Favorite things · What to read

The Best Books I read in 2021

One of the things I did new this year was to record every book I read and assign them star ratings. I am currently up to 98 books for the year (with a couple of weeks left until 2022, I hope to soar past the 100 mark) I wish I could go back in time and record every book I have ever read because that would be so cool to see. Note: If you are a young person, keep a journal and also record every book you read each year. Your older self will thank you!

Now what does the ranking of a “best book” entail for me?? Well to start with, it must be highly addictive so much so that I can’t put it down. It can’t be too gimmicky and filled with some kind of agenda (I hate books that try to push either political/social/or religious agendas) I like books that have new twists on plots that I have never read before (I read somewhere that there are only so many different plot schemes available and all books just make tweaks to them….I believe it) My favorites do not have to be amazing literature, but they have to be well written. I am not afraid to quit books! I should make a list of books I quit this year because I am sure it numbers almost as many as I have read.

What makes me quit a book??

  1. I absolutely hate gratuitous cursing or clumsy/explicit romance scenes. (I do read romance books but if someone is going into shocking detail or having a 1800s character speaking 2000s slang in the love scenes….I’m out)
  2. I cannot handle child abduction/killings/torture/abuse so I will stop reading a book immediately when that occurs.
  3. If the writing is horrendous, the story is too slow moving, or the author writes too much about the scenery and not enough dialogue, I am prone to stop it immediately.
  4. If there are no likeable characters or no redemption arcs….that immediately kills my interest.

So if you agree with all of my hates and likes, you may find some great book suggestions on this list!

Bossy Pants (Favorite Nonfiction)


Tina Fey is just simply hilarious! I laughed the entire time I read this book. It is intelligence mixed with snark and reality all rolled up together in a delightful book.

Poet X

I really enjoyed this book. It was my first foray in a book written in verse and I got hooked right away. It is not a rosy book because it deals with some hard topics, but there was a delightful redemption arc to it, that saved it from being a three star read. **I almost put it down at one point because the main character treated the Eucharist very poorly and I thought it was going to be mocking the Catholic faith. But….there was an amazing priest who helped bring about change in the girl’s life/faith and that made me very happy.

Fan girl (Favorite Teen Book)

Fangirl: A Novel

This book was a pure joy to read. I raced all the way through it and then handed it to my daughter to read. The characters were very believable and it was a nice coming of age story without being too cliche.

Before She Disappeared

Before She Disappeared: A Novel (A Frankie Elkin Novel Book 1)

I love a good thriller. This book follows a down on her luck woman who takes it upon herself to find the missing people around the US that everyone else gives up on. I raced through this book and am excited to read the next one when it comes out next year.

The Mountain Between Us (Favorite Romance of the Year)

The Mountain Between Us: A Novel

I think I would have to say this was one of the most enjoyable books I have ever read. It has adventure, romance, suspense, mystery, showcases the limits of human endurance, and full of emotional turmoil. Read it.

At Home in the World

At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe

I’ve read this book multiple times. I love well written travel memoirs. This book follows the travels of an American writer and her family as they travel around the world in a year. I love how authentic she is by giving us both the highs and lows and all the lessons she learned along the way.

Mexican Gothic

Mexican Gothic

This was such a cool reading experience. It was delightfully creepy and suspenseful without being too scary. The atmosphere of the book was amazing! **The only thing I would note is that late in the book it takes a twist to an almost unbelievable magical realism element, but if you just let it pull you along and don’t let logic interfere with a fun story, you should like this book.

Gods of Jade and Shadow

Gods of Jade and Shadow

I love mythological inspired books and this one did not disappoint. This book has adventure, romance, suspense, and I even learned a lot about some of Mexico’s mythological history along the way.

Are you there God? It’s Me Margaret

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

Emma recommended this book to me years ago and I finally got around to reading it. It is a delightful coming of age story that I am sad I did not read earlier.

Throne of Glass (Favorite Fantasy of the Year)

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, 1)

I could not put this book down! I say its like the Hunger games amped up to the max mixed in with magical characters. It basically follows a violent competition to become the King’s assassin with political turmoil scattered in along the way. **That the lead character is a girl and an amazing assassin was a nice bonus.

Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses Box Set

This was a great series (but a little too much in the graphic romance department in my opinion) I love the ideas of fairies overall, but these fairies were not the usual ones you think of. These fairies are violent and brutal for the most part, but I loved the fairy tale qualities the author gives to this story. Lots of suspense, magic, and romance.

Winter People (Favorite Scary book of the Year!)

The Winter People: A Novel

This book was so creepy! I don’t want to give too much away, but it involves zombie type beings and flips back and forth between multiple characters view points right up to a very unsettling ending that I never saw coming.

Every Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway

I was delighted in this book. It’s like a more darker Alice in Wonderland-type tale that explores what it is like when you come back from a magical world that no one believes you ever visited. Then if that is not weird enough, the author makes a school for these people and has a demented murderer slowly killing them off one by one. It was really good!

Jar of Hearts

Jar of Hearts

Another really good thriller. This story follows the mysterious killing of a teenage girl and we get the whole story in little snippets from her best friend’s point of view. Nail biting for sure!

Little Stranger

The Little Stranger

This was a slow burning thriller. A mischievous ghost, a creepy old manor, a weird and mysterious family, and a likeable (but easily duped) lonely country doctor who are all clearly in denial about what is really going on in this house.

State of Wonder

State of Wonder: A Novel

I’ve heard about this book multiple times in podcasts and then I finally read it and really liked it. It reminded me of Medicine Man (with Sean Connery) mixed in with a magical element. I know nothing about the Amazon, so I liked learning about this region in a fictional setting. Sad, magical, mysterious, suspenseful, and full of adventure.

**Let me know if you have read any of these book below and whether you loved or hated them. Happy Reading!

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