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By Ris Labib,
Adult Services Librarian, Business, Government & Science Division

Picture books are for adults, too! The universal themes, poetic language, and imaginative illustrations transcend age, culture, and education. Read them with your morning coffee, on your lunch break, or as a quiet moment of reflection during your busy schedules. The best picture books for adults from 2021, in no particular order, are:


The Lost Soul book cover

The Lost Soul by Olga Tokarczuk, illustrated by Joanna Concejo, translated by Antonia Llyod-Jones

Olga Tokarczuk's, the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate, experimental fable about a man who has quite literally lost his soul has now been translated to English by Antonia Llyod-Jones. Joanna Concejo's finely detailed pen and ink illustrations in a muted palette on old accounting paper accentuates the Sebaldian journey of the soul back to her person. Approximate reading time: 47 minutes; the themes of mindfulness: timeless.

Be a Work in Progress: And Other Things I'd Like to Tell My Younger Self book cover

Be a Work in Progress: And Other Things I'd Like to Tell My Younger Self by John Cena, illustrated by Valeria Petrone

John Cena, former WWE professional wrestler, has been sharing words of wisdom and encouragement on Twitter for the past year. Accompanied with minimalist bichrome linocut print illustrations by Valeria Petrone, his words of encouragement are now in print for all readers to enjoy. Approximate reading time: less than an hour; the themes of self-motivation: timeless.

Elegy for Mary Turner: An Illustrated Account of a Lynching  book cover

Elegy for Mary Turner: An Illustrated Account of a Lynching by Rachel Marie-Crane Williams

Rachel Marie-Crane Williams uses visual art - 25 brutal black ink woodcut and linocut prints and mixed-media archival documents annotated by angular calligraphy on sepia paper - for social commentary and justice. The story of Mary Turner's murder is one readers won't soon forget. Approximate reading time: less than an hour; the themes of remembrance: timeless. eBook available via Overdrive.



The Candy Dish book cover

The Candy Dish by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Adelina Lirius

Kobi Yamada most recent fable is about a young girl whose greed causes her to be dissatified with a very special, miraculous gift. Conveying the magic of embracing each new day is Adelina Lirius's playful mixed-media illustrations in contrasting earthy tones of yellows and browns, greens and blues. Approximate reading time: less than an hour; the themes of gratitude: timeless.



Together book cover

Together by Luke Adam Hawker, with words by Marianne Laidlaw

Luke Adam Hawker has examined the events of 2020 through 53 dynamically layered pen and ink drawings inspired by stories around the world. Guided by the words of Marianne Laidlaw, readers follow a man and his dog weathering a monumental storm that's brought uncertainty and change to their lives. Approximate reading time: less than an hour; the themes of hope: timeless.