2021 Sonderbooks Stand-outs!

Another year of reading is finished! It’s time to choose my Sonderbooks Stand-outs for 2021!

First, let me make it clear that I am *not* choosing based on literary merit. These lists are *not* predictions for any awards, and they are not chosen by committee. These lists are all about my personal favorites from the books I read this year. I might not have great reasons for my choices, and I try not to overthink when I choose them. These are books I read in 2021 that made me happy when I read them.

I don’t have the reviews of all of these books posted, but I will remedy that as soon as I can and add in the link here.

First, here are my reading stats this year:

Books reread: 6
Fiction for adults: 23
Nonfiction for adults: 24
Fiction for teens: 26
Fiction for children: 52
Nonfiction for children: 108
Picture books: 239

Interesting (to me) is that I read many more adult novels than in previous years — and fewer of almost everything else.

It’s always hard to narrow down my list of favorites, but here’s what I’ve come up with this year, the Sonderbooks Stand-outs of 2021:


  1. The Jane Austen Society, by Natalie Jenner
  2. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V. E. Schwab
  3. A Deadly Education, by Naomi Novik
  4. Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
  5. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by T. J. Klune
  6. The Hidden Palace, by Helene Wecker
  7. The Jane Austen Project, by Kathleen A. Flynn
  8. This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel
  9. Longbourn, by Jo Baker
  10. The Last Graduate, by Naomi Novik
  11. Unmarriageable, by Soniah Kamal
  12. A Song of Flight, by Juliet Marillier


  1. Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram X. Kendi
  2. Intimate Conversations with the Divine, by Caroline Myss
  3. Every Thing Is Sacred, by Richard Rohr and Patrick Boland
  4. The Art of Bible Translation, by Robert Alter
  5. Two Trains Leave Paris, by Taylor Marie Frey & Mike Wesolowski
  6. Subpar Parks, by Amber Share

Teen Fiction

  1. Firekeeper’s Daughter, by Angeline Boulley
  2. The Girls I’ve Been, by Tess Sharpe
  3. How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories, by Holly Black
  4. Everything Sad Is Untrue, by Daniel Nayeri
  5. Blackout, by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon
  6. Winterkeep, by Kristin Cashore
  7. Beasts and Beauty, by Soman Chainani
  8. Terciel and Elinor, by Garth Nix

Children’s Fiction

  1. Pony, by R. J. Palacio
  2. Just Like That, by Gary D. Schmidt
  3. Amber & Clay, by Laura Amy Schlitz
  4. Long Road to the Circus, by Betsy Bird
  5. Starfish, by Lisa Fipps
  6. Pax: Journey Home, by Sara Pennypacker
  7. The Beatryce Prophecy, by Kate DiCamillo
  8. In the Red, by Christopher Swiedler
  9. Merci Suárez Can’t Dance, by Meg Medina

Children’s Nonfiction

  1. Unspeakable, by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
  2. Boardwalk Babies, by Marissa Moss, illustrated by April Chu
  3. Born on the Water, by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson, illustrated by Nikkolas Smith
  4. Hear My Voice, compiled by Warren Binford
  5. The Great Stink, by Colleen Paeff, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
  6. Geometry Is as Easy as Pie, by Katie Coppens
  7. Code Breaker, Spy Hunter, by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by Brooke Smart
  8. A Sporting Chance, by Lori Alexander, illustrated by Allan Drummond
  9. The Pig War, by Emma Bland Smith, illustrated by Alison Jay
  10. Maryam’s Magic, by Megan Reid, illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel

Picture Books

  1. Watercress, by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin
  2. The Passover Guest, by Susan Kusel, illustrated by Sean Rubin
  3. Seven Golden Rings, by Rajani LaRocca, illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan
  4. Fred Gets Dressed, by Peter Brown
  5. The Little Blue Bridge, by Brenda Maier, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez
  6. The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess, by Tom Gauld
  7. Simon at the Art Museum, by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Christine Davenier
  8. Milo Imagines the World, by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson
  9. Luna’s Yum Yum Dim Sum, by Natasha Yim, illustrated by Violet Kim
  10. Lia & Luis: Who Has More?, by Ana Crespo, illustrated by Giovana Medeiros

Happy Reading! I hope you will enjoy these books as much as I did!

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