What were the best new books of 2021? Librarians from all over Morris, Sussex, Warren, and Hunterdon counties got together to decide. Here are Main’s picks for best books of 2021.

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team of biologists tasked with reintroducing fourteen gray wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape, but Aggie, too, unmade by the terrible secrets that drove the sisters out of Alaska. Inti is not the woman…

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Matrix by Lauren Groff

Cast out of the royal court by Eleanor of Aquitaine, deemed too coarse and rough-hewn for marriage or courtly life, seventeen-year-old Marie de France is sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey, its nuns on the brink of starvation and beset by disease. At first taken aback by the severity…

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The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

Immigrant. Socialite. Magician. Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society—she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer and Asian, a Vietnamese adoptee treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most…

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The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the…

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Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Here is the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her.

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The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary's fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old,…

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Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver's Row don't approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway…

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The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the…

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The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson

When Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she came home one day to find that her dad had left a paperback titled The Double Helix on her bed. She put it aside, thinking it was one of those detective tales she loved. When she read it on a rainy Saturday, she discovered she was right,…

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Cultish by Amanda Montell

What makes “cults” so intriguing and frightening? What makes them powerful? The reason why so many of us binge Manson documentaries by the dozen and fall down rabbit holes researching suburban moms gone QAnon is because we’re looking for a satisfying explanation for what causes people to join—and more importantly, stay in—extreme groups. We secretly…

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Major Labels by Kelefa Sanneh

An epic achievement and a huge delight, the entire history of popular music over the past fifty years refracted through the big genres that have defined and dominated it: rock, R&B, country, punk, hip-hop, dance music, and pop Kelefa Sanneh, one of the essential voices of our time on music and culture, has made a…

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Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad

In the summer after graduating from college, Suleika Jaouad was preparing, as they say in commencement speeches, to enter “the real world.” She had fallen in love and moved to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a war correspondent. The real world she found, however, would take her into a very different kind of…

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The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore

1860: As the clash between the states rolls slowly to a boil, Elizabeth Packard, housewife and mother of six, is facing her own battle. The enemy sits across the table and sleeps in the next room. Her husband of twenty-one years is plotting against her because he feels increasingly threatened—by Elizabeth's intellect, independence, and unwillingness…

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Something's Wrong! by Jory John

Jeff the bear has definitely forgotten something. He ate his breakfast, he watered his plant, he combed his fur...what could it be? Why does he feel so oddly off? So he asks his friend Anders the rabbit what could possibly be wrong. It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that he's wearing underwear...over…

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Fred Gets Dressed by Peter Brown

The boy loves to be naked. He romps around his house naked and wild and free. Until he romps into his parents' closet and is inspired to get dressed. First he tries on his dad's clothes, but they don't fit well. Then he tries on his mom's clothes, and wow! The boy looks great. He…

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How to Apologize by David LaRochelle

Wouldn't the world be a better place if everyone knew how to apologize? Luckily, this humorous guidebook is full of practical tips about when, why, and how to say you're sorry. From a porcupine who accidentally popped his friend's balloon to a snail who was running so fast he stepped on a sloth's toes, hilarious…

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Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho

A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers'. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother's, and her little sister's. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are…

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Change Sings by Amanda Gorman

As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes--big or small--in the world, in their communities, and in most importantly, in themselve.s

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The Librarian's Stories by Lucy Falcone

A village is left in ruins after the bombs fall. The beloved library is burned to ash. Food is scarce. Danger is abundant. Every aspect of daily life is changed. How will home ever feel as it once did? But then one day, the Librarian emerges in the town square. Seated on a bench in…

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In My Mosque by M. O. Yuksel

Step in and discover all the rituals and wonder of the mosque in this lyrical debut picture book from M. O. Yuksel, with gorgeous artwork from New York Times bestselling illustrator Hatem Aly. A great conversation starter in the home or classroom, this book is perfect for fans of All Are Welcome and The Proudest…

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Don't Hug Doug by Carrie Finison

Doug prefers not to be hugged, but there are a variety of other ways his loved ones can show him affection.

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The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess by Tom Gauld

A little wooden robot embarks on a quest to find his missing sister-- making for a memorable contemporary bedtime story in acclaimed graphic novelist Tom Gauld's first picture book for children. For years, the king and queen tried desperately to have a baby. Their wish was twice granted when an engineer and a witch gave…

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Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder

Illustrations and easy-to-read, rhyming text celebrate bodies of all shapes, sizes, ages, and colors, with different kinds of hair, eyes, spots, scars, and more.

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The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell

Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into cardboard kingdom. This is the summer when sixteen kids encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters--and their own inner demons--on one last quest before school starts again. In the Cardboard Kingdom, you can be anything you want…

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Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd

At home, Maggie is the odd one out. Her parents are preoccupied with the new baby they're expecting, and her younger brothers are twins and always in their own world. Maggie thinks a new puppy is the answer, but when she goes to select one on her birthday, she breaks out in hives and rashes.…

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Lore Olympus: Volume One by Rachel Smythe

Experience the propulsive love story of two Greek gods--Hades and Persephone--brought to life with lavish artwork and an irresistible contemporary voice. Scandalous gossip, wild parties, and forbidden love--witness what the gods do after dark in this stylish and contemporary reimagining of one of mythology's most well-known stories from creator Rachel Smythe.

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The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor

Aware of the racial tumult in the years after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Mei tries to remain blissfully focused on her job, her close friendship with the camp foreman's daughter, and telling stories about Paul Bunyan--reinvented as Po Pan Yin (Auntie Po), an elderly Chinese matriarch.

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Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm, Savanna Ganucheau

In Jennifer L. Holm's New York Times bestselling, Newbery Honor winning middle grade historical fiction novel, life isn't like the movies. But then again, 11-year-old Turtle is no Shirley Temple She's smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it's 1935 and jobs and money…

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