Readers' Choice: Favorite Books of 2021

Updated: Mar 1

The results are in! Thank you to all 38 people who sent in responses to my survey, in which I asked people to list their favorite reads of 2021. Here you have the winners, and scroll down to see all 160 books that were recommended.


I'm especially excited to see so many books featured by Literary Modiin in the top 16: Menachem Kaiser's Plunder, R.L. Maizes' Other People's Pets, Avner Landes' Meiselman: The Lean Years, and Lori Banov Kaufmann's Rebel Daughter. (Check out the recordings from those events on the Literary Modiin page).



Here is the full list of 160 books recommended. Sorry, I didn't have time to go look up all the authors when they weren't already listed....


  • 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World, by Shafak

  • 1619 Project , Nikole Hannah -Jones

  • A Girl Returned, by Donatella Di Pietrantonio, translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein

  • A Long Walk to Water - Linda Sue Park

  • A Thousand Distant Radios by Woody Skinner

  • Accidents: A Novel by Yael Hedaya

  • All the Rivers

  • American Dirt

  • And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

  • Apeirogon by Colum McCann

  • At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden by Yossi Klein Halevi

  • Behold the Dreamers

  • Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

  • Between Two Kingdoms

  • Billy Summers by Stephen King

  • Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

  • Caste

  • Circe

  • City of Girls

  • Clara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

  • Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr

  • Convictions by John Kroger

  • Corbynism: A Critical Analysis by Pitts and Bolton

  • Count the Ways

  • Crossroads

  • Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

  • Dawg Towne by Alice Kaltman

  • Deacon King Kong

  • Disappearing Earth- Julia Phillips

  • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, by Olga Tokarczuk, translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.

  • Educated by Tara Westover

  • Empireland: How Imperialism Shaped Modern Britain, by Sathnam Sanghera.

  • Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake

  • Eternal

  • Everything I Never Told You-Celeste Ng

  • Finding the Worm

  • Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King

  • Florence Adler Swims Forever

  • Free as a Jew by Ruth R. Wisse

  • From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan

  • Ghost Engine by a Christian TeBordo

  • Golem Girl: Riva Lehrer

  • Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

  • Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life

  • Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

  • Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead

  • Heartland by Sarah Smarsh

  • Hidden Valley Road

  • Hollow Kingdom

  • Home by Marilynne Robinson

  • House on Endless Waters

  • How to Find Your Way in the Dark by Derek B. Miller

  • In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne

  • Island of the Sea Women by Lisa See

  • Jews Out of the Question by Elad Lapidotu

  • Last Kings of Shanghai

  • Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland

  • Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon

  • Lila by Marilynne Robinson

  • Lions of New York / Fiona Davis

  • Love is Blind by William Boyd

  • Loving Kindness by Anne Roiphe

  • Mary Jane

  • Matrix by Lauren Groff

  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

  • Meander, Spiral, Explode by Jane Alison

  • Meiselman: The Lean Years by Avner Landes

  • Morningside Heights

  • Mrs Everything by Jennifer Weiner

  • Nature of Fragile Things

  • Neutral Evil by Lee Klein

  • Never Alone by Natan Sharanksy

  • New Girl in Little Cove by Damhnait Monaghan

  • Night and Day by Virginia Woolf

  • Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb

  • Ordinary Grace William Kent Krueger

  • Oreo by Fran Ross

  • Other People's Pets by R.L. Maizes

  • Pale Rider, by Spinney

  • People Love Dead Jews

  • Plunder by Menachem Kaiser

  • Possession

  • Rebel Daughter by Lori Banov Kaufman

  • Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath, by Heather Clark

  • Replay

  • Shimon Sandbank Soreg safa Celan poems in Hebrew

  • Should We Stay or Should We Go

  • Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers

  • Snapping Point, by Aslı Biçen, translated from Turkish by Feyza Howell

  • Stalingrad by Vasily Grossman

  • Suburban Dicks

  • Survival of the Fireflies

  • Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

  • The Book of Eels by Patrik Svensson

  • The Book of Jeremiah by Julie Zuckerman

  • The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

  • The Choice: Embrace the Possible

  • The Country of Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett

  • The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

  • The Cut Out Girl by Bart Van Es

  • The Dictionary of Lost Words

  • The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

  • The Eighth Life

  • The Final Revival of Opal and Nev

  • The Gallery by John Horne Burns

  • The Glass Hotel

  • The Great Believers

  • The Guest Book

  • The Gustavo Sonata by Rose Tremain

  • The Inevitability of Tragedy by Barry Gewen

  • The Innocents Abroad

  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

  • The Last Thing He Told Me

  • The Legacy by Melanie Phillips

  • The Light of Days

  • The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

  • The Lost Shtetl by Max Grossman

  • The Mandarins

  • The Midnight Library

  • The Mountains Sing

  • The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen

  • The New Wilderness

  • The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

  • The Orchard by David Hopen

  • The Others (האחרות) by Sarah Blau

  • The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

  • The Personal Librarian

  • The Promise

  • The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt

  • The Ruin Dervla Mctiernan

  • The Secrets We Kept

  • The Smartest Kids in the World: and how they got that way by Amanda Ripley

  • The Spooky Art by Norman Mailer

  • The Storyteller of Casablanca

  • The Vanishing Half

  • The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck

  • The Wine of Solitude by Irene Nemirovsky

  • The Writing of the Gods by Edward Dolnick

  • These Precious Days

  • This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

  • Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis

  • Track Changes by Sayaad Kashua

  • Transcendence, Vince

  • Transcendent Kingdom

  • Trauma Informed Yoga Joanne Spence

  • Trust Me by Hank Phillipi Ryan

  • Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

  • Unity, by Elly Bangs

  • Unseen City by Amy Shearn

  • Washington Black by Es Edugyan

  • We Love Anderson Cooper by RL Maizes

  • West with Giraffes

  • What You Can See From Here by Mariana Leky

  • Whatever Feels Like Home by Susan Rukesyer

  • When in French

  • When It's Not Called Making Love by Karen Jones

  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

  • Why We Can’t Sleep - Women’s new midlife crisis by Ada Calhoun

  • Without You, There is No Us by Suki Kim

  • Zorrie by Laird Hunt