2021 Year in Review: Favorite Books

My favorite hobby–and thankfully one of my responsibilities as a librarian technician–is researching and reading allthebooks. This year I wanted to share a few different reflections of my overall favorite books of 2021, although you can skip to the bottom of the post for my list of top reads.

Last year I started using StoryGraph as a way to track my reading. An alternative to Amazon’s (ack) Goodreads, the program was founded by Nadia Odunayo to organize your books, develop data and statistics on your reading, and provide tailored recommendations. I completely understand if you’re anti-tracking your reading–it can be another way to pressure yourself to reach a certain goal and can feel commodify-y of your hobbies (double ack)–but I personally like the data aspect of the app.

I also wanted to include a list inspired by my favorite book podcast, The Stacks, hosted by Traci Thomas. She always asks her guests a questionnaire of favorites / recommendations and I thought it would be a fun way to reflect on my own reading from last year.

A quick caveat: I’m only including books published in 2021 in my top list for the year. But I read SO MANY older books that were amazing as well.

My Reading Statistics:

2021 at a Glance:

The Stacks 2021 Questionnaire:

Two Books You Love:

I can’t say enough great things about this book. Collective memory and
how we choose to memorialize history is one of my favorite subjects.
I was sobbing as I read the chapter on Angola.
His research is incredibly thorough and the writing is intentional and descriptive.

One Book You Hate:

Here’s the thing: if I hate the book, I just won’t finish it. There
are a few that I was feeling “meh” about as I read them, but I still
gained something from the author’s work.

Last Great Book Someone Recommended to Me:

Recommended on The Stacks and it’s incredible.

Book I Love to Recommend:

I sent so many excerpts to friends. So good. Language is important!

Book That Made Me Laugh:

Eric’s bizarre and hilarious book of awesome recipes. I felt like I was watching an episode of Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job — spaghett!

Book That Made Me Cry:

Talk about emotional damage. I’m still not over it.

Book That Made Me Angry:

A combination of pure anger and justification for how duped I’ve felt as I’ve struggled to pay off student loans that only increase each year. #theamericandream eh?

Book That I Felt I Learned A Lot:

I really loved learning more about alternatives to our current (in)justice system.

Book I’m Embarrassed I Still Haven’t Read:

On my list for next year! I somehow ran out of time and this came out early in the year when I was in a bit of a reading slump.

Book I’m Proud to Have Read:

A Russian Literature class in a book! Loved this challenging read that made me feel like I was back in school (without the extra loans).

A Book People Would Be Surprised to Know I Love:

Historical fiction centering on aviation? I surprisingly loved this
book (recommended by the podcast Nerdette)

Book I Would Assign in High School:

I read this in just a few hours! A powerful book on the untold stories of
enslaved women fighting for freedom. A great example of how important
graphic novels are in nonfiction
. Read more graphic novels!

A Book I Would Like to See Turned Into a Movie of TV Show:

This would be an incredible series (as long as its not adapted by the
writers of Game of Thrones)

Book That I Would Require the Current President to Read:

An analysis of how the legacy of racism and inequality hurt all Americans and the economy. We are more than a zero-sum game (I hope).

My Favorite Books of 2021:


5. Foodheim: A Culinary Adventure (Eric Warheim)
4. Provecho: 100 Vegan Mexican Recipes to Celebrate Culture (Edgar Castrejón)
3. Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora (Bryant Terry)
2. Amber + Rye: A Baltic Food Journey (Zuza Zak)
1. New Native Kitchen: Celebrating Modern Recipes of the American Indian (Freddie Bitsoie and James O. Fraioli)


10. Libertie (Kaitlyn Greenidge)
9. Milk, Blood, Heat (Dantiel W. Moniz)
8. Harlem Shuffle (Colson Whitehead)
7. Red Island House (Andrea Lee)
6. The Gilded Ones (Namina Forna)
5. Honey Girl (Morgan Rogers)
4. The Sentence (Louise Erdrich)
3. Yolk (Mary H.K. Choi)
2. Under the Whispering Door (TJ Klune)
1. Great Circle (Maggie Shipstead)


10. Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir (Ashley C. Ford)
9. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life (George Saunders)
8. The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story (Nikole Hannah-Jones)
7. Becoming Abolitionists: Police, Protests, and the Pursuit of Freedom (Derecka Purnell)
6. The Debt Trap: How Student Loans Became a National Catastrophe (Josh Mitchell)
5. The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone (Heather McGhee)
4. Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism (Amanda Montell)
3. Wake: The Hidden History of Women Led Slave Revolts (Rebecca Hall)
2. Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty (Patrick Radden Keefe)
1. How the Word is Passed (Clint Smith)

Reading: Goliath (Tochi Onyebuchi)
Watching: Euphoria Season 2 (HBO)
Listening: …And I Return to Nothingness (Lorna Shore)