12 Books, 12 Friends: TBR of Friend-Recommended Books to Read in 2021!

I’m kind of panicking at the thought of 2020 ending soon…

…But I am so excited for this little “project” of mine for 2021! A few months ago, I decided I wanted to do something for 2021 where I read specific books that my friends loved/recommended to me, one for each month. So today I’m here with the 12 books I’ll be reading in 2021 because of my friends, all by POC!!

I really love this list, because it ended up having books in different genres/age groups that’ll be perfect for my mood reading, and it’s also full of books I’ve been meaning to read for a while (many of them being published in 2018 or before!). The books aren’t in any order, as I don’t have a specific month planned for each of them, but I’m hoping to read at least one from this list each month next year!

Yes, I know there are more than 12 books, and there are more than 12 friends on this list… let me be.

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Mirage (Mirage, #1)I have been meaning to read this book since FOREVER!! I read a bit of it in 2018 and never continued, but I’ve only heard praises for it (and its sequel) and I can’t wait to finally fall in love with it. This sci-fi fantasy tackling colonialism is special to Maha for its Moroccan connections, which makes it more special to me. And it’s even sweeter because Maha actually gifted me the book for my birthday!



Descendant of the CraneI started reading this back in 2018 when I was on a street team for it, but I never got the chance to finish! I don’t know how far into the book I made it, but I’ve heard the twists are excellent so I can’t wait for those. Also, the cover by Feifei Ruan is absolutely gorgeous, I can’t help but mention it every time I see it.

The publisher of this book did Joan He terribly dirty, and she’s facing legal fees/not making profit from DOTC selling, so consider preordering her next book!!



Miracle CreekI once asked May for thriller/mystery recommendations, because I trust her taste and she reads a lot more of those than I do, and this one in particular that she loved caught my eye. It’s a murder mystery thriller that also deals with immigrant identity, which appeals to me so much. I think one of the reasons why I don’t find a lot of thrillers/mysteries particularly appealing is because the most popular books always seem so white but not this one!!



The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)This is yet another book that I started and never finished… I have never before been so ashamed… But, after saying multiple times this year that I was going to read this, I will actually do it in 2021, because now I have the pressure of not one but TWO friends wanting me to read and love this book!! I’ve truly only heard the most incredible things about it, and it feels like such a staple of the adult SFF genre.



Mornings in JeninThis is Jia’s absolute favorite book, and I’ve told her too many times that I’d read it without actually reading it. So here’s to actually doing that in 2021! I don’t know too much about it, besides that it follows generations of a Palestinian family and is a really fantastic book to read if you want to learn more what it’s like living under Israeli occupation, but I do know that it’s going to make me cry. And I can’t wait!! 



The Space Between WorldsJoel was the first person to put this book on my radar, and god it just sounds absolutely amazing!! (I’m so excited for it that I asked for it for Christmas and I can’t wait to hold it in my hands.) This is an adult sci-fi book, so I am just as intimidated as I am excited. But it features alternate dimensions and sapphics, and I read a few pages from a preview already and I’m already in love with the writing style!



I'll Be the OneI’m really excited to read this book! I generally don’t find myself in love with the more fluffy, light-hearted contemporary books and prefer grittier ones that tackle hard topics (though this one discusses racism and fatphobia in the Kpop industry!). But I think after the hell year that 2020 has been… I deserve a feel-good book, and this one will be exactly that! Also, two bisexual Asians like me in a relationship means everything to me.



An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1)Yes, I’m finally doing it!! I’m in for a world of pain aren’t I!!!

Despite this series’ popularity, I actually have no idea what it’s about, and I actually want to keep it that way! All I know is that Laia and Elias are fantastic characters and Helene is a colonizer, and that Sabaa Tahir thrives on making her readers cry so. Definitely excited for that.



Patron Saints of NothingThis book is about the War on Drugs in the Philippines, and I’m so glad Ace recommended it to me, since I’ve been meaning to read it since it came out! I know this is a book that means a lot to my Filipino friends, and one they have dubbed a must-read for everyone. It’s a story of discovery as the main character tries to find out the story behind his cousin’s murder in the Philippines, and I think it’s going to be such an important read.



