Bayla’s Top Five Reads of 2021

Why be so narrow? Books published this year were great, but past years were better.


Art by Bayla Orton

Bayla Orton, Staff Writer

Although many great books were published in 2021, none of them even scraped my list of all time favorites. However, as an avid bookworm I made my way through numerous books this past year. Out of the growing list, here are my top five picks. 


Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Crafted by Delia Owens, a wildlife scientist and author, Where The Crawdads Sing quickly rose to the top of the New York Times Bestselling list in 2018 and stayed there for two and a half years. This novel was extremely popular for good reason, combining mystery and coming of age genres along with a unique character and development. Dubbed “Swamp Girl” by the rest of her secluded wetland town, Kya Clark learns to survive on her own after being abandoned by her parents, growing up alone in a small, battered shack in North Carolina. 


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Living and working in Glasgow, Scotland, socially awkward Eleanor Oliphant goes about her weekly routine, never straying from her schedule. Knowing nothing about herself or her large facial scar, readers learn about Oliphant’s life as she does, making a friend, seeing a therapist, and uncovering memories she had blocked out and forgotten due to her traumatizing childhood. Author Gail Honeyman creates an incredibly realistic fictional character, causing her audience to immediately grow attached and become intrigued.


The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa 

The Memory Police was originally written in Japanese and published in 1994. Yoko Ogawa’s novel is described as melancholy and chilling by The New York Times, a reality in which memories associated with certain objects disappear randomly. The protagonist, an author who remains unnamed throughout the novel, helps her editor hide from the Memory Police, as he is someone who remembers lost objects. This book is suspenseful yet calm, as readers watch characters slowly forget what they love, hiding in a makeshift basement.    


The Stranger by Albert Camus

Written by Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Camus in 1942, The Stranger is based in Algiers, France between the two world wars. Within the first paragraph, main character Arthur Meursault can be described as honest and detached from the rest of the world, only clued in to the things that seem insignificant. Although Camus injected this novel with complex concepts like absurdism and existentialism, it’s an easy, short, entertaining read, exploring a unique perspective on life.   


The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley     

Although it’s an unpopular read, it immediately became one of my favorite books this year. The Authenticity Project narrates strangers meeting through a journal left at a cafe. As individuals continue to write their story and leave the book in a different location, the group grows, later becoming friends and family. With the entire goal of these writings being authenticity, characters learn to become their genuine selves. Even as the plot seems monotonous, author Clare Pooley creates thoughtful characters, connecting readers to growing relationships.