Another locked-down day; another trip to the bookshelf. This pandemic palaver (not that we’re harping on about it…) has ravaged our social lives beyond repair. But, mercifully, reading remains one of the only activities untouched by the global situation.
Whether it was those long, sun-soaked days of last summer, whiling away the self-isolated hours with the latest paperback — or the current cold, dark nights hunkered down with a good, bloody murder mystery — Covid-19 has made bookworms of us all.
Today being World Book Day, then, is a cause for celebration. It’s the perfect time for a literary celebration — and, as luck would have it, 2021 looks set to be a real page-turner of a year. There are some phenomenal new releases coming out in the coming months, ranging from gripping crime dramas and poignant literary fiction, to practical, culinary delights. We’ve picked the books we’re most excited to read in 2021 below. Bookmarks at the ready…
Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
The wait is over: Booker and Nobel prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro has returned to our bookshelves with his long-awaited new novel. Ishiguro has cemented his place in the literary world as one of the greats, having penned multiple modern classics like Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go.
But we’ve been on tenterhooks ever since his most recent book (The Buried Giant) in 2015, waiting to find out what his next (undoubtable) addition to the zeitgeist would be. Now, it’s arrived: a lyrical exploration of AI which focuses on Klara — an ‘Artificial Friend’ who observes the people and the world around her from her place in a shop, where she is waiting to be chosen. If Ishiguro’s past works are anything to go by, this is one you won’t want to miss. And it’s just come out; so get your copy while you can.
Release date: 2nd March
Double Blind, by Edward St. Aubyn
Remember the Patrick Melrose novels? Remember how they were so good that we couldn’t imagine them being outdone by any other book? Well, their author is back with a brand new novel, and it sounds like it might achieve the unimaginable.
Focusing on three friends, the novel hops between metropolitan London, sunny Cap d’Antibes, breathtaking Big Sur and rural Sussex as it traces the characters over the course of a year, tracking their inevitable personal transformations. From the sounds of it, it’ll be bursting with nuanced social insights and gut-punching emotions — so we suggest you pre-order your copy while it’s still in stock.
Release date: 18th March
What Abigail Did That Summer, by Ben Aaronovitch
This seems to be the year that critically-acclaimed authors are sating our literary hunger with eagerly anticipated new novels. Ben Aaronovitch will be back on our bookshelves later this month, and we can’t wait. In this case, it’s a novella: the latest instalment in the hugely popular Rivers of London urban fantasy series.
The series blends crime with fantasy in the scintillating style that only Aaronvitch can achieve, and is set in the heart of London. This latest addition presents the mystery of teenage girls going missing around Hampstead Heath — and we guarantee you’ll fly through it before you’ve even made a second coffee.
Release date: 18th March
London, Burning, by Anthony Quinn
This is another London-centric narrative — but one of a very different (though no less gripping) breed. Set at the end of the 1970s, the novel plunges the reader headfirst into a London on the brink: bomb scares are rife, strikes are ongoing and the government is barely coping. It’s the era of punk rock, of protests and, most of all, of politics — that would go on to shape the nation as we know it today.
Quinn tells his story through the lens of four different characters, who become irrevocably embroiled in each other’s lives as the city rages around them, and irreversible change looms on the horizon. A must-read if ever there was one.
Release date: 8th April
Lean Fall Stand, by Jon McGregor
From the award-winning author of Reservoir 13 comes an exceptionally unique and heart-rending new novel about one man’s desperate need to communicate. After a research expedition in the Antarctic goes badly wrong, only Robert ‘Doc’ Wright — a veteran in the field — knows what happened. The only problem? He’s unable to tell anyone.
As his wife takes on the role of carer, Robert begins to navigate a new life: a life without words. At once breathtakingly beautiful and heartbreakingly sad, this one is sure to bring more than a few tears to the eye. (Just say it’s early-onset hay fever — no-one’ll suspect a thing…)
Release date: 29th April
Beautiful World, Where Are You, by Sally Rooney
We weren’t joking: this really is the year that bestselling authors have decided to reward our patience with brand new books. After the smash-hit successes of her first two novels, Conversations with Friends and Normal People, Rooney is back with her third: and it certainly won’t disappoint.
True to Rooney’s excellent form, the novel delves into sex, desire, love and friendship — and, knowing Rooney, it’s sure to deliver that elusive mix of utterly engrossing plot and prose so lyrical it’s almost musical. If Rooney’s past successes are anything to go by, this is one novel that everyone will be talking about. We’re sure you’d hate to be left out at a dinner party, so we’d recommend pre-ordering your copy now.
Release date: 7th September
Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead
Really, we weren’t joking. Whitehead is yet another author who’s back on our bookshelves later this year with a new eagerly anticipated novel. And, after the phenomenal successes of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, we can’t wait to get our hands on a copy of this 1960s-set novel.
It promises to immerse readers in a world of criminal heists, robberies, crime lords and police officers of dubious morality — all cast against the backdrop of an evocatively detailed Harlem. The central character is furniture salesman Ray Carney — and, as he embarks on a wild ride into Harlem’s criminal scene, readers will be whisked along with barely time to breath. One of the biggest novels of the year.
Release date: 14th September
Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
Author’s name ringing a bell? It should, because Doerr is the critically-acclaimed author of the perennial classic All The Light We Cannot See. And we can’t help but hope his new novel achieves similar heights of emotion and literary grandeur.
The story is split across three separate time periods (and locations): the siege of Constantinople in 1453; modern-day Idaho; and a decades-away interstellar ship. An ancient text will allegedly tie the five central characters together across their respective time periods. It sounds like a novel of epic proportions — but we trust Doerr, and you should too.
Release date: 28th September
Taste: My Life Through Food, by Stanley Tucci
Yes, you read that right: the king of our hearts, Stanley Tucci, has written a memoir — and it’s a joyful celebration of food in all its culinary, gastronomic glory. With performances in films like The Devil Wears Prada, The Lovely Bones and The Children Act showcasing his acting abilities, Tucci has so far published two separate cookbooks that attest to his skills in the kitchen: The Tucci Cookbook and The Tucci Table.
Now, he’s giving us an insight into his childhood, his phenomenal acting career and his family life — while linking everything back to food. If this isn’t a hit, we’ll eat the book ourselves.
Release date: 7th October