24 Books Skimm'rs Read and Loved Most in 2021

Published on: Dec 17, 2021fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round
Best books of 2021Design: theSkimm

Alexa, play “Closing Time” by Semisonic. Throughout the year we’ve shared book rec after book rec — covering everything from our go-to cookbooks and beach reads to our fave can’t-put-down thrillers and audiobook picks. And now that 2021 is coming to a close, we rounded up all the reads that Skimm’rs (hey, that’s you) added to cart the most this year. From exhilarating page-turners to stories that’ll make you cry, these are the ones you’ll want to add to your book club queue for 2022. Happy reading. 

PS: Check out the rest of your end-of-year favorites here. We rounded up Skimm’rs top finds under $25, problem-solving items you couldn’t get enough of, the best self-care products, and more. Don’t miss it.

“While We Were Dating” by Jasmine Guillory 
“While We Were Dating” by Jasmine Guillory 

The queen of romance mixes business with pleasure in this cutesy romance. When Ben, an ad exec, and Anna, a budding Hollywood actress, serve up some sizzling chemistry after meeting on set for a project, Guillory puts their banter to the test. They’ll have to deal with a family emergency, their pasts, and some other rom-com-esque shenanigans. It’s a love story, baby, just say 'yes' (Jasmine’s version). (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“The Husbands” by Chandler Baker
“The Husbands” by Chandler Baker

Welcome to Dynasty Ranch. Where domestic bliss is on the menu…until it isn’t. This exclusive Austin suburb is different than anything Nora has ever known. It’s where accomplished women aren’t burdened by household chores. And instead, their husbands assume those responsibilities — happily. So when Nora, a successful lawyer, takes on a case that brings her deeper into this upside-down “Stepford Wives” universe, she’ll soon discover that everything isn’t always as it seems. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“The Paper Palace” by Miranda Cowley Heller
“The Paper Palace” by Miranda Cowley Heller

This one follows Elle, a happily married 50-something, who’s spent every summer of her life at her family’s home in Cape Cod. And one night after sleeping with her childhood love, she’ll have to make a life-altering romantic decision. The novel takes place over the course of a single day, with some snippets of the character’s past interwoven through. Once you finish you’ll be begging Nancy Meyers to adapt it for the big screen. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“Early Morning Riser” by Katherine Heiny
“Early Morning Riser” by Katherine Heiny

Say 'hi' to this hilarious novel that’ll make your heart burst. In it, a 26-year-old moves to a small town in Michigan to teach second grade. Soon after, she finds herself falling for a charming, divorced woodworker who's been with pretty much every woman in town. The novel spans more than 15 years and has some plot twists, quirky characters, and early 2000s vibes. Weekend plans = confirmed. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“Falling” by T.J. Newman
“Falling” by T.J. Newman

High-stakes thriller alert. The plot of this super-suspenseful debut novel goes a little like this: We’ve got 143 passengers on board a flight to New York. And the pilot in charge finds out his family’s been kidnapped soon after takeoff. To save his family, he’s supposed to crash the flight. The path toward a resolution? Well, it's...turbulent. It’s written by a former flight attendant who knows exactly how to make the hairs on your arm stand straight up. So buckle up — it’s about to get bumpy. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner
“Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner

We’re not crying, you are. Zauner’s memoir is the expanded version of her popular New Yorker essay where she writes about losing her mother and grappling with her identity. Zauner, who you might know as indie pop artist Japanese Breakfast, writes movingly about grief, using food to connect with her Korean roots and her family. It’s guaranteed to make you appreciate your relationship with any mom figure in your life. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“Too Good to Be True” by Carola Lovering
“Too Good to Be True” by Carola Lovering

Twists, lies, cons, oh my. The “Tell Me Lies” author’s 2021 release follows a successful NYC book editor who gets engaged to her boyfriend after only a few months of dating. Her friends aren't convinced he's Mr. Right. And turns out, they're right to be suspicious. Because Prince Charming’s hiding a biiiiig secret. No spoilers — but you''ll be guessing the ending until the last twisty page. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“A Lot Like Adiós” by Alexis Daria
“A Lot Like Adiós” by Alexis Daria

All in favor of a hot, friends-to-lovers romance set in NYC, say ‘aye.’ This fresh and steamy novel follows two childhood friends who are unexpectedly brought back into each other’s lives after more than a decade apart. It’s from the author of “You Had Me at Hola,” and you’ll pretty much be begging for a Netflix adaptation once you finish reading. Swoon. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“A Slow Fire Burning” by Paula Hawkins
“A Slow Fire Burning” by Paula Hawkins

Hello darkness, my old friend. From the author of “The Girl on the Train” you’ll get a new story that’s just as haunting. It centers on three women and the spine-chilling murder of a young man who they all have different connections to in London. Our Spidey senses tell us they're serving up major suspicious energy. But sources say you’ll have to read to the very end to solve this whodunit. Good luck. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“Super Host” by Kate Russo
“Super Host” by Kate Russo

Get ready to smile. In this debut, a middle-aged painter who’s going through a rough patch rents out his West London home to make ends meet. While he moves into his art studio, a series of guests move into his home and offer him a new chance at life. It’s a sweet story and the perfect antidote to the chaos that’s been 2021. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“Apples Never Fall” by Liane Moriarty
“Apples Never Fall” by Liane Moriarty

Something is rotten in the state of this family. One of our fave authors (ahem, the one behind “Big Little Lies” and “Nine Perfect Strangers”) dropped another prickly mystery. This time, we’re following the Delaney children and their father after the shocking disappearance of their mother. It’s part domestic saga, part psychological thriller — and the ending will shock you right to your core. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“Good Company” by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
“Good Company” by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Trouble-in-paradise alert. When a woman finds her husband’s supposedly long-lost wedding ring in their garage, she starts to see her marriage and close friendships in a new light. It’s from the author of “The Nest” so you can expect some good family drama. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“Seven Days in June” by Tia Williams
“Seven Days in June” by Tia Williams

