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2021 Staff Favorites

Check out what Berlin-Peck staff read and loved in 2021!

November 21, 2021

Check out what we read and loved in 2021!

In this list:

  • realistic fiction
  • speculative fiction
  • historical fiction
  • horror
  • mystery & thriller
  • biography & memoir
  • non-fiction
  • food & cooking
  • graphic novels

 

Realistic Fiction

Realistic fiction typically involves real settings and events that could feasibly happen in a real-world setting.

Beartown

Beartown

Fredrik Backman

In the tiny forest community of Beartown, the possibility that the amateur hockey team might win a junior championship, bringing the hope of revitalization to the fading town, is shattered by the aftermath of a violent act that leaves a young girl traumatized.

Girls with Bright Futures

Girls With Bright Futures

Tracy Dobmeier

Locked in competition for a single admittance into Stanford, the mothers of three prep-school students confront their worst nightmares and doubts about each other’s true characters when their daughter applicants are violently targeted.

The Other Mother

The Other Mother

Matthew Dicks

A boy mourning the sudden death of his father and resenting his overworked mother’s marriage to another man wakes up one morning to discover that his real mother has been replaced by a mysterious doppelgänger.

Pack Up the Moon

Pack Up the Moon

Kristan Higgins

When his wife leaves behind a series of letters—one for every month after her death, Joshua is taken on a journey through pain, anger and denial—one that will teach him that the path to happiness doesn’t follow a straight line.

The Reading List

The Reading List

Sara Nisha Adams

Working at the local library, Aleisha reads every book on a secret list she found, which transports her from the painful realities she’s facing at home, and decides to pass the list on to a lonely widower desperate to connect with his bookworm granddaughter.

Seven Days in June

Seven Days in June

Tia Williams

Running into reclusive author Shane Hall at a literary event, bestselling erotica writer Eva Mercy, over the next seven days, reconnects with this man who broke her heart 20 years earlier until he disappears again, leaving more questions than answers.

Sometimes I dream in Italian

Sometimes I Dream in Italian

Rita Ciresi

As children, Angel and Lina Lupo want nothing more than to escape their Italian-American Catholic upbringing for a “normal” American childhood, but as they deal with the challenges of adult relationships, romances, and the future, they rediscover the value of family bonds and love.

This Close to Okay

This Close to Okay

Leesa Cross-Smith

A recently divorced therapist spots a man standing on the edge of a bridge and convinces him to join her for coffee instead of jumping and the pair spend a cathartic weekend sharing secrets and angsts.

We are Not Like Them

We Are Not Like Them

Christine Pride

The lifelong bond between two women, one Black and one white, is severely tested when one woman’s husband, a police officer, is involved in the shooting of an unarmed Black teenager, while the other woman, a reporter, covers this career-making story.

When I Ran Away

When I Ran Away

Ilona Bannister

Escaping the September 11 attacks aboard the Staten Island Ferry, Gigi marries a fellow survivor and moves to London, where she confronts the anguish of her trauma, her brother’s death and the unspoken pain of motherhood.

 

Historical Fiction

Historical fiction takes place in a setting located in the past, often exploring notable historical figures or events. Historical romance is a popular subcategory.

The Children's Blizzard

The Children’s Blizzard

Melanie Benjamin

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife comes a story of courage on the prairie, inspired by the devastating storm that struck the Great Plains in 1888, threatening the lives of hundreds of immigrant homesteaders, especially schoolchildren.

Hamnet

Hamnet
A Novel of the Plague

Maggie O’Farrell

The award-winning author of I Am, I Am, I Am presents the evocative story of a young Shakespeare’s marriage to a talented herbalist before the ravaging death of their 11-year-old son shapes the production of his greatest play.

The Lost Apothecary

The Lost Apothecary

Sarah Penner

Secretly dispensing poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them, a London apothecary triggers unintended consequences that shape three lives across multiple centuries.

The Rose Code

The Rose Code

Kate Quinn

Joining the elite Bletchley Park codebreaking team during World War II, three women from very different walks of life uncover a spy’s dangerous agenda years later against the backdrop of the royal wedding of Elizabeth and Philip.

The Things We Cannot Say

The Things We Cannot Say

Kelly Rimmer

Told in alternating voices from the present day and Nazi-occupied Poland, a follow-up to Before I Let You Go follows a woman’s urgent search for answers to a family mystery involving her grandparents’ wartime experiences.

Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells

Jennifer Chiaverini

A holiday tale inspired by Longfellow’s classic poem follows the experiences of a dedicated Boston teacher who, in the face of a somber season, finds inspiration and renewal at the church where she volunteers.

The Last Bookshop in London

The Last Bookshop in London
A Novel of World War II

Madeline Martin

Taking a job in a London bookshop just as the Blitz begins, Grace finds comfort in the power of words, storytelling and community as the bookshop becomes one of the only remaining properties to survive the bombings.

The Night Portrait

The Night Portrait
A Novel of World War II and Da Vinci’s Italy

Laura Morelli

A tale told in two historical periods follows da Vinci’s ambitious 1492 creation of Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine and a conservator’s life-risking effort to save the painting from Nazi destruction centuries later.

The Paris Library

The Paris Library

Janet Skeslien Charles

A lonely, 1980s teenager befriends an elderly neighbor and uncovers her past as a librarian at the American Library in Paris who joined the Resistance when the Nazis arrived. Based on a true story.

The Personal Librarian

The Personal Librarian

Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray

Hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library, Belle de Costa Greene becomes one of the most powerful women in New York despite the dangerous secret she keeps.

Eternal

Eternal

Lisa Scottoline

An aspiring writer, an athlete from a professional cyclist family and a mathematics prodigy find their bond tested by a love triangle and the spread of anti-Semitism and fascism in 1937 Italy.

The seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Taylor Jenkins Reid

When an aging and reclusive Hollywood icon selects an unknown magazine reporter to write her life story, the baffled journalist forges deep ties with the actress during a complicated interview process that exposes their tragic common history.

The lions of Fifth Avenue

The Lions of Fifth Avenue

Fiona Davis

A New York Public Library superintendent’s wife reevaluates her priorities upon joining a woman’s suffrage group in 1913, decades before her granddaughter’s efforts to save an exhibit expose tragic family secrets.

The Warsaw orphan

The Warsaw Orphan

Kelly Rimmer

Set during World War II in Poland, this novel, based on real-life heroes, follows Emilia over the course of the war, her involvement with the Resistance, and her love for a young man imprisoned in the Jewish ghetto who’s passion leads him to fight in the Warsaw Uprising.

Black Swan of Paris

Black Swan of Paris

Karen Robards

A celebrated singer in World War II occupied France joins the Resistance to save her estranged family from being killed in a German prison.

Girl from the Channel Islands

Girl From the Channel Islands

Jenny Lecoat

After fleeing Vienna, a Jewish woman living in the British Channel Islands is forced to hide in plain site during the German occupation and to survive must depend on her own courage, her community and a soldier she befriends.

Radar Girls

Radar Girls

Sara Ackerman

Inspired by the real women of the Women’s Air Raid Defense, this extraordinary novel follows Daisy Wilder as she, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, enlists in a top secret program, which takes her to wartime Hawaii where she finds love, courage, strength, and sisterhood.

 

Speculative Fiction

Speculative fiction contains elements that do not exist in reality, history, and nature. It’s a broad category that includes more specific genres like science fiction, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.

23337

11/22/63

Stephen King

Receiving a horrific essay from a GED student with a traumatic past, high-school English teacher Jake Epping is enlisted by a friend to travel back in time to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a mission for which he must reacclimate to 1960s culture and befriend troubled loner Lee Harvey Oswald.

The Dead Zone

The Dead Zone

Stephen King

After four and a half years in a coma, Johnny Smith awakens with knowledge of the death zone and an ability to see the future, a horrible power that he does not want and cannot escape.

Golden Girl

Golden Girl

Elin Hilderbrand

Entering the afterlife due to a hit and run accident, a successful author learns she can observe the earthly lives of her nearly grown children and is also permitted three “nudges” to alter the outcome of events.

The Invisible Library

The Invisible Library

Genevieve Cogman

Sent to retrieve a dangerous book from an alternative London where magic and supernatural creatures exist, Irene and her assistant, Kai, find themselves caught in a deadly race to find the tome.

The midnight library

The Midnight Library

Matt Haig

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

Nothing to see here

Nothing to See Here

Kevin Wilson

Agreeing to help her former college roommate care for two stepchildren who possess the ability to spontaneously combust when agitated, Lillian endeavors to keep her young charges cool in the face of an astonishing revelation.

Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake

Margaret Atwood

An unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride.

