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

  1. I love this post! I was actually thinking of doing a similar one…if not a post about what books my friends recommended me, one on what books I really want to read in 2021 because there’s soooo many books that I love!
    I actually didn’t like An Ember in the Ashes when I read it but everyone else adores it so I’m excited to see what you think when you read it! And I haven’t so much as heard of any of those other books!
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. i’m so glad you liked it! and ahh yes same, there are SO many books i want to read in 2021, but we’ll see how my mood reading holds up next year 😭

      ooh, i think you’re one of the first people i’ve seen who didn’t like ember! it seems so well-loved overall, i’m sorry you didn’t like it :((

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha, yeah usually what I want to read gets SO messed up…because then other books come home from the library (thanks to the rest of my family) and I also want to read those, etc.!

        Yeah, I think it was just really militaristic (if that’s a word) and more planning than I usually like…I guess I just prefer action!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds like a fun idea!
    I love An Ember in the Ashes! And I also really want to read Descendant of the Crane and the Sword of Kaigen!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this idea! What a fun way to bond with friends *and* discover books!!

    Descendant of the Crane is amazing, and this was a good reminder that I need to preorder Joan He’s next book!

    I’ve never heard of Analee, In Real Life, but it has such a striking cover. I’m eager to hear how you like it!

    Happy reading! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. throwback to when i was supposed to read the fifth season with you and completely ditched you 😭 I’LL GET TO IT NEXT YEAR!! and aahh i think i’m going to read in the dream house next year no matter what, it just sounds so amazing!


  4. So I replied to your tweet of this because I was like oh no I won’t have time to comment on the actual post because of finals but then I decided oh well, no I’m going to comment anyway 😂(also hi! I literally haven’t blog hopped in forever)

    Yes!! Mirage and Wolf of Oren Yaro are both so good!! The Space Between Worlds and Sword of Kaigen are also on my TBR and I can’t wait to read them! I guess they’re also technically on my 2021 tbr now since the probability of me reading more before the end of December is incredibly low.

    Miracle Creek sounds really good! I remember seeing it everywhere on Instagram when it first came out, but I didn’t bother looking into it more, but now you’ve got me intrigued 👀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. well here i am procrastinating my finals work and replying to your comment… we are one and the same

      ooh i’m so glad you also enjoyed mirage and oren-yaro!! and i hope we both love the space between worlds and the sword of kaigen — both sound so amazing and i’ll be heartbroken if i don’t enjoy them 😭

      i hadn’t seen much about miracle creek before, but i’m very glad i could get you more intrigued about it >:) i really need to read more thrillers!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t read……any of these, but they all sound so good. I’ve heard a lot about An Ember in the Ashes.
    If you like lesser-known contemporaries then you might like The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls. It’s very…..fluffy, but in a good way. I read it every time I need a pick-me-up.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. AH i tried to do this this year, but kind of fell off the wagon a bit because i barely read at all in the summer and then it was hard to catch up T.T i’m gonna try and finish that list in 2021 (with a few added ones lol). i hope you have a good time reading these!! and oomf i gotta get to patron saints of nothing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is such a lovely project, I love the idea of reading books your friends have recommended 🥰 I bought The Fifth Season this year and I need to read it as well, though I’m a bit intimidated by it 😱 I’ve only read Mirage on your list, but I really liked it! Sadly I still haven’t read the sequel, though it came out this year 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is such a great idea! My friends online are always recommending me books, so I think putting them into a list would be a super smart thing to do. Mornings in Jenin is also on my TBR for 2021, I’ve been wanting to read it for a really long time.

    I hope you enjoy an Ember in the Ashes! It’s one of my favorite series ever, I think Sabaa Tahir is an incredible writer, and the fact that you’re going into it without knowing much is a good thing; you’ll be even more blown away! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. same!! some of these books are ones that my friends have been wanting me to read forever, so i thought it was finally time to listen to them haha. and ooh, i hope we both love mornings in jenin! <3

      thank you! i have a feeling i'm going to really like ember, it looks amazing. i'm so happy you love it, and good to know that my lack of knowledge about the series will serve me well lol!

      Liked by 1 person

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