A month-by-month guide to the most exciting and anticipated fiction, non-fiction and children's books out in 2021.
A month-by-month guide to the most exciting and anticipated fiction, non-fiction and children's books out in 2021.
The Push by Ashley Audrain (7 Jan)
Ashley Audrain’s debut novel is a compulsive and addictive read about motherhood, which looks at what happens when women are not believed. It follows Blythe Connor, whose first child Violet is demanding and fretful, to the point where Blythe thinks there is something wrong. But Blythe’s husband, Fox, thinks she’s imagining everything, and doesn’t understand how Blythe’s childhood experiences have shaped her. What if, asks Audrain, motherhood is everything you feared instead of everything you hoped for?
The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan (14 Jan)
Booker Prize-winning author Richard Flanagan returns with a story of a family facing death against a backdrop of climate change and global catastrophe.
Anna’s aged mother is dying, if her three children would allow her to do so. Condemned by their pity, she increasingly escape through her hospital window into visions of horror and light. When Anna’s finger vanishes, followed by her knee, she begins to see others are similarly vanishing, but no one else notices. This is a beautiful meditation on love, family and the world we live in.
We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan (21 Jan)
This debut novel moves between 1960s Uganda and present-day London, exploring the lives over several generations over two continents.
In Uganda widower Hasan is struggling to run his family business. Just as he thinks he’s found his way, a new regime seizes power, threatening what he has built. In London, Sameer is a high-flying young lawyer who is called back home after an unexpected tragedy.
Hafsa Zayyan was co-winner of the inaugural winner of the #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize.
Happy Planning by Charlotte Plain (7 Jan)
When we filled out our 2020 planners and bought our diaries for the year, we never imagined how the year would turn out. And 2021 may prove to be as unexpected.
But Charlotte Plain’s Happy Planning will help you plan any aspect of your life, from the weekly shop and meal planning to budgeting and getting ready for big occasions.
Plain is behind the Instagram account @princess.planning, which has more than 190,000 followers, and this book promises to be a practical guide to bring order to the chaos.
Some Body to Love by Alexandra Heminsley (14 Jan)
In 2017, Alexandra Heminsley was told that her partner was going to transition. It was the latest in a series of events, including giving birth, that left Heminsley feeling more and more dissociated from her own body. In her open-hearted memoir, Heminsley talks about losing a husband but gaining a best friend, bringing up a baby in a changing world, and what it means to have a human body and feel connected and disconnected from it.
Empireland by Sathnam Sanghera (28 Jan)
Journalist Sathnam Sanghera’s new book is an essential addition to Britain’s debate about its colonial past. Sanghera takes a look at how so much of what we consider to be modern is rooted in its imperial past, from the foundation of the NHS to the nature of our racism and the exceptionalism that was a core part of the campaign for Brexit and the government’s early dealing with coronavirus.
Empireland urges readers to look at the contradictions in a Britain that both celebrates empire and doesn’t want us to look at it too closely. It’s only by seeing where we come from that we can being to understand out present, and Empireland is key to that understanding. Read our interview with Sanghera here.
How To Change The World by Rashmi Sirdeshpande & Annabel Tempest (7 Jan)
Be inspired to change the world in 2021. In Rashmi Sirdeshpande’s new book, you’ll learn about 15 phenomenal things people have achieved throughout history. Travel back to Ancient Egypt to hear how the craftsmen built the Great Pyramid or to when the Ancient Greeks first established democracy. In more recent times, discover how campaigners fought for women’s right to vote and how Rosa Parks helped initiate the US civil rights movement. It’s amazing what can be achieved when humans work together.
The Worries: Sohal Finds a Friend by Jion Sheibani (14 Jan)
It’s normal to feel worried from time to time but sometimes our worries can take over. Sohal worries about a lot of things; the dark, not having any friends, mutant sheep. So, to make himself feel better, Sohal draws his worries. And it works! Except, when Sohal wakes up the next morning, he finds that his worries have come to life as furry creatures; Hurt, Babs, Anger, Big, Fail and Alone. And unfortunately for Sohal, his worries start to get a little out of control… This is a great read for fans of Pixar film Inside Out.
Ned and the Great Garden Hamster Race by Kim Hillyard (21 Jan)
The day of the Great Garden Hamster Race has arrived and Ned the hamster is very excited. He’s been training super hard for this and is determined to win. Ned sets off and he’s already in first place! If he carries on at this pace, he’s sure to be champion. But then Ned comes across a few different creatures in dire need of some help. Will Ned realise that it’s more important to be kind than to win?
What to Look For in Spring by Elizabeth Jenner & Natasha Durley (21 Jan)
The What to Look For series – originally published in the 1960s – has had a 2020s update. Elizabeth Jenner and Natasha Durley show us what the natural world in the UK currently looks like throughout the year. From the blooming buds of spring to the long, dark nights of winter, these books are a great introduction to the seasons for little readers.
Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson (4 Feb)
This stunning debut novel is about two Black British artists who meet at a pub in south east London. He is a photographer, she is an artist, and both are trying to make their mark in a city that celebrates and rejects them. Open Water follows the pair as they fall in love, but are threatened to be torn apart by fear and violence. Azumah Nelson has written a beautiful love story that also examines race and masculinity, and what it means to be a person in a world which only sees you as a Black body.
