Discover Your 2021 Reading Goals

Like many other librarians and avid readers, I have set a reading goal for myself each January for at least the past decade. The book number tends to steadily increase, though I’ve stuck to 50 books for the last couple years. 50 books seemed daunting when I first set that goal, but after realizing I should count everything I read (not just novels) it was definitely an attainable goal. Between the single issue comics I regularly pick up and the plethora of cookbooks I seem to always have checked out, I’m able to get to my goal without too much trouble. This year I’m planning to revisit some old favorites for second or third readings (looking at your American Gods) in addition to a good variety of newly published titled and new to me titles.

If you are someone who hasn’t set a reading goal before, or perhaps you’ve struggled with not completing your goal, I’m here to encourage you to give it another try! Most importantly to remind you- if you are setting this reading goal for fun, because you enjoy reading, then make sure you have FUN! I have plenty of friends who seem to beat themselves up for not reading more, but your reading habits aren’t for any awards or competition. Read what you like, as often as you like. If that means 5 books a year, then that is fabulous!

I often hear people putting pressure on themselves to read “important” books. Just the other day my husband semi-jokingly said “2021 will be the year I read Crime and Punishment!” as he grabbed the Dostoevsky classic off our home bookshelf. Is he actually going to read this book? Probably not. Is it a book that he might feel he is supposed to read because #literature? Yes. But who really cares about all that? If all you want to read in 2021 is romantic comedies, cozy mysteries, or heartwarming dog stories, then you do you.

This year, as I ease back into my routine after some relaxing time sequestering myself away during the holidays, I’m looking at what I am most excited to read in the coming months. Below you will find some of the soon-to-be published titles I cannot wait to read in 2021!

The Removed by Brandon Hobson

A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi

Getaway by Zoje Stage (no cover art available)

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

Star Eater by Kerstin Hall

Poison Flowers and Pandemonium by Richard Sala

If you are a horror fan like me I highly recommend checking out this awesome post from Emily Hughes on the Tor Nightfire blog- you can see all the horror books being published in 2021 in a handy dandy month by month list! *heart-eyes emoji*

2020 was obviously a difficult year, and even though there is a light at the end of the tunnel for 2021, we aren’t out of the woods yet so be kind to yourself and read what brings you joy and happiness. What are you most excited to read this year? Share in the comments below!

Megan’s Favorite Books of 2020

This year mysteries, thrillers, and true crime book topped my reading list. The Novel Scares book club forced me out of that comfort zone and introduced me to two of the books on my list-books I never would have selected for myself.

Mystery/Thrillers/Horror:

A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones

The Good House by Tananarive Due

Good Night Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Nonfiction/Memoirs

The Adventurer’s Son by Roman Dial

Good Kids, Bad City by Kyle Swenson

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

Delightful Surprises:

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Sweet Murder by Tegan Maher

With the exception of Solutions and Other Problems, I listened to all of these books. The House in the Cerulean Sea was my absolute favorite book of 2020. It was the charming and thoughtful book that I needed during this difficult year.

~Megan

Trent’s Top 10 of 2020

While 2020 was, in many ways, an extraordinarily challenging year, it was, for me, a good year for reading. Once again, new books make up a smaller portion of my 2020 lists, with only a few from this year or last. Instead, I continue to enjoy exploring classics, the crime genre canon, and working through a favorite author’s backlist. Here are the best books I’ve read in 2020.

10. Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

              Blacktop Wasteland is an old-fashioned heist novel ripe for the big screen staring a modern Steve McQueen style lead. Beauregard “Bug” Montage is the archetypical getaway driver gone straight that gets pulled back into one last job that is too sweet to pass up in difficult times. There is nothing too new in the plot, following typical heist tropes. What Cosby does deliver is plenty of action and character with depth and a good backstory in Bug.

9. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

              I never thought I’d be an Ann Patchett reader.  But, a coworker frequently brought up Bel Canto when we discussed books and told me on multiple occasions I should read it.  Since this same coworker badgered me into reading A Gentleman in Moscow, which turned out to be one of the best books I read last year, I figured I’d give Bel Canto a shot.  A book that was so excellent; that even with a trash ending, it still ended up on my top ten list.  This may sound like faint praise given the “trash ending” portion of the comment, but don’t let that ruin what is otherwise a sublime book for you, and you might even enjoy the ending. 

8. Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane

              I enjoy travel and nature writing, but often I get annoyed with the author’s peevish or moralistic insight or their lengthy rapturous prose capturing the awe-inspiring world we all inhabit.  Macfarlane skews hard toward rapturous prose, and clocking in near 500 pages, Underland is lengthy.  With that said, Macfarlane does an amazing job making you feel the underworlds he visits.  There is one passage that portrayed such a profound sense of claustrophobia that I was unsure if I was going to be able to finish the chapter.  Another chapter exploring the catacombs of Paris is among the most fascinating pieces of travel literature I have ever read. Also, the cover art was fantastic, and the sole reason I picked up the book in the first place.

7. Tiamat’s Wrath (The Expanse #8) by James S.A. Corey

              I wouldn’t have thought that the eighth book in a nine-book space-opera series would be my favorite one yet.  The Expanse has been a remarkably consistent series, both in quality and publishing schedule (I’m looking at you, George R.R. Martin).  More than any other book, the next book in this series is the one I’m most looking forward to reading next year.

6. Monstress, Vol 5: Warchild by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda

              Each new collection of Monstress continues to blow me away. Foremost because Takeda’s art is stunning.  I’ll continue with this series for as long as Takeda does the art.  Though progressing unhurriedly, the story continues to excel as well.  War arrives early in this volume, and the inevitable devastation follows.  This series remains complex, and I’m considering a reread to refresh myself on the early storyline. I am envious of anyone that gets to jump into the series now and can read multiple volumes without having to await the next release.

5. The Likeness (The Dublin Murder Squad #2) by Tana French

              I read Tana French’s In the Woods two years back and loved it.  However, I couldn’t imagine enjoying The Likeness as much with only some of the characters returning for this book.  Needless to say, since it’s on my Best Of list, that I needn’t have worried. A few elements to the storyline seem rather unlikely.  For example, Cassie is a perfect doppelganger for a murder victim. However, the sooner you accept it, the sooner you can focus on the engaging characters. I learned my lesson with The Likeness and didn’t wait long before picking up Faithful Place, also very enjoyable, the next in French’s Dublin Murder Squad series.

4. The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow

              I’m still working through the oeuvre of Don Winslow, so it’s too early for me to argue that you should read everything by him.  However, having read three more of his novels read this year, I have yet to be disappointed with any of his books.  The Winter of Frankie Machine and The Death and Life of Bobby Z, to a slightly lesser extent, were a lot of fun, and I would highly recommend them. However, it is Winslow’s Power of the Dog, a fictionalization of the war on drugs, that leads the pack.   

3. Dead Soon Enough (Juniper Song #3) by Steph Cha

              Read everything by Steph Cha.  There aren’t as many books by her as I’d like, only four, but they’re all phenomenal.  Three Juniper Song Marlowe-inspired PI novels, revitalizing the LA noir tropes in interesting and intelligent ways.  Dead Soon Enough being the final of the Song novels.  The fourth book is the lauded and award winning Their House Will Pay that revolves around the 1992 LA race riots.

2. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They by Horace McCoy

              I had heard of marathon dance competitions, but until reading They Shoot Horses, Don’t They, I never considered them much and certainly not as bleak and miserable experiences.  Robert and Gloria, two strangers with nothing to lose in depression-era California, meet and enter a marathon dance competition as partners.  They battle extreme physical and mental exhaustion and producers with schemes to create hype and excitement in order to bring in crowds – at the expense of the contestants. 

1. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

              At the onset of World War I, Paul Bäumer and several of this high school classmates enlist in a rush of patriotic fervor, incited largely by their teacher’s impassioned jingoistic speeches.  Their enthusiasm is bombarded as soon as they reach the trenches of the front.  Remarque masterfully writes the German counterpart to Wilfred Owen’s English poem Dulce Et Deocrum Est. “My friend, you would not tell with such high zest / To children ardent for some desperate glory, / The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est / Pro patria mori.” (Dulce et Decorum Est)

Honorable Mentions

Shannon’s Top Ten of 2020

It’s been a hell of a year, and I don’t blame any of you for not reading as much as you wanted to – we’re all just trying to survive 2020 at this point! One of my pandemic activities has been to read lots of books, so it was a little difficult to pick my Top Ten, but I think I got a pretty good list. It has a lot of science fiction and fantasy (which I’m sure no one is surprised by) but also a thriller, a graphic novel, historical fiction, and horror.

Click any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can request a copy of the book with your library card number and PIN.

Ninth House catalog link

10. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Survivor Song catalog link

9. Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

The City We Became catalog link

8. The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin


The Bone Ships catalog link

7. The Bone Ships by R. J. Barker

Mexican Gothic catalog link

6. Mexican Gothic by Silva Moreno-Garcia

Fangs catalog link

5. Fangs by Sarah Andersen


When No One is Watching catalog link

4. When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

3. The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

The Starless Sea catalog link

2. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern


And last but certainly not least, my number one book of 2020 is… drumroll please….

Gideon the Ninth catalog link

1. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Hands down, Gideon the Ninth is the best book I read this year (even though technically it’s from 2019) – if you love science fiction, you’ve got to read this book!

Stay on the lookout this week for Top Ten posts from other staff members!

New Books Tuesday @RRPL

This week we have a collection of autobiography, horror, historical fiction, and much more for you to choose from. You can also find topics such as health & fitness, sports, and social science… Enjoy!

NYPD Red 6 by James Patterson & Marshall Karp – Available for the first time in print, a sixth entry in the series co-written by the award-winning author of Jackie Ha-Ha continues the story of top NYPD Red Detective Zach Jordan and his partner, Detective Kylie MacDonald.

The Garden of Promises and Lies by Paula Brackston – This third installment in the Found Things series finds Xanthe taking responsibility for inadvertently transporting the dangerous Benedict Fairfax to her own time, while learning to use her skills as a spinner to keep her and Flora safe.

Future of Nutrition, The: An Insider’s Look at the Science, Why We Keep Getting It Wrong, and How to Start Getting It Right by T. Colin Campbell with Nelson Disla – A follow-up to the best-selling Whole presents a critique of the nutrition institution that identifies the systematic ways that even well-intentioned companies perpetuate misinformation, overlook key nutritional deficiencies and promote unhealthy levels of animal protein dependence.

I Came As a Shadow: An Autobiography by John Thompson – Provides the long-awaited autobiography from Georgetown University’s legendary coach, whose life on and off the basketball court throws America’s unresolved struggle with racial justice into sharp relief. 125,000 first printing. Illustrations.

Proquest Statistical Abstract of the United States 2021: The National Data Book by Proquest/ Bernan Press – The Statistical Abstract of the United States is the best known statistical reference. As a comprehensive collection of statistics on the social, political, and economic conditions of the country, it is a snapshot of America and its people. It includes over 1,400 tables from hundreds of sources.

Kings of Crypto:  One Startup’s Quest to Take Cryptocurrency Out of Silicon Valley and Onto Wall Street by Jeff John Roberts – The author covers subjects such as cryptocurrency, patent reform, blockchain technology, hacking, and privacy in the age of social media for Fortune. His work has also appeared in a variety of other outlets, including Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Reuters, Fortune, and the New York Times.

Benedict XVI a Life: Youth in Nazi Germany to the Second Vatican Council 1927-1965 by Peter Seewald – The long-awaited and authoritative biography of Pope Benedict XVI. This necessary companion to Benedict’s own memoir, Last Testament, is the fullest account to date of the life of a radical Catholic leader who has continued to make news while cloistered in retirement in the Vatican gardens.

Sylvia Pankhurst: Natural Born Rebel by Rachel Holmes – On the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the definitive biography of suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst-human rights champion, and radical feminist ahead of her time. In this enthralling biography, acclaimed author Rachel Holmes interweaves Pankhurst’s rebellious political and private lives to show how her astonishing achievements continue to resonate today.

The Berlin Shadow by Jonathan Lichtenstein – A deeply moving memoir that confronts the defining trauma of the twentieth century… Written with tenderness and grace, The Berlin Shadow is a highly compelling story about time, trauma, family, and a father and son’s attempt to emerge from the shadows of history.

Remina by Junji Ito – Another of Junji Ito’s classics, the sci-fi masterwork Remina tells the chilling tale of a hell star, unfolding on a universal scale.

~Semanur~

Nicole’s Top Ten of 2020

This year I stayed quite nicely tucked into my reading comfort blanket of weird, atmospheric, and dark reads for the most part. I read more than one collection of short stories, and one novella, which reflects my unpredictable ebb and flow of reading ambition the past ten months: some days I couldn’t focus on reading for more than fifteen minutes, while others days I was inspired to plant myself on the couch and read all weekend. Below you’ll find my ten favorite books I read this past year: including some supernatural thrillers, weird and beautiful science fiction, horror short stories, literary fiction, and more!

Tiny Nightmares: Very Short Stories of Horror Edited by Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto

If It Bleeds by Stephen King

The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt

The Strange Bird by Jeff Vandermeer

Bunny by Mona Awad

Circe by Madeline Miller

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

In this week’s special picks there are new exciting romance, mystery, suspense, and many more genres for you to choose from! Enjoy!

D: A Tale of Two Worlds by Michel Faber – Baffled by the sudden disappearance of the letter D, a young woman is summoned to the home of a former history teacher before arriving in an enslaved, wintry land where free thinking is under threat.

The Last Days of John Lennon by James Patterson – Published to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Lennon’s assassination and based on insider interviews, a chronicle of the iconic music artist’s final days includes coverage of his last album and the life of Mark David Chapman.

Layla by Colleen Hoover – From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover comes a novel that explores life after tragedy and the enduring spirit of love in this engaging contemporary romance with a supernatural twist. It is part psychological thriller and part paranormal romance.

Cold Wind by Paige Shelton – A sequel to Thin Ice finds Beth investigating the discovery of a trapper’s secluded home in the woods near Benedict, Alaska, where a murder victim is linked to the owner of the local mercantile.

The How Not to Diet Cookbook by Michael Greger, M.D., FACLM –  The author of the New York Times bestseller How Not to Die, comes a four-color, fully illustrated cookbook that shares the science of long-term weight-loss success. This book is primed to be a revolutionary new addition to the cookbook industry: incredibly effective and designed for everyone looking to make changes to their dietary habits to improve their quality of life, weight loss notwithstanding.

Unsinkable: Five Men and the Indomitable Run of the U.S.S. Plunkett by James Sullivan – Documents the true story of a U.S. Navy destroyer that inspired the writings of John Ford and Herman Wouk, drawing on the journals and other writings of five shipmates who witnessed the Anzio attacks and D-Day invasion.

Red Hands by Christopher Golden – Ben Walker, an expert in weird phenomena is asked by the Global Science Research Coalition to locate a woman who has been the victim of a devastating bioweapon that causes every person she touches to drop dead.

The Daydream Cabin by Carolyn Brown – A headstrong woman discovers it’s never too late for change in New York Times bestselling author Carolyn Brown’s spirited novel about lost hope and second chances. Working as a summer counselor at an amenities-limited camp for at-risk teens, a public-school teacher employs a tough-love approach to intervene on behalf of three troubled girls while bonding with a hardened boot-camp drill instructor.

Girl Gurl Grrrl: On Womanhood and Belonging in the Age of Black Girl Magic by Kenya Hunt – The award-winning Grazia UK fashion director presents an evocative anthology of essays celebrating the timeless, thriving potential of being a Black woman, mother and global citizen in today’s dynamic world.

Blowing My Way to the Top: How to Break the Rules, Find Your Purpose, and Create the Life and Career You Deserve by Jen Atkin – The celebrity stylist and social media influencer discusses the challenges faced by today’s women entrepreneurs and the foundational values that shaped her rise from a conservative, isolated teen to the head of a multi-million-dollar empire.

Snowdrift by Helene Tursten – Swedish Detective Inspector Embla Nyström puts her life on the line when a new lead breaks in the unsolved disappearance of her best friend, a cold case that is further complicated by the murder of a notorious gang member.

The Mermaid from Jeju by Sumi Hahn – A talented young deep-sea diver from occupied 1948 Korea’s neighboring Jeju Island visits Mt. Halla for her family’s annual trading trip before her romance with a mountain youth is upended by family tragedy and political turbulence.

Take It Back by Kia Abdullah – Leaving her high-profile law position for a job at a crisis center, Zara Kaleel becomes involved in the case of a deformed teenage girl who accuses four boys in her class of rape, tearing the community apart.

The System by Ryan Gattis – On December 6, 1993, a drug dealer called Scrappy is shot and left for dead on the lawn outside her mother’s house in South Central Los Angeles, a heroin addict fingers two drug dealers as the killers, but only one of them is guilty.

~Semanur~

What I’m Reading Now- Comics

Hello readers! I haven’t been particularly inspired to write as of late, but after a wee holiday break over Thanksgiving and some relaxation time, I have returned to the keyboard. I’m ready to share some of what I’ve been reading these past few weeks, get you some great bookish gift recommendations (coming at you later this month!) and I’m also very ready to see this year out the door. Bye, 2020. It’s been real.

Today I’m listing some great comics I’ve been enjoying recently. I’m a huge Hoopla fan and per usual, all of the titles shared below are available on Hoopla with your library card!

