Best Reads of 2021

I read a lot of good books this year. Over half of my reads were 4/5 stars, which I am, of course, happy about. So let’s just talk about the far fewer 5 star reads. 4 stars are for books I enjoyed reading and would recommend, but I like to reserve my 5 star ratings for the books I enjoyed so much that I didn’t want to put them down. I gave 5 stars to three books this year. Here they are, in the order I read them.

Ender’s Game
by Orson Scott Card

Ender Wiggin is offered a place in Battle School when he is six. There, he is isolated and trained in war simulations to assist in the war against an alien race.

While I generally don’t enjoy traditional war stories, I do love when military strategy is incorporated into stories. That aspect, mixed with the sci-fi setting, aliens, and the complexity of the role the children played in the adult run games all worked together wonderfully to build this story. The manipulation of Ender’s emotion balanced the logic of the competitive games. The reveal at the end was not a huge shock, but also something I did not expect as I was reading. Overall this book really exceeded my expectations and I highly recommend it if you want a plot-driven, engaging sci-fi.

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak

In Nazi Germany, Death takes an interest in young Liesel, who becomes fascinated with books following her brother’s death, as her foster family hides a Jew in their basement.

Death narrates the compelling tale of the life of Liesel as she adjusts to her new home in Nazi Germany. Although there is, unfortunately, no great library heist detailed in this book, Liesel is named The Book Thief. Her life is not entirely extraordinary, but the book is engaging as she meets her foster parents, learns to read, and befriends others in her neighborhood as well as the Jew hiding in her basement. This story is sad and thoughtful and I would recommend it if you like historical fiction and

Red Seas Under Red Skies
by Scott Lynch

Two years after Locke and Jean leave Camorr, they’re cheating their way to the vault at the Sinspire, until someone in Tel Verrar finds out their true identities and forces the pair to change their plans.

I love Locke and Jean and seeing what trouble this duo can find. This sequel takes our main characters to a new city with some new players, and the classic casino heist gets a fantasy spin put on it. Also, there’s plenty of piracy along the way. I really enjoyed getting to see these two characters continue getting in trouble together and how they developed along the way. I recommend this if you love fantasy, heists, and piracy, although I’d recommend reading The Lies of Locke Lamora first.

Did you read any standout books this year?