21 Books YOU Should Read in 2021

Happy New Year!!!

Let's just take a moment to be REALLY HAPPY that we have officially entered a brand NEW YEAR!
The last time I was this happy on New Year's Day, Y2K had NOT heralded the end of the world as we knew it.  So, breathe deeply with me and let's enjoy the win of making it through 2020 for a moment!

Now that we've left 2020 in the rearview, LET'S TALK BOOKS.

Can you relate? Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the task before me when it comes to selecting a new book - so much so that sometimes I don't read anything. I enter an uneasy state of booklessness that involves lots of sighs and forlorn looks.

I wait.

I stew.

I do a little research.

I stare blankly at my fully stocked shelves for something - anything - to reread. Nothing strikes my fancy.

I eventually give up and turn to what my Dad called "the boob tube." Seeking a show to binge-watch is so much easier than discovering a new title or author because my buds Netflix & Hulu offer an abundance of suggestions unique to my preferences.

In case your struggle is as real as my own, I planned to share specific titles in this first post of the new year (like "21 Books Every Pretty Literate Person Should Read in 2021"), but honestly, I don't actually know what every pretty literate person should read, so I scrapped that idea in favor of the following list of "21 Books YOU Should Read in 2021"... because (like Netflix and Hulu) I know the books you read should be as unique as you are. 



A book chosen solely by its cover.

Thanks to the clearance section at my local used book store and Prime Reading's free downloads, I've met many authors and enjoyed every single tale of books I chose solely by the cover art.

Crowd source a new read.

Post on all your social sites asking for a book recommendation. Not several, just one. The best book they have ever read. Note which titles are repeated and enjoy your new read. (Bonus: It give you fodder for good ole conversation later.)

Engage your inner thespian with a play.

Yeah - a play. When is the last time you actually saw a play? (Hamilton on Disney+ absolutely counts.) Now you can help one come to life inside that brilliant noggin of yours. And if you're having a hard time wrapping your brain around this one, go here for some clarity.

Enjoy a book while you work.

I bet you loved read-alouds as a kid, so why not indulge in the adult version of those warm fuzzies with an audio book. They are literally everywhere - the library, paid subscriptions, Amazon Reading, and free places like here. Want to up the fun factor? Choose your audio book randomly! Stick in your air pods and start multitasking. I wonder how many books you could enjoy in 2021 if you listened while you worked.

Order a book mentioned on a podcast.

You know, the ones they mention in passing, the ones you have to skip back 15 seconds to catch the title of again. Come to think of it, if your favorite podcast is overtly recommending a book, likely it would be one you would enjoy, too. Go for it.

Intentionally read a book from another point of view.

Make yourself uncomfortable and ready to grow by reading something from another perspective. Ask yourself, What am I passionate about? Then look for a book coming from the opposite POV.

Become a connoisseur of the classics.

There are lists upon lists of the best classic novels. Choose one. They are classics for a reason. 

Pick the #1 book listed in an unfamiliar genre.

Many people have a favorite genre and it's no surprise that most of their reads fall under that category. Break up your predictable pattern with a completely unfamiliar genre. Google search the "top 10" or "best of all time" for that genre and read the one that is consistently ranked #1 on the lists. Those people know their genre like you know yours. Trust them.

Help yourself.

Literally. Google search for the "top ten self-help books of all time." Pick a title you've heard of, but never read. 

Read what everyone else is reading.

Is there a book that you keep seeing in posts? Is there one everyone keeps talking about? Read that one. It's popular for a reason. Who knows, you may like it, too. (This suggestion is brought to you by The Invisible Life of Addie Larue, which I see absolutely everywhere. Every. Where.)

Enlist a librarian's help.

Seriously. These people are worth their weight in words. (That didn't read as clever as it sounded in my head.) March yourself to the desk of the librarian(s) in the section of the library that holds your favorite genre, and ask for his/her own personal recommendation for ONE BOOK in that section. Check it out. (Make sure to follow up with them after you read their suggestion, especially if you enjoyed it.)

Try a read-alike.

These are the ones you see now and again on shelves - "If you liked ________, you'll enjoy reading ________." This method is an easy sell because we're already familiar with the concept thanks to Netflix and Hulu. Try Goodreads' Listopia or check out What Should I Read Next?'s website. If you have a favorite book, you're already halfway to discovering a new title.

Go west.

Pioneer America is my favorite time period to read. 2021 would be a good year to introduce it's kissing cousin - the Western - to my portfolio of TBR's. If you have trouble landing on a title, ask a cowboy.

Give true crime a chance.

Several little ladies in my family are true crime fanatics. Not my jam. I don't get it. Except for the fact that I have never actually read true crime. So, I literally don't know what I'm missing. Do you?

Read a biography.

Is there someone you think highly of? An historical figure you admire? Maybe someone that keeps you scratching your head, bewildered by his/her very person? Read a biography about THAT person.

A book chosen entirely by the title.

Akin to the idea of choosing a book based solely on the cover is the idea of choosing one based entirely on the title. There are some doozies out there! For example, I am currently reading The End of the World Running Club. How could I resist with a title like that?

Name of the month (or season) in the title.

Whatever month (or season) you're in when you choose this one, do a quick online search for book titles with that specific month (or season) in the title. You will literally be one click away from your next great discovery.

Focus on friendship.

Lists of "friendship novels" are all over the internet. Choose the novel with the first book description that grabs your attention. Consider it a subliminal recommendation by someone you trust - yourself!

Family bonding.

Relationship with a family member got you singing the blues? Let 2021 be the year you clear the air between you. Aim for top notch advice published by professionals ranked highly in their field. This may take more than a minute to research, but the relational dividends will {hopefully} make it well worth your investment. (Maybe you feel like you're a-ok with the family? Awesome! There's some great fiction based on the family dynamic you could enjoy, too.)


These novels keep you guessing til the very end. If you're up for some mental gymnastics and enjoy non-formulaic fiction, you've got to investigate speculative fiction.

Read the firsts.

When there are so many books and so little time, make sure each book you pick engages you right out of the gate. Read the first sentence, first paragraph, first page. Did it pique your interest? Read on, my friend. My last book of 2020 hooked me from the first sentence: "The girl could be a changeling." I was there for that.

And with that, I'm going to put a period on my list of the "21 Books YOU Should Read in 2021."

Have your own methods for choosing the best books for YOU to read in 2021? Please share in the comments!

1 comment

  • I love this. Chalk full of great information to help me enjoy reading hew and old books.

    Judy LeeAnn Michon

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