What's Up in YA

Your Favorite YA Books of 2021

Hey YA Readers!

This is always one of my favorite newsletters of the year, as it’s such a fun way to get to know you, the readers. Thanks to the many, many of you who dropped your favorite YA books of 2021 into the survey this month, as well as your picks for books that deserve a little more love.

Let’s dive in.

Your Favorite 2021 YA Books

To tabulate this list, I took the very scientific approach of sorting all of the answers alphabetically, then counting and removing any titles that weren’t published in 2021. This list doesn’t represent every individual title you voted for as best, but instead, it’s a look at the most frequently named titles. I’ve arranged it by number of votes, but these aren’t a top ten, a few of these had a tied number of votes.

I love this list and the array of stories and genres.

firekeepers daughter book cover

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Cover of Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!

2021 Books Deserving More Attention

Same super scientific method here for determining the list of books you wanted to see get more love. I sorted the answers, counted them up, and weeded out anything that didn’t count (either it was not published in 2021, was not a YA book, or was a New York Times bestseller). I also didn’t include titles on this list which made the list above, as there were a good number of overlaps and I wanted to offer as many titles in this roundup as possible. These are not in any particular order.

Add these gems to your TBR if you haven’t already picked them up.

Cover of Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Six Crimson Cranes Elizabeth Lim

The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur

The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon

You’d Be Home Now by Kathleen Glasgow

Yolk by Mary HK Choi

Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love by Jared Reck

Fifteen Hundred Miles to the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa

It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland

Fallout book cover

Where The Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass

Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier

I also want to shout out that two nonfiction books for young adults were mentioned in this roundup, and while they didn’t hit the threshold of the books named above, I’m going to name them, too: Revolution in Our Time by Kekla Magoon (the reader who nominated it said “I know it was on the National Book Awards shortlist, but I haven’t seen it much on social media, and it has so few Goodreads reviews”) and Fallout by Steve Sheinkin (“I guess it has gotten a fair amount of attention, but because it’s nonfiction, it inherently gets less!”).

As always, thanks for hanging out this week. We’ll be back on Thursday with the final newsletter of the year before kicking it off again the first Monday of 2022.

Until then, happy reading!

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram