2021 Book List
I love to read.
I love to read almost as I love to make quilts.
Actually one of my favorite things to do is to make quilts while I listen to a book.
Below is a list of the books that I read in 2021 as well as which reads were my favorites and least favorites.
If you are looking for a new book to read peruse the list….and then watch for a post later this week about Simple Simon’s 2022 Monthly Reading Challenge…it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for ever and this year is finally the year!
I keep trying to think of an awesome name for the reading challenge dealio…but right now all I’ve got is “Simple Simon’s Year Long Book Suggestion Extravaganza”….and let’s face it…that is a terrible name. Simon, my son in high school, is here next to me as I type this and his names are just as bad…his best suggestion is “Reading Challenges with Mixed Characteristics”. Obviously we need to keep thinking.
So while I think…check out the list of my reads from 2021:
#1. “Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice” by Brene Brown (NF)
#2. “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” by Seth Grahme-Smith (F)
#3. “Words on Fire” by Jennifer A. Nielsen (YAF)
#4. “A Tale Dark and Grimm” by Adam Gidwitz (YAF)
#5. “Make Your Bed” by Admiral H. McRaven (NF)
#6. “Bad Ass Habits” by Jen Sincero (NF)
#7. “Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country” by Sierra Crane Murdoch (NF)
#8. “Searching for Sunday” by Rachel Held Evans (NF)
#9. “Once Upon a Marigold” by Jean Ferris (YAF)
#10. “You Are A Bad Ass Everyday” by Jen Sincero (NF)
#11. “Smarter Faster Better” by Charles Duhigg (NF)
#12. “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” by Michelle McNamara (NF)
#13. “10% Happier” by Dan Harris (NF)
#14. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelo (F)
#15. “Apple Blossom the Possum” by Holly Goldberg Sloan (YAF)
#16. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens (F)
#17. “The Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes (NF)
#18. “Dare to Lead” by Brene Brown (NF)
#19. “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg (NF)
#20. “Wish Tree” by Kathleen Applegate (YAF)
#21. “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith (F)
#22. “The Forgetting Place” by John Burley (F)
#23. “The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had” by Kristin Levine (YAF)
#24. “I Feel Bad About My Neck” by Eudora Ephron (NF)
#25. “The Wild Robot” by Peter Brown (YAF)
#26. “The Road to Jonestown” by Jeff Guin (NF)
#27. “Joyful” by Ingrid Fetell Lee (NF)
#28. “The Strangers” by Margaret Peterson Haddix (YAF)
#29. “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne (NF)
#30. “Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus” by Dusti Bowling (YAF)
#31. “The Guest List” by Lucy Foley (F)
#32. “Death on the Nile” by Agatha Christie (F)
#33. “I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President” by Josh Lieb (YAF)
#34. “Fish in a Tree” by Linda Mullaly Hunt (YAF)
#35. “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert (NF)
#36. “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz (NF)
#37. “City of Ghosts” by Victoria Schwab (YAF)
#38. “The Man Who Loved Books Too Much” by Allison Hoover Bartlett (NF)
#39. “Three Things About Elsie” by Joanna Cannon (F)
#40. “Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer” by Kelly Jones (YAF)
#41. “Ghost” by Jason Reynolds (YAF)
#42. “The Wild Robot Escapes” by Peter Brown (YAF)
#43. “Better than Before” by Gretchen Rubin (NF)
#44. “His Dark Materials” by Phillip Pullman (F)
#45. “Defending Jacob” by William Landay (F)
#46. “Sometimes I Lie” by Alice Feeney (F)
#47. “Small Spaces” by Katherine Arden (YAF)
#48. “The Death of Mrs. Westaway” by Ruth Ware (F)
#49. “Strangers on a Train” by Patricia Highsmith (F)
#50. “Dreamland Burning” by Jennifer Latham (F)
#51. “Home Before Dark” by Riley Sager (F)
#52. “The Lost Village” by Camilla Sten (F)
#53. “The Willoughby’s” by Louis Lowry (F)
#54. “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” by Margareta Magnusson (NF)
#55. “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey (NF)
#56. “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James (F)
#57. “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” by David Gran (NF)
#58. “The Last Mrs. Parrish” by Liv Constantine (F)
#59. “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (F)
#60. “The Woman in Cabin 10” by Ruth Ware (F)
