The Best Books I Read This Year – Ranked (2021)

As we are getting closer to Christmas, this means we are getting closer to the end of the year. I think we all know once Christmas fever hits, we don’t really re-emerge until the following year.

The best books I read in 2021
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Therefore, I thought I’d get in my “Best Books of the year” list now as I will likely spend the period after Christmas eating, drinking and with family and friends!

I’ve read some absolute banging books this year, for sure. It makes me wonder if next year will bring any books along that are any better than those that I read this year. However, this is what I love about reading: you’re always finding a new favourite that you’re utterly obsessed with.

Below are the eight books I narrowed down as the absolute best books I read this year. I couldn’t really narrow it down anymore – these were the titles that I’d recommend to almost anybody.

These books aren’t books that have come out this year, they’re the books I physically read for the first time. In fact, I don’t think any of these books came out this year. You see, I still feel like I’m doing a bit of catching up on some of the must-reads that have come out over the past ten years. Hopefully, 2022 will have me catching up even more.

To make it even more interesting, I’ve ranked them, ending with my very favourite book that I read this year. So here they are, the best books I read in 2021, ranked:

8. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig had a controversial reception with most people feeling it was a great and uplifting read that made you really look at your own life and how every single choice you’ve ever made has led you to where you are today and also how your life may not be better in alternative version.

However, some people felt the book was a little cliche and shallow but I absolutely loved it. It was a quick and easy read, which everybody can always appreciate, and it offered some absolutely fantastic quotes if you ever needed some to stick on a poster.

7. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

Despite my supposed love of fantasy and it being my favourite genre, Oathbringer is the only fantasy novel on my list this year. The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson is my favourite fantasy series without many close to it. Each book is an absolute epic but epics filled with genuinely loveable characters, utterly fascinating lore and world-building and, despite the page count, it never once feels like a chore to read.

Brandon Sanderson is at the top of my list when it comes to authors I’d always pick up – I’ve also read other books in other series’ he’s written and I’ve loved all of those also. Oathbringer continued his fantastic form pulling me deeper into a world where despite the enormous set-pieces and stakes he sets in the previous book, he manages to raise the bar once again with this. I’m most certainly hoping to pick up The Rhythm of War in 2022!

6. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Shuggie Bain was a book that I’d seen quite a bit of hype about. I’d also seen it had won a Booker prize – an accolade that always draws my attention. I’ll be honest, for the first 100 pages or so, I wasn’t really into it. However, as you grow deeper into the story and more events happen, you begin to fall in love with the characters and vouch for happiness.

This is Douglas Stuart’s first novel and he’s managed to craft a brilliant novel here with so much heart and genuine intelligence. It surprised me in the end how much emotion this book brought out of me in the end.

The Book Thief
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5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I picked up The Book Thief a few years ago and didn’t finish it. However, this year I decided to start again and read it all the way through and was absolutely blown away. It’s a phenomenal book with some unforgettable characters and some unforgettable moments. You’ll note with a lot of these books on this list and the same with The Book Thief, it tugged on my heartstrings. It has a way of making you really care for the characters and what happens to them.

Set during World War 2, it was interesting to read from the point of view of a German as opposed to the opposition as so many books are. Though a warning: this definitely doesn’t stop the book from showing you the harsh cruelties that fell upon people as a result of the Nazi regime.

A Man Called Ove
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4. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove is the perfect book if you want to laugh and have you heart-warmed. Ove is a grumpy old man who has lived his life and is ready for what’s next. He doesn’t really like people and he’s not a fan of anybody who opposes his very strict opinions. However, one day a young family move in next door and make him realise that there may yet be a lot more that can make him happy.

Again, A Man Called Ove will make you absolutely adore the characters and will make draw you into vouching for their every move and action. It’s a brilliant book written with real wit and intelligence that’ll leave you laughing and crying all in one sitting.

A Thousand Splendid Suns
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3. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns isn’t Khaled Hosseini’s first book and also, possibly isn’t even his most famous. However, it’s one of my favourite books I’ve ever read and so has easily made it into this list. It’s an incredibly powerful tale that tells the story of two women whose lives are affected by the changes in ruling throughout the late 80s and early 90s in Afghanistan.

There’s loss and real sadness in this book but also hope and a lot of love. Khaled Hosseini constantly has your emotions in the palm of his hand and plays with them at whim. He’s written truly human characters and envelopes you in an immersive and gritty world.

We Begin at the End
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2. We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker

At the start of November, I’d never heard of We Begin at the End, but by the end of it, it became one of my favourite books of all time. We Begin at the End focuses on Duchess Radley and her brother and a cast of other characters in a small town in America. It focuses on two intertwining stories – that of murder and one of two children whose lives are turned upside down and their journey trying to find a calm and settled life together.

We Begin at the End is one of the best-written books I’ve read this year – at points, it’s almost like reading poetry. Chris Whitaker clearly has a talent for writing and with We Begin at the End his talent is at its peak with one of the most engaging and interesting young protagonists I’ve ever read and a story that really draws in on every single page.

To Kill a Mockingbird
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1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

And finally, my favourite book that I read all year is currently my favourite book of all time – To Kill a Mockingbird. I picked this book up during the summer whilst on holiday and found myself plugging in my headphones or getting out my kindle at every chance I could to continue reading this utterly incredible book.

The messages, the topics discussed and the storyline of this book are what set it apart from the other novels I’ve read. The way Harper Lee discusses prejudice, the innocence of children and the importance of the right education through Scout and her family and friends is masterful and so puts To Kill a Mockingbird at the top of my reading list this year.

Summary

What a year it has been! This time last year I didn’t even have a book blog and all my book reviews were reserved for Goodreads. Now I have over 150 reviews on my blog of books from varying genres. I have read some of my favourite books I’ve ever read this year and have opened myself up to a few different genres thanks to different communities across social media.

Next year I hope to pick up just as many fantastic books and continue some of the epic series I have started this year. You can keep up with all of my upcoming reviews by signing up for my newsletter or by joining my Telegram group.

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