November Picks - Best of 2021

The theme for November was Best Book of 2021. Participants Read any book (non-fiction and/or fiction) published in 2021 and shared what they liked best in the literary discussion.

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The au pair

The au pair

Rous, Emma, author
2019


Be kind, be calm, be safe : four weeks that shaped a pandemic

Be kind, be calm, be safe : four weeks that shaped a pandemic

Henry, Bonnie, Dr., author
2021

Through this unique lens, we look anew at a crisis that has gripped the world and into the private life and decision-making process of a Canadian woman who has emerged as an international figure both for her humanity in the face of suffering and her acumen and decisiveness as her policies succeeded where so many others failed to "flatten the curve." In a moment defined by lies and half-truths, cynicism and paranoia, Dr. Bonnie Henry's transparency, humility, and humanity set her apart, and her trademark enjoinder to be calm, be kind, and be safe became words for us all to live by.

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A boy called Christmas

A boy called Christmas

Haig, Matt, 1975- author
2016


Canadian courage : true stories of Canada's everyday heroes

Canadian courage : true stories of Canada's everyday heroes

Pruessen, Linda, author
2021

On any given day, ordinary Canadians exhibit courage in myriad ways. Some do so in the face of danger--like six-year-old Sophia LeBlanc, who, in the aftermath of a crash, escaped an upside-down and partially submerged minivan to get help for her family. Some do so by choosing to fight injustice instead of turning a blind eye--like McGill University student Tomas Jirousek, who supported other Indigenous students to push the school to change the troublesome name of its athletic teams. And some demonstrate courage when they overcome adversity--like Timea Nagy, whose experience as a survivor of human trafficking compelled her to become an advocate for others and a voice for change. In Canadian Courage: True Stories of Canada's Everyday Heroes, you'll meet thirty-five remarkable people--men, women, children and even an animal or two--who have shown remarkable courage in the face of danger, injustice and adversity.

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Crossroads : a novel

Crossroads : a novel

Franzen, Jonathan, author
2021

It's December 23, 1971, and the Hildebrandt family is at a crossroads. The patriarch, Russ, the associate pastor of a suburban Chicago church, is poised to break free of a marriage he finds joyless--unless his brilliant and unstable wife, Marion, breaks free of it first. Their eldest child, Clem, is coming home from college afire with moral absolutism, having taken an action that will shatter his father. Clem's sister, Becky, long the social queen of her high-school class, has veered into the era's counterculture, while their younger brother Perry, fed up with selling pot to support his drug habit, has firmly resolved to be a better person.

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Em

Em

Thúy, Kim, author
2021

In the midst of war, an ordinary miracle: an abandoned baby tenderly cared for by a young boy living on the streets of Saigon. The boy is Louis, the child of a long-gone American soldier. Louis calls the baby em Hong, em meaning "little sister," or "beloved." Even though her cradle is nothing more than a cardboard box, em Hong's life holds every possibility. Through the linked destinies of a family of characters, the novel takes its inspiration from historical events, including Operation Babylift, which evacuated thousands of biracial orphans from Saigon in April 1975, and the remarkable growth of the nail salon industry, dominated by Vietnamese expatriates all over the world.

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Empire of pain : the secret history of the Sackler dynasty

Empire of pain : the secret history of the Sackler dynasty

Keefe, Patrick Radden, 1976- author
2021

Presents a portrait of three generations of the Sackler family, who built their fortune on the sale of Valium and later sponsored the creation and marketing of one of the most commonly prescribed and addictive painkillers of the opioid crisis.

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Finding the mother tree : discovering the wisdom of the forest

Finding the mother tree : discovering the wisdom of the forest

Simard, S. (Suzanne), author
2021

With humour, emotion, and the narrative drive of a lifelong storyteller, Dr. Suzanne Simard takes readers on an intimate journey of groundbreaking scientific discovery. Linking her research to her personal experiences, she recounts her life's work uncovering the "Wood Wide Web," the underground mycelium network that connects all the trees and plants within a forest. It is a network that allows them to share not only nutrients, but information, all of which originates from the hubs called Mother Trees.

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Go tell the bees that I am gone : a novel

Go tell the bees that I am gone : a novel

Gabaldon, Diana, author
2021

It is 1779 and Claire and Jamie are at last reunited with their daughter, Brianna, her husband, Roger, and their children on Fraser's Ridge. Brianna and Roger have their own worry: that the dangers that provoked their escape from the twentieth century might catch up to them. Meanwhile, the Revolutionary War creeps ever closer to Fraser's Ridge. And with the family finally together, Jamie and Claire have more at stake than ever before.

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Half life : a novel

Half life : a novel

Cantor, Jillian, author.
2021

A reimagining of the life of Marie Curie is told through two parallel timelines, including one that reflects her real-world achievements and another that explores how the world might be different had she made other choices.

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Klara and the sun

Klara and the sun

Ishiguro, Kazuo, 1954-, author
2021

Set in the near future, in a distinct reality of its own but reminiscent of Never Let Me Go, Klara and the Sun is a thrilling feat of world-building and a mesmerizing novel about the human heart, anchored by a singularly unforgettable heroine who has a great deal to teach us about what it means to love.

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The Lincoln Highway

The Lincoln Highway

Towles, Amor, author
2021

In June, 1954, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served fifteen months for involuntary manslaughter. When the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden's car. Together, they have hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett's future, one that will take them all on a fateful journey in the opposite direction - to the City of New York.

