Culture / Entertainment

The Best Books of 2021 — Memoirs, Thrillers, Romantic Comedies, and Psychology

6 Must-Read Titles of the Year

BY // 01.07.22

I spent a lot of time reading books in 2021. I also joined a book club, which made me more accountable to finish novels promptly. But after reading a massive mix of historical fiction, romantic comedies, and nonfiction, I found that just six books stayed with me.

Whether you’re looking for self-development, a powerful memoir, or just something fun, these are some of the best books published in 2021.

Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brené Brown

Researcher, professor, and podcast host Brené Brown has quickly become a Texas icon over the past few years. Since I first saw Brown’s 2010 TED talk on vulnerability, I’ve been hooked on her honest and uplifting content. I sped through reading The Gifts of ImperfectionRising Strong, and Braving the Wilderness. When it was announced that the author would have a new book coming out in November 2021, I immediately pre-ordered it. Atlas of the Heart is a dictionary of sorts, exploring bad, good, and confusing emotions (87 of them, to be exact). Brown recycles some quotes and paragraphs from previous books, but if you’ve read the prior content, you get to witness how she continually grows and discovers something new. She ultimately brings all of the information together as a framework for meaningful connection. But it’s her personal stories and openness that make you feel connected.


Crying in H Mart Best Books
“Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner is a top memoir of the year. (Courtesy of Amazon)

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Be prepared to bawl your eyes out. Especially if you’ve been through something similar to indie band Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner. This memoir tells the story of the 20-something Korean-American and her experience losing her mother to cancer. As one of the only Asian-American kids at her small town Oregon school, Zauner struggles with her identity. Her mother takes her to her hometown of Seoul during vacations, where she learns about Korean food and culture. Zauner then goes on to college on the East Coast and plays in a band. When she finds out that her mom has terminal cancer, she comes home to be with her. The story is heartbreaking but incredibly well-written as she reconnects with her Korean heritage during this time — in particular, cooking Korean food.

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Apples Never Fall Best Books 2021
“Apples Never Fall” is “Big Little Lies” author Liane Moriarty’s latest thriller. (Courtesy of Amazon)

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

The Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers author has done it again with this new thriller about a tennis family whose matriarch goes missing. When the four Delaney kids (all grown up) find out that their father hasn’t seen their mother in days, Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke work to get to the bottom of things. After fifty years of marriage, Stan and Joy Delaney sell their tennis academy and retire. One night, a girl named Savannah knocks on their door claiming to have been abused by her boyfriend. Good people, they let the girl stay with them for a while. When Joy goes missing, everyone becomes a suspect, including her husband.


Think Again Best Books 2021
Organization psychologist Adam Grant released his latest book “Think Again” in 2021. (Courtesy of Amazon)

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant

Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist known for his previous books titled Originals and Option B (cowritten with Sheryl Sandberg). His new book, Think Again focuses on rethinking and learning to question your opinions. At such a divisive time, Grant explores the idea of opening other people’s minds and your own to live a more fulfilling life.


These Precious Days Ann Patchett Books 2021
Ann Patchett’s “These Precious Days” is a collection of personal essays.

These Precious Days by Ann Patchett

In her new collection of essays, Ann Patchett (Commonwealth, Bel Canto, and State of Wonder) explores a variety of new topics and rewrites old stories surrounding her life as a writer, bookshop owner, and an unexpected friendship with Tom Hank’s assistant, Sooki. As the author of so many great novels, Patchett uses these essays to show readers a glimpse of her own life and what led her to become who she is as a writer.


People We Meet on Vacation Best Books 2021
One of the most popular fiction books of the year, “People We Meet on Vacation” is a romantic comedy. (Courtesy of Amazon)

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

One of the most popular fiction books of 2021, this new romantic comedy from Beach Read author Emily Henry follows the story of two best friends, their travels, and their relationship over the years. As Poppy and Alex embark on ten different summer journeys, date other people, and move different places, the two opposites (she is adventurous, he loves structure) find that they will need to finally confront something that happened on a past trip.

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