A RARE FEW NOVELS I ACTUALLY READ: BEST IN YEAR 2021. Talking the *few* favorite books of 2021 that I actually read. Text © Rissi JC


December 27, 2021 Rissi JC 38 Comments

As is the mantra of each year’s end, here we are and I cannot believe we’re at yet another end of year look back. Or as we like to refer to such things in this world, a peek at our favorite books of 2021. This list is pretty pathetic because of the way my 2021 reading life went. In fact, I nearly married this with my favorite films of the year list, but the organized part of me just couldn’t quite do that (even though I even wrote them together). This year making a big deal like normal just isn’t my thin and to be honest, my heart just isn’t in in plus I’ve had a massive love-hate relationship with entertainment this past year, including books. One of these days I will pick up a book, become engrossed and never look back. I know it will happen, all that needs to happen is picking up one of the books with the ability to do this.


Despite the slim list, let’s still look at the book because, no matter the number, good books deserve a shout-out! At least in my space they do. With those words out of the way and opinions plentiful (why can I never keep things short?), we present our favorite books of 2021 list, so… let’s go..!


As I said already, this is SLIM pickings.

(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you to anyone who makes a purchase through these links. Read the disclosure page for details.)


It’s been something I’ve said many times and ways, but Jo & Laurie is THE book I didn’t know I needed. Historical YA that reimagines Little Women and I’m here for it. Amazon | Bookshop.org | Goodreads


I mean I couldn’t not include the final chapter that is Lara Jean’s saga. Her stories are just all nostalgic cheer and fun – also, does anyone else know if Jenny Han is going to write something else? Amazon | Bookshop.org | Goodreads


To be honest, this really isn’t my typical kind of read. I’m kind of waffling on whether or not I liked it well enough to include here, but honestly… I did. It was a good reading experience at the time and I read it before reading was totally gone so there’s that. Plus, while I don’t love all the stylings of the book, I do admire that it’s different than the normal adult historical I read. The plot follows a farm girl who, to get ahead, loses her innocence in pursuit of becoming a Hollywood star. Amazon | Bookshop.org | Goodreads


Full transparency, I haven’t quite finished this novel. I read it faithfully for several days in a row, before I read something and I had things going on that conspired together, and eventually I set the book aside. Needless to say, this is me taking turtle reading to a level I haven’t before. That said, while I don’t know this novel’s ultimate conclusion (yet!), I do admire the heck out of it. Its market genre unique and I respect the author for pushing boundaries (in good ways) and fighting back on the norm. I also appreciate Bethany House for not just publishing this book, but also for the brilliant and genre unique cover design. Have I mentioned how much I love the cover? The plot follows a woman who is being abused and her journey to separate herself and her daughter from that life all while rediscovering God. Amazon | Goodreads


Another Becky Wade and another sweet love story. Amazon | Bookshop.org | Goodreads


More Kasie West on my favorites menu is always a must. This one features a girl who, while on vacation with her family, learns she and her uber popular social media sister don’t have any – gasp! – Wi-Fi! Amazon | Bookshop.org | Goodreads

Your turn! What new favorite books of 2021 did you discover? Have you read any of these? What are your thoughts? Did you like or hate them? What did you like about the ones you read? Which books made YOUR favorites list of the year? Do you have favorite’s lists? (Let me know if so… you know I want to see them, too!) Comment all the comments down below – let’s get our book fan conversations on!


A RARE FEW NOVELS I ACTUALLY READ: BEST IN YEAR 2021. Talking the *few* favorite books of 2021 that I actually read. Text © Rissi JC

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Linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl December 28: Favorite Books of 2021

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

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  • Stefani December 28, 2021 at 4:05 AM

    Well I haven’t read any of these so I’ll comment on your aesthetic instead. I love the post, the pin, your blog theme. All of it! Happy reading! My TTT https://readwithstefani.com/the-best-10-books-i-read-in-2021/

    • Rissi JC December 29, 2021 at 2:14 PM

      Aw, thanks, Stefani. I really appreciate this. :)

  • Pam @ Read! Bake! Create! December 28, 2021 at 6:02 AM

    I haven’t read any of the books on your list, but I recently picked up Jo & Laurie. I hope to get to it in 2022.

