Such an auspicious number, 21. And in many ways, 2021 was a whole lot better than 2020. We held on to some of our newfound appreciation for long walks outside, time with friends and family, and of course, books. Whether with tea, coffee, ice water, matcha, or cocktail in hand, we nestled in more nights than we can count with those quietly enticing portals to other places and lives.

As a group of English majors, English teachers, writers, and book lovers, we at bookclique were not totally unhappy about this aspect of the ongoing pandemic, the ability to stay home and read without feeling too lame about it. At the same time, we recognize that life is not fully lived in the pages of other people’s stories, and we are all really looking forward to the day when we can leave our books behind and fill our bags instead with things like passports, binoculars, and impractical shoes.

Until then – we offer up our list of favorite titles from the last year.

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski

Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender

We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Five Little Indians by Michelle Good

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

The Boy in the Field by Margot Livesey

The Push by Ashley Audrain

A Bright Ray of Darkness by Ethan Hawke

The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Parachutes by Kelly Yang

Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

The Centaur’s Wife by Amanda Leduc

Secrets of Happiness by Joan Silber

A Burning by Megha Majumdar

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen

What Women Do by Lauren Willig

Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

Raising a Rare Girl by Heather Lanier

Intimations by Zadie Smith

Imposter Syndrome by Kathy Wang

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Bruised by Tanya Boteju

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Gutter Child by Jael Richardson

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Summerwater by Sarah Moss

New Yorkers: A City and its People in Our Time by Craig Taylor

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Intimacies by Katie Kitamura

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida

Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar

Hola Papi by J.P. Brammer

Soucouyant by David Chariandy

Such Color by Tracy K. Smith

Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder

I’ll Be You by Janelle Brown

The Ghost Birds, a short story by Karen Russell

Jessica Flaxman

Jessica Flaxman

Many years ago, Jessica took an English teaching job at Collegiate School in New York. She replaced an English teacher named Laura Dickerman. At first, theirs was a rivalry, but not too long after that, they became the best of friends. Jessica created bookclique in 2018 and recruited as many of her English teaching friends; students; and writers as she could to the collaborative project of promoting new books to the world. Laura is now the editor of bookclique, bringing all of her customary brilliance and energy to the shared work of celebrating books and book culture.