This year has filled us with a whirlwind of events. Despite the crazy time we live in, there is no denying that new reads and stories have kept us hopeful—books that have been our source of comfort and company throughout the first half of 2021.
We asked around to find out the best books that bookworms have read so far. Check out the Best Books of 2021 (So Far) below:
The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso
This finale in the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen series is the most epic, painful, well-written ending I could've asked for. It has everything I ever wanted for an adult fantasy, and it makes me extremely proud that it's written by a Filipino author!
- Rovie, Fully Booked
The Anthropocene Reviewed is John Green at his most generous. The book is brimming with vulnerability and just a deep, pure longing for days you can never get back and can only treasure in your memory. As John muses about death, viruses, the internet, and diet Dr. Peppers—a reader can find comfort in his honesty, in his ability to sit with his own feelings. This book invites us, the reader (or in my case, the listener), to be as honest and open with ourselves as John Green is being on the page.
This book is a lovely chronicle of what being human, in this era, feels like. If you've never read John Green or have outgrown his young adult work, I recommend erasing any previous notions and misconceptions about his writing and pick this up.
- Ilia, Fully Booked
In these strange times, we need to read stories that would give us hope despite everything happening around us. In this John Green’s first non-fiction book, he was brave to show his vulnerabilities through his essays, which are very informative, sometimes funny, always heartwarming and with a sense of hope. If you need to be reminded that life will get better, this book is for you.
Sharing one of my favorite lines from the book:
“You can’t see the future coming- not the terrors, for sure, but you also can’t see the wonders that are coming, the moments of light-soaked joy that await each of us.”
- Karla, Fully Booked
Crying in H Mart is beautiful and devastating and funny and it will make you hungry. It’s easy to dismiss the hype and the outpouring of love for this novel, but it really is everything my friends have made it out to be. I listen to Japanese Breakfast occasionally but it didn’t prepare me for the emotionally precise writing and the love for words, words, words, that is palpable all through out the memoir. I’m impressed, and sad, and craving jjajangmyeon.
See Thor's post about Crying in H Mart on Instagram here.
- Thor, @thorbalanon
What started out as a pitch for a Hulk story turned out one of the most poignant stories ever told in graphic form. Told in stark black-and-white by acclaimed writer-illustrator Barry Windsor-Smith (Weapon X), you won't finish reading this book with a dry eye. It's Maus-level heavy drama, man. If you can only buy one graphic novel this year, this should be it.
- Clifford, First Look Club
First story in, I told myself, “Hey, I had missed this.” Second story, I find myself almost uncharacteristically tearing up. By the time I was done with Charlie Parker and Shinagawa Monkey, I had become fully convinced that First Person Singular. is a hit. And then the final two bits—essays, not short stories— tell you that Murakami is already in serious memoir mode. The man is, undoubtedly, opening up. Letting us in to see a previously unknown facet of his personality. Vulnerable. Contemplative. Easy, Light. In the first person singular. ⠀
No longer lonely. The guy has some late-life magic left, still. I am weak-kneed in awe and admiration.
See Jed's post about First Person Singular on Facebook here.
- Jed, @yourliterarylawyer
A well-cooked novel (another one from a Filipino author!) that has the right elements of humor, mystery, and lots of strong Filipino culture references. I highly recommend reading this with a snack, as all the recipes and cooking scenes will make you drool.
- Rovie, Fully Booked
Anne of Manhattan by Brina Starler
Brina Starler's Anne of Manhattan takes Green Gables out of 1870's Canada and drops it into the heart of modern-day America!
After a disastrous last night in high school, Anne and Gilbert reconnect in their graduate program in Manhattan. In typical fashion, the big question is, will they be able to put their competitive natures and bickering behind to see what's blossoming right in front of them?
Full of nods to first four Anne books, all the way up to Anne of Windy Poplars, fellow kindred spirits will adore this scrumptious (and even steamy!) contemporary retelling.