Basketful of Heads Vol. 1 by Joe Hill

Is this actually a story involving a basketful of heads? Why yes, it is. Talking heads to be exact – not to be confused with the band. It is also the story of June Branch, a young woman who after narrowly escaping an attack with her life, finds herself in possession of a supernaturally powered Viking axe that seemingly allows decapitated heads to continue living after their bodily departure. As she tries to save her kidnapped boyfriend she discovers that all is not as it seems in this small town. It’s all the fun and weirdness I love from Joe Hill with a dash of crime, mystery, and some solid humor sprinkled in.

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott

This graphic memoir from actor and activist George Takei is truly amazing. I recently read it for the second time to discuss in RRPL’s teen graphic novel book club, Comix Club, and was once again struck by this moving and eye opening story. Readers learn all about Takei’s traumatic experiences as a young child forced to live in the Japanese-American internment camps with his siblings and parents in the 40s. An important and often glossed over aspect of American history, this personal account of the terrible treatment many American citizens endured is a book that everyone should read.

The Red Mother Vol. 1 by Jeremy Haun

After suffering a mysterious and brutal attack while out with her boyfriend one evening, Daisy is not only left without her boyfriend but she also wakes in the hospital missing an eye. After receiving a prosthetic eye, she begins to have strange visions and see a dark and ominous creature staring at her amongst crowds- that nobody else seems to see except her. This first volume doesn’t reveal much and leaves readers with quite a cliffhanger, so I look forward to what is revealed in the next collected volume.

Dune: The Graphic Novel: Book 1 by Frank Herbert. Adapted by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson

I enjoy science fiction from time to time, but have yet to read any of the sci-fi classic Dune. It always seemed somewhat intimidating and I must admit some classic science fiction titles tend to strike me as a bit too male-centric for my tastes. This graphic novel adaptation is a great way to dip your toes into the series if you are like me and don’t want to commit to the traditional novels! With the new Dune film slated to be released soon there will surely be a new influx of interest in this series so now is a great time to dive in.

What have you been reading? Any new graphic novels that you have loved? Stay safe and happy reading!

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

We have some new releases picked out for you to dive in for the following week. There is more romance, humor, thrillers and suspense for you to enjoy!

Fool Me Twice by Jeff Lindsay – A sequel to Just Watch Me finds thief and disguise artist Riley Wolfe continuing his Robin Hood-inspired crusade against the wealthy elite by orchestrating the theft of a highly prized Faberge egg. By the best-selling author of the Dexter series.

The Arctic Fury by Greer Macallister – Secretly hired by an eccentric Lady Franklin to lead a team of women explorers into the Arctic to recover Captain Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition, Virginia Reeve survives a harrowing quest only to find herself on trial for murder.

Eddie’s Boy by Thomas Perry – Surviving an attempt on his life, retired mob hit man Michael Shaeffer reflects on his apprenticeship under an elite killer while pursuing his would-be assassins from Australia to the United States to identify who is trying to eliminate him.

The Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce – From the acclaimed author of Blood Orange, a dark new psychological thriller about the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect family—and the perfect murder. 

Badass Habits: Cultivate the Awareness, Boundaries, and Daily Upgrades You Need to Make Them Stick
by Jen Sincero – The motivational coach and best-selling author of You Are a Badass shares illustrative case studies to outline a step-by-step, 21-day guide for overcoming self-sabotaging behaviors while cultivating habits that support healthy priorities and personal goals.

Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley – Coexisting in the lush hidden spaces of Paris until cold weather arrives, an escaped racehorse and her companion, a German shorthaired pointer, forge a bond with a boy living in seclusion with his nonagenarian grandmother in an ivy-covered house.

Happiness Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good by Tina Turner – The iconic performing artist provides spiritual tools and advice for self-empowerment and fulfillment while examining the role of her enduring Buddhist faith in helping her overcome poverty, loss and other personal and professional obstacles.

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo – A history of American white male identity by the best-selling author of So You Want to Talk About Race imagines a merit-based, non-discriminating model while exposing the actual costs of successes defined by racial and sexual dominance.

The Blade Between by Sam J. Miller – Reluctantly visiting his upstate New York hometown when his father falls ill, a restless gay photographer reconnects with two high-school friends who become his allies in a plan to expose the corrupt motives of invasive corporate gentrifies.

My Name Is Anton by Catherine Ryan Hyde – Realizing that a neighbor is trapped in an abusive marriage, a smitten 18-year-old youth, haunted by his brother’s accidental death, offers the woman shelter and a means to escape. By the award-winning author of Pay It Forward. 

~Semanur~