Our Best Reads of 2021!



What better way to round off the year than by rounding up our favourite books that we read during 2021?


The books featured in this list aren't solely new releases from this past year - part of the joy of reading is going back in time and discovering older titles, as well as reading new ones! We hope that this list will help you discover some new (or old!) books with which to start 2022!

 

The Beginning of Spring by Penelope Fitzgerald


Recommended by Debbie M.


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The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen


Recommended by Kirsten:


This is a Tudor alternate history (what if Anne Boleyn had a baby boy who had lived?), and is a lot of fun for those who like this kind of thing! This first book of a trilogy is a little slow to start while it's setting the stage, but once it gets moving, there is lots of action and intrigue.


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The Book Tour by Andi Watson


Recommended by Jack:


Things described as being Kafkaesque share oppressive and nightmarish qualities with Kafka's works, but sometimes miss the fact that Kafka was also quite funny. Capturing the full essence of the Kafkaesque, The Book Tour is a tightly written, darkly humorous graphic novel that you'll read in an hour and ponder for days.


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Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall


Recommended by Kirsten:


This is a m/m romance with a lot of Witty Banter. Very clever and funny.




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The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty


Recommended by Jenna:


A con-woman/thief accidentally summons a djinn who whisks her away to the magical and deadly titular city. Heavily inspired by the Arabian Nights and Persian mythology, this is a refreshing break from Eurocentric fantasy. The characters are likable and wonderfully complex and the world is a delight to visit.


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Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky


Recommended by Debbie M.


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Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson


Recommended by Kira:


The author really brings readers back to the Pacific Northwest 1970's, when the tradition of logging old growth trees was coming to an end. It felt like an epic tale, among the great American novels.



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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


Recommended by Jack:


The Great Gatsby is so enchanting and otherworldly a book, it's almost a piece of magical realism. Treat yourself to (re)reading the original before reading The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo and other future retellings that are sure to come now that Gatsby is in the public domain.


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The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang


Recommended by Kirsten:


This is a romance novel in which the romance isn't always front and center, but there is a lot of character development and growth.




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The Hunger by Alma Katsu


Recommended by Rocio:


A historical moment in time explained with a horror twist. Spine-tingling.




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Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia's Golden Age From the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane by S. Frederick Starr


Recommended by Jenna:


A comprehensive survey of Central Asia's intellectual Golden Age, showing how much of the knowledge associated with the Islamic Golden Age actually came from Central Asia, rather than the Middle East. This sheds a necessary light on an obscure subject.


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The Magician by Colm Tóibín


Recommended by Pat McLeod and Debbie M. Pat says:


1939, Thomas Mann in Sweden as war breaks out. Suspense, intrigue and unique insights in this historical fiction novel, of the exiled German Nobel Prize winner.



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The Master by Colm Tóibín


Recommended by Debbie M.


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A Man at Arms by Steven Pressfield


Recommended by Sam:


A narrative of propulsive action and surprising emotion, featuring beautifully brutal prose and one of fiction's coolest main characters in decades."



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Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia


Recommended by Rocio:


I listened to this book on audio and really enjoyed the actor's portrayal of these women. The stories are rather sad ones, but so well done.



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The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones


Recommended by Kira:


Jones writes beautifully, even when writing horror. I felt sad that the young Native American men are impossibly stuck between their own heritage and the modern world, but thrilled by the suspense and the many questions raised about how Native Americans straddle both worlds. Plus, it has lots of detailed basketball descriptions!


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The People We Keep by Allison Larkin


Recommended by Pat McLeod:


A young songwriter steals a car and just drives, against all odds, and tries to find the answer to the people we choose, and the people who choose us.



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The Puma Years by Laura Coleman


Recommended by Kira:


I was impressed by the author's dedication to raising an orphaned puma under difficult living conditions. She also shed light on the cause of wild animals becoming orphans - mainly logging and climate change. Impressive but difficult to read!


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Satori by Don Winslow


Recommended by Sam:


A prequel to Trevanian's cult classic thriller, this book blends espionage, action and philosophy with a heavy dose of knowing satire.



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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo


Recommended by Jenna:


A crew of criminals and outcasts take on a job breaking into a high-security prison. It can be described as a fantasy Ocean's 11. The characters are likeable and compelling and the action is well-done, making this a tremendously fun ride.


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Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman


Recommended by Kirsten:


Fantastic dark and creepy retelling of Snow White, with absolutely gorgeous artwork. Seriously one of the most beautiful graphic novels I've ever read.



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Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik


Recommended by Jenna:


A young moneylender attracts the attention of supernatural beings after bragging about "turning silver into gold." Part Rumpelstiltskin retelling, part Eastern European folktale, this is an excellent book to read in the winter.


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The Sterkarm Handshake (and its sequels) by Susan Price


Recommended by Rocio:


At first you think you are reading a ripoff of the Outlander series, as a modern day woman travels back in time to old world Scotland, but this series holds its own. Imperfect characters making bad decisions, yet you still cheer them on and want them to persevere.


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The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson


Recommended by Jack:


I have never read another fantasy novel that has pulled me into its world so entirely. It has such an irresistible sense of discovery, frequently recontextualising our understanding of the world and its characters. The protagonist has become a common dinnertime topic of conversation in our house - we just want Kaladin to be happy...


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A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin


Recommended by Jack:


Specifically, this is a recommendation for the audiobook version of the novel, read by Rob Inglis. I'm not a frequent audiobook listener, but hearing this story read aloud convinced me that this story is meant to be spoken, and meant to be heard. Whether you've read the book before or not, I encourage you to give this a shot!


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When We Were Infinite by Kelly Loy Gilbert


Recommended by Kirsten:


A Young Adult book about friendship that was full of messy complicated relationships here, the generational traumas, and heartache of it all.



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Your Inner Hedgehog by Alexander McCall Smith


Recommended by Debbie M.:


Very funny!


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