Our Most Anticipated Books of 2021

Our crew of contributors are very excited for what 2021 has in store reading-wise; there are so many favorite authors releasing new works (Didion! Abdurraqib! Lahiri! ROONEY!) as well as intriguing debuts with curious plots. These are just a few 2021 releases we're looking forward to.


JANUARY



Slash and Burn by Claudia Hernández, Translated from the Spanish by Julia Sanches (January 5)


I’m looking forward to this Salvadoran author’s novel, following a woman in the before, during, and aftermath of the Salvadoran Civil War. I’m always keen to discover new to me Central American writers. — Jessica Maria


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Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour (January 5)


All I needed to know was that this was going to be satirical for me to want to read it, but it also takes place in NYC and addresses class and race. It’s at the top of my list. — Mel


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The Inland Sea by Madeleine Watts (January 12)


This novel about a young 911 operator dealing with emotional and ecological emergencies has me so curious, and a book I've been wanting to read since hearing about it last year. — Jessica Maria


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My Name Is Why by Lemn Sissay (January 26)


How does a government steal a child and get away with it? This book is supposed to tell that story. Sissay was a foster child and at the age of 12, he was kicked out and forced to fend for himself. This book is a story of survival, healing, and taking back his own identity. Reading his story on the web made me emotional, I can’t even fathom what it will be like to hear his story from his perspective. — Maggie


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Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion (January 26, 2021)


Must I defend how hotly I am anticipating new Didion? — Jessica Maria


I cannot wait for this book! I even tried to earn early release on Netgalley and was rejected. Ever since I saw Lady Bird, I’ve been obsessed with the life of Didion and I just know this book will be phenomenal. — Maggie


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FEBRUARY



My Year Abroad by Chang-rae Lee (February 2)


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of Chang-rae Lee’s 2014 novel On Such a Full Sea since I read it the year it came out. Dystopian, murky, magical, and compelling, it’s one of those books that lodges itself in your brain, and I’m hoping My Year Abroad will be the same. — Nikki


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Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz (February 2)


A short story collection set in Florida and exploring family and relationships through such lenses as a woman recovering from a miscarriage and a teenager accused of Satan worshipping by their religious family. This sounds right up my alley, and I’m excited to read this debut work from a writer I’ve never heard of before. — Nikki


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Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler (February 2)


I’m still game for reading anything and everything about the aftermath of the 2016 election, and this fictional account is at the top of my list. — Mel


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The Project by Courtney Summers (February 2)


I’m still not over Summers’ last book Sadie, so I have been anticipating her next book no matter what it was about, but The Project sounds like it’s going to be just as smart (and twisted) as I was expecting. — Mel


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Kink edited by R.O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell (February 9)


Featuring work from some of my favorite writers (Alexander Chee, Roxane Gay, Carmen Maria Machado, Brandon Taylor), this short story collection absolutely blew me away. I’m so excited to see how readers react to it when it publishes in February. It is sure to knock the socks off of countless people with its wide spectrum of written sexual pleasure and desire. It moved me on numerous occasions. — Maggie


I second this mention! Haven’t read it yet but can’t wait. — Nikki


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Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future by Elizabeth Kolbert (February 9)


A new book from the author of The Sixth Extinction! Under a White Sky examines humanity’s damage on the planet and assesses what, if anything, we can do to fix it. I don’t read much nonfiction, but I can’t wait for this one. — Nikki


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How To Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates (February 16)


We need to save our world. Period. And Bill Gates is someone who knows what the hell is going on in the world (remember his 2014 Ted Talk about a global outbreak? Well, that happened... this year!). That makes me curious to know what Gates has to say about climate change and what we can do to save our "home". — Alexandra


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No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood (February 16)


Patricia Lockwood’s Priestdaddy has been on my list for awhile now, but I’m even more intrigued to read her new novel coming out in February — praised by the likes of Sally Rooney and billed as a ‘genre-defying’ work that explores what life might look like after the Internet. — Nikki


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Raceless: In Search of Family, Identity, and the Truth About Where I Belong by Georgina Lawton (February 23)


This book will destroy how you interpret and analyze race and identity. It is a book that takes you on an exploration of rediscovering oneself and it grapples with hard-to-answer questions on the topics of familial love, shame, prejudice, and immense grief. I think this will be a very underhyped book that deserves all the praise. — Maggie


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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel (February 23)


