Women’s Prize 2021 Shortlist, Ranked & Reviewed

Tonight, my favourite literary prize, the Women’s Prize for Fiction, announces its 2021 winner. Every year, I eagerly await this award—I’ve read every winner so far (you can read my ranking of all the previous winners HERE). This year, regardless of who takes the prize, I’ll have already read the winning novel, as I’ve read all of the nominees on the 2021 shortlist. While there were two books on the list I particularly loved, any of the six shortlisted novels would be a worthy addition to the list of winners.

I’ve already shared my reviews on each of these books on my Goodreads account and in my monthly reads posts, but if you need a refresher or you’re trying to decide which of these fabulous shortlisted novels to add to your own TBR, here is my ranking and my thoughts on this year’s shortlist.

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What I Read in June & July

Oops, I forgot to post this last month! So here’s a double-header of all the books I read in June and July. Some really fantastic ones in this batch, but there’s one that stands so far above the rest I’m putting it above the ‘read more’ line (also, it’s hard to categorise as either fiction or nonfiction). Read on…

A Ghost in the Throat by Doreann Ní Ghríofa

A novel about a woman who becomes obsessed with a poem by an 18th century noblewoman, what she sees as parallels in her own life, and her efforts to trace the woman’s history and descendants, in some ways it’s difficult to describe what makes this book so exquisite.. Is it the richness of the prose, by an author who is mainly a poet and who shows this through the lyricism of even mundane, minor moments? Is it the way it melds genres—it’s won awards in fiction and nonfiction categories, it’s part biography and part memoir and part translation and part novel and it plays with all these styles in a compelling and intriguing way? Is it the way the plot draws you in? Every time I picked up the book to begin reading again, I immediately felt as invested in the narrator’s search for evidence of Eibhlín in marriage records and death notices and the periphery of other people’s lives. Of course, it is all these things and more, and the result is an incredibly special book. Perhaps my favourite of the year so far, and one I will be thinking about it for a long, long time.

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What I read in May

I always set myself a reading goal of 52 books for the year (so on average a book a week). Well, somehow (lockdown), I’ve hit that goal 5 months into 2021. Here are the top 10 fiction and top 5 nonfiction books I’ve read so far this year — what should I put on my to-read list for the rest of the year?

Fiction:

The Rain Heron by Robbie Arnott
Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox
No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas
The Yield by Tara June Winch
Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

Nonfiction:

Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe
Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Can’t Even by Anne Helen Petersen
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Read on for reviews of the books I read in May:

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What I Read in April

Okay, so after all my big talk last month about how I might have to split up this month post’s into two because of all the books I was going to read, I actually had a pretty slow reading month. I got a just a wee small little bit obsessively hooked on a podcast (The Magnus Archives) and so instead of listening to audiobooks I found myself listening to the podcast, and instead of reading… I also found myself listening to the podcast. 90 episodes in means it was a quieter reading month than the last couple (and I still have half the podcast to go so May might have fewer than usual books in it as well). That said, I still got through a good few excellent books; read on for my reviews or check them all out on Goodreads.

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What I read in March

I’m going to have to start doing these posts bi-weekly instead of monthly if I keep reading at the rate I am. I allocated two pages in my bullet journal for the books I read in 2021, which should leave room for about 70 books, and I’ve already filled an entire page. Part of it is that I’m listening to a good number of audiobooks while I’m working, but most of it is just that I’m reading a lot! As always, you can add me on Goodreads if you want to follow what I’m reading throughout the month.

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What I read in February

Another good reading month—I’ll probably have good reading months until the lockdown is over, or at least until the weather is better. Maybe it’s coming, the sunrise is before 7.30am now and the sunset is after 6.15pm, but for now apart from my daily walk I’m still spending a lot of my time inside and so I’m still getting a lot of reading in. It doesn’t help (in a good way) that I have so many books I’m excited about on hold via Libby and so every time a new one comes in I can’t wait to read it. So for now we’re two months in and I’ve already reached nearly half of my reading goal for the year, and I’m not complaining. This is what I’ve read:

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