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Books We’ve Loved During 2021

It’s been a long year, but here are some book recommendations from staff and faculty from the Libraries at the University of Utah.

In order to see the reviews of the selections, simply hover your mouse over the book cover. The check out option when available are links to our collection if possible and to other Utah public libraries if not.

The Art of War is a classic Chinese military treatise on strategy, which extends beyond war and conflict, to our personal and professional lives.

– Tallie Casucci

Yes, I enjoyed this book, because we observe Death become human, less implacable.  Although he retains much of his nature, he grows to love humanity, and comes to see his task from a more merciful and loving standpoint.

– April Love

I still cannot stop thinking about this delightfully subversive, hilariously funny, and sharply poignant collection and its unique cast of characters. And also the peach cobbler. You’ll never look at peach cobbler the same way after reading this one.

– Rachel Haisley

A book I read this year and liked al lot was The Tyranny of Merit, by Michael J. Sandel. I liked this book because it challenged an existing belief I held and made me think about the world we live in in a different way.

– Steve Mecham

The Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir is thought-provoking, heart-warming, and a delight from start to finish!

– Leah Martin Donaldson

The worldbuilding is incredible and has such a unique culture and magic system, the characters are so loveable and three dimensional, and the conflict/tension in the plot keeps you turning the page!

– Rebecca Roper

I really enjoyed The Kingdom of Nauvoo, by Benjamin Park.

– Beth Jennings

As is frequently the case with IT guys, I am a fan of science fiction.  I was therefore drawn to the first novel by Star Trek: The Next Generation alum, Brent Spiner.

– Mark Keller

It was on the NYT best seller list for a very long time. The author grew up in a survivalist family in Idaho with strong beliefs. Tara escaped at age 17 to mainstream life and became a college student, learning much along the way.

– Marie Paiva

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich because the author did such a good job with illustrating the subjects and the cultural aspects around indigenous peoples and the challenges and discrimination they faced in the 1950’s setting.

– Heidi Brett

The author expanded the idea of public/global health and did a great job supporting her argument for sanitation being a public health crisis worldwide. The book is pretty easy to read and the author’s tone is humorous.

– Marisol Padilla-Fragosso

My favorite read of 2021 was Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers. It was a fun and lighthearted romance featuring a paranormal podcaster and an astronomer. I would highly recommend it.

– Lorelei Rutledge

Rogen’s fast-reading memoir delivers the inside Hollywood dish we expected (but didn’t get!) from Sharon Stone’s autobiography with wit and winning sense of self-deprecation.

– Teresa Hebron

It begins in 1922 when Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol for the rest of his life.

– Camille Salmons

I loved reading the Wheel of Time Series for several reasons, one I was reading it the same time as my husband and brother in law so it was fun to talk about the books together.

– Barbie Spencer

My top read this year was You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes. A tale of love, murder, and the local library; the third installment of this series did not disappoint.

– Rebecca Adams

My top read for 2021 was Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon.  An incredible story made even more incredible because it is based on true story.

– Carly Anderson

This was an interesting, and troubling, read about “deepfakes” (the ability to masterfully manipulate audio, video and images). The author warns, gone are the days when we could trust what we see with our own eyes.

– Michael Bigler

I read and enjoyed the Murderbot diaries series this this year by Martha Wells. Most of the series are novellas – quick reads. Network Effect is a full-length (award winning) novel. All were all hard to put down page turners.

– Sherelyn Sandberg

My favorite book from the past year was American Made: what happens to people when work disappears.  It gave me insight into how people on the other side of the political spectrum think.

– Alicia Brillon

This is an insightful rumination on the nature of politics, cults of personality, religion, and how they allow individuals and groups to accumulate power.

– Jeff Jonsson

It taught me about how social programs like food stamps and homeless shelter/housing do not work well together due to bureaucracy, their strict rules, and enormous paperwork.

– Hiroko Hashitani

If you’re curious about internet culture (and how it now influences the world around us) this is an amazing read that chronicles the rise of anime avatars, offensive trolling, and bad postings.

– Donna Baluchi

I read The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd at the beginning of the year and absolutely loved it! It was beautifully written.

– Laura McDonald

These simply charming words accompanied by delicate sketches provide an unexpectedly thought-provoking picture book that inspires a much needed reminder of hope through unity for readers of all ages, and for that, I love it.

– Mallory Seidlitz

A compelling story backed by extensive research on the women who painted dials with radium during WWI and WWII. Their sacrifices led to extensive changes in occupational safety laws.

– Terra Rossland

A sweet and genuine feel good story, with a touch of fantasy.

– Sara Davis

My top read from 2021 was The Four Agreements. I have heard so many great things about it and finally read it. It’s short but has so much useful knowledge to help you avoid unnecessary conflict and suffering.

– Lila Sorensen

I don’t want to spoil too much, but this could be summed up as the Libertarian version of Tiger King.

– Tad Garland

This book exhibits the importance of perseverance and appreciation throughout events in your life even in the bleakest of moments. This is the reason I enjoyed it so much.

– Austin LaMontagne

This book of short stories of delight, or instances that have brought happiness to the authors life, helped me find the good in days ravaged by bad news.

– Brandon Patterson

It is a wordless children’s book about animal refugees. The imagery is haunting and beautiful. The story is heartbreaking and important. I randomly found it at local used bookstore by my house.

– Ambra Gagliardi

Mystery.doc is a complex work of 1500 + pages that features innovative writing through experimental textual structures interspersed with photographs, both historical and contemporary.

– Marnie Powers-Torrey

I went in without much foreknowledge and was invited to participate in a celebration of books, libraries, and the adventure of human imagination; a great counteragent for pandemic blues.

– Shane Wallace

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