We asked our staff across the city for their favorite nonfiction books published in 2021 — and what a great list we created together! Here’s a tease of some excellent nonfiction for adults, with a link at the end to the full list of 29 recommendations from your library staff.
A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib
At the March on Washington in 1963, Josephine Baker was 57 years old, and past her most prolific days. But in her speech she was in a mood to consider her life, her legacy, her departure from the country she was now triumphantly returning to. “I was a devil in other countries, and I was a little devil in America, too,” she told the crowd. Inspired by these few words, essayist and poet Abdurraqib has written a profound and lasting reflection on how Black performance is inextricably woven into the fabric of American culture.
That time of year has rolled around again when all the “Best Of” lists begin to appear, those tempting listicles claiming to reveal the best books of the year, decade, and century. We all click on them: they’re irresistible.
I’m kind of over these “best of” lists. The premise that something so magnificently multivariate as books can fall into a neat qualitative queue just seems silly to me. As I watch fellow readers agonizing over what will make their own ten best cut, and taking serious issue with others’ rankings, I’m thinking no: I don’t need to add to the hubbub. So here is my own list of ten from 2019 that are definitely not the best books of the year. Just a fairly arbitrary sampling of some things this reader found interesting and worthwhile.
Mars: Stories, by Asja Bakic. With wry prose and skewed humor, Bosnian writer Asja Baki explores 21st century promises of knowledge, freedom, and power. “Bakic takes an off-kilter look at sexuality, death, and the power of literature … bizarre and often inscrutable…” – Kirkus.
Night Boat to Tangier, by Kevin Barry. Two Irish drug-smuggling partners reevaluate a career marked by violence and betrayal during a vigil in a sketchy ferry terminal. “Barry adds an exceptional chapter to the literary history of a country that inspires cruelty and comedy and uncommon writing.” – Kirkus.
New novels from Kate Atkinson and Gary Shteyngart, a new book in the October Daye series by local fantasy author Seanen McGuire, and another installment in a mystery series set in a library (by Jenn McKinlay) — plus six more books librarians across the U.S. are excited to see on the shelves next month.
Psychogical suspense, historical fiction, thrillers, fantasy and general fiction — 10 novels that librarians across the U.S. nominated as their top picks for May 2018. We await your holds!
Furyborn by Claire Legrand: Fierce, independent women full of rage, determination, and fire. The first novel in the Empirium trilogy holds appeal for both young adult and adult readers. For fans of Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time, and The Hunger Games. ~ Kristin Friberg, Princeton Library, Princeton, NJ
Why wait until everyone else is looking for ghost stories and horror to enjoy the gothic, the ghoulish and the ghastly? We see a big uptick in horror readers in October, but YOU can get ahead of the curve by diving into horror novels right now, mid April, when the days are getting longer (sunset today is at 7:51 p.m.!) and your body is enjoying replenished stores of vitamin D.
Our librarians chose some recent horror novels, published between 2016 and 2018, for just this purpose. You’ll see how the Donner Party can get even creepier, find out what havoc a Frankenstein-esque mindset can do in Baghdad, and keep the pages turning while the heart is pounding.