Friends, it’s my ANNUAL BOOK REVIEW!!!
I AM SO EXCITED!!
I am beyond excited…I am G-I-D-D-Y!!!
I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again, each year, I blog about 500 posts. That is a lot of blog content year after year, and this post right here is always, without a doubt, my absolute favorite.
I love reading. I love settling down with a great book. I love spending my time waiting at doctors appointments, in carpool line, early in the morning or late at night with a book. Reading is my favorite hobby, but I truly love it so much more because I get to share it with YOU!
This year, I read 59 books.
I read some mystery and some suspense, I read several autobiographies and memoirs, my fair share of chick lit and some really great works of fiction too. I read several books I really loved and honestly, for whatever reason, this year, I read many I didn’t love. This was a weird year of reading for me. I felt like my months ran either hot or cold. I loved every book or I didn’t love any.
Today, I’m going to recap the two books I read in December to finish off my year and then, I’ll name my TOP THREE BOOKS OF 2021.
So, let’s start with the two books I enjoyed this month…
I went there.
And Katie Couric really went there.
I devoured her new autobiography Going There.
Ate. It. Up.
I am super into autobiographies and pretty much will read any of them (hello, Blondie book that I’m still not quite sure why I read…), so when several of you suggested I pick up Katie Couric’s newest memoir, I was all in. I like Katie Couric. I mean…I know nothing really about her other than she was on TODAY and widowed with two young girls. She seems bubbly and likeable, very smart and yet down to earth, I’ll read about you.
Geez Louise…she goes there.
It was like reading her diary.
It was very vulnerable, quite juicy and jaw dropping. I loved every page. Honestly, I love Katie. I didn’t “know” her before, but now that I’ve read this book, I feel like we could be friends. I loved the first third of the book when she describes her childhood, road to college and early years as a struggling journalist. I loved the middle part when she talks about her husband and being a mom. I legit cried when she talked about her husband dying of cancer at such a young age. And then I sat on the edge of my seat soaking up every detail of the Matt Lauer part (whoa). I laughed, I cried, I respected her, I was shocked by what she said, I could not put her book down. Who knew I needed a bit of Katie in my December? Not me, but I loved it! If you’re an autobiography fan too, grab this one. It’s really, really, really engrossing. I dare you to put it down.
The second book I read this month ended up being my favorite Christmas book of the season which is ironic because it was about…
Super ironic, no?
I was flipping through my December issue of Good Housekeeping when they suggested three new holiday books. When I read the synopsis of The Matzah Ball, it sounded so cute that I downloaded it immediately and devoured it. This book was adorable!!!!!!
Let me break it down: the main character is a very prolific and successful Christmas romance novel author except…she’s doing it in secret because she comes from a family of very faithful and devout Jews. She secretly loves Christmas and writes about it in twenty plus novels until one day, her publishers ask her to write a novel about Hanukkah. Friends, it’s legit the making of a Hallmark movie. It’s so cute, so quirky, ties in all the Christmas goodness I love and adore (movie references, songs, food, traditions) while also adding so many delightful Hanukkah references and traditions too. This book is about family, faith, traditions and of course, romance. This book is also about delicious food and made me super hungry. One morning, I was reading this early before the kids had gotten up for school, and it had made me so hungry that I prepared a huge breakfast for them. Ha!
As a Christian, even though I have Jewish friends that I love, I don’t know a lot about the ins and outs of their celebrations and traditions, so (assuming this book was correct), I do think I learned a bit too. It’s cozy, it’s charming, it’s sweet, it’s totally rated PG, and it was the perfect way to wrap up all my reads in 2021. Book #59 was a winner!
So, that adds two books to my list for the year.
Let’s recap them all right here…
(Just click on the month to read my review.)
