Ready Your Shelves: 2021 Releases You Need to Read
By Franki Hanke
Your TBR pile wants you to pre-order these new releases right away.
After we read everything in our tbr pile during the COVID pandemic, the new year brought new best sellers to read. With The New York Times bestselling authors to debut novels alike, 2021 has new releases fit to share with your book club.
The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles
February 2021 – Library Journal & Goodreads Most Anticipated Book of 2021
Based on a true World War II story of historic librarians in Paris’s American Library, The Paris Library is a taste of time travel. From Paris in 1939 to Montana in 1983, the string of a secret past connects two quiet characters. This historical fiction book is a book for lovers of books. It’s the perfect entry point between historical fiction and the broader fiction genre.
The Paris Library was released in February 2021. Buy now on Amazon.
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead
September 2021 – Finer Things Historical Fiction Book Club Pick
From Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead, Harlem Shuffle is a historical fiction novel set in 1960s Harlem. The initial impression is a crime novel against the backdrop of historic New York City. But as the pages turn the underlying family saga reveals commentary on morality and social power. With the pace of a heist novel and the depth of a psychology essay, it’s a book that’s sure to linger on the palette once you’ve devoured it.
While you’re waiting to read Harlem Shuffle, read one of Whitehead’s recommendations, Black Buck, by Mateo Asharipour that came out in January 2021. The New York Times bestseller is a hilarious satire about a Black salesman at an elite startup.
Harlem Shuffle will be released in September 2021. Pre-order now on Amazon.
The Push by Ashley Audrain
January 2021 – The New York Times Instant Bestseller and Good Morning America January Book Club Pick
The debut novel from Ashely Audrain, The Push was an explosive entry into publishing. Mother and first-time author Ashely Audrain wrote the book over the course of four years alongside her work and family. However, once The Push found its future editor’s hands, the process of publishing flew. The book was signed for a publishing deal within weeks. The pace of the release mirrors that of the book’s contents. A psychological thriller undercut by an interplay with motherhood, the book is a rollercoaster. The second book has already been underway during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Push was released in January 2021. Buy now on Amazon.
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
June 2021 – Time, Washington Post, and Harper’s Bazaar “Most Anticipated Book of 2021”
With a television adaptation with Hulu already signed, The Other Black Girl is a debut novel on a mission. The first novel from New York author Zakiya Dalila Harris, this electric thriller is set in the backdrop of a shared workplace where two Black colleagues face increasingly tense conditions that rapidly threaten more than their careers. The work is quick-paced and surprising the entire way with an undercurrent of dark comedy about workplace politics. If you loved When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole last year, don’t miss The Other Black Girl this year.
The Other Black Girl will be released in June 2021. Pre-order now on Amazon.
The Turnout by Megan Abbott
July 2021 – Edgar Award-Winning Author’s Newest Thriller
For fans of suspense, The Turnout will not disappoint. Set against the backdrop of a family-run ballet studio, the story is taut and unnerving when the careful balance of family relationships is threatened by a suspicious interloper. Abbott is known for centering her books on young women and this is no different. If you loved Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan last year, don’t miss The Turnout this year.
The Turnout will be released in July 2021. Pre-order now on Amazon.
Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia
April 2021 – A Debut Novel Devoid of Inexperience
In a tale caught between the present’s problems and history’s influence, Of Women and Salt is a narrative about mothers, diaspora, and the roots of America. The tale begins in present-day Miami but the lead characters, mother and daughter Jeanette and Carmen alike are both trying to trace back their lineage to understand their mothers and the stories behind them. If you loved the Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi last year, don’t miss Of Women and Salt this year.
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Of Women and Salt will be released in March 2021. Pre-order now on Amazon.
Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny
April 2021 – Our Favorite “Funny” Book with Substance and Mirth
Far from a debut novel, Early Morning Riser is the newest novel by Katherine Heiny. A bittersweet, yet chuckle-worthy read, Early Morning starts like a love story: Jane meets Duncan. Jane falls in love, fast. The story tells the story of a relationship—along with every relationship attached to it. If you loved All Adults Here by Emma Straub last year, don’t miss Early Morning Riser this year.
Early Morning Riser will be released in April 2021. Pre-order now on Amazon.
Four Hundred Souls (edited) by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain
February 2021 – A Finer Things Must-Read for History Buffs
A unique collection, Four Hundred Souls is a new way to learn history. Ninety African American writers each wrote the history for a five-year segment of the 400-year narrative. Each writer chose their own method ranging from short stories to fiery polemics. The works were edited by Ibram X. Kendi, The New York Times and National Book Award-winning author of How to be Antiracist and Keisha N. Blain, award-winning historical and professor. Read together, it’s a story of history from 1619 told through varying perspectives and styles.
Four Hundred Souls was released in February 2021. Buy now on Amazon.
Dusk, Night, Dawn by Anne Lamott
March 2021 – The lovechild of self-help and biography
Following her bestselling work Help, Thanks, Wow another three-part title is here to tackle more of life’s most thorny issues: how can we cope? Especially in the not-yet-aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, this book on acceptance, healing, and humanity is a must-read for finding happiness. Lamott is a witty, thoughtful narrator who makes the indigestible bite-sized.
Dusk, Night, Dawn will be released in March 2021. Pre-order now on Amazon.
Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab
March 2021 – A Finer Things Must-Read for Families
From the desk of licensed counselor and relationship expert Nedra Glover Tawwab, Set Boundaries, Find Peace should be required reading for every people-pleaser. This guide defines the buzzword “healthy boundaries” within the context of real communication and backed by research and best practices in cognitive behavioral therapy. It is a must-read for the overwhelmed work-from-home employee always working, the yes-women being walked on, and the overwhelmed best friend in over their head.
Set Boundaries, Find Peace will be released in March 2021. Pre-order now on Amazon.
Still catching up on the best sellers to read from last year?
If you missed the best books last year, there’s time to catch up between new releases. If you’re chronically short on time, try audiobooks instead, but don’t miss out.
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
An absolute master of character-design, Fredrik Backman delivered another The New York Times bestseller with Anxious People. The quirky story is, on paper, the tale of a would-be bank robber, but the real story is in the lives of the strangers suddenly stuck together. Since the successful Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman has yet to disappoint and shouldn’t be missed.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
One of Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2020, The Vanishing Half follows twin sisters from a childhood in a Black community of the Deep South to adulthood where their lives are nothing alike. The story weaves generations together and considers how our origins affect our now.
The Truth We Hold by Kamala Harris
While Kamala Harris’s The New York Times best-seller technically came out in 2019, the abridged children’s version released in 2020 warranted a re-read. Plus, now that Kamala Harris is our vice-president, there’s no better excuse to read the story of her upbringing and career as California’s attorney general.
No matter what you read, it’s worth switching off Netflix and pausing the podcast for a night to turn some old-fashioned pages. The new releases for this year are ripe with new voices, familiar favorites, and rich perspectives, so it’s time to swap the Now Trending page of Netflix for a bookshop and your next read.
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