What’s on your bookshelf #5 and books of the year 2021

Welcome to this month’s what’s on your shelf challenge hosted by fellow bloggers DebSueDonna and Jo. The idea is to share what you’re reading, what you’ve enjoyed lately share – why they resonated with you, how they made you feel, who are your favourite authors and what you recommend.

For this month’s #whatsonyourshelf I’m going to do a round up of my favourite books of the year. I’ve chosen the same categories as last year, so without further ado, here we go.  

Favourite non-fiction

I really enjoyed the three books on the left below, partly because of their gorgeous covers! Seriously, there is a nice range of essays on the kitchen the garden, and my favourite, At the Pond, about swimming at Hampstead Ladies’ Pond. Not that I have ever done that or ever will, but the essays were an absolute delight.

Favourite new cookbook

This category refers to a new book bought this year and not the one I have used the most (which was Ottolenghi’s Simple). I love Sophie Hansen’s latest book In Good Company, which is full of some great ideas, simple baking and gorgeous photographs.

Favourite detective novel

I read all four of Jane Harper’s books this year, particularly enjoying The Dry and The Lost Man, the latter of which was my favourite. I highly recommend her books if you haven’t picked them up. She has a great sense of place, and you really feel you are in the Australian outback as the mystery unfolds.

Favourite beach read

I read David Mitchell’s Utopia Avenue, back in January during the holidays. I loved this immensely readable story of the rise and fall of a rock band in the 1960s. There is a good review of it in The Guardian.

Favourite re-read

After going to see My Salinger Year, I felt I just had to re-read both The Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey. I was pleasantly surprised how both still felt fresh, and how good a piece of writing Franny and Zooey is. It was fun to rediscover these books after many, many years.

Favourite book by a New Zealand author

I loved Rebecca K Reilly’s first novel Greta & Valdin. Funny, great characters exploring their identity, well written I really enjoyed this book.

Favourite poetry

Well, I read hardly any, but I did enjoy Lost and Somewhere Else by New Zealand poet Jenny Bornholdt.

Other favourite novels

Ann Patchett’s Run (am looking forward to her latest book of essays and stories), Sally Rooney’s latest, Curtis Sittenfeld’s American Wife and discovering Elizabeth Strout.

And book of the year goes to…..

This was tough…it was either Linn Ullman’s semi-autobiographical novel Unquiet which I absoultely loved or Greta and Valdin. In the end I went for the latter, as after all she is a New Zealand author.

So that is me as we approach the end of 2021. I have a large pile of good looking books to read, and am hoping to get through a few during the forthcoming summer holidays.

What have you been reading? Join the challenge!

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram @thistlesandkiwis.  As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days.  If you want to get in touch, email me on thistlesandkiwis@gmail.com


  1. This was a great way to document your favourites for the year and some great titles are included, many I’ve not heard of! I have taken note of your book of the year and added it to my (never-ending) list! Thanks for joining us and I have taken the liberty of adding your post into the linkup, hope that’s OK with you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What reading pleasure to look back on … and to know you have more books to look forward to. I have enjoyed these reviews and made a note of some of your choices to add to my list too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wish I could say I have read as many books as you this year! However it is always interesting to read your reviews. I loved Franny and Zooey and it is hardly ever mentioned when Salinger’s name comes up.Catcher in the Rye is a treasure, I read it when I was quite young ( at uni) and Really enjoyed it. Have a happy Christmas, stay safe, read more books and find even more interesting restaurants!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for these recommendations. I love how you refected back on your past year of reading, and sorted your favourites into categories. So far, I have only read one of the books on your list (Catcher in the Rye), but have read several of the authors. I will keep a look out for Unquiet and Greta & Valdin.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Did I see right that the essays In the Kitchen was by Nigel Slater? If so, why haven’t I seen it?????? Love your categories and how widely you read. Thanks for linking up and joining in the bookish fun…and happy Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve not read any of Sally Rooney’s books and people either seem to love or hate her work.

    I’m with you re Jane Harper and liked The Lost Man more than The Dry.

    Liked by 1 person

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