Books

Our Top Books of 2021

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I read 101 books in 2021. I wasn’t sure how I could choose a “top ten” list out of all those titles. But as I began looking at my “year in books” on Goodreads, I realized it was relatively easy to choose a list of the top ten titles I read in 2021: they were the books I gave as birthday gifts and Christmas presents, the titles I suggested over and over in reader groups on social media.

I convinced my husband and oldest daughter to join me in choosing their favorite reads of the year. We’d love to hear your picks, too—comment here or tag me in your social media posts!

“Fairy tales are my favorite type of book, but I find that many fiction books hold fairy-tale elements without being categorized in that genre. A world of wonder reveals itself in many different ways through literature—magic in everyday sorts of ways if one has the eyes to see it.”

Hope Between the Pages by Pepper Basham

Gretchen’s Top 10 Fiction Titles Read in 2021

Here’s my top ten list (in the order I read them).

1. Love, Paris by Natasha Metzler

Fiction that reads like real life; the characters feel like friends and your journey becomes theirs.   (Book two in the Women of Promise series, Love, Paris can be read alone or in sequence.)

2. The Pepper in the Gumbo by Mary Jane Hathaway

Flavors of You’ve Got Mail and even a bit of 84, Charing Cross Road make this a cute, can’t-put-down romantic read. (If you like You’ve Got Mail, don’t miss Tacos for Two!) 

3. Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson

This stunning split-time novel brings together the stories of a modern-day bookstore owner and a professor with the tragic tale of three young people who lived in Austria in the 1930s. (One of the many bookshop books I read and reviewed this year!)

4. Hope Between the Pages by Pepper Basham

An exquisite split-time novel, Hope Between the Pages is a tribute to friendship, love, bravery, and selflessness that will leave you with tears in your eyes but a smile on your face. 

5. The Christmas Cactus by Christy Martenson

A delightful work of historical fiction, The Christmas Cactus depicts entertaining real-life family scenes and a gentle, wholesome romance. (Appropriate for all ages, perfect reading for any time of year!)

6. The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham

This historical fiction is sweet, suspenseful, a tad bit spicy, and downright hilarious (Recommended for older/married readers, the perfect romantic read for Christmas or any time of year!)

7. A Midnight Dance by Joanna Politano

A breathtaking tale of the Victorian ballet in which mystery and romance dance in and out of the pages.

8. The Mobster’s Daughter by Rachel Scott McDaniel

A mesmerizing duet of mystery and romance, The Mobster’s Daughter is a historical tale you won’t soon forget.

9. The London House by Katherine Reay

A riveting search for the truth behind generations of family secrets; this split-time (and partially epistolary!) novel is filled with intense family drama and intricate details.

10. Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan

A heartbreaking but beautiful split-time fact-and-fiction glimpse into true stories from the early years of C.S. Lewis’ life. 

Best Non-Fiction: Love-Centered Parenting by Crystal Paine
Humble and honest, biblical and practical–this book was an encouraging breath of fresh air.

Best Allegory: Daughters of the King by Natasha Metzler
Part fairy-tale, part allegory, and illustrated with stunning photographs, Daughters of the King is a tale girls of all ages will enjoy.

Re-Reads: I read both The Mistletoe Countess and The Christmas Cactus twice in 2021. (Hope Between the Pages was also a re-read this year; I read an ARC in 2020 and read it again this year when it was released.)


Merritt’s Top Five Audiobooks of 2021

My husband Merritt has enjoyed the variety of audiobooks available through our Scribd subscription this year. Here are his five favorite titles from 2021.

  1. Les Misèrables by Victor Hugo (narrated by Bill Homewood)
  2. The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie (narrated by Zac Smith)
  3. A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters (narrated by Patrick Tull)
  4. Silas Marner by George Eliot
  5. Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman (narrated by the author)

Ruth’s Top 21 Books of 2021

My 14-year-old daughter Ruth says: 

Top books aren’t always those that you reread and reread. They can be ones that make you laugh, ones that make you cry, or ones that rock your world and engage your mind. Here are my top twenty-one books of 2021 (chosen from the 200+ titles that I read this year)—not in the order I read them, or in the order of favorites, just in the order that I typed them. 

  1. Snow by Catherine Farnes 
  2. Girl Warrior by Carmen Peone
  3. Real, Not Perfect by Stephanie Coleman   
  4. Color Me Dark by Patricia C. McKissack  
  5. Angel Harp by Michael Phillips  
  6. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien (Read for the very first time this year!) 
  7. Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery  
  8. The Christmas Cactus by Christy Martenson (Published this year. Take it from me, it is amazing.)
  9. Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank 
  10. A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus 
  11. The Accident by Tim Chaffey  
  12. The Attack by Tim Chaffey 
  13. The Tower by Tim Chaffey 
  14. Daughters of the King by Natasha Metzler  
  15. Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton  
  16. Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis  
  17. A Daring Sacrifice by Jody Hedlund  
  18. For Love and Honor by Jody Hedlund 
  19. The Wolf Gate by Hanna Sandvig 
  20. The Rose Gate by Hanna Sandvig 
  21. The Mystery of the Miser’s Mansion by Virginia Ann Work  

Ruth’s Favorite Fiction: For Love and Honor by Jody Hedlund

Ruth’s Favorite Non-Fiction: Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis

Ruth’s Most Inspirational: Real, Not Perfect by Stephanie Coleman

Ruth’s Most Re-Read: Snow by Catherine Farnes and Girl Warrior by Carmen Peone


“You get lazy and just download a copy instead of finding the book on the shelf. And the finding is half the fun. Browsing on either side, above and below, that is the joy of it.”

The Pepper in the Gumbo by Mary Jane Hathaway,

Photography: JenniMarie Photography

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