“Every book its reader.”
~Third Law of Library Science, S. R. Ranganathan, 1931
Every January, The Community Library curates a list of the 50 best book releases from the past year. Titles are chosen in Fiction, Science Fiction, Graphic Novels, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Graphic Non-Fiction, and Biographies & Memoirs. This year’s Best of 2021 was curated by Circulation Manager Pam Parker.
It’s hard to decide what to read next! Whether it’s a suggestion from a friend of a friend or C-Span Book TV discussion, the number of new titles vying for our attention continues to grow exponentially. And that doesn’t account for the must-reads that we’ve been meaning to read for years.
As librarians, we struggle with the same quandary. So I offer these kernels of inspiration as you look for your next great read:
• Our new website features Book Rivers that offer various suggestions for good reads. A collection of these rivers—from Fresh Fiction and Notable Nonfiction to Award Winners and Staff Picks—are now provided on our Book Recommendations page.
• Visit the New Book area off the Foyer, an alcove where we generally keep six months of the newest releases. Titles include sections for fiction, mystery, science fiction and nonfiction.
• Another tool we offer our borrowers is NoveList, a database of titles with genre, subject and critical reviews.
• Reviews are not a guarantee for a good read, but they are a tool we sometimes use to decide what’s worthy of our time. I particularly like the The New Yorker’s book reviews as well as their Briefly Noted. There are many, many good sources for reviews including NPR, Kirkus Reviews and the New York Times.
• You can always check out distinguished book awards for your next good read. The biggies are the National Book Awards, the Pulitzer Prizes, the Booker Prize awards, the Kirkus Prize, the American Library Association’s Andrew Carnegie Awards for Excellence.
• Our Best Reads of 2021 list below is another option. This is mix of staff picks from fiction, nonfiction and mystery genres. This year, we added poetry and graphic novel/nonfiction categories to encourage all to read broadly.
Invariably, someone drops by the circulation desk in mid-January, picks up our ‘Best of’ list and asks, “What determines which books make your list?” The short answer is, the library staff do—all of us are invited to contribute, and this makes for an eclectic mix of books, indeed.
You might say it’s crafted with a dash of ‘word of mouth’ and a pinch of ‘must read’ gathered from other curated lists, awards, reviews and even our neighbor’s book club in some cases.
Yes, it’s pretty subjective, and we kind of like it that way. And, we invite you to drop by the desk and let us know what you think is a stand-out read; maybe it will make the ‘Best of 2022’ list.
All the Water I’ve Seen is Running | Elias Rodriques | FICTION Rodriques
American Delirium | Betina González | FICTION González
Billy Summers | Stephen King | FICTION King
Brood | Jackie Polzin | FICTION Polzin
Cloud Cuckoo Land | Anthony Doerr | FICTION Doerr
The Committed | Viet Thanh Nguyen | FICTION Nguyen
Cowboy Graves | Roberto Bolaño | FICTION Bolaño
Dangerous Women | Hope Adams | FICTION Adams
The Every | David Eggers | FICTION Eggers
The Five Wounds | Kristen Valdez Quade | FICTION Quade
Great Circle | Maggie Shipstead | FICTION Shipstead
Harrow | Joy Williams | FICTION Williams
The Historians | Ceclian Ekbäck | FICTION Ekbäck
How Beautiful We Were | Imbolo Mbue | FICTION Mbue
