Feature image credit: @the.caffeinated.reader

There’s always something so exciting about starting a new year especially when we get to make our book club reading plan, too! There are a lot of exciting books coming out in 2021, but these picks are perfect for your next book club selection because regardless of the genre, they’re thought-provoking and easy to discuss.

It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake by Claire Christian

If your book club is the place you go to vent about the pressures of daily life, then you can escape with Noni’s story about leaving it all behind. Noni Blake is a queer, plus-sized woman finding her place in this crazy world. Much of her storyline is related to Christian’s own life, who desired to make a book with all women represented.

Faye, Faraway by Helen Fisher

Faye, Faraway is magical realism at its finest and will give you all the feels. Married with two girls, thirty-seven-year-old Faye makes it a priority to let her daughters know daily that they are loved beyond measure. Because she lost her own mother thirty years prior, she always wants to make sure her children have the mother’s love that she always longed for. All of a sudden, Faye finds herself traveling back in time to connect with her mom and the two develop an emotional bond. Wrapped up in this new relationship, she knows the time is coming for her to choose to stay in the past or return to her present. As you follow her on this adventure, you’ll experience it all – love, loss, grief, and goodness.

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

Taking up space in his mother’s brownstone, twenty-two-year-old Darren is perfectly content working at Starbucks, hanging out with his girlfriend, and getting three square meals a day on his mom’s dime. However, his mom would like nothing more than to see him do something more productive with his time. Out of the blue, Darren meets Rhett Daniels, CEO of New York’s latest startup. Before he knows it, he’s working as a salesman who reinvents himself as Buck – the only Black salesperson in the company. His alter-ego is on a mission to inspire people of color to join the sales force and live up to their full potential. This story will have you laughing and crying, but most importantly, leave you feeling inspired. 

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

It’s 1934 in Texas and things have taken a turn for the worst for the farmers trying to stay afloat during the Depression. While dangerous dust storms coat the land with dirt, crops continue to fail from the paralyzing drought. With so many out of work in the Great Plains, Elsa Martinelli, along with many other members of her community, must decide to stay and fight or head west to California for a chance to begin again. This story truly captures the essence of a fearless female who shows us that the only choice we really have is to be strong. 

What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster

Racial tensions are running at an all-time high in Piedmont, North Carolina when Black students from the east side of town start to integrate into the predominately white schools on the west. When students Noelle and Gee decide to take part in the school play in an effort to begin closing the gap between the old and the new, a chain of events begins that will connect their families for years to come. What’s Mine and Yours takes an honest look at how the past may shape us but it does not have to divide us. The complexity of family, friendship, and love will take you on a path of seeing different perspectives and ultimately choosing inclusion.  

Publication Date: March 2, 2021

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

For those book clubs that like to drink wine between the lines or simply have an appreciation for magical potions, this gem is for you! In eighteenth-century London, hidden away from the mainstream, was a secret apothecary shop. Almost like a speakeasy, this store wasn’t for everyone; in fact, there was a specific audience searching for these magical elixirs. Women would seek out Nella’s concoctions to use against oppressive men in their lives. However, things spiral out of control with one mistake, leaving a tangled mess that will take years to clean up. This story will take you down the rabbit hole of both suspenseful revenge and the solidarity of sisterhood with every page turned. 

Publication Date: March 2, 2021

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

As Carmen, an immigrant from Cuba, struggles with the separation of her home and her own mother, she is now trying to be the best mom to Jeanette, who is battling addiction. As Jeanette struggles to understand the chaos that colors their lives, she makes the decision to visit her grandmother in Cuba to get answers. This story of addiction, immigration, and generations of strong women will take you on a journey through the hardships and experiences that have shaped the lives of these ladies. This heart wrenching tale examines how choices have consequences and takes a deep, meaningful look at the things that define us. 

Publication Date: March 30, 2021

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth 

This story is full of suspense and secrets as it tells the tale of two sisters tangled up in a complicated web. Fern is the quiet one who would rather stay at home on the couch on a Saturday night, while all Rose can think about is having children. Although these two don’t have much in common, they are extremely close. However, they are keeping things from each other that result in a dark turn as deception comes to light. This page turner will leave you guessing and questioning how strong these family ties really are. 

