Best books of 2021

Reviews

Meena Harris, the author of “Ambitious Girl,” is the niece of Vice President Kamala Harris and founder of the social awareness organization Phenomenal.

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Which books released in 2021 are best?

Books are many things to people — a great escape from the day, an incredible resource about a new topic or just something to make us laugh, cry or talk about. From mysteries to adventures to non-fiction, there’s a great book for everyone. These best books of 2021 will fill people’s homes with options they’ll want to read this year and beyond. Readers who need a place to put these books can take a look at the full bookshelves buying guide from BestReviews.

Books to read in 2021

"World Travel" by Anthony Bourdain

“World Travel” by Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain’s final book is hands-down the best book of the year. It serves as both a guide to travel destinations around the world and a fond farewell to the iconic chef. Bourdain delivers tips and tales with his usual sardonic grace, while essays and comments from those close to him add extra insight. In a year when readers haven’t been able to travel, this book is a first-class trip.

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"Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created ‘Sundays in the Park with George’” by James Lapine

“Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created ‘Sundays in the Park with George’” by James Lapine

For theater buffs, this is a chance to hear the inside story about one of Broadway’s classic productions directly from the co-creator. If you’re not a theater fan, this book will make you one. Lapine is a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner who strikes the right balance between revealing inside stories and telling a great tale of two creative people looking for, and finding, their inspiration.

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"Northern Spy" by Flynn Berry

“Northern Spy” by Flynn Berry

This rare thriller successfully combines a compelling mystery with an interesting family subplot. Tessa is shocked when it appears her sister Marian has joined the Irish Republican Army and questions everything she knows about the person she loves most. The book has a strong sense of place and its personal arc never gets melodramatic or takes away from the gripping drama of modern terrorism.

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"Ambitious Girl" by Meena Harris

“Ambitious Girl” by Meena Harris

An uplifting book for children and adults alike, Harris encourages girls and young women by showing that ambition is a positive quality. The book also features a cast of diverse characters so everyone can see themselves in the story. While it’s written for girls, its encouraging and motivating message will appeal to boys and young men, too.

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"The Plague Year: America in the Time of COVID” by Lawrence Wright

“The Plague Year: America in the Time of COVID” by Lawrence Wright

Wright does for COVID-19 what he previously did for the September 11 attacks with his best-seller “The Looming Tower.” Like that book, this one thoroughly examines a pivotal event in American history without getting bogged down in details. It makes a complex topic quick and easy to digest. The title is under 300 pages and doesn’t use a lot of terminology, so anyone can grasp what Wright is saying.

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"Project Hail Mary" by Andy Weir

“Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir

The author of “The Martian” returns with a science fiction novel for people who aren’t science experts. Junior high school science teacher Ryland Grace wakes up on a spaceship and has to figure out how to get back to Earth. Weir excels at creating suspense about his hero’s fate, but he also weaves in basic science facts to make an epic story feel relatable. It’s as if Ryland is teaching the reader while he tries to make his way back home.

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"Nine Days: The Race to Save Martin Luther King Jr.’s Life and Win the 1960 Election” by Stephen Kendrick and Paul Kendrick

“Nine Days: The Race to Save Martin Luther King Jr.’s Life and Win the 1960 Election” by Stephen Kendrick and Paul Kendrick

Here’s a part of history that most readers have never heard before. The authors tell the story of how Dr. King was arrested before the 1960 Presidential election and how ardent members of John F. Kennedy’s staff convinced him to fight for King’s release. That campaign then had its own effect on Kennedy’s close-fought battle with Richard Nixon. It’s amazing to read how much was done in less than 2 weeks that changed the course of American history.

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"The No-Fuss Family Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Everyday Life” by Ryan Scott

“The No-Fuss Family Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Everyday Life” by Ryan Scott

Scott is known for his cooking demos on TV shows like “The Rachael Ray Show” and “Bar Rescue,” and his latest book can teach anyone how to succeed in the kitchen. The recipes are clear and easy so that even the busiest or most inexperienced person can make them. They also come with pictures to follow along with. The simplicity of the book makes it great for both aspiring chefs and those who want to cook along with their families.

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"Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am” by Julia Cooke

“Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am” by Julia Cooke

Readers who like strong female-driven books or true stories will find a lot to love in this tale of Pan Am flight attendants between 1966 and 1975. Cooke dissects the airline’s search for a very specific type of woman and how Pan Am’s glamour attracted women who were liberating themselves from society’s expectations. It’s both a culture study and a story about women changing the world, one flight at a time.

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"While Justice Sleeps" by Stacey Abrams

“While Justice Sleeps” by Stacey Abrams

The former U.S. Representative’s first novel is a crackling legal thriller. Abrams uses some of her legal and political experience in this story about a Supreme Court conspiracy, but not so much that it feels like she’s writing for herself. She creates genuinely interesting characters who drive the mystery to a satisfying end. This book is an outstanding thriller that just happens to be penned by a celebrity.

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"Trejo: My Story of Crime, Redemption and Hollywood” by Danny Trejo

“Trejo: My Story of Crime, Redemption and Hollywood” by Danny Trejo

Danny Trejo’s story of going from gang member to movie star and entrepreneur is well-known, but he finally gets to tell it in-depth in this memoir that reads like sitting down across from the “Machete” star for a few drinks. Trejo doesn’t hold anything back, writes with his trademark dry wit and inspires every reader to do better. Plus, you’ll learn fun facts about his career along the way.

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Brittany Frederick writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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