The nomination period for the February 2021 Adult List is happening now! Create or log in to your CataList account to access a plethora of library-oriented features, including the “Recommend” button visible on Loan Stars-eligible titles.

We will be releasing our annual Best of the Brightest list in December, with a combined January/February Top 10 Adult Picks list coming in January 2021.

Watch this space or sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know when the lists are released.

The top books chosen by Canadian library staff

December 2020 Adult List

Sign up for our mailing list
  1. Relax, Dammit!
    by Timothy Caulfield 'Canada'
    Allen Lane
    Dec 01, 2020
    SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture
    Hardcover

    Description

    An entertaining and practical guide to getting through the day with less stress and better health, from the host of the hit TV series A User's Guide to Cheating Death.

    We make a ridiculous number of decisions every day--possibly even thousands. We make decisions about when to wake up, how to brush our teeth, what to have for breakfast, how to get our kids to school, the amount of coffee to drink, and on and on.

    Making so many decisions is tough. It can cause stock analysts to perform progressively worse over the course of a day. It can lead us to make poor decisions about the food we eat--the more brain fatigue we experience, the more junk food we consume. And the more deliberate the decision--that is, the more we need to think about it--the more fatiguing the process. There are many social forces at work that make how and what we choose an unnecessarily anxious process. But it doesn't have to be.

    In Relax, Dammit!, health policy expert Timothy Caulfield takes us through a regular day--from the moment we wake up to when we go to sleep--and shows the underlying science behind our actions and habits. What he reveals is that we make decisions that are based, to a lesser or greater extent, on misinformation. Whether he's studying cell phone use, bike commuting, or raw-milk cheese consumption, Caulfield shows that many of the things we believe to be healthier, safer, or just better, simply aren't. With solid grounding in current and reliable scientific findings, the author points to a less stressful way forward--which means we can all afford to relax a lot more.

    Insightful, sometimes controversial, and always entertaining, Relax, Dammit! is a surprising and liberating guide to modern life.
    MORE
  2. The Dark Archive
    by Genevieve Cogman
    Ace
    Dec 29, 2020
    FICTION / Science Fiction / Time Travel
    Paperback

    Description

    A professional spy for a mysterious Library which harvests fiction from different realities, Irene faces a series of assassination attempts that threaten to destroy her and everything she has worked for.

    Irene is teaching her new assistant the fundamentals of a Librarian's job, and finding that training a young Fae is more difficult than she expected. But when they're the targets of kidnapping and assassination attempts, she decides that learning by doing is the only option they have left ...

    In order to protect themselves, Irene and her friends must do what they do best: search for information to defeat the overwhelming threat they face and identify their unseen enemy. To do that, Irene will have to delve deeper into her own history than she ever has before, face an ancient foe, and uncover secrets that will change her life and the course of the Library forever.
    MORE
  3. Lazarus
    by Lars Kepler
    McClelland & Stewart
    Dec 01, 2020
    FICTION / Crime
    Paperback

    Description

    INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
    14 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE

    The seventh gripping thriller in Lars Kepler's bestselling series featuring Joona Linna.


    Sweden's most notorious serial killer, Jurek Walter, was shot and killed years ago. The police moved on and managed to forget the darkness that had tainted their lives.

    Now, a mysterious killer is brutally murdering Europe's most loathsome criminals. When police discover that two of the victims have connections to Detective Joona Linna, it's clear that somebody is trying to send him a message. As the body count rises, the evidence seems to point to a ghost from Joona's past . . . the most terrifying villain he's ever had to face.

    Joona is convinced that his worst nightmare is about to become a reality: Jurek Walter, the man who tore apart his family, has returned to finish the job.
    MORE
  4. Red Hands
    by Christopher Golden
    St. Martin's Press
    Dec 08, 2020
    FICTION / Thrillers / Supernatural
    Hardcover

    Description

    In bestselling author Christopher Golden's supernatural thrillerRed Hands, sometimes a story is a warning. Sometimes the warning comes too late

    When a mysterious and devastating bioweapon causes its victims to develop Red Hands, the touch of death, weird science expert Ben Walker is called to investigate.

    A car plows through the crowd at a July 4th parade. The driver climbs out, sick and stumbling, reaching out…and everyone he touches drops dead within seconds. Maeve Sinclair watches in horror as people she loves begin to die and she knows she must take action. But in the aftermath of this terror, it’s Maeve who possesses that killing touch. Fleeing into the mountains, struggling with her own grief and confusion, Maeve faces the dawning realization that she will never be able to touch another human being again.

    "Weird s**t expert” Ben Walker is surprised to get a call from Alena Boudreau, director of the newly restructured Global Science Research Coalition. There’s an upheaval in the organization and she needs to send someone she can trust to Jericho Falls. Whoever finds Maeve Sinclair first will unravel the mystery of her death touch, and many are willing to kill her for that secret.

    Walker’s assignment is to get her off the mountain alive. But as Maeve searches for a hiding place, hunted and growing sicker by the moment, she begins to hear an insidious voice in her head, and the yearning, the need… thehunger to touch another human being continues to grow. When Walker and Maeve meet at last, they will unravel a stunning legacy of death and betrayal, and a malignant secret as old as history.

    MORE
  5. Mediocre
    by Ijeoma Oluo
    Seal Press
    Dec 01, 2020
    SOCIAL SCIENCE / Discrimination
    Hardcover

    Description

    From the author of the New York Times bestseller So You Want to Talk About Race, a subversive history of white male American identity.

    What happens to a country that tells generation after generation of white men that they deserve power? What happens when success is defined by status over women and people of color, instead of by actual accomplishments?

    Through the last 150 years of American history -- from the post-reconstruction South and the mythic stories of cowboys in the West, to the present-day controversy over NFL protests and the backlash against the rise of women in politics -- Ijeoma Oluo exposes the devastating consequences of white male supremacy on women, people of color, and white men themselves. Mediocre investigates the real costs of this phenomenon in order to imagine a new white male identity, one free from racism and sexism.

    As provocative as it is essential, this book will upend everything you thought you knew about American identity and offers a bold new vision of American greatness.
    MORE
  6. The Last Days of John Lennon
    by James Patterson
    Little, Brown and Company
    Dec 07, 2020
    TRUE CRIME / Murder / General
    Hardcover

    Description

    The greatest true-crime story in music history, as only James Patterson can tell it.

    With the Beatles, John Lennon surpasses his youthful dreams, achieving a level of superstardom that defies classification. “We were the best bloody band there was,” he says. “There was nobody to touch us.” Nobody except the original nowhere man, Mark David Chapman. Chapman once worshipped his idols from afar—but now harbors grudges against those, like Lennon, whom he feels betrayed him. He’s convinced Lennon has misled fans with his message of hope and peace. And Chapman’s not staying away any longer.

    By the summer of 1980, Lennon is recording new music for the first time in years, energized and ready for it to be “(Just Like) Starting Over.” He can’t wait to show the world what he will do.

    Neither can Chapman, who quits his security job and boards a flight to New York, a handgun and bullets stowed in his luggage.

    The greatest true-crime story in music history, as only James Patterson can tell it. Enriched by exclusive interviews with Lennon’s friends and associates, including Paul McCartney, The Last Days of John Lennon is the thrilling true story of two men who changed history: One whose indelible songs enliven our world to this day—and the other who ended the beautiful music with five pulls of a trigger.
    MORE
  7. Perestroika in Paris
    by Jane Smiley
    Knopf
    Dec 01, 2020
    FICTION / Literary
    Hardcover

    Description

    "Is there anything Jane Smiley cannot do? . . . She turns literary and stylistic cartwheels." --Time

    From the Pulitzer Prize-winning and best-selling author, a captivating, brilliantly imaginative story of three extraordinary animals--and a young boy--whose lives intersect in Paris


    Paras, short for "Perestroika," is a spirited racehorse at a racetrack west of Paris. One afternoon at dusk, she finds the door of her stall open and--she's a curious filly--wanders all the way to the City of Light. She's dazzled and often mystified by the sights, sounds, and smells around her, but she isn't afraid.

    Soon she meets an elegant dog, a German shorthaired pointer named Frida, who knows how to get by without attracting the attention of suspicious Parisians. Paras and Frida coexist for a time in the city's lush green spaces, nourished by Frida's strategic trips to the vegetable market. They keep company with two irrepressible ducks and an opinionated raven. But then Paras meets a human boy, Etienne, and discovers a new, otherworldly part of Paris: the ivy-walled house where the boy and his nearly-one-hundred-year-old great-grandmother live in seclusion.

