Our Best Books: Staff Favourites of 2021

Slowing down and limiting social interactions might have one bright spot—people are reading more! We at Halifax Public Libraries take pride in our reading achievements and love sharing recommendations with our fellow literary lovers.

Check out some of our staff members' favourite stories, old and new, read within the past year.

Nate's Picks

Collection Management 


Leave Society

A pioneer of modern autofiction (think Karl Ove Knausgaard; Sheila Heti), Lin details four years of his life as he visits his hilarious parents in Taipei, questions virtually everything we think we know about the world, and falls in love, in hypnotic prose that, once you lean into its rhythms, you will never want to end.

Don't Label Me

It can be incredibly hard to engage other humans with sensitive topics in these testy times, so why not have that conversation with… your dog! It may sound trite and wacky, but Manji gets to the heart of many of our society’s most difficult issues in this book that is both light and heavy.


I’ve read the Dune books during every decade since high school, and they’ve become more and more relevant upon each revisit. Now’s the time to delve into this saga of ecology, religion, and the dangers of following leaders fanatically.

Rosemary's Picks

Alderney Gate Public Library 

Peace by Chocolate

An awe inspiring tale of an immigrant success story that has made Nova Scotia and Canada better.

Gutter Child

A finalist for the 2021 Amazon Canada First Novel Award, this dystopian tale examines race and class and the price one pays both financially and psychologically.

The Push

This international bestseller is a page turning psychological drama examining motherhood and the myths and pressures of perfection.

Kassondra's Picks

Regional Programming, Woodlawn Public Library

What Big Teeth

Szabo created a dark and gothic fairy tale about family and the lengths one will go to protect them. I can't stop thinking about this book.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue 

Addie LaRue is immortal but is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. The narrative is beautiful, the characters are broken, and I too want to make a pact with a dark spirit in the woods.

The Fire Never Goes Out

Stevenson's graphic novel memoir is a collection of yearly comic updates they posted on social media over eight years. It's a personal and powerful memoir that focuses on mental health, love, and acceptance.

Laura's Picks 

Information Services, Halifax Central Library


Just like many others who became obsessed with their houseplants during COVID-19, my new favourite area in the Library is the Non Fiction section 635 (Horticulture), filled with beautiful books on house plants and gardening tips. This is one of my favourites from 2021.

A Court of Thorns and Roses

What a great series! I never thought I would be interested in faeries or fantasy books, but this is a strong female character, great story arc, and love story. Any friend I have recommended this book to has fallen right into the magical world. And there are four more books ahead, a great series to get through winter with.

Colleen's Picks 

Marketing & Communications


I picked this one up, not expecting much, while I waited to read Liz Moore's popular, Long Bright River, and immediately fell in love with the endearing characters. If you're looking for a book that will get you right in the feels, exploring loneliness and connection, here's a good one for you. There's a reason it was an Oprah's Book Club pick!

Project Hail Mary

I loved The Martian by Andy Weir, but Project Hail Mary is even better, in my opinion. I've only recently begun exploring the Sci-Fi genre, and this one has all the human (and not-so-human) emotions I always seek in a story—I actually cried at one point. Without giving too much away, there is a beautiful, out of this world friendship at the heart of this novel that you will always remember. It's a long read but so worth it.

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead

The adorable cover drew me in, but the beautiful writing kept me glued to this book. It spoke to me in the same way of one of my favourites, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Canadian author, Emily Austin, will have you laughing, cringing, and maybe wiping a few tears away with this lovely tale of an anxious young woman finding her way in the world. 

Sarah's Picks 

Youth Librarian, Halifax North Memorial Public Library

Klara and the Sun

This title was recommended by a co-worker (thanks, Forbes!). This fabulous science-fiction read features deep implications and questions of what it means to be human.

The Vanishing Half

This was such a fascinating and wonderful read, focusing on race, identity, gender and family. Heartbreakingly beautiful. 


Please give me more Stephen King 2022. This book was fast, fun, and like always, a wild ride.

Ivy's Picks

J.D. Shatford Memorial Public Library

Under Shifting Stars

Part of this story is about figuring out who you are as a person, wanting to belong and be accepted. I feel like that sometimes.

Watering the Soul

I like this book because it reminds me how important it is to take care and be gentle with ourselves.

Book Love

This book is about the life of a person who loves books. Sounds a lot like me.

Beth's Picks 

Captain William Spry Public Library

The Whisper Man

For the most part, I read a lot of thrillers and mysteries this year. I finally got my hands on this popular 2019 release and I loved it. Not only does it have a murder mystery, but it also has the perfect amount of creepiness to warrant a comparison to Stephen King! 

Flower Crowns & Fearsome Things

Amanda Lovelace is my favourite modern poet. Her works include the fantastic Women are Some Kind of Magic series. It’s beautiful, feminist, inspiring, and easily digestible. Highly recommend! "Who said you can't wear a flower crown and still remain a fearsome thing?"

The Wife Upstairs

The Wife Upstairs is the perfect book for me– it is almost as if the author reached right into my brain and knew exactly what I was looking for. This thriller is a modern day retelling of Jane Eyre paired with an atmosphere akin to that of Rebecca. That premise is A LOT to live up to, and The Wife Upstairs does.

Laurel's Picks

Communications & Fund Development

Anomaly : A Novel

This Prix Goncourt winner will leave you speechless! If you enjoy speculative fiction, where ethics, philosophy and science take center stage, along with an intricate web of characters, you’ll love this book. I suspect we will see this adapted into a 10-part Netflix series soon.  

Fishnets & Fantasies

If you feel like you need a good tummy laugh, this book is for you. What happens when Wendy follows her dream to open an…adult shop in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia? Local author Jane, highlights how relationships can go stale, and ways to rebuild them, all while making the reader blush and giggle.

The Strangers

Nominated for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Vermette tells the intergenerational story of the fictional Stranger women. Whether it’s the bonds that bind or break, families take all shapes and forms. The Strangers tells the story of one family’s generational trauma and racism in urban Canada. ​

Shelby's Pick

Adult Services, Halifax Central Library

Winter's Orbit

Winter's Orbit has everything I want in a book! Political intrigue, murder, romantic male leads, cool science fiction world building, and characters that are diverse and interesting. This book helped me remember the joy of reading.

What were your favourite reads of 2021? What are you looking forward to reading in 2022? Tell us in the comments or find us on social media @HFXPubLib.