My favorite books of 2021

After my strange reading year of 2020, 2021 felt like a long and needed exhale.

I read significantly fewer books than last year—250-ish instead of 2020’s too-high final tally of 300 even, a welcome and needed change. (I tell you more about why in last year’s favorite books post.) But the quality of what I read—and by that, I mostly mean how much I enjoyed my reading and find my reading time worthwhile—didn’t suffer a bit.

I read SO MUCH good stuff this year! Old and new, beloved authors and newly discovered ones, dependable genres and books off my beaten path. My initial draft of favorite books to share ran sixty titles deep; it was difficult to cut it to the twenty-five shared below.

For this year’s favorites list, I once again prioritized books with staying power and emotional resonance; ones with admirable craft, that I enjoyed reading, and that I found myself returning to in my mind—even long after I finished the book.

I track my titles in my reading journal, and put a simple little star by especially noteworthy titles. (In August, I shifted from my old reading journal to the new My Reading Life book journal, and am thoroughly enjoying using that now.) Despite my best efforts at record-keeping, I’m probably forgetting a favorite here, because I always do. 

I made the difficult decision not to include re-reads on my Best Books of the Year list. (Because you always ask: yes, I absolutely log re-reads in my reading journal.) I will say that revisiting favorite books is a regular practice of mine, and one that greatly enriches my reading life.

I’d like to call out two additional books that I read for purely practical reasons but are too good not to mention, especially because they may meet some of you where you are right now. Ron Lieber’s book The Price You Pay for College came out in January, just as Will and I were in the final stages of deciding college plans with our then-high school senior. And I read the extremely useful but terribly titled book Give Your Speech, Change the World at the recommendation of a friend and would highly recommend it for anyone who regularly gives presentations or speeches.

I would love to hear your favorite books of the year in the comments section.

All books featured here were chosen because I loooove them. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission. More info here.

My favorite books of 2021

My Lady Jane

My Lady Jane

This quirky spin on the true story of Lady Jane Grey was pure laugh-out-loud fun. The THREE authors who co-wrote this book (I'm sure their process is a story in itself) transformed the tragic historical interlude of Jane's 9-day reign into a zany comedy, akin to a mash-up of The Princess Bride and The Other Boleyn Girl. In their version, sixteen-year-old King Edward arranged a marriage for Jane in order to secure his line to the throne. The young king doesn’t have much interest in ruling, and she doesn’t have much interest in marriage. But duty is the least of their problems because, well...Jane’s betrothed turns into a horse every night. Note: this sassy book is especially great on audio. More info →
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The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win

The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win

Author:
This book was such a delightful surprise. I never expected to love—or even read—a book about poker, but several readers with great taste told me to prioritize this one, and I'm glad I listened. In this story-driven narrative, author and New Yorker journalist Konnikova tells how and why she dedicated several years of her life to becoming a professional poker player, and seamlessly connects what she learns at the table to making better decisions and living a more satisfying life. Endlessly fascinating and laugh-out-loud funny, and one I've been thinking about all year, after reading it way back in January. More info →
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What Kind of Woman: Poems

What Kind of Woman: Poems

Author:
I usually like to go through a poetry collection slowly over time, but I had a difficult time not inhaling this collection all at once—I had to force myself to put it down! By turns witty, tender, snarky, and gutting, always relatable, and never boring. I've come back to this repeatedly, and given several copies to friends as gifts. (For some it was their first poetry collection; for others it was their hundredth.) More info →
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Malibu Rising

Malibu Rising

This page-turning family saga was one of my top picks from the 2021 MMD Summer Reading Guide, because it has everything you could want in a beach read: surfers, rockstars, 80s pop culture, and a mansion going up in flames. It’s 1983, and the four adult children of rockstar Mick Riva are preparing to host Malibu’s party of the year, unaware of how this one night will irrevocably change their lives. Reid employs an interesting structure to unpack what happens, hour by hour, the day of the party, intercutting the present-day narrative with scenes from the family’s past that go back generations. I'm a huge fan of messy family stories and compulsively readable literary fiction; this book delivers on both counts. I couldn’t put it down. More info →
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Reasons to Stay Alive

Reasons to Stay Alive

Author:
I've long enjoyed Haig's fiction; this year I enjoyed getting acquainted with his nonfiction. He writes in the opening pages that he's attempting to do two things in this memoir: to lessen the stigma of mental illness by talking about it openly, and to "try and actually convince people that the bottom of the valley never provides the clearest view." I highlighted extensively, copying nearly a page worth of quotes into my journal. I found this to be fascinating in its content, surprising in its scope and design, packed with good words about books and reading, and life-affirming in its conclusions. More info →
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The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

Author:
This is another collection I read in January, and have been recommending nonstop ever since. Some stories are quick five page reads, and others are closer to 40 pages—all of them make you feel like you're right there in the main character's life. This collection is about love, sex, relationships, work, mistakes and successes. Each story explores the unique predicament of one character, but they flow seamlessly from one woman's life to another, thanks to Philyaw's evocative prose and rich detail. I read my favorite story “How to Make Love to a Physicist” twice through (on paper) because I loved it so much. This was fantastic on audio, as narrated by Janina Edwards. More info →
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The Souvenir Museum: Stories

The Souvenir Museum: Stories

I adored this short story collection which featured a host of eccentric characters navigating tricky family relationships. I found myself longing to spend more time with nearly every character, and in one sense, I got my wish: the spine that holds these dozen stories together is those featuring Jack and Sadie, whom we visit at different points in their relationship throughout the book. Reading this felt like an emotional roller coaster; McCracken left me breathless as her characters' thoughts and actions elicited giggles and then gasps, often not just in the same story but on the same page. Her style feels deceptively light, as this book goes to hard places, examining depression, suicide, aging, and a host of terrible things happening to children. Yet I didn't want to put it down. More info →
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Crying in H Mart: A Memoir

Crying in H Mart: A Memoir

Author:
I suspect this heartfelt, poetic memoir was the right book at the right time for me, after my own father died last year. “Ever since my mother died, I cry in H Mart.” So begins Zauner’s poignant story. After her mother received a grim cancer diagnosis, Zauner realized her mother’s death would also mean losing her only tie to her Korean heritage, so she sought to shore up stories while she still has time. Whether she writes about the intricacies of preparing traditional Korean dishes or a hurtful misunderstanding, she explores moments from her tumultuous mother-daughter relationship with tenderness and love, often returning to the idea that our experiences of home, family and culture are viscerally rooted in what we taste, see and hear. An honest, lyrical, and life-affirming memoir about grief, growing up, and making amends. More info →
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Hour of the Witch

