Best of 2021

Best of 2021

What books, movies, and music have you loved this year?

Bringing together the best of 2021 – from the picks of our staff and customers, to Best of the year lists published by magazines, newspapers and booksellers. Have your say!

New Zealand

The best of homegrown titles for 2021.

Best New Zealand reads

Best book covers of 2021 - My pick of New Zealand’s finest

BEAUT BOOK COVERS OF AOTEAROA! Here are Donna's favourite New Zealand book covers of 2021.

Another year of reading locally

Moata runs through her 2021 reads by Kiwi authors - a mix of fantasy, contemporary fiction and YA.

Another year of reading locally: Kids' books

Moata runs through her 2021 reads by Kiwi authors for younger readers - a mix of picture books and chapter books.

For adults

Library staff picks for the best of the year

Best Music Books of 2021

Outstanding music books in 2021 - biographies, memoirs, and music criticism. Including some much anticipated books

Ma1co1m's Best Comics of 2021

Ma1co1m pics his 10 favourite comics from the library shelves in 2021.

Renee's Best Reads of 2021

There's a bit of romance, fantasy, and a whole lot of gothic fiction in Renee's 2021 book list!

Rosie's Top Ten - 2021

Rosie's top reads for 2021. Lots of literary fiction with a touch of biography/memoir.

Hong's best reads of 2021

Hong's favourite reads in 2021. A mix of fiction, non-fiction and Chinese language titles.

Rachael's 2021 Best Books

Rachael's favourite reads of the year - a mix of historical fiction, fantasy and YA with a couple of non-fiction titles too.

Fionaccl's Best of 2021

Award Winners, New Zealand writers making waves, and a heaping of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Go forth and read!

ChristchurchCat's best reads / listens /watches in 2021

A mix of historical, general fiction and a little mystery, with non-fiction titles on religion, architecture and journalism, and some DVDs.

The Unlikely Librarian's best reads of 2021

Many were read but only a few made the cut for Mike's best reads of 2021! Lots of great horror reads in this list.

Simone's Best magazines of 2021

We have a huge collection of magazines online and in libraries here are some of Simone's favourites.

Fiona's fave reads for 2021

Fiona picks her favourites of the books she's read in 2021 - a mix of fiction (some mysteries) and memoir.

Moata's best movies of 2021

My DVD watches of the year - a mix of drama, comedy and action. Movie of the year for me is Promising young woman.

Donna's best reads of 2021

My favourite fiction and non-fiction of the year. My book of the year is Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (aka Japanese Breakfast).

Jesse's best reads of 2021

Fiction and Non-fiction reads of 2021 that provoked my thoughts, kept me interested, and stuck with me - even after the pages were closed.

Donna's best read of 2021

Crying in H Mart: A memoir by Michelle Zauner

I am a fan of Japanese Breakfast's music. And now of her writing. Am still reeling after reading Crying in H Mart. It made me feel so much; I bawled myself silly. It's overwhelming. What a gift to share your truth like this. Book of the Year!

Catalogue record for Crying in H Mart

Jesse's best read of 2021

Beautiful world, where are you by Sally Rooney

Rooney's latest novel tells the story of Alice, a novelist; as well as Felix, Eileen, and Simon. The themes cover relationships, existentialism, friendship, social class and climate change. "Beautiful world, where are you?" is the question that the characters grapple with; their struggles to figure out how they should live in a world that has become increasingly unviable in many ways - ethically, economically, ecologically, and even emotionally. A complex and divine novel that feels more mature than Rooney's previous work. Pick this one up ASAP if you haven't already.

Catalogue record for Beautiful world, where are you

Jane's best read of 2021

Sorrow and bliss by Meg Mason

Martha is very unwell, she is often in the depths of depression, she is destructive, angry, defeated at times, can’t hold down a job and pushes most people away. But, she is funny. She is charismatic, she is loved, but she can’t see much beyond the end of her nose. The whole book creates a roller coaster of emotions, fast falling frustration to an ascent of understanding and compassion only to tumble over the top into annoyance and dislike. Slowly understanding and health starts to appear, but nothing is straightforward, the dark becomes funny and the funny becomes painfully uncomfortable.

Catalogue record for Sorrow and bliss

Most Popular in 2021

Most Popular in 2021: Fiction for Adults

Here are the books that were most popular in 2021. Lee Child took out the two of the top spots (No. 1 was written with his brother).

Most Popular in 2021: Non-Fiction for Adults

Here are the most popular non-fiction titles of 2021. Becoming by Michelle Obama was the top title this year - it won in 2020 as well!

Most Popular in 2021: Fiction for Rangatahi - Teens

Here are the most popular fiction titles for teens in 2021. The ballad of songbirds and snakes by Suzanne Collins is number one.

Most Popular in 2021: Fiction for Tamariki - Kids

Here are the titles most popular for kids - Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Wings of Fire, David Walliams and more.

For Teens

Best of 2021 for teens

Best of 2021: Young Adult

A selection of recommended titles for young adults added to Christchurch City Libraries in 2021.

Claire's Best Manga of 2021

Claire's top ten manga series she's read in 2021.

For Kids

Library selectors choose the best titles from 2021 for children, with fiction for preschoolers, to beginner readers and older children, picture books and graphic novels, as well as non-fiction titles about science, nature, art, and more.

Best of lists for kids

Best of 2021: Children's Older Fiction

A selection of recommended titles for kids added to Christchurch City Libraries in 2021 suitable for older children.

Best of 2021: Children's Younger Fiction

A selection of recommended titles for kids added to Christchurch City Libraries in 2021 for younger children and beginning readers.

Best of 2021: Children's Picture Books

A selection of recommended titles for kids added to Christchurch City Libraries in 2021. A Christchurch City Libraries list.

Best of 2021: Children's Nonfiction Books about Nature

A selection of recommended titles for kids added to Christchurch City Libraries in 2021 about the natural world of animals and plants.

Best of 2021: Children's Graphic Novels

A selection of recommended titles for kids added to Christchurch City Libraries in 2021 in graphic novel format.

Best of 2021: Children's Nonfiction - Poetry & Stories

A selection of recommended titles for kids added to Christchurch City Libraries in 2021 about language, poetry and stories.

Best of 2021: Children's Nonfiction - Science and Technology

A selection of recommended titles for kids added to Christchurch City Libraries in 2021 about space, fossils, microbes, and more!

Best of 2021: Children's Nonfiction about People and Places

A selection of recommended titles for kids added to Christchurch City Libraries in 2021 about famous people, history, and diversity.

Best of 2021: Children's Nonfiction about Art and Activities

A selection of recommended titles for kids added to Christchurch City Libraries in 2021 about art, artists, creative activities and cooking.

Your 2021 favourites!

Catalogue record for Lockdown: Tales from AotearoaWe asked you to tell us your favourite book, movie, TV show or album from this year and from those entries we drew two winners.

Read all the submissions and favourites from 2021 below.

Adrianne's best reads

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in A World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
An eye opening account of a black women growing up in white America. The accounts give the reader examples of how our desire to embrace diversity often falls short and what to do about it.

Catalogue record for I'm still here

In Bloom by Clare Nolan

Beautiful photos and plenty of detail to make growing flowers at home do able. References to growing seasons are in seasons rather than months, which is helpful when in NZ.

Catalogue record for In bloom


Ayla's best reads

The Dodos did it! by Alice McKinley

Catalogue record for The Dodos did it!

Oi Frog! by Kes Gray

Catalogue record for Oi Frog!

Where Is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox

Catalogue record for Where is the green sheep?

Because I love mummy reading them to me and they make me laugh.

Adam's best read

After the Tampa by Abbas Nazari

Catalogue record for After the Tampa

Extraordinary tale that detailed the first-hand experience of a refugee fleeing his homeland. Provides an experience which allows for an understanding of what those who are currently fleeing the Middle East are living through.

Charlotte's best reads

My year of rest and relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Catalogue record for My year of rest and relaxation

Perfume by Patrick Süskind

Catalogue record for Perfume

The goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Catalogue record for The goldfinchCatalogue search for Jane Eyre

I love the chaotic character trope and dark honour all of which these books have.

Barbara S's best read

No. 1 ladies detective agency series by Alexander McCall Smith

Precious Ramotswe, traditionally built, a wise and perceptive judge of character and an expert listener, is the founder of the detective agency. She is happily married to Mr J.L.B. Matekoni, owner of the garage next door, and is colleague and boss of Grace Makutsi, who considers herself an associate detective of equal standing. These characters are portrayed with great skill and humour in a delightful laid-back style. For example, when someone is referred to as having passed away, they are described as 'late'. So 'Don't cross the road without looking, or you may become late.'