If like me you’re looking to read more Latin American literature in the upcoming year than look no further than Infinite Country by Columbian writer, Patricia Engel. I think in a year that introduced a book that played every stereotype into its pages, this book will be the perfect antidote to see how the choices our parents make affect us, make us, and how we deal with those choices and our lives as children of immigrants. Definitely looking forward to this one. — Karen


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Prepped by Bethany Mangle (February 23)


In this YA debut, Becca Aldaine has grown up in a community of doomsday preppers and is ready to run away with boy. I'm sold! — Jessica Maria


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MARCH



What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster (March 2)


This might be cheating since I already had the pleasure of reading and finishing this book but trust me when I tell you you’re going to want to read this one. In the midst of post election burnout and stress from multiple places, this book took me down a story that I needed to learn more about. I wanted to know more about Gee and Noelle, what made and broke them, what their future held, what their pasts foretold, and how much their choices influenced their future. Coster is a beautiful writer and this story is so layered that it will need multiple readings to uncover her insights into gentrification, parental issues, race, passing, White Latinxs, pro-choice, and so much more. Karen


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The Babysitter: My Summers with a Serial Killer by Liza Rodman and Jennifer Jordan (March 2)


In 1970, Tony Costa was found guilty of the murder of two women in Cape Cod, although he was suspected of killing at least seven. Years later, Liza Rodman a child of Cape Cod in the late 60s came to the realization that her summertime babysitter and the man who brutalized and dismembered women are one in the same. What promises to be part memoir and part investigative non-fiction, Rodman and co-author Jennifer Jordan work to tell the story of innocence lost and realization that people aren’t always who they seem.


While I’m often weary of books with two authors, I’m looking forward to seeing how this pans out. What I like about true crime is that amongst all the horror, you can sense unfiltered human action. In an odd way, I think that it provides an avenue for something like empathy, displaced or not. True crime feels like a home for misplaced anxieties. So I’m hoping this book will deliver just that. — Aleesha


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Heartbreak Bay by Rachel Caine (March 9)


This might be the final installment of a beloved crime series of mine as the author, battling cancer, passed away in November. I have no doubt that this one, like all books by Caine, will exceed my expectations. — Mel


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The Recent East by Thomas Grattan (March 9)


After the fall of the Berlin Wall, a German woman leaves New York (where she’s just gone through a divorce) and returns with her two sons to her family’s abandoned mansion in the homeland. I’m down for anything described as a ‘multigenerational epic’, and with praise from the likes of Etaf Rum and Garth Risk Hallberg, The Recent East seems likely to be one of my top reads of 2021. — Nikki


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Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (March 21)


The last Ishiguro I read was 2015’s The Buried Giant, and it was a like, not a love. But Klara and the Sun — about an ‘artificial friend’ who makes observations about the people who come into the shop where she’s displayed — sounds a little Her, a little Ex Machina, and a lot incredible. — Nikki


I loved Never Let Me Go and am extremely looking forward to reading more of Ishiguro’s work. I planned to have gotten through their back log in advance of the next release but that probably won’t be happening so why not start reading Ishiguro’s catalogue from their newest release? — Courtney


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A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib (March 30)


I will read anything Hanif Abdurraqib writes! I first discovered him when I read and reviewed his book of essays They Can’t Kill You Until They Kill You. No other author writes about music in the poetic way Abdurraqib does and I truly cannot wait for his next release. I still cry thinking about his Fall Out Boy essay. — Maggie


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Girlhood by Melissa Febos (March 30th)


This book is supposed to critically examine the narratives that women are told about what it means to be a woman and what it takes to free oneself from them. I love books that dissect womanhood and personhood, especially from an intersectional lens that differs from my own. I think this book will knock my expectations out of the goddamned ball park. — Maggie


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APRIL



Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia (April 6)


Children of immigrants, displacement, how the past ripples and haunts us from our parent’s homeland into the future, the Latinx diaspora and how its portrayed and lived here in the United States. This is a story that carries a big picture but from the early reviews it looks like this one is one I won’t want to miss. I’m also starting to see a pattern into my most anticipated books of 2021. — Karen


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Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins (April 6)


Morgan Jerkins’ work is all over #bookstagram, but like an idiot, I haven’t read either of her two published books. I’m hoping to remedy that with Caul Baby — the story of a woman named Laila who, in her quest to have a child, turns to a powerful family known for their ‘caul’ (a layer of skin that affords them healing powers). — Nikki


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Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi (April 6)


