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Powell’s Staff Favorites 2021

Powell’s Staff Favorites 2021

Collected here are the Powell’s Staff Favorites from 2020 and 2021 — we gave ourselves an extra year this time — that found space on our forever shelves. May they find their way to you as well. See the full list of Staff Top Fives on Powell's website.

Playlist Tags: Powell's Books best of 2021

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Writers & Lovers

A Novel

By Lily King
Narrated by: Stacey Glemboski
Length: 8 hours 13 minutes

If you enjoyed How to be both, then you’ll love Writers & Lovers.

“Casey is the writer of our time: in debt, trying to hang on to something like a writers' community, envious of others' successes, trying to choose where to live and how to make money and whom to love, while everything 'certain' around her changes: her restaurant job turns ugly, her apartment lease won't be renewed, her boyfriend isn't the person she thought he was. What's different about Casey's story? The honesty. The unpretentious intelligence. The (actually believable) happy ending, but more importantly, the moments when Casey describes the view from a car window, or a stop on her bike ride, or an awkward moment with a child or a dog, when you know you are sharing with her a moment of perfect clarity that both of you want to capture in words. Perfect for grown-up fans of Anne of Green Gables, or who wanted Sybylla to make it in My Brilliant Career, this novel can also hold its own among Women's Prize winners. With all the raw truth of a first novel and the invisible, but skilled, structure and language of an accomplished author, Writers and Lovers does something that feels impossible in the 2020s: It makes us believe, unironically and lovingly, in hope again.”

The Haunted Bookshop image Nialle, The Haunted Bookshop
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A Woman Is No Man

A Novel

By Etaf Rum
Narrated by: Ariana Delawari, Dahlia Salem & Susan Nezami
Length: 10 hours 15 minutes

A Woman Is No Man

A Woman Is No Man gives a rare and terrifying look into the lives of three generations of Palestinian and Palestinian-American women. Readers are invited into the secret world of these women living in Palestine and then Brooklyn; we watch nervously as they try to navigate and reconcile their two worlds — the violent, patriarchal world at home and the confusing, anti-cultural world outside their front door. I cringed at the pain and cheered at the successes of the women I came to know. This beautifully written book shines a light on an important topic. It is a story that must be told and, as importantly, must be heard.”

Where the Sidewalk Ends image Debra Barrett, Where the Sidewalk Ends
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Wings of Shadow

Crown of Feathers

By Nicki Pau Preto
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell, Ferdelle Capistrano, Michael Crouch, Gibson Frazier, Joy Osmanski & Jacques Roy
Length: 22 hours 40 minutes

In the heart-stopping finale to the Crown of Feathers trilogy, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake calls “absolutely unforgettable,” Veronyka must face her most devastating enemy yet: her own sister.

I had a sister, once…

Veronyka is no longer an orphaned stable boy or a nameless Phoenix Rider apprentice: she is the daughter... Read more »

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For a limited time, when you sign up for a new monthly membership with code CHOOSEINDIE, we’ll give you a bonus audiobook! That means you’ll have 2 audiobook credits to redeem from the start.

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White Magic

Essays

By Elissa Washuta
Narrated by: Kyla García
Length: 11 hours 26 minutes

Throughout her life, Elissa Washuta has been surrounded by cheap facsimiles of Native spiritual tools and occult trends, "starter witch kits" of sage, rose quartz, and tarot cards packaged together in paper and plastic. Following a decade of abuse, addiction, PTSD, and heavy-duty drug treatment for a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder, she felt... Read more »

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Under a White Sky

The Nature of the Future

By Elizabeth Kolbert
Narrated by: Rebecca Lowman
Length: 6 hours 21 minutes

Under a White Sky

Under a White Sky is a scary book. It's about climate change, invasive species, and how Louisiana is disappearing into the ocean. It's about how humans, as a species, have screwed up the planet, and how we tend to screw it up more when we try to fix our mistakes. It's also about how we're developing a bunch of new fixes to go after our old mistakes. It's depressing at times, darkly comic at others, and absolutely fascinating throughout. This is a great book for people who want to see where we are now, how we got here, and how scientists are imagining new ways to get us out. Recommended reading for anyone who cares about the planet and wants to read about environmental topics that are perhaps not yet mainstream, but that we will come to reckon with in the near future.”

