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The best books we read in 2021

By Kobo • December 25, 2021Kobo Staff Picks

Discover the eBooks and audiobooks that Kobo staffers loved in 2021

We asked the staff of Kobo about the best eBooks and audiobooks they read in 2021. Hear the full discussions about our picks on the Kobo in Conversation podcast.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Tara was already a fan of Michelle Zauner's music, as well as the New Yorker piece this grew out of, and the final full-length book was everything she wanted in a memoir.

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The Wreckage of My Presence by Casey Wilson

Deandra loved Casey Wilson's essay collection so much she read it twice: first as an eBook then again as an audiobook read by the author.

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The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell

Al loved hearing first-hand accounts of pilots and generals who developed and executed the bombing strategy that brought about the devastating end of WWII.

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Cultish by Amanda Montell

Elizabeth recommends Cultish to anybody who's ever been asked to join a multi-level marketing scheme or felt troubled by overly charismatic fitness instructors.

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Miracle and Wonder by Malcolm Gladwell and Bruce Headlam

Mark loved this audiobook, which he found was more like a musical documentary of the career of Paul Simon.

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Second Place by Rachel Cusk

For Courtney, Rachel Cusk's latest novel touched on the themes of isolation that we've been living through in a way she found compelling and fresh. And she'd love to see more Canadians discovering Cusk's fiction, including her Outline trilogy.

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Year of the Nurse: A Covid-19 Pandemic Memoir by Cassandra Alexander

Rachel hadn't before read anything like this multimedia memoir by ICU nurse (and paranormal romance author) Cassandra Alexander. She recommends it to anybody who thinks the pandemic is over.

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I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Karan normally enjoys his true crime more white collar than this story of the Golden State Killer--but Michelle McNamara's investigation grabbed him and wouldn't let go.

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The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Tracy was entranced by this story of the millions of paths not taken in an ordinary life.

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The Light of Days by Judy Batalion

Lee found this book about Jewish women fighting against the Nazi invasion of Poland "inspiring."

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Missed Connections by Brian Francis

Listening to Brian Francis' revisting of the letters of his youth took Jacques right back to when he was a young adult coming out in the 90s.

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The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

Vicky couldn't put down this page-turner full of flawed characters making decisions she questioned at every step.

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Waiting for Bojangles by Olivier Bourdeaut

For Jean-Marc, this is a must-read that is for adults what The Little Prince is for children--and he's envious of readers who get to read it for the first time.

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How to Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters

Vanessa related to the young characters in this novel who have a lot to figure out in life.

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Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

Nathan was really impressed by Torrey Peters' command of her craft as a novelist, and he can't wait for whatever she writes next.

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The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Erik felt like he got control of things in his life through Charles Duhigg's pop-sci book on habit: "It gave me some good insights about why some habits have stuck with me."

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When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain

Kerri has been a fan of Paula McLain for years, and found this leap from historical literary fiction into suspense was easy to follow: "I love her style and her prose. All of the same incredible detail that she brings to historical fiction she applied here."

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A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

Michelle doesn't write a lot of fan letters, but she wrote one to Natalie Haynes after reading this contemporary retelling of the Trojan War through the eyes of 50 characters named in the original texts.

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Jejuri by Arun Kolatkar

Parmeet's not a regular poetry reader, but he loved this collection--often cited among the best Indian books of all time--named after a place near his hometown Pune. "It's spectacular."

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Will by Will Smith

René has "always been a fan of Will Smith." And he found this revealing memoir, narrated by the iconic entertainer, gave him a deeper sense of the drive behind Smith's success, as well as the mistakes he made along the way.

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Midnight Riot: Rivers of London #1 by Ben Aaronovitch

Trevor's normally a sci-fi fan, but this detective novel about an alternate present-day world where magic is part of deductive reasoning grabbed him by surprise.

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Circe by Madeline Miller

Victoria found Circe relatable as a protagonist, in contrast to her mythological reputation as a monstrous villain. And she's hopeful that retelling myths this way can help readers re-examine other culturally-embedded narratives that could be viewed from other perspectives.

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