jillgg’s good life (for less)

 Today I’m rounding up the books I loved most in 2021. 2020 was a terrible reading year for me, I started books and didn’t like them and just couldn’t focus on reading in general. In previous years I had read over 60 books and for 2020 that number was about half. For 2021 I did a little better with reading and read a decent amount of books but still found myself being extremely picky about what I was reading. I often started books and didn’t like them and quit – which is unlike how I usually read, I rarely don’t finish books. I don’t know if it’s still pandemic effects or if my reading style is just changing as I get older. In general I feel super picky about books lately. Of the 36 books I read during 2021 today I will lay out which of those I loved the most. If you are a die-hard reader or if you follow “best books of” list closely this won’t be the best books of 2021 strictly, many of these books were published in previous years. 

Beach Read by Emily Henry, as the title suggests this is the perfect ‘beach read’ book. I love that this book took place in Michigan too. This is just the perfect lighthearted read. I’m looking forward to reading some of her other books this year – I’ve heard they are all just as sweet and fun! 

Longbourn by Jo Baker, if you are a Pride & Prejudice fan you will love the telling of the ‘below stairs’ storyline that was happening while Mr Darcy was drawing all the drama above stairs. It’s a cute and lovely read.

Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad, this book hit right between my eyes last year. It’s a memoir of living through a cancer diagnosis and treatments and then emerging on the other side and making sense of life after illness.  This was just beautiful and heartbreaking and a great reminder to live everyday to the fullest.

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, I tried this book during 2020 and couldn’t get into it, then I tried it again and it ended up being a favorite of my entire year. It tells the story of women who delivered library books on the backs of horses through the mountains of Kentucky. It’s an absorbing and inspiring story.

Who is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews, I don’t usually go for thriller or suspense novels but this one I really enjoyed. It’s about an aspiring author becoming an assistant to a popular anonymous author and well, let’s just say things take lots of unexpected turns.

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles, I’m a huge Amor Towles fan and each of his books have been so different from one another. If you haven’t read his previous books, I highly recommend them especially Rules of Civility. This book follows 4 young boys in a race across America in the 1950s. I just adored every second of this book!

Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher, I have no idea where I found this book but it quickly became a favorite. Taking place on the Cornwall coast during the Second World War this book is charming and sweet and so cozy. I loved that it was a very long book, it was just plain comforting to read and I just loved coming back to the characters each time I picked up the book. I just started The Shell Seekers by the same author and it also has that cozy/homey vibe to it. It’s like comfort in the storm of what has been a crazy winter so far. I kind of feel like this is an “old lady” book… and I’m okay with that – haha!

jillgg’s good life (for less)

 It’s been a while since I’ve done a book post around here! I know, I know! If you want up to the date info on what I am reading I highly recommend you sign up for my email newsletter. Each THURSDAY I send out what book I am reading at the moment. And since I average about a book a week, it’s usually a new book featured each week. But anyway… today we ARE talking books and I thought it would be fun to round up some of my FAVORITES over the past year.

I love warm weather reading… reading at the beach, on vacation, at the pool, on the porch, in a chair in the sun in the driveway… I’m game for it all! So whether or not you are reading in the sun in your driveway or somewhere more tropical this spring and summer, here are some reads I highly recommend!

Historical Fiction

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, I love everything Hannah writes and this book was no exception. The Great Depression in the in the time of the Dust Bowl – it’s heartbreaking and beautiful.

Meet Me In Monaco by Hazel Gaynor, If you love following the Royal family you will love this story of American Princess.

The Queen’s Fortune: A Novel of Desiree, Napoleon, and the Dynasty That Outlasted the Empire by Allison Pataki, In my opinion, no one does historical fiction as well as Pataki. She introduces you to characters and pieces of history that you never knew you wanted to know about!

Contemporary Fiction

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle, This story does not take you where you think you are going. It’s a tear jerker too!

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell, I don’t usually go for creepy or thriller type books. But when I do I want it to be worth it! This one completely is!

Time Travel Fiction

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, Time travel meets historical fiction meets an epic love story. I couldn’t put this one down.

Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald, I have to admit I just love a good time traveling book. This one is very well done and the story is still one I think about!

Feel Good Fiction

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, What if you could change your life, your reality at a whim? Haig’s books are beautiful and he’s outspoken on the issue of mental health which shows in his beautiful writing. This one was a page turner.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller, The feel good book that will make you crave a day in the kitchen baking – or a trip to your favorite bakery!

Non-Fiction

My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams, This book is straight crazy. And true! If you want something a little different than your usual novels this reads like a novel but it’s a true story.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottleib, I’m trying to read more non-fiction lately and this is a fascinating look at the life of a therapist and her therapist.

Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David, This is the book we all need post-2020. I read this a few years ago and then revisisted it recently. It’s important reading for this crazy time in our world. David also has some great podcast appearances – so if you are interested in her work look her up on your favorite podcast app too!

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