Before My Actual Heart Breaks by Tish Delaney (18 Feb)
With praise already in from Roddy Doyle, Before My Actual Heart Breaks is a book to watch for in 2021. It follows Mary Rattigan, whose childhood dreams of leaving troubled Northern Ireland behind never materialised. Instead, she’s got five children yet is alone, having learned plenty of hard lessons and missed turns to the life she always hoped for. Now, will she finally ind the courage to ask for the love she deserves?
The Librarian by Allie Morgan (4 Feb)
Allie Morgan, who is behind the @grumpwitch Twitter account, is a librarian whose part-time job turned into a passionate battle for survival, for her and the library. In The Librarian, Morgan shares stories from her daily life to illustrate the importance of libraries in our society. She recounts how the library saved her, why libraries are falling apart at the seams, and why we need to start caring before it’s too late.
Black is the Body by Emily Bernard (11 Feb)
In these 12 interconnected essays, Emily Bernard looks at everything from surviving a random stabbing to inheriting a family name from a white man to her experiences being a Black woman teaching in a primarily white university. Ann Patchett has called the collection “really life-changing”.
The Panic Years by Nell Frizzell (11 Feb)
Nell Frizzell’s memoir looks at the panic years – the period between adolescence and menopause. Every decision a woman makes during this time is impacted by the urgency of the single decision that comes with a biological deadline; whether or not to have a baby. Frizzell’s funny and honest book is not only the story of her own experiences, but also a call to us all to start a conversation about a decision that touches us all.
How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates (16 Feb)
In this book, Bill Gates consolidates more than a decade of work he has done with experts to investigate the causes and effects of climate change. In How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, he not only explains why we need to work towards a goal of net zero emissions of greenhouse gases, but also lays out what we need to do to achieve that goal.
Unfinished by Priyanka Chopra (11 Feb)
Priyanka Chopra is one of the few actors who has been hugely successful in both Bollywood and Hollywood. In her memoir, she discusses her childhood in India, her time living in the US as a teenager and experiencing racism, and her dual-continent 20-year-long career.
Water World by Ben Rothery (4 Feb)
Natural history illustrator Ben Rothery is back and this time he’s showing us all the wonders of the underwater world. From the frozen seas of the Antarctic to the weird and wonderful creatures that can be found in our all corners of our oceans, Rothery also addresses the impacts that global warming is having on these ecosystems and why we need to protect them.
The Hatmakers by Tamzin Merchant & Paola Esconbar (18 Feb)
This charming debut from actress Tamzin Merchant is set in a world where alchemy and enchantment can be weaved into clothing items. Known as Maker magic, it is a rare and ancient skill, and there are only a few Maker families remaining. Cordelia belongs to one of these families, a long line of magical milliners. Whilst travelling to collect some special hat ingredients, Prospero, Cordelia’s father, and his ship go missing at sea. Cordelia wants to go find him but then a longstanding family rivalry surfaces and a potential war begins to brew. Will Cordeila ever see her father again?
Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi & Ashley Lukashevsky (18 Feb)
How To Be an Antiracist author Ibram X. Kendi has used his extraordinary storytelling gifts to create this picture book for young children. The bold illustrations and playful rhymes introduce little ones to the concept of antiracism and provide the tools parents need to start those critical conversations. A must-have for readers of all ages, antiracism is bred, not born.
Dangerous Women by Hope Adams (4 Mar)
Set in 1841, Dangerous Women follows three women as they board a ship in London that will take them on a three-month voyage to the other side of the world. The women are are all convicts, being transported for petty crimes. Except for one, who is a secret killer fleeing justice. When a women on the ship is mortally wounded, the hunt is on for the culprit.
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (4 Mar)
Yaa Gyasi’s second novel is the story of Gifty, who as a child would ask her parents to tell her the story of their journey from Ghana to Alabama. Years later, Gifty turns to science to understand the opioid addiction that destroyed her brother’s life. But when her mother comes to stay, Gifty learns that the roots of their tangled traumas reach further back than she thought.
Futher reading: Yaa Gyasi on her inspirations and writing that tricky second novel.
Double Blind by Edward St Aubyn (18 Mar)
The internationally acclaimed author of the Patrick Melrose novels returns with a major new book about three close friends during a year of extraordinary transformation. Set between London, Cap d’Antibes, Big Sur and Sussex, the book follows Olivia, who meets a new lover, Francis, as she welcoming her dearest friend Lucy back from New York. As the trio become unusually close, more people are pulled into their orbit, and no one will emerge unchanged.
The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox (18 Mar)
Already a bestseller in New Zealand, The Absolute Book is described as a cross between Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, American Gods and His Dark Materials. The book follows Taryn Cornick, who believes her sister Bea was deliberately run down and killed, so much show that she allows a man called the Muleskinner to exact justice and take an eye for an eye. But the police begin to suspect Taryn in the death, while in a faraway place are those that seek Taryn’s help in tracking down the mysterious book of the title.
Becoming by Michelle Obama (2 Mar)
This book needs no introduction, but if you haven’t read it yet, its paperback release is the perfect chance to do so. As well as the main edition, a special version adapted for younger readers and with a new introduction by Obama, will also be released on the same day.