    As the cold weather and Christmas near, the unlikeliest of friendships bloom. But how long can a runaway horse stay undiscovered in Paris? How long can a boy keep her hidden and all to himself? Jane Smiley's beguiling new novel is itself an adventure that celebrates curiosity, ingenuity, and the desire of all creatures for true love and freedom.
    MORE
  8. The Blade Between
    by Sam J. Miller
    Ecco
    Dec 01, 2020
    FICTION / Horror
    Hardcover

    Description

    A Recommended Book from CrimeReads

    From Nebula Award winner Sam J. Miller comes a frightening and uncanny ghost story about a rapidly changing city in upstate New York and the mysterious forces that threaten it.

    Ronan Szepessy promised himself he’d never return to Hudson. The sleepy upstate town was no place for a restless gay photographer. But his father is ill and New York City’s distractions have become too much for him. He hopes that a quick visit will help him recharge.


    Ronan reconnects with two friends from high school: Dom, his first love, and Dom’s wife, Attalah. The three former misfits mourn what their town has become—overrun by gentrifiers and corporate interests. With friends and neighbors getting evicted en masse and a mayoral election coming up, Ronan and Attalah craft a plan to rattle the newcomers and expose their true motives. But in doing so, they unleash something far more mysterious and uncontainable.


    Hudson has a rich, proud history and, it turns out, the real-state developers aren’t the only forces threatening its well-being: the spirits undergirding this once-thriving industrial town are enraged. Ronan’s hijinks have overlapped with a bubbling up of hate and violence among friends and neighbors, and everything is spiraling out of control. Ronan must summon the very best of himself to shed his own demons and save the city he once loathed.

    MORE
  9. The Wrong Family
    by Tarryn Fisher
    Graydon House
    Dec 29, 2020
    FICTION / Thrillers / Domestic
    Hardcover

    Description

    The Wrong Family is your new obsession. It’s full of twists you’ll never see coming and you’ll be breathless until the end. Trust me: you’ve never read anything like this.” –#1 New York Times bestselling author, Colleen Hoover

    From the author of the instant New York Times bestseller The Wives comes another twisted psychological thriller guaranteed to turn your world upside down.

    Have you ever been wrong about someone?

    Juno was wrong about Winnie Crouch.

    Before moving in with the Crouch family, Juno thought Winnie and her husband, Nigel, had the perfect marriage, the perfect son—the perfect life. Only now that she’s living in their beautiful house, she sees the cracks in the crumbling facade are too deep to ignore.

    Still, she isn’t one to judge. After her grim diagnosis, the retired therapist simply wants a place to live out the rest of her days in peace. But that peace is shattered the day Juno overhears a chilling conversation between Winnie and Nigel…

    She shouldn’t get involved.

    She really shouldn’t.

    But this could be her chance to make a few things right.

    Because if you thought Juno didn’t have a secret of her own, then you were wrong about her, too.

    From the wickedly dark mind of bestselling author Tarryn Fisher, The Wrong Family is a taut new thriller that’s riddled with twists in all the right places.
    MORE
  10. Layla
    by Colleen Hoover
    Montlake
    Dec 08, 2020
    FICTION / Romance / Contemporary
    Paperback

    Description

    From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover comes a novel that explores life after tragedy and the enduring spirit of love.

    When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.

    Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.

    MORE
View more winners from the archive
Sign up for our mailing list

October & November 2020 Juvenile and Young Adult List

Sign up for our mailing list
  1. 3 2 1 Awesome!
    by Eva Chen
    Feiwel & Friends
    Oct 06, 2020
    JUVENILE NONFICTION / Concepts / Counting & Numbers
    Board book

    Description

    Instagram superstar andNew York Timesbestselling author ofJuno Valentine and the Magical Shoes Eva Chen shines a spotlight on 20 amazing women—including Megan Rapinoe, Sonia Sotomayor, Shirley Chisholm, Greta Thunberg and more!—in3 2 1 Awesome! a sassy and fun counting board book, perfect for the youngest of budding feminists.

    Why stick to counting on fingers and toes when you can count:

    3straight sets for Billie Jean King's historic win...

    2groundbreaking suffragettes named Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton...

    1singular, sensational YOU!

    With Derek Desierto's bold and vibrant art, Eva fans and readers of all ages will be transported through "herstory."

    MORE
  2. Mind the Gap, Dash & Lily
    by Rachel Cohn
    Knopf Books for Young Readers
    Nov 03, 2020
    YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Romance / General
    Lexile measure 780L
    Paperback

    Description

    For Dash and Lily, it's beginning to look a lot like...distance! Just in time for the series release of Dash & Lily on Netflix comes a new helping of love--this time across the pond as best-selling authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan send Dash and Lily to England.

