Whether you’ve been a lifelong bookworm or quarantine times have inspired you to read more regularly, it’s a good year to be a reader. From hysterical memoirs to heartfelt cogitations, this list has something for everyone. We’ve got our eyes on the new Stacey Abrams thriller. And Colson Whitehead’s latest novel. Oh, hell, safe to say we’re adding all these new books of 2021 to our carts.
1. Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe
Even if you haven’t heard of the Sackler clan, you probably have heard of the pill that made them one of the world’s richest families: OxyContin. The captivating biography tells the family’s story from three brothers facing immense poverty and anti-Semitism during the Great Depression to the current generation and their pharma giant, Purdue. First released on April 13, we’re counting down the days until this New York Times best-seller gets the Netflix docuseries treatment.
2. We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz
This thriller takes you to Chile, where two best friends’ backpacking jaunt goes very, very wrong when another backpacker ends up dead in their hotel room. It’s an unsettling coincidence after the duo’s trip the year prior ended in the death of another backpacker. Was this self-defense—or cold-blooded murder? You’ll have to wait until July 13, when the book’s released, to find out.
3. Richer, Wiser, Happier: How the World’s Greatest Investors Win in Markets and Life by William Green
This business book was unveiled on April 20 and quickly catapulted to Amazon’s No.1 new release in “investing basics.” It allows readers to study some of the finest investors around, since the author’s gleaned insights on finance, wisdom, and happiness over 25 years of interviewing Sir John Templeton, Charlie Munger, Jack Bogle, Peter Lynch, Ed Thorp, Joel Greenblatt, and more. You’ll wish you’d read this years ago.
4. Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard
Ecologist Suzanne Simard made a big splash last December when The New York Times Magazine‘s profiled her and “The Social Life of Forests.” Her book is a deeper dive into the complicated way trees communicate through an underground network of fungi (don’t worry, it doesn’t read like a lecture or text book). It was unearthed, ahem, unveiled on May 4, and is already a New York Times best-seller.
5. Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ngozi Adichie captures our collective distress during the excruciating chapter of life called COVID-19. She reflects on the death of her father amid the pandemic, expanding on her New Yorker article with 97 pages of poignant prose on the preciousness of life and the promise of better days ahead.
6. While Justice Sleeps: A Novel by Stacey Abrams
This political thriller is already a No.1 best-seller in the genre on Amazon. Taking place within the hallowed halls of the United States Supreme Court, chaos unravels when Justice Howard Wynn enters a coma and his young law clerk Avery Keene learns he’s named her his legal guardian and power of attorney. There’s also biotech drama, courtroom moments that will make you hold your breath, and unexpected dangers along the way.
7. Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead
Debuting on September 14, Whitehead’s latest novel teleports you to 1960s Harlem as the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author keeps you on the edge of your seat. The thriller contains equal parts crime and suspense with family dynamics and explorations of race. With small-time pornographers, stolen jewels, and gangsters thrown into the milieu, the words leap off the page with a cinematic quality.
8. Afterparties: Stories by Anthony Veasna So
This eagerly anticipated debut book from a first generation Cambodian-American author—who died at 28—is like cold water to the face with its pathos and spit-out-your-drink humor. The New York Times describes his work as “crackling, kinetic and darkly comedic,” and that couldn’t shine through more in this short story collection—available August 3. The 256 pages feel 256 pages too short.
9. 21st Birthday by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
The 21st book in the “Women’s Murder Club” series details a young woman who goes missing with her infant daughter. Her husband leads law enforcement down a path you won’t believe. Like most Patterson books, this will have you abandoning all plans until you finish.
10. Bourdain: The Oral Biography by Laurie Woolever
Superfans of Anthony Bourdain ought to start a countdown to October 12, when they can get their hands on this comprehensive biography of the insatiable wanderer’s life. To create this tome, Woolever, Bourdain’s longtime assistant and writing partner, interviewed nearly a hundred people who knew Bourdain from Eric Ripert and W. Kamau Bell to his brother, Christopher, and daughter, Ariane. The result is a testament to Bourdain’s singular wit, cantankerousness, and genius.