Klara and the Sun | Kazuo Ishiguro | FICTION Ishiguro
The Last Green Valley | Mark Sullivan | FICTION Sullivan
Late City | Robert Olen Butler | FICTION Butler
The Lincoln Highway | Amor Towle | FICTION Towles
MacArthur Park | Judith Freeman | NEW FICTION Freeman
Malibu Rising | Taylor Jenkins Reid | FICTION Reid
The Personal Librarian | Marie Benedict | FICTION Benedict
The Prophets | Robert Jones Jr. | FICTION Jones
This Tender Land | William Krueger | FICTION Krueger
West with Giraffes | Lynda Rutledge | FICTION Rutledge
What’s Mine is Yours | Naima Coster | FICTION Coster
Wish You Were Here | Jodi Picoult | FICTION Picoult
The Women’s March | Jennifer Chiaverini | FICTION Chiaverini
Amoralman | Derek DelDaudio | 793.8 DEL (True Crime/Confessional)
The Anthropocene Reviewed | John Green | 306 GRE (Science/Culture)
Atlas of the Heart | Brené Brown | 158.1 BRO (Self-Help; Language)
The Bomber Mafia | Malcolm Gladwell | (WW II)
The Book of Hope | Jane Goodall | 304.2 GOO (Extinction/Nature)
Bravey | Alexie Pappie | (Running/Elite Female Athlete)
The Code Breaker | Walter Isaacson | NEW NONFICTION 576.5 ISA (Science/Genetics)
Craft: An American History | Glenn Adamson | 680.973 ADA (Art and Crafts; historical)
Crying in H Mart | Michelle Zauner | NEW NONFICTION 782.42 ZAU (Coming of Age/Korean American)
The Doctors Blackwell | Janice Nimura | 610.92 NIM (Women in Medicine; historical)
Four Hundred Souls | Ibram X. Kendi | 973.049 KEN (Slavery)
Fox & I | Catherine Raven | 570.92 RA (Nature/Animals)
The Hard Crowd | Rachel Kushner | 814.6 KUS (Essays by a Writer)
Horizontal Vertigo | Juan Villoro | 972.53 VIL (Mexico City/Americas)
How to Make an Apple Pie from Scratch | Harry Cliff | 523.01 CLI (Science/Nuclear Physics)
Land | Simon Winchester | 333.3 WIN (Land use; historical)
The Last Winter | Porter Fox | NEW NONFICTION 363.738 FOX (Climate/Earth Science)
The Mission | David W. Brown | 610.92 NIM | (Space/Exploration)
The Musical Human | Michael Spritzer| 780.9 SPI (Humankind and Music)
Nine Days | Stephen Kendrick | 323.09 KEN (MLK/Civil Rights Movement)
The Spymaster of Baghdad | Margaret Coker | 956.7044 COK (Espionage)
There’s Nothing for You Here | Fiona Hill | 339.22 HIL (National Security/Foreign Affairs)
Under a White Sky | Elizabeth Kolbert | 304.28 KOL (Climate/Technology)
The Unusual Suspect | Ben Machell | 364.155 MAC (True Crime)
We Are Bellingcat | Eliot Higgins | NONFICTION 070.43 HIG (Journalism/Internet)
What Happened to You? | Bruce D. Perry, Oprah Winfrey | 616.85 PER (Trauma/Mental Health)
Under the Whispering Door | TJ Klune | SCIFIC Klune
When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain | Nghi Vo | SCIFIC VO
Memorial Ride | Stephen Grahm Jones | GRAPHIC NOVEL FIC JON
The Secret to Superhuman Strength | Alison Bechdel | GRAPHIC NOVEL FIC BEC
In the Lateness of the World | Carolyn Forche | 811.54 FOR (Migrations/Crossings)
West: Fire: Archive | Iris Jamahl Dunkle | 811.6 DUN (Mountain West Poetry)
Biographies & Memoirs
1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows | Ai Weiwei | 709.2 AI (Art/China)
Carry On | John Lewis | 328.73 LEW (Civil Rights)
Chasing Me to My Grave | Winfred Rembert | 759.13 REM (African American Experience)
Home Waters | John Maclean | 978.66 MAC (Reflection on Family/Father-Son)
More To Life Than More | Alan Pesky | 92 PES (Loss/Purpose)
Stranger Care| Sarah Sentilles | 362.73 SEN (Foster Parenting/Adoption)
On Tyranny | Timothy Snyder | GRAPHIC NON-FICTION 321.9 SNY (Despotism; historical)
Search Our Catalog for these titles.