Hour of the Witch

Author:
Once I got absorbed in the story this Puritan-era historical thriller was unputdownable. Desperate to escape her abusive husband, Mary Deerfield seeks a rare divorce from the town council—but it’s a precarious time to pursue independence as a woman. Mary is soon accused of far worse than being a rebellious wife, and realizes a separation from her husband won’t be enough to save her from his escalating cruelty. Relying on a large cast of well-developed characters and an intricate plot, Bohjalian skillfully ratchets up the tension all the way through the exceptional ending. Also fabulous on audio. More info →
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The Last Thing He Told Me

The Last Thing He Told Me

Author:
I inhaled this breakneck domestic thriller in a single evening. Hannah and Owen have been happily married for a year. She finds meaning in her job crafting bespoke furniture for high-end clients; he works at a tech start-up that builds privacy software. The only real sore spot between them is her fragile relationship with his sixteen-year-old daughter Bailey. Then one afternoon, Hannah receives a hastily scrawled note from her husband with just two words on it: “protect her.” Why must she protect Bailey—and from whom? She can’t ask Owen; he’s gone—and Hannah is determined to find out why. This is a new direction for repeat SRG author Laura Dave; I think it’s her best work yet. More info →
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Painting Time

Painting Time

This breathless French coming of age novel was a delightful surprise; I went on to read everything else I could snap up by de Kerangal. This is the story of Paula, a once-floundering French student who stumbles into her calling almost by accident, and enrolls to study trompe l’oeil, or “the art of illusion,” in Brussels. In her distinctive impressionistic style, de Kerangal invites us to accompany Paula as she throws herself into her craft and learns to flawlessly imitate rare and expensive materials with her brushstrokes—marble, tortoiseshell, the heart grain of oak. As Paula finds work abroad as a decorative painter—in studios and on film sets in Paris, Moscow, and Italy—she wrestles with the meaning of her work, and what to do about the relationships she left behind. To sound like a total nerd: I couldn’t get enough of de Kerangal's voice. More info →
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Landslide

Landslide

Author:
My whole heart was wrapped up in this short family story. When her husband is confined to a Nova Scotia hospital after a terrible fishing accident, a mother not much older than me is left to parent her teenage boys—"the wolves"—alone. But things have been hard for a while now: in this insular Maine fishing community, the fish aren't biting like they once did. Money is perpetually tight. Not long before, the family was dealt a terrible blow, and one son is still wracked by grief. And even absent an immediate crisis, parenting teenage boys is grueling. I did not want to put this down, although I paused many times along the way to text my fellow parents of teenage boys. I loved the bracing portrayal of a family on the brink, the gripping tone that says with every line I'm not sure how I'll get through this. More info →
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We Should All Be Millionaires: A Woman’s Guide to Earning More, Building Wealth, and Gaining Economic Power

We Should All Be Millionaires: A Woman’s Guide to Earning More, Building Wealth, and Gaining Economic Power

Author:
This book is so smart and fun. Rodgers's chief assertion is that money talks, and therefore until women—and particularly Black women—have economic power, equality will remain out of reach. She argues why it's good—both individually and collectively—for women to increase their incomes, and shares how she did it in her own life, and how you can do it, too. I found this to be illuminating as well as a lot of FUN to read; I loved Rodgers's smart and snappy style. When I finished my egalley, I promptly ordered the hardcover for my 14yo daughter, who's expressed a desire to learn more about money lately. More info →
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The Arsonists’ City

The Arsonists’ City

Author:
File this one under "What Should I Read Next made me do it." When I recommended Alyan's debut to an upcoming WSIRN guest, I was reminded that she had a new book out, published in March. This new novel is significantly longer than Salt Houses, clocking in at nearly 500 pages and 20 hours of listening time, but I'm so glad I downloaded the audiobook anyway. I was quickly swept up in the story of the complicated Nasr family, with its Syrian mother, Lebanese father, and three adult children flung across the globe. If you enjoyed Marjan Kamali's The Stationery Shop, Alyan's story, while a bit edgier (I'm thinking specifically of drug use), has a similar feel. Leila Buck's narration was outstanding. More info →
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Olympus, Texas: A Novel

Olympus, Texas: A Novel

Author:
I ate up this book and then built a whole Summer Reading Guide category around it (in the Expanded Edition). This spellbinding dysfunctional family saga set in small-town Texas puts a modern spin on Greek tragedy, full of fistfights and firearms. Everyone knows everyone else’s business in the fictional town of Olympus, especially when it comes to the notorious Briscoe family. The clan is “a walking collection of deadly sins,” and due to patriarch Peter’s philandering, his children populate several households in town. When prodigal son March returns home after a years-long exile imposed after sleeping with his sister-in- law, he sets a devastating chain of events in motion. Though the story spans a mere six days, several lifetimes’ worth of secrets are revealed in that time, and the ensuing consequences to the family and their town are irrevocable. More info →
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The Eighth Life

The Eighth Life

I first gushed about this to the Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club in our Best Books of Summer 2021 event, and (correctly) predicted it would land on my Best of the Year list. This was the Georgian novel that I didn't know my life was missing. I shy away from long books these days, and this one clocks in at 1000 pages—but I'm so glad I let myself get talked into it by two trusted readers with great taste. This generational story tracks 100 years in a Georgian family from the Russian Revolution to the present day. The family also possesses a magical chocolate recipe that they mix up at opportune moments—whether it's a blessing or a curse remains to be seen for the 95 or so years. The ending is amazing. More info →
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A Town Called Solace

A Town Called Solace

Author:
Mary Lawson is a new favorite author of mine; I found her work through my husband Will, who just happened to pick up her award-winning debut Crow Lake at our favorite local used book sale. He loved it, and passed it to me. Now I'm making my way through everything she's written—and was thus delighted to discover that not only does she have a new book out, but it was longlisted for the Booker Prize! This short novel examines disappointed hopes and disappointing families, and ponders how through love, forgiveness, and friendship we might patch together a meaningful life and grasp a glimmer of redemption. Highly recommended for fans of Ordinary Grace. More info →
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Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

Author:
The premise is this: life is short; each of us, on average, is alive for only four thousand weeks. It's impossible to accomplish and experience everything we want to. So how do we decide what is actually worth our time? I especially appreciated his thoughts on how everyone is just winging it, all the time, and that serializing our tasks will save us. I read this book very slowly: I rarely spend more than a week reading a book, but I read this one over the course of three, which was perfect for the material. More info →
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How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America

How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America

Author:
It's always dangerous to go into a book with sky-high expectations, as I did thanks to numerous rave reviews from trusted readers, but I needn't have feared: this is a stunner. In his first full-length nonfiction work, poet and journalist Smith explores the legacy of slavery in the United States, and to do so he takes his readers on a tour of sorts, visiting nine physical monuments crucial to that history, like Jefferson's Monticello, the Whitney Plantation in Louisiana, Angola Prison, New York City, and finally Senegal's Gorée Island. Each visit is packed with stories from both past and present, as Smith examines the site's history and explores what that means for us today. Smith's narration of his own work for the audiobook is exceptional. More info →
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Harlem Shuffle

