Best Books I Read in 2021

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is our favorite books of 2021. 

Here is a list of my favorite books this year, broken down into six categories. These are books I read this year regardless of when they were published (though quite a few were published this year):

Contemporary fiction: Real Life by Brandon Taylor; How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones, Three Apples Fell From the Sky by Nadine Abgeryan; Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann (honorable mention for Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen)

Historical fiction and classics: Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart; The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy; Rizzio by Denise Mina (honorable mention for The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai)

Nonfiction: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner, Broken by Jenny Lawson (honorable mention for You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamarr)

Romance: A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore, Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert (honorable mention for The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams and Venetia by Georgette Heyer)

Science fiction and fantasy: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers, Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (honorable mentions for Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman)

Young adult: Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas, Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

If I have to pick ten, here they are:

  1. Klara and the Sun
  2. Caste
  3. Shuggie Bain
  4. Crying in H Mart
  5. Firekeeper’s Daughter
  6. Piranesi
  7. Real Life
  8. Olympus, Texas
  9. You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey
  10. How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House

You can find more of my favorites at these other “Best of 2021” posts:

In the next couple of weeks I’ll post a wrap up of my year in reading and blogging, and my resolutions/challenges for the coming year.  Until then, Happy New Year!

  37 comments for “Best Books I Read in 2021

  1. December 28, 2021 at 8:30 am

    I loved A Psalm for the Wild-Built, it was so hopeful and lovely. I only didn’t include it on my list as I didn’t want two spots taken up by the same author, but everything Becky Chambers writes is wonderful.

    • December 28, 2021 at 9:03 am

      I haven’t read Galaxy and the Ground Within Yet, but I’ve loved the series so far. Glad to see it on your list!

  2. masterspj
    December 28, 2021 at 8:34 am

    Firekeeper’s Daughter is on my list this week as well. And I have Olympus, Texas on my TBR. Hopefully, I can get to it in 2022.

    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!

  3. lydiaschoch
    December 28, 2021 at 8:43 am

    I really should read Concrete Rose sometime!

    My post:

    • December 28, 2021 at 2:47 pm

      Angie Thomas is an amazing writer. This is a great companion to The Hate U Give. I hope you like it.

  4. December 28, 2021 at 10:14 am

    I loved Broken!! I have Crying in H Mart on my hold list at the library! I was going to buy it at B&N yesterday but they were sold out!

    • December 28, 2021 at 2:48 pm

      I bought H Mart for my sister – it’s clearly in high demand! I hope you like it.

      • December 28, 2021 at 4:49 pm

        Thank you!! 🙂

  5. December 28, 2021 at 1:01 pm

    Yep, I see both of our TTT lists included Piranesi. And Becky Chambers is one author I still need to read — perhaps in 2022? Here’s to wishing that 2022 brings a great set of books for both of us.

    • December 28, 2021 at 2:50 pm

      Becky Chambers is great – her Wayfarers series is also really good and gets better with each book. Thanks for visiting The Book Stop, have a great 2022!

  6. December 28, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    Eve Brown was really popular this year. I’m glad you loved it.

    • December 28, 2021 at 2:52 pm

      Talia Hibbert’s Brown Sisters trilogy is fantastic. I recommend starting with the first one!

      • December 28, 2021 at 5:04 pm

        I only read the first one. I had a hard time getting into it, but I think it was my mood. I still need to give the others a chance.

  7. bitchbookshelf
    December 28, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    Also adored Rogue and I plan to read H Mart soon!

    • December 28, 2021 at 2:53 pm

      I hope you like H Mart! It’s a moving story and Michelle Zauner is interesting. Rogue was great. The third book in the series isn’t quite as good, but I love how Evie Dunmore combines romance, interesting characters and suffragist history.

  8. Eowyn
    December 28, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    Haven’t read any of these but I’m always interested in good historical fiction. Thanks for the recommends!
    My post:

    • December 28, 2021 at 2:57 pm

      Thanks for visiting! I didn’t read a lot of great historical fiction this year, although some favorites are the Kopp Sisters series by Amy Stewart. Another good one was She Who Became the Sun.

  9. December 28, 2021 at 6:36 pm

    I enjoyed Klara and the Sun! I also have The Fire Keepers Daughter out from my local library, I really do need to pick it up soon. I also loved Act Your Age, Eve Brown (all that trilogy really) and I need to read Concrete Rose. I also read Piranesi and it was very different.

    • December 29, 2021 at 9:28 am

      I hope you love Firekeeper’s Daughter. I’m seeing it on a lot of best-of lists. It exceeded my expectations, the way it brought together tribal customs and language, family issues, romance and mystery. Have a happy new year!

  10. December 28, 2021 at 9:16 pm

    We have many books in common, including Klara and the Sun and Firekeeper’s Daughter. I think I need to look for Olympus Texas.

    • December 29, 2021 at 9:30 am

      I think Olympus Texas is one of the year’s underrated books. Not hearing a lot of buzz about it. I hope you like it!

  11. December 28, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    Ooh, I got Three Apples Fell From the Sky for Xmas, so I am happy to see that it made your list.

    Also looking forward to reading Caste in 2022–Warmth of Other Suns was so good!

    Happy reading in 2022!

    • December 29, 2021 at 9:32 am

      I need to read Warmth of Other Suns. I hope you like Three Apples, I read it for my book club or I doubt I would have heard of it. Happy New Year!

  12. WendyW
    December 28, 2021 at 10:04 pm

    I really need to read Broken, I’ve heard so many good things about it.

    • December 29, 2021 at 9:34 am

      Jenny Lawson is wonderful. I started with her older books, so not sure where is the best place to start, maybe Furiously Happy? She also has a blog,

  13. December 28, 2021 at 10:44 pm

    Crying in H Mart has me so curious. I didn’t realize it was a memoir until recently.

    • December 29, 2021 at 9:38 am

      I hope you like it! It’s not polished, Zauner is a musician, not a writer, but it’s very moving. I’m really interested in stories about the immigrant experience in the U.S., and how food and family connect.

  14. December 29, 2021 at 1:33 am

    Excellent list! I’m one behind on owning the Angie Thomases let alone reading them, and I need to explore Talia Hibbert next year. I am doing my list on Saturday, no idea what’s on it at the moment!

    • December 29, 2021 at 9:26 am

      I think Angie Thomas is fantastic, everything she writes is great. I’d compare her to Elizabeth Acevedo, if you’ve read her, in that they deal with serious issues, write young adult but in a mature way, and are just gifted authors. I look forward to seeing your recommendations!

  15. December 29, 2021 at 5:47 am

    I’ve been meaning to read the Brown sisters books for a while. I really must read those next year!

    • December 31, 2021 at 9:32 am

      The Brown Sisters books are wonderful, they are among the very few books I’ve actually re-read. Chloe is still my favorite though I liked them all.

  16. December 29, 2021 at 12:32 pm

    So many good ones! I loved PIranesi, and I”m looking forward to reading Psalm for the Wild Built, Concrete Rose, and Firekeepers Daughter!

  17. December 29, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    Great list! Klara and the Sun is high on my TBR list for next year. 🙂

  18. December 30, 2021 at 5:59 am

    I still need to read Concrete Rose, I bought it as soon as it came out but keep putting it off for some reason. Rizzio’s definitely on my list too.

    • December 31, 2021 at 9:30 am

      Concrete Rose is great! I think the cover isn’t the best reflection of the book, though that might just be me. I’m wondering if that’s why people aren’t picking it up. It’s also not obvious that it’s a prequel to The Hate U Give. I hope you enjoy it!

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