Books That Changed My Life in 2021

Love, heartbreak, survival, belonging, and so many themes this year

Hoang Samuelson
8 min readDec 31, 2021
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

This year, I made headlines in my own personal reading journey. I read a total of 70 books. But to anyone outside of my immediate circle, this doesn’t really mean anything except for the fact that wow, it’s 17 more books than I read in 2020. That said, 28 out of the 70 books I read made an impression on me, its words lingering on my mind long after I read it and the themes it explored reminded me of why I read in the first place — to learn, to connect, to step into a world that’s not my own.

A good number of them were debut novels, and as someone whose ultimate goal is to become a debut novelist herself, this gave me hope and inspiration but also made me feel intimidated, for how can I possibly compete with these amazing novelists for space on your bookshelf? Alas, it is a work in progress.

Here are my top favorites of 2021 and why you should read it too.

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

Two people on the opposite ends of their life in a hospital — one is seventeen, the other is eighty three. Together, they make up 100 years. They both have terminal illness. So what can they possibly do to ensure their lives are well lived? This book will tell…



Hoang Samuelson

Features Editor @ Chowhound. Former lead editor Writer of food, family and fiction. Based in Portland, OR. More at