Page 1 Books image Spenser, Page 1 Books
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Tuesday Mooney Talks To Ghosts

An Adventure

By Kate Racculia
Narrated by: Lauren Fortgang
Length: 14 hours 6 minutes

Tuesday Mooney Talks To Ghosts

“Tuesday Mooney is smart, intrepid, and just a little bit lost—even 20 years after her best friend disappears without a trace. A prospect researcher by trade, she dives in deep when a strange and reclusive billionaire dies and leaves puzzles throughout the city in an elaborate treasure hunt. While this fun and affecting book could have won me over just by being a romp, there is more here. Tuesday and her compatriots are all forced to confront the traumas that have stunted their lives and find new strength in their relationships. I couldn’t have asked for more!”

Main Point Books image Anmiryam Budner, Main Point Books
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The Sum of Us

What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together

By Heather McGhee
Narrated by: Heather McGhee
Length: 11 hours 8 minutes

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD • One of today’s most insightful and influential thinkers offers a powerful exploration of inequality and the lesson that generations of Americans have failed to learn: Racism has a cost for everyone—not just for people of color.

WINNER OF THE PORCHLIGHT BUSINESS BOOK AWARD • ONE... Read more »

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The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires

By Grady Hendrix
Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
Length: 13 hours 48 minutes

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires

“I don’t know about everyone else, but I, for one, am really excited that vampires are making a comeback. I think they’re such a fun trope in pretty much every genre, and this was no exception. True to the Grady Hendrix style, this book was the perfect campy, slightly off-kilter, and moderately gory suburban horror story I didn’t know I needed.”

Brilliant Books Audio image Kendall, Brilliant Books Audio
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Seek You

A Journey Through American Loneliness

By Kristen Radtke
Narrated by: Kristen Radtke
Length: 1 hours 58 minutes

Seek You

“In Seek You, Kristen Radtke approaches the epidemic of American loneliness from a variety of angles. A thoughtful exploration of a complex problem that offers understanding, not easy answers.”

Powell's Books image Keith Mosman, Powell's Books
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Satisfaction Guaranteed

By Karelia Stetz-Waters
Narrated by: Lori Prince
Length: 7 hours 52 minutes

For fans of Casey McQuiston and Abby Jimenez comes a bold, hilarious, and out-of-the-box novel about mixing business with battery-operated pleasure . . .

When it comes to her career, Cade Elgin has it all figured out. Only “professional talk” has become her default mode, relationships are nonexistent, and don’t even mention the word “orgasm.” All... Read more »

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Real Life

A Novel

By Brandon Taylor
Narrated by: Kevin R. Free
Length: 9 hours 25 minutes

A FINALIST for the Booker Prize, the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the VCU/Cabell First Novelist Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, the NYPL Young Lions Award, and the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award 
 
“A blistering coming of age story” —O: The Oprah Magazine


Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York TimesThe Washington... Read more »

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A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Monk & Robot: Book #1

By Becky Chambers
Narrated by: Em Grosland
Length: 4 hours 8 minutes

If you enjoyed The Alchemist, then you’ll love A Psalm for the Wild-Built.

“Imagine a world with many, many cups of tea. Doesn’t this world sound amazing? Doesn’t it calm you just to think of it? Sibling Dex makes people tea as a way of life, but they are still struggling to find meaning in the world. Just when they think they’re about to figure it out by seeking out the supposedly-extinct cricket song, they stumble upon a wild-built robot, Mosscap. Mosscap exudes childlike wonder and an untainted way of seeing the world. Together, Dex and Mosscap exchange thoughtful commentary about humans, other animals, robots, and the role of social constructs in our lives. Reminiscent of the Alchemist set far in another world; it’s a timeless philosophy lesson driven home with dry wit that only a robot can bring to teatime.”

Bright Side Bookshop image Leah, Bright Side Bookshop
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Piranesi

By Susanna Clarke
Narrated by: Íñigo Álvarez de Lara
Length: 7 hours 29 minutes

Vuelve la autora de Jonathan Strange y el señor Norrell con una novela hipnótica ambientada en una realidad onírica.

La casa de Piranesi no es un edificio cualquiera: sus habitaciones son monumentales, con paredes llenas de miles de estatuas, y sus pasillos, interminables. Dentro del dédalo de corredores hay un océano aprisionado en el que...