    Dash and Lily were feeling closer than ever...it's just too bad they're now an ocean apart. After Dash gets accepted to Oxford University and Lily stays in New York to take care of her dogwalking business, the devoted couple are struggling to make a long distance relationship work. And when Dash breaks the news that he won't be coming home for Christmas, Lily makes a decision: if Dash can't come to her, she'll join him in London. It's a perfect romantic gesture...that spins out of Lily's control. Soon Dash and Lily are feeling more of a gap between them, even though they're in the same city. Will London bring them together again--or will it be their undoing?
    MORE
  3. The Enigma Game
    by Elizabeth Wein
    Penguin Teen
    Nov 03, 2020
    YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Historical / Military & Wars
    Lexile measure 820L
    Paperback

    Description

    A stunning new historical novel from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Wein, featuring a beloved character from the award-winning Code Name Verity; for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

    A German soldier risks his life to drop off the sought-after Enigma Machine to British Intelligence, hiding it in a pub in a small town in northeast Scotland, and unwittingly bringing together four very different people who decide to keep it to themselves. Louisa Adair, a young teen girl hired to look after the pub owner's elderly, German-born aunt, Jane Warner, finds it but doesn't report it. Flight-Lieutenant Jamie Beaufort-Stuart intercepts a signal but can't figure it out. Ellen McEwen, volunteer at the local airfield, acts as the go-between and messenger, after Louisa involves Jane in translating. The planes under Jamie's command seem charmed, as Jamie knows where exactly to go, while other squadrons suffer, and the four are loathe to give up the machine, even after Elisabeth Lind from British Intelligence arrives, even after the Germans start bombing the tiny town . . .
    MORE
  4. Instant Karma
    by Marissa Meyer
    Feiwel & Friends
    Nov 03, 2020
    YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Romance / Romantic Comedy
    Hardcover

    Description

    InNew York Times bestselling author Marissa Meyer's young adult contemporary romance, a girl is suddenly gifted with the ability to cast instant karma on those around her – both good and bad.

    Chronic overachiever Prudence Barnett is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, after a night out with her friends, she wakes up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her.

    Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to mean gossips, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner. Quint is annoyingly cute and impressively noble, especially when it comes to his work with the rescue center for local sea animals.

    When Pru resigns herself to working at the rescue center for extra credit, she begins to uncover truths about baby otters, environmental upheaval, and romantic crossed signals—not necessarily in that order. Her newfound karmic insights reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed . . . love and hate… and fate.

    MORE
  5. And the People Stayed Home (Family Book, Coronavirus Kids Book, Nature Book)
    by Kitty O'Meara
    Tra Publishing
    Nov 10, 2020
    JUVENILE FICTION / Poetry
    Hardcover

    Description

    “Kitty O’Meara…offers us wisdom that can help during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. She is challenging us to grow."—Deepak Chopra, MD, author, Metahuman

    “Kitty O'Meara is the poet laureate of the pandemic"—O, The Oprah Magazine

    "An eloquent, heartwarming reflection that will resonate with generations to come… encouragement for a brighter tomorrow."—Kate Winslet

    "And the People Stayed Home is an uplifting perspective on the resilience of the human spirit and the healing potential we have to change our world for the better." ––Shelf Awareness

    “Images of nature healing show the author’s vision of hope for the future…The accessible prose and beautiful images make this a natural selection for young readers, but older ones may appreciate the work’s deeper meaning.”— Kirkus Reviews

    “This is a perfectly illustrated version of a poem that continues to be relevant.”—School Library Journal

    “A stunning and peaceful offering of introspection and hope.”—The Children’s Book Review

    “It captured the kind of optimism people need right now.”—Esquire (UK)

    “Thank you, Kitty O'Meara…for pointing out that at this very moment, this very day, we can seize the opportunity to restore wholeness to our world."—Sy Montgomery, bestselling author of The Good Good Pig and The Soul of an Octopus

    “A poem by American writer Kitty O’Meara has deservedly gone viral.”—Edinburgh Evening News

    And the People Stayed Home is a beautifully produced picture book featuring Kitty O’Meara’s popular, globally viral prose poem about the coronavirus pandemic, which has a hopeful and timeless message.

    Kitty O’Meara, author of And the People Stayed Home, has been called the “poet laureate of the pandemic.” This illustrated children’s book (ages 4-8) will also appeal to readers of all ages.