Troubles in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
A Good Neighborhood by Therese Ann Fowler
No Time Like the Future by Michael J. Fox
Cosy by Laura Weir
Forever Wild by K.A. Tucker
One by One by Ruth Ware
Forgiving What You Can’t Forget by Lysa TerKeurst
The Lies That Bind by Emily Giffin
It’s All Under Control by Jennifer Dukes Lee
What You Wish For by Katherine Center
Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
Good Apple by Elizabeth Passarella
The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
He Put My Buddha in the Freezer by Amy Karl
Eliza Starts a Rumor by Jane L. Rosen
Share Your Stuff, I’ll Go First by Laura Tremaine
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
The Sixth Wedding by Elin Hilderbrand
Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst
The Bookstore on the Beach by Brenda Novak
The Nantucket Inn by Pamela Kelley
The Beach House by Jenny Hale
Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams
The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian
Thirty More Chic Days by Fiona Ferris
Where The Grass is Green and The Girls Are Pretty by Lauren Weisberger
Every year, I name my TOP THREE books, and as silly as it sounds, I think about that every single time I pick up a book. I’m always wondering if it’s “the one”, and I get so excited when the bar raises and a new book comes up into my TOP THREE.
Below is a list of all of my TOP THREE books from years past. I still stand by each and every one of these, and whichever ones you haven’t already read, please do so in 2022. These are all AMAZING books…
Here is a list of all of my other FAVORITE BOOKS of the year:
#1: What Remains by Carol Radziwill
#1: Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist
#2: The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
#1: Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn Dingman
#2: It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
#3: A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
#1: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
#2: Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup
#3: The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams
#1: My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
#2: Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge
#3: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
#1: The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer
#2: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
#3: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Before I get to my TOP THREE BOOKS for 2021, let me remind you of some amazing honorable mentions from this year.
No Time Like the Future by Michael J. Fox
Good Apple by Elizabeth Passarella
Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong
As far as the most life-changing book I read this year. The one I bought and gifted to more people. Well, I would have to say without a doubt, it was this one here:
The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron
This was my first book on Enneagram, and it honestly helped me more than words could say. I bet not a day goes by that I don’t hear a conversation, read an email, see a text or engage with someone without stopping to think “How can I love them more in how I respond instead of just responding like an ‘Eight’?”. I have used this tool to, hopefully, help me love my people more this year. I love this book!
Okay, if you read my review about this next book…
Thin Girls by Diana Clarke then you know how conflicted I was about this novel. It’s so raw. It’s so graphic. It’s so honest. It’s fiction, but I swear to you, it will feel like a personal story. Out of all 59 books I read this year, this one here was the one I thought about the most. I talked about this book to more people. I pondered it. I researched the author. I was really captivated by novel. Please read my review before purchasing as it’s Rated R for many reasons. I did not name this book in my TOP THREE and maybe that was a mistake. It was actually the most thought-provoking book of the year, so it might should have been my #1? I’m not sure. All I know is that this is a book you won’t forget. Read at your own risk; it will stick with you.
Finally, my last honorable mention goes to The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer. In 2019, I named Rimmer’s book The Things We Cannot Say my #1 book of the year, and this novel here is a spinoff of that amazing book. This book is a work of fiction based on real events and trust me when I say, it’s hard to read but for all the right reasons. I cried. I felt. I thought. This is an amazing book. Read both of these Rimmer novels in 2022. I cannot recommend them enough!
So, those are all of my honorable mentions from 2021.
Now, are you ready to see which three books made my TOP THREE OF THE ENTIRE YEAR?!
Eeeeeeeks!!! Okay, here we go!
I may have loved those books listed above, but my THIRD FAVORITE BOOK OF 2021 is…
Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel
Ohhhhhhh! This novel was so adorable!!! You all know that I love me some chick lit and read it every chance I get, but this book here was way more than chick lit. This book is a bit meatier. It’s light and happy, but it’s not super fluffy. This is about a woman and her adult kids one summer as she works on keeping her musical trio together. There is a bit of drama, a lot of laughs, a quaint little town and so many great music references. I loved the main character (and her best friend too!), but I also loved her kids and even her dad. When I think back on the year to all the chick lit I read, most of them do not stand out and almost all of their plots run together. Not this one though. This one was unique. It’s charming. It’s original. It’s my very favorite kind of book to read. The minute I finished this novel, I knew it had a place in my TOP THREE.
Next up, my SECOND FAVORITE BOOK OF 2021 is…
The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller.
This novel is not charming chick lit. This is a gritty, raw, vulnerable piece of fiction that instantly reminded me of Where The Crawdads Sing. If you’re looking for a novel with substance about hard issues and real family conflict wrapped up in a unique setting with an interesting cast of characters, this is it. This is one of those books that is a bit dark while being light at the same time. It will make you ponder the characters’ choices and put yourself in their shoes. This book is just GOOD. Now, I will say that because of the content, this book is Rated R, so please make note of that. One page is dark and hard and then the next is light and funny. The main character is flawed but still likeable. The whole thing is about why we do the things we do…whether they’re good or bad. You will not be able to put this book down. I’m telling you…when it’s over, you’ll want another chapter.
So, those are #2 and #3.
My FAVORITE BOOK OF 2021 is…
Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams.
WITHOUT A DOUBT!
I read this book in October and it immediately shot up to the #1 spot without question or competition. This novel is brilliant! In fact, I’m very tempted to go ahead and read it a second time. It’s that good.
If you’ve read my book reviews before, then you know that not only do I love Beatriz Williams’ books (all historical fiction) that multiple times, they’ve ended up in the TOP THREE. In 2016, A Hundred Summers was my third favorite book of the year, and then in 2017, The Secret Life of Violet Grant was also my third favorite book of the year. Last year, her novel Her Last Flight very nearly made the top three as well. All of these books are amazing which means that every time I sit down to read one of her books, I have the bar set really, really high. When I cracked open Our Woman in Moscow, I was a little apprehensive that it wouldn’t meet my expectations, but friends, IT BLEW THEM OUT OF THE WATER! This novel here is my favorite Williams’ book to date. It is my very favorite book of 2021.
I cannot stress this enough, I do not like historical fiction. At all. And yet, I love all of Williams’ books. If you are not typically a fan of historical fiction, no worries, you will love this one.
If you’re looking for a work of fiction that keeps you on your toes, this is it. If you’re looking for a story about family dynamics and the complications of being a sister, this is it. If you’re looking for romance, this is it. If you’re looking for suspense, this is it. If you love historical fiction, this is FOR SURE it. If you don’t love historical fiction and just love a good chick lit book (like me!), THIS IS STILL IT!
This is a story of two sisters, separated by over a decade, who come together to get one of them (and her family) secretly out of Russia. I could not put this one down. I loved every layer, every detail, I re-read pages just to absorb even more…I thought it was brilliant. This is a fantastic book! Everyone should read it!
At dinner the other night, my friends asked me what my favorite book of the year was and when I said this one, two friends gasped out loud because they too agreed that THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. Well done, Beatriz Williams! This novel is brilliant. I absolutely could not think of a better book to take my #1 spot in 2021!
Whew! Those are my TOP THREE for 2021!
Now, I’m getting my list together of books to read the rest of this month and into January, so here’s what I want to know…WHAT IS THE BEST BOOK YOU READ IN 2021? That’s going to hopefully help me find my favorite book of 2022.
Thank you for reading with me this year! Thank you for always making these posts so much fun!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything! I love this community that reads together SO DANG MUCH! I am so thankful for you all!!!
Happy Book Day from me to YOU!!!! I’ll see you tomorrow! xx
To see the complete list of books I read in 2016 (all 62 of them), click here.
To see the complete list of books I read in 2017 (all 62 of them), click here.
To see the complete list of books I read in 2018 (all 61 of them), click here.
To see the complete list of books I read in 2019 (all 54 of them), click here.
To see the complete list of the books I read in 2020 (all 54 of them), click here.