“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination and the journey. They are home.” – wrote Anna Quindlen, popular American novelist and journalist. This statement has been held true especially in the year 2020. Many readers have rediscovered their love for books and stories due to lockdown across the world. I struggled a little bit at the beginning of the pandemic due to the restlessness and stress of the unfolding threat. But slowly and surely I got back to reading and enjoying new genres and authors. So I made a list for myself to read some selected books that I ended up loving last year!
Now 2021 is here, and while I wish you a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous new year, what I also wish for you is a year filled with books and the joy of reading. Books bring knowledge and a deeper understanding of the world we live in. And that is the thing I love about books the most. Authors, publishers, and readers all share a special bond – a bond of preserving the culture and history of humankind through words.
So with the new year, I am thrilled with the amount and diversity of books releasing this year. It is looking great and it was honestly super difficult for me to curate this list among the hundreds of great books slated to be released in 2021. I am sure this is going to be a good year for books. And I am hoping to be able to read some of these, apart from my reading TBR I curated consisting of reads from my bookshelf and library here.
So here are some of the most anticipated books of 2021.
Best Books To Read In 2021
- # The Four Winds – Kristin Hannah | (February)
- No. 1 New York Times bestselling author, Kristin Hannah takes us back to the heart of the Great Depression, Texas, 1934, when the dust bowl threatened to bury everything that farmers and generations before them had painstakingly worked to build. Like so many of her neighbors, Elsa Martinelli must make the choice between the land she loves and moving west in search of a better life. This amazing story of courage and heart-wrenching sacrifices one that I surely look forward to reading.
- # The Disordered Cosmos – Chanda Prescod-Weinstein | (March)
- In The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey Into Dark Matter, Spacetime & Dreams Deferred, Dr. Chanda shares her love for physics, from the Standard Model of Particle Physics and what lies beyond it, to the physics of melanin in the skin, to the latest theories of dark matter — all with a new spin informed by history, politics, and the wisdom of Star Trek. She also uncovers how systematic racism limits humanity’s potential in the scientific field. Using the universe as her classroom, she highlights the value of equality in laboratories and society at large.
- # Jacinda Ardern: Leading with Empathy – Supriya Vani, Carl A. Harte | (June)
- One of my leadership role models had been Jacinda. So naturally, I am beyond excited for this book! Jacinda Ardern was swept to office in 2017 on a wave of popular adulation. Few in politics would have believed it or guessed at her resolve and compassionate leadership, which, in the wake of the horrific Christchurch mosque shootings, or in her decisive handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, brought her international acclaim. In this book, author Supriya Vani carefully explores the influences – personal, family, social, political and emotional – that have shaped Jacinda Ardern and made her a leader with a ‘different way of doing things’.
- # The Last Queen – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni | (January)
- Reader’s favorite author Chitra Banerjee brings yet another historical fiction novel steeped in research and delivering stories of fearless women of the nineteenth century. Here she presents the story of Rani Jindan, the daughter of the royal kennel keeper, who went on to become Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s youngest and last queen. Sharp-eyed, stubborn, passionate, and dedicated to protecting her son’s heritage as the regent, Jindan distrusted the British and fought hard to keep them from annexing Punjab. This is an exquisite love story of a king and a commoner, a cautionary tale about loyalty and betrayal, and a powerful parable of the indestructible bond between mother and child. I cannot wait to read it!
- # How to Avoid a Climate Disaster – Bill Gates (February)
- How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need is what we need to hear loud and clear. Despite several warnings and assessments shared by Bill Gates in the past few years, we failed to avoid a disaster like the Covid-19 pandemic. Now in this urgent, authoritative book, Bill Gates sets out a wide-ranging, practical – and accessible – plan for how the world can get to zero greenhouse gas emissions in time to avoid a climate catastrophe. With the help of experts in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, political science, and finance, Gates has focused on what must be done in order to stop the planet’s slide toward certain environmental disaster.
