The 20 Best Book Club Books For 2021 – Book Riot
Whether you’re back meeting in person or still catching up with your book club on Zoom, book clubs haven’t slowed down in 2021. I myself have joined a few new ones in the past year. There’s something so satisfying about connecting with other people about books. Whether you loved the book or hated the book, after you read a book, it’s nice to get to talk about it.
2021 has been a good year for book clubs, which means 2021 has been a good year for book club books. So much of the world seems out of our control, and it’s been comforting to escape into a good book and connect with friends about it. If your book club is looking for new books from this year to read and discuss, there are so many great options from this year.
This list includes 20 books that are perfect for book club discussions. They’re compelling and fun to read, so you won’t have any problem getting through them before your next club meeting. These books also packed with plenty of topics worth talking about, whether it’s the wild plot twists, the heart-warming relationships, or the thought-provoking themes the story brings up. The books on this list span several genres, so your club will have something fun to read no matter what genre they prefer. And because 2021 has been such a stressful year, a lot of books on this list are uplifting, feel-good novels that promise an escape from whatever’s troubling you in the real world.
So grab your book friends and get ready to read!
The Best Book Club Books 2021
Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan
Looking for a good mystery/thriller for your book club that examines American suburbia? Give Sarah Langan’s Good Neighbors a try. Maple Street in suburban Long Island seems like the perfect place to raise a family. Then the Wilde family moves into the neighborhood. The father Arlo is a washed up rockstar, the mother Gertie dresses provocatively, and their kids are rough around the edges too. Not the type of the family the people of Maple Street are used to welcoming into their community. Unsurprisingly, the Wildes quickly become outcasts, and when the most popular family in the neighborhood throw accusations against the Wildes, tensions mount to shockingly high levels.
What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster
What’s Mine and Yours is a historical literary fiction novel that’s sure to bring up a lot of interesting discussions at your next book club meeting. When a county in North Carolina moves to integrate its high schools, the community is outraged. Then two high school students — Gee and Noelle — join a school play meant to bridge the divide between the students at the school. Gee and Noelle both find themselves right in the middle of the integration debate in ways that will affect their lives and their families for the next 20 years.
The Atmospherians by Alex McElroy
The Atmospherians is a dark, satirical literary novel that examines contemporary influencer culture and gender roles. Sasha Marcus’s social media career tanks after an unfortunate run-in with a media troll. Now there are men’s rights activists protesting outside of her house, and she feels like she’s hit rock bottom. That’s when she and her best friend Dyson hatch up a plan: The Atmosphere. The Atmosphere is a rehabilitation community for men who have lost everything: their family, their jobs, their self-respect. Seems like a great idea, right? What could possibly go wrong?
The Upstairs House by Julia Fine
The Upstairs House is perfect for your book club if you love discussing books that leave you all asking yourselves “What the heck did we just read?” This book is a strange, eery literary novel with touches of surrealism and horror. It’s the story of Megan, a woman who is raising her newborn baby alone while her husband travels for work. She’s exhausted, drained, and fairly certain the ghost of Margaret Wise Brown and her lover Michael Strange are living upstairs. Will these ghosts help her care for her baby and pull her life together? Or will they do the opposite and tear her life apart?
Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia
Of Women and Salt is a sweeping debut literary novel about family legacies and difficult choices mothers sometimes have to make to do what they think is best for their children. Jeanette is living in Miami and battling addiction. She’s the daughter of a Cuban immigrant and she’s determined to learn more about her family’s past. And so she travels to Cuba to see her grandmother in the hopes of learning more about her family. But her trip threatens to reveal secrets that could change everything.
Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
Beautiful World, Where Are You is the latest novel from New York Times best-selling author Sally Rooney, and it’s been getting a lot of well-deserved buzz. This is the story of Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon, four friends whose lives are complicatedly intertwined. Follow their stories as they fall in love with each other, desire each other, get together, break up, fall back into one another, and more. If you love beautifully rendered characters who are complex and maybe not entirely likable, then Sally Rooney’s books (especially her latest) will really work for you.
Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce
Wild Women and the Blues is a beautifully written and well-researched historical fiction novel set in Jazz-age Chicago. Dreamland Café is a ritzy club where Honoree Dalcour dances every night, looking to find a path to a better life for herself. But how much is she willing to risk to get ahead? Ninety years later, in 2015, film student Sawyer Hayes seeks out a 110-year-old Honoree. He’s looking for the missing pieces to his research about legendary filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, but the information Sawyer gets from Honoree is completely surprising.
All’s Well by Mona Awad
After the wild ride that was Bunny, author Mona Awad’s novel All’s Well was highly anticipated, and readers knew they would be in for surprises. Awad’s latest novel does not disappoint. Miranda Fitch is a college theater director whose life is falling apart. Her acting career was ruined after a terrible accident. Her marriage has fallen apart. All Miranda wants now is to direct All’s Well That Ends Well, but her students don’t respect her, and they refuse to do the play. Then Miranda meets three strangers, and suddenly her luck changes.
Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant
If your book club is looking for an uplifting, feel-good book club book to get you through 2021, Happily Ever Afters is it. This young adult novel follows 16-year-old Tessa Johnson. She’s never seen herself reflected in the romance novels she’s read, and so she began to write her own. Now, she’s landed herself in a prestigious creative writing program. She’s so excited to finally share her stories with the world, but when she sits down to write, she finds she has some major writer’s block. Maybe a little real-life inspiration is all she needs to spark her creativity.
Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi
Helen Oyeyemi’s novels are always a little bit magical and strange, which should give your book club plenty to talk about. Otto and Xavier Shin are in love, and they’ve been gifted a trip on a sleeper train to celebrate their new commitment to one another. And so they embark on an adventure together, accompanied by their pet mongoose. But Otto and Xavier soon realize this is no ordinary train. Everything aboard seems especially catered to their needs and tastes. And where are all the other passengers?
The Tiger Mom’s Tale by Lyn Liao Butler
With The Tiger Mom’s Tale, you get emotional story of complicated family relationships that’s also ultimately uplifting. When American Lexa Thomas inherits the wealth of her Taiwanese family, she travels to Taiwan to confront the family in which she’s always felt like an outsider, and to face the truths that she tried to leave behind. Lexa’s trip to Taiwan leads her to explore her connections to her family and the realities of who she truly is. This heartwarming story should give book clubs plenty of material to discuss, laugh about, and cry about.
The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam
For your 2021 book club, what novel could be more appropriate than a novel about startup tech companies? The Startup Wife is the story of Asha and Cyrus, two newlyweds who together start a tech incubator called Utopia. Their social media platform soon becomes wildly popular, replacing religious rituals for many of its users. Now Cyrus is being treated like a messiah, and Asha’s unsure their relationship can survive.
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
The Other Black Girl has been a really popular book club pick for 2021, and when you read it, you’ll see why. This novel is impossible to put down, but it also examines complicated issues of racism and microaggressions in the workplace. Editorial assistant Nella Rogers is the only Black employee at Wagner Books, and she’s sick of it. So when Hazel starts working for the publishing company, at first Nella is certain she’s found a new ally. The reality, however, is much more complicated.
Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy
Another topic that’s impossible to ignore in 2021: climate change. Charlotte McConaghy’s Once There Were Wolves is a meditation on climate change while also being an engaging story, which makes it perfect for timely discussions an enjoyable reading (so perfect for your book club). Inti Flynn is leading a team of biologists in the Scottish Highlands. Their mission is to reintroduce 14 grey wolves into the environment. Just as the wolves begin to thrive, a farmer is found dead, and everyone blames the wolves. Inti refuses to believe her wolves are capable of such a thing. But if they didn’t do it, who did?
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
Cloud Cuckoo Land is another novel that’s been getting a lot of buzz this year. Readers couldn’t wait to see what Anthony Doerr was going to do after his beloved novel All The Light We Cannot See. So if your book club likes to stay up on all the buzziest books of the year, you need to pick up this one. This novel is a mixture of historical fiction, science fiction, and fantasy, and follows five characters’ stories in different places in the world in in different periods of time, from Constantinople in the 15th century to outer space decades into the future.
Fault Lines by Emily Itami
Fault Lines is a love story set in Japan that’s compared to the works of Sally Rooney (who is also on this list!) and Helen Fielding. Mizuki is a Japanese housewife who seemingly has the perfect life, and yet she can’t help but wonder how her life could have been different — and perhaps more exciting — if she’d made different choices. Then she meets Kiyoshi, a successful restaurateur. And through her time spent with him, she rediscovers her passion for life. The more time she spends with Kiyoshi, the more she falls for him and the person she is when she’s with him. But this can’t go on forever. Ultimately she must choose the comfortable life with the family she loves, the romance and electricity of something new.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Klara and the Sun is author Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel since winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. The story is told from the eyes of Klara, and artificial friend who learns about the world from watching people from her store window. Then one day someone finally comes to take Klara home and make her part of the family. But Klara is warned to not trust the promises of humans. Ishiguro’s literary sci-fi novel brings up environmental issues, concepts of religion, questions about what it means to be human, and much more. Perfect for a book club discussion.
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Torrey Peters’s Detransition Baby is one of the most talked about books of 2021, which means it’s perfect for your book club. This novel follows the story of three women — transgender and cisgender — whose lives come together in unexpected ways when they attempt to raise a child together. Detransition, Baby explores gender identity, motherhood, relationships, and more through thoughtfully rendered characters who feel incredibly real.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
Are you looking for a fun, lighthearted sapphic romance with a huge dose of time travel? After hearing that sentence, are you realizing this this the storyline you didn’t know you needed? August is a cynical twentysomething New Yorker who doesn’t believe in love. Then she sees Jane on the train. Jane is gorgeous, charming, mysterious, and she looks like she came from the 1970s with her leather jacket and punk rock style. Then August finds out that Jane is actually from the 1970s, displaced in time, and her subway romance becomes a whole lot more complicated. This is a warmhearted and unique romance story that your book club will love talking about.
Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian
Gold Diggers is a coming-of-age story with a big pinch of magical realism, humor, and heart. Neil Narayan is a second generation Indian American teenager growing up during the Bush era in the Atlanta suburbs. Neil’s parents want him to be successful, but all he really wants is Anita Dayal, the girl of his dreams who lives across the cul-de-sac. Then Neil discovers Anita is brewing a magical potion out of stolen gold that harnesses the ambition of the person who owned the gold. And Neil’s life is changed forever.
If you’re looking for more guidance for getting your book club going, we’ve got some suggestions for you! Have the books you want to read but don’t have club to read them with just yet? Here’s your guide to starting your own book club. Also! Here are some ideas for book club discussion questions to get the conversation going. And if you’d rather just keep things online for now, here are some of the best online book clubs you can join right now. Happy reading, and happy chatting it up with your book club friends!