Allie’s Top 10 Reads in 2021

A flatlay of miniature paper versions of every book I read in 2021.
Yes, you’re seeing tiny! These are miniature paper versions of every book I read this year, in a fun crafty side project that blended reading with my love of miniature making!

I read 80 books in 2021, but I still challenged myself to narrow down a list of top 10 reads. If you’re curious, you can see every book I read in 2021 on my Storygraph account (add me as a friend while you’re at it if you’re a reader!).

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Romance: The Ex Talk

I started off the year strong the Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon. She’s one of my favorite authors. The Ex Talk is enemies-to-lovers with a hint of workplace romance, but was unique and had a nice subtext of podcasting and radio culture that was really interesting to me. See my full review on Instagram.

Young Adult fiction: With The Fire On High

Another early 2021 read, With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo was highly recommended by my book club, and it didn’t disappoint. The writing is beautiful, the characters are multifaceted, and it’s a great coming of age story. Plus, it’s filled with food references (aka, perfect for me). The cover is also stunning. Full review here!

Fantasy: Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a stand-alone fantasy with Persian mythology/ folklore written by Melissa Bashardoust. It checks every box for a great fantasy read. This features some morally grey characters that I still rooted for, great scene setting, and more. It also has bisexual representation! Here’s what else I loved.

Middle Grade: A two-way tie

I’m a firm believer that you’re never too old to enjoy good middle grade books. I read several this year, and I couldn’t pick just one series to make my top 10 reads list.

The first I devoured at the beginning of the year was the Nevermoor series (full title is Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow) by Jessica Townsend. I think I read all three books in a week, and they far surpass the beloved fantasy worlds of my childhood. The characters are amazing, the setting is unique and quirky, and the plot is rich. I highly recommend. Here are my reviews: Nevermoor, Wundersmith, Hollowpox. The next book in the series can’t come soon enough!

I also finished the year with a really great middle grade series: Greenglass House by Kate Milford. This has similar elements, including a great sense of place, rich details, and quirky characters. It’s more of a mystery and kept me guessing from beginning to end in the very best way. Here’s my review of the first book, and the sequel, the Ghosts of Greenglass House.

Poetry: What Kind of Woman

I’ll read anything Kate Baer writes from here on out; her poetry is stunning. I actually read both of her collections this year—What Kind of Woman and I Hope This Finds You Well—but I liked What Kind of Woman a little bit more. You don’t have to be a poetry critic to read and enjoy these! They’re accessible for both seasoned and beginner poetry readers!

Short Story collection: Up All Night

This year, I challenged myself to read some genres I hadn’t been reading as much and picked up a young adult short story collection called Up All Night, edited by Laura Silverman. Up All Night showcases a really diverse mix of perspectives and story types. It’s well edited and while some stories stood out more than others, the whole thing was very fun to read. See a short review on Instagram and my longer review on StoryGraph.

Nonfiction: Another two-way tie

In a surprising twist, two of my favorite books this year were nonfiction, a genre I don’t typically read a whole lot of. Audiobooks work best for me and nonfiction, and I listened to both favorites with my Libro.FM subscription (if you’re curious about audiobooks, use my link to get a free book for you and for me).

First up is Ace by Angela Chen. While this book focuses on asexuality, it was a really rich discussion of sexuality and intersectionality that any reader could learn a lot from. Here are more of my thoughts.

Next was a recent read: Cultish by Amanda Montell. This book focuses on the language of fanaticism and the language tactics that cults use to draw people in and keep them. There’s a lot of discussion on places in our society that use similar language tactics that was extremely eye-opening and thought provoking. I highly recommend and am still thinking about it weeks later. Here’s my review!

Memoir: One Life

I didn’t used to read memoirs until I discovered audiobooks and realized that I really enjoy memoirs of celebrities I follow (and even some I don’t) when they’re read by the author. Several memoirs almost made this top 10 reads list, but ultimately One Life by Megan Rapinoe won out. I loved hearing about Megan’s soccer journey and her activism. This covered a lot of ground but wasn’t repetitive and kept me really engaged.

Some fun reading stats for 2021

Last year I shared my top 20 books and a bit of a reading recap, so I thought this year I’d share some of the fun stats I tracked too. I’ve switched to StoryGraph for my reading tracking and they have a wealth of information you can see about how you read that’s really neat.

  • I read 80 books, and 44 of them were by BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, or AAPI authors.
  • 21 were audiobooks.
  • I read from A to Z from my shelf (counting authors and titles).
  • I saved $244 through library eBook and audiobook checkouts.
  • The above boils down to 17,364 pages of physical/eBooks and 122 hours and 45 minutes of audiobooks (that’s over 5 full days!).

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