Harlem Shuffle

For those who've only read The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, Whitehead's new novel is going to feel like a huge departure; this is more like Sag Harbor, his 2009 novel set in 1980s New York City. (As you can see, Whitehead has range.) At the center of the story sits Ray Carney, a man caught between two worlds: he wants to be a respectable family man, but can't seem evade the pull of the crime scene of 1960s Harlem, and its profits. This has been often described as a heist novel—and it is—but please know going in that it is carefully-constructed and slow-building, with rich character development and a sly sense of humor. Excellent on audio, as narrated by Dion Graham. More info →
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The Transit of Venus

The Transit of Venus

Author:
What to say about this book? For the first 75 pages, I was bored to tears. I could not keep the characters straight. I did not understand what Hazzard was up to. But by the end, I thought it to be one of the best books I'd ever read, with a spectacular—if devastating—ending. And then I flipped to the beginning to start again. I knew going in that Hazzard's husband once remarked that no one should have to read this book for the first time; read it and you'll see why. First-time readers should know that Hazzard knows what she's about, that it takes her ten years to write novels because each sentence is constructed with care, that this story, ostensibly about love and family, is every bit as much about power. More info →
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After You’d Gone

After You’d Gone

This was another book where I read the final paragraph and turned back to the beginning to read it again. I'm working my way through Maggie O'Farrell's backlist, and this, her 2000 debut, may be my favorite of her older works. Told from multiple points of view, in multiple timelines, it took me a few chapters to find my footing, but once I did I blew through this compelling mix of love story, mystery, and compelling family saga. You should know that terrible, seemingly random tragedies beset characters in O'Farrell's novels, yet in her plots these surprising turns don't feel cheap, but all too true to our own real life experiences. (As one character muses, "Why isn't life better designed so it warns you when terrible things are about to happen?") More info →
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Taste: My Life Through Food

Taste: My Life Through Food

Author:
I hadn't intended to read this, and I'm so glad I let myself get talked into it by a trusted friend! This was a delight from start to finish; I was hooked from the three-sentence introduction and its promise of plenty of puns to come. From his stories of growing up in a large Italian-American family in New York, to mixing up the perfect martini on set, to falling in love with his wife over a cheese cart, I just ate this up. (Sorry, I couldn't help myself.) I'm sure this is wonderful in hardcover as well, but Tucci narrates his own audiobook and it is superb—I highly recommend this format. More info →
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Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption

Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption

Author:
I've been meaning to read this novella for YEARS, primarily because it's a title some of my favorite authors call a must-read. I'm not well-versed in King novels (because I'm a scaredy-cat); this is a departure from his typical genre (although some of the content is admittedly pretty grim). This is the story of a man unjustly imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, and his quest to secure his freedom any way he can. I'm so glad I finally read this, and almost did so in a single sitting. More info →
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The Sentence

The Sentence

Author:
What to say about this book? By turns delightful and dreadful, it's set inside the very real independent bookstore Birchbark Books, owned by novelist Louise Erdrich, and takes place from November 2019 to November 2020. Wonderful and beautiful and at times laugh-out-loud funny, but also heart-stopping in its descriptions of the Covid-19 pandemic and the murder of George Floyd (which took place just a few miles away). You'll hear more about this in tomorrow's new episode of What Should I Read Next, but for now I'll just say: I loved it. Avid readers take note: this book about books includes more than 150 book recommendations, which are thoughtfully compiled in an appendix. Make sure to take a look at the back matter, or download the audiobook supplement if you read in that format, as I did. More info →
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P.S. A year in the life of the Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club. Plus my favorite books of 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016 (that year I kept it to 7—how did I do that?).

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120 comments

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  1. Janice says:

    My favourites included Monogamy by Sue Miller, Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith, Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri, The Editor by Steven Rowley, Oh William by Elizabeth Strout

  2. Jenny says:

    2021 Favorite Reads:
    Hail Mary (audiobook) – Andy Weir
    Miss Benson’s Beetle – Rachel Joyce
    Lincoln Highway – Amor Towles
    Sparks Like Stars – Nadia Hashimi

  3. Alison P says:

    I had some overlap with you, Anne! (Thanks for pointing me to Eighth Life!). Here’s my roughly pulled together top list. Have read a few over 100 so far this year…
    Olive, Again
    Hamnet
    The Secret History
    Great Circle
    The Eighth Life
    The Love Songs of W.E.B.DuBois
    Once There Were Wolves
    Caste
    A Swim in the Pond in the Rain
    The House on the Cerulean Sea
    How the Word is Passed
    Braiding Sweetgrass

  4. Dee says:

    This is a great list, Anne. My favorite this year was Erdrich’s novel from last year, the Pulitzer-prize winning The Night Watchman. I really enjoyed spending time with those characters.

  5. Molly says:

    My Top Five Books of the Year – not rereads:
    Between Two Kingdoms – Suleika Jaouad
    Monogamy – Sue Miller
    The Paper Palace – Miranda Cowley Heller
    Good Company – Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeny
    This Must be the Place – Maggie O’Ferrell
    Honorable Mention: Seating Arrangements, Maggie Shipstead and Dear Edward, Ann Neopolitina

    • Cheryl Bremson says:

      I loved Between Two Kingdoms. As a cancer survivor, it had great meaning. She is ill again. I thought you might want to know that.

    • Samantha says:

      Kitchens of the Great Midwest; The Splendid and the Vile; When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt; Furious Hours (based in my hometown!) ; A Deadly Education; In Five Years; In the Woods (Dublin murder squad); Certain Dark Things. A lot of nonfiction this year-not my norm but I enjoyed learning.

  6. Rebecca Hancart says:

    I read some great ones and some real duds this year 😂 My favorites were: Daisy Jones & the Six; The Guncle; The Book of Lost Names; Atomic Habits; The Wife, The Maid and the Mistress and The Nickel Boys.

  7. Karen says:

    I also devoured The Hour of the Witch; also I really enjoyed Guncle so much! Loved Ann Patchett’s collection of essays These Precious Days and Oh, William! by Elizabeth Strout which inspired me to re-read Anything is Possible and My Name is Lucy Barton.

  8. Lisa F. says:

    These are my own favorites from this year (no re-reads):
    True Grit–Charles Portis
    My Antonia–Willa Cather
    The Last Thing He Told Me–Laura Dave
    Project Hail Mary–Andy Weir
    Raft of Stars–Andrew J. Graff
    World of Wonders–Aimee Nezhukumatathil
    The Dictionary of Lost Words–Pip Williams
    Hamnet–Maggie O’Farrell
    Anne of Green Gables–L.M. Montgomery (read for the first time at age 50; what the heck is wrong with me that I waited so long?)
    Around the World in Eighty Days–Jules Verne

      • Kim K. says:

        Right? I first read True Grit as a high schooler in 1971. And I stumbled upon Willa Cather when I assigned my son Death Comes for the Archbishop (we homeschooled) and decided to read it for myself. My Antonia is my favorite of hers.

