My Favourite Books of 2021 | All the wonderful things I read last year

Best books of the year

Hello, my lovely lemons! 🍋 Happy New Year! I hope 2022 is treating you well so far. I’m writing this post snuggled up in a cosy cardigan that I got for Christmas, with a cup of mulled cider flavour tea and my giant pumpkin candle burning. Seriously, this thing is huge. Let me get a picture.

Giant pumpkin scented candle

It’s like a bucket. But it smells so good and I love it. Anyway, I thought this cosy atmosphere would be perfect for writing all about my favourite books of the last year. I read a lot in 2021, more than I have in any previous year, and so much of it was so good. Plus, I know I wasn’t around on the blog a lot of the time last year so there’s a ton of books I read but haven’t had the chance to gush to you about. I’ve also got some super fun reading stats to share courtesy of The StoryGraph.

🍋 My 2021 Reading Stats 🍋

I think 2021 was a strange year for everyone, but in it I managed to read the most books I ever have! I finished up on December 31st with 77 books read, which is just so amazing. I also hit my page goal of reading 20,000 pages! That doesn’t include audiobooks, so I’m super proud of that number. I also only just managed to hit it at the end of December, so it really was a challenge for me! I’ve set my goal up to 21,000 pages this year, and I’m hoping I can rise to the challenge again.

I’ve also got some fun stats on what formats I was reading most last year, as well as my average page numbers! The format spread is about what I was expecting. I read a lot of my physical TBR at the start of the year, a good dose of audiobooks across the months (mostly the Murderbot Diaries, which I listened to twice) and a nice chunk of digital books, which were mainly digital manga and Kindle books. I think this little pie chart looks like a good representation of how I read. The page number chart, however, has surprised me! I usually prefer longer books, and I never thought I’d see a time when over 50% of my reads were under 300 pages. But looking at my reading over the year I can understand how this happened. I suspect my multiple reads the Murderbot Diaries novellas and my foray into manga are to blame. But also maybe smaller books were what I needed last year. I had several extra chunky epic fantasies on my reading list and I never quite managed to get into them.

🍋 My Favourite Books of 2021 🍋

Murderbots on surveys and gays on space stations
Adventurous mangas and romantic vacations
Shiny new series all tied up with string
These are a few of my favourite things (to read in 2021)

this took me so long to come up with oh my god

The Witchling’s Girl by Helena Coggan | This was my first truly great read of the year. It’s a very different story from anything I’ve read before and anything I’ve read since. It’s a slow story, and at times quite a sad one, spanning the life of a girl as she’s apprenticed to her town’s witchling and learns the arts of healing and the magic of life and death. It was a beautiful and heartbreaking tale, with truly incredible atmospheric writing.

Network Effect by Martha Wells | 2021 was the year of Murderbot for me. After discovering the series in December 2020 I spent most of 2021 reading it in one format or another. The audiobooks are some of my all-time favourites and now my go-to whenever I’m bored or feeling down. Nothing cheers you up quick like the reluctant adventures of a socially awkward AI killing machine who just really wants to watch Netflix all day and not have to look after stupid humans. This is my new comfort series, and Network Effect was a real highlight for me as the first full-length novel. It has so much development, healing, and the snark levels are off the charts.

Daughter of the Pirate King by Trivia Levenseller | This was just such good FUN. It’s a book filled with pirate antics and banter. It was a really uplifting and easy read at a time when I was struggling with reading. In fact, I loved it so much I declared Tricia Levenseller an auto-buy author and added all her other books to my TBR immediately. (I haven’t gotten to any of those other books yet, but shhhh, it’s the bookworm’s way.)

Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir | These books sent me feral. You only have to look at my mid-year freak out post to see how utterly The Locked Tomb series consumed me. I read these two (fairly chunky) books in just a few days, then immediately read them again. They haven’t been far from my mind since, if I’m honest. If a book version of a soulmate exists, Gideon is mine. It’s a dark and gritty adventure, in a haunted gothic palace, with big swords and bone magic and sapphic undertones through pretty much everything. Not to mention the most distinctive and hilarious narrative voice I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Personally I think all dark, mysterious fantasies should be narrated by butch lesbian himbo. The next title in the series, Nona the Ninth, is coming out at the end of this year and is 100% my most anticipated release of 2022.

Fence: Striking Distance and Fence: Disarmed by Sarah Rees Brennan | Oh boy, these books. First off, I love the Fence comics/graphic novels, and have done for years. I was a bit unsure about how the novel adaptations would go, but I’m always hungry for more from this loveable series – and the blurb of Striking Distance promised fake dating, so that was me sold. I absolutely adored these books. They were so much fun, so funny, and Sarah Rees Brennan did a wonderful job translating the characters from comic to novel. It really felt like a natural continuation of the story. I laughed so hard and loved so hard while reading these. When I finished Striking Distance I was struck with such an immediate need for the sequel that I ordered it with next day delivery and reread all the graphic volumes while I waited for it to arrive. Just really good, wholesome fun that I would encourage anyone to read when they’re in need of a pick-me-up.