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Operation Angus : a novel

Operation Angus : a novel

Fallis, Terry, author
2021

Angus McLintock, accidental Member of Parliament, has won re-election and is now the Minister of State for International Relations--or, in other words, he's the junior global affairs minister. In this new post, he and his trusty Chief of Staff, Daniel Addison, are in London to meet with their international counterparts to discuss the upcoming G8 Summit in Washington. Unfortunately, Angus is not in charge of Canada's involvement in the summit--that task falls to the actual Global Affairs Minister, not the junior one. What Angus is responsible for is planning a brief post-summit meeting in Ottawa between the Prime Minister and the President of Russia, the former head of the KGB. The London meetings are all going to plan until Daniel receives a cryptic, late-night text, from a burner phone, directing him to a pub around the corner from their hotel. There is important information he needs to know, the mysterious texter says--but he must keep the meeting a secret, and must come alone. Naturally, he immediately tells Angus, who of course tags along to the pub--just as reinforcement. The soon-to-be-retired MI6 agent who is waiting for Daniel is not pleased, but there are more pressing matters at hand: Chechen separatists are plotting to assassinate the Russian President--and it's going to happen when he's in Ottawa to meet with the Prime Minister, just weeks away. Angus and Daniel have to put a stop to it before it's too late. Naturally, no one in Ottawa will take them, or their top-secret intelligence, seriously, so they're on their own. In an instant, they are thrown into a race against the clock to uncover the Chechen sleeper cell, thwart their plans, and ultimately save the Russian President. Along the way, in classic Angus and Daniel style, they have to dodge bitter rivals, enraged protestors, and even a runaway Cessna. This is a madcap cloak-and-dagger adventure with humour and heart that will delight and entertain readers until the very last page.

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Permanent astonishment : a memoir

Permanent astonishment : a memoir

Highway, Tomson, 1951- author
2021

Tomson Highway was born in a snowbank on an island in the sub-Arctic, the 11th of 12 children in a nomadic, caribou-hunting Cree family who traversed the tundra by dogsled and lived off the land. But five of Tomson's siblings died in childhood, and Balazee and Joe Highway, who loved their surviving children profoundly, wanted their two youngest sons, Tomson and Rene, to enjoy opportunities as big as the world. And so when Tomson was six, he was flown south by float plane to attend a residential school. His memoir offers insight, both hilarious and profound, into the Cree experience of culture, conquest and survival.

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Pump : a natural history of the heart

Pump : a natural history of the heart

Schutt, Bill, author.
2021

Millennia ago, when we first began puzzling over the mysteries of the human body, one organ stood out as vital - the heart. Journey with Bill Schutt to beaches where horseshoe crabs are being harvested for their life-saving blood, and under the sea to learn about the world's most natural antifreeze, flowing through the veins of icefish. Follow him through human history as scientists hypothesize wrongly and rightly about what is arguably our most important organ, ultimately developing the technologies that have helped us study the heart with the tools that will help us regenerate it.

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Sisters of the resistance : a novel of Catherine Dior's Paris spy network

Sisters of the resistance : a novel of Catherine Dior's Paris spy network

Wells, Christine, author
2021

Paris, 1944: The war is nearly over, but for members of the Resistance in occupied France, it is more dangerous than ever before. Twenty-five-year-old Gabby Foucher loathes the Nazis, though as the concierge of 10 rue Royale, she does her best to avoid conflict--unlike her bolder sister Yvette, who finds trouble at every turn. Then they are both recruited into the Resistance by Catherine Dior and swept into a treacherous world of spies, fugitives, and intrigue. While Gabby risks everything for the man she is hiding from the Nazis, Yvette must decide whether to trust an enigmatic diplomat who seems to have guessed her secret. As the threat of betrayal draws ever closer, one slip could mean the deaths of many, and both sisters must make choices they might regret.

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The stranger in the lifeboat : a novel

The stranger in the lifeboat : a novel

Albom, Mitch, 1958- author.
2021

Adrift in a raft after a deadly ship explosion, nine people struggle for survival at sea. Three days pass. Short on water, food and hope, they spot a man floating in the waves. They pull him inches "Thank the Lord we found you," a passenger says. "I am the Lord," the man whispers. So begins Mitch Albom's most beguiling and inspiring novel yet. Albom has written of heaven in the celebrated number one bestsellers The Five People You Meet in Heaven and The First Phone Call from Heaven. Now, for the first time in his fiction, he ponders what we would do if, after crying out for divine help, God actually appeared before us? What might the Lord look, sound and act like? In The Stranger in the Lifeboat, Albom keeps us guessing until the end: Is this strange and quiet man really who he claims to be? What actually happened to cause the explosion? Are the survivors already in heaven, or are they in hell? The story is narrated by Benji, one of the passengers, who recounts the events in a notebook that is later discovered--a year later--when the empty life raft washes up on the island of Montserrat. It falls to the island's chief inspector, Jarty LeFleur, a man battling his own demons, to solve the mystery of what really happened.

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The winter wives : a novel

The winter wives : a novel

MacIntyre, Linden, author.
2021

"Two old friends, who first met in university, get together for a weekend of golfing: Allan, a football hero, worldly and financially successful, and his quieter friend, nicknamed Byron, lame from a childhood injury, a smart fellow who became a lawyer but who has never left home, staying put so he could care for a mother with Alzheimer's. During a long night of drinking, the fault lines between them start to show. One of the biggest: the two men married sisters, though Allan was the one who walked down the aisle with Peggy, the sister both of them loved, and Byron had to settle for Annie. Out on the course the next morning, Allan suffers a stroke. In one traumatic moment, he loses control of his life, his wife and his business empire, which turns out to have been built on lies and the illegal drug trade. And Byron has to suddenly confront his own weaknesses and strengths, his tangled relationship with Allan and the Winter sisters--both the one he married and the one he thought was the love of his life. No one will anticipate the lengths to which Byron will go to make sense of his life."--Provided by publisher.

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