59 Best Books of 2021—According to Real Simple Editors

You might want to put down that TV remote. There's a whole new crop of epic dramas, heartwarming mysteries, and compelling memoirs—all within the pages of these books.

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Nico Schinco

The world has plenty of interesting books to read, and more are released every year. To help make it a tiny bit easier to find something to read, our editors have curated a list of the most compelling, fascinating, thought-provoking books (in our opinion, of course) of the year. Add these best books of 2021 to your reading list.

Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim

Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim
Courtesy of Amazon

An epic set in the 20th century during the Korean independence movement, Juhea Kim's Beasts of a Little Land zooms in on several characters—a girl sold to a courtesan school, a boy living as a street orphan, a rich publisher— all searching for identity. Unrequited love, class warfare, scandal…this novel has it all.

The Maid by Nita Prose

The Maid by Nita Prose
Courtesy of Amazon

Dutiful Molly Gray is a hotel maid who takes tremendous pride in her work at the Regency Grand. But when she finds a wealthy guest murdered in his bed, she becomes the prime suspect. The Maid by Nita Prose is a heartwarming mystery with a lovable oddball at its center.

Chouette by Claire Oshetsky

Chouette by Claire Oshetsky
Courtesy of Amazon

Chouette by Claire Oshetsky is a modern fable about a new mother, Tiny, who's convinced that her infant daughter is actually a baby owl. Tiny feels a profound responsibility to nurture her child's unique needs, despite the protestations of everyone around her, including her husband. Weirdly funny and bold, this novel will make you look at maternal sacrifice in a new way.

Wahala by Nikki May

Wahala by Nikki May
Courtesy of Amazon

Best friends Ronke, Boo, and Simi are 30- something Anglo-Nigerian women in London with work-life balance woes, dating troubles, and marital strife—but they have each other. Then Isobel enters their group. While she's charming at first, something sinister is afoot. Nikki May's Wahala is an ode to female friendship with an unforgettable plot.

Sex Cult Nun by Faith Jones

Sex Cult Nun by Faith Jones
Courtesy of Amazon

In Sex Cult Nun, Faith Jones reveals the harrowing details of her youth. The Children of God cult she grew up in was linked to disturbing sex practices, child abuse, and more. In shocking detail, Jones recounts her complicated family story—and how she finally broke free.

The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier

The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier
Courtesy of Amazon

In The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier, a flight from Paris is rocked by turbulence as it's landing in New York. What follows is a sci-fi-inspired story of the passengers' reality-shaking experiences— and an exploration of the what-ifs we all ask ourselves about our choices.

The Family by Naomi Krupitsky

The Family by Naomi Krupitsky
Courtesy of Amazon

Naomi Krupitsky's The Family is a gripping story about best friends Sofia and Antonia, whose lives are intertwined due to their fathers' work in the same crime family in 1930s and '40s Brooklyn, New York. The novel follows the pair as they come of age and their bond is repeatedly tested by their allegiances.

Just Haven't Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens

Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens
Courtesy of Amazon

In Sophie Cousens's Just Haven't Met You Yet, unlucky-in-love blogger Laura sets off for the Channel Islands to research a story for her lifestyle website. Arriving at her hotel, she realizes she grabbed the wrong suitcase at the airport. From the looks of its contents, the rightful owner might be the man of her dreams. Now she just needs to find him.

Going There by Katie Couric

Going There by Katie Couric
Courtesy of Amazon

Katie Couric is known for putting it all out there (remember the on-air colonoscopy?). In Going There, she doesn't hold back on the highs and lows of her life. She shares what it was really like to parent as a young widow, navigate the old-boys club of TV news—and, yes, reckon with the reprehensible behavior of some of her coworkers.

As the Wicked Watch by Tamron Hall

As the Wicked Watch by Tamron Hall
Courtesy of Amazon

Jordan Manning is a Chicago TV reporter with a knack for breaking big stories. She gets the challenge of her career when she begins investigating the mysterious death of a teenage girl and the serial killer who may be to blame. The first in a series by Emmy Award–winning journalist Tamron Hall, As the Wicked Watch has all the hallmarks of a great thriller, with a fast-moving plot, an unforgettable protagonist, and lots of fascinating insights into TV newsrooms and the biases influencing whose stories get told.

