2021 was my most robust reading year to date, with a total of 107 books. I promise you all that I NEVER dreamed that I could top 100 books. When I set my goal at 75, that seemed like a total pipe dream. But here I am, 107 books later. Because of the volume of books I read, I was able to look back and see some trends. This is really fun, and if you read any amount I highly encourage looking at the stats, if for no other reason than it gives some insight. As I’ve always recognized, I read a bit more in the first half of the year than in the second. Fall was, as always, my biggest slow down. My lightest month was five books, my heaviest month was 14. Nine was the most frequent number.
My stats also show that I do, in fact, read most genres. Fantasy was my biggest category, with 19 books, followed closely by the catchall contemporary fiction category, with 18. Memoir, historical fiction, and romance were a three-way tie at 15 books a piece. Classics, sci-fi, thriller, horror, and nonfiction make up the remainder. I only read 6 sci-fi novels this year, which seems very low for me. But hilariously, I read exactly 0 science fiction after reading Project Hail Mary this year. This is not surprising to me—I think that my subconscious knew that I loved that book SO much, no other sci-fi could compare. At least not for a while. And while we are on the topic of love for that book, here is my list of favorites for the year. These are in no particular order, although Project Hail Mary and House in the Cerulean Sea were, even among all that I loved, a cut above the rest.
- Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir: for real, even if you think you do not like sci-fi, just read this one. It has so much humanity, and the characters are amazing. It is good, good.
- The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune: for real, even if you think you do not like fantasy, read this one. And stick with it. It starts a bit slowly (which was more noticeable when I read it aloud to my kid than on my first read) but these rich characters are worth it. It will make your heart so happy. It is about love and inclusion and acceptance and found family. I did a full review of it earlier this year (see my review here). I also read Under the Whispering Door by the same author, and it deserves a mention here. While I liked Cerulean a bit better, Under the Whispering Door was also a great read, focused on big questions about life and death. Well -drawn characters abound there too.
- The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abby Waxman: This main character was so adorable and I want to read more about her. A great book for self-professed book nerds.
- The Midnight Library by Matt Haig: A beautiful book about depression and possibilities and life. And multiversey. I love it when it is multiversey.
- The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah: It is about the Great Depression, so the main character gets kicked in the teeth over and over and it never lets up. Not an easy read, but her desperation was so palpable. And as a mother, I felt this book deep in my bones. (Here’s my review.)
- Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center: I hesitate to call this novel a romance because it has so much substance. Does it have a big romance plot? Yes. Does it have things to say about dismantling the patriarchy? Also yes. And it does both of these things very, very well.
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: I’ve read other TJR novels (Malibu Rising, Daisy Jones & the Six) and this is by FAR my favorite. Historical fiction and old Hollywood. Evelyn is dynamic and memorable. What a great ride!
- One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston: McQuiston writes some of the most loveable characters ever. And the best part is that this doesn’t just stop at main characters, the entire cast here is full of life and vibrancy. I want to hang with this crew. Add to that a little magical realism and some weird time travel/multiverse vibes and of course, I’m SO in. Oh and drag queens. And a bit of a heist. (Here’s my review.)
- Beach Read by Emily Henry: It wasn’t the kind of beach I was expecting at all. But nonetheless, a lovely romance with well-drawn characters that have fabulous banter. A bit fluffy, but a solid read.
- Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie: I love a book about music and musicians. I adored the female protagonist here, she is strong and flawed. This had basically everything I want in a novel about a musician.
- In Five Years by Rebecca Serle: This is one of the best novels about friendship that I’ve ever read. It was not at all what I was expecting, in the best possible way. Bonus points for the audiobook, which is read by Meghan Hilty, one of my absolute favorite Broadway stars!
- The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton: I wrote a full review of this one earlier in the year. Not surprising that another musician-related book made my list this year. All the fabulousness of a musician-type novel, but add to that some stinging commentary on race and the role of black women in music. Oh, and did I mention the memorable characters that I just want to have a drink with? (Here’s my review.)
- Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile: I love her music, and her book made me love it all the more. She’s the same age as I am, so all of the pop culture references and talk about growing up resonated with me. The way that she discusses her faith, and her struggles with it, is just heartfelt, vulnerable, and honest. She is a gem of a human. And 100% listen to her read this book, you also get acoustic interludes that are fantastic. The Joke may be my favorite song ever written.
- City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert: This book feels a bit like two different books in one, but I loved them both. As a former theater kid, this theater-centered historical fiction was a total treat to read. Actors! Dancers! DRAMA!
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: Wowsers, this character study is one of the best I’ve ever read. Eleanor’s arc is absolute perfection.
And that’s it! When I reviewed what I’d read, these were my absolute favorites.
Have you read any of them? I’d love to hear what you thought! What was your favorite read of 2021?