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Best of 2021

December 2, 2021

Presenting my 11 favorite books of the year.  I really wanted it to be a top 10 list, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut any of these!

Four of them I’ve already recommended to you: Who Is Maud Dixon, Mrs. March, Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead, and A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance.  Here are the remaining seven, in no particular order.

The prospect of reading this was daunting.  I thought it was going to be difficult so I kept putting it off, but it was an unexpectedly joyous and light reading experience. My favorites were the discussions of In the Cart by Chekhov and Master and Man by Tolstoy. I also liked his idea of "reading energy."  The only warning I would give is that you need to be able to read this in big chunks (the story plus the "class"), so you need to have a couple of hours of reading time set aside for each story. You can't just put it down and pick it up like a regular book. But if you like George Saunders, his personality comes through wonderfully.

I didn't really know what to expect with this one, but I read a good review and ended up being obsessed with it. It reminded me of We Keep the Dead Close in that the author is tracking down a mystery and taking the reader along on all the dead ends, detours, and surprise twists and turns. 

I saw a fantastic presentation by the author about her influences, which included The Twilight Zone, Get Out, Night of the Living Dead, and Rosemary’s Baby. If that appeals to you, do not miss this one.

With its mixture of real-life horror and comedy, this memoir by two sisters was the perfect companion piece to The Other Black Girl. I recommend reading them back-to-back.

I inhaled this modern-day Bridget Jones. Like Emma Cline, Dolly Alderton is a Millennial who seems to be a Gen-Xer at heart. Also try her memoir Everything I Know About Love.

I loved the concept of this (which the reader doesn't understand until the end), so I would recommend going into this one blind. To help convince you, the main character reminded me of David Sedaris' father (speaking of which, don’t forget about A Carnival of Snackery). It also has a little Royal Tenenbaums about it. If the author's name sounds familiar to you, it's because he wrote the award-winning workplace novel Then We Came to the End.

This is my favorite type of nonfiction, where you keep having to stop reading to look stuff up and watch videos.  Sanneh, a former music critic for the New York Times and a staff writer at The New Yorker, covers the past 50 years of popular music in seven genres: rock, R&B, country, punk, hip-hop, dance music, and pop.  It's makes for a fun, nostalgic mix of learning and remembering.

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Beth

Beth works in the Collection Development department.  She loves short stories, memoirs, documentary films, and cookbooks.  Her favorite things about working at the library are knowing in advance about all the new releases and the easy access to her library holds.

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