- Reina, First Look Club
If you've been feeling overwhelmed, hyper-stimulated, and exhausted at work—perhaps Cal Newport's newest book World Without Email can help you understand why. Newport helps reveal the toll that the modern hivemind and its constant demands on our attention and inboxes have exacted on us. The second part is filled with practical examples and case studies of redesigns of efficient workflows that don't rely on email. This book is insightful read on the modern workplace.
- Ilia, Fully Booked
Billed as a prequel to the phenomenal best-seller The Hate U Give, The Concrete Rose centers around Maverick Carter living as a Black teenager in the 1990s. We see the future father of Starr Carter juggling school, work, gang life, and parenthood. With love and precision, Thomas gave us a Black teen hero with real problems and actual emotions. The Concrete Rose is a 368-page reminder that young Black lives matter.
- Jowana, First Look Club
What draws me to Ishiguro is that he will hurt you into insight. In Klara and the Sun, he gives a quiet exploration on loss, loneliness, preservation and posthuman ethics—unraveled through muted mysteries, always reaching devastation in their revelations. For me, he’s one of the writers that never disappoints and I promise this will hurt less than his other works (but still, hurt).
- Pamela, Fully Booked
The complete first arc of the surprise horror hit from the creators of The Department of Truth and Loveless is finally collected in a single hardcover volume. There are things in Archer's Peak that are making children disappear, and it's up to Erica Slaughter to find them and end them. Wait, "Slaughter"? Is that even a real name? Get the book and find out, my dude. Recommended for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Trese, and Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.
- Clifford, First Look Club
It’s hard to describe Project Hail Mary without spoiling its coolest surprises, but here are the important things to know about it: there’s tons of cool science, a handful of breathtaking action sequences, and a premise so utterly far-out that it’s amazing how the author made it seem so plausible. Space and science fans: a wonderful read awaits.
- Jed, First Look Club
This book is a proof that a story doesn’t need to be over the top. You just have to be a great story teller. I love how everything happened in just twenty hour hours and a lot of flash backs. This book made me mad as hell, cried a little bit and made me sigh a lot. It’s fast paced and I read it in one sitting.
See Riri Read's post about Malibu Rising on Instagram here.
- Riri, @riri_reads
My favorite book for 2021 is The Guncle by Steven Rowley.
If you ever want to judge a book by its cover it should be Guncle by Steven Rowely. The Guncle is a sweet, funny, ultimately uplifting novel about love, loss, family in all the forms they come in and the courage it takes to move on.
- Denice, Fully Booked
Locke & Key: The Keyhouse Compendium by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
Loved the Netflix show? Can't wait for the next season? Can't find all six trade paperbacks or the three Master Editions? No problem: The Keyhouse Compendium collects the entire story, from beginning to end, in glorious oversized hardcover format. It also includes a guide to all the known keys and a host of other extras. There's also an homage to Calvin and Hobbes that you probably won't see in the TV show. Aloha!
- Clifford, First Look Club
Here, in a novel, that is almost plotless, she has carved an intimate portrait of a woman navigating her place, her whereabouts, in the world and its weighty expectations. Here is a woman you may meet when you’re outside, who appears to be ordinary and yet has such a rich inner life. She peels the layers of the woman’s life revealing her losses and cockeyed successes. The story never peaks. From the very specific location of the sidewalk in its opening pages, the story moves at a measured pace with tension felt beneath its surface. It never reaches a boiling point. Instead, it simmers with an aching longing to live, to make sense of the years behind and the years ahead. She writes as if she’s having a conversation with you, telling you the character’s whereabouts today. And in her telling, she weaves the past and the present into a beautiful tapestry of a solitary life.
- Dan, First Look Club
Isabel Yap, a rising star of the SFF genre, published a collection of 13 short stories entitled Never Have I Ever. Weaving Filipino folklore and culture into her experience as a Filipina and an immigrant, Yap proves her voice is both distinct and essential. Set during a Catholic school retreat, "A Canticle for Lost Girls" is one of the standout entries of her collection.