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On Freedom

Four Songs of Care and Constraint

By Maggie Nelson
Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
Length: 10 hours 5 minutes

An expansive, exhilarating work of criticism by one of the most significant writers of our day.

So often deployed as a jingoistic, even menacing rallying cry, or limited by a focus on passing moments of liberation, the rhetoric of freedom both rouses and repels. Does it remain key to our autonomy, justice, and well-being, or is freedom's long... Read more »

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Network Effect

Murderbot Diaries: Book #5

By Martha Wells
Narrated by: Kevin R. Free
Length: 12 hours 47 minutes

Network Effect

“Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries has become one of my favorite series of all time, and Network Effect is a perfect addition. Murderbot is still trying to figure out what it wants after hacking its governor module. In the meantime, it spends its days protecting the humans it cares about. Of course, everything goes terribly wrong when a friend shows up to kidnap Murderbot and its humans are along for the ride. Network Effect isn’t just fun and action-packed, it’s also emotional and thought-provoking. I love Murderbot!”

Cavalier House Books image Sophie Giroir, Cavalier House Books
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Migrations

A Novel

By Charlotte McConaghy
Narrated by: Barrie Kreinik
Length: 8 hours 48 minutes

Migrations

“Set in a world that is possibly our near future, where animals, birds and fish have been driven to extinction by global warming and human consumption, Franny Stone is desperate to follow the last migration of Arctic terns as they head south from Greenland. She persuades the captain of a small fishing boat to take her on as a crew member, convincing him that the terns will lead them to the elusive fish he’s hunting. She must reject her own morals about fishing to follow the terns. And along the way, her past is uncovered and the crew put to risk; they themselves become the hunted. There is something haunting in this story, something unforgettable. This comes from the beauty of the language in opposition to the stark realities of a world where so much of what we love is simply gone. Franny speaks for many of us. What might we do to escape our past? And, more importantly, can we find a way to keep love alive in the face of tragedy?”

Loganberry Books image Sarah, Loganberry Books
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Little Thieves

By Margaret Owen
Narrated by: Saskia Maarleveld
Length: 13 hours 59 minutes

Little Thieves

“Vanja wants just one thing. She wants enough money to escape the life of servitude her godmothers, Death and Fortune have promised her. She has stolen many things, jewelry, clothes, money, and the identity of her former lady, the Princess Giselle. Cursed by a low god, Vanja only has a fortnight to return what she’s stolen before the jewels growing on her body will take over and kill her...a lifetime of isolation, Vanja knows that she’s the only person she can count on. Perfect for fans of Six of Crows, this Bavarian-inspired fantasy is a delightful adventure with found family, thrilling mysteries, and is full of heart. Maybe Vanja wants more than one thing, after all.”

Wellesley Books image Cassie, Wellesley Books
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How to Resist Amazon and Why

The Fight for Local Economics, Data Privacy, Fair Labor, Independent Bookstores, and a People-Powered Future!

By Danny Caine
Narrated by: Danny Caine
Length: 3 hours 39 minutes

When a company's workers are literally dying on the job, and its business model relies on preying on local businesses and even their own companies, and its CEO is the richest person in the world while its workers make minimum wage with impossible quotas...wouldn't you want to resist? Danny Caine, owner of Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas,...

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House of Hollow

By Krystal Sutherland
Narrated by: Eleanor Bennett
Length: 9 hours 10 minutes

A New York Times Bestseller!
An Instant Indie Bestseller!

A dark, twisty modern fairytale where three sisters discover they are not exactly all that they seem and evil things really do go bump in the night.


Iris Hollow and her two older sisters are unquestionably strange. Ever since they disappeared on a suburban street in Scotland as children only... Read more »

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Casa de tierra y sangre

By Sarah J. Maas
Length: 28 hours 34 minutes

Con personajes inolvidables, un romance apasionante y un suspenso adictivo, esta nueva e inventiva serie de fantasía por la autora #1 del New York Times Sarah J. Maas explora el dolor de la pérdida, el precio de la libertad... y el poder del amor.

Bryce Quinlan tenía una vida perfecta, trabajando todo el día y divirtiéndose toda la noche,...

Read more »

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