Best and Worst Reads of 2021, So Far

So, I finished my Goodreads 2021 Reading Challenge a bit early this year, so I thought I’d rank the books I’ve read thus far this year again! My goal was 24 books, and I read various genres and tried to keep my reads as diverse as possible. If you haven’t yet, also check out my book rankings for 2020.

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1. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

This is definitely my favorite book I’ve read this year. This story is perfect and I MEAN THAT WHOLEHEARTEDLY. A fantasy led by a black teenage girl that also includes the Arthurian legend is everything I needed growing up and more. I cannot wait for the sequel, I might have to get it on preorder, I loved this book THAT much.

Get it on Amazon for $15.19

2. Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

This memoir, written by the survivor of one of the most high-profile sexual assault trials in America, is going to take you through an insane range of emotions. Pain, hopelessness, and anger are a few that come to mind. But it is so well written that I have to recommend it to anyone I can, but please be aware that this book can be incredibly triggering to survivors of assault.

Get it on Amazon for $16.10

3. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Another fantastic book, this one exploring colorism and race dynamics in addition to the family. I really don’t want to go into detail because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I can’t see anyone not enjoying this one.

Get it on Amazon for $18.65

4. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

I know, I know, a YA borderline children’s book in the top 5? Well, if you listened to my podcast you’d probably have an idea why. This book also came into my life around the same time I was diagnosed with ADHD this year, so maybe I’m a bit biased? Also, Greek mythology.

Get it on Amazon for $5.98

5. The Girl With Stars in Her Eyes by Xio Axelrod

The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes by Xio Axelrod

This is my most recent read, I was obsessed with this book I finished it in two days. I’ll be honest it was an audiobook but who cares. A love story between a girl and her childhood best friend who abandoned her in their small town once he had the opportunity. There’s also a stardom/music plotline that’s super important to the story and character development, I just loved this one.

Get it on Amazon for $7.39

6. Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

This book explores how race in America operates as a caste system, and it was enlightening to think of our society from this approach and really helped but where we are in a new perspective. If you want a book that’ll make you really dig inside yourself and reflect this is a great choice.

Get it on Amazon for $14.70

7. The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger

The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger

So, this is probably so high on my list because of my love and interest in Disney and their recent acquisitions in particular. If you’re interested in that, business, career trajectories, or just memoirs in general I definitely recommend this book as well.

Get it on Amazon for $17.97

8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

So, I know we all hate J.K., I do too, but my WORD is this such a good ending to a book series. If you’re going to read Harry Potter support a used book store or library like I did. That’s all I have to say.

9. Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim

Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim

This is an anthology of black women authors sharing their favorite books and the first times they saw themselves in literature. As a black girl who has loved reading since I was a child, I really enjoyed seeing where our stories converged and got some new recommendations. If you liked reading as a child, you’d probably enjoy this as well.

Get it on Amazon for $11.60

10. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

This book about family, culture, and grief is heartbreaking. Another book I’m nervous to spoil, just go check out the synopsis and check it out!

Get it on Amazon for $15.99

11. Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

Another romance book, because I have a problem. This one uses my second favorite trope, fake relationship, which is fun. Dani is a fun character who I’m glad I got to learn more about outside of being a side character in her sister’s story (the first book in the series).

Get it on Amazon for $11.98

12. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game by Sally  Thorne

The Hating Game is another romance novel, this one employing the enemies to lovers trope, which is actually my favorite. The only reason this one is below Dani Brown is that it took me a bit to start to invest in the characters, but once I did I was definitely in for the long haul. I cannot wait for this movie adaptation.

Get it on Amazon for $12.99

13. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

The penultimate book in the series. It’s a great book but often feels like a filler giving exposition for the finale. Enjoyable read nonetheless.

14. This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith

This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith

This romance about healing and mental health is a great read. The characters are complicated, and I’m still not sure how I feel about them. But isn’t that how life is? Trigger warning for suicidal ideation.

Get it on Amazon for $16.99

15. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Fans of this book will attack me for this placement on the list, but this does not mean the book is bad, it just took me way too long to get through. This is another fantasy book led by not one but three black leads, two girls and a boy. Fun fact: the book is heavily influencer by the Avatar the Last Airbender tv series.

Get it on Amazon for $12.99

16. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Another read from the podcast. This book was a bit of a disappointment after my excitement to revisit it after reading it as a kid. The book is good, but not nearly as impressive as I remember.

17. Unapolegetically Ambitious by Shellye Archambeau 

Unapologetically Ambitious by Shellye Archambeau

This book was a good one, written by a black female CEO. That’s a refreshing perspective to read from, but it occasionally leans into self-help territory which I’m not the biggest fan of. If you are, this one is a really good addition to your reading list.

Get it on Amazon for $17.99

18. The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

Like I said above, I’m not a huge fan of self-help but this book was recommended to me in various places so I went ahead and tried it. It was okay, I think a lot of the advice was outdated but you can still get something out of it. If you want to know more I’m linking to my YouTube video where I reference the book above. I believe an updated version came out after I finished reading that may be a better fit for the modern age.

Get it on Amazon for $10.99

19. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

I want to start by saying this is a good book, written by an amazing woman who I admire. I think I could just tell I was reading this book 8 years too late, like I was reading a book about someone who had evolved since this had been published. If you’re interested in Malala and her story, definitely check it out, but also please be sure to look into the things she’s done recently as well.

Get it on Amazon for $7.31

20. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

So, I never had to read this one in high school, so I decided to give it a try now and I just wasn’t a fan. I think the hype around the movie killed the book’s chances with me.

Get in Amazon for $9.99

21. Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

This book is all about intersectionality. If you’re interested in learning more about the world and feminism in particular this is a great book for you, I just tend to prefer fiction.

Get it on Amazon for $21.44

22. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Another self-help book is all about success, I read it because it was everywhere but I am not a fan and cannot in good faith recommend it.

23. Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

This book gave MLM energy, that is all.

24. The Betrothed by Kiera Cass

I read this book because I was thinking of The Selection series and it’s upcoming Netflix adaptation. It has the same author so I thought I’d give it a try. This book likes the fun and whimsy of that series for sure while keeping its dark side, making it a lot less fun of a read.

So, what have you read this year? Have you checked out anything on my list? If so, let me know, and be sure to check out a few of the books listed if they pique your interest. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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