New Year’s 21 Books in 2021 Reading Challenge


Namo Namaha friends. December’s almost done, and we are in the last stretch of this nightmare of a year. I am not sure what to expect from 2021. Cautious might be the buzzword for next year as well. 

2020 was nothing like I expected or imagined. Almost all my plans crashed and burned, and I am sure most of you have similar tales to tell.

But, it was not an entirely sad year. There were some rays of hope breaking this gloomy year. And they were all, oh! so worth it!!!

I became an aunt to a wonderful baby girl this year! 😍 Her arrival has been like a ray of sunshine in our dull, dismal lives. 

Other than that, my reading!! I haven’t ever enjoyed reading as much as I have this year. What a fabulous reading year I have had! 

I cannot help but feel blessed to have the privilege and time to do something as basic as reading. Not everyone can afford it. If I can, it’s only due to the blessings of my gods and ancestors. (Maybe I am a little melodramatic here, but, tell me, hasn’t this pandemic taught us all to count our blessings?)

That being said. Cynical though I am of next year, I still am going ahead with my reading plans. 

In 2021, my first bookish plan is to take up the 21 books in ’21 reading challenge.

The following is the list of 21 books that I intend to complete by the end of 2021. As will be obvious from the list, I am leaning heavily towards fantasy, especially epic/adult/high fantasies. As fantasies are generally released as series rather than standalones, I have only one standalone on my list.

So let’s get down to the list, shall we?


1. Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

This is a story set in an alternate universe kind of America where magic is a part of everyday life. It’s supposed to be a wholesome story with the found family trope that I so adore. One of the books I am very hyped to read.


2. The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

Series Name: The First Law trilogy

Num of Books in the Series: 3

Book Number in the Series: First

Anybody who’s even mildly interested in epic/adult fantasies must have heard of The First Law trilogy. I am surprised I didn’t read it this year, especially since I was blown away by the same author’s YA fantasy book Half a King, the review of which I had posted in early 2020.

3. The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams

Series Name: The Winnowing Flame trilogy

Num of Books in the Series: 3

Book Number in the Series: First

This series comes highly recommended by one of my favorite booktubers Elliot Brooks. I couldn’t understand much from the synopsis, but from what I could glean from her videos, it’s supposed to be an adventure story where they are seeking some information from a nearly extinct race? I promise to elaborate more when I read the book, which should be soon enough.

4. The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

Series Name: Mistborn

Num of Books in the Series: 3

Book Number in the Series: Second

I had read the first book The Final Empire in early 2019, and sadly I don’t remember much except that I was awed by the magic system that’s based on metals and their consumption. Also, I vaguely remember that this had the premise of exploring the possibility of the bad guy winning. Like, what if the dark lord had won in Lord of the Rings? Sounds fascinating, isn’t it?

5. A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna

Series Name: The Celestial trilogy

Num of Books in the Series: 3

Book Number in the Series: First

I had never heard of this series before a bookish Twitter user Mish pointed out that this is a Mahabharata inspired fantasy and is one of the most under-rated books. 

Know this of me. If a book is even slightly inspired by our itihAsas, like Ramayana and Mahabharata, I am 100% invested in it. Because it’s personal.

Hence, I had to include it on this list. Hope it’s as good as it sounds. As much as I like Mahabharata there’s nothing I detest more than a caricature of it. So here’s to hoping for a good read 🤞

6. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Series Name: Legendborn

Num of Books in the Series: Unsure

Book Number in the Series: First

Ok, confession time. I want to read this only because I am on the hype train, and I can’t seem to get off of it unless I read this one. Everyone and their mother is talking about this book and I have no clue whatsoever about the plot except the fact that this is a YA Fantasy and is surprisingly dark.

7. Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa

Series Name: The Shadow of the Fox trilogy

Num of Books in the Series: 3

Book Number in the Series: Third

This’s one of the series I am continuing from this year. I loved the first book Shadow of the Fox and was lukewarm about the second Soul of the Sword. But, I have heard this last book has a very satisfying conclusion to the series, hence I have to complete it. 

8. The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

Series Name: Truly Devious

Num of Books in the Series: 4

Book Number in the Series: Second

The Vanishing Stair is the second installment of a very popular YA thriller series set in a creepy but elite and exclusive boarding school. I enjoyed the first book Truly Devious and I am truly curious to see how the second one goes.

9. Black Sun By Rebecca Roanhorse

Series Name: Between Earth and Sky

Num of Books in the Series: Unsure

Book Number in the Series: First

One of the newest releases on this list. This book came out in October and has been garnering raving reviews. A Science-fiction Fantasy, this book sounds like an epic read. Also, the cover? Delightful, isn’t it?

10. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Series Name: The Broken Earth trilogy

Num of Books in the Series: 3

Book Number in the Series: First

I have been eyeing this series for a very long time now. Apparently, the world-building is superlative and the story is one of the most complex and interesting ones in the adult fantasy world. Can’t wait to dive into this one.

11. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Series Name: His Fair Assassin trilogy

Num of Books in the Series: 3

Book Number in the Series: First

Another one of those YA Fantasy series that I keep hearing about. Her latest release from the Courting Darkness duology is gaining more traction. But I am more interested in this backlist series. I want to test the waters by reading Grave Mercy first.

12. Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley. P. Beaulieu

Series Name: The Song of the Shattered Sands

Num of Books in the Series: 6

Book Number in the Series: First

Haha! Did you notice how my twelfth book is titled, twelve kings? 🤭

This book is one of the books selected for this cool buddy read event that I’ll be participating in 2021 (I’ll post the details of the buddy reads later in a post dedicated to challenges and readathons). This series is new to me but sounds very interesting. 

