5 Most Popular Posts: November 2021

  • December 2, 2021

We here at the Independent love every piece we run. There are no winners or losers. But all kidding aside, here are November’s winners.












  1. “Our 51 Favorite Books of 2021.” Hundreds of thousands of books are published annually, so it’s absurd to proclaim a handful "the best." But these are the ones that most stuck with us during this, our second — and hopefully final — pandemic year.

  2. Daniel de Visé’s review of Led Zeppelin: The Biography by Bob Spitz (Penguin Press). “At its best, early on, Led Zeppelin gave mesmerizing concerts. But the band’s records are its legacy. It’s not for everyone: To modern ears, singer Robert Plant’s lyrics sound frequently vulgar and occasionally misogynistic. He and chord-smith Jimmy Page nicked entire songs from great Black blues artists. Fifty years on, the entire Zeppelin oeuvre resonates with the distant echo of smoky adolescent bedrooms. Within this exhaustively researched account, Spitz unearths a trove of caustic reviews and bitter reflections to remind us how very often the world’s greatest live-rock band played dreadful gigs, and how thoroughly Led Zeppelin was reviled — by critics, adult music fans, and even fellow pop stars — for the better part of its life.”

  3. Blake Kimzey’s review of Prayers for the Stolen: A Novel by Jennifer Clement (Hogarth). “Jennifer Clement’s honest, beautifully written Prayers for the Stolen is a harrowing story about Mexico’s forgotten women and children: the ones missing and those in hiding. It is one of the best, most affecting novels I have read in years. Clement has conjured a knowing voice for her strong young protagonist, Ladydi Garcia Martinez, a girl whose hard-won wisdom has come at a steep price. The novel follows Ladydi as she transitions from schoolgirl to housekeeper and eventually to inmate, where she finds herself mistakenly numbered among the very women the drug war has claimed.”

  4. Adam Schwartz’s review of Hell of a Book: A Novel by Jason Mott (Dutton). “The novel reflects the ugly realities of a nation where Black people are far more likely than white people to be stopped, searched, arrested, and killed by police. This is a book about what it’s like to live with those fears. Although the wisecracking narrator keeps up a chipper façade, he’s internalized these fears. Over and over, he’s racked by nightmarish hallucinations of innocent loved ones killed during encounters with the police. America, the novel shows us, traumatizes Black folks — even celebrated authors who grace the cover of Entertainment Weekly.”

  5. Jennifer Bort Yacovissi’s review of The Lincoln Highway: A Novel by Amor Towles (Viking). “In a novel that wrestles with thorny questions of moral culpability — such as, if we mean no harm but cause harm nonetheless, how much does our intent weigh in the balance, and what punishment should we accrue? — The Lincoln Highway ends with another question: If we are unknowingly the author of another's misfortune, how is that debt recorded on our moral balance sheet? Towles leaves us to ponder.”

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