My 5 Most Anticipated Books of 2021

This is a list of five books which I am eager to read in 2021. As usual, I am drawing attention to books from different genres: (i) literary fiction; (ii) non-fiction; (iii) thriller; (iv) dark mystery/horror; and (v) historical fiction.

I. Klara & The Sun [2021] by Kazuo Ishiguro

This is the first novel by Kazuo Ishiguro since he won his Nobel Prize in Literature in 2017. The Penguin Random House says on its website that this new novel “tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her. Klara and the Sun is a thrilling book that offers a look at our changing world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator, and one that explores the fundamental question: what does it mean to love?“. Obviously, my expectations are sky high regarding this book and I think Ishiguro can pull this one off beautifully since he previously distinguished himself as the author of a literary “dystopia” Never Let Me Go [2005] and his books often emphasise the pains of love and missed opportunities. My only hope is that he would not follow the path of Ian McEwan and his Machines Like Me [2019] and keep his narrative “grounded” and “subtle”.

Klara & The Sun is released on 2 March 2021.

II. When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep [2021] by Antonio Zadra & Robert Stickgold

There are probably hundreds of books such as this one published (or trying to get published) each year, but for a long time now I have wanted to re-introduce myself to the science of sleep and dreaming, and it looks like this book can provide some up-to-date information. The shocking thing (at least for me) is that scientists seem to be asking the same questions now, in 2020, about sleep and dreaming that Greek philosophers were asking in the 6th century BC: “why do we dream?”, “do dreams have any meaning and connection to reality?”, “what could be their true purpose”?, etc. We are simply nowhere near to solving the riddle of dreams. Goodreads says: “When Brains Dream addresses…core questions about dreams while illuminating the most up-to-date science in the field… [it also] debunks common myths; that we only dream in REM sleep, for example—while acknowledging the mysteries that persist…When Brains Dream reveals recent discoveries about the sleeping brain and the many ways in which dreams are psychologically, and neurologically, meaningful experiences; explores a host of dream-related disorders; and explains how dreams can facilitate creativity….“.

When Brains Dream is due to be published on 12 January 2021.

IIL Bullet Train [2021] by Kotaro Isaka

This is a Japanese thriller and a bestseller in Japan first published in the original language in 2010. The story is about five killers who find themselves on a bullet train (shinkansen) from Tokyo competing for a suitcase full of money. The question is who will make it to the last station? The book is now being remade into a film starring Brad Pitt in the leading role. Why do I want to read it? Japanese thrillers are almost always original and criminally-underappreciated. I love the fact that this thriller takes place in one enclosed location – on one moving train – and will involve a number of people interacting with each, trying to uncover each other’s secrets. That may lead to interesting psychological situations.

Bullet Train will be released by Harvill Secker imprint on 1 April 2021 (UK).

IV. All’s Well [2021] by Mona Awad

I will be honest. I did not get along with Mona Awad’s previous book Bunny [2019] all all. I found the book trying and had a hard time finishing it, even though the synopsis appealed to me. I am more than prepared to give the author a second chance and the premise of her new book – All’s Well – sounds interesting, with an intriguing character study, dark humour and plenty of Shakespeare! It is even marketed as “horror”, apparently. This book is about “a theatre professor suffering chronic pain, who in the process of staging a troubled production of Shakespeare’s most maligned play, suddenly and miraculously recovers.” It is also said of the book that “with prose Margaret Atwood has described as “no punches pulled, no hilarities dodged…genius,” Mona Awad has concocted her most potent, subversive novel yet. All’s Well is the story of a woman at her breaking point and a formidable, piercingly funny indictment of our collective refusal to witness and believe female pain (Goodreads).

All’s Well is to be published on 3 August 2021. 

V. The Four Winds [2021] by Kristin Hannah

This book is by the author of The Great Alone [2018] and The Nightingale [2015], and I am particularly interested in reading it because it set during the Great Depression of the US. Goodreads says: “Texas, 1934…In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbours—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation“.

