What a year!
This isn’t the forum to discuss politics, pandemics, or any of the other crazy things that happened this year. However, 2021 was also a year of many great books. In this post, we attempt to narrow it down to (just) our top three reads of the year. (Wish us luck!)
In no particular order…
- Any Way the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell. I would personally like to thank Rainbow Rowell for referencing my favorite line from book 1 (I, myself, would be allowed to ride in the front seat), and for wrapping up the final installment of the Simon Snow trilogy so well. I would read 27 more books in this series. I will miss these characters so much!
- The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. This was, far and away, my favorite audiobook of the year. This book made me laugh, cry, and everything in between. I love the kids, I love the adults. It’s about acceptance, found families, and love, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
- The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel. Despite my ‘rona-related desire to avoid heavy reading material, I can’t seem to keep myself from the WWII novels that are suggested to me by Hoopla and/or Goodreads, and this year was no exception. This book is about the French resistance workers who helped Jews escape into Switzerland as the Nazis began deportations in Paris. It’s a romance, and it’s suspenseful and interesting and full of believable relationships between the various characters. It was a really good book, and I’m glad I gave it a chance.
I’m looking forward to seeing where 2022 takes me – I received two sizeable novels for Christmas this year, and I’m excited to get into both of them.
- Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. Often, I cannot pick a clear favorite for the year. But this year? Solidly the best reading experience I had was this book. I don’t want to spoil it, but…jazz hands! Amaze! If you know, you know. Even if you think sci-fi is not your bag, try this one. The humor, the humanity, the science…so perfect.
- The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. This book is a close second to my #1. I loved it so much that after reading it to myself, I decided to read it aloud to my nine year old. It has the most loveable band of misfits, and the most beautiful warmth.
- This third slot gets hard. When I sat and made a list of favorite reads for the year, there were a total of 15 books. When you’ve read 105, it’s easy to have a lot of faves. I will be doing a full post about my faves, but until then I’m giving this spot to The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to raise children during the Great Depression and I could feel the main character’s anxiety and sorrow deep, deep in my bones. So, for its impact on me, this one gets the third slot. But it wasn’t a fun read like my #1 and #2.
Isn’t it fitting that my top three are completely divergent genres? That’s quite emblematic of my reading proclivities. Stay tuned for my full 2021 reading wrap up. I have a lot of recommendations for your TBR!
I’ve read 220+ books this year, and counting. This is not a brag, but is certainly an excuse because I don’t know how to choose just three top favorites for the year. Top three easiest reads? Top three that made me think? Top three rated? Top three that I find myself recommending over and over again? So instead of three books, I picked three lenses to look through to view my top reads for the year. (I know I’m cheating, but just go with me here…)
1) I consulted my Goodreads, and here are the books I gave 5 stars in 2021 (lots of sci-fi, all fiction):
- Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao (see my review here)
- Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
- The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
- The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
- The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson (I really love those Truly, Devious books!)
- The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty
- A Complicated Love Story Set in Space by Shaun David Hutchinson (see my review here)
- The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
- Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas
- A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (see my review here)
But we all know that 5 stars just means that, in the moment I rated it, I felt I loved it. Also, friends’ ratings may sometimes influence me to rate slightly higher or lower than I might have on my own. And there are plenty of books I felt I couldn’t rate at all (e.g. how do you rate a non-fiction book? scientific merit? enjoyability? whether I learned anything?). So is this list really representative of my best books of the year?
2) These are a few books I keep recommending to lots of people that I read in 2021 (mostly non-fiction, because I usually only recommend fiction to people who like the specific genre):
- Burnout by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski (to anyone who feels constantly stressed and burnt out, particularly aimed at women)
- The Hormone Balance Bible by Dr. Shawn Tassone (to all women to help understand some of the ways hormones might affect our bodies, moods, illnesses, etc, and something traditional medical doctors don’t usually talk a lot about)
- The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee (to anyone who wants to understand some of the deeper issues surrounding and costs to the wider population that arise due to racism)
- Girls & Sex and Boys & Sex by Peggy Orenstein (particularly to parents to help understand the culture their pre-teens, teens, and college-age children are facing, and to learn what works when talking to boys and girls about sex, consent, and safety)
- When the Body Says No by Gabor Mate (to anyone who feels stress, knows someone who feels stress, or has an autoimmune issue; it’s been slammed for not being very scientific, but I found it to be interesting and validating)
There are plenty of others I’ve recommended during the year, but these are the ones I find coming up most frequently. Turns out many other people have the same issues and questions I have as we navigate the world and the topics of stress, hormones, parenting, racism, etc.
3) I may not have rated these as 5 stars, but here’s a list of books & series I loved just because I loved them, even if they weren’t objectively perfect, that I read in 2021 (mostly fiction because that’s what I mostly read):
- The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold (see my review here)
- The Scholomance Series by Naomi Novik
- The Spoken Mage Series by Melanie Cellier
- Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott
- Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
- Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
- The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
- Witchmark by C.L. Polk
- The Merciful Crow duology by Margaret Owen (technically I only read the second one of these in 2021, but both are so good!)
- Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston (not the best entry in the Once Upon a Con series, but I enjoy the series so much that it doesn’t matter; see my review of the series here)
Thanks for sticking with me while I cheated my way through the assignment. 🙂
Did any from our lists make your list? What was / were your favorite book(s) of the year? Let us know in the comments!
Photo of bookshelf by Suzy Hazelwood on StockSnap