The 28 Best Books of 2021 So Far – Must Read Books –

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We’ve rounded up your must-have books.
Whether you’re holiday shopping, curating the perfect list of must-read books for the new year (happy books included!), or just looking for that next book to dive into, narrowing down the market can be difficult work. There’s plenty to choose from—different genres, styles, perspectives and more—in the search for your ultimate pick. That’s why we’ve narrowed down the best books to read in 2021, giving you plenty to dig into this holiday season.
The first thing that makes a book unforgettable is finding a great match for your interests. From non-fiction picks like memoirs, business books, historical outlines, health books, and travel logs, to fiction novels like science fiction, thrillers, romance, and children’s books, there’s something out there for everyone.
We scoured the top picks from the New York Times best sellers lists, Amazon’s best books of 2021, Barnes and Noble’s best books of the year, and more favorites from our editors to find the books you just can’t pass up this year. From best-selling authors like Stephen King, Walter Isaacson, and the late Anthony Bourdain to debut writers like Rachel Hawkins who is releasing her first adult-focused novel among her many young adult books, you’re sure to find a captivating new read. So, what are you waiting for? Read on for some great recommendations!
This New York Times best seller is not only shortlisted for the Booker Prize , but it’s a Today #ReadWithJenna book club pick and Amazon’s number one pick for best book of 2021. The story follows Hadley Baxter who is cast to play Marian Graves in a film that focuses on her disappearance in Antarctica as she attempted to fly the globe. Hadley aims to redefine her career after starring in a romantic film franchise, and readers follow as she immerses herself in the character’s story while her own story unfolds. The two women are hungry for self-determination, and their lives collide and intertwine in fantastic ways despite the different times and geographic locations.
This stunningly vulnerable and poignant story follows Broome as he grows up in Ohio and beyond. He tells tales of his heartbreaking, hilarious, and trying journey to adulthood—which includes drug use, exploring his sexuality and his relationships with his parents—and explores, throughout, the conversation of Blackness in America.
Now more than ever, we need Gates’ urgent and accessible plan for ushering the world to a zero greenhouse gas emissions status. This eye-opening novel features expertise from those in fields of physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, political science, and finance to offer real-life changes we can take to avoid environmental disaster. The New York Times best seller sets a plan for achieving a healthier planet
With stunning illustrations, this book follows a young Asian girl who learns to love her diversity and the shape of her eyes. She finds that though other kids have eyes that are round with long eyelashes, she looks different. But when she comes to find her eyes resemble those of the other influential women in her life, she draws strength and self-love, leaving readers of all races and diverse backgrounds to feel empowered and beautiful.
Writer, television host, and curious traveler Anthony Bourdain shares essential advice to see and experience the world through destinations, foods, and hospitality. His collection of travel advice is supplemented with essays from friends, colleagues, and family and stunning illustrations by Wesley Allbrook that bring the late Bourdain’s stories to life.
The author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns with his newest novel about Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna’s scientific breakthroughs. Doudna led a revolution that has allowed us to cure disease, have healthier babies, and fend off viruses in a way we never could before. Making the most important scientific discovery since the understanding of the structure of DNA, Doudna invented CRISPR, an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA.
In this grand history of “work” Suzman outlines how we went from our origins of life on Earth to today through the lens of the role work plays in our lives. Using anthropology, archaeology, evolutionary biology, zoology, physics, and economics, he shows how work has evolved over the years and how the upcoming age of automation may change our relationship with work yet again.
Readers follow the story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s imprisonment in the days leading up to the 1960 presidential election and the three John F. Kennedy civil rights staffers who pushed to free him. Based on interviews with firsthand witnesses and archival research, Nine Days reveals the important lessons we can learn from the days that propelled Kennedy to the White House and decided the fate of one of the closest elections in American history.
Winner of the Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel from the Crime Writers’ Association, winner for Best International Crime Fiction from Australian Writers Association, and a New York Times bestseller, this thriller will keep you at the edge of your seat. Thirteen-year-old Duchess Day Radley is the acting parent to her 5-year-old brother and their single mother, Star. Walk is the chief of police who works to protect Duchess and her brother, while also healing wounds of sending his best friend Vincent King to prison years before. Now that Vincent will be released, Duchess and Walk must work together to face the trouble that will emerge.
If you’re already a fan of the Brown sisters, this third installment to their story is a must-read. This rom-com spotlights Eve Brown as she finds herself interviewing for a chef position at Jacob Wayne’s bed and breakfast. When she is rejected for the job, she accidentally hits Jacob with her car, which is the catalyst that leaves Eve offering to help in every way she can around the understaffed B&B. Though Jacob tries to keep Eve at arms length, things quickly heat up between the unexpected duo.
