Here are the best books of 2021, according to the NYPL

November 23, 2021

Photo credit: Jonathan Blanc / NYPL

The New York Public Library on Tuesday released its annual list of the best books of the year, a tradition that started nearly 100 years ago. This year, committees of expert librarians selected nearly 300 titles across categories for kids, teens, and adults. From fiction to fantasy to graphic novels and poetry, the Best Books of 2021 list has something for every reader in your life.

Nine committees made up of library staff focused on different categories as part of their selection process, evaluating thousands of books based on merit, audience appeal, and whether the titles represent the city’s diversity, according to a press release. All books were published in 2021.

“The incredible, century-old tradition of naming the year’s best books gives everyone a place to start or continue their reading journey. There is something on this list for everyone,” Lynn Lobash, associate director of Reader Services for NYPL, said in a statement.

“So whether it’s to support a resolution to read more in 2022, or to figure out holiday gifts or stocking stuffers, or to grab a book to read on a trip this holiday season, or just to find something new to read, we know this list will be helpful, and our gift to New Yorkers.”

Find the full Best Books of 2021 list here.

Ahead, explore the top 10 books in four categories as determined by the NYPL:

Best books for children

  • Artie and the Wolf Moon by Olivia Stephens
  • Barakah Beats by Maleeha Siddiqui
  • The Big Bath House by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Gracey Zhang
  • Living with Viola by Rosena Fung
  • The Magical Imperfect by Chris Baron
  • Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson
  • Over the Shop by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Qin Leng
  • Stuntboy, in the Meantime by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Raúl the Third
  • Welcome to Your Period! by Yumi Stynes and Dr. Melissa Kang, illustrated by Jenny Latham
  • The Wisdom of Trees: How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom by Lita Judge

Mejores libros para pequeños (Best books for kids in Spanish):

  • Érase una vez y mucho más será by Johanna Schaible
  • Escucha mi voz / Hear My Voice compiled by Warren Binford for Project
  • Lucero by Yuyi Morales, translated by Eida Del Risco
  • ¡Mambo mucho mambo! El baile que atravesó la barrera del color by Dean
    Robbins, translated by Georgina Lázaro, illustrated by Eric Velasquez
  • Mis dos pueblos fronterizos by David Bowles, illustrated by Erika Meza
  • Nuncaseolvida (Neverforgotten) by Alejandra Algorta, translated by Aida
    Salazar, illustrated by Iván Rickenmann
  • Un pájaro en casa by Blanca Gómez
  • La selva de Zonia by Juana Martinez-Neal
  • Sunakay by Meritxell Martí, illustrated by Xavier Salomó
  • Tancho by Luciano Lozano

Best books for teens

  • Boys Run the Riot, Vol. 1 by Keito Gaku
  • Crossroads at Midnight by Abby Howard
  • How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
  • Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
  • Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
  • Let’s Talk About It: The Teen’s Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being a
    Human by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan
  • Nubia: Real One by L.L. McKinney, illustrated by Robyn Smith
  • Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi
  • Punching Bag by Rex Ogle
  • The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon

Best books for adults:

  • Act Your Age, Eve Brown: A Novel by Talia Hibbert
  • All Her Little Secrets: A Novel by Wanda M. Morris
  • The Dangers of Smoking in Bed: Stories by Mariana Enriquez, translated
    from the Spanish by Megan McDowell
  • Hell of a Book: A Novel by Jason Mott
  • How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across
    America by Clint Smith
  • Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
  • Mama Phife Represents: A Verse Memoir by Cheryl Boyce-Taylor
  • The Rock Eaters: Stories by Brenda Peynado
  • Shadow Life by Hiromi Goto
  • She Who Became the Sun: A Novel by Shelley Parker-Chan


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Tags: Books, NYPL

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