At the end of each month we talk about our favorite reads, so it is only fitting that we wrap up 2021 by talking about our favorite reads from the year! We each narrowed it down to our Top 8 reads of the year for y’all. Fun fact, since we both read over a 100 books technically it makes these our Top 5% of reads for 2021.
Check out favorite books of 2020 here.
I feel like every time I write a post like this, I always go “Wait, I read THAT, THIS year??” over and over again. But I guess books I read in January 2021, were technically read 365 days ago…Oof. Time, what a concept. Anywas, 2021 was filled with a lot of rereads, series reads, and middle-of-the-road reads. So, it was pretty easy to pick out which stories were my favorites! These are also mostly listed in order read, so not like, ranked.
I remember being truly blown away by this read, especially since it was a middle grade novel. This book was definitely my first favorite of the year, and I took it as a good omen. It smacks of Kiki’s Delivery Service, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I loved all the new-witch-on-her-own vibes, and I’m quite excited to follow up with Eva in the sequel, Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch.
From the story, to the characters, to the setting, I thoroughly loved everything about his book. I especially loved how absolutely adorable Liz & Mack were! After this promising debut, I’m very excited to pick up Leah Johnson’s sophomore novel, Rise to the Sun. Especially since the same narrator came back to record this book too!
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
OOF. My messy boys!! I honestly don’t remember much about this book expect the humor had me CRACKING UP. Like, every page. It was really bad. Anyways, I was at first anxious that this romance novel got a direct sequel book (two actually???) but now I miss Luc and Oliver so much I am willing to risk it for more sassy biscuit!
NICK & CHALIE!!!! AHHHH. (Also) MY BOYS!! So soft, so cute! I think I read each published volume of these 3 times beginning-to-end before my library loan was up. So If that say any thing at all, it’s that you should definitely pick up these extremely cute slice-of-life LGBTQIA+ webcomic-turned-graphic novels!!
Another book that kept me chuckling the entire way through! Basically up until I started reading this book, I thought the whole “accidentally stumbling into a college Improv night and making it your new personality even though you’re still secretly in High School” couldn’t be pulled off in any mean un-cringey means. But thankfully I was wrong and it turned out to be hilarious. The only cringey part was Izzy’s possessive, gaslighting boyfriend, but he gets his just desserts.
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
I absolutely binged this book!! I’d been waiting for its publication for what felt like a decade, but I guess the wait was worth it because it did not disappoint. I’m so happy that Quan finally got his love story (& his happy ending)! I can’t wait to see what Helen Hoang will write, and which characters will get a book, next!
This book turned my brain to literal goo and I could not form a single thought other than “AHHHHHHHHHH” upon finishing it. I also read it in less than a day so my detail retention is not great. That just means I get to reread it sooner!!! Woooh!
So I’ve come to realize I’ve been a grumpy x sunshine stan all along and just never knew that was the label/trope/term until I saw it all over this book. Also this audiobook was narrated by the same person who narrated the Wall of Winnipeg & Me (and all of Mariana Zapata’s other books), so I was immediately appeased and pleased to be in such good company lol.
Honorable Mentions: The Inheritance Games, The Hawthorne Legacy, A Good Day for Chardonnay (Sunshine Vicram #2), All the Feels (review), Act Your Act, Eve Brown (Tree’s review), Take a Hint, Dani Brown (Tree’s review), & my annual reread of The Folk of the Air series.
This is not in a specific order (does anyone ever post their favorites in an order?). Anyways. 2021 was a very good reading year for me and I had to whittle this down from a top 17 and then a top 13 to a top 10 to a top 8. You can see my top ten on my bookstagram here.
Honestly I have no idea why I loved this slow character driven novel about two siblings so much. Not much happens, but at the same time a lot happens because we follow their entire lives. This story stuck we me all year and not just because Tom Hanks narrates the audiobook. I also adore this cover and it’s significance to the story.
The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke #1) by Tessa Dare
Obsessed with this historical romance novel. Like so much so that I bought a signed copy that I will probably never read since I own the ebook version which I have highlighted so much. There is just something about the trope of a person who believes that they cannot be loved and then someone comes in and is determined to love them so hard. This is also hilarious. If you have never read a historical romance this is a good one to start which since the history isn’t too dense.
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
Nonfiction – Feminism/Social Issues
First of all, the audiobook for this one is great and it is read by the author. I learned a lot from this book and it changed the way I thought about a few things which is what I look for in nonfiction books. I ended up buying a copy that I plan on rereading and marking up because there were so many good quotes that I wanted to remember.
I adored this novel so much. It’s a loose “You’ve Got Mail” retelling which I watched after reading this. (I did not like it, does not age well, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are perfection, wow second Tom Hanks mention in this wrap up. Even though it was marketed as a romance it touched on so many important topics like family, being the child of immigrants, culture, being a young twenty-ish person, and more. I ended up buying a copy before I even finished reading my ebook from the library. I also recommend this episode of Fated Mates if you want a more in depth discussion on the book.
Look no one should be surprised this is on my list. I don’t even know what to say about this one that I have not already said
as I mentioned this in almost all our end of the year posts and cannot do a book tag without name dropping this one. I’ve very chill about this one. Clearly.
If I had to pick one I would say I liked volume two more than volume one. Another book(s) I won’t shut up about. This graphic novel series is so wholesome and just good. I am not a hockey fan and yet these hockey bros were one of the best things to happen to me in 2021. Also, the ship is too cute (I resisted until all caps because I’m a professional). I laughed, I cried, I had a blast with these. Also, follow my friend Jordan who recommended these to me because she has great recommendations.
I thought I left my John Green phase back in 2012 and now this man owns me more than he ever did. It’s hard to describe why I loved this weird collection of reviews that are hilarious, heartfelt, and just heartbreaking. I listened to this on audio and Green reads it and his emotion seeps into each essay. Also, he has a podcast of the same name and some of the essays originated as podcast episodes. If you’re unsure about this one, give a few of those a listen and you’ll see the vibe of the book.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Nonfiction – Race/History/Criminal Justice
I saw the film with Michael B. Jordan before I read the book which I thought worked pretty well since the film focuses on one specific case and the book focuses on Stevenson’s life and his work with the Equal Justice Initiative. I listened to the audiobook which Stevenson narrates. All I can say about this one is, read it… and I almost cried on a plane while listening to it. The work Stevenson has dedicated his life to is so important and I am grateful I finally read this one.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds; Illustrated by Danica Novgorodoff
Graphic Novel – Fiction
I read Long Way Down last year, but I read the graphic novel for the first time this year and it was gorgeous. This is a novel in verse about a boy who has to make a tough decision and is confronted by ghosts from his past. It’s raw and emotional. I loved the original version, since I love anything Jason Reynolds writes, but the art added another layer of emotion to the story. It is also just stunning to begin with.
What were your top reads of 2021?
xoxo, Bree & Tree