2021 Staff Favorites

  • Posted on: 18 January 2022
  • By: ocarroll


2021 brought readers all new stories to add to their "To Be Read" lists. Whether a new story or old, we all found a favorite read that we can't wait to share. The HMCPL staff had plenty of favorite books they read throughout 2021 and we wanted to share a few with you!


Children’s (Juvenile) Books


Don’t Hug Doug written by Carrie Finison Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman

" I loved it because it was a cute and fun way to teach my daughter body autonomy and boundaries. I like that it teaches different ways to show affection other than hugging. And that it's ok not to want to hug someone.”

— Amber S.




Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff 

*This book is recommended for middle-grade (10 and up) juvenile readers*

"While this is a book for younger readers about grief and identity, I would also recommend it for any adult who loves a child who might be questioning their gender identity. This book really gets to the heart of the struggle some children feel and the relief of being accepted for who they are in the end. It's poignant and heartwarming.”

— Kim H., Branch Assistant, Triana Public Library



YA (Young Adult) Books


Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

"This debut novel is about Daunis Fontaine, a biracial tribal member of the Ojibwe tribe.  Pulled into a town mystery, Daunis has to figure out how to protect her community. It is a perfect read for ages 16 and up. Boulley sprinkles Ojibwe terms in the story, plus gives a bit of history about the Upper Michigan area. Pick this one up for a long weekend read.”

— Betcei B., South Huntsville Adult Programs


"While this book has the framework of a mystery and a young woman asked to go undercover to solve a crime, it's about so much more than just that. It's about the struggle for preservation of culture and the quest for the truth,  addiction and harmful relationships, and it's about grief and family. This book packs a punch."

—Kim H., Branch Assistant, Triana Public Library




Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

"What would you do to have your greatest desire granted? The isolated town of Amity Falls finds out as it slowly unravels from the inside.”

— Laura N., Youth Services Librarian, Downtown Huntsville Library


"This book is full of the artistic unease of M. Night Shyamalan and a Shirley Jackson-esc discussion of humanity. It begs the question: What if the real monsters aren't the things that creep through the dark, but the person who lives next door? “

— Olivia C., PR Assistant HMCPL




Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon

"A fun collaboration by several popular YA authors that follows several teenagers (and their love stories) around New York City during a blackout. They bring Black (and in a few cases, queer) teen romance to the spotlight, with couples you'll want to stick around with even after you close the book. It's an excellent case study for how to build 3-dimensional characters in a short amount of space. It's an easy and fun read you won't want to put down!”

— Kim H., Branch Assistant, Triana Public Library



Adult Fiction


Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

"This book gives profoundly unique perspectives on womanhood and motherhood from the transgender women who lead the story. It really helps the reader see past the typical narrative of both as often told by straight, cisgender women. It's an important read for anyone who wants to grow in their understanding of gender and womanhood and how difficult it would be to navigate both in a culture that often responds to transgender women with disgust and violence.”

— Kim H., Branch Assistant, Triana Public Library




The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore

"Beautifully written and based on true events of witch trials in 17th century England. The characters come alive and, even with such heavy subject matter, there is so much humor. One of my favorite lines was when Rebecca muses of the self-proclaimed Witchfinder, Matthew Hopkins, by saying, “He probably calls the sky ‘the firmament’.” I laughed out loud!”

— Annie P., Digital Services Librarian HMCPL



Good Apple by Elizabeth Passarella

"I absolutely adore sharp writing and engaging humor and that's what I found in abundance in Elizabeth Passarella's Good Apple: Tales of a Southern Evangelical. Passarella's depiction of life, family and faith in New York City is a celebration of the silly and the sacred, reminding us that we have far more in common with one another than we might think.”

— Tracie C., Workforce Development Tech



The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

"It is a touching novel about a woman dealing with tragedy and being diagnosed with autism. I love Helen Hoang's writing. It's funny and a tearjerker with a very sweet love interest thrown in!”

— Amber S.


The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.

"This book tells a story of love and heartbreak in a way that cuts deep and will haunt you long after you read the final page. It's tragic but also beautiful in the description of a love story rarely told.”

— Kim H., Branch Assistant, Triana Public Library




Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

"What a hilarious mystery! Meddelin Chan accidentally kills her blind date, and then calls on her mother and aunts to help her get rid of the body. It isn't as easy as they expect! When the body accidentally finds its way to a place it definitely shouldn't be, chaos ensues! After all, nothing can ruin a wedding faster than finding a dead body!

This book made me laugh out loud at the logical reasons for their actions that never play out quite right!”

— Betcei B., Adult Programs, South Huntsville Public Library



The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

"This work does an excellent job of exploring the world of American financier J.P. Morgan's personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene. Greene was an African-American woman who presented herself to society at large as a white person. Living this lie was the only way Ms. Greene could have held such a prestigious position in the early 20th century. Although this is a work of fiction, the authors' attention to historic accuracy as well as their sensitive approach to the topic of 'passing'  make this read both enlightening and entertaining.”

— Terri J., Monrovia Public Library


Once Upon A Wardrobe by Patti Callahan

"Meg is studying numbers and equations at Oxford, but gets drawn in to literature when her younger brother George becomes enamored with 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe' by C. S. Lewis. Lewis is teaching at Oxford, and George insists that his sister find out 'Where' Narnia came from. Appeasing her ill brother, Meg seeks  to find the answer, but it may not be as straight forward as she thinks. This book is one that can be reread time and time again.”

— Betcei B., Adult Programs, South Huntsville Public Library



Adult Non-Fiction


The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

This book is hard to classify. It's a type of memoir wrapped in social and cultural exploration of a few of the offerings of a world inhabited by humans...from Scratch-n-Sniff stickers to Canada Geese...and then rated on a 5-star scale. It's surprisingly funny (both the print edition and the audiobook have special blurbs unique to those formats) and startlingly poignant. It's a good bedside table book as each essay can be read as stand alone pieces.

— Kim H., Branch Assistant, Triana Public Library



The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel

"At first glance, this is a memoir using a timeline of fitness trends to structure the telling of the fitness-loving author’s story. What really happens is Bechdel takes the idea of fitness as self improvement and from there incorporates historical figures, philosophy, and personal reflection to define self improvement on both a personal and a conceptual level. I loved reading about her journey and jotted down several names and ideas to research further to help me on my own journey. “

— Amanda C., Systems Librarian HMCPL



2021 was full of good books for all readers, from children's books to adult non-fiction. Now, we are ready to start off on a new reading year and see what stories 2022 brings us!