Favorite Books of 2021

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I’m a major bookworm, and while I didn’t read as many books in 2021 as I did in 2020 (early pandemic was all about escaping into a book), I read some really great ones! Keep reading for a breakdown of my favorite books of the year!

I’ll include page count, book mood, and any trigger warnings I can remember.

If you choose to read any of these, don’t buy them from Amazon!!!!!! Your local bookseller will be thrilled to see you in store and their business deserves your support. Just say no to all things Amazon, honestly.

My favorite local-to-me bookstores to support:

  • One More Page Books
    • Arlington, VA
    • The best and cutest
    • I walk in there and I feel warm fuzzies in my tummy the whole time.
    • These are people that LOVE books like me!
  • Bard’s Alley
    • Vienna, VA
    • Another one that I just feel the good book-loving vibes in my bones
    • Fantastic book selection
  • Kramer’s Books
    • Washington, DC
    • Great selection, super cool spot
    • There’s a cafe!!
  • Loyalty Bookstores
    • Washington, DC
    • Black owned!
    • Have not been in person yet but my online orders from them were delivered with a nice note
  • Solid State Books
    • Washington, DC
    • The most beautiful bookstore ever, my goodness it’s pretty
    • Fantastic selection, such a pleasant browsing experience

Alright, here goes the list!! It’s in order of when I read them, not in order of preference!

You can also see all of my picks here on my Bookshop page (affiliate link) for quick access to order any one of these great books.

laura seated on the ground smilling over the top of a book

The Party Upstairs- by Lee Connell (320 pages)

  • Mood: a sense of urgency.
  • Should be read: sipping a cup of coffee, sitting in the sunlight
  • Online blurb: “An electrifying debut novel that unfolds in the course of a single day inside one genteel New York City apartment building, as tensions between the building’s super and his grown-up daughter spark a crisis that will, by day’s end, change everything.”
  • I liked it because: different narrators. entire book takes place over 24 hours. really pretty descriptions. engaging read.

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The Invention of Sound – by Chuck Palahniuk (240 pages)

  • Mood: horrifying but also amazing
  • Should be read: sipping a glass of red wine in a leather armchair with piano jazz in the background
  • Online blurb: “The chilling tale of a father in search of his daughter, a young woman with a secret, and a malicious recording that can make ‘the whole world scream at the exact same time.'”
  • I liked it because: it was entirely bonkers. hooks you and won’t let go. sentences that were a lil confusing but like…in a good way ya know?
  • *could be triggering: depictions of violence from the perspective of the aggressor

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The Grammarians – by Cathleen Schine (272 pages)

  • Mood: a playful romp for word nerds
  • Should be read: in a library or in the cozy nook of a bookstore
  • Online blurb: “An enchanting, comic love letter to sibling rivalry and the English language.”
  • I liked it because: shifting narrators. twins who nerd out on words. playful use of language (my faaaavorite thing). not a heavy read.

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The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano – by Donna Freitas (384 pages)

  • Mood: when you need an excuse to cry maybe
  • Should be read: under the stars while contemplating the concept of time (or under 50 blankets in your bed)
  • Online blurb: “A deeply moving novel about a woman who thought she never wanted to be a mother—and the many ways that life can surprise us.”
  • I liked it because: alternate timelines? yes please. complex look at motherhood. 9 stories in one which was just wow so good. loved this book please read it.

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The Master & Margarita – by Mikhail Bulgakov (448 pages)

  • Mood: intellectual
  • Should be read: in a tweed blazer and glasses perched on the tip of your nose
  • Online blurb: “One spring afternoon, the Devil, trailing fire and chaos in his wake, weaves himself out of the shadows and into Moscow. Mikhail Bulgakov’s fantastical, funny, and devastating satire of Soviet life combines two distinct yet interwoven parts, one set in contemporary Moscow, the other in ancient Jerusalem, each brimming with historical, imaginary, frightful, and wonderful characters.”
  • I liked it because: I did not know Russian Literature was so funny and satirical and fantastical and weird. a dense big book I could sink my teeth into. a bold choice for a beach read that I do not regret for one second.

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Open Water – by Caleb Azumah Nelson (160 pages)

  • Mood: when you want something to sink your teeth into and savor
  • Should be read: holding someones hand (your pet counts)
  • Online blurb: “A stunning first novel about two young Black artists in London falling in and out of love. Narrated with deep intimacy, Open Water is at once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity that asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body; to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength; to find safety in love, only to lose it.”
  • I liked it because: it was rhythmic and lyrical. deep and painful but also sweet and juicy. the sentences were UNREAL, like nothing I had ever read before. I wish it had been longer, but also it was perfect.

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Post-Colonial Astrology – Alice Sparkly Kat (336 pages)

  • Mood: you weren’t told the whole story
  • Should be read: with pens and highlighters to write in the margins
  • Online blurb: “In a cross-cultural approach to understanding astrology as a magical language, Alice Sparkly Kat unmasks the political power of astrology, showing how it can be channeled as a force for collective healing and liberation.”
  • I liked it because: it changed how I understand a lot of astrological concepts. made my mind much more flexible. A has an amazing way of telling you that everything you knew was wrong in a gentle, extremely well-researched way. A can tell me I’m wrong whenever they want to.

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The Book of Form & Emptiness – by Ruth Ozeki (560 pages)

  • Mood: brain exploder
  • Should be read: surrounded by books (literally, sit next to a pile of books, what a vibe)
  • Online blurb: “A boy who hears the voices of objects all around him; a mother drowning in her possessions; and a Book that might hold the secret to saving them both.”
  • I liked it because: he has a book that talks to him are you kidding? what a dream. beautiful sentences. density. honesty. like, everything Ruth Ozeki writes is magic, but this? this deeply affected me.

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This Is Your Destiny – by Aliza Kelly (272 pages)

  • Mood: level up
  • Should be read: with incense burning, crystals in your hands, and a journal ready
  • Online blurb: “Your best life is written in the stars. You may know what astrology is – but what does it actually do? Why is it so effective, and how can it be used as a tool for manifestation?”
  • I liked it because: Aliza is brilliant. manifestation seems possible now. an invitation to the astral plane. a short sweet simple but powerful-as-heck read.

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I 100% recommend grabbing one of these books, and you should do so at your local bookstore! Or, if you’d rather order online, you can do so here on my Bookshop page (affiliate link).

Did you read any of these books? Check out any of those bookstores? What was your favorite book of 2021? I’d love to know!! Drop a comment below

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