Happy New Year, everyone!
I hope you’ve all had a great start into 2022, and to make that start even greater, I am here with a list of absolutely wonderful books that you simply have to read!!!!!
(I know, that was a flawless transition, wasn’t it? 🙃)
I’m not kidding – 2021 was possibly THE greatest reading year of my entire life. Even though I was only able to finish my Goodreads Reading Challenge by deviously cheating and lowering my goal by 20 books on December 31st, I actually read way more page-count-wise than in previous years, and I also encountered so many amazing books that, for the first time ever, I did not manage to fit all of my five-star reads into my favorites list! Like, what?! 🤯 How did this even happen?
Anyway, excluding rereads, I read a total of 87 books in 2021, and today, I will be sharing my top twelve with you.
(At least sort of. I’m cheating by squeezing a series into my number two spot; but this is my blog, so I make the rules! 😜)
Why twelve, you ask? Well, because it was absolutely impossible to narrow the list down to ten books. Twelve already just about killed me, so you’re just going to have to deal with it. Besides, there are twelve months in a year, so a top twelve list totally makes sense, right? Just see it as a list of monthly recommendations for 2022.
But before I talk too much, let’s get started! As always, the closer the books are to the top of the list – where even those treacherous few of you who don’t want to read the whole post are sure to see them – the more I loved them! 🤗
🦉 My Favorite Books of 2021 🦉
#1 The Betrayals by Bridget Collins
Are you surprised? Seeing that I haven’t been able to stop gushing about The Betrayals ever since I first listened to the audiobook, I’m guessing not 😂
A slow and mysterious dark academia novel set at a prestigious academy in an alternate history version of Europe, The Betrayals snares you in with its complex characters, intriguing world-building, and the variety of societal questions it poses. Set against a horrifyingly dark political backdrop, it includes new spins on some of my favorite tropes of all time, a slow burn romance that I couldn’t get enough of, and is heavily influenced by music, mathematics, and philosophy.
By now, I’ve acquired my own physical copy, reread it multiple times, and am still of the opinion that this is one of the best books I’ve ever crossed paths with. I love absolutely everything about it! 🥰
#2 The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
I didn’t think it was possible that Brandon Sanderson could ever write a series I would love more than Mistborn, but The Stormlight Archive has proven me completely wrong – I AM OBSESSED!!!
Roshar is one of the coolest high fantasy worlds I have ever come across, with a fascinatingly mysterious and complicated history, an utterly unique magic system, and a ton of politics that had me glued to the edge of my seat. But the biggest reason I love this series so much are its characters 😍 Dalinar’s idealism, Adolin’s puppy-like cheerfulness, Renarin’s quiet thoughtfulness, Jasnah and Navani’s love for science, Shallan’s determination, Pattern and Syl’s never-ending sense of amazing spren humor, and, of course, Kaladin in all his broody brokenness, won me over completely, and I just can’t get enough!!! Words of Radiance in particular has definitely earned its spot among my all-time favorites 🥰
#3 Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
AXFDASGXWQQASFY!!! My nerdy math- and language-loving heart just about burst when reading this book!! 🤩😍🤩
Following an astronaut on a solo-mission to save humanity from an alien threat, Project Hail Mary has a ton of drama, a ton of action, and, best of all, a ton of science. But, even better, it has one of the coolest friendships I have ever read about! It has a super-secret character whom I love more than any other non-Kaladin character I’ve read about in a while, and I probably would have given this book five stars just for their sake 🥰
Is Project Hail Mary a bit unrealistic? Kinda 😂 But I still adore it from the bottom of my heart.
#4 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
(read in May)
To Kill a Mockingbird took me completely by surprise. After all the whining I’d heard from people who had to read this for school, I was expecting a somewhat dry, maybe even boring classic that was mostly known for the themes it explored.
Instead, I got a beautifully nuanced tale about right and wrong and growing up in a country divided by race. A story that made me simultaneously glad that I no longer lived in the American South and horribly homesick. A novel with beautifully lyrical writing told from the perspective of a head-strong eight-year-old.
To Kill a Mockingbird was, for a lack of better words, simply amazing, and I highly recommend that everyone go read it! 🤗
#5 A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Did A Little Life utterly destroy me and leave me in a sobbing mess of a book hangover? Yes. Yes, it did.
I now understand why everyone who has read this story about four college friends growing up in New York says it is the saddest book of all time. Its cover is a very accurate representation of how I felt while reading it, because even though I very rarely cry over books, this book left me in a flood of tears. Multiple times.
So obviously, there was no way in hell that I wasn’t putting it on this list 😂😭
#6 Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
(read in December)
A gorgeously enchanting Rumpelstiltskin retelling with a Slavic twist, this book absolutely took my breath away. There were so many things that I loved about it – from the lyrical writing, the wintery fairy-tale atmosphere, the characters, the wonderful family relationships and friendships, the different cultural influences, to the underlying political commentary – that naming all of them would be impossible.