Smile by Sarah Ruhl

Smile by Sarah Ruhl
Courtesy of Amazon

Playwright Sarah Ruhl leveled up on life when she gave birth to twins after a high-risk pregnancy just as her first play was making its Broadway debut. But while she was recovering in the hospital, one side of her face suddenly became paralyzed. It was Bell's palsy—the rare kind that does not resolve itself swiftly. Smile, Ruhl's riveting memoir about her 10-year journey to find a cure, is a beautiful meditation on identity and how we see ourselves.

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich
Courtesy of Amazon

In The Sentence, the new novel by Pulitzer Prize–and National Book Award–winning Louise Erdrich, we meet Tookie, a formerly incarcerated bookseller. On All Soul's Day 2019, she discovers that the Minneapolis bookstore where she works is haunted by the store's most annoying customer, who died that day. As 2020 begins, the irreverent and funny Tookie grapples with the ghost, then the pandemic, then the protests. Her journey, captured in Erdrich's expert prose, is a cathartic and comforting story that book lovers will gobble up.

Capote's Women by Laurence Leamer

Capote's Women by Laurence Leamer
Courtesy of Amazon

Truman Capote's never published final novel was a thinly veiled account of the secret lives of his "swans," the wealthy women he befriended as his star rose. When word of the project spread, the swans swiftly dumped him. In Capote's Women, best-selling biographer Laurence Leamer zeroes in on glamorous midcentury Manhattan, revealing the scandals that could have inspired Capote's biggest success but instead led to his downfall.

Heard It in a Love Song by Tracey Garvis Graves

Heard It in a Love Song by Tracey Garvis Graves
Courtesy of Amazon

In Heard It in a Love Song by Tracey Garvis Graves, Layla is a 35-year-old elementary school music teacher who's trying to move on from a disappointing past, including a singing career that never took off and a bad marriage that has finally ended. Josh is the newly single father of a kindergartner who catches her eye at school drop-off. What ensues is a classic friends-become-lovers story with characters you will find familiar—and can't help rooting for.

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
Courtesy of Amazon

Love and longing are at the center of Sally Rooney's latest. Alice, a best-selling novelist, befriends Felix, a warehouse worker in the small town she's moved to after a nervous breakdown. She trades extensive emails with her longtime friend Eileen, who is mainly concerned with her own feelings for the childhood friend who's stringing her along. Beautiful World, Where Are You is a thoughtful look at that time in every young adult's life when they are searching for love—and themselves in the process.

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride & Jo Piazza

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride & Jo Piazza
Courtesy of Amazon

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza is a timely conversation starter with a knockout premise: Riley, a Black news anchor in her hometown of Philadelphia, is a rising star whose best friend since kindergarten, Jen, is a white woman married to a police officer. When Jen's husband is involved in the shooting of an unarmed Black teenager, Riley is tapped to cover the incident, and the women are forced to examine their friendship. Told through alternating points of view, this affecting read is both intimate and enlightening.

Still Life by Sarah Winman

Still Life by Sarah Winman
Courtesy of Amazon

Already a best seller in the U.K., Sarah Winman's Still Life is about a young British soldier stationed in the Tuscan hills in the mid-1940s. His chance friendship with an art historian leaves an indelible mark on his worldview, which he carries back to his hardscrabble London neighborhood and the pub at the center of it. The incredible storytelling, lovable characters, and sweeping settings make this whimsical novel an absolute delight, proving that serious fiction does not have to be only dark and depressing.

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty
Courtesy of Amazon

In Apples Never Fall, Liane Moriarty's new page-turner, four adult siblings must handle the crisis sparked by their parents, recently retired owners of a well-known tennis academy. First the couple takes in a sketchy stranger who claims to be on the run from her abusive boyfriend. Then the mother disappears, and the father is the prime suspect. With Moriarty's trademark humor and smart insights about families, this entertaining, twisty read will keep you guessing until the final page.

Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang

Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang
Courtesy of Amazon

Beautiful Country, Qian Julie Wang's memoir, is a behind-the-headlines look at what life is really like for an undocumented child in the U.S. Brought to New York City from China when she was just 7, Wang recounts the severe daily toll that being "illegal" took on her family, particularly her parents, professors in China who became sweatshop workers in America. Rife with heartbreaking stories about her family's fight to survive, this unforgettable memoir is eye-opening to the nth degree.

