My Top 21 Books of ’21

2021 may have been a bad year for many things, but it was a very good year for books. I managed to read about half of the books I wanted to, and I met my modest goal of 52. Of course, several books were 600 pages plus (including War and Peace, which was 1,215 pages). Pictured here are my favorites among the books that were published in 2021. (Below you’ll see a photo of 11 great books that were published between 2018 and 2020 but which I read in 2021.) As usual, just under two-thirds of the books I read were written by women, and that percentage held true in my Top 21 (8 of the 21 books are by men).

You can support this blog by ordering these and other books through my shop on In alphabetical order by author:

The Arsonists’ City – Hala Alyan (HMH)

Damnation Spring – Ash Davidson (Scribner)

Immune – Philipp Dettmer (Random House)

Cloud Cuckoo Land – Anthony Doerr (Scribner)

Infinite Country – Patricia Engel (Avid Reader Press)

The Promise – Damon Galgut (Europa Editions)

Carry the Dog – Stephanie Gangi (Algonquin)

The Sweetness of Water – Nathan Harris (Little, Brown)

The Removed – Brandon Hobson (Ecco)

Cathedral – Ben Hopkins (Europa Editions)

The Love Songs of W. E. B. DuBois – Honoree Fanonne Jeffers (Harper)

The People We Keep – Allison Larkin (Gallery Books)

Disquiet – Zulfu Livaneli (Other Press)

The Kingdoms – Natasha Pulley (Bloomsbury)

No Touching – Ketty Rouf (Europa Editions)

The Island of Missing Trees – Elif Shafak (Bloomsbury)

Fight Night – Miriam Toews (Bloomsbury)

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev – Dawnie Walton (37 Ink/Simon and Schuster)

Beautiful Country – Qian Julie Wang (Doubleday)

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents – Isabel Wilkerson (Random House)

Godshot — Chelsea Bieker (Catapult)

The Tenth Muse — Catherine Chung (Ecco)

Everything Inside — Edwidge Danticat (Vintage)

Cantoras — Carolina De Robertis (Knopf)

The Night Watchman — Louise Erdrich

The Lying Life of Adults — Elena Ferrante

Severance — Ling Ma (Picador)

A Burning — Megha Majumdar (Knopf)

Luz — Debra Thomas (She Writes Press)

Sharks in the Time of Saviors — Kawai Strong Washburn (FSG)

The Yield — Tara June Winch (HarperVia)


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