Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books Of 2021 (So Far)

 

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! Since we’re halfway through the year, I thought I’d share the best books I’ve read in 2021 (so far). If you saw my Mid-Year Freak-Out Tag, then you already know my favorites, but whatever. They’re good books! I’m going to write this post countdown style so it’s extra dramatic. Drumroll, please . . . .

 

 

 

🥳  Best Books Of 2021 (So Far)  🎉

 

 

 

 

10. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Young Adult Paranormal Fiction



Why I love it: This novel helped me escape from life, which made me very happy. It’s fast-paced, unique, and funny. Cemetery Boys is young adult paranormal fiction about a teenage boy who wants to be a brujo and summon the dead. His family won’t let him become a brujo, so of course he does the ceremony behind their backs and accidentally summons the ghost of his school’s recently murdered bad boy. Oops. Chaos ensues. There’s a sweet love story and a compelling murder mystery. It’s all highly entertaining. I flew through this book. I couldn’t put it down.

 

Buy it on Amazon

Buy it on Book Depository

 

 

 

 

9. How To Breathe Underwater: Stories by Julie Orringer

Adult Literary Fiction Short Story Collection



Why I love it: These bleak little stories are oddly fascinating. Have you ever read a plot twist that horrified you so much that you set the book down and backed away slowly? Yeah, that feeling sums up these stories! They’re all coming-of-age tales about girls or young women. The main characters either do something horrible or have something horrible happen to them. The stories are beautifully written and surprising. They come together in ways I didn’t see coming. I didn’t always know how the author would tie the disparate themes and plot threads together, but almost all of the stories ended perfectly. I will definitely reread this collection.

 

Buy it on Amazon

Buy it on Book Depository

 

 

 

 

8. There There by Tommy Orange

Adult Literary Fiction



Why I love it: This is a hard book to summarize because it doesn’t have a plot, but the writing is stunning and the characters are very real. A few of the characters are a little too real. One of them is a failed writer who doesn’t know what to do with his life and spends way too much time eating junk food and screwing around on the Internet. Yeah . . . that’s how I spent all of 2018. I guess I’d call the book a composite novel? Or character sketches? Or maybe a loosely connected batch of essays and short stories? I don’t know. It has a similar structure to The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. It focuses on an event called The Big Oakland Powwow. Each chapter stars a different Native American character who is attending the powwow. I promise it’s not as boring as I just made it sound. I was very attached to the characters, which made the ending devastating. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this book. It literally left me speechless.

 

Buy it on Amazon

Buy it on Book Depository

 

 

 

 

7. My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Adult Literary Fiction



Why I love it: The story is set in Nigeria and stars two sisters who are opposites. One is flighty and beautiful and uses her looks to get away with literal murder. The other is plain and responsible and buries the bodies her sister leaves behind. The book is about how society is willing to overlook the bad behavior of beautiful women and how parents have different expectations for their older and younger children. Neither of my sisters are serial killers (as far as I know), but I still saw parallels between our lives and the lives of the characters.

 

Buy it on Amazon

Buy it on Book Depository

 

 

 

 

6. Not So Pure And Simple by Lamar Giles

Young Adult Contemporary Fiction



Why I love it: I had tons of fun reading this book. It’s a young adult contemporary novel about a teen boy who has a crush on a girl at his church. He schemes up ways to spend more time with her and accidentally ends up joining their church’s Purity Pledge. The book is hilarious, relevant, and timely. It’ll make you smile, and then it’ll make you cringe with second-hand embarrassment. The author tackles a bunch of difficult topics related to sex education. I love this book because the world needs it. It talks openly about sex, and I wish every teenager had the opportunity to read it. We need to encourage young people to have conversations about consent and honesty in their relationships.

 

Buy it on Amazon

Buy it on Book Depository

 

 

 

 

5. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Adult Literary Fiction Composite Novel



Why I love it: I was very impressed by HomegoingIt’s a collection of linked short stories that start in 1700s Ghana and follow a family up until modern times. Each story focuses on a different generation of the family. The book starts with two half-sisters. One stays in Ghana and marries a powerful man. The other is captured by slave traders and shipped to America. The writing is stunning. There are scenes that will stick with me forever, especially the ones set in prisons and mines. They’re very visceral. I can’t wait to read Yaa Gyasi’s other book. I think I found a new favorite author.

 

Buy it on Amazon

Buy it on Book Depository

 

 

 

 

4. The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab

Adult Fantasy



Why I love it: VE Schwab is one of my favorite authors, and this book did not disappoint! In 1700s France, a young woman makes a deal with a mischievous god. She wants absolute freedom. He gives her immortality, but she’s cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. I love how the author examines the upsides and downsides of freedom. Addie can do whatever she wants because she can’t die, and there are no consequences for her actions because people forget her as soon as she leaves their sight. Sounds awesome, right? The author also captures Addie’s crushing loneliness and her struggle to survive. She can’t make meaningful connections with people. She can’t keep a job or own a house. It’s a fascinating and thought-provoking novel that will make you question what you really want from life.

 

Buy it on Amazon

Buy it on Book Depository

 

 

 

 

3. Surviving The Extremes: What Happens To The Body And Mind At The Limits Of Human Endurance by Kenneth Kamler, MD

Adult Medical Nonfiction



Why I love it: If you’re interested in medical nonfiction, this book is completely captivating. And completely horrifying. It kept me awake for several nights because I couldn’t stop reading. The book is exactly what it says on the cover. The author is an “extreme medicine” doctor who works with astronauts, deep ocean divers, and mountain climbers. The book is about what happens to the human body in environments that are not human friendly. The stories the author tells are simultaneously terrifying and amazing. That’s why I couldn’t stop reading them. I like every chapter, but I think my favorite is the one about Everest. I’m never going to climb that mountain. Nope, nope, not worth the potentially horrific side effects . . . .