L.A. Weather by María Amparo Escandón

L.A. Weather by María Amparo Escandón
Courtesy of Amazon

Like so many of us, the Alvarado family has been tested by challenges: infidelity, aging parents, infertility, and now divorce. When the matriarch declares she's over her 40-year marriage to her Weather Channel–obsessed husband, their three adult daughters must deal with the fallout, which includes taking a hard look at their own relationships. L.A. Weather by María Amparo Escandón is a heartfelt, laugh-out-loud-funny novel about the highs and lows of family life.

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney
Courtesy of Amazon

Best-selling author Alice Feeney lives up to her reputation as "the queen of the twist" in her new thriller, Rock Paper Scissors. Adam and Amelia make a last ditch attempt to save their marriage with a trip to the Scottish countryside. But from the moment they arrive, it's clear one of them doesn't have the best intentions. The question is: Which one? Told from multiple perspectives, with lots of juicy details about the growing pains of long relationships, this page-turner will keep you guessing.

Funny Farm by Laurie Zaleski

Funny Farm by Laurie Zaleski
Courtesy of Amazon

Why, exactly, would a woman share her life with 600 rescue animals? In Funny Farm, Laurie Zaleski explains how her heroic mom raised her kids to help any creature (human or animal) in need—which led Zaleski to create the New Jersey animal sanctuary she runs today. Interspersed with sweet and funny anecdotes about some of Zaleski's most memorable animals, this story of grit and resilience is 100 percent inspiring.

Three Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn Turner

Three Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn Turner
Courtesy of Amazon

Three Girls from Bronzeville, the exceptional memoir by journalist Dawn Turner, explores how Turner, her sister, and her best friend grew up under the same circumstances but ended up leading completely different lives. Via her point of view as "the successful one," Turner shares insights about childhood in the 1970s in one of Chicago's historically Black neighborhoods. This deeply personal and thought provoking read is the nonfiction pick your book club has been waiting for.

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
Courtesy of Amazon

Cloud Cuckoo Land, Anthony Doerr's first novel since his Pulitzer Prize–winning All the Light We Cannot See, shifts between 15th century Constantinople, present-day Idaho, and the distant future (a spaceship is involved). Each setting focuses on the experiences of children simply trying to make sense of the world around them. It's a poignant story told with heart and wit, and if you're daunted by its length (nearly 650 pages), know that the short, lively chapters move at a satisfying clip.

Wayward by Dana Spiotta

Wayward by Dana Spiotta
Courtesy of Amazon

It's 2016, and Samantha Raymond, a 52-year-old married suburban mom, can no longer ignore the pull she feels to change her life. So when she sees a gorgeous but nearly condemned old house in a tougher neighborhood, she buys it, blindsiding her family. Then she begins to do what she hasn't done in so many years: live completely on her own terms. Dana Spiotta's Wayward is a funny, clever, and thought-provoking portrayal of the complexity of midlife in today's America.

The Almost Legendary Morris Sisters by Julie Klam

The Almost Legendary Morris Sisters by Julie Klam
Courtesy of Amazon

Author Julie Klam grew up captivated by the stories she heard about her grandmother's cousins, the Morris sisters. They never married or had kids, and they lived wildly independent lives in New York City and amassed a fortune. But when Klam researched their history, she found that the lore was actually all wrong. In The Almost Legendary Morris Sisters, Klam reveals how digging into our ancestries teaches valuable lessons about not just our relatives, but ourselves.

Intimacies by Katie Kitamura

Intimacies by Katie Kitamura
Courtesy of Amazon

Intimacies by Katie Kitamura is just under 250 pages but packs a powerful punch. Beautifully written and mysterious, it's told from the point of view of a young American woman who works as an interpreter for an accused war criminal at the World Court in the Hague. As she navigates complicated new relationships in her personal life, the book's intensity quietly, hauntingly builds, resulting in a fascinating story that literary fiction lovers will devour.

Hell of a Book by Jason Mott

Hell of a Book by Jason Mott
Courtesy of Amazon

In the aptly named Hell of a Book, Jason Mott's propulsive fourth novel, we meet a hugely successful author on a cross-country book tour, a young boy living in a small town, and the Kid—a possibly imaginary child who pops up throughout the author's travels. These characters' stories converge in unexpected ways to produce a timely look at race, police violence, and so much more.