This story was unlike anything I’d read before – though in terms of atmosphere, it did remind me a lot of the Winternight trilogy, which took the number one spot in my favorites list last year 🥰 – and I highly recommend you go check it out yourself to discover all of the amazingness it has to offer!
#7 Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
(read in December)
Yup, Brandon Sanderson made the list with multiple books this year. But what am I supposed to do when everything the man writes is so ingeniously good?
A YA science fiction novel following a girl trying to escape her father’s dark legacy, Skyward is full of action, suspense, and some of the most wonderful friendships I’ve read about in a long time. There are lies, multiple mysterious pasts, evil aliens, a ton of training scenes, sentient spaceships, a grumpy mentor character, and lots of deaths in this one, and if that doesn’t convince you to read it, I don’t know what will 🥰
#8 The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
(read in December)
The House in the Cerulean Sea is the bookish equivalent of sitting next to a warm fireplace with a mug of hot chocolate and a cozy blanket while watching a thunderstorm rage outside your window. Although the world this book is set in is anything but welcoming, the story itself is so heartwarming and enchantingly written that I couldn’t help but fall in love with it.
An adult novel with a distinctly middle-grade feel, it follows case worker Linus Baker, who is sent to inspect an orphanage full of magical children and report on whether or not it should remain open. Everything about this book, from the wonderful characters, their endearing relationships, to poignant questions it posed, stole my heart completely, and I just know I’m going to be rereading it time and time again 🥰
#9 The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
(read in August)
Knowing how tragically Anne Frank’s life ended, I was expecting her diary to be hard-hitting, but I wasn’t expecting to be so completely and absolutely drawn into it.
Because, boy, Anne Frank could write! I was immediately invested in the daily lives of everybody living in the “achterhuis”, astounded at depth of Anne’s thoughts and at how well she could express them, and I related to so many of the things she wrote.
And, even though I knew what was coming, the ending absolutely destroyed me. It was a horrifying reminder of how much pointless hatred, suffering, destruction, and death can be caused when nationalism spirals out of control and is one of the most eye-opening accounts of the Holocaust that I’ve ever read. Everybody, in my opinion, should read this diary.
#10 Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore
As the sequel to Bitterblue, one of my favorite books of all time, Winterkeep was by far my most anticipated release of 2021. And it did not disappoint!
Although I do still like Bitterblue significantly more, this installment in the Graceling series had me drooling over the lyrical writing, bawling my eyes out over the feelings of a fox, deeply invested in the politics of a post-industrial society in a steampunk-inspired world, and over the moon to see some of my favorite characters again. In my opinion, this series is some of the best YA fantasy out there, and I highly recommend you go check it out!
#11 The Binding by Bridget Collins
(read in April)
With this beautifully lyrical tale of a farmer’s boy in a world where books are considered profoundly sinister, Bridget Collins has also managed to secure her second spot on this list. Since part of what is so wonderful about The Binding is figuring about what it is about, I’m not going to get any less vague than that, but just trust me on that you have to read it! Like The Betrayals, it’s wonderfully atmospheric, and the characters, though thoroughly flawed, are people you can’t help but fall in love with 🥰
#12 Dunkelnacht by Kirsten Boie
(read in May)
I think this is the first time since I’ve started blogging that a German book has made my favorites list – but Kirsten Boie’s Dunkelnacht 100% deserves it.
One of the most horrifying stories I’ve ever read, this novella is based on true events that took place in a small Bavarian town between April 28th and 29th, 1945, right after the news broke that the Americans had invaded Germany. From multiple perspectives that couldn’t be more different, it shows a village divided by hope and hatred, by idealism and humanity. Rather than the “all Germans were Nazis that popped out of their mothers’ wombs as purely evil monsters” perspective that absolutely infuriates me about a lot of WWII historical fiction, Dunkelnacht gives you a much more realistic and nuanced picture of the situation that, if possible, makes everything that happened in our past even more terrifying and tragic.
This book is gruesome and the events portrayed beyond horrifying, but if you speak German, I highly recommend you go read it.
And that, my friends, were my top twelve reads of 2021! Before I sign off, though, I quickly want to give a shoutout to some absolutely amazing books that very narrowly didn’t make the list but still very much deserve to be read:
What can I say? 🤷♀️ I just read a bunch of good stuff this year and am keeping my fingers crossed for that streak to continue in 2022!
Also, in case you’d like to check out any of my favorites from previous years, you can find those here:
But anyway, let me know down below what your favorite book of 2021 was, and whether or not you’ve read any of my favorites yourself! I’d love to exchange opinions, especially since all of these are books I simply can’t shut up about!!!
Other than, I’ll see you on Friday with my worst books of last year – so prepare yourself for some heavy ranting 😂