21 books to look out for in 2021

2021 has finally arrived, with glimmers of hope, but life may still feel quite uncertain for many of us. What we can be sure about is that thousands of magnificent new books will be there for us to read. We've picked 21 of our most anticipated books published this year, from bold non-fiction and uplifting fiction, to edge-of-your-seat thrillers and new books from big names.

Get ready to spend those Christmas book tokens – see how to use your National Book Tokens with your local bookshops during lockdown.

Which books are you most looking forward to? Tell is in the comments at the bottom of the page.

Girl A by Abigail Dean

January
Girl A
by Abigail Dean

Girl A was one of our Caboodle Firsts titles last year and thousands of you were excited to read Abigail Dean's beautifully written and incredible powerful story of redemption, of horror, and of love. If you liked Room, My Dark Vanessa, and We Need to Talk About Kevin, you will love this. You can read the first chapter here.

Breathtaking: Inside the NHS in a Time of Pandemic by Rachel Clarke

Breathtaking: Inside the NHS in a Time of Pandemic by Rachel Clarke

If you read Rachel Clarke's wonderful Dear Life: A Doctor's Story of Love and Loss then you’ll want to read this. Rachel is a palliative care doctor who looked after the most gravely unwell patients on the Covid-19 wards of her hospital. Amid the tensions, fatigue and rising death toll, she witnessed the courage of patients and NHS staff alike in conditions of unprecedented adversity. Breathtaking is an unflinching insider's account of medicine in the time of coronavirus.

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male Power by Ileoma Oluo

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male Power by Ijeoma Oluo

From the author of So You Want to Talk About Race comes a subversive history of white male American identity over the past 150 years. As provocative as it is essential, Mediocre investigates the real cost of white male power in order to imagine a new white male identity, one free from racism and sexism.

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain (In Which Four Dead Russians Give Us a Masterclass in Writing and Life) by George Saunders

February
A Swim in a Pond in the Rain (In Which Four Dead Russians Give Us a Masterclass in Writing and Life)
by George Saunders

We're big fans of Lincoln in the Bardo here at National Book Tokens, so we had to put George Saunders' next book on our list. A Swim in a Pond is a literary masterclass on how to become both a better writer and reader, on what makes great stories work, and what they can tell us about how to live. Paired with stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, these essays are intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it's more relevant than ever in these turbulent times.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

March
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

A new Kazuo Ishiguro is always a cause for celebration. From the bestselling and Booker Prize winning author of Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the Day, this stunning new novel tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change forever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.

Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley

Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley

A must read for fans of the 2017 Man Booker shortlisted novel Elmet, this new novel is about a brothel set in Soho; the only part of London that truly never sleeps, and the billionaire-owner next door who wants to kick the women out to build expensive restaurants and luxury flats.

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

The Last House on Needless Street may have been our Halloween Caboodle Firsts title, but you won't have to wait until October to read it. Catriona Ward's gothic thriller is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street. All these things are true. And yet they are all lies... You can start reading the first chapter here.

His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie

His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie

Bursting with warmth and humour, His Only Wife is about Afi Tekple, a young seamstress living in a small town in Ghana with her widowed mother. Afi's future doesn't seem to hold much excitement. Until, that is, she is offered a life-changing opportunity – a proposal of marriage from the wealthy family of Elikem Ganyo. Now she must balance the often conflicting roles of wife, daughter, niece and sister-in-law, without losing sight of herself.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

From the author of Homecoming comes a story of an Ghanaian immigrant family in America. Join Gifty as she traces her family's story through continents and generations will take her deep into the dark heart of modern America.

The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary

April
The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary

Congratulations if you guessed one of Beth O'Leary’s bestsellers in last year's latest Hidden Books Game! Beth is back with another novel to settle down with when life gets too much, about two exes, an epic road trip to rural Scotland, and four hundred miles ahead of them.

The Best Things by Mel Giedroyc

The Best Things by Mel Giedroyc

We all need an uplift in 2021 and much-loved Mel Giedroyc’s here to save the day (year?) with her tale of failing, falling... and finding a way back up. It’s a warm, funny and life-affirming novel about Sally Parker, who’s about to surprise everybody. Most of all herself.

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

Calling all booklovers and logophiles! Jump into 1901 with us, where the word bondmaid was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

May
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones & the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo are two of our favourite books, so we had to include Malibu Rising, set in 1983, about one unforgettable night in the life of a 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 Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain

It's never too late to start your life's big adventure… The Secret Life is about 64-year-old Albert Entwistle, who is a postie in the quiet town of Toddington. He lives alone and keeps to himself. Upon learning that he'll be forced to retire, he must learn to ask for what we wants – and find the courage to look for George, the man that he most many years ago, but has never forgotten.

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

June
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Following two young Black women carving their careers in the unexpectedly sinister world of book publishing, we can't wait to read Harris's whip-smart debut, which promises to be a gripping thriller and a shrewd piece of social commentary, for fans of The Devil Wears Prada.

The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam

The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam

Halfway through her PhD and already dreaming of running her own lab, computer scientist Asha has her future all mapped out. Then a chance meeting and whirlwind romance with her old high-school crush, Cyrus, changes everything.

The Startup Wife is our gripping, witty and razor-sharp January Caboodle Firsts title — plus the first chapter is available to read! You could get one of 100 copies and start reading straight away.

The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta

July
The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta

Whitman 'Win' Tagore and Leo Milanowski are the greatest love story of our time. International movie star meets the beautiful son of a millionaire. Their kisses write headlines and their fights break the internet. Nobody needs to know it's not real. For fans of Daisy Jones & the Six, it’s for those who enjoy the idea of more epic love stories like this in their lives.

Animal by Lisa Taddeo

Animal by Lisa Taddeo

Joan is the provocative narrator of Animal, the debut novel from the author of the bestselling phenomenon Three Women, and a character we can’t wait to meet this year.

"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."

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

September
Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Sally Rooney's new novel was announced shortly before this article was finished and we had to include it. Beautiful World, Where Are You is about Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon. They're still young – but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world? If you loved Normal People and Conversations With Friends, you'll be rushing to the bookshop for this.

The Magician by Colm Tóibín

The Magician by Colm Tóibín

From one of the world's greatest writers, The Magician tells the story of Thomas Mann, whose life was filled with great acclaim and contradiction. He would find himself on the wrong side of history in the First World War, cheerleading the German army, but have a clear vision of the future in the second, anticipating the horrors of Nazism. He would have six children and keep his homosexuality hidden. He would write some of the greatest works of European literature, and win the Nobel Prize, but would never return to the country that inspired his creativity.

Lemon by Kwon Yeo-sun and translated by Janet Hong

October
Lemon by Kwon Yeo-sun and translated by Janet Hong

At once a gripping crime story and a fascinating dissection of class, gender and privilege in contemporary Korea, Lemon is a must read, about a sister, a classmate, and a friend, and Hae-on, who was murdered in the summer of 2002.

 

Our latest competitions

Our latest competitions

Don't miss out on this month's giveaways! Win signed books and once-in-a-lifetime prizes.

Our latest competitions
Sign up to Caboodle and join in!

Sign up to Caboodle

Enjoy literary competitions and book recommendations to Caboodle Points and bookshop offers – straight to your inbox!

Sign up
X

We use cookies to make our website work, analyse traffic to improve its performance, and tailor our advertisements to you. You can change your preferences at any time by clicking “Cookie Preferences” in our footer. View our Privacy and Cookies policy for full details. To accept our cookies, click the button, or for further details and to specify your cookie preferences, click ‘more information’.