2021 Reading Challenge: Read a Book from OPL’s 2020 Top Shelf

In 2021, OPL invites patrons to take part in the Reading Challenge! For each challenge, OPL offers suggestions for titles to listen to or read. As you’re working through the challenge, feel free to tag @omahalibrary on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to let us know which read you picked up this month!

This reading challenge theme asks you to explore Omaha Public Library’s Top Shelf, an annual list of titles that OPL staff felt were the most outstanding in the past year. This is the fourth year OPL has released this list and each one includes a little something for everyone. 

Top Shelf highlights chosen titles and includes descriptions from staff detailing why they loved the book. Along the left side of the page, patrons may filter by age and/or category to make it easier to select what kind of book they’d like to read to complete this challenge. 

Literary fiction fans may want to try Nebraska author Ilana Masad’s “All My Mother’s Lovers”, Brandon Taylor’s Booker Prize shortlisted work “Real Life,” C Pam Zhang’s debut “How Much of These Hills is Gold” or Souvankham Thammavongsa’s short story collection “How to Pronounce Knife.” 

For mystery and thriller fans, there are titles like the murder mystery “The Guest List” by Lucy Foley, the neo-noir “Blacktop Wasteland” by S.A. Crosby, the historical suspense “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia or the cozy mystery “To Kill a Mocking Girl” by Harper Kincaid.

Nonfiction fans may want to take a look at “The Cold Vanish: Seeking the Missing in North America’s Wildlands” by Jon Billman, “Footprints: In Search of Future Fossils” by David Farrier or “True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News” by Cindy L. Otis. 

Titles focused on equity, diversity and inclusion that made this year’s list include “Disability Visibility: First-person Stories from the Twenty-first Century,” by Alice Wong, “Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space” by Amanda Leduc, “Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning” by Cathy Park Hong, “The Whole Picture: The Colonial Story of the Art in Our Museums & Why We Need To Talk About It” by Alice Proctor, ”The Undocumented Americans” by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, “Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice” and “Stamped: Racism, Anti-racism and You” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.

There are also plenty of books to choose from for kids ranging from picture books like “Emergency Kittens!” by Jody Jensen Shaffer and “Everyone Gets a Say” by Jill Twiss, to early readers like “The Fire-breathing Ferret Fiasco” by David Bowles, to chapter books like “Con Quest!” by Sam Maggs or “The Magic in Changing Your Stars” by Leah Henderson. 

Teens (or those wanting to read teen books) may want to check out the survival story “Be Not Far From Me” by Mindy McGinnis, the romance in “The Gravity of Us” by Phil Stamper or the fantasy and magic of “A Phoenix Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance and Hope.”

With more than 100 titles in all to choose from, there's surely something for you. We’re excited to learn what you decide to try!

You may submit your completed reading log online or return a completed tracking sheet to any OPL branch to receive a pin and to be entered into a drawing for some fun literary-themed prizes! All completed tracking sheets or online challenge form entries must be received by December 31, 2021, to be entered into the prize drawing.