As the year winds down, I always love looking back at the books that I’ve read and sharing some of my favorite books of 2021. I read a lot (well, I listen to a lot of books. I read with my ears instead of my eyes). So, for me to recommend a book, it has to be a stand out, as they all tend to blend together.
I’ve read 60+ books this year – not my best in terms of number, but great in that I found some real gems that I enjoyed and are worth sharing. I would love to hear books that you’ve read that have stuck with you – I’m always on the lookout for some new ones. This post contains some affiliate links.
There are more books to share than I was able to fit into my graphic, so stick with me here! Sometimes it’s hard to choose favorites.
If you are a fan of The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell (another favorite of mine), you’ll love The World Played Chess. Not that the books are the same in terms of subject matter, but Robert Dugoni is a wonderful storyteller, who shares complex characters that you are sad to see go when you finish reading his books. This book is a coming of age story in many ways – the story of an 18 year old boy growing up in 1979, who meets a Vietnam vet who suffers from PTSD. Take a journey into both of their lives – it’s an incredible read that sticks with you.
The Memory Box is the fourth book from Kathryn Hughes, and I’ve read (and loved) all of them. She is an amazing storyteller, and if you listen to the audiobooks like I do, the narration is top notch. It is a story that falls into the historical fiction category, and is a story that looks back at the life of an elderly Jenny, who takes one last trip back to Italy to revisit her past and make peace with it. A great story with intriguing characters, and unexpected twists along the way. I promise you, my description does not do this book justice.
The Push is a hard one to explain in that it’s dark, compelling and one that I finished in a matter of a couple of days. In this case, I’m going to leave it to Amazon’s book description, because it’s a hard one to wrap your head around when you describe it to others.
“Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had.
But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter – she doesn’t behave like most children do.
Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity, and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well.
Then their son Sam is born – and with him, Blythe has the blissful connection she’d always imagined with her child. Even Violet seems to love her little brother. But when life as they know it is changed in an instant, the devastating fall-out forces Blythe to face the truth.
The Push is a tour de force you will listen in a sitting, an utterly immersive novel that will challenge everything you think you know about motherhood, about what we owe our children, and what it feels like when women are not believed.”
It had me and my friends talking about it with lots of questions and conversations, which is always a good thing.
I loved Mary Jane in the sense that it offered such a great sense of nostalgia (taking place in the late 1970’s), coupled with a good story of a young girl from a strict family, who works as a nanny for the summer for a family that are more on the hippie side of the coin. Two very different households, but her experience as a nanny involves the father (a psychiatrist), bringing a famous rock star patient (and his also famous wife) to live with them so he can treat the rock star’s addiction. It’s fun, a great story, and a taste of the simpler life of the past that really resonated with me.
This book is beautifully narrated, which really adds to the story as a whole. It’s about an elderly woman, Eudora, set to schedule the end of her life with an appointment in Switzerland. She then meets 10 year-old Rose, who becomes an unexpected friend filled with light, life and humor. They both learn from each other in more ways that you can count, and the journey is nothing other than remarkable. So sweet, sometimes heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once.
This book is a sequel to The Kitchen House, which is also excellent. Sometimes sequels can be a letdown, but let me tell you, this one is not. If anything, it’s as good, if not better than the first one. This book follows Jamie, son of a slave and the master of the plantation where he lives. He passes for being white, living as a white man, but there are threats to him being exposed. There is so much more to this story – so many well developed and beloved characters. Again, another great story here. I can’t say enough good things about both of these books.
This book falls outside what I typically read, but it was really good and very interesting. It’s written by the same author who wrote The Martian, if that gives you a little bit of insight on the genre. Filled with humor, mind bending science, (without being too science-y for us non-scientists), this book goes deep into life in outer space. It is a compelling story that amounts to saving the world. It’s worth stepping out of your comfort zone for this book.
This book follows the life of Cyril Avery, born in 1940’s Ireland, adopted by an eccentric couple who always remind him he’s not a “real Avery”. The book follows chronicles his search for identity, home, and country, and his character is one that you come to love. I didn’t realize it until now, but the author, John Byrne, also wrote The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which is also an amazing book/movie.
This story captivated me from the start, as it pulls back the veil on the culture and lives of women where silence and oppression is the norm . It’s the story of a young Palestinian girl whose father chooses her husband. Married and living in Brooklyn with her in-laws, she is hopeful that her life may be different in America. This book gives you an intimate view into the lives and dynamics of these women, these families and the culture of silence and shame that goes with it.
If you read this book, I highly recommend listening to the audiobook, because Matthew McConaughey’s voice adds so much to the character and telling of the stories of his life. He is down to earth, shares an interesting upbringing, and brings so much humor and heartfelt passion when it comes to his work and his family.
I would love to hear some of your favorite books of 2021 (or favorite books in general for that matter). I love to read, and am always on the lookout for new reads that might not be in the mainstream (those are actually my favorite kind of books).
If you missed some of my favorites from year’s past, you can find them here: