January 30, 2022

Favorite Books of 2021

Is it already time for another book roundup? I feel like just a few weeks ago I was writing the 2020 roundup and here we are for 2021. In 2021 I read 75 books total. There were a lot this year that I started and then put down after a few chapters if I couldn’t get into them. Not to say I won’t pick them up in the future – but I really believe that the best way to be excited about reading is to read things you are enjoying. I read a lot more chick-lit this year and that feels understandable because I wanted things that felt light and funny. I also read a lot less historical fiction than I have in the past – not sure why that is, but I think it’s because historical fiction sometimes can feel really heavy and that was not what I needed in 2021. I needed things that made me laugh, things that were maybe even a little cheesy.

Since I heard that you guys liked the format of last year’s book blog – we’re doing it the same way. I think for the best “descriptions” on what each book is about, you’ll find that on Amazon or GoodReads. I’m just writing a few sentences on what the book is about or why I loved it. I tried to pick my favorites or the best books I read this year to let you know. Out of 75 – some of them were just not books I would recommend to a friend. Since I know this is already a long post to read – I don’t want to waste your time! So I tried to put some variety in genre, but also the books I would recommend!

Also! Since we’ve been married, Kyle has become a big reader, he almost read more books than me this last year. While each year we do read a few of the same books – he reads different genres than I do. I asked him to tell me his favorite books he read this year – those are at the bottom! Since I didn’t make him type out descriptions – I have him give you a rating – but you might enjoy some of his favorites also.

Also – every book is linked to make things easy if you are wanting to read any of these! They are affiliate links – so I might make a small commission if you purchase through them – but it does not change the price or experience for you – it also helps me see which books you guys are loving and what types of genres to recommend on social throughout the year! Happy shopping!

FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2021 : 

  • People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry
    • You all know I LOVED Emily Henry’s book “Beach Read” – I have given it as gifts so many times, and still think about it. Well, Emily’s second book “People We Meet On Vacation” did NOT disappoint. This book made me laugh, it was like the perfect chick lit book. Things get a little steamy, but I loved the story so so much. If you are looking for something that hooks you like a movie and also would be great for a weekend off or a vacation read – or a time where you really need your brain to be thinking about something else – pick this one up. I loved it and so have my girlfriends.
    • Recommended if you like : Chick Lit, The Movie “When Harry Met Sally”, travel, a little romance (things get a bit medium salsa). 
    • Rating : 10/10
  • The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
    • Kristin Hannah has written some absolutely incredible books. Two of my favorites are “The Nightingale” & “The Great Alone” are both on my 5-star book lists. This novel was right up there. To be honest it was not my favorite Kirstin Hannah book – but it is still worth a read! Set in the depression era – it is a story of resilience. It is tough to read, the things these people had to go through are brutal, but the story of strength and even how well she writes characters that you love and also hate – brilliant. Very well written, but also not a light read.
    • Recommended if you like : Historical Fiction, books that break your heart, stories about strong women.
    • Rating : 8.5/10
  • The Star Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman
    • This was a Book of the Month pick for me – so I really did not know what to expect. It sat on my shelves for a few months but WOW I am so glad I picked this one up to read. I absolutely loved it. I felt like I got to know the main character. There is a little spice, but not the main part of the book. A chick lit book with heart. I loved the story of this family, the family “curse” that has all second-born daughters never getting married, and the drama with wild Aunt Poppy!
    • Recommended if you like : The Movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, A Little Family Drama, Travel, Italy.
    • Rating : 8.5/10
  • I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
    • This book made me literally laugh out loud multiple times. Sophie Kinsella is the same author as “Confessions of a Shopoholic” and wowwww if you loved that movie/book, you will love this one. It’s a little cheesy, but in the best way. This would be a perfect beach read or vacation read. I really gravitate towards lighter books when life feels overwhelming because it feels like an escape. Funny, chick lit, romantic comedy.
    • Recommended if you like : A Chick Flick that might not happen in real life but that makes you laugh!
    • Rating : 8.5/10
  • Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
    • This is a young adult book but WOW I loved it. It was funny and quick, I really like how Emma Lord writes. Who doesn’t love a good teen love story/drama. Nothing overly serious. Think “Gossip Girl”, “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before”, “10 Things I Hate About You”. A Grilled cheese battle, great food references, NYC, teen crushes. A quick read.
    • Recommended if you like : Gossip Girl, The “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” Movies/Books, A Twitter War, Teen Drama
    • Rating : 8/10
  • Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis
    • I absolutely loved Lia Louis’ book “Dear Emmie Blue” – in fact I shared about it in last year’s book blog. So when I saw this book, I had to get it. Strangers caught in the same blizzard unable to go anywhere because the roads are closed who end up chatting and sharing a phone charger in one of their vehicles. But then they go their separate ways and will probably never see each other again…or will they?
    • Recommended if you like : The Movie “Serendipity”, A Classic Rom-Com, Stories about Fate
    • Rating : 8/10
  • The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan
    • This was a birthday gift from Kyle and wow he really knocked it out of the park. I had never heard of this book before he gifted it to me but it is one of my very favorites. Basically the stories of 4 different women who end up entering a “food competition” during the war where the focus is to make delicious food out of the rations available. It was fascinating to read about the things they made – but also I loved the stories of the women. I’ve read a lot of historical fiction, but I loved the focus of this one being on the people who remained at home when their husbands went off to fight in the war and their resilience in the midst of it all. Truly a great book! Also – I know some historical fiction can feel really heavy – but this one was medium heavy, not too much.
    • Recommended if you like : Historical Fiction, Cooking, Food Competitions, Strong Women & Friendship
    • Rating : 9/10
  • The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux by Samantha Verant
    • I love a book or movie about food. “Julie & Julia” is one of my all time favorite movies, and last year my favorite read was “Delicious!” by Ruth Reichl. I found this book by going down an Amazon rabbit hole and had never heard anything about it. It was delightful. Let’s just say Sophie is trying to work her way up as a chef in NYC but is sabotaged and loses her job. She then travels to France when she hears her grandmother has fallen ill. I loved this book, it wasn’t overly heavy. Maybe even a tiny bit cheesy. But truly if you are a fan of food, a little family drama, and restaurant culture – pick this one up.
    • Recommended if you like : Food/Cooking, The Movies “The 100 Foot Journey” or “Burnt”, stories about complicated families.
    • Rating : 10/10
  • Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl
    • Ruth Reichl is someone who has ended up on my book blogs the last 3 years. Her Novels “Garlic & Sapphires” & “Save Me The Plums” are two that I would definitely recommend. This was different than those in that it is a memoir and essays of her life growing up and as a young adult. She is an incredible writer, I read this one in an afternoon and would highly recommend if you’ve enjoyed her other books. She talks very candidly about her family and the struggles her mom had with mental health. Her life story is not all rainbows and unicorns, but I truly loved reading this one.
    • Recommended if you like : Memoirs, Food, Complicated Family Stories
    • Rating : 8/10
  • Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
    • Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll. This book sucked me in with the stories of the Riva family. 4 siblings plus the story flashes back to their parent’s and how they met/fell in love/etc. It gets wild, and let’s just say this probably would make a great movie or Netflix series. It was a super popular book this summer, so I would not be surprised if we see it on a screen sometime in the future. Because of the subject matter, I would say there are some graphic descriptions in the book – but in a way that made sense with the story. It’s messy, complicated, gritty, dramatic.
    • Recommended if you like : Drama, Complicated Family Stories, “Daisy Jones & The Six”, Music, stories about fame.
    • Rating : 8/10
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors by Alice Feeney
    • Let me tell you this is literally so different from books I normally read, but on a rainy weekend this winter I picked it up and COULD NOT put it down. It was creepy and weird and the way it was written felt like at the end of each chapter I couldn’t close the book. There was some violence, but I didn’t have to watch a Disney movie before falling asleep.
