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Top 2021 Reads from the Librarians - Part 2: Contemporary Fiction

Contemporary fiction

Here are the books we enjoyed the most during 2021 from our Contemporary Fiction collections. Click on each title for a link to the catalogue:

Auē  by Becky Manawatu: The Ockham Award & Ngaio Marsh Award winning novel that describes a family experiencing domestic violence, gang culture and the grief they cause. While this is a heart-breaking read, there’s also love and hope. A book that gets everyone talking. (Selected by Emma)

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu: Willis Wu is a bit player in a tv cop show filmed at the Golden Palace restaurant, dreaming of being Kung Fu Guy. It is quite likely you've never read anything like this before, but this National Book Award (U.S.) winner is well worth picking up. (Selected by JMM)

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney: A new book following Rooney’s best-seller, Normal People. Probing relationships in modern times the story describes two couples and issues of desire, friendship, and whether they can find a way to believe in a beautiful world. (Chosen by Christine)

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld: A hilarious reimagining of Pride and Prejudice for modern times, as our modern Bennett family navigate all the silliness of reality TV, paleo diets and online shopping in their search for happy ever after. (From JAM)

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: This book makes Christine’s list as well as Lara’s who had this to say about it: I’ve heard a lot of mixed feelings about this one. Some people loved it, others did not get the hype. I personally really liked it. There is a lot of struggle and sadness for Kya Clark, a.k.a. the Marsh Girl, but she is resilient and builds a successful life for herself.

Jane in Love by Rachel Givney: Another homage to Jane Austen, this novel whisks a twenty-eight year old Jane to modern-day England and allows her to fall in love. But as she enjoys her new relationship, her fame as a writer starts to waver. A reimagining of the life of one of the world’s most celebrated writers and a wonderfully witty, romantic comedy. (Chosen by Miss Moneypenny)

Home Stretch by Graham Norton: Beginning in 1987, the novel follows Connor who leaves his family and home town in coastal Ireland after a tragic accident, making his way eventually to New York to find a new community and build a new life. But eventually the past will need to be faced, secrets and unspoken feelings revealed. (Chosen by Christine)

The Switch by Beth O’Leary: My light, easy-reading, favourite for the year. Leena needs a break from her busy London work life, and her grandmother Eileen needs some more excitement in her life, so they switch places for two months. It’s fun, full of likeable and quirky characters, and some charming romance. (From Lara)

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Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo: According to the blurb, this book is "teeming with life and crackling with energy – a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood. The novel follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years". (Chosen by Christine)

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood: This novel is a wonderfully well-written tale about friendship, its secrets and bumpy patches over time. The three main characters, all women in their seventies, have lost their former glory, are bitter or desperate. Is it too late to recover, recharge and reinvent themselves? (From JAM)

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel: The novel tells the story of a couple coming to terms with being parents of a transgender child. From the blurb: “Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.” (Selected by Emma)

Nothing But Blue Sky: An enlightening and engrossing story about finding your way through grief. David revisits the same holiday spot he and his wife enjoyed every summer, looks back on his marriage and tries to come to terms with his feelings – something he’s never been very good at. A brilliant character study, with a beautifully evoked setting. (From JAM)

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason: A perceptive story about mental illness told with wit and humour from a Kiwi-Australian author.  I loved Martha – she’s so funny, passionate and alive, even if she is a little mad. The other characters are all interesting – her quirky, artistic parents; her dry, acerbic sister; her kindly, understanding husband. The scintillating prose makes this a perfect read. (From JAM)

 

21 December 2021

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