Several People Are Typing

Several People Are Typing

Calvin Kasulke

When his consciousness is uploaded into his company’s internal Slack channels, boosting his productivity, Gerald, who works for a PR firm, as his reality becomes more absurd, enlists the help of a co-worker to help him escape—and to find out what happened to his body.

Tender is the Flesh

Tender is the Flesh

Agustina Bazterrica

The electrifying, award-winning, internationally bestselling novel about a dystopian world in which animals have been wiped out, humans are being harvested for food, and society has been divided into those who eat and those who are eaten.

Under the Whispering Door

Under the Whispering Door

TJ Klune

After he dies, a curious and powerful being gives Wallace one week to cross over to the land of the dead, and Wallace, who finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life, sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

 

Horror

Horror is a type of speculative fiction that creates an eerie and frightening atmosphere for the reader. It can include both mundane and supernatural elements.

The Bright Lands

The Bright Lands

John Fram

Reluctantly returning to his small hometown when his star football player brother goes missing, a disgraced older sibling reconnects with the local sheriff, who begins to suspect former classmates in her search for her own missing brother.

The Final Girl Support Group

The Final Girl Support Group

Grady Hendrix

A real-life “final girl”—the one girl always left standing at the end of a horror movie—Lynette Tarkington, who survived a massacre 22 years ago, along with five other final girls, works to overcome her past until someone becomes determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

Home Before Dark

Home Before Dark

Riley Sager

Twenty-five years after her father published a wildly popular nonfiction book based on her family’s rushed exit from a haunted Victorian estate, naysayer Maggie inherits the house and begins renovations, only to make a number of disturbing discoveries.

The Last House on Needless Street

The Last House on Needless Street

Catriona Ward

When a neighbor moves in next door, a family of three—a teenage girl who isn’t allowed outside, a man with memory loss and a house cat who reads the bible—are terrified that the unspeakable secret that binds them together will be exposed.

The Lost Village

The Lost Village

Camilla Sten

Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.

Mexican Gothic

Mexican Gothic

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror set in glamorous 1950s Mexico.

The Patient

The Patient

Jasper DeWitt

A young, overconfident psychiatrist chronicles in a series of online posts his new job at a mental asylum, where he catastrophically attempts to treat a profoundly disturbed patient who has been in the hospital since early childhood.

The Sun Down Motel

The Sun Down Motel

Simone St. James

A young woman takes a night-clerk job at the same roadside motel from where her aunt went missing decades earlier before uncovering the work of a serial killer.

 

Mystery & Thriller

Thrillers keep readers on the “edge of their seats” with twisting, mysterious, highly suspenseful plots. There is a strong overlap with the mystery genre, which involves murder investigation or other crimes.

56 Days

56 Days

Catherine Ryan Howard

When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests they move in together. Ciara sees a unique opportunity for a relationship to flourish without the scrutiny of family and friends. Oliver sees a chance to hide who—and what—he really is.

Apples never fall

Apples Never Fall

Liane Moriarty

The Delaney family love one another dearly—it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other… If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father? This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

The end of her

The End of Her

Shari Lapena

When a woman from her husband’s past shows up and raises questions about the death of his first wife, Stephanie remains loyal to her husband until a newly opened police investigation starts eroding her trust and her marriage.

False witness

False Witness

Karin Slaughter

Defense attorney Leigh Collier is taken aback when she discovers her new, high profile case will be defending her childhood abuser.

A good marriage

A Good Marriage

Kimberly McCreight

Begged for help by an old friend, an overworked lawyer investigates a suspicious death in a Brooklyn brownstone before she is confronted by a close-knit circle of parents who would protect an exclusive school.

Goodnight Beautiful

Goodnight Beautiful

Aimee Molloy

Eavesdropping on the therapy sessions her husband conducts for clients in a downstairs office, a lonely young bride finds her life and marriage turned upside down when her husband goes missing after welcoming a sophisticated new patient.

Hostage

Hostage

Clare Mackintosh

Mina is trying to focus on her job as a flight attendant, not the problems of her five-year-old daughter back home, or the fissures in her marriage. But the plane has barely taken off when Mina receives a chilling note from an anonymous passenger, someone intent on ensuring the plane never reaches its destination. Someone who needs Mina’s assistance and who knows exactly how to make her comply. It’s twenty hours to landing. A lot can happen in twenty hours.

The last thing he told me

The Last Thing He Told Me

Laura Dave

After her husband disappears, Hannah Hall quickly realizes he isn’t who he said he was and that his 16-year-old daughter, who wants nothing to do with her, may hold the key to figuring out his true identity.

