Top 10 Books of 2021

2021 is at its end, and that means it’s time to write another Top Books post. I had a difficult year with books; I ran into a lot of what I call “meh” books that were overhyped and left me disappointed. But overall, I am still happy that I read.

From wrapping up a master’s thesis to getting pregnant with our first baby, I didn’t expect to meet my Goodreads challenge, but I did! Hooray!

While I did read 5X books this year, only a few made the Top Books list. I’m excited to share them below.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown (Beartown, #1)

Perhaps one of my favorite books of all time? I read this one for a buddy read back in January. It was my first book of 2021, and my favorite this year. I write more in detail in my book review, but there are a lot of trigger warnings in this one. If you want to read, reach out and we can talk about it. This book is complicated, frustrating, raw, and beautiful. Backman is just tremendous. My advice: Yes, it’s a book centered around hockey, but it’s so much more than that.

Four Hundred Souls by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019

This book is from a chorus of writers accounting 400 years of the history of Black America. This book is an essential piece of storytelling and I highly recommend reading it. I plan on rereading it next year because it is that good. The audio is also fantastic.

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

The Rose Code

After reading a few disappointing books this summer and fall, Kate Quinn certainly delivered with The Rose Code. In my book review, I wrote about how this book is all about strength, sisterhood, love, and sacrifice. Quinn always knows how to weave a good story and bring rich history into her books. I highly recommend this one and anything Kate Quinn writes. I’d give something she wrote on a napkin 5 stars.

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

Us Against You (Beartown, #2)

This book is the sequel to Beartown and oh my goodness, I enjoyed this one. These books break my heart. Again, some trigger warnings, so please reach out if you’d like to read this series. Backman will be releasing the third one this year, and while I can’t wait, I am also preparing my soul for simultaneous heartache and healing.

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot

I read this one on my iPad and furiously highlighted throughout. Hood Feminism offers rich insight in areas such as intersectionality and the problem with white feminism. I learned so much reading this book and I encourage everyone who is interested in feminism (read: everyone) to pick it up.

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)

Throughout the fall of 2020 into spring 2021, I read the Throne of Glass series, which was no easy feat. I am glad I did it, and I am thrilled that I found an author that I enjoy. Out of all of the Throne of Glass books, Queen of Shadows was my favorite. The action, the badass women, the plot — I was hooked throughout. You can read more about my thoughts on Throne of Glass in my series review.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Act Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters, #3)

You want to have a lot of fun? Read Talia Hibberts’ Act Your Age series. I read all of them, and really enjoyed them. Out of all three, I’d have to say I liked Dani the best, but I enjoyed Eve’s story more. These books are funny and steamy, but I also love their representation, from LGBTQ to mental health and more.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

I read the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology this year, and while I flew through the Shadow and Bone trilogy (review here), I enjoyed Six of Crows as a standalone book much more. I am yet to read King of Scars and Rule of Wolves, but I have a feeling I will continue to enjoy the stories. I really loved the Grishaverse and the characters she introduces in Six of Crows. I love the action and the heist and how she writes dialogue. It’s fun, witty, and engaging. I really loved Nina and Inej, as well as Jasper and Wyatt. Looking forward to checking in with Nikolai in January!

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Britt-Marie Was Here

Oh, look. Another Backman! Britt-Marie Was Here was fantastic. This one is a good mix of A Man Called Ove and Beartown — without feeling like you are reading the same book. I go into more detail in my book review, but this one really stuck with me. I loved Britt-Marie, the town and its characters. I laughed and shed many tears reading this one!

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin

The Nature of Witches

This was a perfect Halloween, witchy read. What I really loved about this book was the pretty prose throughout. Griffin has a talent for atmospheric writing. I appreciated all of the seasons while reading this book (and I usually hate summer!). I also loved the idea that everyone has their own “season” where they feel the most themselves — I am definitely an autumn! You can read more about my thoughts on this one in my book review!

Your turn

What were your favorite books this year?

2021 Kassual Reads

Check out my wrap-up posts throughout the year:

January Wrap-Up

February Wrap-Up

March Wrap-Up

April Wrap-Up

May to September Wrap-Up

October Wrap-Up

November Wrap-Up

December Wrap-Up

Book Review | The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin

The Nature of Witches left me pleasantly surprised! I’ve had a rough year when it comes to liking books, and this one was a refreshing, enjoyable, easy read.

The Nature of Witches

More about The Nature of Witches: For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, their power from the sun peaking in the season of their birth. But now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic. All hope lies with Clara, an Everwitch whose rare magic is tied to every season.

In Autumn, Clara wants nothing to do with her power. It’s wild and volatile, and the price of her magic―losing the ones she loves―is too high, despite the need to control the increasingly dangerous weather.

In Winter, the world is on the precipice of disaster. Fires burn, storms rage, and Clara accepts that she’s the only one who can make a difference.

In Spring, she falls for Sang, the witch training her. As her magic grows, so do her feelings, until she’s terrified Sang will be the next one she loses.

In Summer, Clara must choose between her power and her happiness, her duty and the people she loves… before she loses Sang, her magic, and thrusts the world into chaos.

The book description also says “Practical Magic meets Twister,” but I wouldn’t go that far. There are certainly various weather events throughout the book, but I didn’t get Practical Magic or Twister vibes as I read. I would also say Practical Magic is wildly different from this book, aside from The Nature of Witches being YA. So, I thought that comparison was off. This book is, however, a perfect cozy, aesthetic read for fall.

What I really appreciated about this one was the author’s close attention to the seasons. I loved following Clara through the year and getting swept away in the descriptions of autumn, winter, spring and summer. I also found it interesting that Griffin created witches who thrived in particular seasons. If they were born in winter, then their magic was strongest in the winter. Throughout the rest of the year, their powers changed; while not dormant, their energy and focus during their “off” seasons were prevalent and understood. I found this concept very relatable. As someone who is born in autumn, I love the season and feel more “myself” during this time of year. I hate the summer, and I will say I am more … grumpier and dim (and hot) in the summertime. It was such a cool concept and made me feel seen.

This story was also a journey of self-healing. And it was a beautiful one at that. Clara, the only Everwitch, has a lot of weight on her shoulders when it comes to saving their world. Her powers have killed people she loved, and she’d rather give up her place as Everwitch than hurt anyone else. But when she meets Sang, he helps her find her way. I loved Sang and appreciated his gentle and kind spring-like character. While he is not fully responsible for Clara’s healing (I would have been mad if this was a boy-saves-the-girl book), he was a safe, supportive partner that all young people should look to find.

All in all, I really enjoyed this one. It wasn’t too deep of a book, and I found the plot to flow and the story to be interesting throughout. I also really respected Griffin’s constant nods to climate change and the work we all need to do to help our planet. Very smart and needed.

Has anyone read this book? What were your likes/dislikes?