Library Staff Selects Books of the Year | Brittney Uecker, Youth Services Librarian

The rumors are true: at the Library, we really like books, and we actually read them too. While we can’t read every book in our collection, having a plethora of books at our disposal ensures that we have each read a fair amount of those available to our patrons. To close out my 2021, I bring you the Library staff’s books of the year. Each of these books are available to check out, either from our collection or via the Montana Library 2 Go, and have touched us as readers in some way.

As the youth librarian, I chose the children’s picture book “The Blue House” by Phoebe Wahl. In short, Leo and his dad are forced to leave their home so it can be torn down, but this story is about all the nuances of this very difficult situation. The gorgeous illustrations show Leo and his dad expressing their feelings of anger and grief over saying goodbye to the blue house, and little by little building memories in their new home without forgetting the love for their old one. “The Blue House” is a beautiful example of dealing with change, loss, and strong emotions through the eyes of a child. 

Alissa’s pick is “コンビニ人間” (in English, “Convenience Store Woman”) by Sayaka Murata. This is the first contemporary fiction book Alissa read in Japanese, full of simple, beautiful prose. It tackles topics of gender, freedom, and work in Japan and displays the strangeness of the interaction between industry and being human. Alissa says reading the story in its original language while living in its country and culture was an enlightening experience.

Nancy describes Valérie Perrin’s “Fresh Water for Flowers” as “the most beautiful story” she’s ever read. Violette Toussaint, a cemetery caretaker in a small town in France, was “born under a bad star” and has dealt with painful experiences throughout her life. This continues when she becomes entwined with a man who is not who he initially portrays himself to be. Through genuine, illustrative prose, Perrin gets this story about loss “right”.

Misty chose “Ghosts of Harvard” by Francesca Serritella based on its ability to seamlessly blend history with fiction and the present with the past. Though investigating her brother’s mental illness, Cady Archer discovers the voices of three ghosts that reveal the history of Harvard’s hallowed halls, folding time in on itself. With compelling suspense and a twisting finale, this is an engrossing mystery.

Sue’s pick, “On What Grounds” by Cleo Coyle, is the first in a nineteen-book series and combines two universally loved elements: coffee and a good crime mystery. Set in New York City at a coffee shop called The Village Blend, the likeable characters, riveting mysteries, and appetizing recipes included in these books make them compulsively readable. The newest book in this series, “Honey Roasted”, comes out in February.

Let us know your favorite books of 2021 and check out our picks and more at the Lewistown Public Library.

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