Best Books of 2021

Best Books of 2021


2020 was a weird reading year for many, myself included. I sort of expected 2021 to settle down and my reading to somewhat return to normal. That didn’t happen. My reading taste might be shifting towards more commercial books…or, I might still be stuck in a distracted state similar to where I was in 2020.  

Highlights of my Best Books of 2021 (not including honorable mentions)

  • 80% Fiction / 20% Nonfiction (my Nonfiction is way down from last year’s 55%)
  • 4 debuts (40%)
  • 50% of these authors were podcast guests (I never really plan this or know in advance how the numbers will shake out, but I’m thrilled that, for the second year in a row, a good portion of my Best Books of the Year were by podcast guests)

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

Best Books of 2021

My #1 Book of 2021

When the Stars Go Darkby Paula McLain
Most Personal Novel
Best Literary Mystery
Most “Robbed” by the Goodreads Choice Awards
Buy from: Amazon | (Audio)

The Rest of the Best Books of 2021

Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe
Best Business Crime Book
Best Dad Book
Most Scandalous Family
Buy from: Amazon | (Audio)

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Favorite All-Around Reading Experience
Best Structure
Most Recommended Book of 2021
Buy from: Amazon | | (Audio)

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams 
Best Romance
Best Brain Candy
Best Commentary on the Publishing Industry

Buy from: Amazon | (Audio)

The Damage by Caitlin Wahrer
Best Legal Drama
Best “Thriller That Doesn’t Read Like a Thriller”

Affiliate Links: |

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton
Best Oral History
Most Likely to Make You Forget Your Reading Fiction

Most Memorable Protagonist
Buy from: Amazon | | (Audio)

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
Best Debut of 2021 (tie)
Most Divisive Ending

Best Love Triangle
Buy from: Amazon | | (Audio)

The Push by Ashley Audrain
Best Debut of 2021 (tie)

Best Book About Motherhood (tie)
Best Ending
Buy from: Amazon | | (Audio)

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride & Jo Piazza
Most Deserving of the Hype
Best Book Club Pick
Best Book to Spark Conversations About Race
Buy from: | (Audio)

What Happened to You? by Oprah Winfrey & Bruce D. Perry
Best Nonfiction of 2021
Most Life-Changing Book

Best Fiction / Nonfiction Pairing with my #1 Book of 2021
Buy from: | (Audio)

Honorable Mentions

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
Best Young Adult
Best Sports Book

Best Message for Young Girls
Buy from: Amazon | | (Audio)

Nowhere Girl by Cheryl Diamond
Best Memoir
Best Audiobook

Best Dysfunctional Childhood Story
Buy from: Amazon | (Audio)

The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood
Best Snarky Humor
Best Balance Between Serious and Fun

Buy from: Amazon | | (Audio)

The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale
Best Out-of-Nowhere Surprise
Best Book About Complicated Female Friendship
Best Non-Sports Book That Reads Like a Sports Book

Affiliate Links: | (Audio)

The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano by Donna Freitas
Best Book About Motherhood (tie)
Best Use of Sliding Doors Structure

Affiliate Links: | (Audio)

What Comes After by Joanne Tompkins
Best Literary Fiction Featuring a Crime
Best Book About Foregiveness

Buy from: Amazon | | (Audio)

More Best Books of 2021…

Most Underrated Gems of 2021
Best Debuts of 2021

What were your favorite books of 2021?

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Best Books of 2021


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  1. Liz Dexter wrote:

    A great list there. I don’t do mine until 1 Jan as I invariably read a great book between Christmas and New Year!

    Posted 12.16.21 Reply

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