Look, I did not set out in 2021 to read 100 books. I originally thought I’d read 50 or something and THAT was optimistic given my prior years. But, something about a pandemic? Leading me to want to read ANYTHING to distract me from the chaos of the actual world?
2021 was when I discovered Sarah J. Maas, Martha Wells, Harlan Coben, Naomi Novik, and TJ Klune. 2021 was also spent with some familiar friends like Patrick Rothfuss, Marissa Meyer, Liane Moriarty, Charlie N. Holmberg, Ann Patchett, and Taylor Jenkins Reid. Some books I were bad, some were amazing. But in the interest of narrowing down, here are my top 20!
This was hard enough to narrow down to 20 so in NO WAY is this in actual order of preference. Don’t ask me to rank!! I can’t!!
Follow me on Goodreads to track my 2022 reads: https://www.goodreads.com/marycarlich
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- The Dutch House – Ann Patchett is one of my all time favorite authors. But, I believe I loved this book even more as an audiobook with Tom Hanks narrating. He embodied the role of Danny so well. I am not typically a fan of listening to fiction (I do better with nonfiction or self help as audio) but I couldn’t get enough of this as an audiobook! Tom Hanks is magic.
- The entire Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells – These books were recommended enough that I finally picked them up and my only regret is waiting so long! These are so funny and endearing. If you’re looking for a quick win, you can’t go wrong since the first four in the series are novellas! Book 5 is novel length but Book 6 goes back to novella. LOVED. Loved loved loved. I can’t wait for more in this series! Because I’m nice, here are them all listed separately so you don’t have to google which book comes first.
- Anxious People – Fredrik Backman is fantastic at creating charming characters and interweaving stories upon stories. This was such a joy to read.
- Beartown – Reading Anxious People convinced me to try again with Beartown. I’d attempted it a previous year and just cooouldn’t get into it. But, I trust Fredrik Backman so in 2021 I tried again. LOOOOOOVED. You need to get past the slow build and let him introduce you to the town and characters. I haven’t read the next in the series yet but maybe in 2022?
- Project Hail Mary – with just three books, Andy Weir has secured his spot in my heart. I will read anything else he publishes!! I LOVED The Martian, loved Artemis (I know I’m apparently in the minority with that), and Project Hail Mary is just as fun. I want to reread it since I really wasn’t prepared for the story to go where it went (no spoilers here), so I’d love to read it with open eyes.
- Atomic Habits – This is a bestseller for a reason. I enjoyed how he breaks down how small wins add up. The book seems so simple but it’s stuck with me! Focusing on just 1% better really helps.
- Circe – BEAUTIFUL BOOK. I wasn’t sure about this at first since I haven’t revisited Greek mythology since maybe high school?? I thought I’d feel really dumb reading it. But, bonus points to my Kindle – I could highlight a character’s name to remind myself of their place in mythologies. Very helpful!
- Station Eleven – The similarities at the beginning of this book and the beginning of the Covid pandemic are EERIE. I am very glad it wasn’t as serious as what’s portrayed in the novel. I really enjoyed this book though I also found some of the coincidences overly convenient.
- Shit, Actually – This is one of those books that I read at the absolute perfect time. I listened to it (it’s great on audio) and each chapter is dedicated to re-examining classic movies. I laughed so hard and it was a very nice distraction during a difficult time.
- Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman – Lindy West is a national treasure. After Shit, Actually I had to read more from her and this was fantastic. I haven’t watched the show, but now I want to!
- Spinning Silver – If you enjoy fantasy books, I will have to insist that you read this. Stop now and go buy it or put a hold on it from your library. Now.
- Uprooted – While you’re there, grab Uprooted too. I can’t decide which one I loved more. They are both one of my all time faves of this past year. I shall now proceed to read anything else Naomi Novik has released! (Next stop, The Scholomance and Temeraire)
- A Court of Thorns and Roses – Ohhhh man. If you’ve seen reference to ACOTAR in your book groups, that’s this series. So freaking fun. Smutty fairies, where can you go wrong? Please note, I linked you to books 1-4. DO NOT. And I mean it. DO NOT read book 3.5 (A Court of Frost and Starlight). It’s useless and not worth your time. People tried to warn me but I have a compulsion to read all the things but…omg. Just don’t do it to yourself. Go straight from 3 to 4. Please.
- The House in the Cerulean Sea – this book is like a hug. I adoooored it. The children at the orphanage cracked me up, especially Lucy. Gah. I got this from the library but need to buy it so I can reread it.
- Between the World and Me – This is another book that I really enjoyed listening to. Ta-Nehisi Coates is a powerful writer and listening to him read his words was even better.
- Ten Thousand Doors of January – ooh I am such a sucker for fantasy books involving portal doors. I bought this thinking it was about the month of January and nope, it’s the main character’s name. She is able to open secret passages into other worlds and her story is captivating.
- The Once and Future Witches – I read Ten Thousand Doors of January in the early part of 2021 and read Alix E. Harrow’s next book near the end. Feminist witches? Yes, please.
- Firekeeper’s Daughter – If you love reading YA, pick this up immediately. It’s a gorgeous story, sad and suspenseful. I loved Daunis and learning about the Ojibwe tribe.
- Malibu Rising – After Daisy Jones & The Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, this was required reading! Taylor Jenkins Reid is a fantastic story teller. I really enjoyed how different all three books were from each other yet all enjoyable. Plus, the tie-in of Mick Riva tickled me. Out of the three, I think this was my least fave? But I still loved it. The other two are just closer to my heart.
- Maybe in Another Life – Another by Taylor Jenkins Reid that I enjoyed last year! If you loved Sliding Doors the movie, you’ll love this book, too.
Honorable Mention: Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. FANTASTIC series that I technically read in December of 2020. I read book #2.5 in January 2021 and do.not.recommend but I am eagerly and impatiently waiting for book #3!
Like I said, this was impossible to narrow down! I enjoyed most of the 100 I read! See the full list of books here: https://www.goodreads.com/marycarlich And friend me! I love to see what you all are reading, too!
What was one of your faves from 2021?? I asked over on Instagram for book recommendations and loved what people said. What’s in your TBR pile?