 

Buy it on Amazon

Buy it on Book Depository

 

 

 

 

2. Dry by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman

Young Adult Dystopia / Post-Apocalyptic Fiction



Why I love it: Neal and Jarrod are a father/son writing team. Dry is a dystopia about what happens when California runs out of water. Reading it was stressful! Probably because I live in a drought-prone place that starts on fire every summer and fall. I can relate to the water restrictions and the constant smell of smoke in the story. This is one of the most realistic dystopias I’ve ever read. I love the pacing. It reads quickly because there’s a lot of action, but you still get to know and love the characters. I felt bad for them every time they hit a dead end in their search for water. (Which was often. These kids just can’t catch a break.) I love that the characters are forced to make hard decisions. They make mistakes. They learn they’re not as badass as they first thought. They’re not heroes. They’re just regular kids dealing with a terrible situation, and it’s brilliant.

 

Buy it on Amazon

Buy it on Book Depository

 

 

 

 

1. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Young Adult Contemporary Novel-In-Verse



Why I love it: See all those awards on the cover? This book totally deserves them. The plot reminds me of A Christmas Carol, but it’s set in a modern, inner-city apartment building. Most of the story takes place on an elevator. Yep, a 300-page elevator ride. (I swear it’s not boring!) A teenager’s brother is murdered, and the teen sets out to get revenge. When he steps into the elevator in his apartment building, a ghost gets on with him. The elevator stops at every floor, and a new ghost gets on at each stop. That’s when the Christmas Carol similarities start. The ghosts force the teen to confront his choices and reevaluate his decision to commit murder. It’s a thoroughly modern ghost story! And, best of all, it never gets preachy or heavy-handed! The author treats his (deeply flawed) characters with compassion and lets the readers draw their own conclusions. You should read it. It’s an excellent tale.

 

Buy it on Amazon

Buy it on Book Depository









What's your favorite book of 2021 so far?






25 comments:

  1. I can’t wait to read Cemetery Boys!

    My post: https://lydiaschoch.com/top-ten-tuesday-reasons-why-i-love-reading/

    ReplyDelete
  2. I loved Not So Pure and Simple and it brings me joy to see it on your best of list. It's way under loved.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It sounds like you've had some great reads so far this year! I'm looking forward to reading Cemetery Boys.

    my TTT this week

    ReplyDelete
  4. some great looking books. because i love reading about serial killers, my sister the serial killer jumped out at me
    sherry @ fundinmental

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yay for Cemetery Boys and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, they're some of my favorites too :) Hope you'll have plenty of amazing reads in the second half of 2021 as well!

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a fantastic list of books; I have really enjoyed the ones that I have already read. I want to read Dry, but live in southern California so it feels like it might hit too close to home.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm so glad you enjoyed all of these! Addie LaRue was one of my favourite books of last year :)
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2021/07/06/top-ten-tuesday-323/

    ReplyDelete
  8. Interesting picks. I'd like to read "There There".
    Here's my list!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dry was a great read; I agree, it felt very realistic.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have Cemetery Boys on hold through my library. And Addie LaRue is on my TBR.

    Here is my TTT post: https://readbakecreate.com/?p=468

    ReplyDelete
  11. Long Way Down was SO GOOD. I have Addie LaRue and I really hope to finally read it soon!

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

    ReplyDelete
  12. I could not get into Addie LaRue but I have Long Way Down on hold at the library. Can't wait for that one.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have heard good things about a number of these. Addie Larue is on my TBR; I need to read it SOON!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Cemetery Boys is a book I still need to read. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is one I LOVED! I really wanted her to end up with a certain dark god... ;)

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

    ReplyDelete
  15. I loved long way down and my sister the serial killer so much too! I literally just bought there there so I am very happy to see it on this list. I will be reading addie larue in August and I hope I'll be able to like it more than any Schawb novels I've read so far. I also own Homegoing and cemetery boys so it's just a matter of time before I fall in love with them too.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Fabulous list of books. I'm crazy about Long Way Down and There, There, too.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have heard nothing but great things about Cemetery Boys!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have not read ONE book from this list?! I did hear about some of them and some of them are on my TBR, but others on this list, I will research them and see if I'll add them! Thanks for this nice list :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great list! How To Breathe Under Water sounds good and I've had My Sister the Serial Killer on my TBR for a while.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I loved My Sister, the Serial Killer! It was one of my favorite books last year. (or two years ago? things are all blending in with the weird year that was 2020) And I really want to read The Invisible Life of Addie Larue!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Nice list. I have heard about many here, but have not read them. Of the 92 books I have read so far, I gave 5 stars to 46 of them. So I'm just going to tell you about the most recent 5 stars I finished: The Lost Spells, by Robert Macfarlane. Beautiful small poetry and art book inspired by nature. A real gem: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49358272-the-lost-spells

    ReplyDelete
  22. Yay, I loved Dry! Long Way Down was also incredible, so I definitely agree with those. I need to read quite a few on your list, too. You have me VERY intrigued by How To Breathe Under Water, too! I hadn't heard of it before but wow. It sounds like I need to read it!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Yeah I still need to read Addie LaRue ... damn me. I'll get to it. I liked the Sisters Serial Killer book ... There There had too bleak and ending for me! I'm still looking for my favorite book of the year .... it'll probably come in December, ha.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I loved Addie Larue and I want to read Dry.

    Anne - Books of My Heart

    ReplyDelete