Books I read in 2021

This year I finished 52 books, about a book a week on average. That’s less than previous years, but there were some REALLY long ones: Les Miserables, not one but two translations of The Tale of Genji… and a fat amateurish non-fiction book about the experiences of Singapore educators that felt even longer than it was.

I might finish Atlas Shrugged, another really long one… Still a few hours left! XD

This year, 60% of the books I read were non-fiction. All my favorites were non-fiction (in bold below). Classic fiction titles were mostly chosen by the leader of the local book club I’m in in Singapore, The Hungry Hundred Book Club.

I’ve posted about the foreign classics on my other website, We Love Translations: World Literature in English.

Many books (both fiction and non-fiction) were about Singapore and/or written by Singapore authors; some were not Singaporean but were Southeast-Asian or Asian.


Well, my reading is following the book group selections and also the “last in, first out” rule that whatever I buy, I have to read it next, not ‘eventually’. I thought of this rule several years ago as a strategy for reining in book purchases, and I’m finally starting to follow it. There’s still a huge backlog, but the backlog has stopped growing. Yay.

See below for a sorted list of the books I read in 2021.

English-language Classics

  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

World Classics

» My Backlist books post about The Tale of Genji at Asian Books Blog

Childrens’ Classics

  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Bambi by Felix Salten
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Singapore Fiction

  • Dragonhearted by Xie Shi Min
  • An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim
  • Suicide Club by Rachel Heng
  • The Leeter Tunku (Singlish translation of The Little Prince by Gwee Li Sui)
  • The Teenage Workbook and the Teenage Textbook by Adrian Tan

Singapore Non-fiction

  • English in Singapore by Low Ee Ling and Adam Brown
  • Singapore on the Couch by Ong Yong Lock
  • Diary of an Expat in Singapore by Jennifer Gargiulo
  • 1000 Character Classic by Evelyn Lip
  • Air-Conditioned Nation Revisited by Cherian George
  • Singapore: The Air-Conditioned Nation
  • Liberalism Unveiled by Bryan Cheang and Donovan Choy (Singaporean authors)
  • Singapore Teachers by Yanping Fang
  • The Autobiography of Munshi Abdullah
  • I Am a Filipino Maid by Loo Bee Geok (Singaporean author)
  • Secrets of Singapore by Lesley-Anne and Monica Lim (Singaporean authors)

Other Asian Books

  • Beautiful Country and Middle Kingdom by John Pomfret
  • Success with Asian Names by Fiona Swee-Lin Price
  • The Beauty of Everyday Things by Soetsu Yanagi
  • Kalimantaan by C.S. Godshalk (fiction)

Other Non-fiction

Half of these are books about language, but I also have interest in evolutionary biology, psychology, philosophy, and economics. These sound like different topics but they all tend to bleed into each other!

  • Between You and Me by Mary Norris
  • Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin
  • How to Write and Give a Speech by Joan Detz
  • Rule Makers, Rule Breakers by Michele J. Gelfand
  • Empires of the Word by Nicholas Ostler
  • Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch
  • Demystifying the Female Brain by Sara McKay
  • The Art of the Good Life by Rolf Dobelli
  • Stop Reading the News by Rolf Dobelli
  • Factfulness by Hans Rosling
  • Websterisms by Arthur Schulman
  • Is That a Fish in Your Ear by David Bellos
  • How to Write Short by Roy Peter Clark
  • The Origins of Virtue by Matt Ridley
  • Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking by Daniel Dennett
  • The Truth about Language by Michael C. Corballis
  • Bad English by Ammon Shea


See the chronological list of books I’ve read from January 1999 until now.