    I hope that your 2022 goes much better than your 2021 did.

    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!

    • Rissi JC December 29, 2021 at 2:16 PM

      Fun. Hope you enjoy “Jo & Laurie” in 2022 Pam! It was the right kind of read I needed at the time. :) And thanks. Hope so too.

  • Cindy Davis December 28, 2021 at 6:25 AM

    Okay, so reading your list reminds me I NEED to read a Katie West in 2022, I need to make it a goal!! While your list might be slim, all the books look good!

    Cindy Davis recently posted: Top Ten Tuesday-Cover Love
    • Rissi JC December 29, 2021 at 2:19 PM

      Her books are just sweet and simple which, most of the time, is what I want! And thanks. I agree. :) Appreciate your visit, Cindy.

  • Lydia December 28, 2021 at 7:16 AM

    I’ve heard so many good things about Jo & Laurie.

    • Rissi JC December 29, 2021 at 2:27 PM

      It’s just a sweet and lovely little story. Definitely the right book for me at the time. :) I do hope you enjoy it if you take the time to read, Lydia.

  • Lindsey @ Lindsey Reads December 28, 2021 at 8:04 AM

    The final Lara Jean book was indeed so nostalgic and fun! I definitely need to catch up on Kasie West books.

    • Rissi JC December 29, 2021 at 2:27 PM

      YES! All those cozy feels for sure. :)

  • Lex @ Lexlingua December 28, 2021 at 8:15 AM

    I never could fully understand Jo’s decision to not marry Laurie, so the first book looks like something I should definitely try. Thanks for the rec!

    • Rissi JC December 29, 2021 at 2:28 PM

      I think if you are a fan of that ship you’d enjoy this one, Lex. It does a nice job of honoring the original story but with a different conclusion. :)

  • Brittaney B December 28, 2021 at 9:33 AM

    In a Far Off Land made my list too. I can’t say I loved it, but it stuck with me long after I finished which to me, is the hallmark of a well-written story. I’m dying to read After She Falls.

    • Rissi JC December 29, 2021 at 2:30 PM

      I think you put it SO well, Brittaney. This is very true. I’m not sure I can say I *loved* “In a Far-Off Land” either, at least not in a traditional way, but there is something haunting and just good about it that yes, sticks with the reader. Ooo, let me know what you think of “After She Falls” if you read it! I just admire it for being different AND I think the story is super good too.

  • Susan (Bloggin' 'bout Books) December 28, 2021 at 10:55 AM

    JO AND LAURIE is one I meant to read this year and never got around to. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much!

    Happy TTT!


    • Rissi JC December 29, 2021 at 2:32 PM

      Thanks! I’m glad I did too, Susan – and appreciate you stopping by.

  • Kate @ Bitch Bookshelf December 28, 2021 at 11:09 AM

    Always and Forever was a favorite of mine too. That series is just so lovely.

    • Rissi JC December 29, 2021 at 2:32 PM

      YES! Just so charming and sweet. :)

  • Deanna (A Novel Glimpse) December 28, 2021 at 11:42 AM

    Sunkissed is on my list to read next year. I bought it for my daughter for Christmas, so I need her to read it before I can steal it back. ;) Happy holidays!

    Deanna (A Novel Glimpse) recently posted: Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I Read in 2021
    • Rissi JC December 29, 2021 at 2:42 PM

      That sounds like a winning strategy, Deanna! Love it. :) Hope you and your family had the best Christmas.

  • Anne@HeadFullofBooks December 28, 2021 at 11:44 AM

    I’ve always meant to read the Jenny Han novels but haven’t done so yet. Glad you like the series. My 2021 Favorites

    • Rissi JC December 29, 2021 at 2:48 PM

      They’re such cozy reads, Anne. :)

  • Jo December 28, 2021 at 1:38 PM

    I also had quite a short list this year too, it’s been a bit of a mixed reading year for me as well!

    Jo recently posted: Top Ten Tuesday #348
    • Rissi JC December 29, 2021 at 2:49 PM

      Bummer! Here’s hoping we have a better 2022 reading year – and thanks, as always, for the visit, Jo. :)

  • Marianna @ Tell me a Yarn December 28, 2021 at 2:15 PM

    I listen to the first two books in the To All the Boys I Know Before on audio and narrator was good. I need to get around to reading the third book.

