Books we read in 2021

The Best 20 Books We Read in 2021

2021 has been a memorable year for reading because of the coronavirus. People read all types and genres of literature. The works of literature included the intersection of identity and the Internet, works from the distant past, and speculative works. These books offer readers the escape they need and the education and spiritual enlargement. Always remember that saying, “The Readers of Today are the Leaders of Tomorrow.” In the following, will shed light on the best 20 books we read in 2021. So, step out, and amaze yourself with the different places reading can take you to.

Mordecai Richler, Barney’s Version (1997)

Barney Panofsky is an ordinary man living an extraordinary lifestyle. He first married Clara, an explosive, unfaithful, and free-spirited redhead. Then he had a second wife; Madame P. is a posh Jewish princess obsessed by her attractive appearance. Miriam is his third spouse to become mother to two of his children and the most beloved person in his life. Barney killed Boogie, his best friend, who he once admires. The disappearance of Boogie drags Barney into the murky world of his past.

John Lanchester, The Debt to Pleasure (1996)

To be a fan of something is to wish to take it in and, in that way, surrender to the world. To enjoy something is to submit to it, in a tiny but peaceful manner, to death. Tarquin Winot – foodie, hedonist, ironist, and snob takes a tangent route from the Hotel Splendide in Portsmouth to his house in Provence. He tells the story of his youth and a collection of delicious menus arranged according to the season. Sure enough, this isn’t your typical cookbook. As we get immersed in Tarquin’s world, we discover an even more sinister plot. The 1996 Whitbread First Novel Award winner, John Lanchester’s The Debt to Pleasure, is a hilarious tribute to food and an erotic and sensual food adventure. Its sophisticated, clever, and unhinged narration is no less than an original work of art.

Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot (2011)

Madeleine Hanna is the daughter of angry parents, and a fan of Victorian novels is studying semiotics.

Leonard Bankhead is a manic-depressive philosopher and science lover who had a difficult childhood.

Mitchell Grammaticus is a thoughtful scholar of religion from a Greek-American background.

The core of the story is the link between the three characters. In essence, meditative Mitchell is in love with the gorgeous Madeleine. But Madeleine is in love with the lively and engaging Leonard. The problem is with Leonard’s mania. This latter has become an ever-growing element of the story as it develops. So, will Leonard control his disorder by taking regular doses of lithium, or will it eventually control him and determine his fate? Can Madeleine cope with Leonard’s bouts of intense activity followed by times of severe depression? It’s a rollercoaster ride for the characters and, I observed that I became more involved with the life of the characters.

Toni Morrison, Tar Baby (1981)

Tar Baby is one of the best 20 books we read in 2021. It is an inspiringly beautiful and emotionally explosive novel written by Toni Morrison. In Tar Baby, Morrison is trying to shape a love tale newly. Jadine Childs plays the role of a black person who has a white client, a white lover. Jadine Childs also has a jacket constructed from ninety-perfect sealskins. Son is an infamous black criminal who represents everything she likes and dislikes. When Morrison follows their romance across the Caribbean up to Manhattan and then the Deep South, she traces the subtleties of betrayal and obligation between whites and blacks, servants and masters, and women and men.

Louise DeSalvo, On Moving (2009)

A literary look at one of the most emotional and pervasive moments: On Moving. When acclaimed memoirist and scholar Louise DeSalvo sold the house, she and her husband spent their childhood and relocated to a stunning new residence in Montclair, New Jersey. She undewent shocking moments, an array of unanticipated emotions disrupting her plans. The old, cramped home was a dream. The new house was a stark construction without any conveniences or comforts. Faced with an unsettling discontent with her dream home, she did what she has always done to her top writers.

After examining the effect of moving on a range of well-known authors, DeSalvo discovers that the experience is the same. The aching hope and turmoil accompanying moving are universal across generations. On Moving explores the joys, sorrows, memories, anxieties, and fears that are part of that basic yet essential aspect of everybody’s lives.

Zakiya Dalila Harris, The Other Black Girl (2021)

The Other Black Girl is an absolute must-read book. It’s a complex book that explores the issue of racism as well as workplace-based microaggressions. The story follows Nella Rogers, the Black employee of Wagner Books. Nella is fed up with racism and wants to join a new team with Hazel, an attractive young African-American employee of Wagner Books. However, the actual relationship is more complex than Nella thinks. For me, The Other Black Girl is one of the best 20 books we read in 2021. 

Charlotte McConaghy, Once There Were Wolves (2021)

Once There Were Wolves is another must-read book. Charlotte McConaghy wrote it in 2021. The book’s story is about a biologist named Inti Flynn. She has been named the head of a biologist team working to reintroduce wolves back into the Highlands of Scotland. Inty’s goal was to ensure that nature would achieve the harmony needed and develop in the future by returning the predators to the region. Inty is bringing her sister Aggie, hoping she can heal her as well.

Charlotte McConaghy’s Once There Were Wolves is a captivating story of a girl determined to save her loved creatures. Unfortunately, she got devoured by the wild, which was once her sanctuary.

