It is the beginning of the year so, it’s the perfect time to highlight the best books I read in 2021! My favorite way of gushing about my favorite books is to put them in random categories so… here we go!
Best Fantasy novella
The Empress of Salt and Fortune is one of the first books I read this year and it is by far my favorite fantasy novella in 2021. I also loved its sequel but I’m constantly think about this one in particular.
Best Fantasy novel
I’m always a bit skeptical when I pick up super hyped books but, in the case of The Poppy War, it completely lived up to it. It’s a very violent story inspired by the Second Sino-Japanese War and it was a page-turner!
Best Science Fiction novella
Remote Control has all the successful elements of the Binti trilogy without any of aspects I don’t like about it. It feels like a fairytale set decades in the future and I loved it.
Best Science Fiction novel
Kindred is a classic for a reason, it’s a hard read but it’s powerful and captivating. It discusses race, slavery and how far humans are willing to go to protect their family. I can’t wait to read more of Butler’s works (though I’m not sure if my heart is going to handle it).
After reading The ThoughtBox, a fantastic short story by Tsamaase in 2020, I finally picked up one of her other works and it was exactly as amazing as I expected it to be. A novella perfect for fans of Okorafor’s as it blends science fiction and fantasy and, dreams with reality.
It’s rare for me to read a collection of short stories where I really like all the stories. The only other collection that managed the same feat for me is The Paper Menagerie & Other Stories by Ken Liu and it’s my favorite short story collection.
I can’t recommend Friday Black enough for fans of N.K. Jemisin, Tochi Onyebuchi and Jordan Peele.
Best Literary Fiction
I have been meaning to read this book since it was shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2017 and I finally read it. This book felt deeply personal to me as it discussed at length how it feels to be disconnected to your cultural heritage. It’s not a happy book but parts of it reminded me of fond memories of visiting the Algerian side of my family during the holidays when I was little.
There are not many happy titles on this list, I don’t know what it says about me but I definitely tend to love tragic and hard-hitting stories.
The Hating Game is none of the above, it’s funny and cute as hell. I read it for the first time in 2018, I think I read it for the fourth time in 2021 and I finally bumped my rating to five stars because I can’t lie to myself anymore, it’s my favorite romance book of all time!
Last year, I buddy-read three books with Mayri from Bookforager: Lovecraft Country, Kindred and A Man Lies Dreaming. I loved discussing all the books with her but I think our discussion of A Man Lies Dreaming was my favorite because it allowed me to order my thoughts and feelings about the story. I don’t think I would have been able to do that without Mayri’s help! 😉
Last year, I finally read Clark’s Dead Djinn Universe stories and I had such a blast doing it. I don’t think I can read enough stories set in his alternate magical Cairo. I hope he will write many more stories set in this world!
Best Worst Book
The Maidens was so bad it was almost good. I enjoyed The Silent Patient earlier in 2021 but The Maidens was terrible. And don’t even get me started on the ending, it was so lazy and ridiculous and I hated it.
Best of the Best
All the books featured on this list are amazing (except The Maidens, of course) but The Vanished Birds is top tier. This story broke my heart over and over again, I cried non-stop while reading the last chapter and I haven’t felt such connections with book characters in a long-time, if ever. This book is stunning, mind-blowing and heartbreaking. What more can I say? Just go read it and thank me later.
Have you read any of the books mentioned in this post? What are your favorite books of 2021? 😀