It is FINALLY time (almost too late, but we’ll roll with it) to talk about what I thought were my best and worst reads of 2021. 2021 was a really good reading year for me, a solid pack of books to choose from. I read a total of 97 books with an average rating of 3.7, which I think is pretty good. I had initially set a reading goal of 50 books, knowing that I would read closer to 100, and while I was a little bummed, I didn’t hit that 100, the second half of the year presented a slight change to my mindset and reading goals.
For 2022 I’m not setting a reading goal, because I just want to read what I want to read, when I want to read it. I’ll track what I read and note it, but I don’t want to do much more than that. Even if it’s supposed to be a fun thing (or a tracking thing), I find that without realizing it, there is a pressure on your reading. So, we’re just taking all that pressure away. I still plan on doing monthly reading recaps because I think that’s just the best/easiest way to share my reads with you, but there may not be too many stats in those anymore. Ok, brief interlude re: 2022 aside, let’s look back at 2021.
So, how do I determine what is “best” and what is “worst”. It’s simple, just what I think were some of my reading highlights of the year and some of my reading lows. I find that if we get too much into the semantics of it all at the outset it gets too complicated. I’ll give a brief explanation of what worked or didn’t work for me with each book that I mention, but you won’t find me splitting out disappointing OR overhyped from bad OR enjoyed for pleasure vs well written. Basically, I’m scrolling through all the books I read in 2021 and noting what stands out. Trying to simplify things across the board moving forward for everyone’s sake
Best Books of 2021
The Golem and The Jinni by Helene Wecker – I LOVED this book. I really truly do, and I feel like this is one of those books that I would recommend to those who love Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Erin Morgenstern, any author who loves flowery language, describing little moments and day to day, and using words in a manner befitting a writer. This also just placed Jewish life at the forefront, in a day to day setting that I hadn’t read before.
The Troop by Nick Cutter – This book solidified that the way to well and truly freak me out is through body horror…and I loved that feeling.
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson – I’ve been putting this off for a while, thinking of how much I’ve loved his stuff, but this was different than that and I didn’t want to mess with the good thing I had going with Sanderson. Boy did I not need to have that fear. This is Sci-fi, but it holds the excellent storytelling and world building that Sanderson does so you don’t feel like you’re out in the middle of space with no clues.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller – I mean, I think this has topped everyone’s list who has ever read it. I would highly recommend reading it, would almost say it should be required reading, but please note the themes and content as it could be triggering for some. Truly incredible, angering, and heartbreaking, but also a show of strength, of courage, of standing strong in the face of those who would brush you aside.
The Royals Next Door by Karina Halle – This was just a fun one that solidified exactly what I like in “romance” stories. Looking forward to seeing not only what this author publishes next, but also what else this “royal/royal adjacent” genre can offer.
Worst Books of 2021
Luxe by Anna Godberson- To be quite honest, I debated on whether to actually include this in my list because I am quite clearly not the intended audience, BUT even if I was…it’s still not great. Like there are so many other “societal melodramas” that could be read instead of this that would accomplish the same thing and do it better. This was just not it.
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner – This was a disappointment more so than a bad book. I just had really high hopes for this to sweep me off my feet, into a different time and place, but instead it felt clunky and flat the entire way through. Definitely a debut, definitely lacking some editor insight in terms of 3 dimensional characters and storytelling.
Answered Prayers by Truman Capote – I mean, this was just garbage that I wish I hadn’t wasted my time on. That’s all I need to say.
HM- As Good as Dead by Holly Jackson – I’m including this as an honorable mention as I didn’t actually finish this (with good reason), but it was just incredibly off putting and disappointing. I felt like our main character was acting so beyond out of character that it wasn’t even off character for her (where an author can have a character be out of character due to circumstances). It just…wasn’t even worth the 100 pages I attempted to read.
And that’s it for 2021! I could have probably talked about so many other books, but I really just wanted to showcase some of the ones that stood out to me upon review. Tell me, what were some of your favorite reads of 2021? Any least favorites?