The 17 winners of the 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards, from Amanda Gorman’s poetry to Sally Rooney’s newest novel

Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

Pattern of Goodreads Choice Award Winners, including Crying In H Mart, Firekeeper's Daughter, Empire of Pain, and Beautiful World Where Are You
The books that won the 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards span categories like fiction, romance, sci-fi, memoir, poetry, young adult, and best debut.

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

  • Every year, the Goodreads Choice Awards lets readers pick the best books of the year.
  • This year, over 4.7 million votes were cast across 17 categories.
  • From fiction to fantasy, here are the best books of 2021, according to Goodreads members.

Goodreads is an online book reviewing platform where over 125 million readers rate, review, and share their favorite books with friends and the community. Every year, Goodreads hosts their highly anticipated “Goodreads Choice Awards,” where members vote in multiple rounds to narrow 20 choices down to one per genre. 

In 2021, Goodreads members cast over 4.7 million votes to determine their favorite reads across 17 categories from fiction and fantasy to history and horror. With countless five-star ratings and rave reviews, here are the best books of 2021, according to Goodreads reviewers.

The 17 winners of the 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards:

Best Fiction

"Beautiful World, Where Are You" by Sally Rooney book cover

“Beautiful World, Where Are You” by Sally Rooney, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.80

In this novel about sex, love, and friendship, four friends are entangled in different kinds of romances that fascinate readers. Full of complex personalities and interesting conversations, this novel is perfect for anyone who also loved Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel “Normal People.”

Best Mystery & Thriller

"The Last Thing He Told Me" by Laura Dave book cover

“The Last Thing He Told Me” by Laura Dave, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to slip his new wife, Hannah, a note reading “protect her,” clearly referring to Owen’s 16-year-old daughter, Bailey. When the FBI arrests Owen’s boss and shows up unannounced to their home, Hannah and Bailey find themselves caught in a tangle of secrets and are left searching for the truth about who Owen truly is.

You can read our interview with the book’s author, Laura Dave, here.

Best Historical Fiction

malibu rising

“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.80

In August 1983, the famous Nina Rivera and her three siblings are preparing to throw their epic annual end-of-summer party. Nina could not be looking forward to it less, having just been left by her tennis-pro husband. Switching between their childhood and the present, this novel uncovers the siblings’ shared history while traversing a night that will change all of their lives forever.

Best Fantasy

"A Court of Silver Flames" cover

“A Court of Silver Flames” by Sarah J. Maas, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.84

A Court of Silver Flames” is the final book in the hugely popular “A Court of Thorns and Roses” series, which began as a “Beauty and the Beast” retelling. In this novel, Nesta is still trying to find her place with her new role in the High Fae world but must overcome her haunting past, her complicated feelings toward Cassian, and the threats brought about by human queens.

Best Romance

The cover of People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

“People We Meet on Vacation” by Emily Henry, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.98

Alex and Poppy have been best friends since college when a summer road trip brought them together and spurred years of annual summer vacations. But two years ago, everything changed between them. Though they haven’t spoken since, Poppy is determined to get her best friend back and suggests one last trip for them to seek a new start.

Best Science Fiction

"Project Hail Mary" by Andy Weir book cover

“Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.49

In this immersive sci-fi read, Ryland Grace wakes up on a ship in space with no memory and two dead crewmates beside him. As his memories start to return, Ryland realizes he is on a desperate, last-chance mission to save humanity, millions of miles from home with an extinction-level threat to conquer ahead of him.

Best Horror

"The Final Girl Support Group" book cover

“The Final Girl Support Group” by Grady Hendrix, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.78

This unique horror/thriller book focuses on “final girls” — the ones who fight back and survive horrible murders, emerging as trauma-burdened heroines. In this story, Lynnette Tarkington and five other “final girls” have been meeting and healing in a support group for years — until something terrible happens to make their worst fears come true.

