My Favorite Books of 2021

by - Thursday, January 06, 2022

Either 2021 was a ho-hum year of reading or I was really stingy with my book rankings on Goodreads this year. Typically I like to round up all the books I gave five stars in a year, and when I looked back at last year's post, I had a ton of five star books

This year, I only have a handful. 

Out of the 88 books I read, I only gave 11 of them five stars!

Books 2021

Here were my favorites from the year.

The PushThe Push by Ashley Audrain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book definitely lived up to the hype. It was a page-turning thriller where the whole time you have to figure out what is going on with the relationship between a mother and her first-born child. Is the child really as nefarious as the mother perceives her to be? Or is it all in the mom's head like her husband seems to think? This is the central question of the book as mysterious things keep happening and as the reader, you don't know if the narrator is reliable. Super fast and good read.

Survive the NightSurvive the Night by Riley Sager
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This audio book kept me great company on my long runs. It takes place mainly in one setting -- on a car ride from a college in New Jersey to a girl's hometown in Ohio. Charlie gets a ride with Josh who she meets through the ride share board at her school. She's leaving town because her roommate was killed. We aren't sure why Josh is leaving town, but he's a questionable character, and Charlie is stuck with him for hours. I definitely didn't see the twist coming right away, and I didn't want my runs to end so I could figure out how things would end.

Half LifeHalf Life by Jillian Cantor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book. It was really interesting and different, and it made you think about how the choices you make in life impact where you end up. This book tells the story of Marie Curie two different ways. In one version of her life, Marie is the woman we all know today, whose discovery of radium and polonium led to many of the advancements we have. That version of her life is a little bit fictionalized, but largely follows her true story. In the other version of her life, Marie never goes to France to study. Instead she marries and stays in Poland. This version is obviously completely fictional, but I love how the author pulls on threads from her real life to sprinkle through the fictionalized life. It's interesting to see how the two lives share similarities and where they were different. A good, thought-provoking book. Highly recommend.

The Midnight LibraryThe Midnight Library by Matt Haig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I liked this book not only for the story, but for how much it makes you think about what constitutes a "good life." As the main character waffles in a suspended state between life and death, she visits a library, where each book represents a different version of her life depending on the choices she made at the time. She can revisit old regrets and see if her life would have turned out differently if she'd made different choices. This book will definitely leave you thinking.

Concrete Rose (The Hate U Give, #0)Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved getting to know Maverick in The Hate U Give, so I was really excited when Angie Thomas decided to write a prequel focused on Maverick's late teen years. You see Maverick trying to balance fatherhood, school and his social life. Thomas captures his struggles and makes you want to cheer for him even when you know he's about to make a questionable decision. If you read The Hate You Give, you know how Maverick's story ends, so in this book it's fun to try to pick up the threads of the later story and see how he got to where he did.

The Sanatorium (Detective Elin Warner, #1)The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I couldn't put this book down, and every time I thought I had a hunch of who was guilty, the book took another twist and I was left questioning things again. Elin and her boyfriend set off for Le Sommet, a luxury resort set up in the mountains in a place that used to be a Sanatorium. She's there for her brother's engagement party. But after the first night his fiancee goes missing, and dead bodies start showing up. Police can't reach the hotel because of the snow, so Elin must use her police skills to figure out who is behind the murders and stop anyone else from dying. Highly recommend!

A Very Punchable FaceA Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Colin Jost on SNL, and I was really excited to listen to his audio-book. It was laugh-out-loud funny. As in, I was on a walk around the neighborhood and would have to hold back laughter so my neighbors didn't think the pandemic was making me become unhinged. This was one of the best comedian memoirs I've read in a long time.

The Good SisterThe Good Sister by Sally Hepworth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I could not put this book down and tore through it in two days mainly because I had to stop reading for work and sleep. This book tells the story of Rose and Fern and their unique relationship as twins. We get Rose's point of view through her journal entries and Fern's story is told in real-time. Rose has always looked out for Fern. Fern feels she needs Rose because Rose knows just how to help when noises get too loud, lights get too bright or clothes feel scratchy or constricting. But when Wally enters the scene and expresses interest in Fern, the sisters' dynamic changes and you realize that there's something a bit darker going on behind the scenes. While I saw the twist coming, I still couldn't wait to see how things resolved themselves at the end. Highly recommend for a fun and suspenseful read.

What Comes AfterWhat Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just couldn't put this book down. It was beautifully written, flipping between first person and third person narration for the two main characters -- letting you dive deep inside their minds. After the death of two teenage boys rocks a small town, the young girl who mysteriously appears could further tear things apart. This book examines how people try to move on after a tragedy and rebuild a semblance of a new life.

That SummerThat Summer by Jennifer Weiner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book really struck me, and while I found it started a bit slow, it wasn't long before I was sucked in and couldn't put it down. This book tells the story of two Dianas -- one is trying to cope with the trauma of being assaulted when she was 15, the other more broadly questioning how happy she is in her life as a stay-at-home mom with a small cooking business. For a while I struggled with how spineless the latter Diana was. So many times I wanted to shake her and be like don't put up with that nonsense. But over the course of the book, as the two women's lives intersect, they each have a profound effect on the other and you see them both grow.

Broke Millennial Takes on Investing: A Beginner's Guide to Leveling Up Your MoneyBroke Millennial Takes on Investing: A Beginner's Guide to Leveling Up Your Money by Erin Lowry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Five stars because I love a good personal finance book that is written in a conversational and easy-to-understand way. Investing is definitely the area of personal finance where I have the most to learn, and I appreciated that this book looked beyond 401K investing and covered topics like mirco-investing, cryptocurrency and other less traditional ways to be active in the market.

View all my reviews

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