From the author of The Martian, comes another tale of space expedition and survival. In this New York Times bestseller and soon to be major motion picture starring Ryan Gosling, Ryland Grace is the sole survivor of a space mission that all of humanity is relying on. But, he finds himself with his entire memory wiped, and he has no idea who he is and how he appeared millions of miles away with two deceased crewmates. He must now puzzle together his mission and save everyone on Earth before time runs out.
In this Reese Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine Book Club young adult pick, 18-year-old Daunis Fonatine dreams of a fresh start when she starts college. But Daunis’ future is put on hold when family tragedy strikes. In the interim, she falls head over heels for Jamie, the new recruit to her brother’s hockey team, and suddenly finds herself involved in a murder investigation after witnessing a shocking crime. Through twists and turns, readers follow Danis as she uncovers secrets and grapples with her role in the investigation.
The New York Times best seller outlines three generations of the Sackler family, one of the richest families in the world who are most well known for their philanthropy in the arts and sciences. Their fortune stemmed from the creation and marketing of Valium, the painkiller that is linked to the beginning of the opioid crisis. Three brothers, Raymond, Mortimer, and Arthur came from poverty of the Great Depression, only to come out the other side with the infamous Sackler fortune that changed their lives forever.
Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and invites him to travel to Rome with her. Her best friend, Eileen, is getting over a breakup in Dublin and has started flirting with her childhood friend Simon. The New York Times bestselling novel follows the four as they start relationships and life catches up with them.
Set in 17th century colonial Brazil, the novel follows Almeyda, a girl who comes of age on Portuguese plantations and escapes the fugitive settlement of enslaved people called Palmares. She sets out to find her husband, who is lost at battle, as she journeys across Brazil.
Dissatisfied with his life, Charlie Barnes simply wants into the American dream. But when the Great Recession hits along with a cancer scare, he feels hopeless. With the help of his son, Charlie finds his true calling and works to become the man he always wanted to be.
Fans of legendary storyteller Stephen King can’t get enough of the newest novel from the king of thrillers. Billy Summers is a killer for hire, but only for those who truly deserve it. In his very last job, he’s left in a whirlwind of trouble.
Set in 1960’s Harlem, Ray Carney seems to be an upstanding furniture salesman. What most don’t know is Ray comes from a family of crooks, and he quickly gets dragged into a heist of Harlem’s most upscale hotel, opening up a double life for Ray to uphold.
Readers follow 15-year-old Libby in the early 1980s. She loves The Field Guide to the Trees of North America, and finds comfort in sipping beers and sharing cigarettes with her best friend in the trees in her suburban Pennsylvania town. When her mother leaves her 12-year-old sister Ellen on the side of the road to walk home after too much backseat fighting, no one can guess what will happen next.
The New York Times best seller brings 12 pieces from legendary Joan Didion’s collection from 1968 to 2000 into one must-read book. From topics like newspapers and not getting into Stanford, Didion brings essays to the table that are fascinating and brilliant.
New to a wealthy, gated community Jane finds herself falling for widower Eddie. But the history of Eddie’s deceased wife haunts her, and readers are left wondering if she can win Eddie’s affection before her secrets come out.
Longlisted for the women’s prize for fiction, this irresistible novel followers Reese–a trans woman living her dream in New York. When things begin to fall apart, she finds herself making self-destructive decisions. But when an ex reaches out to see if she wants to be a mother, Reese finds everything she was missing in her world.
The history of racism within women’s movements and feminist cultures is revealed and discussed in this passionate book. The former editor-in-chief of Jezebel shows the true colors of race, empowerment, and inclusion in America through the lens of feminism and social change.
Set in Dublin in 1904, Irish writer Nuala O’Connor reimagines the life of James Joyce’s wife and muse, Nora. 
Klara is an unexpected narrator who observes those who come into the store she resides in. She watches those who walk in or pass by carefully, and hopes one day a customer will choose to take her home. This New York Times bestselling novel will have you rethinking everything you thought you knew about the world, and begs the questions: What does it mean to love?
Neurosurgeon and CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta brings the answers you need to keep your mind sharp and productive. With insights from research and top scientists from all over the world, you’ll bust brain health myths, learn about brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, and find strategies to incorporate into your every day routine to keep your brain healthy as you age.
Teaching the lessons of optimism, Ayaan’s story begins when he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. Through encouragement from his family and friends, he remembers that he is worthy and a new day is a good day in this heartfelt children’s book.
Two best friends, Poppy and Alex, couldn’t be more different. They vacation together every summer, until one year when everything crashes and burns and ruins their relationship for good. When Poppy realizes the last time she was truly happy was on that vacation with Alex, she reaches out to take one final vacation together and lay everything that went wrong out on the table. This New York Times bestseller takes readers on a journey of friendship, love, and everything in between.