Hello! I hope that you’ve all had a good start to your weeks. Today, I have a list of my top 21 reads of 2021! There are a ton of really amazing books here, and I loved putting this list together. It was fun to look back on all the books that I read this year, and to select 21 to put on this list. I read a total of 121 books, which mean that I had to pick 100 to not have on this list which was a little difficult.
I did decide not to include books that I reread during 2021 in this list, because I wanted it to be new books that I discovered during the year. Some are 2021 releases, some are older, and all have mini reviews with my thoughts on each book. So, without further ado, here are my favorite books of 2021!
These Violent Delights, by Chloe Gong
These Violent Delights is a historical fantasy set in 1920’s Shanghai, about the heirs to two gangs, the Scarlets and the White Flowers, who despite a blood feud going back must work together to stop a dangerous monster tearing through the city, infecting people and causing them to rip out their very own throats.
I don’t know where to begin with describing how much I loved These Violent Delights, by Chloe Gong. The book is a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920’s Shanghai, where the heirs to the two opposing gangs of the city are forced to work together to attempt to stop the madness that is spreading through the city. The plot is really interesting, and the characters are really memorable. I love Juliette Cai so much, and Marshall was a really interesting character to read about.
Our Violent Ends, by Chloe Gong
The writing, setting, and characters and fantasy aspects of Our Violent Ends combine to make such an amazing and unique novel that I loved every page of. The ending was just as tragic as you would expect any Romeo and Juliette retelling to be, and I can’t wait to read more by Chloe Gong in the future.
Our Violent Ends is a beautiful and terrifying novel about forbidden love, an ancient feud, and the power that those who dare to dream can have; to build up, and to tear down everything around them.
The Bronzed Beasts, by Roshani Chokshi
The Gilded Wolves trilogy is a must-read for fans of historical fantasy, and historical fiction or fantasy in general. It’s an imersive, beautiful, and thrilling tale full of love, deceit, longing and betrayals. The Bronzed Beasts, which came out this fall, was an amazing conclusion the trilogy, and I loved reading it. It was one of my most anticipated books of 2021, and ended up being one of my very favorites!
My Contrary Mary, by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
LGBTQ+ representation in historical fiction is something so hard to find, but these three authors do such an incredible job with it in all of their books, especially in My Contrary Mary. I also love the time period and setting in the book; all the drama of European royalty in the 1500’s. There’s also the magical fantasy aspect that is intertwined with the story in such a fun way!
The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
The Song of Achilles is a very popular book, and I did like it. It’s such a beautiful story, and Madeline Miller’s writing is absolutely incredible. I became very attached to the characters by the end, and the last bit was heartbreaking. It definitely lived up to all my expectations, and I couldn’t have hoped to love it more.
Lovely War, by Julie Berry
Lovely War is a historical romance set during the first world war, and is an incredible book! Told by the Greek gods, it has a fascinating historical perspective, and with its beautiful writing, it was an amazing book to read.
Rule of Wolves, by Leigh Bardugo
this book was so good!!! the character development, the plot twists, the cameos, everything. it was devastatingly sad, and nearly gave me a heart attack at least a dozen times. i need more of these characters, okay? SoC 3?
The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus was such an amazing and incredible book, and I loved every page. It has such a complex and layered plot with endless narratives and subplots. Everything came together so, so well in the end, and it was really beautiful to see. It definitely deserves it’s spot as one of my favorite books of the year!
These Feathered Flames, by Alexandra Overy
These Feathered Flames, by Alexandra Overy is a beautiful fantasy novel that’s centered around two sisters: one, the heir to the throne and the soon-to-be queen, and the other, the firebird, the magical creature who’s purpose is to maintain the balance of all magic used in the world. It’s such a unique book and I really loved all the characters. The main romance is sapphic, which makes it all the better, and the overall worldbuilding is done extremely well. I definitely recommend it to anyone searching for a good sapphic YA fantasy!
You Have a Match, by Emma Lord
This book is really amazing! I loved Emma Lord’s debut, Tweet Cute, which I read last year, and loved. You Have a Match has really fun characters and an entertaining plot! The book is set at a summer camp and is about two sisters who discover each other through the results of a DNA test.
The Falling in Love Montage, by Ciara Smyth
The Falling in Love Montage is an adorable sapphic rom com with every cliché imaginable- and that’s a good thing. It’s about two teen girls who make a plan to go on a series of movie-montage worthy dates over one amazing summer. It’s a really amazing book, and is so heartwarming. I really loved reading it!
If This Gets Out, by Sophie Gonzales & Cale Dietrich
If This Gets Out is a really remarkable book. I could not put it down, and every little well done just made it even more perfect and mesmerizing. The book is told from the perspectives of two characters: Zach and Ruben. Zach and Ruben are both parts of the popular band Saturday, and the book follows the two of them on a journey of self-discovery and learning how to share who you are with a world that’s not always ready to hear it.
