The Happy Place Five #13: Books I Meant to Read Last Year

19th January 2022

The Happy Place Five banner in dark blue rimmed in gold with a golden book and golden starsThe Happy Place 5 – take a Discord chat, throw a bunch of bookish people in there together to keep each other sane over the course of a pandemic, and voilà: a new monthly feature is born. On the first Wednesday each month, we will highlight our top five books for a certain topic or theme. You can find the posts of my fellow Happy Place readingrats linked below!

Stack of five books in front of a light source on the left and another blurred out stack of books on the right. The stack is not neat but all backs face the camera. The books are from top down "Somewhere Only We Know", "Iron Widow", "You've Reached Sam", "Gearbreakers", and "These Violent Delights".

Welcome to another year of having awesome bookish and blogging friends who manage a work-life-reading-and-blogging balance and therefore actually post these on time while I’m just lying somewhere flopping around like a fish out of water, trying to stay alive. But hey, a new year means I get another chance at messing things up immediately after I somehow manage to put the first Happy Place post of the year up. Anywayyyy …

A new year also means there are a gazillion books we didn’t manage to read in that timespan society puts so much meaning to and that’s now over and can never ever come back (though, let’s be honest, we’re all glad we made it through that one alive). For this month’s topic, we decided to pick five books that we meant to read last year, as in 2021, but didn’t get to for some reason or another. I have more books than I can count that I could name here, so I had to find some criteria to choose, which happened to be a rather quick endeavour:

  • The books had to be on my “immediate tbr”. I put that in quotation marks because this refers to the books that are on a smaller shelf next to my bed which has enough books to keep me entertained for over a year at my current reading speed. I don’t do neat little stacks on bedside tables. As you should know, I blow everything out of proportion when it comes to books.
  • The books had to be on my “really very certainly immediate tbr”. That refers to the books that are on top of said shelf because they are the ones I really want to read asap. Current count: 24.
  • I hadn’t yet started reading the books (that could have been the only criteria in and on itself since I meant to finish all the books I had started … well, that also went rather not well).
  • That left me with a good selection of which I picked out the 9 books that I felt most strongly about. Unfortunately, 9 happens to be a couple more than 5, so since there was a pattern here, I decided to only pick out the books by authors of Asian decent. Which still left me with six.

Choosing the final five came when writing this post:

Iron Widow
(Iron Widow #1)
by Xiran Jay Zhao

I have yet to read every single one of my most anticipated books of the past 6 years. Yes, I couldn’t believe this either when I looked through my end of year surveys just now (I’ve read some of the books I mentioned there, just not the ones that I really could not wait to get my hands on. I’m so bad!). So hi there, Iron Widow, I fear me not reading you is continuing my rather bleak streak. I will read you, I swear. Eventually.

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Somewhere Only We Know
by Maurene Goo

This one currently has a much higher chance of me reading it than Iron Widow to be honest. Why? Because I’m currently sooooo deep in that K-pop rabbit hole curtesy of one XOXO by Axie Oh and the other K-pop related book I’ve read since falling into said hole in September 21, K-pop Confidential by Stephan Lee, also has been an absolute blast. There are a couple more of those books on my immediate tbr, but this one’s going to be the one I’ll pick up next.

(Gearbreakers #1)
by Zoe Hana Mikuta

Just look at this cover! It’s so cool! And it absolutely went like “Just look at this cover! It’s so cool! Where’s the order button? Take my money! Can’t wait to have it!”. Did I look at the summary? Probably. Do I remember what this is about? Of course … not! Does it matter? Nope. Did I just add the sequel to my to buy list when I came across it putting this post together? What do you think?! I’m weak!

You’ve Reached Sam
by Dustin Thao

I was a bit hesitant about getting this. I’m not quite sure why, because it does sound like a book I would like (lotsa heartbreak!), but maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for a more on the realistic contemporary side of reads (as much as you can call a story where you can talk to your dead boyfriend by calling his phone realistic). The cover won me over. Oh my gaaaaawd, it’s so freaking gorgeous! And I’m a little mad at myself for not getting the hardcover because that has blossoms all over its cover underneath the dust jacket.

These Violent Delights
(These Violent Delights #1)
by Chloe Gong

I started with a most anticipated read, so let’s end with a most anticipated read – with the small difference that this one’s from 2020 and it has been on that “really very much immediate tbr” for over a year now. Maybe 2022 will be the year I’ll get to it. If not, I might as well wait till 2026, that would be 100 years after the book is set.

So what are the books you wanted to read but didn’t – and did you have any particular reason why you didn’t get to it? If you want to find out what my friends have on their lists of 2021 regret, head over to the other Happy Place readingrats:


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