13. Upon a Burning Throne by Ashok. K. Banker

Series Name: The Burnt Empire Saga

Num of Books in the Series: Unsure

Book Number in the Series: First

Another Mahabharata inspired fantasy series by the prolific Indian writer Ashok. K. Banker. Now, I much prefer Indian non-fiction to Indian fiction, hence I wasn’t aware of this series. But I heard somebody refer to this as a “translated work” and that made me look up this series.

Note: This book’s written in English. It’s not a translated book. i.e. It’s not a book originally written in some vernacular/regional language and then translated into English. Nope, it’s written in English. Hence it can’t be categorized as a translated work but as a retelling or inspired work.

Now this brings me to the following questions and I would love to hear your answers on the same: 

If the English that a Canadian, an Australian, or an American speaks is “native” English, why isn’t Indian English considered valid? 

Does the Author not being White or not being a Westerner automatically disqualify his/her English novel from being considered as an English novel? Or do only novels published by Western Publishing houses get considered as English novels?

Whose English is it anyway? Just because Indians use a different dialect of English in their day-to-day lives, does it invalidate their usage? So what language are we speaking? Which is our official language? And how do Indian Authors and Publishers feel when their works are dismissed as translated works and not given the recognition they deserve as retellings/inspired works? 

In short, I want to read this book because I am too intrigued now, not to.

14. Malice by John Gwynne

Series Name: The Faithful and the Fallen

Num of Books in the Series: 4

Book Number in the Series: First

I am yet to see a grim-dark fantasy fan not mention this series when they list their must-reads at the end of the year. I am too intrigued by this series and the author to let go of this opportunity. So plop! It goes into my list.

15. Rise of Gods by Dyrk Ashton

Series Name: Paternus trilogy

Num of Books in the Series: 3

Book Number in the Series: First

Rise of Gods! Need I say more? I would have read this series just for the titles. It is, as expected an Epic/Adult fantasy.

16. Never Die by Rob. J. Hayes

Series Name: Mortal Techniques

Num of Books in the Series: 2

Book Number in the Series: First

This is a Japanese-inspired fantasy (See? Nobody confuses it for a translated work, unlike poor Ashok. K. Banker’s work? is it because of a west-sounding name or because it was published in the west? I wonder…)

I am a huge fan of Japanese or generally Asian inspired stories, hence I am definitely reading this one. Besides, if I am not wrong I am buddy reading this one too.

17. Fireborne by Rosaria Munda

Series Name: The Aurelian Cycle

Num of Books in the Series: 3

Book Number in the Series: First

None of the dragon stories have wowed me till date. I read Rage of the Dragons last year but it was more of a vengeance story than a dragon story, atleast the first one was. 

So, I was desperately looking for some good stories with dragons in them. Fireborne looks like a good fit. But, I have heard it’s quite political. Not sure, if I’ll get the dragon dose I need but I am willing to give it a try.

18. The City of Brass by S.A.Chakraborty

Series Name: The Daevabad trilogy

Num of Books in the Series: 3

Book Number in the Series: First

Another one of those “Everybody who’s anybody talks about this” kind of a series. I have seen people cry and react dramatically during their reading vlogs of this series. I am supremely intrigued. Will it evoke such intense emotions in me too? Let’s see.

19. The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst

Series Name: The Queens of Renthia

Num of Books in the Series: 3

Book Number in the Series: First

This is an epic fantasy set in a forest where the spirits want to kill humans but the magic of the human Queen manages to keep them from being slaughtered. That’s it, I know no further, but, that’s enough to pull me into this epic fantasy world. 

20. Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb

Series Name: The Liveship Traders trilogy

Num of Books in the Series: 3

Book Number in the Series: First

Robin Hobb is nothing less than a legend in the Adult fantasy world. She has 16 books in her The Realm of Elderlings world. Ship of Magic is a book from the Liveship Traders trilogy which’s the second set of series in the vast Realm of Elderlings five-set series. I found this helpful site that gives the Robin Hobb books reading order if you would like.

This expanse of a series is frankly intimidating and of all the series, I found this series to be the most interesting, to begin with. I could be wrong, but this is where I want to start and that’s what I’ll do.

21. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

RRKReads 21 books in 2021 Challenge

Series Name: Chaos Walking

Num of Books in the Series: 3

Book Number in the Series: First

In a pandemic of sorts, a germ kills off all the women and leaves men with the power of hearing thoughts, thus forcing them to live in a constant cacophony. This is a story of a boy on the cusp of manhood trying to grapple with the situation. Sounds super interesting. Hoping to read it soon.

So, that was my long-winded list of 21 books that I absolutely want to read in 2021. What are your plans for 2021? Do share your reading plans with me on my SM channels @twitter, @instagram, or @goodreads

You can even join me at my book club in discord or @ bookclubz, and buddy read these books with me. Let’s keep the bookish conversation going. 

Till then, stay safe and blessed. Om Shanti. 🙏

3 thoughts on “New Year’s 21 Books in 2021 Reading Challenge”

  1. Pingback: Priority Series Quarterly Reading Challenge - 2021 edition - RRK Reads

  2. Pingback: Book Review - The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams - RRK Reads

  3. Pingback: January 2021 TBR - New Year New Reading Plans - RRK Reads

Let's Discuss