You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry | This book was a total impulse purchase for me – from the book section in the supermarket, of all places. The bright cover caught my eye, and I was struck with the longing to just pick up something different. It had been so long since I’d read an adult romance (probably years, if I’m honest). I opened to a random page, it made me laugh, and so I bought it. I started reading it as soon as I got home, and didn’t stop until I’d finished it. It really showed me how much I’d been holding myself back, staying boxed in to a few genres that I thought were my “brand” or something stupid like that, idk. It kick-started a whole chain reaction of reading totally different things and learning to enjoy looking for books again. Also, it was just a really good romance.

A Gentle Noble’s Vacation Recommendation by Miskaki, Momochi, & Sando | I said the previous book started a chain of reading different things, and the first of those was manga. This wasn’t the first manga I read but it was certainly the one I loved the most. It’s set in a fun fantasy world with video-game like rules, the main characters truly embody the grumpy-sunshine pairing, and all the side characters are loveable as heck, too. The ongoing manga is being adapted from the series of light novels, which I am absolutely desperate to read, but sadly they haven’t been translated from Japanese yet. The next volume of the manga comes out his year, which I’m so excited about, and I’ll just be sitting here praying for a translation in the meantime.

Cells at Work! Baby by Yasuhiro Fukuda | Cells at Work is one of my favourite animes, and when I saw this spin-off manga all about baby cells in a baby I absolutely had to have it. Essentially, this series is about humanised cells doing their jobs inside your body, and it’s better than any biology lesson I ever had. The red blood cells are little delivery workers transporting oxygen, the white blood cells run around chasing and fighting germs and bacteria… it’s adorable. And it’s 10 times more adorable when those cells are BABIES. I love it. Instant serotonin.

Three Mages and a Margarita by Annette Marie | I’d been eyeing up this urban fantasy series for a while, but never actually got around to starting it. Then in October I started a free trial of Kindle Unlimited (which I was totally intending to turn into a blog post that’s now lying dead in my notes) and suddenly had the perfect opportunity to read it. I was in a reading slump and wanted something easily digestible and fun, which to me means urban fantasy. And the Guild Codex series embodies everything I adore about urban fantasy. Spunky female protagonist? Check. Slightly dingy setting with secret magic? Check. Sarcasm, banter, and found family? Check. And don’t forget the constant dire magical situations that keep cropping up for all our heroes to go sort out. This series is wonderful, it’s funny, and best of all it’s big and there are spin-off series set in the same universe. I love a big series where I can truly fall in love with all the characters.

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall | This was very much an impulse ”I’m bored, let’s put an audiobook on” choice. This is also a 13 hour audiobook. I listened to it in one day. It was just so GOOD! Unputdownable. Funny, frank, emotional, swoony, oh so romantic. I loved every second of it. The narration was great, the characters were so funny and fleshed out and real… it was a total winner. I mean, 2 minutes into the audio I had the quote “I should probably explain why I was sipping on a non-binary beverage while wearing the world’s most middle class excuse for fetish gear in a basement in Shoreditch.” So, yeah, go read Boyfriend Material.

I read a lot in 2021, and so much of what I read was just so good. And I think more than any other year I read a lot of books I’ll remember, that will leave an impact on me and that I’ll keep coming back to. I’m already planning a few rereads from this list, and there’s some series I mentioned that I need to continue. Last year was a year in which I rediscovered my own reading tastes, and opened myself up to new things. Here’s hoping for another year filled with more wonderful reads than I can count!

What were your favourite reads in 2021? Did you read any of the same books as me? Let me know in the comments!

Love and lemons, Abi

4 thoughts on “My Favourite Books of 2021 | All the wonderful things I read last year

  1. i am so glad to hear you had such a positive experience with the fence novels. likewise, i am very invested in the graphic novel series, but i wasn’t sure how i would feel about them in written format, especially because i’ve read other novel adaptations of graphic series before and had always found them to be underwhelming. but your review makes me hopeful that i’ll like these ones as much as i like the comics!

    also: yes. boyfriend material is just such an easy read and i LOVE this book’s humor so much. i found myself wanting to laugh out loud while listening to the audiobook so many times and i’ll definitely need to get a physical copy so i can annotate all the most hilarious passages (i have a feeling i’ll run out of post-its for this one heheh)

    hope 2022 treats you well with more amazing reads, abi!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you love the Fence graphic novels then I think you’ll really enjoy the books! I don’t know how they managed it but they really do have the same feel to them and you get a longer, more fleshed-out story. Which is great because I get so impatient waiting for the next volume to come out! (Plus there’s some quality Aiden/Harvard content 😜)

      Boyfriend Material is so great! I just found out there’s a sequel coming this year and I need it in my life. Yessss go for it with the post-its 😀

      Thank you, the same to you Lais! ❤️


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