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Amy's 10 favourite reads of 2021

I had a few friends reach out asking for my top reads of 2021. I love that I tracked my books in The StoryGraph so it was easy to review everything that I read last year. After going through all my reads the exercise was such a personal reflection of my year. I really enjoyed the feeling of remembering the great characters and story lines that touched me and allowed for moments of escape during a roller coaster of a year. I love how I expanded my genres and in doing so have a top list of books much more diverse than years before (ie. not all historical fiction!). In no particular order:

1. The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary

Amy's Rating: 4.5/5

This book is for those who love books. It had my heart from page one. Reading about people who love to read, want to read more, don't know if they are readers yet. All characters are woven together by a list of books one character thinks everyone should read in their lifetime.

2. The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Mariann Cronin

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary

Amy's Rating: 4.5/5

Lenni is 17 and has a terminal illness and lives at the hospital, but she doesn't let it stop her from living. Lenni is 87 and in the hospital for heart complications. The two bond over an art project that they put together.

I love a book that makes me laugh out loud (great wit) and cry (ugly cry). These characters will stick with you over time!

3. The Guncle by Steven Rowley

Genre: Fiction

Amy's Rating: 4.75/5

This! This book is one of my favourite of ALL time. I laughed out loud the entire book and couldn't put it down. I rarely reread books - but this one will be read again.

Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short) has always loved his niece and nephew but things change when they have to come live with him and he has to learn responsibility of parenting children.

4. Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad

Genre: Memoir

Amy's Rating: 4.5/5

In the summer after Suleika graduates from college she moves to Paris to follow her dream of becoming a war correspondent. A few weeks before her 23rd birthday she receives a diagnosis of leukemia. Over 3 years later after she is cured, "She had spent the past 1,500 days in desperate pursuit of one goal—to survive. And now that she’d done so, she realized that she had no idea how to live."

5. Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly

Genre: Historical Fiction

Amy's Rating: 5/5

I don't usually play favourites, but this might be my favourite of the year. Kelly has written 3 books and you don't need to read them in order. I love books that take place in the 1800s and following the women's movement. This book brings me back to the elements that made me fall in love with reading; history, well researched, and strong female characters.

I was lucky to join a zoom to meet the author when the book was released and love hearing about all of the research she puts into all her books.

6. Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnston

Genre: Historical Fiction

Amy's Rating: 4.75/5

This isn't an easy read, but it is a MUST read. This is one of the first books I've read that dealt with colorism during the 19th century in America. The story follows a young bi-racial girl Pheby who grows up on a plantation as a slave. When she is sent away to be auctioned off the story follows her and what happens to other lighter skinned women at the time. Definitely a page turner, emotional and heartbreaking.

7. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Genre: Non-fiction

Amy's Rating: 4.25/5

I normally don't read a lot of non-fiction books but I was feeling uninspired and hadn't read for a while when I picked this one up. It was the perfect Sunday read to start my week. I didn't want to initially read it because I wasn't ready to make big changes to my habits. This book was the opposite - it showed very little things that you can do that compound to reaching larger goals. It was everything I needed and started my Monday off at work with high energy and motivation.

8. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Genre: Historical Fiction

Amy's Rating: 4.5/5 No top reading list is complete without a Kristin Hannah novel. I have seen some people say this wasn't their favourite of hers but I absoulutetly loved it. I read a lot of her books this year (8 books, it was tough to pick between this one and Magic Hour) but this was my favourite. In 1934, Texas, Elsa and many other farmers must make the decision to stay with the dried up crops or try and go West to California to make a better life.

This is the heart wrenching story we love Kristin Hannah for.

9. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Amy's Rating: 4.5/5

This is one of the psychological thrillers I had ever read at the time so this one made a big impact on me. I read it one sitting because I just needed to know the ending. This book started my love for thriller/mystery books and I haven't stopped reading them since.

I didn't see the twist coming and haven't found a thriller I love as much as this one. I'd love to hear from you if you have any books I should read that are similar.

10. The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. LaRue

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Amy's Rating: 4.75/5

Another first for me - fantasy! I never thought I'd pick this one up, but couldn't be happier that I did. In France in 1714 a woman makes a bargain to live forever but is cursed that anyone that she meets doesn't remember her. A book that spans across countries and centuries and through art, as a young girl figures out how she can get people to remember who she is and make her mark on the world.

300 years later she finds a man in New York who remembers her and I loved following their relationship.

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