Favorite Books of 2021

Another year with a lot of reading for me! As of today, I’ve read 73 of my 75-book goal this year, but I’ll surely finish up a few stragglers I’m currently reading before 2021 comes to an end. With so many wonderful books, it was harder than ever to choose my favorites this year. As usual, I read more YA than anything else, with historicals and verse novels at the top of my list.

ME (MOTH) by Amber McBride. This YA novel-in-verse is absolutely gorgeous. It’s incredibly moving. It has so, so many things to offer and I honestly can’t say more because (redacted). I highly recommend this book to everyone!

LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB by Malinda Lo. This National Book Award winner is probably on everyone’s radar, but I can’t help expressing my love for this meticulously-researched and atmospheric YA historical.

LUCK OF THE TITANIC by Stacey Lee. It might be hard to believe someone can write a compelling new take on the Titanic disaster, but Stacey Lee has absolutely done that with this gorgeously-written YA historical.

YOUR HEART, MY SKY by Margarita Engle. As always, Margarita Engle’s poetry sings, and this story about young love during a terrible period of starvation in Cuba’s recent history totally captured my heart.

YOUR LIFE HAS BEEN DELAYED by Michelle Mason. What’s not to like about a YA version of Manifest with a teen character from the 90s showing up with her flight today after a 25-year delay? It’s amazing how much has changed since the 90s. Also, Michelle is one of my longtime critique partners, and I was so thrilled to hold her debut in my hands!

CALL ME ATHENA by Colby Cedar Smith. Historicals in verse are definitely my jam, and this multi-generational tale starring young women from an immigrant family was definitely jammy. A great YA/adult crossover read.

COOL FOR THE SUMMER by Dahlia Adler. This YA contemporary about a bi teen girl deciding between “the guy of her dreams or the girl of her heart” is filled with beachy vibes. It’s charming, funny, and heartfelt.

RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE by Rajani LaRocca. This utterly beautiful middle grade novel-in-verse offers layers upon layers of heart. As a bonus, it takes place during the 80s, so as an 80s child myself, I felt right at home.

SOUL LANTERNS by Shaw Kuzki, translated by Emily Balistreiri. I’ve already re-read this middle grade historical, so that’s a testament right there of how compelling this book is. It’s about the terrible bombing of Hiroshima, but from the point of view of a twelve-year-old born after the war, her city haunted by the victims.

THE GENIUS UNDER THE TABLE by Eugene Yelchin. This memoir for middle grade readers caught me by surprise. I loved the humor, the heavy weight counterbalancing it, and this slice of history I really didn’t know well. Excellent for readers of all ages.

Those are my top ten picks, but I and would love to hear your favorites, as well as what books you’re looking forward to in 2022!

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