first favorites of twenty twenty one | my shelf

by - 12:09 PM

Hello there! We're about half-way through July and I've consumed enough Mid-Year Book Freak Out tags to feel compelled to create my own rendition. However, I always struggle with at least half of the questions so to make things a bit easier, I thought I'd just share five of my favorite reads from the first half of 2021.

This year, while being exhausting and emotionally draining, has surprisingly been a pretty decent reading year for me. Out of the 23 books I've read, more than half have been over 4 stars which has never happened before - the only downside, it's made this list a bit hard to narrow down. 

when we were infinite by kelly loy gilbert
The first book that comes to mind for the most life-changing read of 2021 has to be When We Were Infinite. It's one of those stories that captured so many aspects of my own experiences and placed them into the lives of fictional characters. While Beth was one of the most frustrating characters to read, it was the first time I was in the head of someone whose thought processes mirrored so closely to my own and that made the novel all the more impactful.

soulswift by megan bannen 

Ever since I heard of Soulswift, I knew it was going to blow me away - yet I still underestimated just how much I would love this story. I read the entire 400+ page book in one morning because of how addicting the story, characters, and overall world was. It truly had the perfect blend of YA fantasy banter that warms your heart alongside a discussion of serious topics that make the reader pause and think. With this novel, Megan Bannen has solidified her place as one of my favorite YA authors.

the ones we're meant to find by joan he

You might have seen this statement from anyone who's read The Ones We're Meant to Find but it is truly one of those stories that absolutely blows your mind away. I read this right before its release and months later truly cannot wrap my head around how masterful the writing and storyline is. Joan He introduces a futuristic world that doesn't seem far from our own and challenges each individual to try and comprehend the weight of our decisions through honestly life-changing characters - this is one of those stories that you can reread hundreds of times and still gain something new.


the bone maker by sarah beth durst
The Bone Maker made the list because it was honestly just a great time. I used to be the biggest adult fantasy fan in high school/early college but somewhere along the lines got really intimidated by all the OG "best" fantasy series out there that I "had to read" in order to be a real fan. Maybe I got into my head, but Sarah Beth Durst really made adult fantasy accessible with this novel and I just fell in love with the rusty crew of characters who just wanted to finish the job and retire. It felt really refreshing to journey alongside these characters as they combatted their own morals versus the greater public. 

the song of achilles of madeline miller

If you've read this book, it doesn't need any explanation for why I've included it on this list. The Song of Achilles is beautifully written and absolutely broke my heart. Madeline Miller has this way of reconstructing familiar stories and making you sympathize on a whole new level and now I can never view Achilles the same. The story captures the innocence of youth that's ultimately tainted by the greed of war and how individuals are forced to play roles for the sake of other's lust for power. 


While I'm still in the midst of a reading slump and feel incredibly unmotivated when it comes to books, recapping on these favorites has made me grateful for the wonderful stories that I have consumed over the past six months. Hopefully I kick this reading slump out of the way and can jump into new and exciting adventures for the rest of 2021!

What are your favorite reads of 2021? Did you attempt the Mid-Year Book Freak Out tag? 

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  1. I'm sorry you're in a reading slump, Riv! But I'm glad you have got to read some great books this year, especially The Song of Achilles. That book is very close to my heart.

    1. Thanks Emily 💕 really hoping I can kick it away in August!