Books of the Year

IPG members and staff pick their favourite reads of 2021. We’d love to hear yours!

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

This is a beautiful and sad novel, dealing with many challenging issues: race, identity, motherhood, belonging, family. And it does so through an intricate, staggering plot that draws you in until you find you're running to keep up. Its gift is to absorb you as you realise you're grappling with some of the big questions of our day. Remarkable!

Jonathan Harris, IPG President

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

With a Native American heritage and a strong scientific training in botany, Kimmerer describes and illustrates a much more emotional and connected way of relating to the natural world. A sustainable future will require a different, less transactional mindset from us all, and this demonstrates both what it might look like and how rewarding it could be for everyone. Eloquently written and very moving in places, it is a book that has definitely shifted my thinking.

Edward Milford, IPG

Think Like a Scientist! by Susan Martineau and Vicky Barker and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

First is a timely b small title, Think Like a Scientist! This is the latest work from b small publishing's Blue Peter award-winning team, author Susan Martineau and illustrator (and also super-talented b small art director) Vicky Barker. One reviewer called it ‘a must-have book for STEM teaching and KS2 libraries,’ but I’d say it’s a must-have for everyone because of the easy-to-understand section on viruses and vaccines! With the government an almost science-free zone, we need our future leaders—today's children—to understand and love science, and this is just the book to inspire them at a really early stage.

Like the Sunday supplements at Christmas, here is my personal favourite read of 2021: Chimamanda Ndozi Adichie’s Americanah. It tells the tale of Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman who wins a scholarship to a US university, leaving the love of her life and her family behind, and realises, for the first time, that she’s ‘Black'. Adichie is such a wonderful story teller that you are totally absorbed in the characters and the messages she subtly includes about racism. A page turner and an important education at the same time. I loved it.

Cath Bruzzone, founder, b small

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

It’s a great light read that I finished in two days—always a telling sign!

Martin Casimir, former IPG chair

Successful Digital Transformation in Law Firms: A Question of Culture by Isabel Parker

I’ve chosen this book, by one of the most respected leaders of law firm innovation, as it seems to have hit something of a zeitgeist for law firms: how they can develop and execute a compelling digital transformation strategy. We have never had such a strong initial response, including on social media, and it has translated into sales. It’s a very promising start for what we hope will be an ongoing top performer.

Sian O'Neill, Globe Law & Business

2:22: A Ghost Story by Danny Robins

I love ghost stories and Danny Robins' various podcasts. His play 2:22 premiered earlier this year and I was determined to experience it, even though I wasn't sure about hitting the West End. Cue the Nick Hern Books' publication: it was as enjoyable as I had hoped, and it made me even more keen to see it performed live at some point!

Charly Salvesen-Ford, IPG

Why we Kneel, How we Rise by Michael Holding

A timely book that provides challenging and thought-provoking context to issues of race and discrimination, written by Michael Holding and including interviews with other sports stars.

James Woollam, David and Charles

English Pastoral by James Rebanks

Living in Cumbria, I really enjoyed James Rebanks' The Shepherd's Life, an evocative history of family faming and how it shapes the Lake District. His follow-up, English Pastoral, is even better: moving in its descriptions of loss in our wild places, but inspiring in its story of how Rebanks' farm is breathing new life into old traditions and rural life.

Tom Holman, IPG