The Four Winds‘s publication date is 9 February 2021.

Do any of the books above look interesting to you? What book releases are you looking forward to?


34 thoughts on “My 5 Most Anticipated Books of 2021

  1. I’m really looking forward to the Ishiguro too – I’ve already ordered my copy. The Hannah looks very interesting. I might add the Isaka to my Japanese Literature Challenge list although I don’t usually read thrillers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great news – I just read an advance copy of Bullet Train. I can confirm that it’s an excellent and memorable thriller! But you have to wait until March for my review 😉 The new book from Ishiguro sounds really interesting, I’d like to read it.

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  3. Goodness, I didn’t know Kazuo Ishiguro had a new book coming. My expectations to a new Ishiguro are of course sky high, and I’m afraid it will never be able to live up to that. But I’m definitely excited, especially since AI is one of my favourite topics. Actually, all of the above sound great. Japanese crime / thriller is a genre I mean to look into in 2021. The Devotion of Suspect X will be my first attempt, but Bullet Train intrigues me as well.

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  4. I have an ARC of The Four Winds, but I haven’t read it yet. I am not as crazy about Kristin Hannah as most everyone else, sadly. But, the Ishiguro! I can’t wait to read his latest work, especially fitting it into the Japanese Literature Challenge 14.😌

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ooh! That brain & sleep book sounds like just the ticket. I’ve been looking for a scientific book on sleep. I wish the author had written nonfiction previously, though…I’m reluctant to preorder without being able to get an idea for their writing style!

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  6. Wonderful books, Diana! Love the title and the cover of ‘The Four Winds’! ‘Bullet Train’ looks very fascinating! Would love to read! So nice to know that Kazuo Ishiguro is coming out with a new book! Looks like literary sci-fi! Happy reading! Will look forward to your thoughts!

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  7. Great list! I found Awad’s Bunny weird but entertaining, so her upcoming release is on my radar as well. I didn’t know about the new Kristin Hannah book, but I really liked The Great Alone and am intrigued by the great depression setting so I’ll have to keep an eye out for that. And Bullet Train sounds excellent, I’ll definitely make a note to check that one out!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nice list. I have so many books that I already want to read that I’m not looking ahead but it’s fun reading your post. It reminded me that I still want to read Nightingale. Bullet Train sounds perfect for my daughter so that may go on my wishlist for her.

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  9. Such an exciting post. I love the sound of these, and am in such need of a new book. Thanks so much!! I’m gonna start with, “When Brains Dream,” and will put a library hold on “Klara and The Sun” for when that comes out March 2nd!

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        1. I can’t wait to read it! and it is great to hear you remembered your dreams. I remember for a long time in the past I used to remember each and every dream I had the night before – it got to the point when I sought help on how to NOT remember my dreams because I always woke up overburdened with all this information and events happening in my dreams (they were vivid, dramatic and intense narratively as though I lived a thousand lives in one night). Now it is better for me and it might have something to do with the medication I was taking at that time. I had lucid dreams spontaneously too, but I don’t anymore 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. That sounds intense! Must’ve been awful not being able to escape them, being encumbered by their content, and spending so much time lost in them! Do you feel like they were instructive at all now? Were you able to work through any of them with a psychologist or with anyone, maybe yourself in a satisfying way? Or did you feel like they were just pure burden to you. I wish I could Lucid dream 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Most of them were not “useful”, but to tell you the truth, some of my dreams were close to some pure transcendental experience. I still remember vividly the gorgeous play of colour and beautiful views onto some otherworldly places. I obviously could not put this into words or describe it in a coherent manner. That is the thing with dreams, I found. I wake up with lots of intense feelings, impressions and I feel “wisdom” or “knowledge” gathered sometimes through them, but if someone asks me “what was it all about?” I obviously could not tell anything coherently. There was a lot of action and drama in them, but, in the morning I am only left with intense feelings, convictions and impressions of things and people. I do feel like a changed person on some subconscious level, though. I hope all that does not sound too crazy? 🙂

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