Best Books of 2021

It’s time again for our annual post of our favorite books of the year! It was tough, but after much thought and discussion, we narrowed down our list of the best books of 2021.

To make this list, the book had to be published in 2021 and it had to really stand out from the big stack of more than 180 books we’ve read this year. Whether it made us think or helped us escape, each book on the list exceeded whatever expectations we had of it. We hope you’ll pick some of them up to read and love them in the same way.

All the details of our favorites are below, or if you are short on time and want a preview until you can come back, you can see a slide show of 5 of our favorite books of 2021 here.

Our Favorite 2021 Books

The Best of the Best

The first two books on our list were our absolute favorites from 2021. While they are so different that you may think that we each picked a favorite book, that wasn't the case. We each read both, each gave them 5+ stars, and each declared them our personal favorites of the year.

The more we thought about it, the more we realized that two books do have some common threads. Both balance grief and strife with ample doses of heart. Whether that's an uncle learning to be a father-figure or an orphaned boy having his life changed through a chance encounter with a giraffe, at their core, both stories are about finding joy in hard times.

Best Romantic Comedy

There's no denying that we love rom coms. They're often the perfect light escape between deeper historical or literary fiction. We read many of them and you can find a whole list of the best rom coms here, but one stood out this year!

Best Historical Fiction

We've always enjoyed historical fiction, but completing our Decades Challenge the last two years has helped broaden our reading within the category. The books that made our list of favorites this year span from the 1790s all the way up to the 1970s. But of course, no list of historical fiction would be complete without one great book set in WW2!

Best Coming of Age

The joy of watching a character grow in their understanding of the world and themselves never gets old. But of all the coming of age novels available, one rose quickly to the top of our favorites list!

Best Contemporary Fiction

Whether you're looking for a writer who accidentally gets involved in a hilarious murder for hire scheme, a lawyer who gets fed up with inappropriate comments and legal strategies, or a duo of neighbors who judge each other too harshly until they have to BE each other, this section is certain to entertain.

Best Beach Reads

During the summer months, we gravitate toward fun and entertaining books set in warm locations. The two beach reads that made our best of list this year transported us from the Caribbean to Palm Springs. Both feature characters looking to put their lives back on track while finding a little romance along the way.

Best Non-Fiction / Memoir

The only thing better than a beautiful crafted novel, is a beautifully crafted memoir. One non-fiction book made the list as a stand-out this year because it transports you right to South America and makes you realized how wildly different your life could be with one different decision.

Unexpected Favorites

You know those books you pick up in a moment of time even though they aren't what you'd normally gravitate towards? The next two books in our list are great examples of why we're willing to read a variety of genres.

Best 2021 Christmas Book

One of our guilty pleasures each December is to immerse ourselves in as many Christmas books as possible while we decorate, wrap presents, and prepare for the holidays. One 2021 holiday release really stood out to us this year.

Light purple background with book covers of Lost Apothecary, West with Giraffes and Letters Across the Sea


Comments on: Best Books of 2021

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  1. Sarah S Vogel says:

    Totally agree–It Had to Be You AND People We Meet on Vacation are on my “favorites of the year list” too! Now, thanks to you girls, I have my reading list for December! I just put Mary Jane, Black Buck, The Overdue Life of Amy Byler and Guncle on hold at the library. Merry Christmas!!

    1. Melissa George says:

      Yay! We love hearing that! Merry Christmas!

  2. Betty Eggermann says:

    Loved West with Giraffes and The Santa Suit. I will have to add more books to my TBR list.

  3. Diana Bustamante says:

    Loved West with Giraffes-lovely surprise but my fav book of 2021 has to be Razorblade Tears. Go Ike and Buddy Lee! I cried.

  4. Rachel Dunham says:

    If I haven’t already read it, it’s already in my TBR list!! There might be one or two listed here, that I had not added yet.

  5. Weezie Fitzhugh says:

    My heart sang when I saw West With Giraffes was your favorite of the year! I read it when it came out last January – “Giraffes” in the title caught my eye while browsing in a book store, and I’m a sucker for a road-trip story. I’ve been recommending it all year long IRL and online; I’ve yet to see it in any of the printed book reviews/recommendations I read every month. Such a beauty of a book, as is The Guncle. Honestly, I agree with all your picks that I’ve read, and now I have several more to add to my ever-growing TBR queue. I am so grateful I stumbled across your group – by far and away the best site around. The opportunity for discussion, your well-curated suggestions, your fascinating challenges put your group way above the rest (though I realize it’s not a competition!). Happy Holidays to you both; you were certainly one of my blessings this year!