- # The Unusual Suspect – Ben Machell | (January)
- This is a remarkable true story of a modern-day Robin Hood: a British college student who started robbing banks as the financial crisis unfolded – stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Against all likelihood, his plan actually worked. Motivated by a belief that global capitalism was ruining lives and driving the planet towards ecological disaster, he dreamed of changing the world for the better through his crimes. The Unusual Suspect: How to Rob a Bank and (Nearly) Get Away is a very interesting read and a debut novel in the true-crime biographical genre.
- # The Prophets – Robert Jones, Jr. | (January)
- The Prophets is by far one of the most anticipated books of 2021 and it comes out right at the beginning of the year. It sounds epic in scale; with a combination of historical and literary fiction. This is a singular and stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence. With a lyricism reminiscent of Toni Morrison, Robert Jones, Jr. fiercely summons the voices of the slaver and the enslaved alike to tell the story of these two men.
- # Milk Fed – Melissa Broder | (February)
- Off the success of her 2018 debut novel, The Pisces, author Melissa Broder has crafted a dizzily compelling story of love, lust, addiction, faith, maternal longing, and…frozen yogurt. In Milk Fed, a young Los Angeles agent’s assistant battles her obsession with weight loss while simultaneously trying to bury her attraction to the zaftig Orthodox Jewish woman who works at the local fro-yo shop. This isn’t a book to pick up casually, particularly if you’ve struggled with food issues, but it will linger with you long after you’ve finished the final page.
- # Klara and the Sun – Kazuo Ishiguro | (March)
- In his first novel since winning the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature, Kazuo Ishiguro introduces readers to a technologically advanced future filled with dystopian elements. The story is centered around an “Artificial Friend” named Klara who makes observations about the world from her spot inside a store, where she hopes she’ll soon be chosen by a prospective owner. Like his previous groundbreaking fiction The Remains Of The Day, Ishiguro’s latest tackles major questions about love and humanity through a unique and perceptive lens.
- # First Person Singular: Stories – Haruki Murakami | (April)
- Here is a riveting new collection of short stories from the beloved, internationally acclaimed, Haruki Murakami. In this long-awaited collection of eight first-person short stories, novelist Haruki Murakami writes of baseball, jazz, childhood memories, young love, and more. Translated from Japanese by Philip Gabriel, First Person Singular is filled with Murakami’s classic use of magical realism. Is it memoir or fiction? The reader decides. The stories all touch beautifully on love and loss, childhood and death . . . all with a signature Murakami twist.
- # Everybody (Else) Is Perfect – Gabrielle Korn | (January)
- Everybody (Else) Is Perfect: How I Survived Hypocrisy, Beauty, Clicks, and Likes seems really relevant in today’s day and age. Written by the former editor-in-chief of Nylon, it is a provocative and intimate collection of personal and cultural essays featuring eye-opening explorations of hot button topics for modern women, including internet feminism, impossible beauty standards in social media, shifting ideals about sexuality, and much more.
- # Whereabouts – Jhumpa Lahiri | (April)
- A marvelous new novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri–her first in nearly a decade! Her new novel has a tighter focus: Whereabouts follows a woman as she navigates the complexities of work, love and life. Exuberance and dread, attachment and estrangement: in this novel, Jhumpa Lahiri stretches her themes to the limit. The woman at the center wavers between stasis and movement, between the need to belong and the refusal to form lasting ties. Lahiri’s novel, her first to be written in Italian and translated into English, as she pushing herself to a new level of artistic achievement, asks what it means to be transformed.
- # Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid | (June)
- Following the huge success of Daisy Jones & The Six and my personal TJR favorite The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo, I can’t wait to see what she has in store with Malibu Rising! It is set against the backdrop of the Malibu surf culture of the 1980s. It follows the daughter of a famous singer who, once she finds fame, must grapple with the fact that her father abandoned her and her siblings when they were young. Set in Malibu: August 1983 – this is a story about four famous siblings, and one unforgettable night
- in the life of their family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them…and what they will leave behind.
- # The Wife Upstairs – Rachel Hawkins | (January)
- The Wife Upstairs is a modern-day retelling of Jane Eyre. A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, Rachel Hawkins’s pairs Southern charm with atmospheric domestic suspense, perfect for fans thrillers. With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of a forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending, remains to be seen (or read).
