Happy almost New Year! I know everyone is saying this, but how is it the end of 2021? I swear it was just a few days ago when we were all excited that 2020 was over. Then 2021 also didn’t turn out quite like we expected…but we sure did find time to read. At least I did 🙃.
It was a great year of reading for me — I read more than I have in any of the past few Goodreads-tracked years, and my average rating was 4 stars. It was hard for me to choose my favorites for this list, I read so many good ones!
Anyway, here are some favorites from a few of our contributors. These weren’t all published in 2021, just the best ones we read this year. Please let us know in the comments if your favorites lined up with any of ours this year, and your top favorites not on our list.
Without any further ado….
Our Favorite Books of 2021
This was so hard 😂. I read so many amazing books this year! Peep the long list of honorable mentions. They’re all books not to miss!
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
This. Book. It was everything I expected and more. This thing reads like a movie! It has not only a historical fiction storyline, but a futuristic one, too. If you’re looking for something epic, I highly suggest picking it up. It was SO completely engrossing. Also, if you liked Anthony Doerr’s writing in All the Light We Cannot See, prepare to be stunned and delighted once again.
The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson
This was one of the most beautiful books I read this year, and it easily went on my all-time favorites shelf. It’s heartbreaking at times, and so hopeful at others. It’s a gorgeous novel spanning multiple generations of a Dakota family in Minnesota, from when they began getting rounded up and sent to reservations and boarding schools through the present day. I highly recommend picking this one up. If it sounds awesome, read my full review.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
This memoir was one of the book club books I read this year, and Chanel’s way of storytelling just drew me in. Her story is one of grief and struggle and difficulty, but she tells it with such power.
Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad
The second memoir on my list, this book is also a recounting of an unthinkably hard time in the author’s life. This time, it’s due to illness. Suleika got cancer as a young, college-age woman, and her book tells her journey through being sick. Her insights into having a body that betrayed her are just astounding.
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
I loved the magic and mystery of this book. An American woman stumbles upon a clue that leads her to find a forgotten apothecary in London. I liked that the story alternated between characters in the late 1700s and modern day. Each chapter gave a hint about the end of the story, and I thought I’d guessed it, but there was an interesting twist I didn’t see coming.
The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri
Another mystical and magical story but this time set in the south of Italy. Four friends meet each year in their hometown, but one year the leader, Art, fails to appear. The rest of the group then set out to find out what happened to him. I loved this book because it also dropped hints throughout the story and, again, I thought I’d figured it out but my mind was blown at the end of the story.
The Silent Friend by Dianne Jeffrey
It tells the story of two women linked by a terrorist attack in France. Although linked by the same event, the two women come from very different backgrounds and have two very different experiences of this terrible event. The big plot twist in this story happens quite early on, but it’s almost unbelievable and the story continues to grip you. Diane Jeffrey’s writing was so good, I actually went straight out and got her other novel, The Guilty Mother.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
This book tells a compelling story that follows the mutual fascination between two “odd” people who get one another! It really stuck with me, and I love the prose.
The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum
I don’t usually read non-fiction, but this book provides interesting historical anecdotes about how poisons were used prior to the development of forensics, and how Alexander Gettler, New York’s first toxicologist, fought to develop the field.
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner by Alan Sillitoe
This is a short story, set in 1960’s England. As a distance runner myself, I came for the running, stayed for the art! We are following a 17-year-old inmate at a juvenile detention center who has talent as a distance runner. Very Catcher in the Rye meets your high school cross country team.
Circe by Madeline Miller
Finally read this book, absolutely loved it, as I knew I probably would!
Whose Names are Unknown by Sanora Babb
It’s a fictional story that follows a farm family and the poverty they face in the wake of the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. Though written at the same time as John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, this book wasn’t actually published until 2004.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
This book was so much fun, and it felt good to have Andy Weir back doing what he does best!
That’s it! Did you match up with any of our favorites? Let us know what your top books of 2021 were in the comments!