Top 5 Books for 2021
(and two I wouldn’t recommend touching with a 39-and-a-half-foot pole)
2021 is right around the corner, meaning it’s time to set those New Year’s goals in stone. No matter what you’re into there’s something here for you. Dive back into reading with one of these five books from five different genres.
1) Beach Read by Emily Henry — Contemporary Romance (2020)
This was by far my favorite book that came out in 2020. It’s got feuding beach-front neighbors (January and Gus), salacious romance, and a relatable main character who only eats pizza and somehow still manages to have a bangin’ bod. But seriously, if you’re into romance and looking for a book to help you get back into reading, Beach Read is it.
BONUS: Author Emily Henry is coming out with another highly anticipated book in the new year titled People We Meet On Vacation. It’s sure to be the highlight of my year.
2) The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe — Contemporary Fiction (2020)
A unique friendship between two unlikely teens blossoms into something…interesting. Quick witted dark humor flows from protagonist Michael, who lives next door to Bunny, a super-tall volleyball player who could have been the Queen B of their school if her violent tendencies didn’t bubble up. The Knockout Queen was thought provoking because it tackled a lot of hard-hitting subjects, from ethics and abuse to classism and addiction. It was easily the best written book I read this year.
3) The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett — Historical Fiction (2020)
I may be a little biased because I’ve been craving a book with biracial main characters exploring the struggles that come with hiding half your identity. The Vanishing Half follows the half-black-half-white Vignes twins who grew up in a strange southern town. The two eventually part ways and live polar opposite lives, one as a black woman and the other as white. I myself am biracial and have had to weave in and out of a world that wasn’t built for me so I highly recommend this book if you’re looking to get into the minds of people who are unlike yourself.
4) Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier — Psychological Thriller (2018)
This book was WAY out of my comfort zone; I’m not a fan of books with murder, rape, or abusive relationships. Lucky for me this book has all three! However, despite my dislike of certain events, the character development and overall storyline was enthralling. Three high school best friends: One ends up in jail, another dead, and the last as a cop investigating that murder. Cue the court appearances, longing stares, and Orange is the New Black jail scenes.
5) Untamed by Glennon Doyle — Autobiography (2020)
The last autobiography I read before this was Down the Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison in 2015 so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The advice in this book can be seen as a little cheesy at times but overall, it was an inspiring memoir with the mantra “We can do hard things”. It was a nice juxtaposition to the dumpster fire that was 2020; instilling hope in some of the darkest times.
BONUS BOOKS I DID NOT LIKE
Normal People by Sally Rooney — Literary Fiction (2018)
Hear me out, maybe I just didn’t get it. Two high school peers, Connell and Marianne, go from acquaintances to lovers to strangers to friends to lovers and back again. To me, there’s no character development between the two of them. They just continually hurt each other for 273 pages, learning absolutely nothing. Marianne jumps from emotionally abusive relationship to emotionally abusive relationship and never stops to think WHY she accepts this type of love. Connell has a “woe is me” attitude and becomes codependent on Marianne. Not my cup of tea.
Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins — Young Adult (2020)
I was so excited. Operative word: Was. While it was interesting to see how President Snow became the horrendous person he is today, I felt the book was bloated and overdrawn. It could have been split into two books OR half could have been cut out — take your pick. I wish Collins would have spent more time in the arena and following Lucy Gray’s life. Glad I read so I know the full story, mad I read because it took a week out of my summer.