Best Humor

The cover of Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson

“Broken (in the best possible way)” by Jenny Lawson, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.66

Jenny Lawson is an American journalist and blogger who does not hide the fact that she suffers from depression and anxiety. In this heartfelt and hilarious memoir, Jenny shares personal anecdotes about her physical and mental health journey towards healing.

Best Nonfiction

the anthropocene reviewed

“The Anthropocene Reviewed” by John Green, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.80

Though John Green is best known for his bestselling young adult books like “The Fault in Our Stars,” he also hosts an acclaimed podcast with his brother. Originating from podcast conversations, this nonfiction work is a collection of essays about the Anthropocene era — the current geological era where human activity has severely impacted our planet.

Best Memoir & Autobiography

The cover of Crying in H Mart

“Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.16

In this beautiful and moving memoir, Michelle Zauner grew up as one of the few Korean American kids at her school, finding solace in her grandmother’s kitchen in Seoul while carrying her mother’s high expectations of her. When her mother receives a terminal cancer diagnosis, Michelle begins a journey of reckoning, forging her own identity from her childhood experiences, lessons from her mother, and dreams for her future.

Best History & Biography

"Empire of Pain- The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty" by Patrick Radden book cover

“Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty” by Patrick Radden Keefe, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $25.99

Empire of Pain” is a history and biography of the Sackler family, one of the richest families in the world, who were once known for their charitable donations until the origin of their fortune was uncovered. Meticulously researched and told with an enthralling voice, this nonfiction read documents the Sackler family’s rise to riches through the creation of OxyContin and, ultimately, the opioid epidemic.

Best Graphic Novels & Comics

"Lore Olympus" book cover

“Lore Olympus: Volume One” by Rachel Smythe, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.99

Originally an online comic series, this fantastical graphic novel portrays the love story of Hades and Persephone in a romantic and stylized reimagining. With stunning visuals and a fresh angle, Rachel Smythe brings this well-known Greek myth to life.

Best Poetry

"The Hill We Climb - An Inaugural Poem for the Country" by Amanda Gorman

“The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country” by Amanda Gorman, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.58

Amanda Gorman is the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate and delivered her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the Presidential Inauguration in January. Passionate and inspiring, this poem aims to bring hope to Americans despite the chaos in the world.

Best Debut

“The Spanish Love Deception” by Elena Armas, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, from $15.99

Catalina Martín needs to quickly find a boyfriend to bring to her sister’s wedding in Spain. Although he’s gorgeous, she really does not want to bring her pain-in-the-butt colleague, Aaron Blackford, but might have no other choice in this fan-favorite, enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy.

Best Young Adult Fiction

"The Firekeeper's Daughter" book cover

“Firekeeper’s Daughter” by Angeline Boulley, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.23

Firekeeper’s Daughter” focuses on 18-year-old Daunis Fontaine, a biracial and unenrolled tribal member who witnesses a terrible murder. When the FBI begins to investigate, she goes undercover to conduct her own investigation in this intense journey loved for its strong characters.

Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction

"Rule of Wolves (King of Scars Duology)" by Leigh Bardugo book cover

“Rule of Wolves” by Leigh Bardugo, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.78

Rule of Wolves” is the concluding novel in Leigh Bardugo’s “King of Scars” duology, where the Demon King, the Stormwitch, and the Queen of Mourning are each affected by war and looking to create a brighter future. The newest addition to the adored Grishaverse world, this novel is perfect for any reader looking to get lost in a new and impeccably built fantasy world

Best Middle Grade & Children’s

"Daughter of the Deep" book cover

“Daughter of the Deep” by Rick Riordan, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.99

In this middle grade retelling of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” Ana Dakkar is a freshman at Harding-Pencroft Academy, hoping she has what it takes to succeed and make her late parents proud. When a terrible tragedy occurs while her class is on a bus ride to a ship, a long-time feud between schools boils over — with Ana and her class caught in the middle.

Read the original article on Business Insider