    O’Meara’s thoughtful poem about the pandemic, quarantine, and the future suggests there is meaning to be found in our shared experience of the coronavirus and conveys an optimistic message about the possibility of profound healing for people and the planet. Her words encourage us to look within, listen deeply, and connect with ourselves and the earth in order to heal.

    O’Meara, a former teacher and chaplain and a spiritual director, clearly captures important aspects of the pandemic experience. Her words, written in March 2020 and shared on Facebook, immediately resonated nationally and internationally and were widely circulated on social media, covered in mainstream news media, and inspired an outpouring of creativity from musicians, dancers, artists, filmmakers, and more. The many highlights include an original composition by John Corigliano that was premiered by Renée Fleming.
    MORE
  6. Maurice and His Dictionary
    by Cary Fagan 'Canada'
    Owlkids
    Oct 15, 2020
    JUVENILE FICTION / Comics & Graphic Novels / Historical
    Fountas & Pinnell Text Level Gradient W, Lexile measure GN450L
    Hardcover

    Description

    This is the story of one refugee family’s harrowing journey, based on author Cary Fagan’s own family history. The graphic novel follows a young Jewish boy, Maurice, and his family as they flee their home in Belgium during the Second World War. They travel by train to Paris, through Spain to Portugal, and finally across the ocean to Jamaica, where they settle in an internment camp.

    All the while, Maurice is intent on continuing his education and growing up to be a lawyer. He overcomes obstacles to find a professor to study with, works toward a high school diploma while in the camp, and is ultimately accepted to university in Canada. His English dictionary becomes a beloved tool and beacon of hope through the danger and turmoil of the family’s migration.

    Moments of lightness and humor balance the darkness in this powerful story of one refugee family’s courage and resilience, and of the dictionary that came to represent their freedom.
    MORE
  7. The Library Bus
    by Bahram Rahman 'Canada'
    Pajama Press
    Nov 24, 2020
    JUVENILE FICTION / Books & Libraries
    Fountas & Pinnell Text Level Gradient M, Lexile measure AD560L
    Hardcover

    Description

    Author Bahram Rahman grew up in Afghanistan during years of civil war and the restrictive Taliban regime. He wrote The Library Bus to tell new generations about the struggles of women who, like his own sister, were forbidden to learn.

    It is still dark in Kabul, Afghanistan when the library bus rumbles out of the city. There are no bus seats—instead there are chairs and tables and shelves of books. And there are no passengers—instead there is Pari, who is nervously starting her first day as Mama’s library helper. Pari stands tall to hand out notebooks and pencils at the villages and the refugee camp, but she feels intimidated. The girls they visit are learning to write English from Mama. Pari can’t even read or write in Farsi yet. But next year she will go to school and learn all there is to know. And she is so lucky. Not long ago, Mama tells her, girls were not allowed to read at all.

    Brought to life by the pensive and captivating art of award-winning illustrator Gabrielle Grimard, The Library Bus is a celebration of literacy, ingenuity, and the strength of women and girls demanding a future for themselves.

    MORE
  8. Pig the Slob
    by Aaron Blabey
    Scholastic Canada
    Nov 10, 2020
    JUVENILE FICTION / Humorous Stories
    Hardcover

    Description

    The world’s greediest Pug returns — and he’s lazier than ever!

    Pig was a Pugand I’m sorry to sayhe was shockingly lazy.Such a shameful display . . .

    Pig, the world’s greediest Pug is back—and he won’t get off the couch! Pig spends all day, every day in a horizontal position, binging on snacks and TV. Trevor tries to convince him to come out and play, but Pig won’t budge!

    Until one day when something happens to get Pig up off the couch once and for all . . .

    MORE
  9. Bedtime for Superheroes
    by Katherine Locke
    Running Press Kids
    Nov 03, 2020
    JUVENILE FICTION / Bedtime & Dreams
    Hardcover

    Description

    Superheroes meet bedtime in this fun, entertaining, and sleepy time picture book perfect for young kids fighting the bedtime routine.

    Being a superhero is hard work! Fighting evil, catching bad guys, saving the day, and it's messy too! After a long day of being a superhero, even the best superhero has to take a bath, wash their superhero clothes, and rest up for another day of saving the world. With punchy words, bouncing lines, and a whole lot of respect for the hard work superheroes do, this is a great bedtime read for all kinds of superhero kids.
    MORE
View more winners from the archive
Sign up for our mailing list