I hope you had a very happy Christmas (if you celebrate it) and a safe and healthy holiday. In this post I’m talking about the best new authors I read this year. If I’ve calculated correctly, I read 58 books in 2021 by authors that were new to me. That’s out of 111 books, so just over half. Last year this was higher, about 63%; this year I made an effort to read more backlist books, so it looks like I succeeded a little bit in that effort.
Some of my favorites this year were first novels, which means there are great things to come from these authors – although it also means there’s no backlist where I can read more. Here are some of my favorite debut novels read in 2021:
- Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
- Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
- Real Life by Brandon Taylor
- How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones
- Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann
- The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
- Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
Here are other authors I particularly enjoyed who were new to me this year:
- In nonfiction, I highly recommend Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamarr, and Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner. Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga and Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King were other nonfiction reads I recommend. Unwinding Anxiety by Judson Brewer was also excellent, though of course that topic may not appeal to most readers. (In general, most nonfiction reads are new-to-me authors, since I don’t usually read multiple works by nonfiction authors. Jenny Lawson is an exception as I’ll read anything she writes.)
- In fiction, other favorites included Michelle Gallen, who wrote Big Girl, Small Town, Nadine Abgeryan who wrote Three Apples Fell From the Sky; and Yangsze Choo who wrote The Night Tiger.
What authors did you discover this year?
I read three books each by Cynthia Bourgeault and Bruce Perry this year, so they probably qualify as my top new-to-me authors. Two each by Edith Eger and Antony Sher. I want to read more books by John Mullan, Valarie Kaur (as soon as she writes more than one), and Elodie Harper. Yes, it was a good year for discovery!
A lot of good suggestions, I know Edith Eger looks fascinating, and so does Elodie Harper. Wishing you happy reading in 2022!
Some great books here! I discovered Molly Clavering this year (a backlist author so loads more to enjoy, hooray!) and Juno Dawson, whose memoir I read but I want to explore further in fiction. It’s something I should record better next year, I think.
Ooh, Molly Clavering’s books look like fun, I haven’t heard of her! Juno Dawson looks good too, thanks for sharing. It’s always hard to balance discovering new authors and reading more by the authors we love.
Winter’s Orbit was a favorite of mine this year as well! I would love to read more set in that world!
Finding new authors is so much fun.
I’ve seen Firekeeper’s Daughter on so many of these lists! I really need to read that one.