For me, 2021 was a page turner. If you’re looking to make your 2022 one, keep on reading! In this article, I’ve shared my top 10 reads from 2021 to give you a little reading inspiration for the year. So, consider adding one (or a few) of these 2021 top reads to your 2022 to-be-read pile, because they sure were worth the read to me.
Like the title might suggest it will be, this book is such a fun read. We follow our babysitter protagonist, Emira, who babysits for a wealthy couple in order to make money to propel her own upcoming career. Though, when Emira is confronted in the grocery store with the young girl, she’s accused of kidnapping because she is a young black girl with a white child in a wealthy, predominantly white neighborhood. After this incident, which went viral online, Emira and the mother navigate changing pressures and drama post-incident. This book is honestly SO gripping and I would recommend it to anyone, but especially young women. The dynamic between Emira and the mother is insane and so engaging for a young woman to read.
I was skeptical about this book at first. The religious mission type books never tend to hit home with me, especially when our protagonist is a priest on a mission to colonize native people. However, this book has so much more going on in it. Our protagonist is not only a priest on a mission to colonize native people, but our protagonist is actually a woman who is pretending to be the late Father who was actually sent to be a missionary. Instead of coming clean at any point, our protagonist keeps their true gender identity concealed and also makes friends with the native people they are attempting to convert. Before you write this book off as a non-interesting religion-centric book, know that this story is so, so far from what it actually seems to be. With conflicts like gender identity, sexuality, sex in the clergy, faith, and confronting death, this book is WAY more interesting to a modern reader than you might think at first glance. Honestly it is a total page turner, you’re going to want to hear this story.
My dad recommended I read this book, and for a while it just sat on my shelf. I thought the concept was interesting, following a young man as he keeps surfing near the forefront of his life and following the adventures that come from that. However, I’m not as obsessed with surfing as my dad is and I wasn’t all that jazzed about the concept until I finally picked it up and started turning the pages of the book. The story starts out in Finnegan’s childhood, after he and his family moved to Hawaii for his father’s work from California. Even back then, it’s interesting to see Finnegan’s account of being a white surfer among Hawaiian giants. Then, we follow him after growing up and going on some crazy surfing adventures. If you know nothing about surfing, don’t worry about being thrown in the deep end of this exciting world, you will finish this book knowing a whole lot more about the history, culture, and execution of the sport. This book will probably make you want to paddle out yourself, actually. Though if surfing couldn’t be more boring to you, there’s also the added benefit of Finnegan’s adventures, he traveled a whole lot. So, this book is also a great account of travel to popular surf locations, but not-so-popular vacation destinations. This book is great to read if you want to know a little more about different corners of the world. It’s also a great read if you need a little inspiration for adventure!
Mysteries are great, aren’t they? Well, if you’re looking for a modern mystery that gets unraveled before your eyes, consider picking up Tropic of Orange. This book follows several characters who are slightly related or a bit more distantly related to one another. These characters, though, all end up around Los Angeles around the time of an outbreak of deadly poisonous oranges making its way into the hands of underprivileged citizens. The story also follows an event that would go down in history: a freeway blockage that turns the highway into temporary communal living right in the heart of LA. Themes like family, homelessness, mental health, poverty, duty, etc. are strong in this story and keep things super exciting. This book is for sure a page-turner and is one I definitely recommend!
I love this memoir! While there isn’t a very direct plot that Gilman follows in Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, the relatability of this story was insane. I feel like Giman perfectly captured shared experiences of adolescence in women as well as seeking a sense of identity throughout your youth. If you love hearing quick, quippy stories from a sassy jewish new yorker, then this story is for you. Throughout the story, we see defining moments in Gilman’s adolescence that all contributed to her finding her identity and purpose. It’s such an enjoyable, relatable, and entertaining read! Honestly, you can probably breeze through this one if you find Gilman even the slightest bit funny (which, I did, obviously).
I already shared this book in my article about books that will help you transform and better yourself. Though, I also think The Impossible First deserves a spot on my top 10 reads for 2021. This book is a lot like Barbarian Days. It’s one of those stories that’ll get you inspired to go on an adventure or do something really exciting with your life. It follows Colin ‘OBrady on his journey across Antarctica on the first official unassisted crossing of the Antarctic. While it is a crazy feat that he accomplished, ‘OBrady shares what got him through the nearly impossible experience. And if he could achieve “his everest,” you’ll be inspired to reach for whatever is yours too.
I could not stop thinking about this book after reading it. Makes sense, right? Images of the horrific side of hard drug addictions tend to sear certain memories in our minds. This book, while sad, shows a realistic account of a young man’s struggle with methamphetamine abuse and addiction. It’s not a pretty story, but it’s Sheff’s story and struggle toward recovery. I would say it’s one of the best stories I read in 2021 because it opened me up to a world that so many struggle with, humanizing a problem that others need help solving. After reading it, I also watched the movie based on Sheff’s experiences from his memoir as well as his father’s memoir about Nic’s addiction: Beautiful Boy. The movie, also titled Beautiful Boy was a great watch, depicting moments from the story with haunting attention to detail.
Visions of ghosts tend to be something that really gets me engaged with a book. That spook factor always has to be there, even just a little, right? Well, in Sing, Unburied, Sing, it’s there. We follow a child’s journey to and from picking his father up from prison with his mother and sister. Unlike a normal family dynamic, the one Ward creates in this depiction was hard to read because neglect and emotional abuse were for sure factors, though the way the story is written is so beautiful and tells a great story of intergenerational trauma stemming from racial injustice.
This book will probably sit up high on my list of favorite reads. Again, that spook factor is there, along with other gothic images of castles and pale English people and poisons run strong in this story, which I love. This story is also a bit of a mystery that the reader unveils along with the protagonist. Themes of love, family, duty, racial injustice, and eugenics are huge with this book and give it a really unique and uneasy feel that works for creeping the reader out pretty much the whole time, what I’d assume Moreno-Garcia’s goal was.
Quick, fun, futuristic reads your thing? This book will definitely not disappoint. Binti follows a girl embarking on interplanetary travel to attend university as the first person from her planet to leave and go on a new adventure. Along the way though, Binti deals with alien interference in this very gripping, inspiring, and short read. Yup, even the quickest reads can be really great ones!
What are your 2021 top reads? Share them in the comments below so we can all have an amazing reading list! Here’s to 2022 being a page-turner as well.