  9. Marcia says:

    Thanks–I love hearing about the best of the best. Just made my list for the year, and it leaned toward nonfiction the syear.
    The Only Plane in the Sky
    The Art of Gathering
    The Rose Code
    Tell Me More
    The Other Bennett Sister
    Project Hail Mary
    Becoming Mrs. Lewis
    Six of Crows
    Being Mortal
    Q’s Legacy

  10. Diane says:

    Thank you Ann for all the wonderful guests and book suggestions this past year. My favorites for 2021 are:
    A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi (YA category)
    Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown ( Sea Adventure/Lady Pirates/Action galore)
    Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai (Children story/lovely prose)
    Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko (Children story great for boys)
    Some Luck by Jane Smiley ( Fiction, Trilogy that you can’t wait to see how everyone does)
    One In A Million Boy by Monica Wood (Ann your guest recommended)
    Daughter of the Morning Star by Craig Johnson (Walt Longmire comes to the rescue again)
    Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay (Very Suspenseful)
    The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai (Beautiful written saga of a Vietnamese family)
    Life In The City Of Dirty Water by Clayton Thomas-Muller (Nonfiction)

  11. Ambar says:

    My favorite books this year were:
    The Peacemaker by Ken Sande
    When People are Big and God is Small by Edward T. Welch
    The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
    Adorned by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
    The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl R. Trueman
    Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier

  12. Tabatha says:

    Thanks for your list, Anne! The following are my favorite books I read this year:

    Monogamy – Sue Miller
    Olive, Again – Elizabeth Strout
    Wintering – Katherine May
    Tell Me More and The Middle Place – Kelly Corrigan
    Improvement – Jean Silber
    Father of the Rain – Lily King
    The Last Thing He Told Me – Laura Dave
    Crying in H-Mart – Michelle Zauner
    The Last Flight – Julie Clark
    Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid
    Home Fire – Kamila Shamsie

  13. Jana Griner says:

    So far I’ve read 263 books in 2021! These are my top 25 that I have enjoyed the most!

    1. Merry Christmas, Baby by Donna Kauffman….a short story collective full of Christmas stories and they get right to the romance!
    2. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord….a YA spin on You’ve Got Mail. Really makes you crave a grilled cheese sandwich!
    3. The Book of Eels by Patrik Svensson…this book was part non-fiction and part memoir. I was surprised by how interesting it was! I learned a lot.
    4. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang…..sweetest book ever! I now read all of her books!
    5. Jesus the Healer by E.W. Kenyon…a short but POWERFUL book!
    6. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman…read the audiobook and laughed out loud and grabbed my heart so many times. Loved it!
    7. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne…This was a surprisingly sweet and hot book!
    8. Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy….guessed the first twist but did NOT guess the second one! I love a book with a twist!
    9. Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger…So many surprises! A big not to Strangers on a Train
    10. Group by Christie Tate…when I was done, I felt like I’d been to group therapy! I loved the honesty of this book!
    11. Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson…he’s one of my favorites. This had a big twist at the end.
    12. Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby…This was very fast-paced and interesting the whole way through. I got very attached to the characters and still can’t think of this book too long without crying. Loved it!
    13. Writers and Their Pets by Kathleen Krull…This was so interesting because it talked about writers and the variety of pets each one had.
    14. Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon…This book had pictures, recipes, playlists, stories, and things about the South. It was fun to compare my South (Georgia) and her South.
    15. The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz…This had a big twist which I guessed pretty early, even though I don’t usually guess plot twists. But I still enjoyed the book very much.
    16. The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson….This is probably my favorite of his so far! I kept putting my hand over my mouth!
    17. Sean of the South Volume 1 by Sean Dietrich…I thought these would be just funny short essays. They were amazing. I held my heart at the end of so many of them. I will be reading all of his books now and have bought some to give for Christmas presents.
    18. How We Became Wicked by Alexander Yates….HUGE TWIST!!!! So interesting and unique. Hilarious AND creepy!
    19. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah…I see now why this is a favorite of so many people. I loved it! Never a dull moment.
    20. Local Woman Missing by Andrea Bartz…This book took my in a COMPLETELY different direction from what I thought! Big surprises!
    21. Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell…I sat down to read two chapters and couldn’t stop. Such a good book!
    22. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill…This was so interesting! Creepy and unique.
    23. Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty…I love her books and love how this one ended up!
    24. The Collective by Alison Gaylin..WOW! This one was about a group of vigilante women. Soooo suspenseful!
    25. Taste by Stanley Tucci…I read the audiobook and loved him reading this to me and hearing about all of the food and his family.

  14. Kiersten says:

    The book that deserved far more attention than it got was The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton, I have been evangelizing it all year!
    The rest of my top 10 of 2021, in semi-order:
    Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid
    Writers & Lovers – Lily King
    The Plot – Jean Hanff Korelitz
    Good Company – Cynthia D’Apprix Sweeney
    The Paper Palace – Miranda Crowley Heller
    Oh, William! – Elizabeth Strout (@Karen – also inspired me to backtrack to My Name is Lucy Barton!)
    Three Tuesdays in Winter – Lily King
    The Midnight Library – Matt Haig
    Rock Paper Scissors – Alice Feeney

    Was happy to see Monogamy by Sue Miller on other lists – was on my 2020 top 10. I have a feeling Ann Patchett’s These Previous Days doesn’t appear on my own list only because I haven’t read it yet…

  15. Nancy says:

    I’ve read a few of these—loved Malibu Rising!—and thanks to this list, my TBR is even longer. Re Stephen King: have you read The Dead Zone? I would call it gripping, not creepy or gory. I can’t read horror AT ALL and it worked for me. Admittedly, it’s way-back list and I read it in the 80s, but I kept thinking about it during the last election. (It was also a TV series but I haven’t seen it.)

  16. Oh, this is one of my most anticipated posts of the year. Thanks for sharing your favorites! Mine are: The Guncle, People We Meet on Vacation, The Invisible Husband of Frick Island, Next Year in Havana, Tokyo Ever After and Come Back to Me.

  17. Sandra Mosolgo says:

    The Last Thing He Told Me-Dave(also read in one day)
    Ordinary Grace-Krueger
    Fahrenheit 451-Bradbury
    Arthur Truluv-Berg
    The Speckled Beauty-Bragg(best on audio)

  18. Melissa says:

    Thank you for all these suggestions!
    My top 10 reads of 2021:
    Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi; Killing Commendatore, by Haruki Murakami; Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward; The Nakano Thrift Shop, by Hiromi Kawakami; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith; Breasts and Eggs, by Mieko Kawakami; Defending Jacob, by William Landay; Transcendent Kingdom, by Yaa Gyasi; Once there were Wolves, by Charlotte McConaghy; Run the Tides, by Vendela Vida

  19. Mary Noel says:

    Out of the 80 or so books that I read last year, the one that absolutely sticks in my mind is the shortest and the most awesome. If I could get a copy of Address Unknown by Katherine Kressmann-Taylor for everyone, it would be money well spent. Takes about an hour to read, a lifetime to forget.