Publication Date: April 13, 2021

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This mid-year release is the novel we didn’t know we needed this summer! When it comes to throwing their annual end-of-summer bash, money is no obstacle for these four famous siblings. Nina, Jay, Kit, and Hud know how to party and the most anticipated night of the season is about to kick off. But when the alcohol starts flowing and secrets are revealed, things go up in flames – literally, as their Malibu mansion gets burned to the ground. Truly a night that nobody will forget, this story of fame and family will keep you guessing until the very end. 

Publication Date: May 25, 2021

Version Zero by David Yoon

For those book clubs who love a good thriller, this novel is for you. Max works for a social media company called Wren and has seen firsthand the dark underbelly of the virtual world. He starts to question the integrity of the data mining and ends up losing his job in the process. Instead of getting mad, he wants to get even and become a social media superhero to save humanity from falling victim to big tech. With time to kill, Max recruits his unrequited love, Akiko, to help him break the internet. Little do they know that sometimes when things break, they end up being irreparable.  

Publication Date: May 25, 2021

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

Libertie, a girl coming of age as a free-born Black girl in Reconstruction Era Brooklyn, finds solace in music rather than the science that her mother tries to push on her so that Libertie can practice medicine beside her. As she gets older, a man from Haiti proposes to her and promises that when they marry that she will be his equal in all aspects. Once she accepts, she realizes that she is still in the minority as a Black woman on the island as well as back home. Libertie strives to find her freedom and truly understand it, for herself and for future generations.

Publication Date: March 30, 2021

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Determined to break out of the mold the film franchise has put her in, Hadley Baxter decides to star in a film about a pilot named Marian who went missing in Antarctica. Determined to put herself fully into the role, she learns more about Marian. Over a century ago, Marian discovered her love for flying while she lived with her uncle and brother. She dropped out of school when she was fourteen and received lessons from a dangerous, yet wealthy, bootlegger in order to achieve her dream of flying over the North and South poles. As Hadley immerses herself into Marian’s past and finds that the two women’s fates are similar, even though time and place separate them.

Publication Date: May 4, 2021

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

As the only Black employee at Wagner Books, Nella Rogers feels isolated and faces microaggressions every day. When Hazel, a Harlem-bred and born woman, comes into work as a new editorial assistant, Nella is overjoyed to have someone to bond with and talk to. However, Hazel is quickly elevated as the Office Darling and leaves Nella to be alone again. When threatening notes start appearing on Nella’s desk, telling her to leave Wagner immediately, she assumes that Hazels left the notes behind but soon realizes that more may be in danger than her employment. 

Publication Date: June 1, 2021

Long Division by Kiese Laymon

After becoming an overnight Youtube sensation due to his meltdown on live TV, City Coldson is sent to live with his grandmother in Melahatchie. He is given a book called Long Divison and discovers that the main character has the same name as him, even though it’s set during 1985. This character and his friend, Shalaya Crump, discover a way to travel into the future and steal a laptop and cellphone from Baize Shephard, who is currently missing in 2013 City’s time. They take these electronics to 1964, where they help a fellow time traveler protect his family from the Klan. Soon, the two stories converge and help City figure out Baize’s disappearance. 

Publication Date: June 1, 2021

everyman by M Shelly Conner

Eve Mann has always been curious about the life of her mysterious mother who died while giving birth to her and is determined to learn more about herself and her heritage. Set with the backdrop of the civil rights and Black Power movements, Eve delves into her past with the help of her friends, aunts, and the strangers she meets along the way. Her search leads to a multigenerational story filled with love, acceptance, and pain that helps her find herself, her past, and her name. 

Publication Date: July 20, 2021

China Room by Sunjeev Sahota

In 1929, Mehar and two other girls are married to three brothers in a single ceremony, without ever learning which man is their husband. The three women work in the family’s china room and aren’t allowed to interact with their husbands until they are summoned by their domineering mother-in-law during the dark of night. Mehar is determined to figure out which man is her husband, and her discovery sets a series of events in motion. Seventy years later, a young man takes refuge in his uncle’s home in Punjab to overcome his addiction. While there, he discovers a locked china room and begins to discover himself and his family’s past. 

Publication Date: July 13, 2021

The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam

As a talented coder, Asha Ray is set to revolutionize artificial intelligence with the help of her high school crush Cyrus. With the two of them together, she comes up with a new algorithm, which leads to her dropping out of her Ph.D. program, marrying Cyrus, and starting work at Utopia, an exclusive tech incubator. On top of this whirlwind of events, Asha and Cyrus must work together to keep their relationship stable under the pressures of fame, especially with the pressure of her being overshadowed by the man everyone is now calling the new messiah. 