    • Rissi JC December 29, 2021 at 2:59 PM

      That’s awesome! I hear a lot of audio book fans say that a good narrator is often the key to a good listen. :) Appreciate your visit, Marianna.

  • Hamlette (Rachel) December 28, 2021 at 6:00 PM

    I really need to try Jenny Han’s books. I’m thinking maybe this summer! They seem like summer reads to me? Hmm.

    • Rissi JC December 29, 2021 at 3:07 PM

      The TATBILB books have a Christmas-y cozy setting in some ways, but in others, they’re perfect for any time of year! Her ‘Summer’ trilogy is all about the summer and as Amazon is adapting those I’m glad I finally read them too. :) Thanks, as always, for the visit, Rachel! Glad to chat with you.

  • RS December 28, 2021 at 6:10 PM

    Awwww, yay for Jo & Laurie! This poor book took such a clobbering (before it was even released) from people who were offended by the premise alone, without actually understanding the nuance of said premise. I’m glad it was perfect for you. (The fact that THIS Jo isn’t quite THAT Jo is actually what kept it from being a 5-star read for me, but I still really liked it, especially the New York trip — that felt the most like Original Recipe Jo & Laurie to me and the joy in my shippy heart knew no bounds at that point.)

    And I just read my first Kasie West book this year (Lucky In Love, just barely missed out on my list), but I am very excited to get to Sunkissed one of these summers!

    I hope you are able to find some engrossing reads next year. A few really worthwhile books is often more satisfying than getting through fifty “just okay” ones to find the same handful of memorable reads.

    • Rissi JC December 29, 2021 at 3:11 PM

      I thought “Jo & Laurie” was traditional in the ways that matter (meaning I thought it honored the story), while also putting its own unique spin on the tale. But of course, as I never read “Little Women” (I don’t think), I’m only judging by the many movies, so… that may be unfair. :) YAY! Hope you enjoy more of Kasie’s books if you read them. Glad to know you did enjoy “Lucky In Love” even with its best of miss. Well said and I agree. A few great ones is better than many “ok” books. :) Appreciate your thoughtful comment and visit! Thank you.

  • Dini @ dinipandareads December 29, 2021 at 5:06 AM

    Ooh, I hadn’t heard of Let It Be Me until today but I’ve seen it on two lists already so now I’m even more intrigued by it! I love a sweet romance :)

    • Rissi JC December 29, 2021 at 3:29 PM

      I too love a sweet romance, Dini. They’re the best. :)

  • Ellie Warren December 29, 2021 at 12:26 PM

    I was on a work pre holiday chitchat call and someone asked what our favourite films of 2021 were, and I was just “what new films?!” I guess I must have watched some but I can’t think of any except the new Bond film, which we went to the cinema to see cause it was finally feeling OK to go for about five minutes. I have done better with books but I’ve not really tried to keep up with the hot new things. Hope your relationship with entertainment gets better next year.

    • Rissi JC December 29, 2021 at 3:30 PM

      I haven’t seen the Bond film, but I know lots of people think it’s awesome. I’ll see it at some point… I’m sure. ;) But time will tell. Thanks so much for visiting, Ellie. :)

  • Dedra @ A Book Wanderer December 29, 2021 at 2:28 PM

    I think the final Lara Jean book *may* have been my favorite! ;) I hope you find that book that reignites your love of reading! <3

    Dedra @ A Book Wanderer recently posted: Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Books of 2021
  • Literary Feline December 29, 2021 at 3:56 PM

    I am glad you were able to read some gems despite the way the year has been going. I love the cover of In a Far Off Land. Someday I would like to give Jenny Han’s books a try. I saw the movie based on the first book last year and thought it was cute and funny. I hope next year will be better for you film and book wise!

    • Rissi JC January 10, 2022 at 6:29 PM

      Thanks! Me too. I’m hoping there will be some great books to discover. Appreciate you taking the time to visit. Thank you.

      Also… enjoy Jenny’s books if you read them! They’re fun.

  • […] time to discuss favorites or the “best of year” entertainment. I almost coupled this with my favorites in books this year because honestly, my book list is pathetic. However the organizational part of me just cannot marry the two lists and so here we are with a […]

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