If there’s one thing the LIY Team did in 2021, it was read [and shop, but that’s neither here nor there]. For several of us, it was a personal goal of the year to read more and man oh man, did we crush that goal! With the start of the LIY Reads Virtual Book Club [and a whole lot of extra time spent at home] we’ve turned into full blown reading machines over here. If you’re looking for a good book recommendation – or 25, look no further. These are the 25 Best Books We Read this Year!
PS. if reading is your jam [or if you need a little extra encouragement to hit the books] be sure to join LIY Reads – Living in Yellow’s Virtual Book Club. You can find all of our previous reads and free discussion questions here and keep up with future book club picks in the LIY Reads Facebook Group. Happy reading, friends!
Erin’s Top Picks
The Wife Upstairs
The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
This was one of our LIY Reads Book Club books and if you’re looking for a thriller that will be hard to put down, this is it! While I don’t want to give too much away, the book is about a dog walker, Jane, who ends up falling in love with a recently widowed man, Eddie. However, Jane is constantly feeling haunted by Eddie’s deceased wife [and for good reason]. Keep turning the pages on this one to find out more…
It Ends With Us
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – My hair stylist recommended this book to me and after seeing it mentioned all over social media, I knew I wanted to give it a read. I am so glad I did. I literally couldn’t put the book down – between the love triangle and the lessons that were taught throughout the book, it had me invested from every angle. Please note that this book does contain violence so proceed with caution!
The Paradise Trilogy
The Paradise Trilogy by Elin Hildenbrand
- Atomic Habits by James Clear – If you’re looking for a book to help kickoff the new year, I highly recommend this one. It’s all about the art of forming habits and how you can break habits that aren’t in your favor and create new ones that will be. I love how it dives deep into creating systems in your life that will help to create the habits you want – as he says “You don’t rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” Both my girlfriend and I read this and are huge believers in the theories within this book!
Claire’s Top Picks
The Last Thing He Told Me
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
One of our LIY Reads [Living in Yellow’s Virtual Book Club] picks! A father and husband goes missing and his wife and teenage daughter are left to figure out the mystery of his disappearance. If you enjoy mysteries and thrillers with a touch of romance and family drama, we loved this one!
The Good Sister
The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth
Another LIY Reads Book Club pick! While this is a suspenseful thriller, I wouldn’t call it scary by any means. More psychological! It tells the story of two adult sisters and a secret they’ve shared since childhood. You’ll fall in love with the characters and it has a lot of great twists that you don’t expect! Another great page turner of 2021!
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – I’m a big fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid! If you haven’t read Daisy Jones and the Six [inspried by the story of Fleetwood Mac] or Malibu Rising, I highly recommend them both – think 70’s sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll! If you’ve already read and enjoyed those, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is right up your alley. A young journalist interviews Evelyn Hugo [one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses] and tells the story of her scandalous career. I chuckled a few times, cried a few times, and read it cover to cover in just a few days.
- It Ends With Us – TW: domestic violence. I took this book with me on vacation and could not put it down. I think I read the entire thing in two days! It has romance, a love triangle, and some pretty heart wrenching topics. Proceed with caution as it does have some graphic scenes and sensitive content. My heart hurt reading it, but it was easily one of the best books I’ve read this year.
Katy’s Top Pick
The Wife Upstairs
The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
I didn’t read as much as I planned this year – oops (this is me every year) but we did read this book as part of our LIY Book Club and it drew me in so quickly! It keeps you guessing throughout the book and there are twists and turns that you don’t see coming – highly recommend!
Becca’s Top Picks
- The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker – This was without a doubt my favorite book that I read all year! Whether you plan large scale events, run regular board meetings or simply enjoy hosting the occasional dinner party in your home, this book will spark a fire in you to bring the very best to any gathering. In a time when gathering has been limited, it was beautiful to reflect the joy and meaning that coming together can bring us. This book is not about the food or decor or other surface level parts of a gathering, but rather about how to infuse purpose into every decision and create a truly transformative experience for you and your guests.
- Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo: Shadow and Bone // Siege and Storm // Ruin and Rising – Ever since I was young [and honestly to this day] I have been such a huge Harry Potter fan. But not until this year did I start cracking open any more fantasy novels. I know it may not be for everybody, but I just decided to embrace the fact that I really do love immersing myself in a magical universe because honestly it is so much fun and a great escape from reality. This series revolves around a small young woman who is at the bottom of society, only to soon find out that she has magical abilities which make her the most powerful person, and the only one able to save the world. It’s a totally addicting series, and I would recommend it to anyone who could use a little magic in their life!
- A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins – Steph recommended this book to me, and you’ll notice it’s under her favorites of the year as well! If you are into dystopian fiction, you will love this book which is a prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy. It follows the story of a young Coriolanus and the journey that shapes him to become the tyrannical President Snow. As a fan of the other books in the series, it was also interesting to see the many differences in Panem and the Hunger Games event in the 60 some years before Katniss volunteers as tribute. I couldn’t put this one down and can’t wait for the movie to come out!