Publication Date: July 13, 2021

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

Twin sisters Inti and Aggie travel to Scotland in order to reintroduce fourteen grey wolves into the remote Highlands with the goal of healing the land and themselves. Inti starts to let her guard down and gives herself permission to fall in love as the wolves surprise everyone by thriving. When a farmer is found dead, Inti refuses to believe that the wolves are to blame and puts herself at risk to protect them. She finds herself in further conflict when the man she loves is considered a prime suspect. Questions are raised and fingers are pointed as everyone tries to figure out who or what the murderer is. 

Publication Date: August 3, 2021

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Set in three different time periods, this story follows the lives of a thirteen-year-old girl living during the siege of Constantinople, an old man, a troubled teenager in present-day Idaho, and a girl living on an interstellar ship in the future. All of their stories are connected by the story of Aethon, a man who longs to be a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. The novel’s characters relate to each other as dreamers and outsiders who have hope during their darkest time and deliver an inspiring story about the human heart. 

Publication Date: September 28, 2021

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Best friends Alice and Eileen are traveling to two different places in the world and encounter the reality of life and the fragility of relationships. When Alice meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, she invites him to travel with her to Rome. While Eileen is in Dublin, she attempts to get over a breakup by flirting with Simon, who she has known since they were children. These four characters realize that life is catching up with them and spend time figuring out their place in the world and with each other. 

Publication Date: September 7, 2021

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

To his customers and neighbors, Carney seems to have a great, carefree life with a successful furniture business and a loving family. What they don’t know is that his family descends from uptown hoods and crooks and that he lives a double life. When Carney gets caught up in a heist that goes wrong involving his cousin Freddie, his work of keeping up a double life becomes harder as he starts to deal with newer, shadier customers. He must avoid getting killed, saving his cousin, and getting his share as he maintains his sterling reputation, but how long can he keep it up? 

Publication Date: September 14, 2021

Fault Lines by Emily Itami 

Mizuki lives as the ideal Japanese housewife, with a hardworking husband, two children, and a house to maintain. But is it what she truly wants? Inside her home, her husband doesn’t speak to her and she has recurring thoughts of jumping off a bridge instead of continuing her life as it is. When she meets Kiyoshi, she rediscovers love for her city, freedom, friendship, and love. She must choose between her two lives, but is torn between choosing the life she has already made with her family or a life of freedom. 

Publication Date: September 7, 2021

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

Now sixty-three, Lucy Barton looks back at her past, especially at her time with her first husband William, the father of their two grown daughters. The two are still close and have leaned on each other during times of need, even though the two have moved on and created lives for themselves. She recounts her college years, their first meeting, the birth of their daughters, and their eventual falling out in this heartfelt tribute to the life and those who are closest to us. 

Publication Date: October 19, 2021

The Cabinet by Un-Su Kim

Mr. Kong is in charge of maintaining Cabinet 13, a seemingly ordinary filing cabinet. The drawers are filled with stories of symptomers, or humans who have strange abilities and encounter even stranger experiences that may mark the start of a new species. The files bring the reader along on fascinating stories that blur the lines between reality, fiction, fantasy, and science fiction.

Publication Date: October 12, 2021

These Precious Days: Essays by Ann Patchett

In Ann Patchett’s collection of essays, she recounts stories of her past and present experiences. The title essay follows Patcheet after she meets Tom Hanks’ assistant, Sooki, and the two become friends. She recounts their time as friends, even during the global pandemic, and their correspondence between the two. Along with this essay, she brings readers along through her thought process of writing The Dutch House, her childhood memories of Paris, the cherished gifts from her three fathers, and much more. 

Publication Date: November 23, 2021

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

Travis Wren, a man who has a strange talent of being able to find missing people, is tasked with finding Maggie St. James. His clues lead him to a place that shouldn’t exist, a commune called Pastoral that was founded in the 1970s by people who strived to find a simpler way of life. Soon, he disappears just like Maggie St. James did. Years later, longtime commune member Theo finds Travis’ truck beyond the border of the community. He’s always learned that no one is allowed in or out, especially with the risk of bringing disease in. As he starts to investigate, Theo starts to uncover secrets that threaten everything that he and his family have ever learned.

Publication Date: December 7, 2021