If This Gets Out is a fun, happy, and hopeful romance that deals with its fair share of seriousness and gives a unique glimpse into the life and struggles of young queer celebrities, and being queer while also navigating the music industry.
Perfect on Paper, by Sophie Gonzales
Perfect on Paper follows bisexual teen Darcy Philips, who runs an anonymous love advice business out of an empty locker at her high school. Her love advice is spot on, but her own love life? Not so perfect. Perfect on Paper is an incredible book. The plot is fast-paced and fun, the characters are memorable, and the writing is amazing. The LQBTQ+ representation is done extremely well, and all in all, this is a book that everyone should read.
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating, by Adiba Jaigirdar
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating is by Adiba Jaigirdar, one of my favorite authors, and it was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021. It’s about fake dating, which is such a fun trope, and the characters are all so nuanced with so much depth. I loved it so much, and I can’t wait to read more by Adiba Jaigirdar!
Some Girls Do, by Jennifer Dugan
Some Girls Do is a really beautiful YA contemporary, with amazing LGBTQ+ rep. I adored the two main characters, and I thought that they, as well as many of the side characters, were written so well and with so much depth. I could barely put this one down, and I loved every page.
How We Fall Apart, by Katie Zhao
Set at Sinclair Prep, an elite private high school, How We Fall Apart is a story of school, betrayal, and the lengths that some will go to stay on top. Her whole life, the protagonist, Nancy Luo, has been second to top student, Jamie Ruan, who also happens to be Nancy’s ex best friend. But when Jamie is murdered, that makes Nancy top student, and a prime suspect for the murder.
Ace of Spades, by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Ace of Spades is a fascinating book, and is very unique. It really stood out to me among all the YA thrillers I read this year; it is very dark and the mysteries have so much depth. The writing is also truly incredible, and brings the many memorable characters to life. I cannot recommend this one more to anyone looking for a YA thriller.
A Psalm for the Wild Built, by Becky Chambers
A Psalm for the Wild Built is a book about a monk, a robot, a different better world, and what it means to want more when you seem to have everything. The writing really grabs you and pulls you into the world that Becky Chambers has created. I was so invested in reading about the characters; their vivid thoughts, complex emotions and really everything about them was written so well, and every page was just beautiful. A Psalm for the Wild Built is a beautifully written book about friendship, the future, and more. I cannot wait to read the sequel, and to dive back into the world Becky Chambers has masterfully created.
Fighting Words, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
I’ve been wanting to read Fighting Words since it before it came out, and I was finally able to get ahold of a copy this August. I flew through the book in a couple hours, hardly able to put it down. I cried so much while reading the, and it was overall very emotional. I’ve loved Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s books for a long time, but have only read her historical fiction before this. It was really amazing to see what she did with this middle grade contemporary, and I think that this is a book everyone should read.
Ana on the Edge, by A. J. Sass
I loved this book so, so much, and I can’t even begin to describe how much reading Ana on the Edge means to me. I recommend this book to each and every one of you, and I hope that many more people give this incredible middle grade contemporary a chance, about a twelve year old non-binary and Jewish figure skater named Ana wrestling with gender identity and pushing through life.
Daughter of the Deep, by Rick Riordan
Daughter of the Deep is the first non-mythology Rick Riordan book that I’ve read, and I really loved it. It was fascinating to see how he wrote in a very different genre and style from what he’s been publishing for the last fifteen years. I listened to the audiobook with my sister, which was really fun, and we both had a great time with that. The plot of Daughter of the Deep is very engaging with no slower points, and the characters all have a lot of depth from the beginning. I did predict one of the main plot points, but that wasn’t more satisfying than anything. I’m really hoping for a sequel, or for another book set in the world of Daughter of the Deep!
Have you read any of these? What are some of your favorite reads of 2021? Are any of these books on your TBR? Chat with me in the comments below!
P.S. Since I read so many amazing books in 2021, there were some that I couldn’t quite fit onto my list of the top 21 books I read during the year. Here are ten books I loved that didn’t quite make it onto my list above:
- The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, by Suzanne Collins
- Winter, by Marissa Meyer
- The Last Fallen Star, by Graci Kim
- Fat Chance, Charlie Vega, by Crystal Maldonado
- I Was Anastasia, by Ariel Lawhon
- The Kingdom of Back, by Marie Lu
- Heartstopper, by Alice Oseman
- Spell Sweeper, by Lee Edward Födi
- The Mime Order, by Samantha Shannon
- King of Scars, by Leigh Bardugo