Why Women Are Poorer Than Men and What We Can Do About It by Annabelle Williams (3 Mar)
The gender pay gap is well documented, but it’s not just salaries that are rigged unfairly. In this book, journalist Annabelle Williams looks at everything from the tampon tax to bringing up children to boardroom bullying, painting a picture of a society which conspires to limit a woman’s wealth. By revealing how we got to our current position, Williams also lays out how we can fix it.
A Walk from the Wild Edge by Jake Tyler (18 Mar)
After coming terrifyingly close to suicide, Jake Tyler left his home town of Maldon, armed only with a pair of walking boots and a backpack. During the subsequent 3,000-mile walk around the British mainland, Tyler was helped on the road to recovery by the kindness of strangers and the power of human connection. In A Walk from the Wild Edge, Tyler recounts his journey, both mental and physical.
Further reading: The Stranger who changed Jake Tyler's life
The Nightingale by Sam Lee (25 Mar)
Conservationist and musician Sam Lee tells the story of the nightingale in this beautiful book, which not only looks at the bird’s song and habitat, but is also a call to action to change the behaviours which threaten the nightingale’s livelihood.
Lee delves into the ways in which we have celebrated the nightingale through literature, music and more over the years. The Nightingale is the perfect way to herald the arrival of spring.
Further reading: 21 questions with Sam Lee
A Little Devil in America by Hamid Abdurraqib (25 Mar)
Hanif Abdurraqib is the author of Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest, and he returns with this examination of Black performance in America. Looking at the collision of race, history, culture, entertainment and lived experience, this is an essential read from an exciting new voice.
The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman (30 Mar)
Amanda Gorman wowed the world with her poem 'The Hill We Climb' at the inauguration of President Joe Biden. This special gift edition of the poem, coming ahead of the release of the poet’s first collection in September, includes a foreword by Oprah Winfrey.
Bees: A Lift-the-flap eco book by Carmen Saldana (4 Mar)
Protecting our planet has never been more important and these fun, lift-the-flap books are perfect for mini eco-warriors. Made from recycled board and plant-based inks, this new series introduces children to the importance of Bees, Trees and Seas. Each book contains interesting facts and tips on how even the littlest readers can help.
Shipwreck Island by Struan Murray & Manuel Sumberac (4 Mar)
In the sequel to Orphans of the Tide, Ellie and Seth continue on their action-packed adventure to uncover the truth behind Seth’s lost memories. The pair have fled the City after battling the Enemy and the Inquisition, and after crossing the ocean they find themselves on the shores of a tropical island ruled by an enigmatic queen. But all is not as it seems and they soon find themselves caught up in another struggle for power.
Pablo Goes Shopping (4 Mar)
Pablo and his friends are off to the supermarket aka the Super Place! There are so many different sights and sounds – Tang really loves it here. But Wren finds it too bright and too loud. Luckily Pablo and the others know what to do to help Wren enjoy the Super Place in a different way that suits her. Written by the creators of the hit TV series Pablo who are all on the autistic spectrum, all Pablo books give an insight into what life can feel like for those who are autistic.
The Runaway Girls by Jacqueline Wilson (18 Mar)
Jacqueline Wilson is back with another Victorian novel and this one follows two girls from two very different backgrounds. Kitty Fisher lives on the streets and performs tumbling to earn her meals. Her only friend is Gaffer but he’s now gone leaving Kitty completely alone. Lucy Locket on the other hand is from a well-to-do family but all is not rosy. The arrival of a new stepmother, new sibling and a mean governess has left Lucy feeling very lonely so she runs away and meets Kitty. The two become fast friends and begin to work together to survive on the dangerous streets of London.
Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka, trans. by Sam Malissa (1 Apr)
A bestseller in Japan, Bullet Train is about five assassins – Satoshi, Kim, Nanao, Tangerine and Lemon – who find themselves on a bullet train to Tokyo competing for a suitcase full of money. Who will get off alive at the last station? Bullet Train is currently being made into a film starring Brad Pitt for release in late 2021, so read the book in advance.
Another Life by Jodie Chapman (1 Apr)
Jodie Chapman’s debut novel is a sweeping love story about Nick and Anna, who worked the same summer job at their local cinema. Anna has grown up preparing for the end of days, living a tightly controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and more are off-limits. So when Anna falls in love with Nick, she’s too afraid to give up everything she’s ever loved, and walks away. Years later, a tragedy draws Anna back into Nick’s life and the pair has the chance to rekindle their love.
Tall Bones by Anna Bailey (1 Apr)
Set in a small town in Colorado, Tall Bones begins 17-year-old Abi going missing after a party in the woods. Abi’s disappearance rocks Whistling Ridge, and stirs up long-held grudges, including among Abi’s family. Her older brother Noah still resents Abi for betraying him, her younger brother Jude has already seen too much for someone his age, her mother Dolly’s suffering is ignored by the town, and her father Samuel holds the whole family in his threatening grasp. Whistling Ridge is a tinder box waiting to explode, and what happened to Abi is the spark.
First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami, trans. by Philip Gabriel (6 Apr)
This collection of eight short stories are all told by a mysterious narrator, one who may or may not be Haruki Murakami himself. From meditations on music to a love of baseball to invented jazz albums, these stories challenge the boundaries between our minds and the outside world, and are all told in Murakami’s inimitable style.
