It’s that time of year again people! No, not Christmas or New Year. But the “Best Books of the Year” post! These are without a doubt one of my favourite posts to write throughout the entire year and I think I’ve done one of these more or less every year since I started blogging, since 2013, when I was a a new little book blogger in this huge industry.

Over the last year or so, I’ve introduced bookish content back onto my blog and it’s been a great decision for me. Book blogging really sucked the love and the fun out of reading for me, so for a good few years, after I stepped away from book blogging and also closed my book touring business, I wouldn’t touch book content with a barge pole.

I loved reading it on other people’s blogs but for me, the thought of writing about books made me feel a bit sick. I just didn’t want anything to do with it. Which was a shame because books and reading have always been one of my true loves, ever since I was a kid. I grew up with books, I understand and know the power of books and what words can do for you a human being.

I realized I was doing an injustice to the thing that has served me so well ever since I was a kid. Hell, it was books that got me to this place with my blog. So I slowly introduced book content back onto my blog – just once a month – and it was enough to quench that thirst and now I am THOROUGHLY enjoying it. Yay!

So here we are again, at the end of another year and another selection of amazing books I’ve been lucky to read throughout the last 12 months. I don’t set myself any strict reading goals any more – that would COMPLETELY defeat the point of reading for fun again for me. So I don’t really care how much I read in a year, as long as I’m reading books which I like and align with me in that moment.

Back in July I wrote my 5 Best Books of 2021 So Far blog post but here we are, another 5 months later and here are the books I feel held up as some of the best of the entire year for me. 

We All Know How This Ends by Anna Lyons & Louise Winter

This has got to be a stand out one for me this year and I really do feel like 2021 was THE YEAR for Non-Fiction. Non-Fiction books I’ve picked up this year have knocked it out of the park. We All Know How This Ends is a candid, honest and incredibly informative guidebook into all things death, written by Anna Lyons, an end-of-life doula and Louise Winter, a funeral director.

This book utterly changed my perception and fear of death. It’s so matter of fact but informative in a carefully curated and sensitive way. These two don’t sugar coat ANYTHING but also give you all the information at hand to make informed decisions about end of life care, funerals and how to deal with grief. A hard read, yes. But a necessary one.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

I lovedddd Wilder Girls. It was one of those books that I really truly could not put down and every spare minute I got, I was reaching for it to read another handful of pages. Wilder Girls was such a unique and eerie premise. Made even more so by the pandemic and the themes within the book.

It was ultimately a book about female friendship and romance. Surviving what seems to be the unsurvivable. A feminist YA dystopian which the author captures amazingly through a mix of flowery and delicate prose and eerie horror. The only minor downfall with this one was the ending – I liked it but I wanted more. Still, an eclectic read.

Glittering A Turd by Kris Hallenga 

Another non-fiction stealing one of my top spots for this years best reads and that was the highly anticipated Glittering A Turd by Kris Hallenga. I’ve followed Kris on social media for a number of years, way before GaT was ever on the radar, so I was SO EXCITED to hear she was writing a book of her experience and I pre-ordered it the second I was able to.

And it hugely lived up to expectations. Kris is an excellent writer, getting her personality across and being incredibly funny too, in the midst of such serious conversations around cancer and living with a terminal illness. Kris is such a huge inspiration – being the founder of the charity we all know and love, CoppaFeel!.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

And a third non-fiction book lighting up my best books of 2021 list and that’s Becoming by Michelle Obama. I was super late to the party reading this one, I’m aware of that. I think I was a bit daunting and intimidated by it (and her). But my GOD why did I wait so long to read this?

Becoming was so much more than what I thought it was going to be. I was worried I wasn’t going to understand some of the political jargon but I needn’t have worried. Michelle is an utterly beautiful writer, capturing her thoughts and feelings so beautifully and making us feel like a small part of her journey. Just a stunning read, there’s no other way to describe it.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

I’ve mentioned this book just about everywhere over the course of this year; on my blog, on Twitter, on Instagram. You name it. And I knew it would stand up as one of my favourites of the year ever since I read it. There was so much hype around Where the Crawdads Sing for so long, I was worried I wasn’t going to connect with it in the same way as everyone else had appeared to.

