In 2020, I read a total of 36 books. This year I finished 32, which I still think is awesome. I definitely went through some reading ruts and had a hard time reading more serious topics. It was a year for light, happy reads.
While I read a handful and a half of really solid books, I didn’t have a true standout like in past years. That said, there are several I’d recommend. It was pretty easy to pick a top 5 of the year.
While I’ve linked to Amazon for ease, please support your local bookstore! You can find full reviews of all these books in my reading lists.
Top 5 Books of 2021
ONE // The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
In The Midnight Library, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place. (Content Warning: Suicide)
TWO// I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
At first, Jude and her twin brother Noah, are inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them.
I absolutely loved this book. Gosh, it’s hard to realize at the time, but being a teenager is such a difficult period of life to navigate under normal circumstances. Noah and Jude are easy to root for. They both feel responsible for holding family secrets and protecting each other.
THREE // Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlito
A love story about a Craigslist “missed connection” post that gives two people a second chance at love fifteen years after they were separated in New York City.
I immediately messaged a friend after I finished this book and told her to request it from the library. The book fluctuates between Matt and Grace’s college romance and present day as told from both of their perspectives. It’s sweet and steamy and unpredictable and left me in tears at the end. There are so many little and big moments that happen in life to lead you to someone else.
FOUR // Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, the family drama that ensues will change their lives will change forever. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva. Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.
Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of the authors I will read whatever she writes. I absolutely loved Daisy Jones and the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (a top 5 in 2020). I rooted for Nina and her siblings and both couldn’t wait to turn the page and didn’t want the book to end.
FIVE // Christmas in Peachtree Bluff by Kristy Harvey Woodson
A holiday follow-up to the popular Peachtree Bluff series, Christmas in Peachtree Bluff follows 3 generations of the Murphy women (a mother, her 3 daughters, and their spouses/kids) as they navigate a late season hurricane and the holidays.
Christmas in Peachtree Bluff is a surprise follow-up to Kristy’s best-selling Peachtree Bluff series (one of my very favorite beach reads). I don’t know if it was the time of year or the surprise of the new release, but reading this felt like a big, warm hug. If you read and enjoyed the other Peachtree Bluff books, I think you’d absolutely enjoy this holiday version.
BONUS // The Magic of Found Objects by Maddie Dawson
The Magic of Found Objects follows Phronsie as she gets engaged to her best friend, Judd, after a divorce and series of bad dates. Phronsie and Judd decide getting married to each other as friends is much better than trying to find love. True, passionate love is overrated.
I couldn’t put The Magic of Found Objects down and then found myself 50 pages from the finish and didn’t want it to end. I loved Phronsie and her slightly magical mother. I enjoyed the split story between Phronsie’s childhood with an eccentric and free spirited mother and her even-keeled stepmother. And I rooted for her to believe in love. I’m generally a big fan of anything Maddie Dawson writes, this book included.
Full 2021 Reading List (with Ratings)
- A Sky Painted Gold – 4
- The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany – 3.5
- Big Magic – 3
- The Authenticity Project – 3
- The Book of Lost Names – 3.5
- I’ll Give You the Sun – 4
- The Midnight Library – 4
- Nobody Will Tell You This But Me – 3
- Under the Southern Sky – 3
- Delicious! – 2
- Just Last Night – 3.5
- Life’s Too Short – 2.5
- Before We Were Strangers – 4
- The Soulmate Equation – 3
- People We Meet on Vacation – 3.5
- The Four Winds – 4
- Ageless Beauty the French Way – 1
- Swear on This Life – 2
- The Invisible Husband of Frick Island – 3.5
- Rock the Boat – 2.5
- The Blue Bistro – 2.5
- Ace of Spades – 3.5
- The Magic of Found Objects – 4
- Seven Days in June – 3
- The Bromance Book Club – 1.5
- The Perfect Find – 3
- Malibu Rising – 4
- Ghosts – 2.5
- Christmas in Peachtree Bluff – 4
- Always, in December – 3.5
- The Twelve Dates of Christmas – 2.5
- A Cross-Country Christmas – 3
5: A book that you treasure and keep prominently displayed on your bookshelf. All other books will likely be measured against this one.
4: Could not put it down, possibly read through the night, still thinking about it, extremely satisfying and highly recommended
3: Captured my interest, entertaining, would seek other titles by the same author, would recommend
2: Okay to pass the time, probably not memorable, just okay
1: DNF or ended up feeling dissatisfied