Fragile Monsters by Catherine Menon (8 Apr)
In this debut Catherine Menon traces the story of one Malaysian family from 1920 to the present. When Durga visits her difficult grandmother Mary in rural Malaysia, the pair become stuck in the rising heat. There, both women must figure out the truth to questions that haunt the family, from what happened to Durga’s mother after she gave birth to why so many family members disappeared during the war to who is to blame for the childhood tragedy that haunts Durga to this day. Spellbinding, this is a novel about homecoming and the past that haunts our present.
Peter 2.0 by Peter Scott-Morgan (1 Apr)
Peter Scott-Morgan has Motor Neurone Disease, and has been told by doctors that it will destroy his nerve cells and, within a few years, take his life. But Scott-Morgan is trying to navigate a new path, but combining his humanity with artificial intelligence and robotics. This book is the true story behind the Channel 4 documentary about Scott-Morgan, Peter: The Human Cyborg.
The Hard Crowd by Rachel Kushner (8 Apr)
Rachel Kushner is well known for her fiction, and she brings her originality to this first essay collection. In her 20s, Kushner went to Mexico to compete in the notorious and deadly motorbike race, Cabo 1000. Soon after, she decided to leave her controlling boyfriend and embark on a new, freer life. The Hard Crowd is about that life. Through 19 essays, Kushner explores friendship, loss, a Palestinian refugee camp, the American prison system and more.
The Green Barbecue by Rukmini Iyer (29 Apr)
Rukmini Iyer’s cookbooks have saved many a lunch and dinner (and breakfast, and dessert, and snack time), earning her a fan base known as the #TinLads. The newest in the series contains 75 meat-free recipes that are perfect for cooking outdoors or in the oven. From griddled papaya and charred tender stem to crispy barbecue tofu and dill-soused feta, this is the ultimate vegetarian cookbook.
My Daddies! by Gareth Peter & Garry Parsons (1 Apr)
Follow the adorable family in My Daddies! as they go on all kinds of adventures. From dragon fighting and running away from dinosaurs, to soaring around the world in a hot air balloon. This lovely picture book is perfect for showing children that all different kinds of families are wonderful.
Weirdo by Zadie Smith, Nick Laird & Magenta Fox (15 Apr)
Veteran writers Zadie Smith and Nick Laird have come together with debut illustrator Magenta Fox to create this wonderful tale about the power of being different. Maud is a guinea pig; a guinea pig who loves judo. Given as a birthday present to a little girl named Kit, things get off to a rocky start when she meets Kit’s other pets. But a friendly encounter with a neighbour shows Maud that it’s ok to be a little weird.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (4 May)
The Martian author’s third adventure in space follows Ryland Grace, the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission. Grace doesn’t remember his own name, his assignment or how to complete it, and he definitely doesn’t know that if he fails, humanity and the earth will perish. A gripping tale of survival.
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead (4 May)
Great Circle is the story of two women: Marian Graves and Hadley Baxter. In 1950, Marian embarks on her life’s dream, to fly around the globe. But after a crash landing, she writes one last entry in her logbook. Half a century later, troubled Hollywood starlet Hadley Baxter is irresistibly drawn to pay Marian in a film, a role that will lead her to the deepest mysteries in the vanished pilot’s life.
Sorrorwland by Rivers Solomon (6 May)
Rivers Solomon’s extraordinary gothic tale of metamorphosis has already received praise from Marlon James, who called it “fantastical and frightening”. At the book’s centre is Vern, a Black woman with albinism who escapes a religious compound, and discovers that her body is changing and she is developing extra-sensory powers. Alone in the woods and having given birth to twins, Vern must investigate the secluded compound she fled and the violent history of dehumanisation, medical experimentation, and genocide that produced it in order to understand why she is changing.
Futher reading: 21 Questions with Rivers Solomon
China Room by Sunjeev Sahota (6 May)
Sunjeev Sahota, who was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2015 with his novel The Year of the Runaways, tells a multigenerational story of love, trauma and the search for freedom in his new book. China Room follows Mehar, a young bride in rural India in 1929, trying to discover the identity of her husband while sequestered from contact with men in her family’s ‘china room’, and a young man in 1999 who travels from England to the now-deserted farm where Mehar lived.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (27 May)
Taylor Jenkins Reid’s first novel Daisy Jones & The Six was a tale of the rise and fall of a singer and her band. In Malibu Rising Reid takes another look at fame, fortune and family. Siblings Nina, Jay, Hud and Kit are adored and the source of much fascination in Malibu and the world, thanks to their father, legendary singer Mick Riva. In 1983, Nina holds her annual end-of-summer party, but by morning the Riva mansion has gone up in flames. What happened at the party? And what secrets are the party’s hosts and guests hiding?
The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed (27 May)
Set in 1952, The Fortune Men follows Mahmood Mattan, a fixture in Cardiff’s Tiger Bay. A smooth talker and a petty criminal, Mahmood is accused of murdering a shopkeeper. Mahmood knows he’s innocent, but as the trial approaches, he realises that, against a background of conspiracy, prejudice and cruelty, the truth may not be enough to save him.
The Waiter by Ajay Chowdhury (27 May)
Ajay Chowdhury won the inaugural Harvill Secker and Bloody Scotland BAME crime competition with The Waiter. The novel follows disgraced detective Kamil Rahman, who moves from Kolkata to London to start afresh as a waiter in an Indian restaurant. But while catering a birthday bash for his boss’ rich friend, host Rakesh is found dead and suspension falls on his new wife, Neha. Kamil finds himself drawn back into his old life, as he investigates what happened to Rakesh, with the help of his boss’ daughter Anjoli.
What It Feels Like for a Girl by Paris Lees (25 May)
In her debut book, journalist Paris Lees tells her story, from being a child sick of being beaten up by boys at school to a rollercoaster ride of hedonism and the discovery of the Fallen Divas Project and the mesmerising Lady Die. But when the comedown finally kicks in, Byron arrives at a shocking encounter that will change life forever. Unflinching and honest, this is sure to cement Lees’ reputation as one of Britain’s most exciting young writers.
Futher reading: Paris Lees talks about the eight years composing her memoir
The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel (6 May)
The author of Fun Home’s new graphic memoir looks at her lifelong love affair with exercise. Bechdel revisits childhood fitness obsessions and the modern-day spin class, and realises the more she tries to improve herself, the more her self appears to get in the way. A look at exercise and enlightenment, this is a story about the secret of superhuman strength (and it’s not something you can get at the gym).
Real Estate by Deborah Levy (13 May)
Real Estate is the final volume of Deborah Levy’s acclaimed living autobiography. The book is a meditation on home, the physical space we rent or buy, sell or inherit, as well as a look at the meaning of home, where we find it, and the spectres that haunt it.
Further reading: Deborah Levy reflects on her trilogy
Languages of Truth by Salman Rushdie (27 May)
Languages of Truth collects together some of Salman Rushdie’s best essays from 2003 to 2020, and also includes several pieces never previously printed. In the collective, Rushdie looks at language and the nature of storytelling, as well as migration, multiculturalism and censorship.
Smiley Eyes, Smiley Faces by Dawn McNiff & Zoe Waring (13 May)
Toddlers are currently growing up in a world where lots of grown-ups now wear face masks day-to-day. And for some little ones this can be unnerving. Smiley Eyes, Smiley Faces will take readers on a journey through town where they can lift the face mask flaps on each page and see that everyone is smiling underneath. This is a great board book to help children see that masks keep everyone safe and happy.
The Little Mermaid by Anna Kemp & Natelle Quek (13 May)
Hans Christian Anderson’s dark fairy tale has been reimagined in this stunning picture book for children. Princess Coral is bored of life in the sea and dreams of a life above the waves where she can walk, run and dance. After rescuing a young Prince called Eldo from drowning, Coral’s mind is made up – she wants to be human. So, she goes to visit the Sea Witch to make a deal…
The Summer I Robbed A Bank by David O’Doherty & Chris Judge (27 May)
Comedian-turned-author David O’Doherty is back with a new children’s book. Rex is finding everything a bit daunting at the moment – his parents have recently split up and he’s due to start secondary school. And worst of all, he’s spending his summer holiday on a very remote and very rainy Irish island. On the plus side, he will get to hang out with his eccentric Uncle Derm. But then it emerges that his Uncle Derm has an exceedingly eccentric plan – he’s going to rob the island’s bank! And he wants Rex to help him.
Freed by E L James (1 Jun)
Since concluding the trilogy that captured the attention of readers across the world and catapulted her up the bestseller lists, E.L. James has revisited the Fifty Shades series to give us Christian Grey’s version of events. In Freed we get a front row seat to his wedding to Anastasia Steele but, as we know, the course of true love never runs smooth. Can Christian finally be freed of his haunted past and accept Ana’s unconditional love?
Assembly by Natasha Brown (3 June)
Natasha Brown’s debut novel is set in the competitive world of investment banking, and follows an unnamed Black British woman trying to navigate friendship, love and work. "I was trying to capture the claustrophobia of the narrator’s world, and the hostility of it – how it felt for her to exist, and to succeed, as a Black woman working in the City,” said Brown of the novel.
The Mad Women’s Ball by Victoria Mas (17 Jun)
Already a bestselling sensation in France with a starry film adaptation on the cards, Victoria Mas’s enthralling story of hysteria, womanhood and 19th-century Paris is likely to be the read of the summer. Set in the infamous Salpêtrière asylum in 1885, Mas picks one momentous night for the fates of two very different women to change: when the Parisian elite and the patients of the asylum collide during The Mad Women’s Ball.
The Mismatch by Sara Jafari (24 June)
Soraya wants to belong, but at 21 still hasn’t been kissed. When she meets Magnus, the last person she expected to fall for, she confronts her past and is able to work out her next steps. At the same time, Soraya’s mother Neda, who left Iran in the wake of the revolution, is also striving to belong. A story of romantic love, The Mismatch is also the touching tale of a mother and daughter and the sacrifices family makes.
Rememberings by Sinéad O’Connor (1 Jun)
Few artists have had a career as twisting and provocative as Sinéad O’Connor’s. Thrust into the limelight at 21 with a cover of Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U, she has since become an icon, challenging the establishment in her ongoing quest for spiritual fulfilment. Rememberings is her story: from a difficult childhood through to sex, drugs and rock’n’roll and becoming a mother to four children, all the while fuelled by her love of making music.
Living While Black by Guilaine Kinouani (3 June)
Psychologist Guilance Kinouani has over 15 years of experience of helping Black people overcome the physical and mental effects of racism. In this essential guide, she shares eye-opening case studies, cutting-edge research and effective coping strategies to help readers process trauma, set boundaries and ultimately, learn to find joy. This is powerful, timely and necessary reading that will help Black people thrive rather than just survive as well as a must-have anti-racist resouce for allies who want to “do the work”.
The Authority Gap by Mary Ann Sieghart (3 June)
Journalist Mary Ann Sieghart takes a look at why women are still taken less seriously than men, why women are promoted to fewer tops jobs, and accorded less authority than men. Taking a look at scientific evidence and interrogating our unconscious biases, Sieghart takes a look at the evidence to show how few of us bear out our beliefs about equality in our behaviour, and what we ca do to change that.
We Can Do Better Than This edited by Amelia Abraham (3 June)
In this thought-provoking essay collection, a group of writers consider what LGBTQ+ equality actually means, and how we get there. From personal stories to provocative new arguments, We Can Do Better Than This includes contributions from Amrou Al-Kadhi, Beth Ditto, Peppermint, Owen Jones and more.
Go Big by Ed Miliband (3 June)
Inspired by the podcast he co-hosts, Reasons to be Cheerful, Ed Miliband’s Go Big sets out 20 transformative solutions to fix our world. From inequality and the climate crisis to the challenges of housing and demographic change, Miliband shows that a different world is entirely possible if we aim for ambitious solutions on a large scale.
12 Birds to Save Your Life by Charlie Corbett (10 June)
Coping with the untimely death of his mother, and dealing with a time of great anxiety and uncertainty, Charlie Corbett found himself lying on the side of a hill as it started to drizzle. And then, he heard the song of a single skylark, and found himself grounded by the beauty of nature. In 12 Birds to Save Your Life, Corbett shows there is joy to be found in the smallest of events, if we know where to look and how to listen.
The Crossing by Manjeet Mann (3 Jun)
After the success of her multi-award-nominated novel in verse, Run, Rebel, Manjeet Mann is back with a trailblazing new novel about two teenagers from very different walks of life. Natalie is struggling to cope with the loss of her mum and a radicalised brother while Sammy is trying to start a new life after fleeing his home and family in Eritrea. The Crossing is a story of hope, grief and an eye-opening look into the very real tragedies of the modern refugee crisis.
Busy Day: Athlete by Dan Green (3 Jun)
Your day is always chock-a-block when you’re a star athlete. In this fun lift-the-flap book from the Busy Day series, little ones can join in with the athlete’s day, helping him warm up, dive into the pool and win a medal. The interactive flaps not only keep children engaged and wanting to explore, but they will also help little hands develop their much-needed motor skills.
The Bench by Meghan Markle & Christian Robinson (8 Jun)
The Bench started off as a poem before it turned into this beautiful picture book. Inspired by Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex’s own husband and son, this touching story is dedicated to the special bond between a father and son, as seen through a mother’s eyes. Award-winning illustrator Christian Robinson brings the words alive with timeless watercolours that capture the warmth and joy of the one-of-a-kind relationship that exists between fathers and sons from all walks of life.
Hey You! by Dapo Adeola and various illustrators (10 Jun)
Author and illustrator Dapo Adeola brings together his words and illustrations – along with those of 18 other Black illustrators – to create an inspirational picture book that’s “both a letter to [his] past self and also a letter to [his] future child”. It addresses what it means to grow up within a racist system but the tone is hopeful and empowering as it also explores Black role models through history and delivers a powerful message to a new generation of readers and dreamers.
How To Grow A Unicorn by Rachel Morrisroe & Steven Lenton (24 Jun)
It’s Sarah’s grandma’s birthday and she wants to get her something extra special. Her grandma loves gardening so Sarah heads off to Mr Pottifer's Parlour of Plants. There are foxgloves, birds of paradise and snowdrops but none of those are quite right. Then Sarah spots a packet of unicorn seeds. They’re perfect! However, she soon learns that if not maintained correctly, a garden full of unicorns can grow wildly out of hand. This playful rhyming tale is a great one to share together at story time.
Aldrin Adams and the Cheese Nightmares by Paul Howard & Lee Cosgrove (24 Jun)
Aldrin Adams has an exceptionally unusual and secret super power – when he eats cheese, he can enter people’s dreams and nightmares! The stinkier the cheese, the better. And he uses his power to help them with their problems. If only someone could help Aldrin with his own problems. And unfortunately, they only get worse when it transpires that some is trying to steal Aldrin’s super power for world domination! Fans of Sam Copeland will love this ludicrously funny story.
The Paper Palace by Miranda Crowley Heller (8 July)
Miranda Cowley Heller is the former head of drama at HBO series and oversaw TV shows including The Sopranos and The Wire. Now she’s turned her eye for a story to her debut novel, The Paper Palace, which is set around a decaying summer camp of the book’s title. The novel sees protagonist Elle Bishop face up to the morning after a family party, while also considering her family’s past, as she decides whether to stay with her husband or pursue the life she imagined with her childhood love.
The Shadows of Men by Air Mukherjee (8 July)
Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant Surendranath Banerjee return in Abir Mukherjee’s fifth mystery in the Wyndham and Banerjee series. Set in Calcutta and Bombay in 1923, the pair have to figure out who murdered a Hindu theologian, while a city is on the brink of religious war.
