It's a tradition that's almost a century old: The New York Public Library's annual best book list.

The New York institution (which serves Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island) released their Best Books of 2021 list this morning, and it features around 300 titles "across all age groups, genres and formats... selected by committees of dedicated, expert librarians from across the NYPL system." If that list sounds long, consider that it was widdled down from thousands of books they looked at — all published this year, and fitting their other criteria, which includes "literary merit, audience appeal, and whether titles are representative of the diversity of New York City."

The categories this year include best books for kids (100 titles), best books for kids in Spanish (45 titles), best books for teens (50 titles), and best books for adults (100 titles).

You can see the full list at and check out any of them at your local NYPL branch. They will provide printed lists in 2022, but you can print out your own here if you want the satisfaction of checking off each that you read.


Children’s Books

  • Artie and the Wolf Moon by Olivia Stephens
  • Barakah Beats by Maleeha Siddiqui
  • The Big Bath House by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Gracey Zhang
  • Living with Viola by Rosena Fung
  • The Magical Imperfect by Chris Baron
  • Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson
  • Over the Shop by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Qin Leng
  • Stuntboy, in the Meantime by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Raúl the Third
  • Welcome to Your Period! by Yumi Stynes and Dr. Melissa Kang, illustrated by Jenny Latham
  • The Wisdom of Trees: How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom by Lita Judge

Mejores libros para pequeños/Best Books for Kids in Spanish

  • Érase una vez y mucho más será by Johanna Schaible
  • Escucha mi voz / Hear My Voice compiled by Warren Binford for Project Amplify
  • Lucero by Yuyi Morales, translated by Eida Del Risco
  • ¡Mambo mucho mambo! El baile que atravesó la barrera del color by Dean Robbins, translated by Georgina Lázaro, illustrated by Eric Velasquez
  • Mis dos pueblos fronterizos by David Bowles, illustrated by Erika Meza
  • Nuncaseolvida (Neverforgotten) by Alejandra Algorta, translated by Aida Salazar, illustrated by Iván Rickenmann
  • Un pájaro en casa by Blanca Gómez
  • La selva de Zonia by Juana Martinez-Neal
  • Sunakay by Meritxell Martí, illustrated by Xavier Salomó
  • Tancho by Luciano Lozano

Teen Books

  • Boys Run the Riot, Vol. 1 by Keito Gaku
  • Crossroads at Midnight by Abby Howard
  • How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
  • Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
  • Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
  • Let’s Talk About It: The Teen’s Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being a Human by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan
  • Nubia: Real One by L.L. McKinney, illustrated by Robyn Smith
  • Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi
  • Punching Bag by Rex Ogle
  • The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon

Books for Adults

  • Act Your Age, Eve Brown: A Novel by Talia Hibbert
  • All Her Little Secrets: A Novel by Wanda M. Morris
  • The Dangers of Smoking in Bed: Stories by Mariana Enriquez, translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell
  • Hell of a Book: A Novel by Jason Mott
  • How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith
  • Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
  • Mama Phife Represents: A Verse Memoir by Cheryl Boyce-Taylor
  • The Rock Eaters: Stories by Brenda Peynado
  • Shadow Life by Hiromi Goto
  • She Who Became the Sun: A Novel by Shelley Parker-Chan