In the mid-1970s my husband and I spent three and a half years in Africa at a mission station. So the wide expanse of Botswana sky and the typical changing seasons of Africa are very reminiscent of our time there. You can taste the dust, smell the wind that blows in from the Kalahari Desert and feel the blazing heat that beats down upon the characters.

Catalogue record for The No. 1 ladies' detective agencyCatalogue record for Tears of the giraffeCatalogue record for For beautiful girls

Ursula's best read

Woman with the iceberg eyes: Oriana F. Wilson by Katherine Mcinnes

It was a really fascinating read. I am a polar historian and I was intrigued by the way the author has captured the time, background, and circumstances of a polar hero's wife/widow. The story of the women around the explorers is often overlooked and this book helps to highlight one of these fantastic women.

Catalogue record for Woman with the iceberg eyes

Frances's best of 2021

All of these artists used their medium to make me feel emotions I rarely experience.

Fave book:  We have always lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson - extreme anger and disbelief
Fave movie: The killing of two lovers - super uncomfortable and on edge
Fave album: Leave love out of this by Anthonie Tonnon - awe and inspiration
Fave TV show: Squid Game - anxiety and fear

Catalogue record for We have always lived in the castle

Rebecca D's best of 2021

Music: Equals by Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran has good lyrics to his songs and are catchy to listen to.

Book: Unholy Murder By Lynda La Plante

The book is one you can’t put down is a great read.

Catalogue record for Unholy murder

Felicite's best reads

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey

The house in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Great reads, really enjoyed them - nothing particularly deep and meaningful, just jolly entertaining engaging reads!

Catalogue record for A gentleman in MoscowCatalogue record for The mermaid of the black conchCatalogue record for The house in the Cerulean Sea

Ravi's best reads

Skuldugger Pleasant (series) by Derek Landy

Catalogue record for Skulduggery PleasantCatalogue record for Playing with fireCatalogue record for The faceless ones

Time riders (series) by Alex Scarrow

Catalogue record for Time riders

Summoner (series) by Taran Matharu

Catalogue record for Summoner: The novice

They are a perfect read to suit any mood you are in.

Geoffrey E's best reads

To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface by Olivia Laing

"To the River" is a beautifully written account of the authors exploration of the River Ouse.

Catalogue record for To the river

Tea With Hitler: The Secret History of the Royal Family and the Third Reich by Dean Palmer

"Tea with Hitler" is a historical revelation.

Catalogue record for Tea with Hitler

Dinner With Lenny: The Last Long Interview With Leonard Bernstein by Jonathan Cott

"Dinner With Lennie" is pure delight: two men of artistic substance talking over dinner for hours, dissecting theirs and others art.

Catalogue record for Dinner with Lenny


Tim B's best reads and music


Believe in Magic: 30 Years of Heavenly Recordings by Robin Turner

Awesome retrospective of acid house/Madchester/Brit Pop era. Great writing and graphic design to boot.

Tenement Kid by Bobby Gillespie

Primal Scream frontman's autobiography. An interesting insight into 80s/early 90s indie music that stops with the release of the classic album 'Screamadelica'

Liberation Through Hearing by Richard Russell

XL Records boss talks covers how his record label went from the early 90s hardcore scene went from discovering The Prodigy to discovering Adele. A hard to put down.


Sound Ancestors by Madlib

Madlib teams up with Four Tet. This is the perfect album for short attention spans!

Mordechai (Remixes) LP by Khruangbin

Excellent set of remixes of their 2020 album release

Holiday (Single Release) by Confidence Man

A complete contrast to the doom and gloom of 2021. A 4 minute party!

Soft Energy (Single Release) by Mermaidens

Best New Zealand track I've heard this year.

Wine EP by Soul Mass Transit System

Amazing bassline house/garage release from the UK. Sounds like 1998 all over again!

Flock by Jane Weaver

If Stereolab and Stevie Nicks ever made a record together this is what it might sound like.

Curb Your Enthusiasm, Season 11.

Larry David is back from lockdown - and this is some of his best writing to date.

Pam's bests of 2021

Book: The real Antony Fauci by Robert F. Kennedy, jr.

Reveals the truth and corruption about the pharmaceutical industry

TV: Money Heist (Netflix)

Psychologically clever with also a lot of action and drama.

Judy's best read

The four winds by Kristin Hannah

So well written - you feel you are there.

Catalogue record for The four winds

Sandra's best read

American Dirt by Jeanne Cummins

Catalogue record for American Dirt

Getting an insight into the treacherous journey of people looking to escape to the US.


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