Ladyparts by Deborah Copaken

Ladyparts by Deborah Copaken
Courtesy of Amazon

Deborah Copaken, the best-selling author of Shutterbabe, has been through it: seven major illnesses, a divorce, parenting worries, financial struggles, even an FBI interrogation. In her new memoir, Ladyparts, she details all that and more with her usual remarkable candor. Equal parts heartbreaking and hilarious, this is a fierce, inspiring illustration of everything women can bear.

God Spare the Girls by Kelsey McKinney

God Spare the Girls by Kelsey McKinney
Courtesy of Amazon

Caroline Nolan grew up committed to a life of faith, as expected by her father, a famous pastor of an evangelical megachurch. But soon before she leaves home for college, and when her older sister's wedding is just weeks away, a scandal involving her dad shakes the community, causing her and her sister to question everything. God Spare the Girls by Kelsey McKinney is a fascinating look at the moment in a young woman's life when she starts to forge an identity separate from her family's.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
Courtesy of Amazon

Bookish homebody Alex and free-spirited globe-trotter Poppy took summer vacations together for a decade. But two years ago, something happened on that trip, and the friends haven't spoken since. Poppy can't stop thinking about him, so she convinces Alex to go on one last getaway, her final shot to fix everything. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry is a delightful love story full of hilarious one-liners and winking asides, making it the perfect poolside companion.

Somebody's Daughter by Ashley C. Ford

Somebody's Daughter: A Memoir by Ashley C. Ford
Courtesy of Amazon

In Somebody's Daughter, Ashley C. Ford recounts growing up captivated by hazy memories of her incarcerated father; she believes she'll finally feel whole when they eventually reunite. But after the reason he was imprisoned comes to light, her self-discovery truly begins. This is a deeply honest story about how she reckoned with her family's past, and how her fraught history informed her future.

Should We Stay or Should We Go by Lionel Shriver

Should We Stay or Should We Go by Lionel Shriver
Courtesy of Amazon

In Lionel Shriver's new novel, Should We Stay or Should We Go, Kay and Cyril, a 50-something married couple, decide that instead of risking the age-related decline that could be devastating for themselves and their loved ones, they'll die by suicide together when they both turn 80. The author then gives us a dozen possible outcomes—some poignant, some funny, some gutting—each of which asks interesting questions about aging, longevity, and living well.

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
Courtesy of Amazon

Two ambitious women—a daredevil aviator raised in Prohibition-era Montana and the actor cast to play her in a Hollywood film nearly a century later— are the focus of Great Circle, the compelling new novel by Maggie Shipstead. With an unforgettable plot that zigzags around the globe and across time, this epic tale is a storytelling marvel, the kind of crowd-pleaser your book club will devour

Good Company by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Good Company by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
Courtesy of Amazon

On the day of her daughter's high school graduation, happily married Flora Mancini is looking for an old photograph when she discovers an envelope containing her husband's wedding ring—the one he said he lost over a decade ago. Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney's Good Company is a smart and nuanced examination of the growing pains of long relationships, sure to spark great conversations about marriage, friendship, and parenthood.

The Souvenir Museum by Elizabeth McCracken

The Souvenir Museum by Elizabeth McCracken
Courtesy of Amazon

A woman travels with her boyfriend to his sister's wedding and meets his high-spirited family for the first time. A man takes his recently widowed elderly father on a long-awaited trip to Scotland. The stories in Elizabeth McCracken's new collection, The Souvenir Museum, are witty, insightful, bittersweet, and charming— pitch-perfect reflections of the seemingly ordinary moments that come to define us.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton
Courtesy of Amazon

A bold novel with an unforgettable protagonist, Dawnie Walton's The Final Revival of Opal & Nev reads like a rock and roll docudrama. It tells the story of Opal, one half of an Afro-punk duo in 1970s New York. They're an unlikely pair—Nev is white and British; Opal is a Black American—and their rise to fame is upended by racial controversy. Decades later, when a potential reunion means confronting the past, tensions rise again, revealing the explosive power of speaking one's truth.

