Charlevoix Public Library  Where your imagination takes flight

Staff Picks


Our staff’s choice 

This winter we are replacing our seasonal “Staff Picks” with our first ever Best Books list. 

Best Books of 2021 chosen by the CPL Staff


Klara and the Sun by Kazuro Ishiguro. A touching, dystopian novel about life, love, and what it means to be human told through the eyes of an exceptionally observant narrator, Klara who is an AF – Artificial Friend. The story is so well told, it is like riding a wave of words…and a nice escape from these out-of-control times. – Davonne’s Pick

Factory Summers (Graphic Novel) by Guy Delisle. I’m a sucker for a great character study and Delisle’s graphic memoir is exactly that. Factory Summers follows Delisle during the time period he spent working the night shift in a Quebec City paper mill 40 years ago. Like the elaborate machinery and facility that Delisle spends his time in, the focus of Factory Summers is the baffling social structure and culture of the sort of men like his father who have spent their whole lives working in the mill. Delisle starts out as an outsider and never quite manages to find his way into either the culture or an understanding of all that occurs in the mill, but the concision and simple beauty of both his art and storyline make this attempt a very worthwhile read. —Ryan The Director’s Pick

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad. A powerful novel that looks at the Global Refugee Crisis through the eyes of a child. More bodies have washed ashore of a small inhabited island. Another over-filled dilapidated ship has sunk under the weight of too many passengers – all of them desperate to escape untenable lives in their homelands. Amir, a 9yr old Syrian boy is rescued by a teenage girl. Although a native of the island she experiences her own sense of homelessness also. In alternating chapters we learn about Amir’s life and how he came to be on the boat and how Vanna helps him toward safety. A gripping story by the author of American War, which was selected by the BBC as one of one hundred novels that changed the world.—Pam’s Pick

Normal People by Sally Rooney. A compulsive character and relationship study set in contemporary Ireland, Rooney’s Normal People follows the intense on-again off-again relationship of Connell and Marianne as they come of age. Both are brilliant but both arise from very different circumstances; one poor but loved, one wealthy but ignored and these differences and the effects they have on both characters and their relationship is the main focus of the book. While that may sound like the set-up of too many tales, Rooney’s examination of Connell and Marianne manages to feel very 21st century as contemporary economic uncertainty, climate change, and aimlessness all make their way into the tale. Yet Normal People, in its examination of the challenges of navigating intimacy, with its breathtakingly real characters, as well as its brilliant writing not only captured me, but made the book feel timeless and classic. —Ryan The Director’s Pick


I am C-3PO: The Inside Story by Anthony Daniels. “Hello. I don’t believe we have been introduced. R2-D2? A pleasure to meet you. I am C-3PO, Human-Cyborg Relations.” A behind the scenes look at the Star Wars movies through the eyes of the galaxy’s most iconic golden droid and the man who brought him to life. To the Star Wars fans out there, it’s worth giving it a try. – Carrie’s Pick

Emotional First Aid: Practical strategies for treating failure, rejection, guilt, and other everyday psychological injuries by Guy Winch Ph.D. In this self help book Winch discusses how any harmful emotions should be viewed and treated as we would any harmful physical ailments. Just as some physical injuries require immediate medical attention, certain emotional injuries require treatment, yet most people do not recognize the need for emotional assistance. Winch examines various emotions, such as guilt- provides a framework and working definition of each emotion discussed, case study examples from his time as a licensed psychologist, and provides insight as to when someone should seek emotional first aid versus our own personal self-reflection. The content is excellent and applicable to all, and Winch’s writing is easy to understand, as he does not get into Psycho-babble jargon that can make content like this feel more like a text book and less for the self-help book intended for the lay person. – Ryan The Supervisor’s Pick

Dogs on the Trail by Blair Braverman. This book speaks my language, written by one of my favorite mushers. Have a taste of my world. — Rebecca’s Pick

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teaching of plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. In describing this book to a friend I said that reading it “rearranged the molecules of my consciousness.” That was the only way I could put into words how the luminous essays in this book changed the way I look at the world. Robin Wall Kimmerer is both an indigenous (she is a citizen of the Potawatomi Nation) and an academic (she holds a PhD in plant ecology) scientist. She is also one of the most poetic authors I have read. As one reviewer wrote, “this book inspires courage to fight for the Earth amid climate urgency, reveals new ways of knowing and seeing while protecting Indigenous wisdom and fosters a community that actively seeks to heal humanity’s relationship with the world”. I have given and recommended it to many people. – Beth’s pick

Lost In Michigan: History and Travel Stories from an Endless Road Trip by Mike Sonnenberg. Based on the author’s website “Lost in Michigan” he takes you to often hidden, little known and always fascinating locations in Michigan, frequently backroads places that you might never hear about otherwise. Together with his pictures, he tells the unique (and sometimes bizarre) history of each location and tells you exactly how you can find it on your own. Michigan resident or not, curious readers may end up making a road-trip list of spots they must see for themselves from the 50 highlighted locations. This is the first of the author’s series of “Lost in Michigan” books. – Tom’s pick


 Past Picks

2021 Fall
2021 Summer
2021 Spring
2020-21 Winter
2020 Fall
2020 Summer
2019 Fall
2019 Summer
2019 Spring
2019 Winter 
2018 Fall
2018 Summer
2018 Spring
2018 Winter
2017 Fall

2017 Summer
2017 Spring
2017 Winter
2016 Fall
2016 Summer
2016 Spring
2015 Winter
2015 Fall
2015 Summer
2015 Spring
2014 Winter
2014 Fall
2014 Summer
2014 Spring
2013 Winter
2013 Fall
2013 Summer
2013 Spring