Author Sophie Hannah reminded me that when I curse an inanimate object for getting in my way, causing me to smash my toes or bruise my elbow, it is, after all, not the inanimate object’s fault. In an article listing her favorite books for the new year, Hannah notes: “I’ve heard many say good riddance to 2020 and I understand why, but it also makes me want to correct the misunderstanding. A year is a moral-value-free and agenda-free unit of time. It has neither agency nor culpability. It’s merely a container inside which we have experiences.”
She suggests you start your 2021 reading with Abigail Dean’s Girl A – a psychological drama about a girl whose new life starts when she escapes from an abusive family. “It’s a riveting page-turner, and full of hope in the face of despair.” Publication: February 2
Fans of Kristin Hannah will be happy to know she has a new book – The Four Winds – set in the depression era of 1934 Texas. Elsa Martinelli must make the choice between the land she loves and moving west in search of a better life. Publication: February 2, 2021
Here are a few more books to look forward to in 2021:
Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishaguro focuses on what it means to be human in his new novel Klara and the Seed. Klara, an Artificial Friend, smiles and nods to customers in the store while tracking each day by the sun’s arc. When a mother and daughter adopt Klara, repressed emotion springs open, fleshing out Ishiguro’s themes of resilience and vulnerability in our crazy world. Publication: March 2, 2021
Remember The Nest? The author Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney returns with her next novel in Good Company, a tale of a marriage in mid-life and the secrets that threaten to upend the relationship between Flora and her husband, as well as with her best friend, Margot. Publication Date: April 6, 2021
Chris Bohjalian returns with a new thriller in Hour of the Witch. In Boston in 1662, A young Puritan woman plots her escape from an abusive marriage while being careful to avoid any accusations of witchcraft. April 20, 2021
The first novel in nearly a decade by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahira, Whereabouts is set in an unnamed city with the story’s first-person narrator a single woman in her mid-40s. Lahiri wrote the novel in Italian and translated it into English. Publication: April 27, 2021
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead is an historical novel about a female aviator at the turn of the twentieth century whose disappearance becomes the basis for a big Hollywood production a century later. Publication: May 4, 2021
Jean Hanff Korelitz, whose book You Should Have Known became the basis for the HBO series The Undoing, returns with another tale of deceit and betrayal. Jake, looking for his next bestseller, tries literary theft to rise to stardom in The Plot. Publication: May 11, 2021
More books to come. Ann Patchett is promising a collection of essays in November, and Beatriz Williams has a new historical fiction in June.
Finally, back to author Sophie Hannah for a final recommendation – The Enchiridion by Epictetus
Epictetus was a slave and a Stoic who believed that “men are disturbed not by the things that happen, but by the opinions about the things”. We can’t control what happens in the world, or even to our own bodies, but Epictetus believes we can always control our own minds by, for example, deciding to …be at peace with whatever we cannot prevent from happening.
I just ordered the paperback for $1.99 but you can get it for free on Project Gutenberg.
Looking forward to next year and more great books…
Happy New Year!