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri
Courtesy of Amazon

Whereabouts, the new novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri (her first in nearly a decade), is a gorgeous, contemplative read about an unnamed woman's solitary—but not necessarily lonely— life against the backdrop of an Italian city. Short, meditative chapters showcase her quiet existence in poetic prose that invites you to linger over the words. It's a fascinating look at the daily choices that make up a life.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
Courtesy of Amazon

When Hannah Hall's husband, Owen, suddenly disappears, his goodbye is a simple note: "Protect her." She knows immediately he means her teenage stepdaughter. As FBI agents and U.S. marshals descend on their home, Hannah and the girl question Owen's true identity, and realize they must work together to uncover why he left. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave is a fast-moving, heartfelt thriller about the sacrifices we make for the people we love most.

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia
Courtesy of Amazon

Of Women and Salt, the debut novel by Gabriela Garcia, follows three generations of women from 19th-century Cuba to modern-day Miami. In just over 200 pages, Garcia makes a powerful statement about how we draw on our roots to understand our place in the world, showing that no matter how much we may try to escape the past, it always influences the present.

Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing by Lauren Hough

Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing Essays by Lauren Hough
Courtesy of Amazon

Lauren Hough has endured more than most of us would in 10 lifetimes, and she reveals it all in Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing—from her globe-trotting childhood in an infamous cult to her time in the U.S. Air Force to her eye-opening experiences as a bouncer and cable installer. Hough bravely and compellingly shares how our search for identity can be searingly awful, wickedly funny, and totally worth it.

Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian

Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian
Courtesy of Amazon

It's 1662 in Boston, and Mary is a young Puritan woman married to a formidable man who's essentially a monster. When her push for independence sparks the suspicions of the people around her, a rich and terrifying story ensues. Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian is a grab-you-by-the throat suspense read that both historical fiction fans and thriller lovers will devour.

Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny

Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny
Courtesy of Amazon

In Early Morning Riser, the charming, hilarious new novel by Katherine Heiny, Jane is an elementary school teacher whose boyfriend, Duncan, is handsome and lovely—and has unfortunately seduced nearly every woman in their small city. Their one-of a-kind story, featuring a cast of quirky characters, is a surefire literary mood boost with a heartwarming reminder of the many ways love appears in our lives.

Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins

Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins
Courtesy of Amazon

Laila longs to have a baby, so she seeks help from the Melancons, a legendary Harlem family rumored to possess a caul—an amniotic sac— that's thought to carry healing properties. Their agreement falls through, but it's only the beginning of the two families' entanglement. Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins is a fascinating, of-the-moment story about the intersection of motherhood, power, and community.

Girls with Bright Futures by Tracy Dobmeier

Girls with Bright Futures by Tracy Dobmeier
Courtesy of Amazon

Girls with Bright Futures by Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman is a sharp, irresistibly fun fictional look at college admissions. Three moms—a frantic PTA type, a renowned tech exec, and her down-to-earth assistant— will stop at nothing to ensure the success of their daughters, who attend an elite Seattle private school. You'll quickly align yourself with one side while relishing the downfall of the other. There's lots of fodder for talks about how insanely far parents will go to get those coveted acceptance letters.

Do No Harm by Christina McDonald

Do No Harm by Christina McDonald
Courtesy of Amazon

Emma is a well-respected doctor who loves her work and her doting detective husband. But when their young son is diagnosed with cancer, an expensive treatment is their only hope. Out of desperation, Emma turns to selling opioids to pay for it. Do No Harm by Christina McDonald is an intense, emotional page-turner that's impossible not to devour in one sitting.

Remember by Lisa Genova

Remember by Lisa Genova
Courtesy of Amazon

Can you accurately describe both sides of a penny? In Remember, acclaimed neuroscientist Lisa Genova, the best-selling author of Still Alice, explains why so many of us can't—and why that doesn't mean we're losing our minds. This fascinating exploration of how memory works reveals why those blips are totally normal. It's capital-r Reassuring for anyone who's ever walked into a room without remembering why.

The Fourth Child by Jessica Winter

The Fourth Child by Jessica Winter
Courtesy of Amazon

In The Fourth Child by Jessica Winter, Jane becomes pregnant in high school, gets married, and is raising three children by the time most of her friends are finishing college. Years later, she falls in with a pro-life group and adopts a child just as her teenage daughter is coming of age. What happens next forces Jane—and readers—to ask big questions about how firmly held principles can affect a family.

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson
Courtesy of Amazon

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson tells the story of Ruth, an Ivy League– educated Black engineer living in Chicago in 2008, just after the Obama inauguration. Her husband's eagerness to start a family leads her back to her Indiana hometown to confront her past. In the beleaguered factory town, she forges a friendship with a white middle schooler. As racial rifts deepen, Johnson makes powerful points about our connections and communities.