  20. Chanda says:

    Love this list! I’m excited to try out the Eighth Wife! My favorites this year were:
    The Devil and the Dark Water – Stuart Turton
    The House on the Cerulean Sea – TJ Klune
    The Lost Apothecary – Sarah Penner
    The 7 Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid
    Caste – Isabel Wilkerson
    The City of Brass Series – SA Chakraborty
    Lovely War – Julie Berry
    Razorblade Tears – SA Cosby
    A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum – Emma Southon

    • Erin Jo Kilmer says:

      You and I seem to have similar book tastes (I love House on the Cerulean Sea, Evelyn Hugo, City of Brass, and Lovely War). I’m going to have to check out some of your other faves! 🙂

  21. Nanette Stearns says:

    My favorites this year (in reverse chronological order). I’ve read 105 so far and have a few others I want to finish while I’m on vacation this week and next. Interestingly enough, 10 of these were audiobooks.
    Shiner by Amy Jo. Burns – I still need to listen to the author chat on that one.
    A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers
    The Eight Life by Nino Haratschwilli – I still miss these characters.
    If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio – I’ve convinced my IRL bookclub to tackle this one. Can’t wait to reread it.
    Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
    Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi
    We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
    Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
    The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
    The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton
    Klara and the Sun by Kazuro Ishiguro
    Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
    Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas
    If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

    • Ann says:

      I read If We Were Villians. There was a LOT of Shakespeare. If you are a fan, this is a craftily put together book with a great ending.

  22. Cassandra says:

    I made my goal of 52 books this year and am pretty pleased overall! My faves this year were The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd, Girls Need Not Apply by Kelly S Thompson and White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht.

  23. Ashley says:

    2021 Included:
    Untamed – Glennon Doyle
    Quit Like a Woman – Holly Whitaker
    When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing – Daniel H. Pink
    City of Girls – Elizabeth Gilbert
    Sula – Toni Morrison
    The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid
    Surviving the White Gaze – Rebecca Carroll
    Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows how to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind – Judson Brewer, MD, PhD

  24. Elizabeth Schroer says:

    Bossy pants, PoetX, Fangirl, Before she disappeared, Every Heart a Doorway, The Mountain Between Us, At Home in the World, Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Shadow, Little Stranger, State of Wonder, Winter People, Court of Thorn of Roses, Throne of Glass. All five star reads in my opinion!

  25. Ann says:

    Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller is a quietly deep, beautiful book. Who Is Maud Dixon by Alexandra Andrews is a very well-written thriller, and Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters demystifies a segment of the population long hidden in shadows. Happy reading all!

  26. Sandy says:

    My favorite books this year were:
    The Spy in Moscow Station, Eric Haseltine The Last Days of John Lennon, James Patterson
    All the Bridgerton novels
    Who is Maud Dixon?, Alexandra Andrews The Jane Austen Society, Natalie Jenner Afgantsy, Sir Rodric Braithwaite
    Bewilderment, Richard Powers

  27. Sara says:

    My reading list included 82 books this year. My favorites included:
    Caste
    The Midnight Library
    The Vanishing Half
    When Harry met Minnie
    The Four Winds
    Klara and the Sun
    The Whispering Tree
    The Venice Sketchbook
    Malibu Rising
    The Lincoln Highway
    I’d Rather be Reading
    These Precious Days
    Remember I read over 80 books.

  28. My top three fiction books for 2021 are Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin (destined to become re-read!); This Is Happiness by Niall Williams (now I want to read his backlist); and The Seed Keepers by Diane Wilson (If you love Louise Erdrich, you will also love this book. I’ve written about other favorite novels at https://wordpress.com/post/livingonlifeslabyrinth.com/187
    I have now added several of your favorites to my already lengthy TBR for 2020.

    • Diane says:

      I loved This is Happiness. I read this last year in the middle of the worst of the Covid outbreak and it had such a soothing feel good effect. His writing is exceptional. There is definitely something to Irish writers and their talent to evoke such emotion from the reader. I agree with your other two picks also

  29. Emily VA says:

    There are a lot of really wonderful contenders for my favorites of the year, but when I looked back over the list, this was what I came up with:

    Sci Fi and Fantasy:
    1) The Galaxy, and the Ground Within – Becky Chambers
    2) Light from Uncommon Stars – Ryka Aoki
    3) The Penric & Desdemona books – Lois McMaster Bujold
    Other fiction:
    1) Not so Pure and Simple – Lamar Giles
    2) The Island of the Sea Women – Lisa See
    3) Firekeeper’s Daughter – Angeline Boulley
    Non-fiction:
    1) The Righteous Mind – Jonathan Haidt
    2) Untangled – Lisa Damour
    3) The Heroine’s Journey – Gail Carriger

    • Katie says:

      The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See is one of my favorite books! I contacted her via email and she participated in one of my book clubs via Skype! She is a delight.

  30. Katie says:

    My favorite books of 2021 were:
    The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec, Circe by Madeline Miller, Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi, Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, The City We Became by N.K. Jemison, Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant, Recursion by Blake Crouch, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, Dark Matter by Michelle Paver, Shiner by Amy Jo Burns, The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry, This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger, and If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino.

    Many of them I knew about because of the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club and/or the What Should I Read Next? podcast. Thank you to you and your team for making my reading life so much better 🙂

  31. Kristen says:

    Thank you always for your wonderful insights. I tend to gravitate to the historical fiction genre and books I call “journalistic forays” but can also be akin to memoirs [“Lost Story of Z” is an example, and a fave is a memoir called “I found my tribe” by Ruth Fitzmaurice]. Over the past two years, I have tried to branch out: my 26-year-old daughter talked me into “Secrets of Happiness” knowing I needed something lighter after “Homegoing.” Homegoing will probably be my favorite book of 2021, a year in which I struggled to read for me, for pleasure. I gravitated toward work related reads and newspapers, etc. My children gifted me a six-month book subscription last Christmas that was centered on Historical Fiction, and one of the best ones was called “Bride of the Sea”–highly recommend this one. Has anyone read “The Little Prince”? It’s a French novella by Saint-Exupery. We happened upon a bar in D.C. while visiting our oldest and it was called the St. Ex. Inside was history about the book and the author like we had never seen, so of course I had to order the book and read it! Finished it the other night and it’s exceptional. I don’t see how they can categorize it as a children’s book. #justsayin

    • Hilary says:

      I read The Little Prince last year and thought the same thing. Kids book… really?? It wasn’t my jam but happy you enjoyed it.

