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Staff picks of 2021

By December 21, 2021September 16th, 2023No Comments

A bookshelf at Walter Library with overlaid text that reads "Staff Picks"From sci-fi, fantasy, and horror to history, self-help, and the Anthropocene, Libraries staff found plenty to recommend among the books they read this year. While some were published this year, the list below includes plenty of older favorites, too. Dig into their picks: You’ll probably find something you would like!

Becky Adamski recommends these books:
“100 Things We’ve Lost to the Internet” by Pamela Paul
“Never Fall for Your Fiancée” by Virginia Heath
“The Kitchen Front: A Novel” by Jennifer Ryan
“Sensational: The Hidden History of America’s ‘Girl Stunt Reporters’” by Kim Todd
“To Sir, with Love” by Lauren Layne
“The Kindred Spirits Supper Club” by Amy E. Reichert

“The Grace Year” by Kim Liggett
Carolyn Bishoff recommends this book: “I listened to the audiobook (from Overdrive, through my public library!). It was a fast listen, totally engrossing, the perfect mix of fantasy and horror. Would pair well with the Showtime series ‘Yellowjackets.’”
Is there a specific audience for this book?: “YA book”

“A Marvellous Light” by Freya Marske
Molly Bostrom recommends this book.

“The Space Between Worlds” by J. Conrad and Micaiah Johnson
Jennie Burroughs recommends this book: “‘The Space Between Worlds’ uses a multiverse scenario to explore class, gender, race, and all the paths our lives could have taken with different choices. The characters are fascinating and the plot is twisty and fast — but the author brings all the plot threads together in a really satisfying way.”
Is there a specific audience for this book?: “Science fiction lovers”

“Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am” by Julia Cooke
Tiffany Carlson recommends this book: “I loved hearing the story of Pan Am and air travel in a women’s rights lens! Additionally, the audiobook reader is incredibly good at what she does and makes it an even more compelling read.”

“To Shake the Sleeping Self” by Jedidiah Jenkins
Julie Clabots recommends this book: “This book tells the story of a 30-year-old man who decides to quit his job and go on an adventure, biking from Oregon to Patagonia. I loved reading about the challenges he faced and the growth he went through during his journey.”
Is there a specific audience for this book?: “Great for adventure/travel enthusiasts, but anyone would enjoy it.”

“Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants” by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Kate Dietrick recommends this book: “This book was extremely powerful from start to finish, reminding me of the connection and obligation we have to the natural world, and how we can learn so much if we listen and are mindful.”

“Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Carmen Elwell recommends this book: “I loved this book because it introduced a heroine that you wouldn’t typically see in a plot that really embraces eldritch horror: A flashy and charismatic debutante. I finished this book months ago and am still thinking about that fascinating mix!”
Is there a specific audience for this book?: “This book is definitely for adults! I’m not usually a horror fan, and this was a good book for taking some first steps into the genre.”

“Hollow Kingdom” by Kira Jane Buxton
Lara Friedman-Shedlov recommends this book: “This novel manages to be laugh-out-loud funny (the kind of thing where you are dying to read passages out loud to whoever is in the room with you), and at the same time poignant, while still being about a zombie apocalypse. Told from the point of view of a foul-mouthed crow, the former pet of the hapless Big Jim, as well as a number of other animals, this is a book about how the other critters pick up the pieces after the humans mess up.”

“Thirteen Storeys” by Jonathan Sims
Marty Gallagher recommends this book: “This is a book by a writer of a podcast I really enjoy, and it was interesting to see his writing style outside of that podcast. I love how each story is individual, but they all tie into one another and are important for the whole story.”
Is there a specific audience for this book?: “This is a horror novel.”

“The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet” by John Green
Jessica Jahn recommends this book: “John Green discusses any number of human-related topics (like keyboard layouts and the world’s largest ball of paint) and ultimately rates them on a 5-star scale. This book was so beautiful and thought-provoking.”
Is there a specific audience for this book?: “Fans of nonfiction, fans of John Green, and anyone who wants to reflect on the effects of the Anthropocene.”

“The Once and Future Witches” by Alix E. Harrow
Megan Kocher recommends this book: “I was grateful that this is a long book because it’s so fun to read that I didn’t want to stop. Feminist, witchy, historical fantasy sprinkled with fairy tales!”

