My 35 favorite books of 2021 (so far)
A mid-year check in!
We’re 50% of the way through 2021, so time for a quick roundup.
Here are some of the best books I’ve read this year (most of which came out this year, probably?), in alphabetical order.
Black Buck - Mateo Askaripour - very funny/dark satire about ~corporate diversity~ centered around a Black man who reinvents himself as a salesman
The Girl With Stars in Her Eyes - Xio Axelrod - slightly hot romance about a badass guitar player who ends up in a band managed by her childhood love
Yolk - Mary HK Choi - two sisters in NY living wildly different lives barely overlap until the elder one gets cancer
What’s Mine and Yours - Naima Coster - integrated bussing in a NC town causes two families to overlap and sets off intergenerational drama/trauma
The Intimacy Experiment - Rosie Danan - a former sex worker-turned-entrepreneur gets hired to teach adult ed at a failing synagogue & falls in love with the hot rabbi. Warning: very hot!
Infinite Country - Patricia Engel - a beautifully told story of how a family got split apart by U.S. immigration (with a dash of coming-of-age)
The Four Winds - Kristin Hannah - a woman and her kids have to cross the United States through the dustbowl, end up in CA, and get involved in union organizing
The Wife Upstairs - Rachel Hawkins - a very spooky modern take on Jane Eyre
People We Meet on Vacation - Emily Henry - sweet romance inspired by When Harry Met Sally with a dash of wanderlust
The Soulmate Equation - Christina Lauren - an analytics-nerd-single-mom gets suckered into using a DNA-testing dating app, then told she’s a perfect match with the app’s founder
No One is Talking About This - Patricia Lockwood - like injecting a novel of Twitter into your brain but fun/thought-provoking instead of painful
Too Good to Be True - Carola Lovering - three narrators: Skye, Burke, and Burke’s other wife that Skye doesn’t know about :eyes:
God Spare the Girls - Kelsey McKinney - the daughters of a mega-church pastor figure out who they are and what they have faith in after it turns out their father cheated on his wife
One Last Stop - Casey McQuiston - a cynic falls in love with a girl she meets on the Q train, which gets complicated when it turns out said girl is from the 70s and quite literally stuck on the Q train
Outlawed - Anna North - a gender-bendy western about an all-girl/non-binary/gender-queer gang of outlaws
Detransition, Baby - Torrey Peters - a beautiful dissection of gender and love and relationships; just trust me
Malibu Rising - Taylor Jenkins Reid - the four kids of a mega-celebrity throw a house party and burn the place down; how did it get like this!?
What Could Be Saved - Liese O’Hallaran Schwarz - alternating timelines between 2019, when a woman goes Thailand to find the brother she thought she’d lost forever and 1972, when said family moved to Thailand in the first place
The Ex Talk - Rachel Lynn Solomon - an aspiring radio host gets her professional dream come true with a twist- she has to fake being exes with her arch-nemesis
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev - Dawnie Walton - a sort-of-oral history of a (fictional) Afropunk star in the 70s and her complicated legacy, as told to the (fictional) journalist who’s father cheater on her mother with aforementioned star
Imposter Syndrome - Kathy Wang - what if Sheryl Sandberg was a Russian spy?!?!?
Project Hail Mary - Andy Weir - an astronaut wakes up on a space ship with no memory of how he got there but quickly realizes he’s the last hope for saving Earth
Revival Season - Monica West - the daughter of a famous Southern Baptist preacher sees her dad getting violent, questions her faith, and realizes she herself has healing power
Seven Days in June - Tia Williams - a bestselling romance writer and a reclusive literary darling secretly knew and loved each other as wild teens; they reconnect for a week as adults
The Fourth Child - Jessica Winter - a messy-and-beautiful story on Catholicism, abortion, adoption, parenthood, and marriage
Instructions for Dancing - Nicola Yoon - a teenage girl stops believing in love and then starts seeing visions of how romances start & end when she sees couples kiss (and also falls in love herself) - the premise is silly but it’s great
Turning Pointe - Chloe Angyal - how ballet is broken and probably can’t save itself
The Secret to Superhuman Strength - Alison Bechdel - a graphic memoir of her life through fitness (with a dash of philosophical existential crises)
Somebody’s Daughter - Ashley C. Ford - beautifully written about growing up in the midwest, poverty, sexual abuse, living without a father who’s incarcerated, and discovering why he was incarcerated
Minor Feelings - Cathy Park Hong - an exploration of Asian American identity through a mix of cultural criticism and personal memoir
Between Two Kingdoms - Suleika Jaouad - one part cancer memoir, one part post-cancer survival road trip memoir
We Do This ‘Til We Free Us - Mariame Kaba - the quintessential text on abolitionism
Empire of Pain - Patrick Radden Keefe - an absolutely enthralling biography of the Sackler family and how they perpetuated the opioid epidemic
Cultish - Amanda Montell - how cults and religions and influencers and fitness companies and politicians all use language to bring people in and keep them in
Thanks for Waiting - Doree Shafrir - a funny & vulnerable memoir of finding yourself later in life
For an exhaustive full reading list, check out the spreadsheet. If this was forwarded to you, sign up! Maybe I’ll send an email more than once a month? TBD.