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With the coronavirus causing delayed book debuts and unreleased novels, readers across the globe have been anticipating what’s to come for their new book reading list for 2021. With only a couple months into this year, we already have some must-read books to add to your at-home libraries, along with some anticipated novels making their way to stands in the months to come.
From celebrated names like Joan Didion to relative newcomers like Viet Thanh Nguyen, these must-read books for 2021 are sure to keep readers busy past summertime. Take note that while some of these collections may not be available right now, preordering is always a good option to secure whatever book you are waiting for.
Whether you enjoy interpreting the literary styles of American magical realism or prefer following the conversational journey of a first-person narrative, these fresh reads are surely some of the top books to read in 2021.
“Klara and the Sun” – Kazuo IshiGuro
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2017, Kazuo Ishiguro explores a futuristic dystopia that thrives on advanced technology and artificial intelligence. The story follows an “Artificial Friend” (a robotic children’s companion) that goes by the name of Klara, who sits inside of a store attentively observing the world happen before “her” very eyes. The reader is left with the idiosyncratic qualities of a robot who ponders about companionship, love and a need to feel the sun.
“Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019” – edited by Ibra X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain
“Four Hundred Souls” is a one-of-a-kind volume that explores the 400-year journey of African American history. Editors Ibra Kendi and Keisha Blain compile and edit an anthology of different literary pieces through the lens of 90 distinct African American writers. Readers are met with essays exploring issues of race, portraits of biographical experiences and poetics that trace the unspoken cultural injustices throughout African American history.
“The Four Winds” – Kristin Hannah
From award-winning and best-selling author Kristin Hannah comes a powerful story about womanhood and the bond between mother and daughter. Set during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, Hannah provides a story of Elsa Martinelli struggling to find her identity in a world full of harsh realities and natural disasters. “The Four Winds” paints a story of a woman whose life depends on living in America in search of what seems to be a hopeless American dream.
“How Beautiful We Were” – Imbolo Mbue
Told from the perspectives of multiple African villagers of Kosawa, “How Beautiful We Were” is a story about a generation of children (and a girl named Thula) who live in fear of environmental degradation created by an American oil company. Facing the hard truths about American colonialism, the story illuminates how a profit-driven oil company comes face to face with a village and a revolutionary named Thula, who will stop at nothing to save their ancestral land.
“First Person Singular: Stories” – Haruki Marukami
Haruki Marukami tells eight different short stories through the memories of one lonely narrator, Marukami. Sharing his experiences through the first person, readers are left with stories that challenge the boundaries between the exterior world and our minds. With themes of innocence, love, solitude and childhood, Marukami’s narrative collection is a testament to his known creativity and talent.
“Let Me Tell You What I Mean” – Joan Didion
American writer and essayist Joan Didion releases another collection of essays revealing some of her earliest works and subjects. Twelve compiled pieces offer enlightenment and a glimpse into Didion’s early lifestyle as a writer, highlighting major issues in the newspaper industry or just the simple act of writing. Didion’s conversational, yet factual style leaves readers questioning some of the problems of today’s society.
“The Committed” – Viet Thanh Nguyen
Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his first novel, contemporary writer Viet Thanh Nguyen has written a sequel to award-winning “The Sympathizer.” Readers follow the complex lifestyle of a drug selling refugee in France trying to assess his situation at-hand as well his overall identity. Although this is a denser read, this book will leave you with questions regarding the deep-rooted issues of nationality, politics, race and identity.
“Later” – Stephen King
One of Stephen King’s latest releases takes you through a journey of innocence in the face of truer evil. King exposes the trials that test our sense of right from wrong and through the lens of Jamie – a boy living with his struggling single mother – readers are faced with a child having to face his inner demons, quite literally. Having the supernatural ability to speak with ghosts, this coming of age story examines the deeper unspoken realities a child can learn from speaking with someone who’s already dead.
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