Reading is fundamental, so they say. Part of what Fangirlish is built on – our love of books and our loves of fandom.
This year, while sitting at home and watching the year pass us by, we’ve had the chance to read a lot. But narrowing down our favorites hasn’t been easy. From fantasy to books that tore us apart to books that taught us and books that spoke to us, here are our top 15 books of 2021.
The conclusion (??) to the duology that follows Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo’s Rule of Wolves is the kind of book that has it all, and that makes you feel all. We get a conclusion to the love story between Nikolai and Zoya, some appearances from old favorites from her previous trilogy and even a redemption arc of sorts for the unlikeliest villain in a book that never feels too crowded and that stops just when you want more, as Bardugo is an expert at doing.
Magical realism, family and a story that feels like it leaps off the pages are just some of the reasons to enjoy Córdoba’s adult debut. The writing is absolutely captivating and the story, though it follows some familiar beats and is clearly inspired by some classics, is the story of the Montoya family, not anyone else’s. Now, of course, that doesn’t mean the Montoyas cannot, in some things, resemble your family. That’s another thing altogether.
An expertly plotted high fantasy book that never feels too heavy, and that focuses on characters seems like a pipe dream, and yet that’s exactly what Aveyard’s book is. It’s not a light book, and yet it’s an incredibly fun, engaging book, that you won’t want to put down once you start. Plus, there are enough characters to fall in love with that, no matter what your tastes are, you’re sure to find a favorite.
Those of us who loved Red White and Royal Blue were expecting something equally silly and fanfic-esque out of Casey McQuinston’s second novel. Instead, we got a story that was completely different, and yet arguably even better, than McQuinston’s debut. One Last Stop is many things. It’s a beautiful sapphic love story. It’s an ode to queer history. It’s a story about found families. But it’s also a heart wrenching book about twenty-somethings trying to find their place in a world that feels stacked against them.
It’s no surprise that the latest addition to the Shadowhunter Chronicles makes our list this year. Chain of Iron builds on the foundation established by Chain of Gold, raising the stakes and complicating the relationships between our favourite characters. As we wrote in our review, it’s a book that’s far more concerned with its characters and their relationships than with the external plot, and that focus works in its favour.
The long-awaited conclusion to Rainbow Rowell’s Simon Snow trilogy was everything we needed and so much more. We got great banter between the main cast, absolutely unhinged narration from Baz, and of course plenty of genuine moments between characters. A fantastic conclusion to an excellent trilogy.
From the author of Cinderella is Dead comes a fun and lighthearted urban fantasy about a teenage girl with an affinity for plants. The biggest strength of This Poison Heart is the way it explores complex family dynamics, as the protagonist tries to uncover the mystery surrounding her birth parents while maintaining a close relationship with her adoptive parents. It’s a heartwarming and highly entertaining start to what is sure to be an excellent series.
The Witch King earned a glowing review from us thanks to its great cast of characters and incredibly witty dialogue. It’s not often that the first book in a fantasy series is this fun and easy to read. Author H.E. Edgmon does a great job of introducing new fantasy lore and new characters without ever missing a beat or confusing the reader.
Tokyo Ever After is a super cute commoner to royalty story. It’s not just because it’s one of our favorite tropes, it’s because Emiko Jean weaves together this story so poetically, but you relate to the characters, even though you aren’t royalty. It reminds us to dream and see a bigger world out there, drawing the reader into a world you want to belong to. A fast paced must fun read.
The age old question, what would you do with a second chance? You’ve Reached Sam asks that question – what would you do with a second chance to say goodbye? You’ve Reached Sam is a page turner from the first page to the last, leaving you both laughing and crying. That ending though… have the tissues ready. This book will make you feel… a lot.
We never thought that we’d say that a book about falling in love with one of the biggest stars in the world would grip us the way it did, but XOXO definitely did. Meet cutes, forbidden love, angst… a great time from the first page to the last.
This dictionary is intersectional, inclusive, and the perfection addition to any bookshelf. And we’re not just talking seasoned members of the rainbow gang. You can be a starter or ally and get so much out of the definitions included in this book. Plus it’s playful and creative while spanning generations of lingo essential to our community.
Never did we ever think that this book would go in the direction it did. And without giving anything away, because it’s one of those things you should experience yourself, it takes the humor and science of The Martian and gives it a new setting, lead, and a fascinating timeline that keeps you coming back for more.
The cover should honestly be enough to make you go, “I need to read this.” But just in case you need more…listen up. There are monsters, giant robots, and a badass woman questioning why the system is working against women. Plus it explores queer themes (polyamory) that are seldom touched upon with a delicate hand that shows the author truly cares when it comes to clear and true representation.
This book has everything our Harry Potter loving hearts have been waiting for. Not only does it have a female lead but it’s queer AF with a magical school that is fascinating, mysterious, and hella complicated. And the equivalent of muggles is wicked in a world where magic is cruel and powerful. Round that off with a sisterly bond that gives you the feels and actual POC playing key roles, and you’ve got a book worth reading.
Tell us what your favorite books of 2021 were. What are your most anticipated books of 2022?
OUR END OF THE YEAR LISTS
- Fangirlish 2021 End Of Year Lists: Our Favorite Fandom Accounts Of 2021
- Fangirlish 2021 End Of Year Lists: Our Favorite Instagram Accounts
- Fangirlish 2021 End of Year Lists: 10 TV Deaths We Wish We Could Take Back
- Fangirlish 2021 End of Year Lists: 15 Books We LOVED This Year
- Fangirlish 2021 End Of Year Lists: Our Top Artists Of 2021
- Fangirlish 2021 End Of Year Lists: Scenes We Could Watch Over and Over
- Fangirlish 2021 End Of Year Lists: People Who Made Us Swoon In 2021