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New York Times Book Review: 100 Notable Books of 2021

New York Times Book Review: 100 Notable Books of 2021

2021’s notable fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.

Playlist Tags: new york times best of 2021 topic: best of

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Appleseed

A Novel

By Matt Bell
Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
Length: 15 hours 44 minutes

If you enjoyed The Overstory, then you’ll love Appleseed.

“One of the signs of a good book is when you find yourself thinking about it often, well after you finish it. Matt Bell’s Appleseed is one of those books. The novel steers the reader through three plots: a story of Johnny Appleseed set two hundred years ago, a tale of a civilization on the brink of ecological disaster fifty years from now, and a story of an inhospitable Earth one thousand years in the future. Each tale is a strange and riveting journey on its own, encompassing a vast swath of human narrative, from Greek myth, the Bible, and Grimm’s fairy tales to early American folklore, but the stories become even more fascinating as Bell starts to pull them together into one epic tale of humanity’s relationship with the planet. I loved Appleseed because it's a strange and beautiful book and it made me think about humanity's relationship to the Earth. Especially for people who like both sci-fi and literary fiction. ”

The Snail on the Wall image Elizabeth, The Snail on the Wall
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Afterparties

Stories

By Anthony Veasna So
Narrated by: Jason Sean
Length: 6 hours 56 minutes

Afterparties

“These stories of the members of a compact Cambodian-American community, from the refugees to the business owners to the gay teenagers, seamlessly balance humor with hardships.”

Sofia Silva Wright image Sofia Silva Wright, Phoenix Books Burlington
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Razorblade Tears

A Novel

By S. A. Cosby
Narrated by: Adam Lazarre-White
Length: 12 hours

Razorblade Tears

“At once gritty and graphic, tender and heart wrenching, Razorblade Tears is the story of two fathers hardened by life circumstances and their respective prejudices who seek vengeance against those who killed their gay sons. The audio was perfection. We NEED this novel to be on the big screen, with Denzel Washington playing Ike. ”

Main Street Books Davidson image Jessica, Main Street Books Davidson
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The Prophets

By Robert Jones, Jr.
Narrated by: Karen Chilton
Length: 14 hours 52 minutes

The Prophets

“This was quite the stunning debut - I loved the meta quality of the narration and the overall lyrical writing style. A powerful and commanding story! ”

Curious Iguana image Lauren, Curious Iguana
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The Plot

A Novel

By Jean Hanff Korelitz
Narrated by: Kirby Heyborne
Length: 10 hours 43 minutes

The Plot

“I devoured this smart, suspenseful novel about a failed novelist who reignites his career with a stolen plot and gains fame and notoriety. Korelitz’s depiction of the book world is a treat for those of us in it, but her twisty, psychologically astute plotting will hold broad appeal.”

The Vermont Book Shop image Becky Dayton, The Vermont Book Shop
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Our Country Friends

A Novel

By Gary Shteyngart
Narrated by: Rob Shapiro
Length: 12 hours 14 minutes

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BUZZ PICK • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, Financial Times, The Washington Post, Time, Los Angeles Times, New York Post, Town & Country, Good Housekeeping, Kirkus Reviews

“A perfect novel for these times and all times, the single textual artifact from the... Read more »

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One Last Stop

By Casey McQuiston
Narrated by: Natalie Naudus
Length: 12 hours 10 minutes

One Last Stop

“What a magical and creative tale, an addictive read that I did not want to put down. A fun and diverse cast of characters took this story to the next level. With such wide appeal, I know I will be able to put One Last Stop into the hands of almost any customer this summer.”

Bright Side Bookshop image Cori Cusker, Bright Side Bookshop
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Oh William!

A Novel

By Elizabeth Strout
Narrated by: Kimberly Farr
Length: 7 hours

Oh William!

“As intimate and affecting as anything Elizabeth Strout has written — a beautiful new perspective in the ongoing story of Lucy Barton, but one that easily stands alone. Kimberly Farr’s narration makes for an outstanding audiobook experience as well. ”

East City Bookshop image Emilie, East City Bookshop
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No One Is Talking About This

A Novel

By Patricia Lockwood
Narrated by: Kristen Sieh
Length: 4 hours 43 minutes

No One Is Talking About This

“This compact novel captures the life of a social media influencer in such a stunning way—I listened to this book with my jaw on the floor. Incredible (though if you've never opened Instagram or Twitter, this might not be for you).”

Oblong Books image Suzanna, Oblong Books
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The Netanyahus

An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family

By Joshua Cohen
Narrated by: Joshua Cohen, David Duchovny & Ethan Herschenfeld
Length: 8 hours 31 minutes

Corbin College, not quite upstate New York, winter 1959–1960: Ruben Blum, a Jewish historian—but not an historian of the Jews—is co-opted onto a hiring committee to review the application of an exiled Israeli scholar specializing in the Spanish Inquisition. When Benzion Netanyahu shows up for an interview, family unexpectedly in tow, Blum plays...

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My Year Abroad

A Novel

By Chang-rae Lee
Narrated by: Lawrence Kao
Length: 16 hours 34 minutes

INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A New York Times Notable Book * Named a Best Book of the Year by Vogue, TIME, and Marie Claire

“A manifesto to happiness—the one found when you stop running from who you are.” –New York Times Book Review

“An extraordinary book, acrobatic on the level of the sentence, symphonic across its many movements—and...
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My Monticello

Fiction

By Jocelyn Nicole Johnson
Narrated by: Aja Naomi King, January LaVoy, Landon Woodson, LeVar Burton, Ngozi Anyanwu & Tomiwa Edun
Length: 7 hours 35 minutes

My Monticello

“A dynamic, and timely, debut by a new voice in fiction, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson. This collection is comprised of five short stories and one novella all set in the state of Virginia. As you read these stories, you will experience, and feel, the gamut of human emotion as the voices and themes in each are different. The author explores race, identity, and an imagining of the future in the novella "My Monticello". Thought-provoking.”