- # In the Quick – Kate Hope Day | (March)
- A story about a female astronaut? Yes, please! In the Quick by Kate Hope Day is a captivating read about a woman searching for a lost crew. A young, ambitious female astronaut’s life is upended by a fiery love affair that threatens the rescue of a lost crew in this brilliantly imagined novel in the tradition of Station Eleven and The Martian. Equal parts gripping narrative of scientific discovery and charged love story, In the Quick is an exploration of the strengths and limits of human ability in the face of hardship and the costs of human ingenuity. At its beating heart are June and James, whose love for each other is eclipsed only by their drive to conquer the challenges of space travel. Sci-Fi and Space Science fans, look out for this book!
- # Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing: Essays – Lauren Hough | (April)
- This book of personal essays from Lauren Hough tells stories of cults, homelessness and hunger while also finding light in dark places. Hough grew up in The Children of God cult and writes about identity and living freely. I am intrigued to read these searing and extremely personal essays from the heart of working-class America, shot through with the darkest elements the country can manifest–cults, homelessness, and hunger–while discovering light and humor in unexpected corners. Each piece is a reckoning: of survival, identity, and how to reclaim one’s past when carving out a future.
- # Aftershocks – Nadia Owusu | (January)
- I recently received an ARC of this wonderful book from the publisher and Netgalley and can’t wait to get started. Owusu, a 2019 Whiting Award winner, has written a memoir about her nomadic childhood and the years she spent grappling with uncertainty, the loss of her father, and her identity as a young woman. A powerful coming-of-age story that explores timely and universal themes of identity, Aftershocks is deeply intimate, heartbreakingly honest, and a book that will likely reverberate throughout our hearts and minds long after we’ve finished reading. Fans of Educated and Born A Crime will like this book too!
- # Faye, Faraway by Helen Fisher | (January)
- Faye is a thirty-seven-year-old happily married mother of two young daughters. She’s determined that they never doubt for a minute that their mother loves them unconditionally. After all, her own mother Jeanie had died when she was only seven years old. But one day, her life is turned upside down when she finds herself in 1977. Suddenly, she has the chance to reconnect with her long-lost mother, and even meets her own younger self. Emotionally gripping and ineffably sweet Faye, Faraway is a brilliant exploration of the grief associated with unimaginable loss and the magic of being healed by love. Perfect for the fans of magical realism!
- # Of Women and Salt – Gabriela Garcia | (March)
- In present-day Miami, Jeanette is battling addiction. Daughter of Carmen, a Cuban immigrant, she is determined to learn more about her family history from her reticent mother and makes the snap decision to take in the daughter of a neighbor detained by ICE. From 19th-century cigar factories to present-day detention centers, Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt is a kaleidoscopic portrait of betrayals–personal and political, self-inflicted, and those done by others–that have shaped the lives of these extraordinary women. This sweeping, masterful debut is more than a diaspora story; it is a story of America’s most tangled, honest, human roots.
- # The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner | (March)
- The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner sounds like the perfect combo for lovers of historical fiction and magical realism! I read about a true crime case earlier similar to this plot and was flabbergasted. In this addictive and spectacularly imagined debut, a female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course. With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating exploration of women rebelling against a man’s world and the destructive force of revenge.
- # The Rose Code – Kate Quinn | (March)
- It’s the 1940s and England is on the brink of war with the Nazis, just as three very different women answer their country’s call to Bletchley Park, a top-secret location where they will break German military codes. Osla, a wealthy socialite; Mab, from the impoverished east end of London; and Beth, a local spinster, defy all odds as they face the impossible demands of war. After The Huntress and The Alice Network, Kate Quinn does it again with this gripping historical fiction that you won’t want to put down.
This year has such glittering gems releasing, written by talented authors who dared to push the envelope and bring their readers the best of fiction and non-fiction. I have already begun reading a couple of these and can’t wait to explore more. Which book are you most excited to read? Comment below! Happy Reading.