Staff Picks: What We’re Excited to Read in 2021

One of the best things about a new year is looking forward to what you’ll be able to fill it with—sometimes, that includes trips; sometimes, life goals, like completing a course of study. And the good news is that whatever is going on in the world around us or in our own internal worlds, it can always include books.

Here, members of the team share what they’re most excited to read this year, whether that’s new releases, or older books they’ve had on their to-be-read list forever.

The Ugly Cry: A Memoir by Danielle Henderson

Danielle is one of my favorite follows on social media.  She’s a TV writer, a former editor for Rookie and the genius behind Feminist Ryan Gosling. I love listening to memoirs on audio, and can’t wait to listen to hers about growing up “Black and weird, before weird was cool, in a mostly white neighborhood in upstate New York” when it comes out in June. 

—Albee, Publicity Director

Dune by Frank Herbert

I love science fiction, but I tend to prioritize reading nonfiction books because I love learning about new things. Not this year, though. Dune has been on my TBR list for far too long, and I want to listen to it before the movie comes out.

—Jenna, Senior Content Marketing Manager

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Every book I have read by Rivers Solomon has been an innovation in my favorite genre, a new, unnamed category, at once divorced in all practical ways from our reality and closely coupled with the problems our society faces every day. The way Rivers’ work elaborates and speculates on the present and future legacy of slavery in the US is at once beautiful and harrowing. I am looking forward to Sorrowland specifically because it is about an individual’s journey to accept their own metamorphoses into something people see as monstrous. As Rivers and I are both non-binary, I am looking forward to using their insight to uncover more about my own identity.

Avery, Android Developer

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

I devoured both of Rooney’s other novels—Normal People and Conversations with Friends. I’ve been anxiously awaiting another book from her ever since, so I was very excited for the announcement that I only have to wait until September!

—Jenna, Software developer

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Despite being an avid fiction reader, this year I’m making it a priority to read nonfiction books that help me rethink my relationship with land and inform myself more about ecology and our environment. I’m extremely excited to read this book because of Kimmerer’s goal to intersect her wealth of academic knowledge as a botanist and professor of ecology with her lived experiences and family history as a Potawatomi woman. I’m interested in learning more about her proposition of a ‘reciprocal relationship’ with the world to reframe the way I position myself with land, plants, and animals.

-Priya, Software Developer

The Dead are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne & Tamara Payne

I enjoy learning history through nonfiction audiobooks, and I often gravitate toward literary-award-winners as a way to find a book. The Dead are Arising won the 2020 National Book Award for Nonfiction, and I’m looking forward to learning more about Malcolm X.

In 2020, I listened to two other Pulitzer Prize-winners that I highly recommend: Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight and The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson.

-Mike Kelleher, Audiobook Sampler & General Counsel

The Core by Peter V. Brett

I’ve slowly been working my way through the Demon Cycle series by Peter V. Brett for the last few years. It is such an imaginative world that he has created and one of the first series that really got me hooked on sci-fi and fantasy novels. It’s taken a lot of personal strength to not binge through all five books, though I won’t blame you if you do.

—Nick, Creative Director

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

David Epstein is a gifted storyteller and narrator Will Damron is one of the best in the business. It has been on my TBR list ever listening to a conversation Epstein had with Malcolm Gladwell at the 92nd Street Y. Bill Gates featured the book on his end-of-year recommendations list so I’m late to the party. Epstein is also a member and strong supporter of independent bookstores. I’m looking forward to learning about how to “cultivate inefficiency” in a day and age where that wisdom seems counterintuitive. 

—Mark, CEO

Boundless: Upgrade Your Brain, Body, and Defy Aging by Ben Greenfield 

While the 41 hours of listening seems daunting, Ben Greenfield has studied every aspect of human health and optimization, providing a detailed blueprint in Boundless. With physical and mental health being so ever important as we navigate a global pandemic and the other modern stressors of daily life–and being a health and fitness nerd myself–I can’t wait to dig in and toggle between the audio and print version of this book. 

—Stephanie, Director of Marketing 

The Museum of Whales You Will Never See by A. Kendra Green

I’m an avid traveler and a lot of my own writing is on travel, so on a purely personal level one of the things that I’ve missed during the pandemic has been exploring new places. One of my solaces last year was reading a lot of travel works and I plan to continue in 2021. First up will be The Museum of Whales You Will Never See by Kendra Greene, which is a collection of essays detailing the curiosities of Iceland’s small museums. I’m also eager to read more William Least Heat-Moon, whom I first read last year. After that, I’ll be picking up the posthumous release of Anthony Bourdain’s World Travel this spring and I’ve been patiently awaiting In Open Country by Rahawa Haile for years, so I’m planning to pre-order it so I have it as soon as it’s available this fall.

—Judy, Social Media Consultant

Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz

I love short stories. Even before the pandemic and both the metaphorical fires and literal fires that this past year wrought, they were a quick balm for a distracting world. I appreciate how careful and intentional they need to be with their prose and world-building, and each story is typically the length of a dog walk on audio. I also write them, and it’s energizing to see how other writers—debut and seasoned—make the form stretch. I heard Dantiel speak on a panel back in July and have been waiting for this release ever since.

—Kelsey, Content Marketing Manager

Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad

I thoroughly enjoy reading nonfiction books, especially memoirs. This book is about Suleika Jaouad’s journey of healing and learning to live again after her three and a half year battle with cancer. It’s also a book about exploration. After recovery, Suleika took a 15,000 mile solo journey across the country in which she not only explored the land, but also explored what it means to live with her newfound perspective. Being a road trip junkie myself, I’m even more drawn to this book and I’m looking forward to reading it when it’s published.

—Waleed, iOS Developer

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I read Anxious People this last year, and I absolutely love the way Backman writes. He weaves little details throughout his work that end up revealing so much about his characters and human nature in general. I’m excited to listen to some of his other audiobooks, including A Man Called Ove.

—Madi, Product Manager

Get In Trouble by Kelly Link

While it certainly isn’t new—Get In Trouble, which was a Pulitzer finalist for Fiction in 2016, came out five years ago—I haven’t gotten to read it yet (my backlog is sizable) so it’s my selection. My reading habits tend toward shorter forms, and Link is one of the finest, most unique voices in modern American short fiction. After publishing Stranger Things Happen in 2001 and Magic for Beginners in 2005, Link stepped away from “adult” short stories for a decade until Get In Trouble in 2015, but the hallmarks of her work remain the same: blending concepts from “genre fiction” like fantasy, sci-fi, and horror with more traditional contemporary fiction narratives to create circumstances that are surreal but also immediately knowable, darkly humorous, and emotionally complex. 

—Davin, Android Developer

Explore all these picks in our Staff Picks playlist:

What are you most excited to read in 2021? Let us know in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *