ONE activity we all seem to have taken up in the past year? Reading – for escapism, education, distraction, hope.
2021 is set to have some thrilling book releases to get on your radar now. We've rounded up the 20 upcoming 2021 books you'll be putting on your 'must-read' list below…
Calling all fans of Normal People: you're in luck. It's just been announced that acclaimed author Sally Rooney is releasing a new book in September 2021, titled Beautiful World, Where Are You, which follows the adventures of four friends in Dublin and Rome.
Other big authors back with new works in 2021 include Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kazuo Ishiguro, Lisa Taddeo, Jonathan Franzen, Joan Didion, Angie Thomas and Taylor Jenkins Reid, whose Daisy Jones and the Six will be hitting TV screens later in 2021.
Of course, we're also eagerly awaiting some exciting debuts like Gabriela Garcia's Of Women and Salt and The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris.
There are also plenty of non-fiction reads to tempt, with stories from the frontline of the pandemic as well as tantalising new cookbook releases.
Here are 20 books to pre-order now…
1. Joan Didion
- (AD) Let Me Tell You What I Mean, £10.65 at Amazon – buy here
Anyone craving the razor-sharp writing of Joan Didion, who chronicles everything from Gamblers Anonymous to Ernest Hemingway in this book, is in luck.
Launching in February 2021, it features her ruminations on a variety of famous faces and topics in 12 never-before-published works.
2. Viet Thanh Nguyen
- (AD) The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen, £16.71 at Amazon – buy here
Fans of Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Sympathizer have been eagerly awaiting American author Nguyen's follow-up – and it's finally hitting bookshelves in March.
Described as 'a white hot literary thriller disguised as a searing novel of ideas', it follows the Sympathizer as he seeks refuge in France, where he turns to drug dealing.
3. Sally Rooney
- Beautiful World, Where Are You: Signed Exclusive Edition (Hardback), £16.99 at Waterstones – buy here
Sally Rooney's Normal People was undoubtedly the television series to watch in 2020, and it made all of us fall in love with her flawed, memorable characters.
Her latest release, out in September 2021, dissects the lives of four friends as they navigate life in Dublin and Rome.
4. Ashley Audrain
- The Push by Ashley Audrain, £10.65 at WH Smith – buy here
This psychological thriller about the dark side of motherhood follows Blythe Connor, a mother convinced there's something wrong with her child.
Fans say it's the kind of book you'll inhale in one sitting.
5. Angie Thomas
- (AD) Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas, £5.59 at Amazon – buy here
Get your YA fix with Angie Thomas' sequel to the bestseller, The Hate U Give – this book is set 17 years before, and follows Starr's dad, Maverick Carter, who's dealing drugs until he learns he's about to become a dad.
P.S. It's out in January 2021, so you can get your first new read of the year under your belt this month.
6. Taylor Jenkins Reid
- Malibu Rising: Signed Edition (Hardback), £12.99 at Waterstones – buy here
Daisy Jones & the Six, produced by Reese Witherspoon and chronicling a fictional 1970s rock band, is one of the most hotly anticipated shows of 2021.
So readers are more than a little excited to get their hands on Reid's latest novel, Malibu Rising, which follows a family's antics and excesses in 1980s California. It's out in May.
7. Kazuo Ishiguro
- (AD) Klara and the Sun (Hardback), £15.49 at Amazon – buy here
From The Remains of the Day to Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro has written some of the most memorable novels of the past several decades.
His latest release, out in March, explores the relationship between humans and AI. Klara is an 'artificial friend' in a shop, waiting expectantly to be chosen by a customer.
8. Jhumpa Lahiri
- (AD) Whereabouts: A Novel, £17.69 at Amazon – buy here
Jhumpa Lahiri's evocative books, including The Lowland, The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies, have garnered her international acclaim and serious accolades, including a Pulitzer Prize.
The author is back with her first book in nearly a decade, Whereabouts, which explores the inner workings of a woman's mind as she moves around the city she lives in before a day at the sea changes her perspective for good.
Interestingly, this is Lahiri's first novel in Italian, which has been translated into English.
9. Lisa Taddeo
- (AD) Animal by Lisa Taddeo, £13.99 at Amazon – buy here
Out in June 2021, Animal is author Lisa Taddeo's first novel.