That Night by Gillian McAllister (8 July)
From the author of 2020’s scintillating psychological suspense thriller How to Disappear comes another gripping what-would-you-do novel. Imagine you’re on holiday when your sister calls: she’s been involved in a hit-and-run; the man is dead; and she needs your help. Will you cover for her? And what other lies might surface when the police get involved? Hailed by peers like Lisa Jewell, That Night promises an intricate plotline and a devastating finale that will have you questioning the limits of your loyalty.
Three Rooms by Jo Hamya (8 July)
Starting in autumn 2018, Three Rooms follows a woman as she moves into a rented room in university accommodation to begin a job as a research assistant. Eight months later, she’s in London sleeping on a stranger’s sofa, before finally heading home to her parents’ house. Jo Hamya’s debut novel looks at how we change as we move from place to place, and folds in astute observations about what it means to be a young person in the 21st century today.
The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell (22 July)
It’s 2017, and teenage mother Tallulah is leaving her baby at home with her mother for the night – she’s going on a date, and she’ll be back later. She never returns. Less than a year later, a woman named Sophie comes across a mysterious sign nailed to a schoolyard fence that reads “DIG HERE”. In this latest thriller from one of the genre’s most talked-about authors, Lisa Jewell, a family secret is unearthed, and a cold case reopened; The Night She Disappeared might just be her best yet.
The Lock In by Phoebe Luckhurst (22 July)
This locked room love story follow three housemates – Ellen, Alexa and Jack – the morning after the night before. Faced with a flooding kitchen, the trio head to the attic to try and switch off the water supply. There, they’re joined by Ben, Alexa’s Hinge date from the night before, and find themselves locked in when the handle breaks. Trapped together, this is a funny story of housemates dealing with hangovers, dating and friendship.
The Authority Gap by Mary Ann Sieghart (1 July)
Much has been made about ‘the pay gap’ – that chasm between the earning power of women and men – but what if that gap were a symptom of a more insidious gap? In her insightful new book, The Authority Gap, Mary Ann Sieghart uses data and expertise to illuminate the many ways that women are undermined, patronised, and ignored in the workplace by reversing the gender roles, providing an astonishing new perspective on an age-old problem – and then addressing how it might be fixed moving forward.
This is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan (8 July)
Subtitled Opium–Caffeine–Mescaline, Michael Pollan’s This Is Your Mind on Plants is a three-part exploration of three naturally occurring plants that produce mind-altering effects. But why are some celebrated and others criminalised? And why has our perception of the drugs these plants produce change so dramatically over time? With a deft combination of historical research, journalism, and memoir, Pollan unearths the roots of our relationships to the natural world, and the results are as profound and mind-altering as any trip.
Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn (15 July)
Natasha Lunn interviews authors and experts, and draws on her own experience, to take a look at how we find love, sustain it, and how we deal with losing it. Included in the book are conversations with Candice Carty-Williams on friendship, Diana Evans on parenthood and Roxane Gay on redefining romance.
Adventures in Time by Dominic Sandbrook (1 July)
It was after a family trip to the Imperial War Museum that historian Dominic Sanbrook was inspired to write a series of history books, designed to bring the past alive for young readers today. They’re full of colourful characters, high drama and nail-biting tension, all of it firmly rooted in fact. The first two books explore the intrigue of Henry VIII’s England and the reality of the Second World War, and there are more books set to follow.
If phonics leaves you and little readers stumped, fear not – our new Actiphons series is here! Designed to help children learning to read, these fun and lively stories practise the 70 letter sounds children learn in school. Plus, the books are in the order they are typically taught which is perfect for parents needing some guidance when home-schooling.
Ten Minutes to Bed: Little Dragon by Rhiannon Fielding & Chris Chatterton (8 Jul)
Flicker and Flash are two cheeky little dragons who are not ready for bed. They’d much rather fly, darting and diving in the night sky. But then they spot a lost egg rolling the mountain and it’s started to hatch. Will they get it back to its mummy dragon in time? A new bedtime tale from the hit Ten Minutes to Bed series, this is another wonderfully calming tale that will settle any sleep-resistant tot.
There's a Unicorn in Your Book by Tom Fletcher & Greg Abbott (22 July)
After finding a monster, a dragon, an alien, an elf, a superhero and a witch in his previous books, Tom Fletcher is back with another ‘Who’s In Your Book?’ story – and this time, a unicorn has galloped its way between the pages. This beautifully-illustrated picture book combines interactive storytelling fun with an important message about the power of friendship and how a problem shared could mean a problem solved.
A Different Sort of Normal by Abigail Balfe (22 Jul)
Abigail Balfe found growing up more confusing than most. The ‘normal’ world was always so puzzling. It wasn’t until she was an adult that she learnt some very important information about herself – Abigail is autistic. A Different Sort of Normal is Abigail’s story and the challenges she has faced. Detailing her experiences with scary toilets and crowded trains, as well as crucial information about autism, this book is for anyone who has ever felt out of place.
