Thursday, December 16, 2021

Top 10 Books of 2021- a New Decade

It's that time of year...the end of the year best-of lists. Everyone has Top 10 books of the year, from New York Times to the Washington Post! Obama even gave us a long list of books that he enjoyed this year. I have so many books that I loved that only 10 is difficult, especially in 2021. 2021, the year that publishing overflowed with great works due to books being delayed due to Covid to books being written because writers had nothing to do buy write during Covid. 

It is one of the only good things to come out of 2020 for me (that and curbside pickup at grocery stores--I am not a fan of shopping). There are a lot of books on this list I wish were here, and a lot of books I wished I had read that would be consider for this list. Anyway, here is my imperfect, but very in the moment, top 10 books of 2021:

10) Outlawed by Anna North
A reworked Western novel that mixes equal parts alt-history and feminism into a stellar story. With no future at home Ada has to escape and make it on her own. She meets up with the Hole in the Wall Gang, and the rest is brilliant.   

9)  Hitler and Stalin by Laurence Rees

My only history book that truly came out this year that I finished. I'm partway through so many others. This book examines how Hitler and Stalin compared to each other leading up to World War II, during the war and afterward. It's a sobering look at absolute power. 

8) Tales from the Café by Toshiikazu Kawaguchi

The second book in Before the Coffee Gets Cold series, where we follow four new customers that want to use the café to time travel. At first I was nervous that this would be more of the same and not very unique, but I was wrong. Questions are answered that left off in the previous book and the individual stories are very emotional. Supposedly, there is a third one out in the world waiting for translation, and I can't wait to get my hands on it. 

7) Appleseed by Matt Bell

Here is my eco-fiction title for the season, narrowly beating out Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson. This book is spread out through time: the first section follows a pair of brothers in eighteenth-century Ohio planting apple trees in the path of colonization of the new territories; the second part takes place fifty years in our future, where climate change has ravished the earth; the third part takes place a thousand years from now, where North America is covered by ice sheets and a lonely being is attempting to find life on the bleak planet. Loved this book! 

6) When the Ghosts Come Home by Wiley Cash
Wiley Cash comes up with ideas like no other. In a quiet east coast town, a plane crashes and starts off a startling series of events. The novel is like an onion, peeling away the story and the community which each layer, until the startling ending comes rushing out of nowhere. 

5) The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina

A heart breaking novel based on true events. After the 2011 tsunami in Japan, a phone booth appeared in which loved ones could make calls to those they've lost. Their messages thrown into the wind. Yui hears about the pilgrimages of of the grief stricken and mourning going to the 'wind phone,' for a bit of closure. Yui lost both her mother and daughter to the tsunami and has been in anguish ever since. The phone booth appears as a beacon of hope that she must confront. 


4) The Anomaly by Herve Le Tellier

One ordinary day, a plane appears on the radar. Okay so far, however, upon further inspection, ground control recognizes the plane as one that had already landed three months beforehand. A completely identical plane, including passengers. It's a bit like the TV show Manifest crossed with the book Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. I've reread this book twice, two thumbs way up.

3) Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

This is the best Science Fiction novel I read all year. It's a SF novel that has many tropes of the genre: first contact, space exploration, extinction level events, alien languages. Andy Weir only does it better. So much science exists in this book, and Andy Weir makes it understandable and easy to follow in a funny, entertaining way. An unputdownable book!

2) The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman 

This is the best Fantasy novel I read all year. I've loved everything Christopher Buehlman has written, which has been mostly horror before this book. Don't think he gave up on the horror though, there a nightmares that walk in this book. The Blacktongue Thief has everything you want in fantasy novel: a conflicted hero, a quest, a well-built world full of wonders, villains and monsters. Many, many monsters. You will not be able to put this book down! 

1) All's Well by Mona Awad

I thought Mona Awad's follow up to Bunny wouldn't be nearly as good. I was so wrong. It's just as great, no easy feat. Miranda is a washed up stage actor teaching at a university theater department. She's hooked on painkillers from chronic pain due to a fall she took in a play. She's alienated everyone, her fellow teachers and students, and they rebel against her in a myriad of ways. One night, Miranda meets three mysterious strangers at the local pub, who make her an offer to take her pain away. The rest of the book gets more surreal and fantastical as we follow her on a euphoric journey away from her pain. My favorite book of the year!  


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