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Book Picks - Our Favorite Books of 2021

Bookcovers for the titles listed on this post
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For many of us – you know, as a world, 2021 has sucked. It has been replete with political divisions, stark social disruptions, violent acts of desperation and yes, the continuation of a global pandemic helping to shrink social worlds and batter morale like a kitty cat with a catnip mouse.

Enter the world of books. We welcome three outstanding booksellers to discuss the best books of the year that explored our failures, grief and the sensation of being unmoored.

Others helped jolt us into other worlds, stretching our imaginations and allowed us to consider the possible. The works we will discuss span all genres and share a sense of the world as it is and as it could be.

Suzanna Hermans from Oblong Books and Music stays on with us and we are joined by Kira Wizner of Merritt Bookstore in Millbrook, NY and Matt Tannenbaum of The Bookstore in Lenox, MA as we discuss our picks for the “Best Books” of 2021.

Matt Tannenbaum’s Top Ten+

FICTION:
Bewilderment by Richard Powers (W.W. Norton)
Better Luck Next Time by Julia Johnson (HarperCollins)
The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen (NYRB)
Invisible Ink by Patrick Modiano (Yale)

NON-FICTION:
Stoppard by Hermione Lee (Knopf)
Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America by Alec MacGillis (FSG)
Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy by Anne Sebba (St. Martin's Press)
Swim in the Pond in the Rain by George Saunders (Random House)
Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh by Leslie Brody (Seal Press)
Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor (Riverhead)

The Vanishing Point by Elizabeth Brundage (Little Brown)
The Great Dissenter by Peter Cannellos (Simon & Schuster)
Land by Simon Winchester (HarperCollins)
All About Me by Mel Brooks (Random House)
How to Resist Amazon. . .and Why by Danny Caine (Microcosm Publishing)

Suzanna Hermans’ Top Ten:

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich
Hell of a Book by Jason Mott
O Beautiful by Jung Yun
All's Well by Mona Awad
Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke
Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby
Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune
My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing: Essays by Lauren Hough
Simply Julia: 110 Easy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Food by Julia Turshen

Joe Donahue’s Top Ten:

FICTION:
Hell of a Book by Jason Mott
Bewilderment by Richard Powers
Matrix by Lauren Groff
The Sentence by Louise Erdrich
How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

NON-FICTION:
Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence by Anita Hill
The Secret of Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel
On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
Rememberings by Sinéad O’Connor
Warmth: Coming of Age at the End of Our World by Daniel Sherrell

Kira Wizner’s Top Ten+

How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith
On Juneteenth by Annete Gordon-Reed
The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis
Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B Alston
Fight Night by Miriam Toews
The Copenhagen Trilogy (3 book series) - by Tove Ditlevsen, Tiina Nunnally, and Michael Favala Goldman (Translator)
A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders
The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen
What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins
The World Gives Way by Marissa Levien
In the Quick by Kate Hope Day
The Glorious Guinness Girls by Emily Hourican
Heartwood: The Art of Living with the End in Mind
Above the Rim How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball Jen Bryant and Frank Morrison
An Ordinary Day by Elana K. Arnold and Elizabet Vukovic
Dorothy & Herbert An Ordinary Couple and Their Extraordinary Collection of Art by Jackie Azua Kramer and Julia Breckenreid

Joe talks to people on the radio for a living. In addition to countless impressive human "gets" - he has talked to a lot of Muppets. Joe grew up in Philadelphia, has been on the area airwaves for more than 25 years and currently lives in Washington County, NY with his wife, Kelly, and their dog, Brady. And yes, he reads every single book.