11. The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom
From the man that brought you to tears courtesy of 1997’s blockbuster Tuesdays with Morrie, comes a novel ripe with musings apt for this crazy era. Built around the premise of “What would you do if God showed up when you desperately needed salvation?” (hence, the lifeboat). You’ll have to wait until November 2 to see how it unfolds here, but it will certainly make you want to revisit all your philosophy class books from college—and open a bottle of whiskey.
12. Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion
This essay collection comprises Didion’s work from 1968 to 2000, covering reflections on newspapers, her love of Hemingway, and a particularly compelling piece on putting pen to paper, titled “Why I Write.” Do yourself a favor and pick up this short anthology.
13. Yearbook by Seth Rogen
The actor and writer will have you keeled over in laughter with his memoir, made up of a collection of essays that will make you think about the world differently. Here’s Rogen’s take on it: “Hi! I’m Seth! I was asked to describe my book, Yearbook, for the inside flap (which is a gross phrase) and for websites and shit like that, so… here it goes!!!” he begins. “I talk about my grandparents, doing stand-up comedy as a teenager, bar mitzvahs, and Jewish summer camp, and tell way more stories about doing drugs than my mother would like. I also talk about some of my adventures in Los Angeles, and surely say things about other famous people that will create a wildly awkward conversation for me at a party one day.” Fasten your seatbelts for this page-turner, folks.
14. An Unlikely Spy: A Novel by Rebecca Starford
Up for sale June 1, immerse yourself in the world of Evelyn Varley, a spy working for an elite M15 counterintelligence unit in 1939. Posing as a Nazi sympathizer, Varley is faced with challenges big and small as she decides if she should betray her country or her loved ones. Espionage enthusiasts, this one’s for you.
15. Stronger Than The Dark: Exploring the Intimate Relationship Between Running and Depression by Cory Reese
Debuting on June 8, this harrowing tale traces the author’s battle with depression and his ultramarathon running career. Part memoir, part insightful advice on how to persevere through adversity.
16. RoadTrip America: A Sports Fan’s Guide to Route 66 by Ron Clements
Come August 3, pick up this sports’ writer’s delightful tribute to America’s most prized byway. Color illustrations take you on one heck of a trip to sports venues, restaurants, and historic landmarks. It’s packed with plenty of trivia, plus intel on NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB teams, auto and horse racing tracks, rodeo arenas, golf links, hunting, fishing, and high school and college sports programs.
17. Wonders All Around: The Incredible True Story of Astronaut Bruce McCandless II and the First Untethered Flight in Space by Bruce McCandless III
Written by the son of famed astronaut Bruce McCandless II, this book provides a glimpse into the untethered spacewalk that made him a household name. But long before his moonwalk on Apollo 11 in 1969, there was the grunt work, training, and preparation, along with time in the Navy as a fighter pilot. Out on July 13, it will more than inspire you to get out off the couch and do something that challenges you.
18. The Comfort Crisis: Embrace Discomfort To Reclaim Your Wild, Happy, Healthy Self by Michael Easter
Easter takes readers on a whirlwind tour of 30,000 miles around the world. He meets with Harvard researchers, Iceland geneticists, the NBA’s top exercise scientists, special forces soldiers, and many other experts to unravel society’s biggest ailments from chronic diseases to depression. To really win us over, he even spent more than a month living in backcountry Alaska. With a nice balance of health reporting and action-packed anecdotes, you’ll leave this book armed with a whole lot of practical advice and tools to go forth and prosper.
19. Flux: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change by April Rinne
If last year’s theme was adapting to a crazy amount of change, this year’s theme should be working to thrive amidst it. To that point, this new book—out August 24—is an excellent career playbook. It’ll coach you through making the most of these crazy times, and even using them to (gasp) flourish.
20. A Pocket Guide to Pigeon Watching: Getting to Know the World’s Most Misunderstood Bird by Rosemary Mosco
Treat yourself to this illustrated field guide and history on this odious symbol of urban life. Out September 28, you should nurture your hatred for the birds now. Everything you thought you knew about pigeons is about to change.
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