- Jowana, First Look Club
5/5 stars because just when I thought I guessed who the killer is, Alex Michaelides has a bomb waiting to explode in the last few chapters. Awesome red herrings and what a crazy twist!!! Perfect addition to your thriller/mystery collection.
See Cielo's post about The Maidens on Instagram here.
- Cielo, @cielly_belly
A typical YA contemporary with a dash of magical element! Excellent writing, inspirational main characters, taco jokes, and a unique love story that will make you tear up. I did!
- Rovie, Fully Booked
Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency by Michael Wolff
Recounting the months after the failed re-election bid of Donal Trump up until the horrific U.S. Capitol attack of his supporters, Michael Wolff delivered a solid and sometimes hilarious look at the fall of a president and his hubris. Underscoring the fact that Trump functions outside the realm of facts, Landslide dissects how chaos has both guided his ascent to and crushed his desire to hold on to power. One thing Trump is going to hate about the book is the droll deadpan observations of the author.
- Jowanna, First Look Club
Have you read something that's not on the list? What's your best read of 2020 so far? Share your picks in the comments!
A deeply moving and insightful collection of personal essays from #1 bestselling author John Green, adapted from his critically acclaimed podcast.
The Anthropocene is the current geological age, in which human activity has profoundly shaped the planet and its biodiversity. In this remarkable symphony of essays adapted and expanded from his groundbreaking podcast, John Green reviews different facets of the human-centered planet—from the QWERTY keyboard and Staphylococcus aureus to the Taco Bell breakfast menu—on a five-star scale.
Get The Anthropocene Reviewed, Export Edition (Paperback) by John Green and other essay books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
#1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star Nicola Yoon is back with a new and utterly unique romance.
'An endearing, affecting portrayal of the journey of love. Everything Yoon touches turns to gold... this cinematic supernatural romance will be no exception' Booklist
Evie is disillusioned about love ever since her dad left her mum for another woman - she's even throwing out her beloved romance novel collection.
Get Instructions for Dancing, Export Edition (Paperback) by Nicola Yoon and other young adult books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.
From the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus and The Editor comes a warm and deeply funny novel about a once-famous gay sitcom star whose unexpected family tragedy leaves him with his niece and nephew for the summer.
With the humor and heart we've come to expect from bestselling author Steven Rowley, The Guncle is a moving tribute to the power of love, patience, and family in even the most trying of times.
Get The Guncle (Hardcover) by Steven Rowley and other fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Mia P. Manansala
The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer...
When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She's tasked with saving her Tita Rosie's failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.
Get Arsenic and Adobo: A Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery (Paperback) by Mia P. Manansala and other contemporary fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
35 years in the making, the most anticipated graphic novel in recent comics history!
Monsters are rendered in Windsor-Smith’s impeccable pen-and-ink technique, the visual storytelling with its sensitivity to gesture and composition is the most sophisticated of the artist’s career. There are passages of heartbreaking tenderness, of excruciating pain, and devastating violence. It is surely one of the most intense graphic novels ever drawn.
Get Monsters (Hardcover) by Barry Windsor-Smith and other graphic novel books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
“Am I dead?” Mebuyen sighs. She was hoping the girl would not ask. Spells and stories, urban legends and immigrant tales: the magic in Isabel Yap’s debut collection jumps right off the page, from the joy in her new novella, “A Spell for Foolish Hearts” to the terrifying tension of the urban legend “Have You Heard the One About Anamaria Marquez.”
Get Never Have I Ever: Stories (Paperback) by Isabel Yap and other science fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?
Get The Maidens, Export Edition (Paperback) by Alex Michaelides and other fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
K. S. Villoso
In The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng, the queen of a divided land must unite her people against the enemies who threaten to tear her country apart. K. S. Villoso is a "powerful new voice in fantasy." (Kameron Hurley)
Queen Talyien is finally home, but dangers she never imagined await her in the shadowed halls of her father's castle.
War is on the horizon. Her son has been stolen from her, her warlords despise her, and across the sea, a cursed prince threatens her nation with invasion in order to win her hand.
