Check out my favorite books from the 108 books I read in 2021
Hey y’all, today I’m sharing my favorite books I read this year. I’ve done these posts for the past 3 years, and even though it’s nothing related to sewing I enjoy sharing them, so I’m going to keep doing it. When I write these, I am picking my favorite books I read this year – the books aren’t necessarily published in 2021. Why limit myself to only books published this year when there are sooo many good books and I will never read them all?
I read 108 books this year, seven more than I read last year. Here is my Pinterest board of all the books if you’re curious to see them. If I really hate a book I’ve finished, I make a note on the pin, otherwise it’s safe to assume I enjoyed the book at least 3 out of 5 stars. As I get older, I’ve also given myself more permission to quit books, so you won’t see those on my board. This year I quit The Swam Thieves and I have no regrets. I read the Wikipedia summary and I’m glad I took the time from that book to read something else.
And as I’ve explained each year, please don’t respond to this post with how I should join Good Reads. I tried, I don’t like it for me. Before Pinterest I would literally make a physical list on the back of a bookmark of all the books I read that year, so having visual reminders of each book is an upgrade.
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So, in no particular order, here are the best books of 2021 for me:
Crying in H Mart, Michelle Zauner (affiliate link) This is a memoir of the author focused on her relationship with her mother, her Korean culture, and the loss of her mother to cancer. I didn’t realize until she writes about her music in the book that Michelle Zauner is also the founder of the band Japanese Breakfast. I stumbled upon the album she wrote working through her grief a few years ago (though I didn’t realize it was about grief, I just liked it) and I’ve had their newer song Be Sweet on repeat in my favorite playlist, so that added another element to reading this for me. It’s funny and sad and reminded me of a fictional book I read early in the year, The Last Story of Mina Lee.
Malibu Rising, Taylor Jenkins Reid (affiliate link) Jenkins Reid has made an appearance on my list for 3 years running, so I think it’s safe to say she’s become one of my favorite contemporary fiction authors. What she does looks easy, but as a writer myself (did you know I actually started grad school to get my MFA in creative writing? I dropped out when I was pregnant with Tater) I know it’s not. She creates relatable characters even as they’re living fantastic lives of celebrity (or celebrity adjacent), and her prose is both engaging and quick to read. This book focuses on the children of a once famous singer.
I’m Still Here – Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, Austin Channing Brown (affiliate link) I think last year, 2020, was the year everyone was suddenly reading anti-racism books. And I did too, but I wish someone had told me to read this one first. Channing Brown covers many of the same issues as books like So You Want to Talk About Racism? and How to Be Anti-Racist and Me & White Supremacy and while all of those books are valuable and I learned from them, her genius is in how she makes the issues and ideas personal. The other authors do share personal stories, but Channing Brown’s writing felt less academic to me. Reading about racism as an academic exercise is also a way to keep it boxed, over there, and instead with this book I felt the system of racism more as the daily force that hurts all of us.
The Book of Longings, Sue Monk Kidd (affiliate link) I will admit, I kept looking at this book and not choosing to read it for quite a while before I actually started it. The book is a fiction that wonders what would have happened if Jesus had a wife. And I worried it would be heavy and sad and steeped in history, and it is all of those things, but none of those things make it hard to read as I feared it would be. This book is transcendent. I don’t know that I’ve ever sobbed harder over the story of Christ’s crucifixion than while reading this book, and I can’t think of another time that I felt as connected to Mary and the women that were his contemporaries.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, Lori Gottlieb (affiliate link) If there is a common theme in my favorite books this year, it is that they are all a mixture of beautiful and sad and funny and deeply human. This book is no different – I laughed and cried. It’s a memoir of a therapist and her experiences both giving and receiving therapy. And in a year where we have had much more experience with mental health therapy than ever before (due to both the pandemic and adopting from foster care) I loved the insight into both sides.
I really loved these books as well, but if I write more than 5 book reviews I start getting resentful and I might as well be on Good Reads, ha! So here are other books that just missed being reviewed (affiliate links) You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey (do yourself a favor and get the audiobook version of this one), Breath, Long Bright River, Project Hail Mary, Between Two Kingdoms