Most Memorable Reads of 2021 #TopTenTuesday

December 28, 2021

2021 Memorable Reads:
The Top Ten List and The Categories

2021 Most Memorable Reads

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Best Books I Read in 2021

Top Ten Tuesday (winter) graphic

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

I mostly love the angst of creating top ten lists! Although it can be a daunting task, it’s my most anticipated post of the year! First, let me remind you that this list is subjective. It’s compiled of books I’ve read this year (there are always so many more great ones that I didn’t get to), and each one has made it onto this list because reading it was an enjoyable, memorable, emotional experience and gave me a “book hangover.”

I’m presenting my list this year in two formats: in top ten list form and in categories. The categories part is a bit more comprehensive because I provide some runners up and books that didn’t make it to my official top ten. Titles are links to my reviews or Amazon affiliate links. Although most titles in this post were published this year, a few were not.

Thanks for sharing great reads with me this year!

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Top Ten Memorable Fiction Reads of 2021

Based on the qualities of enjoyment, engagement, compelling, unputdownable, and book hangovers.

(see categories below for runners up and additional selections)


 The Rose Code by Kate Quinn


Love and Lavender by Josi S. Kilpack


Radar Girls by Sara Ackerman


Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi,


The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner
(finished on 12/31/2020 so it didn’t make last year’s list)


The Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck


Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan


The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton


Gilead by Marilynne Robinson


 Project Hail Mary (the audio version) by Andy Weir

Most Memorable Nonfiction

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim Defede

The Day the World Came to Town

* * * * * BONUS *****

Memorable Reads by Category

It’s difficult to rank books in order from 1-10 because they are each special in their own way, so I’ve sorted all my best reads of the year into categories and included some that that didn’t make the top ten and some runners up (because who can choose just ten?). Even though not all of them are 5 star reads, these are the books that were the most memorable for me….the ones that I still think about….the ones that gave me a “book hangover”……the ones I recommend the most often.

Most Memorable Overall (writing, research, content, compelling)

(and my BEST read of the year)

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
(WW11 Historical Fiction, London)
5 Stars

a woman dressed in a rose dress stands with her back to the camera overlooking a balcony and a gold wall

Most Memorable WW11 Historical Fiction

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
5 Stars

The Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck

5 Stars

Radar Girls by Sara Ackerman
5 Stars

Most Memorable Light Fiction

The Invisible Husband of Frick Island by Colleen Oakley
(comtemporary fiction)
4.5 Stars

Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce
(light WW11 histfic, London)
4 Stars

The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan
(light WW11 histfic, friendship, cooking)
4 Stars

Most Memorable Real-Life Women

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
(WW11 histfic, London)

5 Stars

Radar Girls by Sara Ackerman
(WW11 histfic, Hawaii, friendship)
5 Stars

The Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck
(WW11 histfic, France, resistance movement)
5 Stars

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton
(histfic, Cuba, New York City)
5 Stars

Most Memorable Love Story

Love and Lavender by Jose S. Kilpack
(historical romance fiction)
5 Stars 

Love and Lavender by Jose S. Kilpack (cover) Image: a woman in a long dress and bonnet stands alone in a field of lavender

Most Memorable Middle Grade/Diverse Reads

Ghost by Jason Reynolds (#1 in a 4 book loosely connected series)
(MG Contemporary Fiction)
5 Stars

Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga
(MG historical fiction, Syria and U.S., refugee)
5 Stars

Most Memorable Complicated Family

Three Words For Goodby by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
(historical fiction, sisters, Europe)
5 Stars

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan
(historical fiction, southern fiction, shipwreck)
4.5 Stars

Most Memorable “Found Family” Story

Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi
(historical fiction, Afghanistan)
5 Stars

Gold and Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi (cover) Image: white text against a dark blue background

Most Memorable Mystery/Suspense

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner
(historical fiction, San Francisco earthquake, friendship)
4.5 Stars

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner (cover) Image: blue-toned picture of a woman and young girl holding hands and walking down railroad tracks with backs to camerai

Most Surprising Read of the Year!
Most Memorable Science Fiction/Audio
Most Memorable Character (IYKYK)

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
(science fiction, highly recommend audio!)
5 Stars

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (cover) Image: an astronaut floats in space tethered to a gold and black object

Most Memorable Nonfiction

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim Defede
(historical event, 9/11, Newfoundland)
5 Stars

The Day the World Came to Town

Most Memorable Young Adult/Mystery/Own Voices

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
(contemporary YA fiction, mystery, own voices)
4 Stars

The Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley (cover) Image: the profiles of two native american young People (man and woman) in cultural dress

Most Memorable Literary Fiction

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
(rural America)
5 Stars

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (cover) Image:

Links to Previous Best of Year Posts

Most Recommended Reads of 2017

Most Memorable Reads of 2018

Most Memorable Reads of 2019

Most Memorable Reads of 2020

journey of a lifetime reading meme


Share your best read of the year in comments! Please?! I’d love to hear!

Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

Happy New Year!

white 2022 on a blue background surrounded by white sparklers

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***Blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.



    • It was another amazing reading year! It’s so fun to look back! I’m hopping over now to read your post. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    • I’m happy to hear you enjoyed Firekeeper’s Daughter! I hope The Day the World Came to Town will be a good read for you also! Then follow it up with the Broadway musical Come From Away streaming on AppleTV+ 🙌

    • I’m thrilled to hear that someone else loved Ghost! Have you watched the musical Come From Away based on Day the World Came to Town? It’s steaming on AppleTV +

  1. I love this list, both the summary version and the longer version. There are lots of books on here that I still need to check out, so thanks for the reminder! THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS is on my list today, too. I enjoyed it for numerous reasons. Such a great read.

    Happy TTT!


  2. So many good books on your list that I haven’t read yet, but I do own them. Why oh why haven’t I read them? lol I’m going to try to be more deliberate in my reading for 2022, I definitely want to read at least 6 of these. Happy New Year, Carol.

  3. Such an interesting list. I have not read any of those books but I have “Gilead” on my TBR list and “The Project Hail Mary” on my wishlist.

    Thanks for visiting my TTT this week. Merry Christmas.

      • I’m really not into audiobooks, I can’t concentrate on them, have to close my eyes and then fall asleep. So, the paper copy will have to do. But thanks for the advice. Will pass it on to others who might be interested.

  4. Wonderful and thorough post Carol. I love how you categorized this. I just double checked some that I wanted to add to my TBR to make sure I had put them on my blog recommendation shelf. I think I need to pick one off this list each month to read. You have such great choices listed on this post.

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