Musings of the University of Dundee MLitt Publishing Writing students


2021: a year of reading

Whenever someone asks what genre I like to read I don’t know what to say. I like books. I love books. I love books so much I have a collection tattooed on my ankle.

Yet, I cannot commit to one genre. This is best reflected when I mention my favourite authors (i.e. Shakespeare, Austen, Orwell, Atwood, Tolkein, Haig, Rooney, etc). There is nothing necessarily wrong with this, in fact, some people say it makes you a better writer — dipping your toes in all the ponds. It is more of an example of my scatterbrained mind leeching onto any form of substance it can find.

It is always interesting to look back on what you read throughout the year and when you read it. When I felt down I tended to read more fantasy and escapism books. When I wanted to simply read it was often something cheesy and perhaps a little NA/YA-like. When I felt like I could challenge myself I would reach down into the pit of classics I want to read and tackle them head-on. I currently own a total of 373 books that are all different genres, forms, styles, and originate from across the globe. So when I say I am a varied reader, I mean it.

There are certainly many candidates for my favourite books of 2021. There were many re-reads of my all-time favourite classics due to my dissertation topic (‘The Cat’s Eye of Highbury: Gender Conditioning and the Shaping of Female Identity in Jane Austen and Margaret Atwood’) and I read many new books due to my work as a reviewer with Dundee Courier and DURA. Narrowing it down to my top 5 not only took some time but also caused me to set some rules (mainly being that it had to be a new read of 2021 and not a re-read).

So, as it comes to it, here is my top five of 2021:

  1. One Last Stop by Cary McQuinston
  2. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  3. Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde
  4. Repreive by James Han Mattson
  5. The Penelopiad Margaret Atwood

Honourable mentions: Widowland by C. J. Carey, Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, WITCH by Rebecca Tamas

In closing, I challenge you to create your own candidates for your favourite books of 2021. Whilst there is the all-important literary awards that can direct you towards what people read, I am interested in you, dear reader, on what you have to say about your own reading.

Click here to see my full year in books via Good Reads.


  1. Gail Low

    what is the collection tattooed on your ankle?

  2. Comment by post author

    Amy Turnbull

    It is a pile of books with flowers growing out of one open on the top — will try and upload a photo another time if I ever get to writing around it!

  3. Dr Maurice Bond

    It good to see you have a catholic ( universal) view of reading despite your preferences being obvious