Warning: things are about to get steamy. In this buzzy novel, a bestselling erotica author and single mother has a surprise run-in with an award-winning novelist at a literary event in NYC. Turns out they actually spent one hot and heavy week together 15 years ago. And before they can fully rekindle their former fling, they’ll have to cope with some serious stuff from their pasts. It's a 'cancel all my plans, I have to finish this right now' kind of read. So maybe don't overload your calendar this weekend. Take it from us. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“The Plot” by Jean Hanff Korelitz
“The Plot” by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Korelitz (who wrote the book “The Undoing” was based on) set her newest gripping mystery around a washed-up MFA teacher at Ripley College who hasn’t written anything worthy in years. (“The Talented Mr. Ripley” vibes, anyone?) When one of his students tells him about the incredible plot of their future book and then turns up dead, he decides to steal the idea. But wait…someone knows what he did. And wants the truth out there. Dun dun dun. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles
“The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles

Grab your suitcase, we’re heading to the 1950s. The author behind “A Gentleman in Moscow” and “Rules of Civility” set his latest novel around an 18-year-old from Nebraska newly released from prison. His intention is to head to California with his younger brother (here they comeeee) to start a new life. But his friends have other plans in mind. Instead they route him toward the greatest city in the world — New York. It spans 10 days, is told from a number of perspectives, and is a complete joyride. All aboard. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“The Hunting Wives” by May Cobb
“The Hunting Wives” by May Cobb

A woman leaves behind big-city life to settle down with her husband and son in Texas. It at first seems like the perfect idyllic community. But she soon feels boredom start to kick in…that is, until she meets the Hunting Wives — an alluring secretive group of women that lead her directly into trouble. The plot twists? They keep on coming. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One of Skimm HQ’s fave authors (of “Daisy Jones & The Six” and “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” fame) set this summer hit in August 1983. It revolves around four siblings with a famous father who are hosting their annual end-of-summer blowout party. They all have cool celebrity ties (it is Malibu, after all) and are each hiding something from one another. And by the party’s end...let’s just say things go up in flames. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“The Startup Wife” by Tahmima Anam
“The Startup Wife” by Tahmima Anam

Disruption? In the tech world? Groundbreaking. This scathing yet hilarious novel follows a brilliant coder who reconnects with her high school crush and joins an exclusive tech incubator. But when they create a viral app and her husband is hailed as the prophet-like figure behind its genius, their marriage is put to the test. It’s a compulsively readable novel — and a piercing satire on startup culture and gender politics. Book club, u up? (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig
“The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig

Part “Sliding Doors,” part “Groundhog Day,” this whimsical read explores something we’ve all probably thought about before: What if things in your life had happened differently and what if you could do it over again? You'll meet Nora, a depressed 30-something, who finds herself not in heaven, not in hell, but in a special middle ground known as the Midnight Library. It’s a vast space filled with books that offer her endless possibilities at life anew. With each read she opens, she’ll get to start over in another alternate reality version of her life — and explore all the what-ifs and unanswered questions. Magic awaits. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“While Justice Sleeps” by Stacey Abrams
“While Justice Sleeps” by Stacey Abrams

This novel centers on Avery, a resourceful young law clerk who becomes her boss’s power of attorney after he falls into a coma. And because this is DC, he’s not just any boss, he’s a Supreme Court justice with a powerful swing vote. Now let’s add in a global conspiracy plotline that threatens to undermine the country, and you get this incredible legal thriller. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“People We Meet on Vacation” by Emily Henry
“People We Meet on Vacation” by Emily Henry

Emily Henry (the author behind “Beach Read”) is back with another smart, steamy romance. This one follows Poppy and Alex on a trip to Palm Springs as they work through a rough patch in their 12-year friendship. It's about opposites attracting and friends becoming...more than friends. You will feel all the feels. And probably shed a few tears. Don’t say we didn’t warn ya. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“Arsenic and Adobo” by Mia P. Manansala
“Arsenic and Adobo” by Mia P. Manansala

This novel begins with major rom-com vibes and turns into an Agatha Christie–esque mystery. When Lila moves home after a breakup, she’s tasked with saving her family’s restaurant. But when a famous food critic — who’s also casually her ex — winds up dead, she’s the main suspect. She sets out to clear her name and takes you along on the journey. It’s a super-fun read that’s perfect for the beach, your couch, or any Sunday afternoon. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“The Other Black Girl” by Zakiya Dalila Harris
“The Other Black Girl” by Zakiya Dalila Harris

You’ll be able to cut the tension here with a knife. Meet Nella, a hardworking 26-year-old assistant who’s fed up with being the only Black employee at her NYC book publishing job. When she hears that her company has hired another young Black woman, she’s thrilled. That is, until things begin to take a turn and she receives an unsettling note telling her to leave her job immediately. It’s been compared to “Get Out” and “The Devil Wears Prada” and has already been scooped up for a TV adaptation too. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“A Special Place for Women” by Laura Hankin 
“A Special Place for Women” by Laura Hankin 

This one goes down at an exclusive women’s social club. A failing journalist sets out to revive her career and come out with a big story that’ll get her back on top. As she goes deeper into the super-secretive society’s world, she finds out what’s really going on behind the scenes. Dun dun dun. Oh, and Samantha Bee’s working on turning it into a TV show. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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If you buy anything from this article, theSkimm may get something in return. Oh, and if something’s out of stock, oops, it was there (and all prices were accurate) when we published. Thanks.

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Skimm'd by Lindsay Schneider, Emmy Favilla