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Rachel’s Reads – December 2021

As the year wraps up and we cross our fingers that our gifts will arrive on time, I am continuing the tradition I started several years ago of sharing my top books for 2021. I hope you find something new or see that one of your favorites made my list!


  • What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad
  • When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut, translated by Adrian Nathan West
  • The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.
  • The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
  • Matrix by Lauren Groff


  • Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe
  • A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib
  • The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson
  • On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
  • Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford


  • If This Is The Age We End Discovery by Rosebud Ben-Oni
  • Beowulf: A New Translation translated by Maria Dahvana Headley
  • Water I Won’t Touch by Kayleb Rae Candrilli
  • Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman
  • A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure by Hoa Nguyen


  • Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath by Heather Clark
  • The Undying by Anne Boyer
  • The Rivers of London Series by Ben Aaronovitch which begins with Midnight Riot
  • Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson
  • The Healing by Gayl Jones

As in the past, I love to hear from all of our subscribers about their favorite books of the year, and I will publish a selection in my January column. Please email me or comment online with the books you loved this year.

Happy Reading!


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