Looking for a good fiction or nonfiction book to read? Here are my 2021 one-word book reviews to help you choose your next novel, memoir, biography or historical non-fiction book for book club or to read on your own.

2021 book reviews – inspiration on the best novel or non-fiction book to read next

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I planned to read 50 books in 2021 – and 12 of them classics. However, my priorities went toward hiking all 66 Minnesota state parks – and writing my own book, a local’s guide to MN state parks, and also reviewed and edited a friend’s novel. Oh, and I also got a new day job as a marketing communications manager/content writer.

2021 reading challenge

So while I fell I short in my personal reading challenge with only 35 books in 2021, I did accomplish a lot. I read a total of 9,000+ pages and finally read Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, which has been on my #tbr list forever.

To help you decide on what book to read next from your tbr stack, I’ve shared one-word book reviews for books I read in 2021. I’ll soon create a new blog post on my 2022 reading challenge.

See related post: 2020 reading challenge.


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5-star one-word book reviews

One-word book review: Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

Call Us By What We Carry by Amanda Gorman
Book genre: Poetry
One-word book review: This: 5*

One-word book review: Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Caste: The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
Book genre: Non-fiction
One-word book review: Masterful: 5*


One-word book review: The Difference by C. D’Angelo

The Difference by C. D’Angelo
Book genre: Fiction
One-word book review: Tenacious: 5*

One-word book review: The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben
Book genre: Nonfiction
One-word book review: Magical: 5*

One-word book review: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Book genre: Fiction
One-word book review: Page-turner: 5*

One-word book review: Retire with Purpose: A Practical Guide to Planning a Flexible and Meaningful Retirement by Tricia Ryan Snow

Retire with Purpose: A Practical Guide to Planning a Flexible and Meaningful Retirement by Tricia Snow
Book genre: Nonfiction
One-word book review: Inspiring: 5*

One-word book review: Words that Proceed: 97 Right Now Devotions for Your Life Today by Wes Raley

Word that Proceed: 97 Right Now Devotions for Your Life Today by Wes Raley
Book genre: Spiritual
One-word book review: Inspirational: 5*

One-word book review: Under the Light of the Italian Moon by Jennifer Anton

Under the Light of the Italian Moon by Jennifer Anton
Book genre: Historical Fiction
One-word book review: Resilience: 5*


4-star one-word book reviews

One-word book review: The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
Book genre: Historical Fiction
One-word book review: Absorbing: 4*

One-word book review: The Boy Who was King by Erin McLuckie Moya

The Boy Who was King by Erin McLuckie Moya
Book genre: Parable-esque Fiction
One-word book review: Symbolic: 4*

Please note that I received an advanced reader’s copy of The Boy who was King in exchange for an honest review.



One-word book review: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
Book genre: Historical Fiction
One-word book review: Stirring: 4*


One-word book review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Book genre: Thriller Fiction
One-word book review: Suspensful: 4*


One-word book review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab
Book genre: Science Fiction
One-word book review: Equivocating: 4*

One-word book review: The Last Flight by Julie Clark

The Last Flight by Julie Clark
Book genre: Thriller Fiction
One-word book review: Engrossing: 4*

One-word book review: Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Book genre: Fiction
One-word book review: Poetic: 4*

One-word book review: The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict
Book genre: Historical fiction
One-word book review: Insightful: 4*

One-word book review: The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan

The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan
Book genre: Beach Read Fiction
One-word book review: Seeking: 4*


One-word book review: Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Book genre: Essay
One-word book review: Reflective: 4*


One-word book review: We Should all Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Book genre: Essay / Opinion
One-word book review: Enlightening: 4*

One-word book review: When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal

When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal
Book genre: Beach Read Fiction
One-word book review: Escape: 4*

One-word book review: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron
Book genre: Spiritual/ Self-Wellness
One-word book review: Mindfulness: 4*


3-star one-word book reviews


One-word book review: Celebrating Tradition, Building the Future by Jack El-Hai

Celebrating Tradition, Building the Future: Seventy-five years of Land O’Lakes by Jack El-Hai
Book genre: Non-fiction
One-word book review: Historical: 3*


One-word book review: The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe

The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe
Book genre: Horror/Supernatural/Thriller Fiction
One-word book review: Creepy: 3*

One-word book review: The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
Book genre: Beach Read Fiction
One-word book review: Light: 3*

One-word book review: The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe

The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe
Book genre: Horror
One-word book review: Horrifying: 3*

One-word book review: Men to Remember by Kenneth D. Ruble

Men to Remember: How 100,000 Neighbors Made History by Kenneth D. Ruble
Book genre: Non-fiction
One-word book review: Historical: 3*


One-word book review: 100 Selected Poems by e.e. cummings

100 Selected Poems by e.e. cummings
Book genre: Poetry
One-word book review: Ok: 3* (If this were anyone other than e.e. cummings, I would not have finished…disappointing.)

One-word book review: 199 Things Every American Should Know by John A. Garraty

199 Things Every American Should Know by John A. Garraty
Book genre: Non-fiction
One-word book review: Average: 3*

One-word book review: The Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent

The Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent
Book genre: Thriller / Suspense
One-word book review: Suspenseful: 3* (endings make it break it for me and I was disappointed with this ending; if you’re looking for beach read, then I would rate this 4*)

One-word book review: Surmountable: How Citizens from Selma to Seoul Changed the World by Brian Gruber and Adam Monier Edwards

Surmountable: How Citizens from Selma to Seoul Changed the World by Brian Gruber and Adam Monier Edwards
Book genre: Non-fiction
One-word book review: Inspiring: 3* (but 4* for content)

One-word book review: Walking by Henry David Thoreau

Walking by Henry David Thoreau
Book genre: Essay / Opinion
One-word book review: Nourishing: 3*

One-word book review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Book genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction
One-word book review: Average: 3*


Additional books in 2021 reading challenge

I also read a couple of other books in 2021 that I’m excluding from my one-word reviews. One was an advanced reader’s copy (ARC) and I did not enjoy it at all. For new authors, I do not give bad reviews so that’s why I did not include one here in this post. The other ARC I read (which I loved!) is one that is not quite ready to be publicized yet. But once it is, I will give it a 5* rating. It’s that good – and from a first-time novelist! Super excited to share more about this paranormal debut novel when the time comes.

I also read a popular book, People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry, that I did not like. I gave it 2*. However, the current rating on Goodreads is 4.17 with 147,052 ratings. So I’m definitely in the minority. I just found the main character too self-absorbed who created her own chaos.

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Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller

14 comments

  1. I remember reading Moby Dick, one of the books in your one word book reviews. And, I seemed to watch the movie many times. I find that i’s an interesting description that your one word review is poetic.

    1. I’ve never seen the movie Moby Dick, but would love to. I love the way Herman Melville writes and I just found his writing very poetic in how he described the whaling adventures and the characters.

  2. Thanks for the list. I think I have heard of a couple, but none of them are on my reading list just yet!

    1. Thank you so much! I thought one-word book reviews of my reading challenge would be easier, but it’s actually a little difficult! We read When Things Fall Apart in our book club and had a really good discussion.

  3. I’m definitely interested in the book by Jennifer Aniston. I’ve had trouble getting into a new book since I finished my last one. Hopefully, this one will be great.

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