Good Apple by Elizabeth Passarella

Good Apple by Elizabeth Passarella
Courtesy of Amazon

Elizabeth Passarella is a Southerner and evangelical Christian raising three kids on New York City's famously liberal Upper West Side. In Good Apple, she details, with often hilarious transparency, what it's like to bear seemingly contradictory labels, and how her relationship with religion has shaped her identity—and influenced her rebellion.

Bravey by Alexi Pappas

Bravey by Alexi Pappas
Courtesy of Amazon

Alexi Pappas has a no-limits approach to life that's led her to the Ivy League, an Olympic running career, and starring roles in movies she herself created (even though she was, of course, told to choose between being an athlete and being an artist). In Bravey, her movingly honest memoir, she shares how her most difficult moments—her mother's death by suicide, her post-Olympic depression—fueled her remarkable drive. The result is an engaging portrayal of resilience, proving challenges limit you only if you let them.

City of a Thousand Gates by Rebecca Sacks

City of a Thousand Gates by Rebecca Sacks
Courtesy of Amazon

The heavy emotion on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is breathlessly conveyed in City of a Thousand Gates. Novelist Rebecca Sacks deftly zooms in on the perspectives of a broad cast of characters, like a new father with an American wife, and a college student illegally entering Israeli territory for work. She reveals with startling intimacy what it's like to live in the center of one of the world's most divisive conflicts.

This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith

This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith
Courtesy of Amazon

This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith opens with divorced therapist Tallie Clark driving home from work. She notices a man standing on the edge of a bridge, coaxes him back, then persuades him to have a cup of coffee with her. What happens next makes for a poignant page-turner about perseverance and two broken people who, like all of us at one time or another, just need someone to tell them everything's going to be all right.

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
Courtesy of Amazon

Kristin Hannah's latest, set in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression, centers on a Texas mother forced to decide whether to leave her family's farm, destroyed by drought, for better opportunity out west. The Four Winds is a sweeping epic about an American struggling to keep her family afloat. It feels eerily timely as it highlights the ways women rally during a national crisis.

The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr.

The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr.
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In this powerful novel about a Deep South plantation, enslaved Isaiah and Samuel share a private, abiding love that's a refuge from the daily brutality they endure—and that has consequences for everyone around them. The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr. is an original, heartbreaking testament to love, and to the supremacy of good over evil.

Before the Ruins by Victoria Gosling

Before the Ruins by Victoria Gosling
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The only relic from Andy's troubled childhood is her friend Peter. The two occasionally meet for drinks in London, where they carefully avoid discussing one particular summer: On an abandoned manor decades earlier, they played a game that ended in tragedy. But then Peter disappears, and Andy is forced to untangle what she's tried so hard to forget. Before the Ruins by Victoria Gosling is a lush and layered thriller that mystery lovers will savor.

The Rib King by Ladee Hubbard

The Rib King by Ladee Hubbard
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In the early 1900s, the Barclays, a white family with a cadre of Black servants, are desperate for cash. They begin selling their cook's delicious rib sauce and slapping a humiliating caricature of their groundskeeper on the label (without compensating either long-time employee). Through its searing portrayal of exploitation, The Rib King by Ladee Hubbard conveys a modern message about how African American stereotypes are used for profit.

The Push by Ashley Audrain

The Push by Ashley Audrain
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After giving birth to her first child, Blythe Connor vows to be the doting mother she never had. But when she finds it difficult to connect with baby Violet, she's alarmed, frustrated, and increasingly convinced there's something dangerously wrong with the girl. The Push by Ashley Audrain is a chilling page-turner that asks provocative questions about nature versus nurture and what makes a good mother.

What Could Be Saved by Liese O'Halloran Schwarz

What Could Be Saved by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz
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Laura Preston ignores her sister's warning and travels to Bangkok to reunite with their brother, who went missing 40 years earlier when they lived in the city for their father's mysterious job. As the story unfurls, shocking family secrets are slowly revealed. What Could Be Saved by Liese O'Halloran Schwarz is a rich, complex novel that shifts between present-day Washington, D.C., and 1970s Thailand—just the kind of book you want to sink into on a winter day.

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