David Graeber, Bullshit Jobs (2018)

If the work you don’t have any purpose in the world, and you are aware of that – you’ll have difficulty evaluating your actions every day. Unfortunately, the world is filled with these tasks, i.e., you fill out a lot of spreadsheets to prove something you know. In the end, many people find themselves in a problematic situation where they realize that their work is useless and does not bring any value to society. However, they cannot turn back and focus on a worthy purpose because the most valuable jobs aren’t paid enough.

Patricia Highsmith, The Price of Salt (1952)

Perhaps the most iconic work by Patricia Highsmith is the novel The Price of Salt. It is the story of Therese Belivet, a stage designer who is stuck in a department store one day. Therese Belivet was saved by Carol Aird, an alluring suburban housewife undergoing the pains of divorce. They fall in love and travel throughout the United States, followed by a private investigator. This latter manipulates Carol to choose between her daughter and lover. The Price of Salt is recognized as a landmark twentieth-century American novel. For many, it is one of the best 20 books we read in 2021. 

Mary McCarthy, The Group (1963)

Mary McCarthy’s most acclaimed novel is about the life of 8 Vassar graduates, known by the name of “the Group.” One week after graduating, they gather diverse characters and experiences to see Kay Strong get married. After the wedding, they begin to behave like adults: traveling to Europe and navigating the world of publishing and nursing. They also experience love and heartbreak in street life in New York City. Over time certain friends break up, and some get caught up in their affairs. However, they all pledge not to follow in the footsteps of their fathers and mothers. They only gathered again when one of them died to grieve her loss. The friend was such a confidant, but more importantly, a group member.

Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (1926)

The Sun Also Rises (Fiesta) is the most iconic novel of The Lost Generation. It is one of Hemingway’s most significant works and a classic of his simple but powerful writing style. It is a sound examination of the despair and anger of the post-World-War-I generation. The book introduces two of the most beloved protagonists: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The novel follows the exuberant Brett and the unlucky Jake in their journey through the wild nightlife of the 1920s in Paris to the bloody Bullfighting Rings of Spain together with other expatriates. It’s a time of moral bankruptcy, a spiritual breakdown in love, and the disappearance of illusions. The novel was first published in 1926 and is still one of the best 20 books read in 2021.

Lara Feigel, Free Woman (2018)

The story of Free Woman starts at an engagement and concludes at the African bush. It’s a memoir of Feigel’s life as a writer. Incorporating a deceased novelist into an obsessive uneasy relationship, Feigel sets the goal of learning from her what it means to be a human being.

A memoir that is also a biography and a literary critique, Free Woman examines the life of Lessing and work. It is structured as a set of nine studies of sexual, emotional, psychological, and freedom of thought and action. Feigel is a master of incisive writing, poetic exploration, and intimate insights with a delicate sensitivity to the relationships (both real and in the literary world) in times of intense tension to create a stunning result.

Katie Briggs, This Little Art (2017)

This Little Art” is a work that has the scope and intensity of an epic novel. It is a genre-bending exercise in the art of literary translation. The song offers innovative, sharp, and current thoughts on writing, reading, and engaging with the works of other authors. Based on her own experience, the translation of Roland Barthes’s lecture represents the starting point. The author weaves a variety of stories to present the picture of translation as an inducing, complicated and intimate practice. She tells the story of Helen Lowe-Porter’s translations into Thomas Mann and their posthumous condemnation. 

The author writes of the affectionate connection with Andre Gide and his translator Dorothy Bussy. She relates how Robinson Crusoe laboriously made a table for him on his first visit to an unseen island. Through this novel, Kate Briggs emerges as an exceptional writer, an exquisitely layered narrative of a distinctly unique translating event. She’s special, wisely humorous, honest, and completely original. In short, “This Little Art” remains one of the best 20 books we read in 2021.

Aimee Bender, Willful Creatures (2005)

“Contemporary fairy tales, cushioned by goofy humor and a deep tenderness for her characters that aren’t always as dark or as sinister as they initially appear.” — The New York Times Book Review. Aimee Bender’s Willful Creatures conjure an imaginative world filled with genuine love. It’s a world where a man who has fingers for keys is a hero, mother’s kids are potatoes, and a child with iron heads is born into the collection of pumpkin head families. With her unique blend of surrealism, music prose, and keenly emotional feelings, Bender once again proves her skills as a masterful writer of human nature.

This is a truly unique and bizarre short story. Every story was enchanting. My favorite is Ironhead story about an infant boy with a head that resembles iron, is born in the middle of the families of pumpkin heads. Additionally, Dearth is the story of an individual who is a potato-loving woman, as her children. It was difficult for me to discover the real meaning of certain stories that appeared to be too surrealist. However, since it was written beautifully and I love it, I have no reason to complain.

Helen DeWitt, The Last Samurai (2000)

The Last Samurai is about Ludo’s child and his mother, Sibylla. The latter is a single mother, uniquely raises Ludo. Ludo starts reading at the age of two, then reads Homer in his original Greek at three years old, and moves into Hebrew, Japanese, Old Norse, Inuit, and advanced math. To represent a male figure in his childhood, Sibylla plays him Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, which he can memorize through his heart.

