Our Favorite Reads of 2021

From Charlotte Lit’s faculty and staff, here’s a list of our favorite reads this year — most new, but some older favorites, too. Enjoy!


Bright Dead Things, by Ada Limón — Paul Reali

Come Hither Honeycomb, by Erin Belieu — Lisa Zerkle

Facts about the Moon, by Dorianne Laux — Kathie Collins

Indigo, by Ellen Bass — Jessica Jacobs

What Pecan Light, by Hannah Vanderhart — Dannye Romine Powell

Essay Collections

Let Me Tell You What I Mean, by Joan Didion — Elizabeth West

One Long River of Song, by Brian Doyle — Irene Honeycutt

Southbound: Essays on Identity, Inheritance, and Social Change, by Anjali Enjeti — Patrice Gopo 

Symbol, Myth, and Culture: Essays and Lectures of Ernst Cassirer, 1935-1945, by Ernst Cassirer — David Radavich


A Piece of the Moon, by Chris Fabry — Landis Wade

Annie John, by Jamaica Kincaid — Caroline Langerman

Autumn, by Ali Smith — Jessica Jacobs

Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell — Kristin Sherman 

Harrow, by Joy Williams — Jeff Jackson

I Wished, by Dennis Cooper — Jeff Jackson 

Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan — Paul Reali

Martita, I Remember You, by Sandra Cisneros — Judy Goldman 

Miss Benson’s Beetle, by Rachel Joyce — Betsy Thorpe 

One Kind Favor, by Kevin McIlvoy — Kathryn Schwille 

Plainsong, by Kent Haruf — Bryn Chancellor 

Severance, by Ling Ma — Megan Rich 

Song of Achilles, by Madeleine Miller — Kathie Collins

The Black Kids, by Christina Hammonds Reed — Patrice Gopo 

The Henna Artist, by Alka Joshi — Surabhi Kaushik

The Outline Trilogy, by Rachel Cusk — John Amen

The Overstory, by Richard Powers — Martin Settle

The Postscript Murders, by Elly Griffiths — Cathy Pickens 

The Sweetness of Water, by Nathan Harris — Kristin Sherman 

There There, by Tommy Orange — David Poston

Under the Mercy Trees, by Heather Newton — Kim Wright 

Tender Is the Night, by F. Scott Fitzgerald — Sarah VanderWood


A Rip in Heaven, by Jeanine Cummins — Amy Paturel

Blow Your House Down: Family, Feminism, and Treason, by Gina Frangello — Ashley Memory

Carry: A Memoir of Survival on …, by Toni Jensen — Bryn Chancellor 

Greenlights, by Matthew McConaughey — Jennifer Halls

Stray: A Memoir, by Stephanie Danler — Caroline Langerman


Chasing the Thrill, by Daniel Barbarisi — Cathy Pickens 

How the Word Is Passed…, by Clint Smith — Paula Martinac 

The Peregrine, by J.A. Baker — Charles Israel, Jr.

Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall…, by Carol Leonnig — Jennifer Halls

Short Stories

If I Had Two Wings, by Randall Kenan — George Hovis

Palm of the Hand Stories, by Yasunari Kawavata — Lola Haskins

The Office of Historical Corrections, by Danielle Evans — Kathryn Schwille

The Souvenir Museum, by Elizabeth McCracken — Lisa Zerkle