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The Books We’re Thankful For in 2021

It’s the last day of the year and we’re looking back at the chaotic, indescribable year that was 2021 the only way we know howthrough books. Check out the books that helped our staff get through 2021 here!


Lizzy Hosty, Marketing Intern (she/her)

A book that I’m definitely thankful for this year is All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman. I was so delightfully surprised by how impressive the world building was, and how immersed into the setting I felt. The cliffhanger at the end was absolutely wild, and I won’t be able to sit still until the second book comes out!

Desirae Friesan, Publicist (she/her)

There are so many books I loved this year, but one I keep coming back to is Katherine Addison’s The Witness for the DeadSince The Goblin Emperor is one of my favorite books I was so delighted for more of Katherine Addison’s beautiful writing, and to be back in the world of The Goblin Emperor following Celehar as he drinks tea, listens to people’s problems, and tries to help . I cannot express how much I need this book this year, a book about grief, about daily strugglies, about justice, but most of all a book about healing and finding connection. Beyond the satisfaction of a mystery solved, when I put down this book I felt hopeful and uplifted, both for Celehar and for myself.

Samantha Friedlander, Marketing Assistant (she/her)

Comfort Me With Apples – This book was absolutely mind-blowing! For such a short novella, it packs a powerful punch and leaves you hungry for more.
For the Wolf – I loved the atmosphere of this book: dark, haunted, woodsy, and romantic. The romance was sweet and reminded me of so many other characters that I’ve loved over the years.
A Spindle Splintered – I loved the way that Sleeping Beauty was reframed in this novella. I loved the main character right from the very first line.
A Marvellous Light – The grumpy one falls for the sunshine one, plus magic and a murder mystery? How could I resist? This was another book with an amazing atmosphere that I sank right into.
Cemetery Boys – This book didn’t come out in 2021, but it was one of my favorite spooky season reads this year! There’s a beautiful romance, amazing characters, and magic that leaps off of the page.

Andrew King, Marketing Coordinator (he/him)

This year I’m thankful for flying magical islands, winged shapeshifting lions, and young adult books with adrenaline-fueled action and adventure that unfolds so addictingly fast you won’t put down the book until you’ve turned the final page. I’m talking about Shannon Price’s magnificent The Endless Skies, of course. This novel rocked. I loved it. So will you.

Julia Bergen, Marketing Manager (she/her)

I’m thankful that Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune exists! Really, I’m thankful to be in a world where TJ Klune exists and is writing such beautiful stories. The idea that I get to keep reading more books by him is a luxury I do not take lightly.

Yvonne Ye, Ad/Promo Assistant (she/her)

SORCERER OF THE WILDEEPS by Kai Ashante Wilson
Kai Ashante Wilson’s novella is so lyrically haunting and generically wall-breaking that I did a double take when I found out it had been published Six Whole Years Ago. The way Wilson slides effortlessly between registers of language to craft a gorgeous story of love and survival of mythic proportions is absolutely incomparable. Also, I challenge anyone to name another spear-and-sandal novella that casually drops “the exigencies of FTL travel” in the middle of a conversation. I’ll wait.
INTERIOR CHINATOWN by Charles Yu
Never have I ever met a diaspora book that was so poignantly incisive and utterly unhinged. I spent all 288 pages yelling about the way Charles Yu toys with (and gleefully manipulates) the formal elements of screenwriting to write a blistering critique of Asian portrayals in Hollywood and cinema that also managed to be a rollicking good ride all the way down. I lost my absolute mind when I realized the title itself was a play on “INT. CHINATOWN,” and this quote haunts me to this day:
“…If you didn’t know it already, now you do: old dudes from rural Taiwan are comfortable with their karaoke and when they do karaoke for some reason they love no one like they love John Denver.
 
Maybe it’s the dream of the open highway. The romantic myth of the West. A reminder that these funny little Orientals have actually been Americans longer than you have. Know something about this country that you haven’t yet figured out. If you don’t believe it, go down to your local karaoke bar on a busy night. Wait until the third hour, when the drunk frat boys and gastropub waitresses with headshots are all done with Backstreet Boys and Alicia Keys and locate the slightly older Asian businessman standing patiently in line for his turn, his face warmly rouged on Crown or Japanese lager, and when he steps up and starts slaying ‘Country Roads,’ try not to laugh, or wink knowingly or clap a little too hard, because by the time he gets to ‘West Virginia, mountain mama,’ you’re going to be singing along, and by the time he’s done, you might understand why a seventy-seven year-old guy from a tiny island in the Taiwan Strait who’s been in a foreign country for two-thirds of his life can nail a song, note perfect, about wanting to go home.”

SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN by Shelley Parker-Chan

Speaking of books that made me lose my absolute mind, Shelley Parker-Chan’s debut novel smashed every expectation I had for it and more. With every page of bilingual excellence and imaginative historical reclamation, I became cemented in my belief that Shelley Parker-Chan is the mad diaspora genius we didn’t know we could have and desperately needed. I try not to foist books on my friends because we all have guilt-inducing TBR piles, but I definitely shoved this one in everyone’s face approximately thirty seconds into casual conversation.

Rachel Taylor, Marketing Manager (she/her)

I am very lucky that I got to read A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows early and wow, what a treat. It has basically everything I could ever want from a booka queer romance, mutual pining, and lush prose that left me longing for more. I can’t wait for everyone to read this one in 2022!

Kaleb Russell, Marketing Assistant (he/him)

  1. The temerity of Luster by Raven Leilani is absolutely awe-inspiring. This stupendous debut was a tumultuous journey consisting of countless painful, cringe-worthy moments and I relished every second of it. The novel gives an earnest portrayal of a 23-year-old black woman named Edie trying to find her way… and falling flat on her face several times throughout the process. And *that’s* what makes this book so stunning; it’s willingness to be messy! It’s not often you get this sort of portrayal of Black women in fiction, one where they’re not held up to this absurd standard of Black Exceptionalism™.

Here, Edie gets to be this flawed person who makes some *extremely* misguided decisions and isn’t derided for it. She’s a hot mess like the rest of us, but that doesn’t mean she’s any less deserving of love and contentment. Leilani’s precise characterization and sumptuous prose makes Luster a life-affirming narrative about the growing pains of your 20s and all the beauty and anguish it entails.

  1. Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee – The final book in Fonda Lee’s perilous Green Bone Saga left me in tears. Lee’s ability to write a compelling family drama is exemplary. Conversations and arguments between characters are more gripping, more pulse pounding  than any jade duel. Words cut deeper than talon knives. This is easily one of the most remarkable trilogy endings I’ve had the honor of reading.

  2. A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark – After reading A Dead Djinn In Cairo (and just about everything else Clark has penned) I knew his debut novel would be nothing short of spectacular. And I was correct! Clark’s version of Cairo (like all of his worlds) is one rife with wondrous magic and infinite possibility. Fatma el-Sha’arawi remains a compelling main character who is as charismatic and wise as she is dapper. And best believe this woman’s fashion sense is impeccable! I hope we see more books in this universe.

What books helped you get through 2021? Let us know in the comments! 

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