Like many readers, I haunt the new release lists for reading material. Every year, I bookmark more titles than I can actually get through, but I also have a shortlist of new release titles I flag "must-reads".
I set a budget for this list. If I see my library is getting a copy I put myself on the waitlist. When my budget won't stretch or the library doesn't have a copy, I put these titles in as requested acquisitions or suggest them as gift ideas to anyone who asks me for ideas. The point is that by the end of the year, I will have experienced these "must-read" stories and for the first time in my blog career, I've decided to share them with the world.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, I want to give an honorable mention to each of the following:
- Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge (a semi-biographical coming of age story set in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn and Haiti)
- The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray (a triple narrative about the women who lived, loved, and resisted injustice from Château de Chavaniac)
- The Rose Code by Kate Quinn (a novel about the codebreakers of Bletchley Park)
All three of these books were on my "must-reads" list for 2021, but I somehow managed to read all three before composing this post. All three are absolutely fabulous and I highly recommend tracking them down, but I can't claim to be looking forward to these books as I've already read them cover to cover.
As of today, my "must-read" list for 2021 is, in no particular order, as follows:
- The Cape Doctor by E.J. Levy (a biographical fiction about Dr. James Miranda Barry)
- The Girls in the Attic by Marius Gabriel (a novel about WWII)
- Shallow Waters by Anita Kopacz (a novel of Black resilience and feminine strength, set against the Atlantic slave trade)
- The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton (a cultural-historical inspired by the life of Evangelina Cisneros)
- The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly (a novel about WWII)
- Island Queen by Vanessa Riley (a biographical fiction about Dorothy Kirwan Thomas)
- Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan (a novel about the Pulaski disaster)
- Three Words for Goodbye by Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor (a novel about two sisters on a journey inspired by Nellie Bly)
- The American Adventuress by C.W. Gortner (a biographical fiction about Jennie Jerome)
- The Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck (a biographical fiction about Virginia Hall)
- Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson (a novel of love and survival, set in Lumpkin's Jail)
- The Second Mrs. Astor by Shana Abe (a biographical novel of Madeleine Force)
- Sisters In Arms by Kaia Alderson (a novel about the only all-Black, female U.S. battalion to be deployed overseas during World War II)
- Clever Girl by Stephanie Marie Thornton (a biographical fiction about Elizabeth Bentley)
- A Marriage of Lions by Elizabeth Chadwick (a biographical fiction about William de Valence and Joanna of Swanscombe)
Am I an addict? Yes. Am I ashamed? Not on your life.
Do you keep a "must-read" list? Are any of these books on your radar? What titles are you looking forward to? I'd love to hear from you!