Welcome to the 2021 edition of The Cookie Chapters! I’m so excited to be sharing this feature again and it’s a great way to revisit the books I read this year, and convince you all to read them too. 😉
As I described in the intro post, over the next several weeks I’ll be sharing book recommendations from my 2021 reads based on some of my favourite holiday treats, with some baking help from my sister!
Feel free to join in and share your own list of book recommendations based on holiday cookies! Use the hashtag #TheCookieChapters or share your post in the comments below!
To start the series off this year, I’m sharing a favourite in our family:
Peanut Butter Bars
My dad always makes these peanut butter bars, which are a super tasty combo of peanut butter, oatmeal, and chocolate. Pro tip, we store all the extra Christmas cookies in the freezer and these are really good frozen too. For this mix of chocolate and peanut butter, a perfect sweet and salty treat, I decided to pair them with sweet or salty reads! Whether you love sweet stories or prefer something with a little more bite, you’re bound to find a book below that’s just right for you.
My sister, Cassandra, has teamed up with me again to share her beautiful bakes, including the cookies in the official graphic for this feature! She baked the peanut butter bars above and you can find many more of her bakes on Instagram @WhatWillCassCreate!
Here are some sweet and salty reads:
(Trust) Falling for You by Charish Reid
“Reid plays with a lot of well-known romance tropes in exciting ways here: enemies to lovers, opposites attract, and everyone’s favourite, there’s only one cabin and they’re going to have to share! It is quite short as you can expect of novellas but it’s perfectly sized to give you a sweet story and allow room to get to know these characters” – my review
One of the sweet recs! This was one of the first books I read this year and a romance I really enjoyed! I was thankful for the maturity in this story as I’d been reading a lot of YA romances so this was a nice shift.
It’s a very quick read as a novella and while Reid does seem to fit in all these well-known tropes, it doesn’t feel overloaded. I asked folks on Twitter what ‘sweet or salty’ meant to them in terms of books and someone thought of the grumpy/sunshine trope, so the enemies to lovers trope could be a close-ish one here so make this a truly sweet and salty read.
A big bonus and what ultimately seals this as a ‘sweet’ book for me is that there’s very minimal conflict, especially for a romance. There’s no conflict for the sake of conflict, just adults going through some things and figuring it out without unnecessary drama. Thanks again to the author for a copy to review!
You Have a Match by Emma Lord
Genre: YA Contemporary | Romance
“Emma Lord just writes good, funny stories. Her debut was a modernized, young adult take on the well-loved movie, You’ve Got Mail, and this time she’s taken inspiration from Parent Trap – the same family drama and summer camp fun but with a 23AndMe twist.” – my review
Emma Lord’s Tweet Cute made my ‘something sweet‘ rec list last year so she’s got a type! This one also played on a classic with an updated approach and followed two teenage girls who’ve just discovered they’re sisters and try to make a plan of action while away at summer camp.
Lord’s books always seem to be incredibly heartwarming even when the characters are going through some heavy life stuff and the added humour helps with processing the grief, family troubles, and struggles with anxiety. The two sisters works well for this prompt too as these two are like opposites, with one who’s a very strict rule-follower and the other who’s more spontaneous, so there’s our sweet and salty!
Thanks again to Raincoast Books for an ARC to review!
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
“It’s incredibly confusing from the first page but you quickly get sucked into the story, trying to figure out what’s happening while getting progressively more confused.” – my review
Time for a salty rec! I don’t think I can better sum up this book than with that snippet from my review. It’s a fun mysterious story that is all kinds of quirky and so easy to get sucked into the MC’s way of seeing and describing the world.
As I said in my original review, I don’t want to give too much away since the story relies on the mystery but the ‘salt’ here is because the sea plays a big role in the book! And seawater is salty! 😛
Thanks again to Raincoast Books for an ARC to review!
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Genre: Literary Fiction
“Bennett has such beautiful writing and I was just so immediately taken in by these characters, even as I was silently screaming at them for their decisions. It was a stressful read and sad but so very, very good.” – my review
The last of our salty recs and another great read. This book is set in a small town and follows the lives of three of the teenagers in the aftermath of a pregnancy. As the title suggest, motherhood and how each character relates to it, both in their relationships with their own mother and as mothers themselves, is central to the book. Several CWs related to this so check out my full review above for all of those.
Our overarching narration comes from the ‘chorus’ of elderly ladies from the church who love all gossip, which is how they happen on the story of these three. Gossip underlies the whole book and what’s saltier than gossip!
This is a really emotional book and difficult to watch how everyone’s lives are upturned but so well-written and compelling, it’s one of my favourites for sure.
We’re off to a great start with this set! And I had a lot of fun thinking for pairings for this treat, especially the salty side.
I also realized as I was preparing these posts that I only shared 3 books per treat last year, but there are just too many good books to share. So four it is!
Do you prefer sweet or salty snacks?
Any sweet and/or salty books that stood out for you this year?
I reviewed copies of some of these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Cover images from Goodreads.