USA TODAY bestselling book of 2021: See the 100 most popular reads – USA TODAY

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2021 was a pretty good year for author Dav Pilkey. Not only is his children’s book “Dog Man: Mothering Heights” USA TODAY’s bestselling book of the year, but he also followed up the achievement with four more of his books landing in the Top 100 for 2021, more than any other author.

In addition to “Mothering Heights,” Pilkey earned top spots for “Dog Man: Grime and Punishment” at No. 32; “Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls” at No. 81; “Cat Kid Comic Club” at No. 28; and “Cat Kid Comic Club: Perspective” at No. 67.  

Though, much like 2021 itself, the year didn’t bring all good news for the author. Pilkey’s publisher Scholastic pulled one of his books in March because it said the book perpetuated passive racism. “The Adventures of Ook and Gluk,” published in 2010, was a spinoff of sorts of his popular “Captain Underpants” series that featured a time-traveling caveman who trains at Master Wong’s School of Kung Fu. Pilkey publicly apologized and gave his full support to the halting of publication and distribution of the book. 

“It was and is wrong and harmful to my Asian readers, friends and family, and to all Asian people. … I hope that you, my readers, will forgive me, and learn from my mistake that even unintentional and passive stereotypes and racism is harmful to everyone. I apologize, and I pledge to do better,” Pilkey wrote in a statement.

More: USA TODAY staff’s 2021 favorite first-time reads: Add these 14 books to your to-be-read pile

Kristin Hannah tops this year’s adult fiction with “The Four Winds,” (No. 2), which USA TODAY rated ★★★½ (out of four) and called “epic and transporting, a stirring story of hardship and love that is likely to lead to a film adaptation.” Hannah was followed in the fiction category by Matt Haig’s “The Midnight Library” (No. 5) and Laura Dave’s “The Last Thing He Told Me” (No. 6).

Unlike 2020 when titles on politics, former President Donald Trump and race and racism dominated, we did not see as many current affairs or political books in 2021’s Top 100. “American Marxism” by Mark R. Levin did reach No. 3 and topped the nonfiction category. Only two other current affairs books appeared: “Peril” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa (No. 38) and “The Real Anthony Fauci” by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (No. 46). 

Actors and rock stars also made appearances this year. Among the titles were “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey (No. 26), which was also the year’s top memoir. Foo Fighter frontman Dave Grohl also appeared with “The Storyteller” (No. 63), and Will Smith with Mark Manson for “Will” came in at No. 97.

USA TODAY’s Top 100 bestselling books of 2021

1. ” Dog Man: Mothering Heights,” by Dav Pilkey 

2. “The Four Winds,” by Kristin Hannah  

3. “American Marxism,” by Mark R. Levin 

4. “Atomic Habits,” by James Clear   

5. “The Midnight Library,” by Matt Haig 

6. “The Last Thing He Told Me,” by Laura Dave 

7. “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse,” by Charlie Mackesy

8. ” Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Big Shot,” by Jeff Kinney     

9. “Where the Crawdads Sing,” by Delia Owens  

10. “It Ends With Us,” by Colleen Hoover  

11. “A Court of Silver Flames,” by Sarah J. Maas 

12. “The Four Agreements,” by Don Miguel Ruiz  

13.  “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” by Eric Carle  

14. “Dune,” by Frank Herbert 

15. “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!,” by Dr. Seuss

16. “The Judge’s List,” by John Grisham   

17. “Twelve and a Half,” by Gary Vaynerchuk 

18. “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo,” by Taylor Jenkins Reid  

19. “The Body Keeps the Score,” by Bessel van der Kolk  

20. “They Both Die at the End,” by Adam Silvera   

21. “I Love You to the Moon and Back,” by Amelia Hepworth; art by Tim Warnes

22. “The Song of Achilles,” Madeline Miller 

23. “Billy Summers,” by Stephen King    

24. “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” by Bill Martin Jr., Eric Carle