      • Annie B says:

        I have been rereading The Little Prince every year, for years. Perhaps my favorite book of all time. So much wisdom and beauty contained in those words. I don’t think of it as a children’s book either.

  32. * Women of Chateau Lafayette – Stephanie Dray
    * Book of Lost Names – Kristin Harmel
    * The Beirut Protocol – Joel Rosenburg
    *The Lost Apothecary – Sarah Penner
    * The Emotion Code – Bradley Nelson
    * The Personal Librarian – Marie Benedict * The Engineer’s Wife – Tracey Enerson Wood * Life Without Lack – Dallas Willard * America’s First Daughter – Stephanie Dray

    • Cara says:

      The Personal Librarian was so fun! It sent me off on a delightful book flight – I followed it up with An Illuminated Life: Belle da Costa Greene’s Journey from Prejudice to Privilege by Hiedi Ardizzone and I’ve been reading about more topics that the novel and biography brought up.

  33. Megan says:

    Top 10 (just in the order in which they were read this year)
    I Believe In Love (reread)
    Little Women (reread)
    The Blue Castle
    The Ghost Keeper
    Persuasion
    Beneath a Scarlet Sky
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (reread)
    The Next Right Thing
    Hannah Coulter
    Pride and Prejudice

  34. Jamie says:

    A great list and some for me to check out as well!
    Top 5 2021 Favorite Reads:
    The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
    Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
    Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi
    Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
    Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher
    And, Middle Grade favorite? It’s a toss up between “A Place to Hang the Moon” and “A Wish in the Dark.” I am a big MG fan as well. 🙂
    Here is to a great 2022 tracking my books in my new “A Reading Life” book journal which I treated myself to for Christmas. It’s lovely!

    • Larissa says:

      Project Hail Mary was my absolute favorite book of the year. My husband and I read it out loud to each other (mostly he read) and it was a great one to share that way!

  35. Beth Roireau says:

    Such a great reading year!
    Abundance
    American Dirt
    Hamnet
    Klara and the Sun
    Phase Six
    Ring Shout
    Sing, Unburied, Sing
    The Five Wounds
    The Heart’s Invisible Furies
    The Prophets
    The Pull of the Stars
    The Seed Keeper
    The Sentence
    Zorrie

  36. Linda Rodgers says:

    Probably everyone reading this has read or listened to A Prayer for Owen Meany, but surprisingly, none of my book club had. We all loved it. It really resonated with me; one reason was its sensitive inclusion of Owen’s religious faith and how he passed that on to his friend. Just a good, rooted belief in God and God’s part in our lives–no extremism or horrible acts committed in the name of God. I loved listening to the book; I think I would have found Owen’s voice in ALL CAPS too irritating to read (which was actually the author’s intent).

  37. kristen says:

    My favorites this year were:
    A Thousand Ships
    Alexander Hamilton
    The Cild Millions
    Burial Rites
    4321
    Hamlet
    Emperor of All Maladies
    Song of Achilles

  38. Sandy Hoenecke says:

    I rate my books out of 5. The following are books I rated 4 and over and only some of them. I apologize for the long list. It was a very good reading year.
    Seven Lies- Elizabeth Kay
    The Erratics- Vicki Laveau-Harvie NF
    The Orchardist- Amanda Coplin
    The Invisible Husband of Frick Island- Colleen Oakley
    One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot- Marianne Cronin
    For Your Own Good- Samantha Downing
    New Girl in Little Cove- Damhnait Monaghan
    The Book of Lost Friends- Lisa Wingate
    A Ladder to the Sky- John Boyne
    This Tender Land- William Kent Krueger
    The Midnight Library- Matt Haig
    Anxious People- Fredrik Backman
    Entitled- Cookie Boyle
    Red Notice- Bill Browder NF
    If I Knew Then- Jann Arden NF

  39. Shelby says:

    Adding soooo many of these to my TBR right now!
    I had so many favorites! I picked up audiobooks and read more than I ever have. I loved –
    Save Me the Plums
    It Ends With Us
    The Midnight Library
    What Alice Forgot
    The Mother In Law
    In Five Years
    Nobody Will Tell You This but Me
    Big Magic
    Present Over Perfect

  40. Janice Spence says:

    Deacon King Kong by James McBride Set in 1969 Harlem
    The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates Pre Civil War, Underground Railroad
    The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai A North Vietnamese family during
    the Viet Nam war.
    All three of these have incredible writing with great characters and wonderful descriptions.

  41. Mariah Hanley says:

    Fiction top 5: Project Hail Mary, The Rose Code, Firekeeper’s Daughter, The Four Winds, After the End.

    Nonfiction top 5: The Only Plane in the Sky, Broken in the best possible way, Chasing the Thrill, The Particulars of Peter, Bibliophile Diverse Spines.

    Honorable mention: This fall, I also re-read books 2-4 of Outlander and read books 5-8 for the first time in preparation for Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone which I’m about 20% into. Favorite of the series is Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. I’m liking Go Tell the Bees so far. Reading these has had a very noticeable impact on the number of books I’ve read per month since I started in August but it’s been something I want to read which has not been something I’ve had an easy time with this year.

  42. Rachelle says:

    My five star reads for 2021 are The Santa Suit, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Circe, The Midnight Library, and The Shell Seekers.

  43. Laura says:

    I Know this Much is True bu Wally Lamb (so good, especially if you have a difficult family member with mental illness and have issues to work out yourself as a result). Also These Precious Days, Piranesi, the new Towles and Doerr, the Hidden Palace (Wecker), Breaking Bread with the Dead (Jacobs), Call the Nurse, A Swim in the Pond in the Rain, Till We Have Faces (reread)

  44. suzy says:

    Although I’ve read 135 books this year, an all time record, somehow I didn’t choose that wisely, and most of the 5 star reads were rereads! But for the best of 2021, (not the rereads), I’ve got:
    Meet Me at the Museum, Anne Youngsen
    Unwilling: A P & P Vagarie, by Elizabeth Adams
    The Rosie Result, Graham Simsion
    The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue
    The Puma Years, Laura Coleman
    I Miss You When I Blink, Mary Laura Philpott
    Valentine, Elizabeth Wetmore
    When the Stars Go Dark, Paula McLain
    The Good Sister, Sally Hepworth
    The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman
    Fault Lines, Emily Itami
    Anne, why don’t you devote a whole post to best RE-reads this year? And one for DNF’s?? You know people love to see what OTHER people didn’t like!

  45. Maranatha Weeks says:

    Can you point me to a blog you’ve written about how you manage to read so many books per year?! 250 is phenomenal. I consider myself a quick reader, but with mom and work duties, I can sometimes only squeeze in 50 per year.

    • kristen says:

      Maranatha I read 212 this year and would never have accomplished this without adding audio books. You can listen while running errands, cleaning the house, whenever. You can borrow them for free via an app through your library

      • Hilary says:

        Adding to that, I think Anne (& many others) speed up the reading rate to more than 1x the actual speed. I can barely understand if it’s greater than 1.25x but I know some people can.