No Such Thing as Perfect by Emma Hughes (5 August)
Emma Hughes’ book follows Laura Morrison, whose life is far from perfect. So when she gets the chance to trial a new high-tech dating service – Cupid – which will draw on everything she’s ever done online to find her match, she jumps at it. She’s paired with Adam, who she thinks he’s perfect, but doubts soon creep in…
Triflers Need Not Apply by Camilla Bruce (5 Aug)
This novel is about Bella Sorensen, who discovers early in life that the world is made for men. Bella, out to prove that a woman can be just as ruthless and black-hearted as any man, embarks on a killing spree (starting with her husband) the likes of which has never been seen before. Triflers Need Not Apply is inspired by the true story of Belle Gunness, whose murderous rampage began in Chicago in 1900.
A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins (30 Aug)
Paula Hawkins is back with her third thriller (after The Girl on the Train and Into the Water) this year. A Slow Fire Burning is about three women: Laura, who is seen as a troubled loner; Miriam, who knows that just because Laura is seen leaving the scene of a horrific murder doesn’t mean she’s a killer; and Carla, who is reeling from the brutal murder of her nephew.
Once Upon a Crime by Robin Stevens (5 Aug)
Just when we thought we had recovered from our emotional goodbye to Daisy and Hazel in 2020, author Robin Stevens has released four, never-seen-before short stories from the Murder Most Unladylike world. The Detective Society have got their hands full with the sinister new cases they need to solve but luckily their friends and Hazel’s sisters are around to help.
Endgame by Malorie Blackman (5 Aug)
Can you believe it’s been 20 years since we were first introduced to Sephy and Callum in Noughts & Crosses? The iconic and thought-provoking series has now come full circle in Endgame, and Malorie Blackman’s emotional finale is filled with twists, turns and dramatic conclusions. We hope you’re ready.
Poo Poo Bum Bum Wee Wee by Steven Cowell & Erica Salcedo (5 Aug)
Every toddler needs help feeling confident when first learning how to use the toilet. And this fun picture book with catchy rhymes is just the thing! Written with the help of parents, Poo Poo Bum Bum Wee Wee breaks down all the different stages from how to wipe to handwashing. It’s perfect for helping take the stress out of toilet training.
Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian (9 Sep)
Chloe is an ordinary university student, apart from that she’s also a diagnosed psychopath and is plotting to kill a childhood friend who wronged her. Chloe is part of a secret clinical study of young psychopaths; when a string on murders occurs on campus, it’s clear that all the victims are connected to the study, and that Chloe needs to put aside her personal vendetta to find the killer.
Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty (14 Sep)
The Big Little Lies author returns with a new novel. Apples Never Fall is about the Delaney family, who appear, from the outside, to be as close to perfect as can be. But when Joy Delaney, the matriarch of the family, disappears, her four adult children are forced to reassess their parents’ marriage and their upbringing with new eyes.
The Magician by Colm Tóibín (23 Sep)
Colm Tóibín’s new novel is about Thomas Mann, who was on the wrong side of history in the First World War, but had a clear vision of the future, anticipating the horrors of the Nazis in the Second World War. A father to six children, and a man who kept his homosexuality hidden, Mann wrote some of the greatest works of European literature. In this novel, Tóibín tells the story of the Twentieth Century through one man.
The Transgender Issue by Shon Faye (2 Sep)
Described as a "landmark work that signals the beginning of a new, healthier conversation about trans life”, Shon Faye’s The Transgender Issue aims to uncover the reality of what it means to be trans in a transphobic world. This book is a manifesto for a change and a call for justice and solidarity between all marginalised people.
The Hill We Climb and Other Poems by Amanda Gorman (21 Sep)
Inauguration Day poet Amanda Gorman’s debut collection is sure to gain the youngster more fans. The collection will include the poem she read at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, as well as new work.
Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang (30 Sep)
Qian Julie Wang was seven when she moved from China to America. Unable to speak English, her parents did all they could to survive, from labouring in sweatshops and sushi factories to scavenging the streets for furniture, while Qian battled loneliness and hunger at school. This memoir is about what it means to live under the threat of deportation, and how Qian lived and then escaped an invisible life.
Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout (21 Oct)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Elizabeth Strout returns to her heroine Lucy Barton in her newest novel. Lucy is a successful writer living in New York. While navigating the second half of her life as a recent widow and parent to two adult daughters, a surprise encounter leads to her to reconnect with her first husband William. Oh William! is a book about love, loss and family secrets.
Better Off Dead by Lee Child and Andrew Child (26 Oct)
Jack Reacher is back in this brand new thriller in the bestselling series from Lee Child and Andrew Child. Be prepared for relentless action, a gripping mystery, and a host of new enemies that Reacher must defeat.
Taste by Stanley Tucci (7 Oct)
Award-winning actor Stanley Tucci has already written two cookbooks, and now he shares his love of food in his memoir Taste. Going beyond recipes, Tucci’s book is filled with anecdotes about growing up in New York, preparing for and filming the foodie films Big Night and Julie & Julia, and falling in love over dinner.
Walking on Sunshine by Giovanna Fletcher (11 Nov)
Giovanna Fletcher’s new romance is sure to be the sunshine you need by winter.
Games & activities
It's nearly Father's Day so why not encourage your little one to make their own card for dad. We've got a Hey Duggee and Peppa Pig template for you to download. Use one or both!
From sport to history, thrillers to gardening, here are ten great gift ideas for any father figures in your life.