25. “People We Meet on Vacation,” by Emily Henry    

26. “Greenlights,” by Matthew McConaughey     

27. “The Wish,” by Nicholas Sparks

28. “Cat Kid Comic Club,” by Dav Pilkey 

29. “Bridgerton: The Duke and I,” by Julia Quinn

30   “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter 

31. “The Silent Patient,” by Alex Michaelides  

32. “Dog Man: Grime and Punishment,” by Dav Pilkey 

33. “Project Hail Mary,” by Andy Weir   

34. “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue,” by V.E. Schwab  

35  “Goodnight Moon,” by Margaret Wise Brown; art by Clement Hurd 

36. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” by  J.K. Rowling   

37. “Love You Forever,” by Robert Munsch; art by Sheila McGraw  

38. “Peril,” by Bob Woodward, Robert Costa 

39. “Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone,” by Diana Gabaldon  

40. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Deep End,” by Jeff Kinney   

41. “The Lincoln Highway,” by Amor Towles  

42. “The Hill We Climb,” by Amanda Gorman    

43. “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” by Bill Martin Jr.    

44. “Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Spooky Stories,” by Jeff Kinney  

45. “We Were Liars,” by E. Lockhart   

46. “The Real Anthony Fauci,” by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.  

47. “Apples Never Fall,” by Liane Moriarty  

48. “Verity,” by Colleen Hoover  

49. “Untamed,” by Glennon Doyle  

50. “Sooley,” by John Grisham    

51. “The 5 Love Languages,” by Gary Chapman 

52. “Bridgerton: The Viscount Who Loved Me,” by Julia Quinn 

53. “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Super Easy!,” by Ree Drummond   

54. “Malibu Rising,” by Taylor Jenkins Reid   

55. “The Vanishing Half,” by Brit Bennett   

56. ” Atlas of the Heart,” by Brené Brown 

57. “The 48 Laws of Power,” by Robert Greene   

58. ” A Court of Thorns and Roses,” by Sarah J. Maas  

59. “1984,” by George Orwell   

60. “The Alchemist,” by Paulo Coelho  

61. “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck,” by Mark Manson  

62. “Midnight Sun,” by Stephenie Meyer

 63. “The Storyteller,” by Dave Grohl   

64. “A Promised Land,” by Barack Obama   

65. “Green Eggs and Ham,” by Dr. Seuss   

66. “Anxious People,” by Fredrik Backman     

67.” Cat Kid Comic Club: Perspectives,” by Dav Pilkey  

68. “The President’s Daughter,” by James Patterson, Bill Clinton    

69. ” A Gambling Man,” by David Baldacci     

70. “The Going-to-Bed Book,” by Sandra Boynton   

71. “The Christmas Pig,” by J.K. Rowling; art by Jim Field   

72. “Caste,” by Isabel Wilkerson    

73. “Better Off Dead,” by Lee Child, Andrew Child     

74. “The Women of the Bible Speak,” by Shannon Bream    

75. “Shadow and Bone,” by Leigh Bardugo    

76. “The Stranger in the Lifeboat,” by Mitch Albom    

77. “What Happened to You?,” by Oprah Winfrey, Bruce D. Perry   

78. “The Guest List,” by Lucy Foley    

79. “You Are a Badass,” by Jen Sincero 

80. “Keep Sharp,” by Sanjay Gupta   

81. “Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls,” by Dav Pilkey  

82. “Later,” by Stephen King    

83. “From Blood and Ash,” by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

84. “Firefly Lane,” by Kristin Hannah  

85. “Cloud Cuckoo Land,” by Anthony Doerr   

86. “Think Again,” by Adam Grant    

87. “Bridgerton: Romancing Mister Bridgerton,” by Julia Quinn 

88. “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish,” by Dr. Seuss   

89. “Then She Was Gone,” by Lisa Jewell    

90. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee   

91. “The Return,” by Nicholas Sparks    

92. “Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak    

93. “Ugly Love,” by Colleen Hoover    

94. “The Dark Hours,” by Michael Connelly   

95. “Killing the Mob,” by Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard    

96. “A Time for Mercy,” by John Grisham

97. “Will,” by Will Smith with Mark Manson  

98. “Golden Girl,” by Elin Hilderbrand   

99. “Bridgerton: An Offer from a Gentleman,” by Julia Quinn

100. “Home Body,” by Rupi Kaur  

Contributing; Hannah Yasharoff

Categories: books

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