Even the most avid readers have a hard time keeping up with all the books released in a year. Between nonfiction, memoir and novels, there were so many great books that came out in 2021. But just because we’re in a new year, doesn’t mean you can’t go back and read some of these award-winning, critically acclaimed and buzzed about books. Here are 10 books you may have missed in 2021 that are well worth checking out this year:
1. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
Readers went gaga over Emily Henry’s 2020 page-turning summer romance, Beach Read. And her 2021 follow-up, People We Meet on Vacation, was met with equally impressive reviews. The book follows Poppy and Alex, two best friends who are complete polar opposites. While they don’t live in the same town, every summer the pair gets together for one epic vacation. But their last trip went south, which brought their friendship to a halt. It’s been two years since they’ve talked but fate brings them together for one more trip – to see if they can repair their relationship and to find out if there is anything else between them.
2. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Taylor Jenkins Reid is known for books The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones and The Six, which is currently being made into a limited series. Her latest, Malibu Rising, is just as addictive. It leads readers through one life-changing 24-hour party thrown by four famous siblings, the legendary offspring of rock star Mick Riva. By midnight, the party gets out of control and in the morning, the Riva mansion finds itself enveloped in flames. As the house gets ready to burn down, family secrets are set free, changing the fate of the foursome forever.
3. Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner
In this powerful memoir, Michelle Zauner, a singer and guitarist of Japanese Breakfast, tackles growing up as a Korean American, the loss of her mother and learning to create her own identity. It’s a New York Times bestselling book based on a popular essay Zauner wrote for The New Yorker in 2018 and is filled with humor, honesty and emotion. Zauner’s memoir is currently being adapted into a feature film.
4. Harlem Shuffle: A Novel by Colson Whitehead
Colson Whitehead is a two-time Pulitzer Prize author, known for The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys. Now he’s back to lead readers through the life of furniture salesman Ray Carney who deals stolen jewelry on the side with his cousin, Freddie, in order to make ends meet. It’s a fun, action-packed story of a heist gone wrong. Set in New York in the 1960s, it’s a crime novel that tackles social issues like race and power.
5. Think Again by Adam Grant
You don’t have to believe everything that you think, nor do you need to internalize everything that you feel. This is the idea behind American psychologist Adam Grant’s latest book. It highlights the powers of being able to unlearn ideas once we have established them and replace them with new thoughts. It talks about learning to be wrong, why it’s important to occasionally question your opinions and to embrace new thought processes. In Think Again, readers learn to flex their intellectual and emotional muscles in order to embrace new opinions and stay curious about things.
6. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
Fans of historical fiction may enjoy reading this novel, which takes place during the Great Depression in 1934. Set in Texas during an insufferable drought, this book follows Elsa Martinelli as she sets off in search of the American Dream. Elsa must make a choice whether to go west to California or protect the land and community that she loves. It’s a great story with a strong female lead. It was voted the “Best Book of 2021” by Book of the Month Club and is said to evoke a few tears along the way.
7. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
This is for the science fiction fans. Ryland Grace wakes up after being asleep for many years to find out he’s the sole survivor on a last-chance mission to save both the Earth and humanity. But he doesn’t know this at first. He awakens on a ship in outer space with no memory, two crewmates who have perished and a herculean journey ahead of him. It’s a fun mystery set in a far away land.
8. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.
This novel by Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro explores the human experience through Klara, a solar-powered artificial friend. Klara sits in a store and waits for a customer to choose her. She eventually crosses paths with a sickly child named Josie and sets out on a new life. The story leads viewers through the theme of what it means to love. It’s a dystopian science fiction story that also explores loss and connection.
9. Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriary
If you watched Nicole Kidman lead a shady wellness retreat in Nine Perfect Strangers or fell in love with Big Little Lies, listen up. Liane Moriarty, the Australian author behind both books-turned-limited-series, has released another novel. The book follows the Delaneys, a family with an upstanding reputation within their community and whose parents own a celebrated tennis academy. Then, their mother, Joy goes missing. The siblings become divided over whether or not their father was involved. The journey to truth unleashes an array of family secrets, which makes the Delaneys start to view their family in a whole new light.
10. 'What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Bruce D. Perry, MD, PhD and Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey teamed up with brain and trauma specialist Bruce D. Perry to provide insight on healing from and overcoming personal trauma. The goal is to get readers to change their internal narrative from “What’s wrong with me?” to “What happened to me?”. It discusses how experiences early in our lives can affect behavioral patterns later in life. It’s a look into how to overcome your past to move forward through the personal challenges of today.
Need more book recommendations? Check out 6 great reads to get your virtual book club talking.
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