Happy New Year! Check out what our staff read to kick off 2021.

Don’t forget to pick up a Reading Log bookmark for the 2021 Adult Winter Reading Challenge, and join the 2021 Reading Challenge!

This book would work for the 2021 Reading Challenge prompt: Read an author’s debut novel published in 2021.

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.

Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a place of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man—a fellow slave—seeks to gain favor by preaching the master’s gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel’s love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation’s harmony.

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Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules–a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home. A rural noir suffused with the unique music, color, and nuance of East Texas, Bluebird, Bluebird is an exhilarating, timely novel about the collision of race and justice in America.

Listen with Libby

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

From her outpost in an isolated mountain cabin, Deanna, a reclusive wildlife biologist, watches a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region. She is caught off-guard by a young hunter who invades her most private spaces and confounds her solitary life. On a farm several miles down the mountain, Lusa, a bookish city girl turned farmer’s wife, finds herself unexpectedly marooned in a strange place where she must declare or lose her attachment to the land that has become her own. And a few more miles down the road, a pair of elderly feuding neighbors tend their respective farms and wrangle about God, pesticides, and the possibilities of a future neither of them expected.

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Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit law office in Montgomery, Alabama, dedicated to defending the poor, the incarcerated, and the wrongly condemned. Just Mercy tells the story of EJI, from the early days with a small staff facing the nation’s highest death sentencing and execution rates, through a successful campaign to challenge the cruel practice of sentencing children to die in prison, to revolutionary projects designed to confront Americans with our history of racial injustice.

Place a Hold (Young Readers Edition) | Read with Libby | Listen with Libby | Watch the Movie

Miss Shelby recommends this book as an audiobook, which would fulfill the 2021 Reading Challenge prompt: Listen to an audiobook.

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as a protagonist even in his own life: he’s merely Generic Asian Man. Every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player here too. . . but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy—the highest aspiration he can imagine for a Chinatown denizen. Or is it? After stumbling into the spotlight, Willis finds himself launched into a wider world than he’s ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown, but the buried legacy of his own family, and what that means for him, in today’s America.

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One by One by Ruth Ware

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them? When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?

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Shakespeare in a Divided America: What His Plays Tell Us about Our Past and Future by James Shapiro

Read at school by almost every student, staged in theaters across the land, and highly valued by conservatives and liberals alike, Shakespeare’s plays are rare common ground in the United States. For over two centuries , Americans of all stripes have turned to Shakespeare’s works to address the nation’s political fault lines, such as manifest destiny, race, gender, immigration, and free speech. In a narrative arching across the centuries, Shapiro traces the unparalleled role of Shakespeare’s 400-year-old tragedies and comedies in making sense of so many of these issues on which American identity has turned.

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My Ántonia by Willa Cather

Through Jim Burden’s endearing, smitten voice, we revisit the remarkable vicissitudes of immigrant life in the Nebraska heartland, with all its insistent bonds. Guiding the way are some of literature’s most beguiling characters: the Russian brothers plagued by memories of a fateful sleigh ride, Antonia’s desperately homesick father and self-indulgent mother, and the coy Lena Lingard. Holding the pastoral society’s heart, of course, is the bewitching, free-spirited Antonia.

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This book would fulfill the 2021 Reading Challenge prompt: Read a book set in Nebraska or by a Nebraska author.

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

When Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her that the day of reckoning has arrived and they have to leave home immediately, Louisiana isn’t overly worried. After all, Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas. But this time, things are different. This time, Granny intends for them never to return. Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and Granny) and find a way home.

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The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think by Jennifer

Drawing on personal observations, the latest science, and her bird-related travel around the world, from the tropical rainforests of eastern Australia and the remote woodlands of northern Japan, to the rolling hills of lower Austria and the islands of Alaska’s Kachemak Bay, Jennifer Ackerman shows there is clearly no single bird way of being. In every respect, in plumage, form, song, flight, lifestyle, niche, and behavior, birds vary.

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This book fulfills the 2021 Reading Challenge prompts: Read a nonfiction book written by a woman OR Read a book about animals, nature, science, or the environment.

All book descriptions were borrowed from Goodreads.com.

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