Favorite books of 2021

It was a good reading year.  I read a lot of plot, too, and recently discovered James Patterson (I have a well-documented love for Linda Fairstein, David Baldacci, Michael Connelley, and John Grisham, and Patterson joins this pantheon).  But thought it was interesting to reflect on some of my favorite reads from this year.  I’m interested in what you loved, too!

Cloud Cuckoo Land – Anthony Doerr – without question my #1, by a mile.  I adored this book.  Adored, adored, adored.  As I said on Instagram, “This is a simply extraordinary tale, which does that most exalted thing books can do: touches on what it means to be a thinking, feeling human being in the world.”

No Cure for Being Human: (And Other Truths I Need to Hear) – Kate Bowler – I loved Bowler’s first book and this one even more.  It’s a gorgeous exploration of what you learn and think about when you suddenly contemplate dying in your 30s.  I underlined so many passages.  This is a beautiful book.

Great Circle – Maggie Shipstead – This was my #1 of the year until I read the Doerr this fall.  Shipstead’s book is a soaring story of strength, resilence, and pursuing a dream, and the arc of a flight over the world echoes in the narrative.  Just glorious.

A Children’s Bible – Lydia Millet – This slender dystopian novel packs a powerful punch.  I’m still thinking about it 6 months later.  Completely haunting.

Monogamy – Sue Miller – I loved this story about long marriage and midlife, and particularly loved that it’s set not just in my home town but in my actual neighborhood.  Even more thrilling is that Dani Shapiro is writing the film adapatation!  I can’t wait!

The Paper Palace – Miranda Cowley Heller – I found this book profoundly evocative of my childhood summers near Cape Cod, and I also think the central question, of the one who got away in the context of a happy and contented marriage, is very interesting and not frequently explored.

Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted – Suleika Jaouad – I found this book inspiring and gloriously written, and it made me look around my ordinary life with (even) more awareness than usual.

Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell – I absolutely loved this book’s exploration of Hamlet from another angle, and the observations O’Farrell makes on marriage and the ways that grief and memory echo through our lives.

What were your favorite books this year?  

Disclosure: these are Amazon links

1 thought on “Favorite books of 2021”

  1. I read Piranesi and really enjoyed it: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50202953-piranesi.

    Also really liked Project Hail Mary (this is one my Dad and I both read and talked about before he died): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54493401-project-hail-mary

    Laserwriter II was one I read recently. It was brief but I really enjoyed it. I want to work in that Mac Repair shop in that period of time in NYC.

    A non-fiction book I loved was about AI called You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why It’s Making the World a Weirder Place: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44286534-you-look-like-a-thing-and-i-love-you

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