2021 Goodreads Choice Award Winners Announced

Best Books banner, screenshot from Goodreads

Each year, Goodreads members vote on their favorite books from across various genres. And each year, I ignore the multiple invitations to vote for the contest, but eventually do click the banner announcing the winners.

As I reader, I enjoy noting which books win awards each year. In particular, I find these kinds of awards, for which actual readers vote, an interesting look at reading culture and books in general. In many ways this takes the temperature far more effectively than your Man Bookers or Nobels, because the decision isn’t made by a few people selected to form a committee. It’s a few thousand people on the internet, where anything can happen.

And yet… these, too, are a little bit predictable. The buzzy books tend to take the cake here, and it’s mainly a matter of which book buzzed the loudest. Or something. Regardless, here’s what Goodreads users voted on for the categories we’re interested in here at Your Book Friend.

The result of the results live here, if inquiring minds want to know.

(Full disclosure: Specific book links are Bookshop.org affiliate links, which earn Your Book Friend a small commission should you choose to purchase. Thanks for your support!)

Fiction: Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Cover image courtesy of Goodreads

I can’t say I’m surprised to see Beautiful World, Where Are You topping this category, with all the buzz it got, but I’m in camp “never read it.” A quick perusal of the nominees for the general fiction category reveals that I have, in fact, read exactly zero of the books that were nominated in this category. Maybe I don’t read as much general fiction as I thought?

Anyway, I did finish Rooney’s previous novel, Normal People, finally, after DNF’ing it a few years ago and it was… fine? Probably, I’ll get to this one eventually, put it down because Rooney doesn’t use quotation marks for dialogue, and then maybe pick it up again two years later. We’ll see.

Romance: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Cover image courtesy of Goodreads

Get it, Emily Henry! I absolutely adored People We Meet on Vacation, which I read over the span of a single day during a solo retreat to a Getaway cabin. Henry also happens to live in my beloved hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, so extra stoked to see her win this category.

My review of this book is one of my most-viewed articles on Medium thanks to Google, which makes sense seeing how many people voted this the best capital R romance of the year.

Humor: Broken (In the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson

Cover image courtesy of Book Outlet

I kid you not, I was listening to this on audio when I clicked in to the results of the Goodreads’ Choice Awards.

I’m loving it, and loved Lawson’s previous books, so zero percent surprised to see it took the humor cake. Lawson is hilarious and does a great audiobook performance (this is how I always read her).

Nonfiction: The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

Cover image courtesy of Thriftbooks

I thoroughly enjoyed this heartful, earnest, emotional book about being a human in the world. So important for men to admit that they cry and that it’s fine and normal and healthy. Did I also cry while listening to this audiobook? You bet I did.

You can read my full thoughts on this one in my oh-so-cleverly titled review, “The Anthropocene Reviewed, Reviewed.”

Memoir & Autobiography: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Cover image courtesy of Amazon

Yup, Your Book Friend has read this one, too! And thoroughly enjoyed it. That is, if you can enjoy a book that basically rips your heart out and makes you cry while walking your dog, driving to work, etc.

Crying in H Mart was good, is what I’m saying. Probably the best grief memoir I’ve read since H is for Hawk.

Final Thoughts / Overall List Commentary

I do think I’d be remiss not to point out that Zauner is the only person of color in this selection of genres presented here. Amanda Gorman took poetry, surprising no one, and a few other authors in the overall list are of color, as well. And yet… this says a lot about where the publicity money in publishing is going, particularly when it comes to Romance and so-called General Fiction, I think.

This is a good reminder that we as readers should be intentional about reading diversely because publishing won’t always serve us those diverse reads on a advertisement platter. The longer nominee lists for these categories, perhaps in part by nature of being longer lists, do include several phenomenal books by non-white writers, so might I recommend a “want to read” button spree through them for those of you who use Goodreads?

In all, I was surprised — yet not that surprised — that I’ve read nearly all the winners in the genres I favor in my own reading life. This probably means I’m alarmingly average or something, I don’t know. But it was fun to nod along in appreciation this year while reading the winners, which were indeed some of the best books I’ve read this year.

So, what did you think of the Goodreads Choice Awards winners this year? Did your favorites make the list of winners, or runner-ups?

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