2021 book list

in a corner of our upstairs library

Here’s what I’ve read in the last twelve months.

If I had to pick standouts, I’d say: Kate Bowler’s book, My Broken Language, and The Paper Palace. What are your top reads of 2021? I’m planning a library run in the next day or two, and y’all know how much I love recommendations! (I’m currently reading Edward Snowden’s book, parts of which make for some great dinner table read aloud entertainment.)

Reference books I’ve used (heavily) but didn’t include in the list:

To the younger two kids, I’ve read Look Both Ways (I enjoyed this interview with author Jason Reynolds), The Inquisitor’s Tale, Out of My Mind (perhaps my fave), The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict, The Crucible (the audio), Word Nerd (another really good one), and Johnny Tremain. And last night we started Three Against the Wilderness, by Eric Collier.

For Christmas, we got our traditional updated copy of Guinness Book Records.

We also, last minute, picked up a collection of cutaway books from Costco.

My husband totally geeks out over these.

Happy reading, friends!

This same time, years previous: 2020 book list, 2017 book list, remembering Guatemala, giant sausage and leek quiche, one step above lazy (maybe), tomatoey potatoes and green beans.


  • Anna C.

    Given that most of the books on your read list aren’t of great interest to me, I doubt we have many overlapping interests. That being said, here are a few of my 2021 reads that I would recommend:

    1. What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon
    2. The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
    3. A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
    4. the Murderbot series by Martha Wells (I read the novellas last year and the novel this year)
    5. the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny (I read #16 & 17 this year)

  • Thrift at Home

    Ooooh, writing down the recommendations, thank you!

    Best reads of 2021 for me:
    House Lessons by Erica Bauermeister about renovating a house, midlife, and marriage. I was so disappointed when I read one of her novels, tho.
    The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee – nonfiction, so powerful and well written
    Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
    The Children’s Hour by Marcia Willet (I read a lot of her novels this year – beautifully written, nice medium tempo, realistic people – overall, modern British women novelists are my fave)

  • Janelle Myers-Benner

    Well, most of mine have a very common theme – stepping stones towards birth doula certification. 🙂 Now that we’re through reading Christy Harrison’s Anti-Diet book out loud together, we are looking forward to diving into Fearing the Black Body by Sabrina Strings in 2022!

  • mommychef

    The latest Kate Bowler, “No Cure For Being Human” doesn’t disappoint. Super insightful, if you like “Everything Happens”, you’ll probably like this one too. I really enjoyed “Sorrow and Bliss” by Meg Mason, there are not enough stories out there that deal with mental health. “Blood, Bones and Butter” by Gabrielle Hamilton…loved that one too. Her writing and recipes are both so good. Harrowing (but worth it) memoirs, “Stranger Care” by Sarah Sentiles and “Beautiful Country” by Qiang Julie Wang…oufffff to both, but like I said, worth it. Love you blog as always, amazed you can read so much, cater a beautiful wedding a week before Christmas and make cheese and blog too! You’re a wonder! Happy New Year!

  • Becky R.

    I read a lot of books this year (and last year) due to isolation and the pandemic. Here were my favorites:
    1. I loved A Town Like Alice (Neville Shute). This is an old book and is available as a Vintage Classic. Wonderful story based on a true one, never lags. My husband loved it as well.
    2. Cloud Cuckoo Land, very good, but not quite as good as As the Light We Cannot See IMO, both by Anthony Doerr.
    3. Southernmost by Silas House. I found this to be a well written novel on the effects of narrow- minded religious sects found in rural southern communities.
    4. The Orchard and The Guide by Peter Heller. I am a big Peter Heller fan.
    5. These Precious Days by Ann Patchett. I laughed, I cried.

    Thanks for sharing your reading with me, Jennifer. I have added a couple of books to my TBR list. And since we are the end of another year, I want to thank you for all you have shared with me and taught me this year. I look forward to every post.

  • Hattie

    Always a fun post to see what you and other readers read this year. I agree with you on Paper Palace, which was always a pleasure to pick up and read for even a few minutes. As for me, I read a lot of historical fiction. I would recommend three in particular — 1. The Personal Librarian (about Belle Greene, who oversaw acquisitions for JP Morgan and was fabulously successful in this powerful position as the only woman and the only African American, a fact she kept secret all her life.) 2. The Paris Library (about the American Library in Paris and the courageous, steadfast librarians who kept it open during France’s occupation during World War II and the staff and patrons of the library). 3. Painting the Light (about a very independent and strong woman living, painting, and riding a bicycle (!) on Martha’s Vineyard at the turn of the 20th century, . The first two are based on real people and events but I thought all three were very readable and good on atmospheric interpretation of the time and setting.

  • Susan

    The three best books (incredible writing, memorable, challenging) that I read this year were:
    1. Caste (I think you recommended it. Wow)
    2. Between Two Kingdoms
    3. Know My Name

Leave a Comment