The Quiet Musings The Book Edition

My favourite reads of 2021

- December 29th, 2021 -

Last year I skipped my favourite reads. I have no recollection why. Probably because I only read 3 books I found noteworthy. This year I read more good books and still have a stack of TBR books that were recommended to me by friends. Plus a couple of books I bought when visiting bookstores in other cities. Amongst others; Shakespeare & Co.

This year some great books I was looking forward to got published and other good ones came to my attention. Hence I got to read some good ones. Even tho I keep a Goodreads goal, I’m letting go of the rat race of reading x amount of books in a year and just focusing and slow reading the books I want.

Half a World Away by Mike Gayle

This book was recommended to me through Instagram. I read it in one sitting. It keeps you turning pages. A tale about a sister and brother separated when they were kids. Years later Kerry is looking for her brother. When she finds Noah, they are strangers in every sense. Separated by upbringing and social class. As they get to know each other, their world comes tumbling down. This book wrecked me, make sure you have tissues at hand.

Maar dat mag je niet zeggen by Nikki Sterkenburg

A Dutch non-fiction book by journalist Nikki Sterkenburg, based on her PhD research on the new generation of radical -extreme right movement in The Netherlands. The book consists of interviews with people in the many subcultures of the radical right; neo nazis, alt-right. What do they believe in, what made them turn the radical right movement and how the radical right is growing in The Netherlands in all levels of social class and being normalized. A must-read for everyone.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

What if you had a chance to experience another reality of your life? How would your life look like if you made different choices? And are the alternatives really better than your actual reality? Matt Haig’s book is brilliant, it shows the grass is not greener on the other side. And that even in our darkest moments life is still worth living. This book has more than deserved its bestseller status.

You don’t have to understand life. You just have to live it.

The Midnight Library

LaserWriter II: A Novel by Tamara Shopsin

A kind of coming-of-age story but really more about an Apple repair shop named TekServe, in Manhattan in the ’90s when Apple was made ‘for weird people’. The main character is Claire, a 19-year-old who applies to work at TekServe and ends up as the printer repair person. Her favourite printer to repair is the Apple LaserWriter II.

The book is based on a real Macintosh repair shop. TekServe is the place Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City) took her Apple PowerBook to when it crashed and she lost all her columns and she flipped out on Aidan.

We follow Claire as she applies to work at TekServe and starts as customer support. she quickly moves ‘up’ and starts working in the printer ‘department’ fixing printers. While we learn a bit about Claire (she attends classes at Columbia University with a lost student pass she finds). We learn about Macintoshes with a good dose of technology history. It’s told in a way that keeps you reading. Not a dry history retelling.

Awesome book if you were into computers (especially Macs) and the internet since the ’90s. I loved this book if only for pure nostalgia. It’s also a pretty unique book compared to the book trends of this year.

We Are Watching Eliza Bright by A.E. Osworth

I have been sitting on this book since it was released in March and finally, I sat down to read it. This book has not been on the radar of book reviewers on Instagram, TikTok and barely on YouTube as far as I know. And it’s a shame because this book is great in its own unique way.

Eliza Bright is a self-taught programmer who works at the startup Fancy Dog Games in New York, where she is part of the programmer’s team that develops the only game Fancy Dog Games has. She is good despite her insecureness and soon makes promotion to the top team working with 4 other guys. But things don’t go as expected. When she starts working with the new team she experiences sexism and toxic masculinity from the first day working with them from two of the other developers.

She reports them to her boss which triggers a set of events and she gets fired, doxxed and stalked.

The book is narrated by two entities; the voice of Redditors and 4Chan incels and the voice of Sixsterhood, a queer community/entity that supports queer feminism. The book is inspired by the GamerGate scandal from 2014 and on the sexism, misogyny and white nationalism hate that is still happening daily online against women.

It took a few chapters for me to get into it, mostly because the first part is narrated by Redditors and it was a bit confusing. But once you get the flow you can’t stop reading. You just want to find out what happens next.

This is an extraordinary, unputdownable novel that explores the dark recesses of the Internet and male rage, and the fragile line between the online world and real life. It’s a thrilling story of female resilience and survival, packed with a powerful feminist message.