#61. “Pet Sematary” by Stephen King (F)
#62. “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck” by Mark Manson (NF)
#63. “The Shadows” by Alex North (F)
#64. “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” by Iain Reid (F)
#65. “The Green Mile” by Stephen King (F)
#66. “Make Time” by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky (NF)
#67. “Room” by Emma Donoghue (F)
#68. “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty (F)
#69. “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides (F)
#70. “The Apartment” by S.L. Grey (F)
#71. “The Dead House” by Dawn Kurtagich (F)
#72. “Stillness is the Key” by Ryan Holiday (NF)
#73. “The Midnight Assassin” by Skip Hollandsworth (NF)
#74. “On Writing—A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King (NF)
#75. “America’s Femme Fatale: The Story of Serial Killer Belle Guiness” by Jane Simon Ammeson (NF)
#76. “Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson (NF)
#77. “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart (F)
#78. “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance (NF)
#79. “The Spider and the Fly” by Claudia Rowe (NF)
#80. “Grit” by Angela Duckworth (NF)
#81. “The Lost City of the Monkey God” by Douglas Preston (NF)
So…that’s the list! I really enjoyed most of the books. In fact I loved almost all of the Non Fiction reads and had a terrible time deciding which of them I liked best. But after much deliberation I narrowed it down to a top 7. 🙂
Below is a list of my favorite and least favorite reads from the list above:
Favorite YAF (Young Adult Fiction):
“Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus”:
Sweet and cute and wonderful….just read this book. I did. And then I read it with my girls…and they liked it too.
I read this book in two sittings…it is the story of a boy who is fast…really fast and claims a spot on his middle schools elite track team along with a few other kids, all with different backgrounds. The story is heartwarming and a good read.
“The Wild Robot”
My daughter’s class had started reading this in 4th grade but didn’t have time to finish it so we read it together here at home. It has a premise that I didn’t know if I would get into…a shipwrecked robot raising a goose…but we all fell in love with Roz and her son. In fact, we liked it so much that we ended up reading the next book, “The Wild Robot Escapes”, together as well.
Favorite F (Fiction):
“The Death of Mrs. Westaway”
This was the first book by Ruth Ware that I’ve read. It was well written and had an old school feel to it. It was clean and interesting and a good mystery. I liked it so much that I went out and read another one of her books… “The Woman in Cabin 10″…which I also enjoyed. Both books had great storylines and were perfect to listen to while sewing!
As soon as I finished this book I sent it to my brothers to read. I couldn’t put it down and had to talk to someone about it when I finished it up. I have heard that it has been made into a movie and/or a TV series but haven’t looked very far into it (the image I pulled for this post came from one or the other dramatization) however, I am not sure I will watch a version of the book…it was terrifying enough to have it unfold through the pages of the book.
Favorite NF (Non Fiction):
This is a the true story of a woman who takes it upon herself to solve a murder…but the story is more than about the murder. It details the lives of a cast of complicated people…tragic and sad…as well as life in an oil drilling camp. The story…and the people…and especially Lissa Yellow Bird…are are fascinating. Lissa has since had stories about her work featured on a few podcasts I’ve listened to. She is remarkable.
The subtitle reads: How I Tamed the Voices in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works—A True Story. Not only did I enjoy the “true story” but I enjoyed the authors journey to find what self help would eventually work for him. My brother suggested this book to me and I am glad that he did.
“I’ll Be Gone in the Dark”
This is a Non-Fiction read about the Golden State Killer. It was written by Michelle McNamara who sadly passed away before the Golden State Killer was finally identified and arrested. The only thing I don’t like is the forward…which was written by the woman who wrote “Gone Girl”. It’s lame and I am convinced she didn’t even take the time to read past the first chapter of the book. But just skip the forward and get to the rest!
