in the book where I thought it was well-written, or felt that a plot point was necessary. Plus, the way the authors advocate the thinking that finding peace within yourself is the ultimate point and that justice has its own way of coming to people – it infuriates the crap out of me. It’s convenient and very un-poetic, because you know what would be poetic? Justice. That’s what!
10. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
A book that I was super excited to read this year, Rebecca Solnit’s book started off well enough. And by started off, I meant the first few minutes of the audiobook. Because it soon degenerated into women giggling about a sexist, mansplaining comment and then turned full force into a book that had the ‘Not All Men’ vibe going throughout. It literally needed to debunk it. Not encourage it and find it cute and say ‘boys will be boys’ without saying it. And that’s why, one of my most anticipated reads (not new release) of 2021 ended up being one of my worst books of 2021. Yikes.
So that was the list of my worst books of 2021 – books I was disappointed with or those that I extremely disliked. Which of these have you read? Which ones do you want to read? Which books were your worst books of last year? Which were your best? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
I’ll be back soon with a new blog post.
Until next time, stay safe, keep reading, and add melodrama to your life! 🙂