Here are the 70 books / audiobooks I read in 2021. I have never read this many books in one year in my adult life and have found Audiobooks to be a great comfort and healthy form of escapism during the pandemic.
Check out the full list on Goodreads here. (Or just check out the images below.)
I’m terrible about picking favorites and usually hold back from doing so but I wanted to highlight a few books in particular that brought me joy (in case they might bring you joy). With few exceptions, all books I listened to in audiobook form. Scroll down to view the images of all the book covers (thanks Goodreads for putting together the Reading Challenge recap!) and then below the images to find out some of my favorites.
Flip through this gallery of images to check out the book covers:
A few years ago, I kicked the habit of finishing a book once I was half way through, even if I didn’t like it. So, all of these books I liked enough to finish. If you’d like my opinion on any particular titles, feel free to post which ones in the comments of this post or on any of my posts on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
This is by no means a list of “My top favorite books I read last year” as that sort of choice making feels daunting to me. But here are some of the books that stick out to me in this moment as I scan the list:
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro would absolutely be in my Top 10 if I was capable of picking just ten. I loved listening to this book, from the perspective of a well-intentioned sentient AI.
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle – I liked the storytelling devices of this book and devoured it quickly. There are some heavy themes in the story but I also found it to be a light read. Two things can be true, right?
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas – this is a prequel. Start with one of her other books, then read this one. I adore this author and appreciate her perspective and storytelling skills. She has a true talent for making every character feel so real, it’s like you’ve met them and spent time with them. I haven’t read a lot of YA fiction in the last couple years, but am very glad I discovered Angie Thomas’ books.
The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune – do yourself a favor and dip into the magical realism world of this book. I rarely re-read books but this is one I am probably going to listen to again in the future. I know a lot of different readers who really enjoyed this one.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – it’s lyrical and achingly beautiful and is very popular for a reason.
Emma Straub is an author I would absolutely pick up again for a solidly good read that wasn’t too heavy. I think both of these books would be good vacation reads.
Want to learn more about how memory works? Check out Remember by neuroscientist Lisa Genova. It’s very approachable.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet is a story that really stayed with me for a long time. SO. GOOD. I still think about moments from this book.
World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil – such a sweet book. It was perfect to listen to when I was sick during the heatwave – the audiobook was so comforting. This collection of short stories all exist on their own (no need for sickies to have to follow a plot for long). Each story blend moments of the author’s life with the exploration of unique flora and fauna.
I really adore the work by Matt Haig and highly recommend all of the non-fiction books of his I have read including Reasons to Stay Alive (as well as fiction The Midnight Library and How to Stop Time.)
The Practical Magic series by Alice Hoffman is a lovely journey, which finally came to an end this year with the fourth book in the series. I highly recommend reading the books in the order they were WRITTEN.
A Boy Named Su by Sumu Tasib – I found this book through the author who I know personally. I really applaud them for taking the time to share their stories of genderqueerness. Authentic storytelling helps us be a more understanding, compassionate world.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo is a gem of a book. I wish I had slowed down a bit more when reading this to savor it a bit longer.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. This recent release is a great companion book to The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s from Aunt Lydia’s perspective and it covers ground that the show hasn’t (and, I suspect, may not focus on.) I hadn’t read The Handmaid’s Tale in full before this year and absolutely loved it. The graphic novel was an interesting piece of art as well, if you are a big fan of that story and world. Atwood is a phenomenal writer.
One, Two, Three by Laurie Frankel – probably my favorite narration of all the audiobooks this year. The chapters rotate perspectives, each chapter from the voice of one of three triplets. They brilliantly cast 3 actors to play the roles. You will definitely be rooting for these three. Frankel is a fantastic storyteller and I’ve loved both of her books.
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett really stuck with me. I started this book doubtful that I would get drawn in to the story and had to slow down at the end to savor it as much as possible. This author is so very talented at weaving tales. You’ll feel like you are right there.
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson was unique and so much fun. The narrator was perfectly cast. I enjoyed this book so much I had to pick up another of his books and will likely read more of his this year.
Brene Brown is phenomenal. I bought all the books after listening to the audiobook version so I can highlight my favorite bits. I am so grateful to be living at the same time as her.
Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb – sweet and bittersweet and fun story about the author and her grandmother Bobby Bell. It’s a beautiful story of love and loss and more love.
Ok, this is a very long post (especially for me). And I probably could write praise about just about every book on this list, but these were the ones that stuck out to me tonight.
Again, if there are any books you’d like my tiny-review of, just let me know.
Happy reading (and, as always, let me know if there’s a book you recommend I read / listen to)!
Sending you love,
You can find other posts I’ve written about books (including some with additional mini-reviews) here.