I have been in a bit of a reading rut lately, but digging into my reading archives to create this list of my favorite books from the last year really was so fun. I need to spend some time on BookTok today to build up my reading list for 2022. We make no claims that this is an exhaustive list of the best books of 2021. This is simply a list of the best of my personal reading list from last year. Choose your own adventure.
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Wish You Were Here – I think we’re likely headed into an era where we start to get a LOT of COVID books. I’m already seeing it in bits and pieces, when a character in a book I read recently talked about her roommates having qualities that made her nice to live with during lockdown. But make no mistake friends, this isn’t a book that happens during COVID, it is a COVID book. Make your own choices about this book with that in mind, but I find that this was Picoult at her finest. She wraps me up in a story and then flips me upside down with the twists she’s so fond of. This felt like a redemption for A Book of Two Ways, which I found frustrating and incomplete. The onslaught of COVID books have a high bar to reach for after this book.
(Also, I almost never read the Author’s Note at the end, but I did with this book partly because I didn’t want the book to be over. She talks about both the unusual speed at which this book was written and published, and also about the sort of books that got HER through the pandemic (romance!) which made me feel very seen.
The House in the Cerulean Sea -If you’re looking for a warm hug of a book, this is it right here. The story is about love and acceptance in the most delightful and surprising way.
Best Audiobook of the Year
Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Ranier Sasquatch Massacre – I listen to many books because I prefer to read them on the page – I find it hard to focus on audiobooks. However, Devolution was the exception to that rule. It has a full cast and is absolutely fantastic on audio. Yes, you do see the word sasquatch in the title, and no it’s not a joke.
Best Spicy Romance Novels of the Year
The Heart Principle – I love all of Helen Hoang’s books and was so excited to see her latest in the September Pouring Over Books box. Helen Hoang does such a great job with her neurodivergent main characters alongside steamy love stories. While this book is in the same universe as The Bride Test and The Love Quotient, it very much stands alone and is easily my favorite of the three.
Seven Days in June – I read a lot of romance this year. A lot. Romance novels are not always the grocery store bodice rippers that name invokes, and this book was especially not that. It’s a second-change love story, but also a life story. It deals with chronic illness and childhood trauma and also rips you open a little bit.
Act Your Age Eve Brown – I was so sad to see the stories of the Brown sisters come to an end, but wow what an ending. Eve’s story is the third in Brown sisters universe and I think it’s my favorite. (Do I always say that about the most recent book I’ve read? I don’t, but I could see why you might think so.) While I do think Eve gets the flighty little sister treatment in an unfair way in this book, I didn’t really care because my face was the embodiment of the heart eyes emoji the entire time I was reading
Best Science Fiction Books in 2021
Project Hail Mary – I was so excited to read this book that I went out and bought the hardcover the day it was released, and I’m a person who does 90% of her reading from the library. I had faith that Andy Weir would deliver and he did! If you enjoyed The Martian (book or movie) you’ll likely enjoy this story (it’s better!) about a man who finds himself alone in space with the task of saving the world. Andy Weir manages to write books that make you go “I don’t understand the science behind any of this, but I am INTO it.” (I’m well aware that much of the science is fiction, but you know what I mean.)
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing & A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor – I was a little nervous to read these books, but a few BookTok reviews had me thinking I needed to read them immediately. I enjoy Hank Green on TikTok (and everywhere else on the internet, but he shines on TikTok) and that delightful wit and warmth transfers directly onto the page in these books. Yes you need to read both. If you’re the sort of person who can reach the end of the first book and think “Eh, I guess I’ll never know what happens,” you and I are not alike.
Best Fantasy Books of 2021
A Court Of Silver Flames – Two words: Sexy. Faeries. This is the fourth book in the series, BUT it’s the start of the second trilogy? So you CAN start with this book, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue This book is the tale of a woman who is cursed to be endlessly forgettable and also immortal. She can leave no trace on the world, except in one not so small way that I’ll let you discover for yourself. The implications of such a curse are frustrating and I found myself all of the way absorbed by Addie’s plight.
HOWEVER, perhaps the greatest gift this book has given us, are the HILARIOUS reviews from people who hated this book. Do yourself a favor and take a gander at Goodreads.
The Midnight Library – At the beginning of the year I called this as one of my top 5 of the year. I said it would be hard to knock it out of its top spot. Here we are, and it still makes my list of best books of the year. I still remember loving it. I think perhaps I gave it more credit that it deserved, but I couldn’t put it down. Is it the most unique story I’ve ever read? No. There are books in this list that are more unique than this one. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this execution of a classic sliding doors style story.