The Best Books I Read in 2021 – Part 1: Brazilian Books

Hello readers!

As per every year, I like writing a post with my top 3 books for each category I read this year, which gives me a chance to look back at all the different genres and books I picked up, highlight the books that really stood out for me and recommend the Very Good Stuff in one post.

This year however I am splitting it in three! I am always unsure how to do categories, and I feel like it would be interesting to create new ones that reflect better my ever-changing reading habits (for example, Brazilian Non-Fiction since I read a lot of that this year) than just the general ones (Non-Fiction). So this is how we’re doing it this time: this part 1 has my favorite Brazilian reads, part 2 has the more “usual” categories (Science Fiction, Contemporary etc) and part 3 will have whatever other categories I feel like would be cool to highlight (2021 Releases, Translated Classics etc).

This year I’ve read a lot more Brazilian books than usual, which is why I thought it would be nice to have a post just for them. It will be a bilingual post, and on the English section I’ll let you know which books are available in translation.

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Brazilian Classics / Clássicos

[EN] This was such an interesting year for classics – I rediscovered a beloved classic (The Rogue’s Trial / Auto da Compadecida) in audio format, which I had not heard before (brilliant!), and two books for a book club that, although both are classics, they could not be more different: Barren Lives was a slim book, a sober account of a family in the Northeast trying to survive told in a bare-bones writing style, whereas Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands was such a brick of a book, hilarious, vulgar and with wonderful descriptions of food, about a woman who married once following her heart, and later on married again, but following her head this time. All three books are available in English translation, although I think The Rogue’s Trial is actually quite hard to get.

[PT] Este foi um ano excelente para clássicos brasileiros! Redescobri um favorito (Auto da Compadecida) em áudio com elenco completo, o que foi uma experiência incrível e me fez me apaixonar de novo por este livro. Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos e Vidas Secas peguei com um clube de leitura e foram dois livros excelentes que não poderiam ser mais diferentes! O primeiro é um tijolo de 600 páginas, hilário, vulgar e super interessante, e o segundo tem menos de 200 páginas e é mais sóbrio e com escrita direta sem floreios. Ambos excelentes!

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If You Liked this Book, Read this Other Book for Women in Translation Month

Hello readers!

Last year I couldn’t post recommendations because I realized far too late how close WITmonth was, but this year I have prepared myself! I love translated fiction and often wish I read more of it, except I never know where to start – which is why I think writing posts like this one are very helpful for other readers like me, who are looking for more WIT books to read but don’t really know where to look, or if they would enjoy the book.

There are no Latin-American women books on my list below because I JUST published a post like this exclusively for match-ups for Latin American WIT books, you can read it here: If You Liked this Book, Read this Latin American Book for Women in Translation Month

If you liked The Book of M, read The Memory Police

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Women in Translation Month: Recommending Recent Reads + my TBR

Hello readers!

I adore Women in Translation Month! It’s a great time to shine a light on Latin American books (hello, in case you are new here, I am from Brazil!) and find new amazing authors. I have a couple posts with recommendations for WIT already, so I won’t do a very extensive recommendations here, but rather a “here’s some cool WIT books I read this year and don’t talk about enough in my blog”, plus a few I will try to pick up this month.

Recommendations

Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura, translated by Phillip Gabriel

This is a sweet, sad but also heartwarming story about a group of teenagers who are not going to school for different reasons, and one day they all find out that they can go through a mirror and cross onto a fantastical world, where they are given the chance to look for a key and get a wish. This is such a lovely book about bullying, loss, trauma and healing. The language was a bit awkward and I did not love it but it did leave me with a warm heart.

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If You Liked this Book, Read this Latin American Book for Women in Translation Month

Hello readers!

Last year I couldn’t post recommendations because I realized too late it was #WITmonth plus my reading is incredibly Anglo-centric and only the past year or two have I taken steps to change that – and discovered amazing books in the process! I have been re-discovering favorites, finding out about authors I never heard of and generally got my enthusiasm for reading re-ignited, because translated fiction is a lot more creative than the US/UK books that usually are on my radar. If it got translated into English, it’s probably because that book is really special in some way, so as a rule I am often blown away by translated books. I also found out that I am quite inclined towards Latin American fiction (I’ve especially been reading a lot more Brazilian lit lately) probably due to the fact that they’re much closer to the culture I grew up with (I am Brazilian, by the way) and so they resonate with me a lot more. English-written books, even if by Latin American authors, are normally written with an American public in mind, through an Americanized way of storytelling, so I find that it’s much more insightful to read books written FOR the public I want to read about – as in, translated fiction.

