The Top 10 Backlist Books of 2021

At the beginning of the year, I made a goal to try and tackle some of the books already on my shelves. While I did read a lot of backlist books in 2021, my overall total number of books on my personal bookshelves stayed pretty much the same. 🤷🏼‍♀️

I’m going to continue to focus on the books already on my shelves heading into 2022, and I only hope I find as many favorites among them as I did this year!

What were some of your favorite backlist books you read this year?

The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

Probably my favorite nonfiction book of the year, my only regret is that I didn’t read it sooner. I could see this adding lively discussions to classrooms across America and would only wish that this could end up on every single American’s bookshelves!

The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay

I absolutely fell head over heels for this book – the story, the characters, the cover, the writing – all of it blew my expectations out of the water. I’m thoroughly impressed this is a debut novel as Vijay really takes her readers and sinks them into this deeply layered, deeply complex story. I felt transformed to India and the story Vijay tells weaved itself right into the fibers of my being. I know will think of Shalani many, many times in the future – both with happiness and frustration.

The Boys’ Club by Erica Katz

I loved the intensity of this novel and found it to be such a diversion from my reality that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. The all-nighters, the drinking, the wineing and dineing of high-powered clients, and the drugs…its all here and it’s a journey you won’t soon forget!

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

This was a book that completely nailed the grief narrative for me and I will always hold it in high regard. At first I was deterred by the possiblity of a Shakespeare immersion, but those fears were unfounded and I loved sinking into his wife’s character, Agnes, so much!

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks

Burks’ compassion towards men with the HIV/AIDs disease is inspirational and humbling. During a time when people – even doctors and nurses – were treating these men as less than human, Burks swooped in and provided them with love and compassion and empathy.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

While I’m not entirely sure what I read, I also highly value it simply for the unique reading experience it is. It’s best to head in blind and to let the story unfold as it will!

No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachel Louise Snyder

Before the publicartion of this book, no one had really compiled the data of red flags that can highly predict a future homicide in domestic situations until recently. It highlighted how poor communication is between agencies that deal with domestic violence incidents (police departments, emergency departments, abuse shelters, etc). Snyder lays out precise things we can do now to help prevent further domestic violence incidents.

How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America by Kiese Laymon

At just 176 pages, this book packs a huge punch! Through a collection of essays, Laymon examines how the publishing world underpays #ownvoices authors and how they are not valuing a more diverse cast of authors. 

This Is All I Got by Lauren Sandler

Sandler immersed herself into Camila’s life, a brand-new mother who is homeless in New York. She shows us the ins-and-outs of what it looks like to be homeless – the hoops one must jump through for government assistance and the red tape that is seemingly around every corner. This was a humbling (and very eye-opening) look into a world I’ve been fortunate to know nothing about.

Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn

For a debut author, I was impressed with Washburn’s ability to write with such strength and depth. I loved the rich Hawaiin culture and traditions that permeated throughout the story, but I also wish the character building would have been a bit better.

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