10 Books to Read in 2021

by Muslim.Sg 2021-01-04 • 13 min read
Muslim.Sg is a one-stop online media platform that aims to inspire and empower millennial Muslims with powerful and engaging Islamic religious content.
2021-01-04 • 13 min read

Here Are the Best Books to Read in 2021 (So Far) 

It’s the start of a new year, and in collaboration with the National Reading Movement by the National Library Board, we are sharing a list of 10 books that you could check out in 2021. There are wonderful reads for all ages, interests and preferences -- from fiction titles to curl up with this cool January, to comic books that celebrate the little ones as they return to school, to books with suggestions on how we may live better in every aspect of our lives.

And did you know that thousands of books (eBooks and audiobooks too!) and magazines that you can access via the NLB Mobile app (https://go.gov.sg/m-nlbmobileapp), and that you may download them for free directly into your devices? Let’s make this a year of growth, gratitude and of gaining knowledge.

Follow www.facebook.com/readingnationsg and www.instagram.sg/readingnationsg for more book recommendations!

Fiction to curl up with (books by Malay authors)

1. The Java Enigma by Erni Salleh

[English fiction]

"Can you decipher it?” Nagel, who had been silent all this while, leaned forward to peruse the scraps. "This is your specialty, isn't it? Old things?"

Fans of adventure thrillers traversing historical and mysterious locations are in for a treat with "The Java Enigma". The novel hits home by setting the premise primarily in Southeast Asia, itself a region steeped in centuries-old antiquity. 

Irin is a librarian working on a conservation project in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Borobudur complex in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Following her father's sudden death, Irin found her life upended, enthralled in a world left behind by him—one of a mysterious cypher, lost artefacts and a secret organisation.

Available as a physical book and eBook via the NLB Mobile app: https://go.gov.sg/m-javaenigma

The Gatekeeper by Nuraliah Norasid

[English fiction]

“Then, Ria, who was named for old, forgotten joy, would open her hand and let her laughter ring out for all nearby to hear.”

 Winner of the Singapore Book Awards in 2018, "The Gatekeeper" by Nuraliah Norasid is a fantasy novel set in a world that's built on a blend of Greek and Malay myths.

Set in Manticura--a mythical island-country heavily inspired by Singapore--and featuring dialogue written in a blend of Malay, Singlish and English combined with the novel's own constructed languages, this is a fascinating read that explores themes of discrimination, familial bonds and love.

Available as a physical book and eBook via the NLB Mobile app: https://go.gov.sg/m-thegatekeeper

Putting things into perspective (mental wellness; little things in life)

The Gift of Forgiveness by Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt


“Life is hard enough without the burden of guilt and judgement; we should remind ourselves from time to time to be a little more compassionate – with others and with ourselves.”

Featuring over 20 stories of everyday heroes – including Elizabeth Smart, who forgave her kidnappers, Talinda Bennington, widow of Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, and Sue Klebold, mother of one of the Columbine High School shooters – “The Gift of Forgiveness” shows how forgiveness can change lives, and how we may be inspired to look at our own path to forgiveness.

“The Gift of Forgiveness” is a poignant read filled with thoughtful stories, personal insights, impactful quotes and great wisdom for all of us learning to accept ourselves, love others and live life to its fullest. 

Available as a physical book, eBook and audiobook via the NLB Mobile app: https://go.gov.sg/m-forgiveness

Hundred: What You Learn in a Lifetime by Heike Faller


"(Age) 0 - You smile for the first time in your life. And other people smile back at you!"

"Hundred: What You Learn in a Lifetime" is an easy-to-read illustrated book. From age zero to 99, the book charmingly depicts what one learns and experiences at every age in just a single sentence, accompanied by sweet illustrations.

From age 6 ("you're a big kid now, going off to school with your friends"), to age 44 ("you have wrinkles on your toes"), to age 81 ("what if age wasn't counted in years, but in moments you've treasured?"), this book is a heartwarming reminder of how vast and beautiful our life journeys can be.

Available as a physical book and eBook via the NLB Mobile app: https://go.gov.sg/m-hundred

Celebrating the little and not-so-little ones in our lives

Sara hendak ke mana? by Juzaila Jumari & Aishah Rifhana

[Malay children’s book]

Sara hendak ke mana? is a picture book that tells the story of a little girl, Sara, who only tidies up her toys at school but not at home. This infuriated her mother who instructed her to keep her toys away. Feeling hurt, Sara made the decision to run away from home. Fortunately, there was Grandma to talk her out of it. A great book for parents and caregivers to read together with children and to talk about feelings and emotions to help in their social-emotional development. One aspect of the book that is inclusive is its use of dyslexic-friendly font.