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” by Stuart Turton
Chris Koehler recommends this book: “This novel mashes up body shifting, time traveling, and murder/mystery into a very enjoyable, if initially confusing, read.”

“All Systems Red” — Book one of the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
Grace Lilyerd recommends this book: “A security robot gains sentience . . . and just really wants to watch trashy TV. Unfortunately, humans just keep getting in danger . . .. Technically a novella, it’s hilarious and heartwarming.”

“The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brené Brown
Kristen Mastel recommends this book: ”This year I reread Brené’s classic as she released a podcast series discussing the book. Each time I read it, I walk away with new personal insights.”

“A Thousand Ships” by Natalie Haynes
Lisa McGuire recommends this book: “I love any story retold through the perspective of the female characters and this novel does that with the story of the Trojan war and the aftermath of the fall of Troy. This is a story told from multiple viewpoints and reads almost as a collection of short stories.”
Is there a specific audience for this book?: “This is a very approachable novel that anyone could enjoy but if you like Greek mythology or feminist stories, this book is for you.”

“Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir
Shane Nackerud recommends this book: “I love first contact science fiction novels. This book had it all: mystery, aliens, space travel, suspense, emotion, and good science.”

Jessica Jahn also recommends this book: “This was a really engaging book that I never wanted to put down! Lots of adventures in every chapter as well as lots of humor, despite some discussion of more serious/emotional topics.”
Is there a specific audience for this book?: “Sci-Fi fans, fans of ‘The Martian,’ and space/science enthusiasts”

“Fat Chance, Charlie Vega” by Crystal Maldonado
Mikala Narlock recommends this book: “It was a sweet and wonderful story about being a fat teenager: all of the highs and lows of high school, the memories of your first kiss. Just a real bright spot in the darkness of 2021.”
Is there a specific audience for this book?: “YA”

“Black Sun” by Rebecca Roanhorse
Kat Nelsen recommends this book: “Vivid writing and engaging characters make you forget that it’s just a story.”
Is there a specific audience for this book?: “For lovers of fantasy and sci-fi.”

“The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse” by Charlie Mackesy
Anna Opryszko recommends this book: “Simple, poignant, unstructured, and unconventional — perfect for the pandemic-addled brain.”
Is there a specific audience for this book?: “On its face, this is a children’s book, but it is worth dipping into at any age.”

“By Fire, By Water” by Mitchell James Kaplan
Maggie Ragnow recommends this book: “This award-winning first novel takes place in 15th-century Spain — complex, well-plotted, interesting and engaging characters, romance, intrigue, and a crisis of faith at the height of the Spanish Inquisition.”

“The Only Good Indians” by Stephen Graham Jones
Alee Schmierer recommends this book: “Folk tale horror novel set in the Midwest, scary, gory, and told in a totally original way that I’ve never read before.”
Is there a specific audience for this book?: “Horror fans, Folk tale fans, maybe fans of dark fairy tales?”

“The Night Watchman” by Louise Erdrich
Anna Shepard recommends this book: “Like so many of Louise Erdrich’s books, the characters are richly developed and offer up their full humanity to her storytelling. I especially enjoyed this recent release of hers for the personal history (Louise’s family history) and the important and impactful American Indian National history related to a very specific bill, proposed in 1953, that would ‘abrogate nation-to-nation treaties,’ that Erdrich wove into this novel. It’s powerful, defiant, humbling, and beautifully written.”
Is there a specific audience for this book?: “(Historical?) Fiction for everyone”

“Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch
Tina Tram recommends this book: “It’s a quick read with elements of suspense, action, sci-fi, and romance.”
Is there a specific audience for this book?: ”I think this book is for anyone interested in a mind-boggling experience and introspective questions.”

“The Overstory” by Richard Powers
Deborah Ultan recommends this book: “The writing is rich, deep, luscious, palpable. Trees are phenomenal and this reminds you why, as you read through stories that interweave people and relationships and relationships with trees.”

“The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse: A Novel” by Louise Erdrich
Monica Winker-Bergstrom recommends this book: “Well-developed characters and an unpredictable narrative kept it interesting.”

Karen Carmody-McIntosh

Author Karen Carmody-McIntosh

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