Local woman missing

Local Woman Missing

Mary Kubica

When Delilah, who disappeared 11 years earlier when she was only 6 years old, shockingly returns, the residents of a quiet suburban neighborhood want to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find.

The maidens

The Maidens

Alex Michaelides

When a member of a secret society known as The Maidens is murdered, a brilliant, but troubled, group therapist finds her obsession with proving the guilt of an untouchable Cambridge University professor spiraling out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her life.

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

Marie Benedict

Claiming amnesia after going missing for more than a week in late 1926, up-and-coming mystery author Agatha Christie pens a chilling story that brashly implicates her war-hero husband.

The night she disappeared

The Night She Disappeared

Lisa Jewell

On a beautiful summer night in a charming English suburb, a young woman and her boyfriend disappear after partying at the massive country estate of a new college friend. One year later, a writer moves into a cottage on the edge of the woods that border the same estate. Known locally as the Dark Place, the dense forest is the writer’s favorite area for long walks—and it’s on one such walk that she stumbles upon a mysterious note that simply reads, “DIG HERE.”

Not a happy family

Not a Happy Family

Shari Lapena

When their parents are brutally murdered the night after Easter dinner, three siblings, who stand to inherit millions, are devastated but also wonder if one of them is capable of murder or if a stranger was responsible for tearing this not-so-happy family apart.

People Like Her

People Like Her

Ellery Lloyd

A successful media influencer’s morally questionable relationship with the truth exposes deep psychological cracks in her marriage at the same time her family is targeted by a violently obsessed fan.

The Push

The Push

Ashley Audrain

A devoted mother with a painful past gradually realizes that something is very wrong with her daughter, a fear that is complicated by her husband’s dismissive views and the birth of a healthy son.

Rock paper scissors

Rock Paper Scissors

Alice Feeney

When Amelia wins a free weekend getaway to a remote venue in the Scottish highlands, she views this as the perfect opportunity to reconnect with her husband Adam, but the trip has the opposite effect as she no longer recognizes the person she married.

 

Biography & Memoir

What’s the difference? A biography tells the story of the subject’s life—or the author’s life, if it’s an autobiography. A memoir, on the other hand, focuses on a particular event or time in the author’s life.

Between Two Kingdoms

Between Two Kingdoms
A Memoir of a Life Interrupted

Suleika Jaouad

An Emmy Award-winning writer and activist describes the harrowing years she spent in early adulthood fighting leukemia and how she learned to live again while forging connections with other survivors of profound illness and suffering.

I Remember Nothing

I Remember Nothing
And Other Reflections

Nora Ephron

A humorous collection of personal essays discusses the author’s career in journalism, divorce, a long-anticipated inheritance with unanticipated results, and the evolution of her relationship with her e-mail in-box.

Lifelines

Lifelines
A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health

Leana Wen

An emergency physician and CNN medical analyst presents an insider’s account of public health and its crucial role, while sharing her inspiring journey from struggling immigrant to being on of Time’s 100 Most Influential People.

This is Going to Hurt

This is Going to Hurt
Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

Adam Kay

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line (with a foreword attempting to explain the National Health Service to a non-UK audience). Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns, this is everything you wanted to know—and more than a few things you didn’t—about life on and off the hospital ward. And yes, it may leave a scar.

 

Non-Fiction

Non-fiction includes anything that presents real-life information—as opposed to fiction, which tells a made-up story. It can include everything from history, to political opinions, to recipes.

The Anthropocene Reviewed

The Anthropocene Reviewed

John Green

The Anthropocene is the current geological age, in which human activity has profoundly shaped the planet and its biodiversity. In this remarkable symphony of essays adapted and expanded from his groundbreaking podcast, John Green reviews different facets of the human-centered planet—from the QWERTY keyboard and Staphylococcus aureus to the Taco Bell breakfast menu—on a five-star scale.

Caste

Caste
The Origins of Our Discontents

Isabel Wilkerson

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns identifies the qualifying characteristics of historical caste systems to reveal how a rigid hierarchy of human rankings, enforced by religious views, heritage and stigma, impact everyday American lives.

A Cat's Tale

A Cat’s Tale
A Journey Through Feline History

Paul Koudounaris

Since the dawn of civilization, felines have prowled alongside mankind as they expanded their territory and spread the myth of human greatness. And today, cats are peddled on social media as silly creatures here to amuse humans with their antics. But this is an absurd, self-centered fantasy. The true history of felines is one of heroism, love, tragedy, sacrifice, and gravitas. Not entirely convinced? Well, get ready, because Baba the Cat is here to set the record straight.