The Wolf of Oren-Yaro (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen, #1)I mean, do I really need anything other than the quote “I murdered a man and made my husband leave the night before they crowned me” to convince me to read this? I don’t think so, I love Talyien already. BUT on top of that, I know this book is full of Filipino culture that means a lot to Kate and Shealea, and I think it’s going to be another Asian-inspired fantasy I fall in love with!



The Rape of NankingI’m so glad this is on my list, because I’ve been meaning to read it ever since I read The Poppy War earlier this year and this was one of RF Kuang’s recommended books! It’s a non-fiction book, which I definitely want to read more of in 2021, that recounts the Nanjing Massacre during World War II. I can already feel that this is going to be a book I consider a must-read (minding the content warnings).



Analee, In Real LifeSo this book is one that I haven’t seen too many people read or talk about, but the few friends who have seem to adore it! I think I tend to like the lesser-known contemporaries rather than the more popular ones, so I hope this will be the same!! However, it has some content that is pretty close to my trigger (grief over a mom with cancer), so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to read it. But in the case that I end up not being able to read this, I have some back-ups…

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The Sword of KaigenIn the Dream HouseIn the case that I can’t read Analee, in Real Life (or find myself not wanting to read another book on this list for some reason, which I doubt), I have some books that can serve as a back-up, or as a fun extra book to read!  

  • The Sword of Kaigen – Rain: This Asian fantasy falls right in line with my tastes, especially since it’s perfect for TPW fans. And there’s a line I’ve seen from it (“‘I’m your wife.’ And she attacked him”) that makes me SO feral already. 
  • In the Dream House – Elle: If I don’t manage to get TSOK on Kindle… here’s my bonus bonus book! It’s a memoir about an abusive relationship the author was in, and I have GENUINELY heard nothing but high praises for this so to say I’m excited would be an understatement.

shall we chat

what are some books you’re planning to read in 2021? any particular friend-recommended books? have you read any of these? what did you think of them?

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59 thoughts on “12 Books, 12 Friends: TBR of Friend-Recommended Books to Read in 2021!

  1. Oh what a lovely idea! I love this list so much and can’t wait to hear your thoughts on all of these. I heard a little bit about Analee in Real Life and really want to read it as well, it sounds so good! :)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is such a fun way to put together a TBR, and I bet it makes it a lot easier to find books you know you’re going to enjoy! And have fun with Descendant of the Crane!! I really love that one, and people aren’t kidding about the twists. It’s outstanding! Plus, you’re right about that cover. It’s gorgeous in every way.😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much!! and ahh i’m so excited about descendant of the crane, i love plot twists (especially since i’m so bad at guessing them 😭) so i can’t wait to finally finish reading it. and yes!!! feifei ruan’s covers are all SO stunning <3


  3. I love this idea! I wish I had twelve close bookish friends so I could use their recs~ There are so many awesome books on this list – Mirage, Descendant of the Crane, The Fifith Season, Ember in the Ashes… you’ve got so much good ahead of you this year!

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  4. may i’m commenting on this very late, but congrats on starting the 12 books 12 friends thing 😎 also i am so happy that one of my recommendations is here–i hope i’ll be the one will give you some well-deserved serotonin!! & i’ve been meaning to read so many of the books on this list too. jia is 100% the reason why i’m interested in mornings in jenin, and i’ve heard nothing but good things about the space between worlds. & i rlly enjoyed the sword of kaigen too! but i’d honestly warn ppl who want to read it that its worldbuilding and character building are kind of heavy? the author wrote another series set in the same world & i feel like it’s kinda hard to understand if you haven’t read those books + i feel like the book could’ve been so much shorter if she hadn’t explained so many details about the world and character backstories. i feel like that’s a complaint that a lot of people have, so i’m just warning you, & i hope you enjoy it & the rest of the books on this list 💗💗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. GHKDSFJDS thank you thank you 😎 i’m so glad you recommended i’ll be the one!! i think it truly will give me that much-needed serotonin. and ooh, thank you so much for the heads-up on the sword of kaigen! that’s definitely good info to know going in, so hopefully i won’t be too disappointed if it ends up being too much info for me. i’ve only been hearing really positive things about it and not looking further into it so i’m glad you let me know lmao!!

      Liked by 1 person

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