Worse yet, her father's ancient secrets are dangerous enough to bring Jin-Sayeng to ruin. Dark magic tears rifts in the sky, preparing to rain down madness, chaos, and the possibility of setting her nation aflame.
Get The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng, Book 3 of Chronicles of the Wolf Queen (Paperback) by K. S. Villoso and other science fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.
From the indie rockstar of Japanese Breakfast fame, and author of the viral 2018 New Yorker essay that shares the title of this book, an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean-American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.
In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up the only Asian-American kid at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother's particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence (; of treasured months spent in her grandmother's tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.
Get Crying in H Mart (Hardcover) by Michelle Zauner and other biography books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
James Tynion IV
When children begin to go missing in the town of Archer’s Peak, all hope seems lost until a mysterious woman arrives to reveal that terrifying creatures are behind the chaos - and that she alone will destroy them, no matter the cost.
IT’S THE MONSTERS WHO SHOULD BE AFRAID.
When the children of Archer's Peak—a sleepy town in the heart of America—begin to go missing, everything seems hopeless. Most children never return, but the ones that do have terrible stories—impossible details of terrifying creatures that live in the shadows. Their only hope of finding and eliminating the threat is the arrival of a mysterious stranger, one who believes the children and claims to be the only one who sees what they can see.
Get Something is Killing the Children, Vol. 1 (Paperback) by James Tynion IV and other graphic novel books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
A marvelous new novel from the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Lowland and Interpreter of Maladies--her first in nearly a decade.
Exuberance and dread, attachment and estrangement: in this novel, Jhumpa Lahiri stretches her themes to the limit. The woman at the center wavers between stasis and movement, between the need to belong and the refusal to form lasting ties.
Get Whereabouts: A novel (Paperback) by Jhumpa Lahiri and other contemporary fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Taylor Jenkins Reid
From the New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six . . . Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.
Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit.
Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.
Get Malibu Rising: A Novel, Export Edition (Paperback) by Taylor Jenkins Reid and other contemporary fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
A lone astronaut must save the earth from disaster in this incredible new science-based thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Martian.
Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.
An irresistible interstellar adventure as only Andy Weir could deliver, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian—while taking us to places it never dreamed of going.
Get Project Hail Mary: A Novel, Export Edition (Paperback) by Andy Weir and other science fiction and fantasy books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
A mind-bending new collection of short stories from the internationally acclaimed, Haruki Murakami.
The eight stories in this new book are all told in the first person by a classic Murakami narrator. From memories of youth, meditations on music, and an ardent love of baseball, to dreamlike scenarios and invented jazz albums, together these stories challenge the boundaries between our minds and the exterior world. Occasionally, a narrator may or may not be Murakami himself. Is it memoir or fiction? The reader decides.
Get First Person Singular (Hardcover) by Haruki Murakami and other contemporary fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.
From New York Times bestselling author Cal Newport comes a bold vision for liberating workers from the tyranny of the inbox--and unleashing a new era of productivity.
Modern knowledge workers communicate constantly. Their days are defined by a relentless barrage of incoming messages and back-and-forth digital conversations--a state of constant, anxious chatter in which nobody can disconnect, and so nobody has the cognitive bandwidth to perform substantive work. There was a time when tools like email felt cutting edge, but a thorough review of current evidence reveals that the "hyperactive hive mind" workflow they helped create has become a productivity disaster, reducing profitability and perhaps even slowing overall economic growth. Equally worrisome, it makes us miserable. Humans are simply not wired for constant digital communication.
Get A World Without Email, Export Edition (Paperback) by Cal Newport and other management books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Klara and the Sun is a magnificent new novel from the Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro--author of Never Let Me Go and the Booker Prize-winning The Remains of the Day.
Klara and the Sun, the first novel by Kazuo Ishiguro since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her.
Get Klara and the Sun (Export Paperback) by Kazuo Ishiguro and other contemporary fiction books online at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.
International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.
If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison. Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.
Get Concrete Rose, Export Edition (Paperback) by Angie Thomas and other young adult books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More