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – A hauntingly beautiful work of historical fiction that definitely deserves the Pulitzer Prize it was awarded! Taking place in World War II, this book is about an orphan boy in Germany, a blind girl in France and how their stories eventually collide. The descriptions in this book are so intricate and beautiful, it’s like the author is painting a picture with words. And to top it off, Netflix is creating a series based on the book, which I cannot wait to watch!
Steph’s Top Picks
- The Single Wife, Ella King – I love Liane Moriarty and I’ve heard great things about Elin Hilderbrand – so when I read that Ella King is a cross between the two, I hit checkout on the Kindle version of The Single Wife immediately! It was a fairly quick read with just the right amount of keeping me guessing and pulled in without making it so I couldn’t put it down to feed my family.
- The Hypnotist’s Love Story, Liane Moriarty – I enjoy Liane Moriarty’s books because they are written from several character perspectives. The Hypnotist’s Love Story was no different, with interacting and overlapping storylines – and an underlying theme of outward appearance not always being a full picture of who someone is.
- The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Suzanne Collins – The newest addition to the Hunger Games series, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes made me go on a Google deepdive into if and when there would be a movie made because I need it – NOW! My most recent search tells me maybe late 2023 or early 2024. I’m not actually sure I can wait that long, I’d settle for another book in the series but I’m not sure if that’s on the way either. I really wasn’t that into the original Hunger Games series when it came out years ago, but I love a good backstory and hearing how President Snow became who we know him to be. With lots of overlapping characters to get your head turning about what happened between the days of his youth and his reign over Panem, if you’re anything like me, you’ll turn those pages and be begging for more before you know what hit you.
- Last Day, Luanne Rice – Under no circumstances should you read Last Day if you’re looking for a feel good story – but if you’re looking for layers upon layers of suspicion and mystery, this is a great option! For me, this was one of the books that made it feel nearly impossible to pull myself away to get things done!
- When I’m Gone, Emily Bleeker – When I’m Gone – this one tugs at the heart strings in so many ways. It’s not what I would call dark (in the same way Last Day is dark), but it’s full of mystery, twists and seeing characters rise out of hard times. With the hope of not ruining too many surprises – I do need to suggest you don’t read it if you are particularly sensitive to reading about death and/or domestic violence. While present, those themes did not overshadow the sweet moments of growth, a parent’s love and curiosity of how it’s all connected for me.
- The Coroner, Jennifer Graeser Dornbush – I finished up The Coroner on Audible the last week of the year and loved it so much I had to dive right into, and finish, the follow up – Secret Remains. In full disclosure – I chose this book because I thought it would be like a book version of Crime Junkie, my podcast obsession. It wasn’t anything like that at all – it follows the personal life of the main character through becoming who she really wants to be, and contemplating if her childhood roots are there to help her feel grounded or tied down. The series was full of mystery, detective work and strong woman energy.
- Apples Never Fall, Liane Moriarty – Due to my love for all things Liane Moriarty – I was practically counting down the days until Apples Never Fall was released. In typical Liane Moriarty fashion, this book follows through the independent and overlapping storylines of nearly all characters in the book from their own perspective. Her books often remind me of a Poloroid. Each chapter adds a little color and I truly did not see the full vision of what was to come until the last few lines of the Epilogue. A great read if you enjoy balancing multi-character voices while you watch the full picture develop before your eyes.
Lauren’s Top Picks
The Guest List
The Guest List – Lucy Foley
This book had an ending I did not see coming. All about an elaborate, remote wedding, and the tales that brought each person on the guest list there, tragedy quickly takes over and leads everyone to wondering “who is it” and “who dunnit.”
Currently Reading: American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins
Currently Reading: American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins – I can’t speak to the full length of this book because I haven’t quite finished reading it, BUT from a] what I’ve read so far and b] almost everyone I’ve talked to who’s finished it -it’s a must read! As Stephen King wrote in his review of it, “American Dirt is an extraordinary piece of work, a perfect balancing act with terror on one side and love on the other. I defy anyone to read the first seven pages of this book and not finish it.”
- 9 Perfect Strangers, by Lisa Moriarty – I started this book on vacation and while it took me a little bit to get into it, once it got good, it got goooood! PS Steph on the team has both read the book and watched the Hulu adaptation of this. From what she’s said, the show is quite different from the book!
- Greenlights, by Matthew McConaughey – If you’re going to read Matthew McConaughey’s autobiography I cannot recommend listening to the audiobook version enough! Having Matthew McConaughey read you his life experiences in true Matthew form is SO so good. He goes into details on how he’s come to be where he is in life, the struggles that he overcame, and how he views life’s “greenlights” and “red lights.” It’s a great way to get to know our boy Matthew a bit better and understand who he is!
- American Royals [books 1 and 2], by Katharine McGee – If you’re a sucker for all things Royals like I am, this is the book for you! This fiction book takes the approach of America having royal families instead of presidents, governors, etc, and all set in modern day America. As in, the Royal Washington family is living in the White House, while dealing with social media drama, scheming girlfriends, and more! I read both the first and second books [American Royals and Majesty] and the third book in the series is now available for pre-order!