Blogmas Day 5: Top Ten Books of 2021

Welcome to day five of blogmas! Before I get started I wanted to give an extra special birthday shoutout to Katharine, my incredibly smart, kind, and generous friend who has been such a huge supporter of my book blogging endeavors. I love you so much! Happy Birthday! I hope this next year brings everything you could wish for.

Today is a traditional end-of-year post: my top ten favorite books that I read in 2021! These are all books that I read for the first time in 2021 (no re-reads included), and they are all books that I rated five stars. They are my absolute favorites of the year, the ones that really stuck with me and meant a lot to me.

Why top ten?

I always think it’s good to put some thought into common practices, and interrogate them a little. I did choose to do a top ten list partly because it’s traditional. One thing I try to do on my blog in general, and especially during blogmas, is to highlight good books that I loved and that I think deserve recognition. But I want the purpose of a post like this to be to share the books that I really truly connected with, the ones that mean the most to me. As I was curating this list, I realized that to have anything more than a top ten would mean I would stray into books that while I loved, didn’t necessarily connect with me on a deeper level.

I also want to say that although I am ranking within the top ten, some of it is a little facetious. While my numbers one and two are definite, 3-4 are about the same, 5-7 are about the same, and 9-10 are about the same (8 is just about where it needs to be). They are in a rough order of preference, but ultimately I loved all of these books.

An image of blue flowers on a white background.

10. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land, and more specifically the audiobook version, completely blew me away. It is such a beautifully written coming-of-age book. Plus, I am always a sucker for books about sisters. I just think it’s a beautiful book that I have already recommended to so many people.

9. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

This is the second of three books on this list that I listened to on audiobook. This is important because I had to keep pausing and skipping back so I could write things down! Sister Outsider is a compilation of some of the best ideas of Audre Lorde. So much of what she has to say is so important. If you are at all interested in feminism, queerness, race, or activism, you should read this book.

8. The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould

The Dead and the Dark was such a fun book for me to read! I go into lots of details of my favorite parts in my review, but I thought the writing was so atmospheric, and I was kept in suspense the whole time! It was a total page turner that I loved reading.

7. Emma by Jane Austen

I am a sucker for Jane Austen novels. This was the second Austen I read for the first time this year, and I absolutely loved it. As is usual with Jane, Emma was funny with lots of dry humor, and it had a great romantic confession. It isn’t a fast read by any means, but it was totally worth it.

6. Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

As previously mentioned, I read all three Brown sisters books this year and loved them all. Get a Life, Chloe Brown was actually the last of the three that I read, and it was also my favorite. I related to Chloe a lot, which definitely meant I connected with her more. This is one of those romance novels that I am bound to come back to.

5. The Woman who Smashed Code by Jason Fagone

A nonfiction book! In my top ten books of the year?! You bet. This book is a biography of Elizabeth Smith Friedman, who, along with her husband William Friedman, pioneered the field of code breaking. Code breaking has fascinated me for a long time, so the topic was definitely special to me. I was so grateful for this book to learn about Elizabeth and her life, because she was such an incredibly woman. This book is a biography, a love story, and an adventure.

4. Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour

I first fell in love with Nina LaCour’s books last year, and this book cemented that. Watch Over Me pulled me out of a reading slump, was good enough for me to read twice, and also made me realize that my book type is “people healing from trauma.” Based on other people’s mixed reviews, I know it isn’t for everyone. But it is a beautifully haunting book that touched me so deeply that I’m not about to stop recommending it.

3. The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

Is it cringy to have a John Green as one of my favorite books in 2021? Probably, I don’t care. As a regular listener of The Anthropocene Reviewed podcast, I knew I was going to like this book, but I didn’t realize just how amazing it was going to be. It is both an existentialist and hopeful look at humanity and human existence. Green sees the wonder and the beauty of our human-centered planet, while also acknowledging the ways in which we fall short as a society. I don’t know how many more times I can use the word beautiful in this post, but it is a beautiful collection of essays that I highly recommend to anyone.

2. One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

God, this book is just so important to me. It made me laugh, shout, and cry. McQuiston does such a great job of capturing that space on the brink of adulthood where everything is messy and uncertain, but also filled with possibilities. I related to August’s character so much, she is just so important to me. I just love it a lot. I love it so much that I still can’t form coherent thoughts about it.

1. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

THIS BOOK. I thought about this book for literal months after I finished it. It was constantly on my mind, which is a sign of a great book. It is such a compelling story. What really makes it work are all of the characters. I could really see their motivations, and Bennett made me care so much about all of them. It is a story about love and life, one that I think is so important. I cannot recommend The Vanishing Half enough.

An image of blue flowers on a white background.

What were your favorite books of 2021? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear your thoughts! Thanks as always for reading, and I will see you tomorrow for another day of blogmas!

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