Consider the lobster and other essays

Consider the Lobster and Other Essays

David Foster Wallace

A collection of essays shares whimsical observations about such topics as the Bush-Kerry presidential race, the pain experienced by lobsters while they are being prepared for the feast, and Franz Kafka’s questionable sense of humor.

Cultish

Cultish
The Language of Fanaticism

Amanda Montell

Through juicy storytelling and cutting original research, Montell exposes the verbal elements that make a wide spectrum of communities “cultish,” revealing how they affect followers of groups as notorious as Heaven’s Gate, but also how they pervade our modern start-ups, Peloton leaderboards, and Instagram feeds. Incisive and darkly funny, this enrapturing take on the curious social science of power and belief will make you hear the fanatical language of “cultish” everywhere.

Shit, Actually

Shit, Actually
The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema

Lindy West

The best-selling author of Shrill reexamines iconic movies from the past 40 years to identify laugh-worthy plot holes and fictional misrepresentations in such esteemed blockbusters as Forrest Gump, The Lion King and Top Gun.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again
Essays and Arguments

David Foster Wallace

A collection of keen observations, witty analyses, and essays on a wide range of subjects exposes the fault lines in today’s society

Why Fish Don't Exist

Why Fish Don’t Exist
A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life

Lulu Miller

Nineteenth-century scientist David Starr Jordan built one of the most important fish specimen collections ever seen, until the 1906 San Francisco earthquake shattered his life’s work.

 

Graphic Novel

Loki: Agent of Asgard

Loki: Agent of Asgard

Al Ewing

As Asgardia’s one-man secret service, Loki is ready to lie, cheat and steal his way through the most treacherous missions the All-Mother can throw at him. But who is King Loki? What vile scheme has he been brewing all this time? And what does this shadowy king’s very existence mean for our Loki?

Welcome to the new world

Welcome to the New World

Jake Halpern, Michael Sloan

Delivered with warmth and intimacy, Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan’s Welcome to the New World is a wholly original view of the immigrant experience, revealing not only the trials and successes of one family but showing the spirit of a town and a country, for good and bad.

 

Food & Cooking

Around My French Table

Around My French Table
More Than 300 Recipes From My Home to Yours

Dorie Greenspan

A James Beard Award winner offers personable recipes for French home cooking, presenting more than three hundred recipes for hors d’oeuvres, salads, soups, meat dishes, fish, vegetables, and desserts, with a separate section on making dough, vinaigrettes, and sauces.

Baking with Dorie

Baking With Dorie
Sweet, Salty, and Simple

Dorie Greenspan

A James Beard Award-winning and New York Times best-selling cookbook author offers more than 150 new recipes with ingenious twists including Meringue Little Marvels, Double-Decker Caramel Cake, Coconut Milk Chocolate Marble Cake and Curd and Cream Shortcake.

Cook Like a Pro

Cook Like a Pro
Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks

Ina Garten

A new collection of recipes, tips and techniques by the James Beard Award-winning host of Barefoot Contessa assumes no prior experience and includes such options as 1770 House Lamb & Chickpea Curry, Fried Chicken Sandwiches and Chocolate Chevron Cake.

Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence

Dessert Person
Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence

Claire Saffitz

In her first cookbook, Bon Appétit and YouTube star of the show Gourmet Makes offers wisdom, problem-solving strategies, and more than 100 meticulously tested, creative, and inspiring recipes.

Easy Soups from Scratch with Quick Breads to Match

Easy Soups From Scratch With Quick Breads to Match
70 Recipes to Pair and Share

Ivy Manning

Nothing is more comforting at the end of the day than a hearty bowl of homemade soup accompanied by freshly baked bread, and this book shows home cooks how to do it in under an hour.

Unique Eats and Eateries of Connecticut

Unique Eats and Eateries of Connecticut
The People and Stories Behind the Food

Mike Urban

From hot dogs to haute cuisine, Connecticut boasts an impressive array of tempting delicacies for every taste and budget. Hot, buttered lobster rolls, steamed cheeseburgers, and coal-fired New Haven-style pizza are just a few of the delights that await adventurous foodies in the Nutmeg State. With Unique Eats and Eateries of Connecticut as your guide, you’ll find a new place to try on every page and get the stories behind the food too.