The blurb, which focuses on central character, Joan, reads:
'I drove myself out of New York City where a man shot himself in front of me. He was a gluttonous man and when his blood came out it looked like the blood of a pig.
'That's a cruel thing to think, I know. He did it in a restaurant where I was having dinner with another man, another married man.
'Do you see how this is going? But I wasn't always that way.
'I am depraved. I hope you like me'.
Taddeo made waves for her book Three Women in 2020, an in-depth exploration of female desire through the lens of three different female perspectives.
10. Michael Rosen
- (AD) Many Different Kinds of Love: A story of life, death and the NHS, £12.99 at Amazon – buy here
One of the nation's best-loved poets has captured his experience of near-death from Covid-19 in this book.
A love story to the NHS, with illustrations by Chris Riddell, it combines prose poems from Rosen with diaries from his nursing staff.
11. Jim Down
- (AD) Life Support: Diary of an ICU Doctor on the Frontline of the Covid Crisis, £11.99 at Amazon – buy here
Jim Down runs the intensive care unit at a top London hospital, and writes of the extraordinary experience facing him and his colleagues in spring 2020, during the initial spread of Covid-19 through the country.
The book touches on the many difficult decisions and heartbreaking situations faced by those working for the NHS daily, and will make for a sobering read about this moment in history.
12. Isabel Allende
- The Soul of a Woman by Isabel Allende, £15.60 at Wordery – buy here
Isabel Allende's latest release, out in March, is part-memoir, part-meditation on womanhood.
This feminist tome takes us through The House of Spirits and A Long Petal of the Sea author's life from seeing her mother abandoned by her husband as a child, to her own recognition of desire and power through her adult relationships.
13. Gabriela Garcia
- Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia, £14.99 at Wordery – buy here
This ambitious debut novel has been hailed as one of the year's must reads and follows five generations of women, from the 19th century cigar factories of Cuba to present-day Miami.
It's available in April 2021.
14. Sharon Stone
- (AD) The Beauty of Living Twice by Sharon Stone, £16.71 at Amazon – buy here
If celebrity autobiographies are your bag, don't miss Sharon Stone's The Beauty of Living Twice.
She discusses her career, family and health, like how she rebuilt her life after suffering a massive stroke in 2001.
15. Abigail Dean
- Girl A: Signed Exclusive Edition (Hardback) by Abigail Dean, now £12.99 at Waterstones – buy here
This thriller-horror story tells the tale of Lex Gracie, who escaped from her abusive family home.
When she learns her mother has died in prison, she and her six siblings must revisit their shared trauma to move forward with their lives.
16. Bill Gates
- How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates, £17.99 at Waterstones – buy here
Bill Gates has spent the past decade investigating climate change from all angles. In this book, he sets about introducing readers to the urgency of working towards zero-net gas emissions, as well as coming up with practical steps so we can achieve it.
17. Marcel Proust
- (AD) The Mysterious Correspondent by Marcel Proust, £13.59 at Amazon – buy here
If the past year has seen you set – and achieve – your reading goals, then you'll be keen to get your hands on a copy of French writer Proust's never-before-seen short stories.
While Proust's writing is famously long, at 144 pages, this book is the ideal bite-sized introduction to one of the literary greats.
18. Zakiya Dalila Harris
- The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris, £11.99 at WH Smith – buy here
Described as a 'whip smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary', The Other Black Girl is another can't miss debut.
It's a story of workplace politics and intimidation, as 26-year-old Nella Rogers – the only black employee at Wagner Books until Harlem-born Hazel joins the team – starts receiving threatening notes on her desk.
It's out in June.
19. Niall Ferguson
- Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe by Niall Ferguson, £25 at Waterstones – buy here
Calling all history buffs: Niall Ferguson takes reader on a tour of disaster through the ages, and looks how leaders and countries coped with catastrophes like the eruption of Vesuvius and the Black Death, as well as analysing how governments bungled recent disasters.
20. Reverend Richard Coles
- The Madness of Grief: A Memoir of Love and Loss by the Reverend Richard Coles, £14.99 at Waterstones – buy here
The past year has seen many of us lose loved ones, and struggling with the aftermaths of grief.
This memoir, released in April 2021, is the Reverend Richard Coles' reflective account of losing his partner and navigating his own grief, a struggle all the more poignant since it's his job to help others overcome theirs.
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