Orem Library staff continues our best-of series with a list of our favorite adult books released in 2021. According to our librarians, here are the best general fiction and non-fiction books released last year! Check out these picks from the library today, or keep them in mind for a rainy day. Also, remember to check Just Browsing next week for our list of the best movies and music of 2021. Happy reading!

Best General Fiction Books of 2021

The Lincoln Highway

By Amor Towles
Historical Fiction

In June, 1954, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served fifteen months for involuntary manslaughter. Emmett’s intention is to pick up his eight-year-old brother, Billy, and head to California where they can start their lives anew. However, when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car. Together, they have hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett’s future. Spanning just ten days and told from multiple points of view, Towles’s third novel will satisfy fans of his multi-layered literary styling while providing them an array of new settings, characters, and themes.


Klara and the Sun

By Kazuo Ishiguro
Science Fiction

From her place in the store that sells artificial friends, Klara–an artificial friend with outstanding observational qualities–watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change forever, Klara she is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans. In this luminous tale, Klara and the Sun, Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro looks at our rapidly changing modern world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator to explore a fundamental question: what does it mean to love?


Project Hail Mary

By Andy Weir
Science Fiction

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission to save both humanity and the earth. In Project Hail Mary, he is hurtled into the depths of space when he must conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.


The Final Girl Support Group

By Grady Hendrix
Thrillers (Fiction)

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. That is, she is the one who emerges bloodied but victorious, a victim and a hero. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her? Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group. That is, until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized. Someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again. But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife . . . they will never, ever give up.


The Witch’s Heart

By Genevieve Gornichec
Historical Fiction

In this moving, subversive, national bestselling debut novel, Gornichec reimagines Norse mythology. Angrboda’s story begins where most witches’ tales end: with a burning. The fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the farthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be Loki, and her initial distrust of him transforms into a deep and abiding love. As Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger. From the most ancient of tales this novel forges a story of love, loss, and hope for the modern age.  

Best General Nonfiction of 2021

Embodied: An Intersectional Feminist Comics Poetry Anthology

Edited by Wendy and Tyler Chin-Tanner
Graphic Novels

Embodied is a unique collection of intersectional feminist poetry-in-comics. That is, the anthology was created through an exciting collaboration between cis female, trans, and non-binary poets and comics artists.


The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race

By Walter Isaacson
Biographies

In this biography, the bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns with a gripping account of how the pioneering scientist Jennifer Doudna, along with her colleagues and rivals, launched a revolution. Further, Code Breaker dives into the science that will allow us to cure diseases, fend off viruses, and enhance our children.


Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries that Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe

By Stephen C. Meyer
Nonfiction

The anticipated third book from New York Times bestselling author and respected Intelligent Design scholar Stephen C. Meyer makes a compelling argument for the existence of God. To that end, Return of the God Hypothesis highlights interesting breakthroughs in physics, cosmology, and biology.


Queer Mormon Theology: An Introduction

By Blaire Ostler
Nonfiction

Blaire Ostler‘s considerate work offers new perspectives around old questions of gender and relationships that have long plagued the larger Mormon community. As Latter-day Saints explore the meaning of discipleship in a modern world, Ostler extends a roadmap of true Christian living and Grace that is big and wide enough to embrace more of God’s children in faith, love and inclusion. Overall, she eloquently demonstrates how to nurture faith and subsume a more holistic relationship with the Divine, where the only sacrifice required is leaving pride at the door and opening one’s heart to more love, light and wisdom.


Poet Warrior: A Memoir

By Joy Harjo
Autobiographies

Poet Laureate Joy Harjo offers a vivid, lyrical, and inspiring call for love and justice in this contemplation of her trailblazing life. In the second memoir from the first Native American to serve as US poet laureate, Joy Harjo invites us to travel along the heartaches, losses, and humble realizations of her “poet-warrior” road. While weaving together the voices that shaped her, Harjo listens to stories of ancestors and family. She listens to the poetry and music that she first encountered as a child, the teachings of a changing earth, and the poets who paved her way. Moving fluidly among prose, song, and poetry, Poet Warrior is a luminous journey of becoming. The memoir sings with all the jazz, blues, tenderness, and bravery that we know as distinctly Joy Harjo.

Recommended and Voted on by Staff