The Best Books Of 2021

If you're anything like us, the events of the past year or so turned you from a social butterfly into a full-on introverted caterpillar, donning messy buns and comfy pants for days. Thankfully, books afforded us the chance to escape our current reality — to travel to new places, engage in electrifying and heart-rending experiences alike, and make a myriad of friends (with a few foes sprinkled in for good measure) — all from the safety of our cozy little cocoon.

We're only several months into the year, but 2021 is already making a name for itself as the year of good books. Turns out our favorite authors were a tad bit more productive during quarantine than many of us were, and they've been busy churning out heaps of bestsellers. Here are a few new titles to add to your bookshelf ASAP, along with some unreleased others that are certainly worth waiting for.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

When NPR book critic Maureen Corrigan made it to the halfway point of this hotly-anticipated novel, she wrote this one-sentence review: "This is unbearable." Unbearable, that is, in a good, soul-stretching way. "[Kazuo Ishiguro] is the master of slowly deepening our awareness of human failing, fragility and the inevitability of death — all that, even as he deepens our awareness of what temporary magic it is to be alive in the first place," she writes for NPR.

After winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2017 (per Nobel Prize), Ishiguro's fans were anxious to find out what other creative visions he'd masterfully make come to life on paper. With Klara and the Sun, a dystopian novel narrated by a so-called-called "Artificial Friend," they were not disappointed (via BBC). The committee awarded the author with the esteemed prize because "in novels of great emotional force, [he] has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world." In other — less confusing — words, this book is bound to be good.

The Beauty of Living Twice by Sharon Stone

These days, it seems like every celebrity is signing book deals. It's a sure-fire way for publishers to make money, and the titles usually produce enough steamy gossip to fill headlines for weeks. But, as O, The Oprah Magazine notes in their review of the best-selling memoir, this is "Not your typical Hollywood autobiography." Rather, it's "Brutally honest, restless and questing" (via Penguin Random House). We have to agree.

In The Beauty of Living Twice, the renowned actress and activist-turned-author speaks about how suffering a massive stroke seemingly cost her everything: Her health, career, fortune, family, and fame. As her publisher, Penguin Random House, writes, this is "a book for the wounded and a book for the survivors; it's a celebration of women's strength and resilience, a reckoning, and a call to activism. It is proof that it's never too late to raise your voice and speak out." Overall, this pick is about one woman's journey of finding hope and healing.

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones

This unflinching debut novel is set on the paradoxical and paradisiacal island Rihanna calls home: Barbados. According to the Women's Prize for Fiction, this story begins with another story — the cautionary tale of the one-armed sister who ignores the warnings of people around her and suffers greatly as a result. After hearing the story as a young girl, the book's protagonist, Lala, later views it as a beam of hope — one to help her overcome seemingly insurmountable losses, including her husband's murder.

"How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps her House is the story of three marriages," the Women's Prize for Fiction writes, "and of a beautiful island paradise where, beyond the white sand beaches and the wealthy tourists, lies poverty, menacing violence and the story of the sacrifices some women make to survive." As NPR puts it, this is a story "set in Paradise and lives plunged into hell." Get ready to be transported across seas and into a compelling, raw, and emotional tale.

Forthcoming books you'll want to preorder pronto

Suffice it to say, there are many more dazzling books that didn't make the cut for this brief list. However, we still wanted to mention some much-anticipated treasures that haven't yet hit the shelves. First, there's The Final Revival of Opal & Nev coming out on April 20th, which is Dawnie Walton's debut novel about an Afro-Punk outcast who finds her voice upon moving to New York City. Next up, we have What Happened To You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Dr. Bruce D. Perry and the one and only Oprah Winfrey. According to the talk show host's own magazine, this timely work explores the legacy of trauma while bringing together the dual powers of storytelling and science (via Oprah Daily). Another piece of nonfiction to come out this year is Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life, a beguiling memoir by the Emmy-award-winning actress Julianna Margulies.

Other hot picks include Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri, Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead, and While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams, who can somehow find the time to write novels while leading the country and fighting for equality. Same, Stacey, same.

It's time to make yourself a mug of tea, re-enter your cocoon, and read the year away.