Bookstore1Sarasota image Melanie, Bookstore1Sarasota
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The Morning Star

By Karl Ove Knausgaard
Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini, Mia Barron, Michael Braun, Alyssa Bresnahan, Hannah Cabell, Michael Crouch, Elisabeth Rodgers, Graham Winton & Leah Horowitz
Length: 23 hours 11 minutes

The Morning Star

“Knausgaard’s keen realism meets the dark impulses of Steven King’s fiction in this beginning-of-the-end-days, absorbing novel.”

Bookstore1Sarasota image Nora, Bookstore1Sarasota
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The Magician

A Novel

By Colm Toibin
Narrated by: Gunnar Cauthery
Length: 16 hours 37 minutes

The Magician

“Toíbín’s brilliant imagining of the life of Thomas Mann follows his superb 2004 novel The Master, about Henry James, and does not disappoint in the least. Feast on this intelligently, profoundly felt novel about the author of The Magic Mountain, Death in Venice, Buddenbrooks and many others.”

Bookstore1Sarasota image Nora, Bookstore1Sarasota
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The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

An Oprah’s Book Club Novel

By Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
Narrated by: Adenrele Ojo, Karen Chilton & Prentice Onayemi
Length: 29 hours 48 minutes

If you enjoyed Homegoing, then you’ll love The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois.

“A sweeping, multi-generational novel about a Southern Black family and their rich and complex ancestry. Focusing on the life of Hailey Pearl, a young woman coming of age in "the city" and her hometown of Chicasetta, GA, the novel jumps back and forth in time weaving together the triumphs and tragedies of her people and how these stories are passed or lost through the generations. Compelling and important read.”

A Great Good Place for Books image Samantha, A Great Good Place for Books
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The Lincoln Highway

A Novel

By Amor Towles
Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini, Marin Ireland & Dion Graham
Length: 16 hours 38 minutes

If you enjoyed This Tender Land, then you’ll love The Lincoln Highway.

“THIS BOOK EXCEEDED ALL EXPECTATIONS! As a huge fan of A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility, The Lincoln Highway had a lot of pressure and holy cow did it surpass anything I could have hoped for. From the first page, I was immediately drawn into Towles' magical writing and superb characters. This felt like a modern classic, the new and updated version of Huckleberry Finn that I actually wanted to read in high school. You cannot beat the quirkiness of Towles' characters. You feel so deeply about every single one of them and it feels like they leap off the page with specificities with which they are written. Duchess and Woolly, the stowaways, felt like a modern day George and Lennie from Of Mice and Men with Woolly's gentle giant innocence and Duchess' take-the-lead wile. Emmett is the stoic, do-right midwesterner who always fixes the messes. And Billy is the smartest, sweetest kid who inspires those around him. You fall in love with them and are left with all the feels. A glorious five out of five stars for me, The Lincoln Highway will be my go-to recommendation this fall.”

Buttonwood Books and Toys image Kimi, Buttonwood Books and Toys
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Light Perpetual

A Novel

By Francis Spufford
Narrated by: Imogen Church
Length: 12 hours 37 minutes

Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, NPR, Slate, Lit Hub, Fresh Air, and more

From the critically acclaimed and award‑winning author of Golden Hill, an “extraordinary…symphonic…casually stunning” (The Wall Street Journal) novel tracing the infinite possibilities of five lives in the bustling neighborhoods of 20th-century... Read more »

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A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself

By Peter Ho Davies
Narrated by: Christopher Ryan Grant
Length: 4 hours 33 minutes

“There are some stories that require as much courage to write as they do art. Peter Ho Davies’s achingly honest, searingly comic portrait of fatherhood is just such a story...The world needs more stories like this one, more of this kind of courage, more of this kind of love.” —Sigrid Nunez, National Book Award-winning author of The Friend

A...
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Libertie

By Kaitlyn Greenidge
Narrated by: Channie Waites
Length: 12 hours 12 minutes

Libertie

Libertie is a beautifully written, immersive historical novel inspired by the story of a Black doctor and her daughter who lived in a free Black community in Brooklyn during the Reconstruction era. It is also a profound meditation on what it means to be truly free — whether born free or formerly enslaved, whether in America, Haiti, or Liberia — while struggling against grief, sexism, racism, colorism, or classism. Libertie’s quest to forge her own path is a much-needed inspiration!”

Copper Dog Books image Alyssa Raymond, Copper Dog Books
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Klara and the Sun

A Novel

By Kazuo Ishiguro
Narrated by: Sura Siu
Length: 10 hours 16 minutes

Klara and the Sun

“Told from the first person perspective of a very perceptive "Artificial Friend", Klara and the Sun, brings up questions of what it means to be human and the depths of the human heart. In a future where teenagers are all doing school online (future or present?) and they have required socialization parties and AI who are there to be their friends, Klara is the AF to a very spunky but sickly girl named Josie. Soon she finds our why Josie is sick and goes on a mission to seek help from the Sun. Creative and heartfelt this was another amazing novel from a master!”

Townie Books image Danica, Townie Books
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