The main problem I have when looking for translated works to add to my TBR is figuring out what kind of “vibes” they give, since my usual references (reviews by bloggers I know) are a lot more scarce. Which is why I decided to create this post (and more like these in the future), to help readers who loved certain books explore Latin American translated fiction.

If you liked Human Acts by Han Kang, try It Would be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo

Human Acts by Hang Kang is a difficult book to read, a short collection of stories of an uprising in South Korea in 1980 which resulted in violent, devastating consequences for many Koreans, told through the stories of several characters, it does not flinch away from the horrors of torture, death and brutal oppression. It Would be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo tells the story of Adelaida, living in contemporary Venezuela, which is going through awful times of political oppression, torture and people going “missing”. The author also does not flinch away from those things, although the writing style are quite different, both books are incredibly powerful and document the horrors of reality through the eyes of fictional characters.

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Sapphic Books Recommendations Part 3

Hello readers!

I’m finally back with part 3! After I’ve read 10-15 Sapphic books, I like to gather them into one post so as to make it easy for people to find recommendations, especially as I tend to read a variety of genres. Although Sapphic books are talked about a lot more nowadays, there is still this myth that “there aren’t any good F/F / Sapphic stories”, so it’s important for me to show that you can find amazing Sapphic books in any genre, if you care to look for it. In today’s post there is a nice mix of classic lit, fantasy, sci-fi, literary fiction and essays. Curiously, there are no romances this time around – I clearly need to pick up a few more of those.

You can see the other parts of this here:

Sapphic Books Recommendations Part 1
Sapphic Books Recommendations Part 2

Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart is a rather popular new adult fantasy with several main characters, including a F/F couple and it has bone magic, politics, twists and drama, and it reads almost (but not quite) like YA, so it’s a great book if you’re looking for an entertaining read with a very cool magic system and charming characters, this is for you! This was just a little bit too generic for me, but at the same time it was very fun to read and I think most readers will really enjoy it!

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan le Fanu is a classic that precedes Dracula by Bram Stoker, and inspired it. It tells the story of a young woman who unknowingly houses a vampire, who is attracted to her. It’s an interesting book, a quick read and keeps you guessing on whether they’ll end up together or if Carmilla will kill her. What else do you need?

They Never Learn by Layne Fargo is the indulgent revenge fantasy with Sapphics that you need in your life. A smart, sexy Professor has been killing horrible men for years, but now she’s in danger of getting caught as she falls in love with her next victim’s ex-wife. If you love a femme fatale story, this is a really fun one!

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The Best Books I Read in 2020 (All Genres)

Hello readers!

As usual, some books were really hard to categorize as one thing or another, and some categories were so difficult to narrow down to 3 books! I read dozens of thrillers and mysteries, whereas classic fiction I read maybe 5 a year, so it’s much easier to choose only 3. I also change the categories every year a little bit, in order to reflect my reading trends of that particular year – for example, if I read a bunch of new authors (more than 1 book by them, that is), I like to include a Best New-To-Me Authors, which I didn’t do this year, but I did include a Best Brazilian Books & Best Translated Fiction, since I’ve been reading lots of both this year, and also added more Non-Fiction categories.

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Contemporary Fiction

Funnily enough, none of the books below were 5 star reads, but they were still favorites that I LOVED and want to re-read. Also they all broke my heart. Breasts and Eggs was witty, smart and insightful into the lives of women in Japan; Little Gods made me fall in love with the main character just to break my heart; and My Dark Vanessa is one of the most complicated, dark books out there and deserves recognition for all the nuance and sensitivity with which the author wrote about its heavy themes.

Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami / Review

Little Gods by Meng Jin / Review

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell / Review

Historical Fiction

A really strong year for historical fiction! I loved all three books below, although I admit they’re mostly bleak stuff, all three are wonderfully written. How We Disappeared shines a light on the fate of Singaporean women who were kidnapped and forced to serve as “comfort women” to Japanese troops – it’s also not as difficult a read as I thought it would be, the author mixed a bit of mystery in which made this not as hard. I knew I would love The Mirror and the Light and so it was not a surprise when I did – this is such a worthy ending to the wonderful trilogy of Thomas Cromwell. The Mercies broke my heart in a million pieces with its story about witch hunting in 17th century Norway, love, suspicion and loss.

How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee / Review

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel / Review

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave / Review

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30 Books I Loved in My 30 Years (Birthday Post)

Hello readers,

I just turned 30! I thought it would be a fun trip down memory lane to take a look at the books that helped shape who I am today and how my reading tastes changed over the years. This is a rather long post, but I am indulging myself this one time.

First I’ll start with my favorite childhood books! I’ve read a lot since I can remember, with my parents also being big readers and my little sister, too. We spent countless Summers at my grandmother’s house reading all the books we could put our dirty little hands on.

I was tending towards fantasy back then, which is still one of my favorite genres nowadays! I also read a lot of comics (hundreds of the Turma da Mônica, for sure).

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2021 Releases I’m Anticipating

Hello readers!

It’s this time of the year again – when Best Ofs and Most Anticipated lists come out. I love reading those! So below are the books to be released in 2021 I am most looking forward to.

January

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
January 19, 2021

This is a story about two girls falling in love in 1950s, one of them a Chinese-American whose father is in danger of being deported. This sounds like such a lovely and intense historical romance, I’m so looking forward to reading it!

A Dowry of Blood by C. L. Clark
January 31, 2021

This is a novella about Dracula’s bride and I heard “Sapphic yearning” and “vampires” and so here we are! This is a Gothic story about Dracula’s bride discovering his dark secrets.

February

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Non-Fiction Recommendations: From an adventurous Antarctic expedition to scandal in Silicon Valley

Hello readers!

November has just started and a lot of us realize at this point we’ve been reading lots of fiction all year and would like to catch up with something different. I particularly enjoy Non-Fiction November because it makes me realize all the books that have been on my radar sometimes for years but I haven’t picked up because I’m normally more focused on recent fiction releases, plus it’s a great opportunity to hype amazing books I haven’t recommended often enough.

I realize that since I read so much more fiction than nonfic, most of the books below are no news to most of you, but I’m hoping something will spark your interest – I’ve separated the books by theme and offered a few different options on each, depending on what you like to read. I’m hoping on future recommendation posts to add some books on feminism and more biographies. Let me know in the comments your favorite recent nonfic read!

First I’m selecting here some books that I can only describe as “history but make it thrilling“, starting with The Endurance by Caroline Alexander, telling the story of Shackleton’s disastrous/heroic Antarctic expedition during WWI times. It’s full of photos, which I really enjoy. Next we have one of my favorite topics to read about, Space Race by Deborah Cadbury. It has everything: space, geniuses, political drama, things exploding. I don’t love von Braun’s charecterization here, but it’s still a great book! And last, one of the best books I’ve read in my life: Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe tells a true story of murder in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. It’s intriguing, intense and so humane, a very good introduction for those who don’t know much about the conflict.

I also loved The Calculus Wars by Jason Bardi several years ago and I’m looking forward to reading a biography of von Braun (which I’m hoping is a more sober portrait).

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Books I Want to Read until the End of the Year (please send help)

Hello readers!

I am currently on vacation so this post is pre-scheduled and I SURE HOPE vacation-Naty is getting LOTS OF READING DONE. The year is slowly coming to an end and I realized lately that my “Best of” posts is missing a lot of books on some genres simply because Miss I-Can’t-Follow-TBRs reads whatever she feels like and then it’s all thrillers and literary fiction and then her ARCs get late and she’s like Oh how did THAT happen.

So I like writing these posts to remind myself that there are some books I want to finish still this year.

Do I absolutely need to read all the books below? Of course not. But most of these are 2020 ARCs that I’d like to post and talk about before the new year comes around and I receive a boatload of new ARCs and get gifted books for my birthday and Christmas and the books below are forgotten. Plus, it’s always nice to read ARCs in a timely fashion.

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