“The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning”
Oh boy do I love this book! Written with wit, wisdom , and charm this gem is penned by Margaretta, a woman in her 80’s who knows what she is talking about! I can’t stop talking about it. The title sounds a tad grim but the book is practical, beautiful, and a wonderful read.
“The Midnight Assassin”:
If you were a fan of “Devil in the White City”, and I was, then you will like this book. It feels like the Texas version with the history, progress of the city, and writing style. Interesting and well written….even if the ending is…maddening.
It is always fascinating to look into another culture and see things through the perspective of someone else. I found this book incredibly interesting and am still digesting it.
I laughed out loud through most of this book. I laughed and cried and laughed until I cried as the author writes in a stream of consciousness style while talking about her experiences with depression, anxiety, and sleeping disorders. It was the book I didn’t know I needed. However, this endorsement comes with a warning…this book comes with a lot of language. So if you are sensitive to that, this isn’t the book for you.
“Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter”:
….ok so when I was making fun of a book I read last year several of you said I should read ALVH…and I was like no way it will be even worse than the one I just hated…and then it popped up as available and so I read it….and I can’t believe that I am saying this but…I totally enjoyed it! For reals. It was clever and fun and something I wouldn’t have ever chosen for myself. Thank you for the suggestions!
“I’m Thinking of Ending Things”:
Soooo…. I feel like I have read quite a few books this year that have been billed as having a twist at the end that you don’t see coming…but then you actually do see them coming. But this book…this book…I did not see what was coming! Not at all! It is unlike any break up story I have ever read. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t expound on the storyline but I will say this book can be disturbing and/or triggering and is not for everyone.
“The Forgetting Place”
…really really predictable. Like within the first chapter you know what the “twists” are….and you keep reading to see if maybe you are wrong but nope…just a score of foreshadowing chapters that end exactly where you knew they would.
“I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your President”
The cover looked great…the title is super fun….but the book itself was disappointing. There was a lot of potential there but most of the characters were unlikable and so was the story. My kids didn’t even make it to the end of the book with me.
I understand that this is a classic that has been around for many years and was recently made into a movie on Netflix….but I don’t understand the draw. My daughter read it in 7th grade and it bothered her so much that she kept asking me and asking me to read it…so my 5th grader and I read it. It made my 5th grader so frustrated…with the characters and the story and the ending that she wanted me to get rid of the book. The book is still on our shelf but I have to admit I found little in the book that was redeeming.
I love mystery, murder, and horror stories. I just do. But this one was terrible. However, if you like books where you rent a vacation home that makes you mysteriously start collecting human hair in your pockets, old ladies jump out of windows, you get a thing for road kill and then nothing wraps up or has any cohesive explanation then this is the book for you! Just remember to have your lint roller handy…and don’t open the windows.
“Where the Crawdad’s Sing”.
This is going to make me super unpopular since everyone loves this book….but I super hated it. The whole thing. The only redeemable characters were the old guy who bought the crawdads and his wife. I would say more but I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t read the story yet….although I wouldn’t recommend reading it.
Ok! So there you have it….my best and worst picks from 2021.
What did you read this year?
What were your favorite and least favorites? (Please share…I’m always looking for a new book to dive into!)
And stay tuned for our year long reading challenge!
Totally agree on “Where the Crawdads Sing”! I really hated it. I enjoyed your lists and will be referring back to it for some reads in the new year. Thank you!
All of my free time is consumed with reading school books so I will share a few of my favorites I read or listened to.. If you have accessed Librivox ever to listen to classics , you may know they have some great readers out there. I loved the Count of Monte Cristo. We read this over several months andthe narrator was fantastic. I also enjoyed reading Character is Destiny, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Up From Slavery. We are studying the Civil War era. Currently, we are reading Les Miserables, also an enjoyable read to listen to.