My Favorite Books from 2021

I’m ending this year with another roundup of some books I read this year. I like to give out awards to my favorites, sometimes in made-up categories (see my distinction between “hard” and “tender” sci fi below). So without further ado:

Best Cosmology Memoir

Part primer on recent advances in astronomy and theoretical physics, part memoir of her life as a Black Jewish woman in STEM, part interaction between the two.

Best Mind-expanding Mathematics

All three of these books simultaneously cover interesting mathematics while expanding the idea of what mathematics is.

Best Psychology + Self-Help

Both of these books are about how our thinking is shaped by our surroundings, from society to our buildings to our bodies.

Best Religion + Spirituality

A very compelling vision of what the Christian church could be like.

Best Hard Sci-Fi series

Features: an adorable mathematician dating the most powerful woman in the known universe, as they try to steer humanity through the end of civilization as they know it.

Best Tender Sci-Fi series

Each novel follows an interspecies group of people as they navigate a very tolerant galactic society with lots of issues. Read ’em and weep.

Best Enigmatic Fantasy

My favorite part of “Wandavision” was the mysterious first few episodes where you really didn’t know what was going on, and Piranesi has very similar vibes.

Best Beloved Children’s Series

I reread these this year and the last two books (“Taran Wanderer”) and (“The High King”) remain my favorites. Punches not pulled.

Best New Children’s Series

Set in 90’s California, this series explores a wide variety of immigrant and racialized experiences through the perspective of middle-schooler Mia Tang, who runs a motel with her parents. Partly based on the author’s own childhood experiences, these books don’t let their characters off the hook when their choices affect other people. I’m reading the third book now, which just came out recently.

Thanks for reading! If you’ve read any of these and have thoughts, or if you want to share some of your own favorite reads from this year, I’d love to hear in the comments!


2 thoughts on “My Favorite Books from 2021

  1. Happy New Year Owen to you and the rest of the family. Thanks for sharing about your best books for 2021 – it is great to able to look back. I need to reflect on my Good Reads list too and decide which ones most stood out. I also read ‘Faith after Doubt’ during 2021 – a very timely and stirring book.
    As to my favourite sci-fi read of last year – that has to be ‘Project Hail Mary’ by Andy Weir.

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  2. I have many of these on my to-read list and now I’m looking forward to them even more! I haven’t read Chronicles of Prydain since I was a kid… do you have a good guess for age level appropriateness for read aloud book? (Like on a scale of early Narnia books to late Harry Potter books as far as dark/upsetting material?)

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