Available as a physical book at the libraries and may be reserved via the NLB Mobile app: https://go.gov.sg/m-sara 

100 Ways Your Two-Year-Old Can Hurt You by Chen Weng

 [English comic book]

Mother: “You said you were full. How can you have room for ice cream?”

Child: “The stomach for dinner is full, but the stomach for ice cream is empty.”

A quick, entertaining read for parents and non-parents alike, “100 Ways Your Two-Year-Old Can Hurt You” perfectly illustrates the intensity of raising and being around small children in these modern times. 

From hilarious reflections on how life changes so drastically after having children, to the precious things that kids say to get out of trouble, this comic book by American cartoonist Chen Weng reminds us that we’re not alone as we struggle with the messy, exhausting and laugh-out-loud moments of everyday life.

Available as a physical book and eBook via the NLB Mobile app: https://go.gov.sg/m-100ways

 Ideas for living better in every aspect of our lives

Compassionate conversations by Diane Hamilton, Gabriel Wilson and Kimberly Loh

[English non-fiction]

“Dialogue is the cornerstone of all significant changes to society.”

In a world as polarised as today’s, it seems that the most important skill to possess is the ability to talk to each other regardless of our beliefs or standards. And the authors of this book recognise that it is only when we can engender conversations that reconciliation or understanding can even begin. In a fractured world, to be able to have a framework that guides us on how to have difficult conversations or even debates towards conflict resolution is invaluable. 

Make room in your reading list for this title and learn how to make room in your heart for the compassionate conversations that we need now more than ever. 

Available as a physical book, eBook and audiobook via the NLB Mobile app:https://go.gov.sg/m-conversations

How to break up with your phone by Catherine Price

[English non-fiction]

“The same technology that gives us freedom can also act like a leash – and the more tethered we become, the more it raises the question of who’s actually in control.”

“How to Break Up with Your Phone” by award-winning science journalist Catherine Price is an absorbing read about the mental, social, psychological and physical effects smartphones have on us – from diminished attention spans to the reduced capacity for deep thought.

Split into two sections, the first half of the book is called “The Wake Up”, and the second half “The Breakup”. The former reveals the fascinating brain science behind how our phones keep us spending as much time as we do on them, and the latter presents clever habit-changing hacks for establishing more focused and intentional lives, both on and off our digital devices.

Available as a physical book, eBook and audiobook via the NLB Mobile app:https://go.gov.sg/m-breakup

New Year resolution ideas

Baking with Chef Zan: A Collection of Cakes, Cookies & Tarts

[English cookbook]

"Join me on this baking adventure, as you uncover your own talent, mould your dreams, and bring your families and friends closer to savour the essence of your lovingly-crafted cakes and bakes."

From ondeh-ondeh cake to to bandung lychee cupcakes, learn from Chef Zan, founder of Zan's Treats (a baking and cake-decorating academy in Singapore) and whose parents and grandparents were proprietors of a Malay cakes and bakes business.

Through the delectable recipes, you will see how beautifully she blends the use of local and traditional ingredients--from sago to mango--with the wealth of her experience which took her from the acclaimed Richard Festen of Baking Arts in the USA to Le Cordon Bleu in the UK.  

Available as a physical book and eBook via the NLB Mobile app: https://go.gov.sg/m-chefzan

Rentak rebana: sejarah dan perkembangannya di Singapura by Ahmad Azmi Haji Mohamed Ishak

[Malay children’s book]

A Malay-language book that shares all about the rebana or kompang—from its history, how they are made, to the basics of how to play them.

Rebana or kompang is a Malay traditional hand drum usually played at Malay weddings, religious ceremonies or to welcome the Guest of Honour in an event. Read this book if you want to learn about this instrument, the history, how they are made, the songs that are commonly played on them and the basics of how to play them. The book also discusses how different beat patterns are used on rebana or kompang when they are being played at wedding ceremonies, as opposed to religious functions. This informational book is well-illustrated with interesting and colourful photographs.

Available as a physical book at the libraries and may be reserved via the NLB Mobile app: https://go.gov.sg/m-rentakrebana

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