What to Read in 2021 Based on What You Loved in 2020

It’s not always easy to choose a book among the thousands of new releases every year—and that’s without even counting the vast backlist available to us as readers! We’re here to help, with some examples of big books from 2020 and what you might enjoy from this year’s offerings of related audiobooks. Read on for our recommendations on what to read next!


If you liked Uncanny Valley, you’ll love Fake Accounts.

If you liked reading about the tech industry in the memoir Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener, you might want to explore the role of technology in our lives from another angle in the novel Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler.

“It’s a fun story with lots to say about the incessant self-branding and impossible unreliability of our lives spent increasingly online.”

Edward, bookseller at The Literate Lizard bookstore

If you liked My Dark Vanessa, you’ll love Dark Horses.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell was a dark and disturbing read about the possible abuse of a teenage girl. A counterpart to that from 2021 is Dark Horses by Susan Mihalic.

“[a] heart-pounding, can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it debut novel.”

O, The Oprah Magazine

If you liked Set My Heart to Five, you’ll love Remote Control.

If you enjoyed exploring the near future in Set My Heart to Five by Simon Stephenson and want to go deeper into science fiction and fantasy, why not try Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor?

“[Nnedi Okorafor’s] amazing ability to blend traditional African stories and themes with hardcore science fiction is spectacular.” 

Annie, bookseller at The Neverending Bookshop

If you liked The Last Story of Mina Lee, you’ll love Infinite Country.

Themes of family and immigration are explored beautifully in both The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim and Patricia Engel’s 2021 novel, Infinite Country. It was named a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 from Esquire, O, The Oprah Magazine, Elle, New York Post, The Millions, Electric Literature, Lit Hub, AARP, Refinery29, BuzzFeed, Autostraddle, She Reads, Alma, and more.

“An exquisitely told story of family, war, and migration, this is a novel our increasingly divided country wants and needs to read.”

R.O. Kwon, Electric Literature

If you liked Weather, you’ll love Sorrow and Bliss.

If experimental fiction and existential crises are your jam, you’ll likely have enjoyed Weather by Jenny Offill. If you haven’t yet picked up Normal People by Sally Rooney, grab that quick, and your next read afterwards should be Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason.

“Brutal, tender, funny….I saw myself here. I saw the people I love. I am changed by this book.” 

Mary Beth Keane, author

If you liked Clap When You Land, you’ll love Chlorine Sky.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo was a great coming of age novel-in-verse, and an excellent 2021 follow-up is Chlorine Sky by Mahogany Browne.

“Mahogany L. Browne’s debut YA is an absolute masterpiece. It will leave you breathless.”

Elizabeth Acevedo, author

If you liked Me and White Supremacy, you’ll love Do Better.

Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad was full of practical mindful steps we can all take to dismantle racist structures. Do Better by Rachel Ricketts makes for a great follow-up.

“a healing balm for a society that has long needed a new perspective and approach to an ancient problem that has been ignored, denied, un-addressed, and unhealed.” 

Inyala Vanzant, author

If you liked Long Bright River, you’ll love Girl A.

If grizzly thrillers about a disappeared young girl are your thing, you probably loved Long Bright River by Liz Moore. In 2021, try Girl A by Abigail Dean, called “a stunning debut” by the Washington Post.

Fantastic—I loved it.”

Paula Hawkins, author

If you liked Dolly Parton, Songteller, you’ll love Just As I Am.

For a memoir of an American icon, you could do no better last year than Dolly Parton, Songteller. This year, we have Just As I Am by the late Cicely Tyson to sink our teeth into.

“[Cicely Tyson] tells her story the way only a Black woman can: in all of its dazzling authenticity, heels off and voice undulating, shifting between anguish and exuberance.”

Viola Davis, actress and producer

If you liked The Office of Historical Corrections, you’ll love Milk Blood Heat.

For insightful, contemporary short stories, in the vein of last year’s The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans, 2021 has Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz to offer us.

“With widely differing characters, voices, and settings, each story makes its own unique contribution to the collection, yet each propels the reader onward in turn. Dantiel W. Moniz is a jaw-dropping new star on the literary stage.”

Audrey, bookseller at River Bend Bookshop

You can find even more 2021 reads to look forward to on our list of 18 Books to Pre-Order Before This Spring.

Claire Handscombe is a British writer who moved to Washington, DC, in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA in Creative Writing, but really, let’s be honest, because of an obsession with The West Wing. She is the host of the Brit Lit Podcast, a monthly show about news and views from UK books and publishing; the author of Unscripted, a novel about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan; and the editor of Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives.

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