    • Recommended if you like : Creepy Thrillers, Mysteries, Sitting at the end of your seat.
    • Rating : 8/10
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
    • All I need to say – is that if you like the “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy or any of “The Hobbit” movies – this book is worth the read. I don’t know that I will read the whole LOTR series – but I am so glad I read this one. Not to be *that* person – but the book really is better than the movie.
    • Recommended if you like : Middle Earth, Gandalf, Bilbo Baggins, Stories about Magical Rings, Stories about Hobbits, lol.
    • Rating : 8/10
  • Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
    • William Kent Krueger is an incredible writer. I hope this makes sense – but in a way his books feel like they have been around for decades – even though these books have all come out in the last 10 years. It’s a story of a murder in a small town – and the people surrounding it. The character descriptions & development – those are the things he is best at. His writing is a work of art – it feels like you are reading a timeless novel like “East of Eden” by Steinbeck or “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. My parents loved this book, it was not a light read – but it was beautifully written.
    • Recommended if you like : “This Tender Land”, timeless novels, mysteries
    • Rating : 9/10
  • The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles
    • This one took me a few chapters to get hooked – but I really enjoyed it. I love Historical Fiction but haven’t read as much of it lately. This was one i would recommend. I also love where there are 2 storylines set in different time periods in the same book. One storyline from WW2 and also a current storyline.
    • Recommended if you like : Historical Fiction with a splash of romance, WW2, Books about Books
    • Rating : 9/10
  • Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens
    • I don’t need to give you a long explanation of this book – but let’s just say, It is a classic chick flick in book form. Easy to get into and a good mix for when you just want something that makes you laugh and probably has a happy ending. Not to spoil anything, but like – look at the cover, CUTE!
    • Recommended if you like : Chick Lit
    • Rating : 8.5/10
  • Forest of the Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel
    • The fact that this book is based on a true story broke my heart. If you love Historical Fiction, pick this one up. The story of a strong woman and the things people had to do during World War 2 to survive. The strength of these people, wow – incredible story. Took a little bit to get into, but stick with it, the story is worth it.
    • Recommended if you like : Historical Fiction, WW2, Strong Women, “The Book of Lost Names”, “The Nightingale”.
    • Rating : 8.5/10
  • The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
    • Okay I’ve seen this book everywhere – and while I loved that it was a thriller/mystery without being graphic or violent – at the end I felt kind of meh about it. I know that is a spicy take – people LOVE this book. But I was kind of underwhelmed. It is an intriguing thriller, but didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat.
    • Recommended if you like : Thrillers & Mysteries that aren’t graphic or full of gore
    • Rating : 6.5/10
  • Soundtracks by Jon Acuff
    • Quick Review : If you are an overthinker – order this book. Don’t overthink it.
    • Longer Review : I used to read a lot of business books and things classified as “self-help”. Not so much for the “self-help” aspect, but I wanted to know things that would help me when starting my business. I read a lot of books on communication, business, productivity, etc. But after a time I realized that just reading these types of books made me feel exhausted – because whenever I would pick up a book, I always felt like I had to be learning and then applying things to my life. It’s been a few years and while I still have read a few books that fall into this category – it is maybe 1 or 2 per year. This book is hands down one I think that every overthinker should read. Jon Acuff also wrote my favorite book on goals “Finish” – and the way that he combines actual research (he does a LOT of research) with stories from his own life and humor – it makes reading his books not feel like getting hit in the head with a brick of information. Truly loved this one and find myself thinking of it often in life.
    • Recommended if you : Are an Overthinker, Like Books with PRACTICAL advice you can actually apply to your life, are okay with a few cheesy one-liners.
    • Rating : 10/10
  • The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox
    • Like a Hallmark movie in a book – this story of two twins who switch lives for the 2 weeks leading up until Christmas is the right amount of cute and the perfect amount of cheesy. It was a great December read and I know it might be a while until the holidays, but keep this one in mind for next December. One sister is a host of a baking competition (think “The Great British Bake Off”) and the other is running their parent’s bakery back in the small town they grew up in. Fun, Light, Easy.
    • Recommended if you like : Hallmark Movies, Baking, Small Towns & Big Cities, Books about Christmas
    • Rating : 7.5/10
  • The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews
    • One more holiday recommendation because I REALLY leaned into reading this holiday season. I freaking loved this book. It was 100% a Hallmark movie. Recently divorced woman takes all of her money and buys a house she’s never seen in a town she’s never been? Probably would never happen in real life, but anything goes in a Christmas book. She finds out the people who used to live at the house loved Christmas and basically she gets thrown into upholding their traditions. Will she find her Mr. Clause? OMG how cheesy does this sound? SO CHEESY. but so good and it is a novella, only 200 pages, I read it in an afternoon.
    • Recommended if you like : Hallmark Movies. Literally, if you love a Hallmark movie – just buy this one.
    • Rating : 8.5/10
  • The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister
    • This book took me by surprise but I really enjoyed it. It kept me guessing and the whole premise of the book was fascinating. I’m not going to spoil anything for you – but when the book started, I had absolutely no idea what time period the book was written in. As it went on, I figured it out – but I wonder if I’m the first person. Some complex father/daughter relationships in the book, also.
    • Recommended if you like : “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah, Stories that sweep you up.
    • Rating : 8/10

Well – THAT was fun! These are my favorite books from 2020. I hope that you find some books that you love or books that you want to add to your list! I am hoping to read some more great books in 2021, and will definitely keep you updated on the ones that I like the most!

Kyle’s 2021 Favorite Books :

  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
    • Sci-Fi meets Contemporary Fiction. Kyle said it was funny but smart at the same time. Really funny character interactions. He said it was hilarious, smart, suspenseful – best sci-fi book he’s ever read.
    • Recommended if you like : “Anxious People”
    • Rating : 10/10
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
    • By now you’ve probably seen the Dune movie on HBO – Let’s just say, the book is worth the read.
    • Rating : 8/10

Did you read any books you loved in 2021? I’d love to hear! Comment below or send me a DM on Instagram!

Kels

To See my 2020 Favorite Books, check out this post from last year!

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