My Favorite Books of 2021

This year marked a return to my normal reading style after a major shift during the pandemic. I dove back into my serious, heart wrenching, deeply emotional stories that I love. There were so many good books this year! Here are my favorites.

The Water Keeper by Charles Martin

Charles Martin books always make me cry, but this one took it to a new level. I sobbed my way through the ending of this one as it earned its way onto my list of books everyone should read. It’s main character became one of my favorite fictional characters ever. This book touches so many emotions and dives into a topic everyone should be aware of—human trafficking. Don’t let the tears stop you, though—while it’s deeply emotional, it’s also full of hope.

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

This falls under the “truth is stranger than fiction” category. I first heard about the Osage murders on my favorite podcast, American Shadows. I was drawn to the story because it all happened not too far from where we live. This is sad and fascinating. It’s being made into a movie coming out later this year, so read the book first.

Under the Tulip Tree by Michelle Shocklee

Set during the Great Depression, this book touches on a program I knew nothing about—the WPA Federal Writers Project. When Rena accepts a job interviewing a former slave, the women form a bond, and Rena is forced to face painful truths about her family.

The Vanishing at Loxby Manor by Abigail Wilson

Two of my favorite things combine for this book: mystery and Regency. This was the first Abigail Wilson book I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be my last. I plan on reading all of her books in 2022.

Unoffendable by Brant Hansen

I don’t often refer to a book as life changing, but this book is definitely one that fits. It’s challenging and sometimes painful because it hits home so much. If you’re worn out from a world where everyone is offended by everything, this is a must read.

Hope Between the Pages by Pepper Basham

A mystery that revolves around a bookstore—it’s the perfect setup. This split time novel is part of the Doors to the Past series from Barbour. I loved it!

On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright

Anything Jaime Jo Wright does is likely going to end up on my favorites list. I love her books so much! Her split time mysteries that have the perfect “ghost story” feels, minus any actual ghosts. If you love a good mystery with a Gothic feel, you have to read this one!

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox

Last year I took a chance on a debut author and signed up for her launch team, and I’m so glad I did! Amanda Cox jumped onto my list of must read authors with her debut novel, and she sealed the deal wither second book. This beautiful story of three generations of women deals with so many difficult topics with grace and hope.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

This middle grade book was such a unique WWII story. The sequel is also a fantastic book. Just a note—don’t let the “middle grade” label fool you. These were recommended to me by an adult patient, and I’ve recommended them to many others. They are well worth your time.

When We Were Young and Brave by Hazel Gaynor

I normally recommend Christian fiction, so let me give a disclaimer: this is not CF and there is some minor language. However, this incredibly well written novel tells a WWII story I’d never even heard of and it’s well worth reading.

The Lady Darby Mysteries by Anna Lee Huber

Don’t ask me to pick a favorite. They’re all amazing. I’ve binged almost the entire series since September. These historical mysteries are made even better by the audiobook narrator. She nails the accents and adds so much to the stories. Again, these are not CF, but they are clean.

What were your favorite books this year?

How My Reading Life Changed in 2021

It’s been a bizarre two years. The 2020 pandemic turned all our lives upside down and changed everything. This year has been hard in different ways, and it’s also brought a lot more changes to my reading habits.

One of my biggest changes has been simply returning to normal. Last year, I was definitely drawn to lighter books—during a really difficult year, I needed something light and fun. This year has marked a return to heavier books, weightier subjects, and more of my normal routines. There were other changes, too. Here are a few:

What I’ve read less of

There’s been a noticeable difference in my reading habits from last year to this year.

  • I’ve read much less YA this year.
  • I haven’t reread any books this year—last year I reread a lot of old favorites.
  • I’ve read a lot more physical books. It’s funny, because I love my Kindle app and normally read a lot on it. I think part of the reason for the shift is launch teams and bookstagram. I read a lot of books for review, and those are usually physical copies. I’m also using our library a lot, and many times the only copy I can get is a physical copy. I’m not complaining, because while I’m thankful for my Kindle app, I also still love the feeling of a book in my hands.

What I’ve

Historical mysteries

I discovered some great new authors this year and a new-to-me genre that I love: historical mysteries. New authors I’ve discovered include Regency authors Abigail Wilson and Erica Vetsch. The runaway favorite discovery of this category, however, has to be Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby Mysteries. I started listening to the audiobooks from our local library’s Hoopla app in September. I’m currently on book seven. I can’t get enough of these!


This is another genre I’ve really gotten into this year. I love Jane Austen and wanted more books from a similar time period. I mentioned a couple of Regency mystery authors above. In addition, I absolutely love Julie Klassen’s books! I’m reading through them in publication order. So far, my favorite is The Girl in the Gatehouse, but I’ve loved every book of hers that I’ve read.

Gothic Classics

I know that’s oddly specific, but Gothic classics have always been my favorites classics. This year, I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle and I’m currently rereading Frankenstein for the first time in more than twenty years. It was one of my favorite books from high school. If you’ve never read it, let me say it’s probably nothing like what you’re expecting—Hollywood has ruined this story. It’s a really deep, thought provoking book. I had hoped to read some of the Bronte sisters but just didn’t get to them this year.

World War II

They truly were the Greatest Generation. I’ve always been fascinated by this time period, but this year I’ve been seeking out WWII books from a fresh perspective. This year’s reading included the middle grade novels The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won, the novel When We Were Young and Brave about an event I’d never heard of, and the non-fiction When Books Went to War.

Did your reading life change in 2021? What trends have you noticed in your reading this year?

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