  46. Lisa Toner says:

    My favourites for this year (just off the top of my head) are:
    Writers and Lovers – Lily King
    The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett
    Shuggie Bain – Douglas Stuart
    Once Upon a River – Diane Setterfield
    Under the Visible Life – Kim Echlin
    Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid

  47. Caroline says:

    My favorites this year:
    Project Hail Mary
    The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey
    The Radium Girls
    The Woman The could Not Silence
    Toxic Love: The Shocking True Story of the First Murder by Cancer
    That Quail Robert
    A Widows Story

  48. Jaclyn says:

    I’m surprised at your enthusiasm for Hour of the Witch on audio. I started it, but couldn’t stand the narrator. She talked too slow, and with a strange cadence sometimes. It was just difficult to listen to. I had to give up on it… I plan to finish it in hard copy.

  49. Katharina says:

    My three favourites this year:
    – The Brothers Lionheart (Astrid Lindgren)
    – Before the Fall (Noah Hawley)
    – Born a Crime (Trevor Noah)
    Malibu Rising was also very high on the list. Thank you for all the great recommendations!

  50. Diane says:

    My top reads are:
    Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
    Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
    The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan
    The World Played Chess by Robert Dugoni
    The Stolen Hours by Allen Eskens
    The Girl in the Green Sweater by Krystyna Chiger

  51. Michele says:

    My goal was 60 books and I’m going to fall just shy with 55, maybe 56.

    Favorites: Celine by Peter Heller, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid and Betty by Tiffany McDaniel.

  52. Suzanne Harley says:

    My favorite books of 2021 were the following:
    A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas
    The Nickel Boys-Colson Whitehead
    Travels With George- Nathaniel Philbrick
    The Order- Daniel Silva
    The Midnight Library- Matt Haig
    The Searchers -Tana French
    The Other Black Girl -Zakiya Dalila Harris

  53. Lynn Seybolt says:

    My favorites for the year: Five Tuesdays in Winter-Lily King
    Oh William! -Elizabeth Strout
    Apples Never Fall-Liane Moriarty
    The Man Who Died Twice-Richard Osman
    Broken Horses-Brandi Carlisle -audible
    The Night She Disappeared-Lisa Jewell
    One Two Three-Laurie Frankel
    Tell Me Three Things-Julie Buxbaum
    The Janes (Alice Vega #)-Louisa Luna
    Olympus, Texas-Stacey Swann
    Exit-Belinda Bauer
    Raft of Stars-Andrew J. Graff
    Passing-Nella Larsen
    Miss Benson’s Beetle-Rachel Joyce
    Stoping but there are more-a good reading year! Enjoying seeing everyone else’s. Best holiday wishes to all!

  54. Suzanne says:

    The Printed Letter Bookshop- Katherine Reay
    Raft of Stars- Andrew Graff
    Brideshead Revisited- Evelyn Waugh
    The Firebird- Susanna Kearsley
    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie- Alan Bradley
    The Holdout- Graham Moore
    The Ladies of Grace Adieu- Susanna Clarke
    Fated- Benedict Jacka
    Death Comes for the Deconstructist- Daniel Taylor
    Death Comes for the Archbishop- Willa Cather
    This House of Brede- Rumer Godden
    Charis and the World of Wonders- Marly Youmans
    The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fritzgerald

    I really made an effort to leave my comfort zone of fantasy and read books that are considered classics. Now I understand why, but they weren’t always easy to read. I am also disappointed that I didn’t find many good fantasy or sci fi this year. Oh well.
    Thanks for listing your favorites! Now I have many new titles to try!

  55. Some of my favorites:
    After You’d Gone, Maggie O’Farrell
    Forever, Interrupted, Taylor Jenkins Reid
    The Glass Ocean, Beatriz Williams, Karen White & Lauren Willig
    The Invisible Husband of Frick Island, Colleen Oakley
    Under the Southern Sky, Kristy Woodson Harvey
    One Hundred Summers, Beatriz Williams
    The True Lies of Rembrandt Stone (a 6 book series), David James Warren
    To Save A King, Rachel Hauck
    The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, Robert Dugoni
    The Secret Life of Violet Grant, Beatriz Williams

  56. Beverly J Wrigglesworth says:

    I read about 615 books this year, over 400 of which were picture books. As a retired children’s librarian, I still love reading beautifully illustrated picture books. I also read about 125 middle grade books.
    Here are some of my favorites of the year:
    Adult Fiction:
    Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts / Kate Racculia
    Breaking Point / C. J. Box (working my way slowly through this mystery series)
    The Invisible Library / Genevieve Cogman
    Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil / Nancy Atherton (Another mystery series I am working my way through)
    Dead End / Nancy Mehl
    Resident Alien (graphic novel) / Peter Hogan
    The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow / Kim V. Sawyer
    Aftermath / Terri Blackstock
    The Escape / Lisa Harris
    Point of Danger / Irene Hannon
    Collared / David Rosenfelt (read for a book club; it was so good & funny, I want to go back to the beginning and work my way through this series)

    Adult Non-fiction
    The Six Days of Genesis / Paul F. Taylor
    Bob Langrish’s World of Horses / Bob Langrish (This is an exceptionally fine photography book with gorgeous photos of all different breeds of horses)
    Zombie Science / Jonathan Wells
    A Flood of Evidence / Ken Ham
    Children of the Salmon and Other Irish Folktales / Eileen O’Faolain (published several decades ago, most of the stories came straight from the mouths of Irish folk)
    I’d Rather Be Reading / Anne Bogel (this was my introduction to Anne and her blog)

    Young Adult (Teen) Fiction:
    East / Edith Pattou (a wonderful novelization of the folktale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.”)
    The Inheritance Games / Jennifer Barnes; and the sequel
    The Hawthorne Legacy
    Enchantress from the Stars / Sylvia Engdahl
    In the Belly of the Bloodhound / L. A. Meyer

    Middle Grade Fiction:
    The Time of Green Magic / Hilary McKay
    The Two Princesses of Bamarre / Gail C. Levine
    The Dragon of Trelian / Michelle Knudsen
    The Lion of Mars / Jennifer Holm
    Lightfall: The Girl and the Galdurian (graphic novel) / Tim Probert (I loved the story and the artwork)

    Middle Grade Non-fiction:
    The Magnificent Book of Horses / Weldon Owen (This one has large, beautiful paintings of horses)
    Condor Comeback / Sy Montgomery (how scientists have worked to increase the number of condors)

    Picture Book Fiction:
    Bear Came Along / Richard T. Morris (a hoot!)
    A Book for Escargot (a little snail) / Dashka Slater (the book is a French cookbook featuring–you guessed it!)
    Miriam at the River / Jane Yolen (focusing on Moses’ older sister)
    Julia’s House Moves On / Ben Hatke (literally!)
    Cat Problems / Jory John
    Mel Fell / Corey Tabor
    A House / Kevin Henkes (suitable for babies and toddlers)
    Red / Laura V. Seeger
    New in Town / Kevin Cornell

