2020 was filled with screens. We watched TV shows incessantly, even the bad ones. (Might I remind you of Too Hot to Handle and Tiger King?) We sat at our computers, hastily emailing and messaging our coworkers. We endured Zoom calls for any and every occasion and meeting, even the ones that most definitely could have been an email. And yes, we doomscrolled. If we've ever needed an excuse to indulge in a really good book (we don't!), now is the time. Thankfully, 2021 is brimming with page-turners, must-reads, and novels that will make you ache over effortlessly refined sentence structure (just me?). That's why we've rounded up our favorite fiction picks of the new year. If it's out now, snag your copy; if not, get ready to prepare to pre-order.
Welcome to the new feminist frontier, literally. Anna North's provocative Western follows Ada, a 17-year-old who has to flee her town after she's unable to get pregnant a year into marriage. It features everything you ever wanted in a read: Queer cowgirls, a group of feminist outlaws, heists, and so much more. Think The Handmaid’s Tale meets season one of Westworld.
Marie Claire's February #ReadWithMC pick grapples with self-identity, queer parenting, and polyamorous relationships, all of which debut author Torrey Peters handles with dexterity and empathy. The writing is witty and exacting, the plot is raw and messy, the culmination is one you won't be able to put down.
Nothing like a psychological thriller to kick off a new year that is hopefully not as psychologically disturbing as last year. In Ashley Audrain's pulsating fiction, a new mother begins to suspect not all is right with her baby.
This reimagined, modern adaptation of Jane Eyre trades in gothic mystery for Southern secrecy. In Rachel Hawkins' latest page-turner, expect the forbidden romance you loved in the original tale with all the modern, shiny trimmings.
So this one is actually not a fiction book, but we couldn't not include—it's that good. Nadia Owusu's powerful memoir chronicles her nomadic childhood and, perhaps an even more complicated journey, the one to self-discovery.
Welcome to the existential crisis we're all going through. You know, the paralyzing, catatonic state you enter when endlessly scrolling the social media void? Author Patricia Lockwood has captured that feeling. In her latest, a social media celebrity travels the world and becomes increasingly sucked into her virtual reality—until a shocking text brings her back to the real world. Meta yet relatable and sharp, you will be talking about No One Is Talking About This.
I'm sensing a theme here. In Lauren Oyler's Fake Accounts, social media serves as plot glue. The night before Donald Trump's inauguration in 2016, a young woman discovers her boyfriend is an infamous internet conspiracy theorist. Subversive and irreverent, Fake Accounts might finally compel you to swear off internet lurking...or make you lurk even more.
Author Naima Coster has achieved a rare thing: She's written a book both timely and timeless, one that transcends era and audience. Traversing perspectives and timelines, the reader follows two different families from North Carolina after their lives inextricably collide.
Obsessive calorie counter Rachel harnesses her compulsive energy into a fascination with Miriam, an Orthodox Jewish woman who works at a frozen yogurt shop. Dangerously delicious and utterly idiosyncratic, Milk Fed is the honest, compelling convergence of diet culture, religion, and sex that we've been craving.
Set in the ritzy, rapidly gentrifying beach town of Baxter Beach, Barbados, this novel examines issues of class, race, and lessons taught (and disobeyed) over generations. A plot driven by page-turning crime is balanced with subtle charter studies, making How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House just as thrilling as it is poignant.