But my gosh, I just adored this book. Yes it took a little while for me to truly get into but once I was in, I WAS IN. I was completely absorbed into the world and the marshes. I’m thoroughly looking forward to the film adaptation of this when it comes out!

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson-Walker

Karen Thompson-Walker is one of those authors who could write a whole book about socks and I’d read it cover to cover in one sitting. My favourite book of ALL TIME is Thompson-Walker’s debut, The Age of Miracles. So when I found out about The Dreamers, I ordered it straight away and read it as soon as it arrived. In fact, it was the first book I read in 2021.

It didn’t come close to The Age of Miracles for me but that book is just on another level. But The Dreamers was an excellent read – another one that hit very close to home, considering what is going on in the world and the fact that the premise is around a spreading virus. A really interested premise and beautifully written but I wouldn’t have expected anything less.

The Shadow Man by Helen Fields

A few years ago, my whole “best books of” posts would be FULL of Thrillers. I love Thriller, it’s one of my favourite genres. But I’ve read so damn many of them, that I’ve sadly started to get a bit bored of them. I do pick up a Thriller from time to time now, when I fancy a thrill and The Shadow Man was a definite top pick of 2021.

I was totally hooked with The Shadow Man. Such a strange and unique premise for a Thriller novel and characters that I thoroughly enjoyed as well. This wasn’t so much about the twists and turns but more so about the internal battles, totally eerie and disturbing and a thoroughly engaging read.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

I featured this book in my mid-year best of books and I felt a little weird about it. But here we are, at the end of the year and here it is again. And I still feel weird. If you’ve read My Dark Vanessa, you’ll understand why. But despite the incredibly disturbing and uncomfortable storyline, this book is a masterpiece.

It delves into some very real and awful and uncomfortable territory. But it’s a powerhouse of a novel. Definitely not for the faint-hearted. Definitely worth researching before reading, in case you might get triggered by the contents. But if you can read this, then do.

Those are my favourite books I’ve read in 2021! Have you read any of these? What did you think? What was your favourite book of 2021? Let me know!

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  1. I loved Becoming as well and it’s one I recommend over and over again. Thanks for sharing this list Jenny!

  2. I haven’t actually read any of these books, but Becoming has been on my tbr list for about 2 years. This is the year I’m going to read it because I’ve read the first chapter and I loved it x

  3. I haven’t read any of these yet, but a few of them are on my TBR list. My favorite book of 2021 was probably The Push. I thought it was so beautifully written and unique.

  4. All of these books sound amazing. A few of these are on my list. I have heard so many good thing about Becoming by Michelle Obama. I will definitely include this to my list. Thank you for sharing,

  5. Such a great post Jenny! Some really good recommendations you have and such lovely photos you have taken. Everything about this post is amazing. Keep recommending us more books. Love your bookish content. Thanks for sharing with us!!

  6. So glad you’ve found your love again for bookish content. I’ve only read one of these books, Where the Crawdad’s Sing, I found it really hard to read, I couldn’t get myself into it really. But once I finished it, I realised how much of a good book it actually was x

  7. I actually haven’t heard of any of these books. To be honest I don’t think I have read a book at all this year. How terrible is that! I have some books I need to read so next year I definitely going to make more of an effort in my downtime to read instead of watching tv. The book about spreading the virus. I would actually think what’s going on right now it would be an interesting read. Thank you for sharing these Jenny.
    Have a lovely Christmas and New Year.

    Lauren –

  8. Ahh another fab post! ‘Becoming’ was one of my faves last year, and ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ has shot up my list to be one of the top reads of this year too. Some of my other favourites this year are ‘Circe’ and ‘Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982’ – both fiction, both very different to what I usually read, both phenomenal ✨

    rosie x |

  9. I absolutely love these kinds of posts as I’m always looking for new books to read! So I very much appreciate this post, thank you so much for sharing lovely Xo

    Elle –

  10. I’ve had Becoming for a few years now but still haven’t gotten around to actually picking it up…I’m a bit intimidated but the size of it ha.
    Like the sound of Glittering a turd and We all know how this ends!
    Great list, I just read A man called Ove and I have to say it’s going straight into my favourite books list xxx

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