    Picture Book Non-fiction:
    If You Take Away the Otter / Susannah Buhrman-Deever (the environmental impact on the biome)
    What’s Inside a Flower? / Rachel Ignotofsky (fascinating info and great illustrations about flowering plants)

  57. Hilary says:

    So many of my faves have a lot to do with the podcast/ this website.
    City of Girls- Elizabeth Gilbert
    Malibu Rising – TJ Reid. This woman can WRITE. I think I liked this the best of all her books I’ve read so far.
    Ballad of the Whiskey Robber- you’re right. Strange cover. Great book.
    Finlay Donovan is Killing It- Sometimes you just need some FUN with your books and this one totally delivers.
    The Girl with the Louding Voice- Prob my #1 for this year. LOVED it.
    The War that Saved my Life & THe War I Finally Won- I enjoyed these on audio listening with my daughters.

  58. Janene says:

    Thanks for the great list and all of the wonderful recommendations throughout the year! This year my goal was to catch up on some books that everyone seems to love that I haven’t gotten around to yet. Most of those made it to my favorites for 2021!

    1. When We Were Young and Brave – Hazel Gaynor
    2. Caste – Isabel Wilkerson
    3. The Rose Code – Kate Quinn
    4. A Man Called Ove – Frederik Backman
    5. Ordinary Grace – William Kent Krueger
    6. Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry
    7. The People We Meet on Vacation – Emily Henry
    8. The Book of Lost Names – Kristen Harmel

    I am currently listening to two more that I expect will end up on my 2021 favorites list, “The Boys” by Ron and Clint Howard and “The Only Plane in the Sky” by Garrett Graff.

  59. Caroline Adams says:

    It’s always hard to pick favorites!!
    Fave Non-Fic:
    Laundry Love by Patric Richardson. I totally changed how I do laundry and actually get excited when I can tackle a stain!
    Cultish: Th? e language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell
    When can we go back to America?: Voices of Japanese Americans incarceration during WWII by Susan H. Kumal
    You’ll never believe what hAppened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin, Lacey Lamar

    Bio/Memoir
    A promised land by Barack Obama
    Beautiful Country: Qian Julie Wang
    Crying in H Mart: Michelle Zauner

    Romance/RomCom
    Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
    How to fail at flirting by Denise Williams
    Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
    The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rachon
    Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

    YA:
    The Extraordinaries / Flash Fire by TJ Klune
    What if it’s Us by
    Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

    The rest:
    The Other Black Girl
    How Lucky
    Mary Jane
    One Two Three
    The Guncle
    100 Years of Lenni and Margot
    Project Hail Mary
    Songs in Ursa Major
    Anxious People
    The People we Keep
    The Four Winds
    Rock Paper Scissors
    The House in the Cerulean Sea
    For your own good
    These Precious Day

    227 books read 🙂 (mostly audio tho)

    • Amanda says:

      Ditto Laundry Love! The book is great – entertaining and life-changing. I gifted a copy to a coworker (as soon as I became so into the book) and now we have endless conversations about laundry and stain removal, to which our other coworkers just roll their eyes. I also bought a copy for my mom, and my dad’s reaction has been the same as my other coworkers.

  60. Rhonda H says:

    Delicious-looking list! Quite a few for my TBR list!
    I wonder if it would be possible for you to include a PDF of this yearly list that could be printed on one page and put in my planner to take with me to the library, used bookstores, yard sales, etc…?
    Thanks for considering it.
    Happy New Year!!

  61. Tara L. Western says:

    Some of my favorites are The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley, The Guncle by Steven Rowley and The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves. The rest of my very long list are books I heard about on WSIRN! Thank you so much for the terrific year of reading.

  62. Jayme Grubb says:

    I had a list of super short audiobooks from a past MMD post and decided to try All Systems Red by Martha Wells in the run up to Christmas break because I had major teacher brain and couldn’t concentrate on anything longer.

    It’s been 2 weeks and I’ve read both short stories, and am on the SIXTH book in the series. Book 5, Network Effect, is 13 hours long. I listened to it in 24 hours.

    I cannot stop and I’m already anxious for the next book and it doesn’t even have a title or cover yet!

    The series is SO well plotted, and FUNNY. You can literally hear the narrator holding back laughter at some parts. I never ever thought I’d get into a sci-fi series.

    I wrapped presents for 4 hours straight yesterday and didn’t even notice because I was listening to the end of book 5 and the beginning of book 6.

  63. Dinah says:

    Hmm! Now I have a lot more to add to my TBR list. Thanks, Anne.
    Here are my faves, in no particular order:

    – State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (wow, wonder indeed)
    – The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin
    – Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
    – Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin (feel good story)
    – Grown Ups by Marian Keyes (her characters lived on in my mind after I put down the book)
    – The Figgs by Ali Bryan (funny!)
    – A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
    – The Spectacular by Zoe Whittall
    – Drawing Conclusions by Donna Leon (what a writer!)
    – Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (the audiobook is sooo good!)

  64. Tamara says:

    Yay! Self-Permission granted for more than Top Ten
    Favorite Romance
    Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
    Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
    The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
    Favorite Science Fiction/Fantasy
    Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
    Lost and Found by Orson Scott Card
    Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
    Favorite Historical Fiction
    The Girl from the Channel Islands by Jenny LeCoat
    The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
    American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
    Favorite Middle Grade
    Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
    The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
    The Next Great Jane by K. L. Going
    Favorite Contemporary Ficton
    The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels
    The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood
    Favorite Nonfiction
    The Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison
    Favorite Mystery
    The Ten Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

  65. Susan Mea says:

    I won’t leave a complete list but here are my top four:

    Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin – unforgettable
    The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
    Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
    Kiss Myself Goodbye by Ferdinand Mount

  66. Margie says:

    Did you watch the Shawshank Redemption? This is one of my three favorite book/movie pairings. The other two are The Green Mile and the Hunt for Red October for what it’s worth

  67. Melly says:

    Thank you for sharing your list! One of my favorites this year was “The Undoing of Saint Silvanus”, by Beth Moore.

  68. Mary Hudson says:

    My favorite reads and listens from 2021
    The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
    The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton
    Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly
    Eternal by Lisa Scottoline
    Lad: A Dog this time I listened to it, have read it multiple times
    As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner
    The Last Green Valley by Mark Sullivan
    Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon
    Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty
    The Things We Do for Love by Kristin Hannah
    The Ragged Edge of Night by Olivia Hawker
    One for the Blackbird, one for the Crow by Olivia Hawker
    Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini
    The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray Tied for my favorite of the year, with Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon and close runner-ups were the two Olivia Hawker books! As you can tell my favorites were mostly historical fiction.

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