Let’s be honest: 2021 was not the best year in recorded history. But let’s not revisit any of the weather events that struck our province, or the global pandemic that continues to overstay its welcome. Instead, let’s focus on one positive thing that happened this year, which is that we read a lot of fantastic books.
And so, without further ado, I present to you the Nelson Public Library’s Best Books of 2021 list.
When it comes to twists and turns, several staff members loved The Plot (Jean Hanff Korelitz), a literary thriller that we found to be “fast-paced, gripping, and unpredictable.” We also enjoyed the much-anticipated Finlay Donovan Is Killing It (Elle Cosimano), finding it to be “fun and unexpected. You’ve never read a book like this before!”
We also enjoyed a number of historical fiction novels, among them the new Kristin Hannah book Four Winds: “Great characters, an evocative setting, and you’ll learn a lot about an important time period in American history.” We also found Jennifer Ryan’s Kitchen Front to be one of our favourite reads — it presented “a completely original take on the British World War II experience” and was “absolutely unputdownable.”
Sometimes what you need most is a heart-warming read — if that’s the case, you might want to reach for The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett (Annie Lyons), which we found to have “great character development and a satisfying ending. Heartfelt and very readable.” You might also enjoy Susin Nielsen’s newest young-adult novel Tremendous Things, which is about “overcoming those epic embarrassing moments with the power of friendship. It’s very funny and very heartwarming.”
If graphic novels are your thing, you might enjoy the graphic novel adaption of The Great Gatsby (original by F. Scott Fitzgerald, graphic novel by K. Woodman-Maynard), which was “a great way to revisit a classic — the artwork and storyline brought out a lot of aspects of the story that I missed the first time around.” Two other noteworthy graphic novels we loved in 2021: The Giver (original by Lois Lowry, graphic novel by Craig P. Russell) and This Place: 150 Years Retold (a collection of stories by 11 Indigenous authors and eight illustrators).
Our favourite non-fiction books of 2021 included the cookbook Sea Salt and Honey: A New Greek Cookbook (Nicholas Tsakiris), with “recipes that are accessible and beautifully photographed — many of which I made and were absolutely delicious!” and the local New York Times best seller Finding the Mother Tree (Suzanne Simard), which was scientifically engaging but also “captivated us with the story of the author’s perseverance in a male-dominated field.”
There were a couple of unexpected gems that made it into this year’s list. Hotel Silence (Auour Ava Olafsdottir) was “a very simple story with a big impact; it sat with me for days” and Project Hail Mary (Andy Weir) really impressed one of us who “normally doesn’t read science fiction, but I loved this book. It was incredibly realistic, while also being very funny and slightly terrifying.”
And then there were the books that we pressed eagerly into each other’s hands, the ones that threaded their way through many of us who work at the library, whose merits and pitfalls we discussed for days on end. The new Sally Rooney novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You; Lily King’s Writers & Lovers (“Beautiful writing and great characters. Highly recommended.”); Steven Rowley’s The Guncle (“Deals with heavy issues like grief and loss, but in a compassionate and lighthearted way.”); and the new Liane Moriarty book, Apple Never Fall.
You can access this list (along with a few other picks that we didn’t have room to include) and many other book lists that we create, by visiting: https://nelson.bibliocommons.com/user_profile/442234857
Avi Silberstein is the children’s librarian at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. If you’re interested in learning more about library programs and services, sign up for our monthly newsletter on our website or by giving us a call.