A Book that is Someone Else's Favourite: Picks for the TPL Reading Challenge 2021
The TPL Reading Challenge is back for 2021! And we're kicking off our category booklists with "a book that is someone else's favourite". The question is... favourite what?
Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
Priestdaddy is my favourite memoir and one of my most frequently recommended books. It tells the story of Patricia Lockwood's eccentric upbringing as the daughter of a married Catholic priest. This book is laugh out loud and embarrass yourself on the TTC funny. I am excited for Lockwood's new novel, No One Is Talking About This, which is coming out in February 2021.
Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez
Scarborough is my favourite book set in Toronto. The book consists of several intersecting narratives, telling the stories of a diverse set of characters living in Scarborough. The characters' stories range from heartbreaking to heartwarming. Catherine Hernandez really captures Toronto and its residents.
Find "a book that is someone else's favourite" among these recommendations from our staff.
Snapdragon by Kat Leyh
This was my favourite graphic novel from 2020 that's by an author I'd never read before. Witches, taxidermy, love and loss, and identity are all themes in this book. Well, sort of taxidermy. What do you call it when you create a skeleton animal for display? Basically, lots of things that were right up my alley. It's a sad book, a feel-good book, and a book of self-affirmation in terms. Snap, the titular character, is a bit of an outcast. Eventually, she learns how to forge her own path and feel comfortable in her own skin. I'd recommend this book to anyone age 7+ who has ever struggled to feel accepted for being who they are. It also works for "a children’s book by an LGBTQ2S+ author" and "a book with a one-word title".
— Amy, Communications Officer
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
It's a timeless, feel-good kind of book, and a coming of age story – the kind of story everyone has heard of, or seen the film adaptation(s), but maybe never took the time to read. Alcott was also heavily influenced by Emerson, Thoreau, and the transcendentalist movement, which is an added layer of appeal for me.
— Sephora, Senior Department Head
Stuff You Should Know: An Incomplete Compendium of Mostly Interesting Things by Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark, with Nils Parker
This is one of my all-time favourite books, so much so that I ran out and bought my own copy. It's my top book of 2020. (I kind of knew that was going to be the case, I am a huge fan of their podcast). The book is a general knowledge grab-bag of fun and interesting facts on 27 topics. After reading it you will have a better vocabulary and lots of awesome tidbits, you'll be that person who says "did you know that..." and then you'll start talking about Mr. Potato Head or the smell of dog feet. The book also features really awesome illustrations by Carly Monardo. I cannot recommend it enough. The audiobook version is read by the authors, always a nice perk.
— Pauline, Librarian
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
My favourite book right now has to be The Summer Book. Jansson registers every nuance of the emotional and meteorological weather on a tiny island in the Gulf of Finland where a young girl and her grandmother spend their summers.
— Wendy, Digital Content Lead
There Are Two Errors In The The Title Of This Book by Robert M. Martin
It's a delightful book about paradox and reasoning. There are lots of puzzles and it's written in a really fun and engaging way.
— Margaret, Librarian
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Impossible to pick overall book favourites but this year I really relied on my favourite (/only) Sally Rooneys: i.e. Conversations with Friends and Normal People. The Hulu adaptation of Normal People that came out in April triggered my re-reading but the recurring themes in both books of being separated or otherwise disconnected from the person you love (whether it's your married lover or your best friend/on and off again lover) and trying to think up witty things to say to them on the phone or in emails were particularly cathartic this year. They're just the right amount of moody/sad/funny/witty for killing time in this strange new world.
— Tessie, Librarian
Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin
A favourite series of mine from childhood – but also, for always! – is the Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin. I have loved getting back into these stories with my kiddos through the incredible graphic adaptations by Gale Galligan and Raina Telgemeier. The Netflix show is SO good, too!
— Jennifer, Librarian
Open Fire by Amber Lough
My favourite book that I read in 2020 was Open Fire by Amber Lough. A young woman in WWI Russia joins an all-female army battalion to help win the war. She comes from a military family, so the stakes for her are high. I didn't know about this fascinating piece of history, and it's a real page-turner.
— Kate, Librarian
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
One of my favourite books of all time is Americanah. I love everything about this book, the story, the characters, the writing, the setting. It's so good. I may have to reread it this year, and I almost never reread a book.
— Nalini, Senior Branch Head
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
When I was a kid my favourite book was The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. A young boy travels to a Wonderland-like place full of wordplay and strange logic. It's a really fun, silly and magical read.
— Isabel, Librarian
If you like to read in French, we also have a French list for this category, "un coup de coeur" on Cantook Station. There's a mix of ebooks and digital audiobooks to try!
Recommendations from the Facebook Group
These are just some of the recommendations from our Facebook TPL Reading Challenge 2021 discussion group.
- The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen
- The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
- Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
- A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
- The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
- The Giver by Lois Lowry
- Paradise by Judith McNaught
- Know My Name by Chanel Miller
- Circe by Madeline Miller
- Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery
- The Arch of Triumph by Erich Maria Remarque
- The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Vi by Kim Thúy
What did you read for "a book that is someone else's favourite"? What are your favourite books? Share in the comments below!
We discussed this category, along with "a book that is the first in a series" at our January 2021 Reading Challenge Online Book Discussion. If you missed the live event, you can watch the replay on CrowdCast or on Facebook.
Edited January 8, 12pm: Added French list for this category.