I’ve actually never read any of Oyeyemi’s work, but I’m thinking Peaces will be the first. Set on a train and complete with a mysterious plot and a cast of characters including a mongoose, it’s giving me some Night Circus vibes, and I’m here for it. — Nikki


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Aquarium by Yaara Shehori (April 13)


Translated from the Hebrew, Aquarium tells the story of two deaf sisters, raised by their deaf parents in ‘cultlike seclusion,’ and explores what happens to them when they’re separated from their family. The blurb gives me vibes of Nell (which terrified me as a kid) and of Captain Fantastic (one of my all-time favorite movies). Can’t wait to read this one. — Nikki


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MAY




Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri (May 4)


Lahiri’s novels always make my heart ache; I love her prose and her mind. Looking forward to this new release, her first novel in English since The Lowland in 2013. What new characters will I be getting to know? I can’t wait to find out. — Jessica Maria


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Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (May 4)


A new sci-fi thriller from the author of The Martian? Count me in. — Nikki


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Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan (May 4)


A queer, YA romance coming in hot. — Mel

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Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau (May 11)


A coming-of-age in 1970s Baltimore, young Mary Jane thought she had committed to a lackluster job nannying for a doctor, but turns out she is in for a crash course in sex, drugs, and rock & roll. — Mel


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Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (May 25)


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & The Six made me a big fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid. But when I say big, it's like I'm always in a state of excitement when she posts anything on Instagram, especially when it's related to her books. Now that I know there will be a new book related to a character from Daisy Jones, I'm kind of uber-excited? 🤷‍♀️. — Alexandra Mendes


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Cheat Day by Liv Stratman (May 25, 2021)


I met Liv at Books Are Magic in Brooklyn when live, in-person events were still part of my weekly schedule. She was a bookseller, manager, and events coordinator and she left shortly after selling her debut, this book. Based on her sense of humor, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a great one. — Mel


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Second Place by Rachel Cusk (May 4, 2021)


I love getting lost in Cusk's prose. I'm looking forward to another volume of it in the world! — Jessica Maria


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JUNE




Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley Ford (June 1)


I have been obsessed with Ashley Ford since I discovered her on Cup of Jo years ago! Sharing snippets of her life via IG and Twitter, she has interviewed countless celebrities and stars and her voice is as smooth as butter. Her writing and IG questionnaires have brought me to tears countless times and I have been counting down the days for her book. I already know this is a book that deserves to be pre-ordered. — Maggie


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The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris (June 1)


Last year after the swirling discussing about BIPOC authors receiving lower paying contracts for debut novels than white authors, emerged Zakiya Dalila Harris, with a seven-figure deal about being Black in publishing, after having worked three years in publishing herself 👀 — Jessica Maria


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One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (June 1)


I didn't know I needed Red, White & Royal Blue when I first read it, but having loved that one, now I certainly KNOW I need this book. — Jessica Maria


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Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor (June 22)


I have to be honest that I don’t even know what this book is about and I don’t care because Brandon Taylor will be an automatic buy for me ever since I read his debut, Real Life. He left an imprint on my literary soul that has left behind a voracious hunger. I can’t wait to be nourished by his words again. — Karen


Brandon Taylor is also an autobuy author for me! I loved his debut and I still remember discovering him on Electric Lit Magazine years ago while I was living in Alabama. After being nominated for the Booker Prize, I’m even more thrilled to read his next collection of work. This collection also takes place in the Midwest, and as a Minnesotan gal myself, I approve. — Maggie


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JULY



Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder (July 20, 2021)


Almost like a more modern version of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, this “smart and voracious” debut follows a former artist/current stay-at-home mom who slowly turns into a dog. She tries to keep her situation hidden while searching for a cure. — Mel


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AUGUST



The President and the Frog by Carolina de Robertis (August 3)


One of the best books I read in 2019 was De Robertis' Cantoras, and I am so ready for another novel, even though I have no idea what it's about! Pre-ordering immediately! — Jessica Maria


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SEPTEMBER



Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney (September 7)


WHO AMONGST US IS NOT EXCITED?


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Matrix by Lauren Groff (September 23)


Literary fiction meets historical epic in Lauren Groff’s new novel, set in the 12th century during the time of Eleanor of Aquitaine. I read Grofff’s widely acclaimed Fates and Furies years ago, and while I didn’t love it, this seems like enough of an interesting departure from her usual fare to merit a mention on this list. — Nikki


Not available for pre-orders yet on Bookshop

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