December 20, 2021

BAPL’s Best Books of 2021

It probably comes as no surprise that we’re a bunch-loving bunch here at BAPL; the only thing we love more than reading books is recommending them to others. So we asked library staff what was the best book they read this year. It can be a new best-seller, an old classic, or something in between. The suggestions are varied and wonderful. Check out the list below–maybe you’ll find your next great read!

Kristen suggests Collective Wisdom: Lessons, Inspiration, and Advice from Women Over 50 by Grace Bonney. A collection of interviews and photographs with over 100 trailblazing women over 50 sharing their life insights and stories. This is a great book to pick up when you need some inspiration!

Matthew R. recommends Less (2017) by Andrew Sean Greer. From its utter hilarity throughout to its exploration of deep themes of aging, love, and the meaning of success, Less managed to delight me at every page turn. Greer won the Pulitzer Prize for this work of fiction and it shows – the book and its protagonist, Arthur Less, offer a joyful abundance of pointed prose.

Julia’s Three Picks (Because so many great books came out this year, I can’t pick *just* one!)
  • Children’s Chapter Book –Amari & the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston Amari is an ordinary kid with an awesome older brother until one day, her brother vanishes without a trace. There are no answers to be found by the adults so Amari takes it upon herself to conduct her own investigation and reunite with her brother. Amari quickly discovers that her brother left her an invitation to the try-out for a Bureau of Supernatural Affairs–a place no one’s heard of before! Amari does her best at the try-outs to get into the Bureau because it’s the last place her brother was at before disappearing. Problem is, Amari has to compete with the wealthiest and the elite for the coveted spots but she doesn’t know anything about this underground magical world…how is she supposed to continue her investigation if she can’t even get her brother’s old job? (I like to say this one is basically a fusion of Harry Potter & Men in Black…) 
  • Young Adult Book – The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker – Ren Scarborough is half British Reaper & half Japanese Shinigami and has operated as a reaper in Britain for centuries. She has suffered humiliations from the other British Reapers, despite being an exceptional reaper. Ren spends years planning how she will navigate to Japan and find her birther mother and perhaps, people who will accept her. The day finally comes and her kind-hearted brother tags along on the journey and they arrive in Japan to meet with the Goddess of Death, but the welcome is not what Ren was hoping for… (A very dark protagonist set in a dark story–but oh, so fun!)
  • Adult Book – Jade City by  Fonda Lee – The Kaul Family is one of the two strongest crime syndicates in Kekon. They control the streets, the people, the business. How? By having trained Green Bone Warriors that utilize jade which has magical properties. The only caveat to using jade is the potential for getting addicted to such overwhelming power and only certain people with jade-friendly blood are able to utilize jade to its fullest potential. The jade creates unique fast-paced action, on top of the intense political drama within the Kaul Family and its rivals. (This is the first book in a trilogy that was just completed recently, so no wait needed to finish all three books!)

David’s pick is The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams. A mysterious list of eight books appears in a library, marked ‘Just in case you need it,’ and sparks voyages of discovery and community in the lives of a number of people, including a teenager from a troubled home and a recent Indian widower. This is a lovely valentine to the power that books have to draw people together — and is the author’s first novel, to boot!

Mary Catherine recommends Broken Horses; a Memoir by singer Brandi Carlile. With unflinching honesty, positivity, and compassion, Carlile relates stories of her family, her experiences as an openly gay teen, her musical career, and the fascinating connections she has made along the way. For an extra treat, check out the audiobook version on cloudLibrary. Not only do you hear Brandi Carlile narrate her own story, she weaves in new solo recordings of songs as they relate to the events in the book.

Bradley says: One of my pleasures this year has been reading through the novels of western author Lewis B. Patten. Patten’s books are pulpy in the best sense of the word–descriptive and full of action, focused on a story without fancy frills (which also makes them short!), and able to convey suspense even when you know the ending will probably come out alright. Plus he keeps the romance to a nice minimum (ahem Zane Grey). His books aren’t as easy to find as they once were, so you have to take advantage of the library or the internet, but it is worth the effort if you like dusty old horses and stolid men of action. Or stolid horses of action and dusty old men.

Josh chose Parkland: Birth of a Movementby David Cullen. It’s a difficult topic to read about, the 2018 mass shooting at a Florida high school, and Cullen doesn’t shy from the painful reality. However, the book doesn’t focus on the violence itself; the shooter is never even mentioned by name. Instead, the author chronicles the astounding movement birthed by the tragedy. Many of the students from Parkland became nationally known gun reform activists and it’s inspiring to read about these brilliant young people taking on the world.

What was YOUR favorite book you read this year?


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