Ludo is an unassuming child whose combination of intelligence and naiveté will guide him on a quest for his father. But the father’s missing identity makes Sibylla refuse to reveal -an investigation that leads to many peculiar twists and turns.

The Last Samurai is one of the best 20 books we read in 2021. It is about enjoying ideas, human thinking, and the endless possibilities life offers. Moreover, it is about the harmony between the frameworks we construct for ourselves and the chaos it provides in return. In terms of style, the novel reflects the ambivalence of DeWitt’s prose traces the changes and breaks in human memories and consciousness. It also captures the nuances of thought that interrupt conversations while offering intriguing insights into Japanese language or mechanics aerodynamics. It’s awe-inspiring, profound and, often hilarious.

Nella Larsen, Passing (1929)

Irene Redfield is a Black woman who lives a luxuriant and comfortable life with her husband and kids in the vibrant community in Harlem in1920’s. When she reunites with her ex- childhood mate Clare Kendry, Irene discovers that Clare is acting like a white woman. She cut off connections to her past and tried to pass to the white lifestyle. Clare also hid the truth from her husband, a racist.

Clare discovers that she is attracted by Irene’s ease and security in her Black identity. So she yearns to reclaim the community her loss. Irene is equally enthralled and disgusted with Clare. Clare begins to incorporate herself and her deceitful ways into Irene’s sane existence. The book was first published in 1929. Nella Larsen’s insightful study of the different ways we strive to “pass” is as relevant as ever. “Passing” is one of the 20 best books we read in 2021. 

John le Carré, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963)

The classic John Le Carre’s third novel, and the first one to garner an international reputation, created a world unlike anything previously seen with suspense stories. With unrivaled knowledge gained from his work working for British Intelligence, le Carre exposes the dark operations of international espionage. He shed light on the story of a British agent who wants to finish his career. However, had to complete a final brutally chilling assignment. The last agent under his direction is killed in the process, and Alec Leamas is back to London. He hopes to return from the cold for once.

An Alec Leamas hope to rest was wishful thinking: Control, his spymaster, has different plans. Determined to overthrow the top official of East German Intelligence and topple the organization he oversees. Control once more sends Leamas into the fight -this time to play the role of the infamous spy. The latter has to lure the enemy into the ultimate defeat. I strongly think that this novel is one of the best 20 books we read in 2021.

Andrew Martin, Early Work (2018)

This novel feels similar to listening to someone from our current generation. Some moments are of gratifying satisfaction when Martin speaks about his town. It is also lovely to talk about Charlottesville and the surrounding area, but these moments faded away. The narration cannot turn off the cynicism and smugness that is the sad characteristic of our age. We keep complaining about everything in our lives and then making a disastrous decision after a fateful choice. The book will cause one to hate one’s peers. Maybe that’s what the author wanted to do.

Stylistically, Andrew Martin has an insightful and witty, often humorous, portrayal of the generation known as the Millennials. The self-absorbed nature of Millennials is evident, but Peter’s own experiences temper it as teaching creative writing at a local women’s jail. Peter has the basics of the language down and, by shifting his point of view, gives the events a 3D quality. That’s why I think “Early Work” is one of the best 20 books that we read in 2021. I’m eager to discover what he will come up with next.

Henry Roth, Call It Sleep (1934)

In 1934, Henry Roth published Call It Sleep, the first novel of his career. The novel received the acclaim of critics. But in that dark Depression year, books were hard to sell, and the novel quickly dropped out of sight, as did its twenty-eight-year-old author. Only after the release of its paperback on the 14th of January 1964 the book gets the respect and admiration. Call It Sleep was the first-ever paperback to be featured on the front in the New York Times Book Review. It mademillions sold across the United States and around the world. It is the enthralling tale about David Schearl, the “dangerously imaginative” child coming to maturity in the city slums in New York.

AshelyAudrain, The Push (2022)

The Push concentrates on the three mothers in each generation: Etta, Cecilia, and Blythe. The majority of the book focuses on Blythe’s tale. In the first chapter, we get to know closely Blythe, where she’s watching another family in her car. We learn that the girl from the family is her daughter. How did the other family get her daughter? What reasons led Blythe to have someone else rear her daughter?

The book challenges the notion and way we perceive mothers. At the novel’s beginning, Blythe watches another family rear their daughter. In the end, we understand precisely the reason, but we are not sure about Blythe and the overall situation. What an emotional rollercoaster! The Push is a must-read book, one of the best 20 books we read in 2021.


Reading is as crucial as water in life, and its importance is indisputable. Just like vegetables and fruits give energy to your body, reading is the food for thoughts for your brain. By reading, you open up your mind to new cultures and civilizations. You also broaden your knowledge, build your intellect, shape your personality and refine your language while reading. If you’re not a huge book lover, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Take a few minutes and think of the advantages of reading in everyone’s life. So, before closing down the books and stopping reading altogether, think of the benefits of reading. Don’t hesitate to take a look at the 20 best books we read in 2021.

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