New Year Reads 2021

The New Year is a chance for both reflection and renewal. Start this year off by exploring books related to new perspectives, new beginnings, and new worlds.

Publication year 2005Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Relationships: Teams, Society: Economics, Society: GlobalizationTags Leadership/Organization/Management, Business / Economics

Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction

Homegoing is a historical fiction novel by Yaa Gyasi, a Ghanaian-American novelist born in 1989. Homegoing was published in 2016 and was awarded the 2017 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, the 2016 John Leonard Prize for outstanding debut novel, and the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 award in 2016. Written in the tradition of Alex Haley’s Roots: The Saga of an American Family (1976), Gyasi tells the story of one 18th-century Akan family, tracking it across... Read Homegoing Summary

Publication year 2016Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionTags Science / Nature, Technology

Professor Hope Jahren’s 2016 memoir, Lab Girl, chronicles the author’s life and experience as a geobiologist. The memoir contains three parts, each spanning a major period in Jahren’s life. Autobiographical chapters are followed by brief, lyrical chapters examining various plants and their habits. These chapters on plants contain extensive use of personification, relating plant experience to that of humans.Part 1, “Roots and Leaves,” spans Jahren’s childhood to her first teaching job.The author grows up in... Read Lab Girl Summary

Publication year 1985Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Aging, Relationships: MarriageTags Classic Fiction, Romance, Post Modernism

Love in the Time of Cholera is a classic work of literary fiction by the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez. It was published in Spanish in 1985 and translated into English in 1988 by Edith Grossman. The novel was adapted into a film in 2007, which was nominated for several awards including an Oscar and a Golden Globe. Plot SummaryLove in the Time of Cholera is set in... Read Love in the Time of Cholera Summary

Publication year 2014Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Identity: GenderTags Gender / Feminism, Sociology, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

Men Explain Things to Me is Rebecca Solnit’s 19th book. First published in 2014, it is comprised of a collection of essays primarily concerned with gender politics. The first essay explores men silencing women. It begins with Solnit recounting a conversation with “Mr. Very Important” in which he asks her about her writing, only to talk over her and lecture her about a book that, it turns out, she actually wrote. She uses this to... Read Men Explain Things To Me Summary

Publication year 2019Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology

In Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know (2019), journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell investigates why we face so many problems when interacting with strangers. He was inspired to search for the underlying causes of our miscommunications following the death of Sandra Bland, a black woman who was pulled over by a white police officer for a minor traffic infraction in 2015. Bland should have been let go with... Read Talking to Strangers Summary

Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: GriefTags Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction

Publication year 2007Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Fantasy

The Name of the Wind, published in 2007, is the first book in author Patrick Rothfuss’s The Kingkiller Chronicle series. The fantasy novel is an incomplete coming-of-age-style tale about Kvothe, a legendary and extraordinary figure whose many heroic deeds are the subject of local lore. Kvothe has come to retire as an innkeeper in a small town where the people know him as “Kote.” However, disquieting events start to happen as a result of a... Read The Name of the Wind Summary

Publication year 2015Genre Book, NonfictionTags Science / Nature

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness is a 2015 nonfiction book by naturalist and author Sy Montgomery. Inspired by a visit to an aquarium and an encounter with an octopus, Montgomery investigates the intelligence of these creatures, speculating on their emotional and rational capabilities while forming strong bonds with several octopuses. Along the way, she educates the reader about octopuses and their often mysterious physiology and motivations. The... Read The Soul of an Octopus Summary

Publication year 1996Genre Novel, FictionTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction

The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell, is a science-fiction novel that follows the life of Father Emilio Sandoz, a Jesuit priest, and his friends, as they prepare for and then embark on a journey to the planet Rakhat. Defying conventional linear storytelling, each chapter shifts from past to present, with the entirety of the novel spanning from 2019 to 2060 and taking place between Earth and Rakhat. The protagonist of the novel is Father Emilio... Read The Sparrow Summary

Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionTags Fantasy

Who Fears Death, published in 2010 and written by Nnedi Okorafor, is a post-apocalyptic science fantasy novel set in a future version of Sudan. In this future, the light-skinned Nuru have enslaved the dark-skinned Okeke; the novel follows Onyesonwu (Onye), the daughter of an Okeke woman raped by a Nuru man. Onye soon discovers that her biological father is a powerful sorcerer, and that she, too, has inherited great magical powers from both her father... Read Who Fears Death Summary