Travel IndustryBooksSmarter ShoppingSports

21 of the most anticipated books coming out in the second half of 2021

June 26, 2021, 11:00 AM UTC
Book Roundup-Second Half of 2021 Featured
Fall is usually the busiest season in publishing, and there are a slew of great titles coming your way in the latter half of 2021.
Courtesy of Ecco Press; HarperCollins; Doubleday Books; Atria/Black Privilege Publishing; Harper

It’s high summer now, and all you might want to read right now is something less weighty, like a thrilling murder mystery or a frothy romance.

But the year is still young, and fall is traditionally the busiest season in book publishing. Thus, there are plenty of new titles still on the way this year, including a poignant new memoir about grief and what that means for your family history; a thrilling novel about diplomats and spies circulating around the U.S. Embassy in Namibia; and rigorous investigations into the War in Afghanistan and the U.S. health care system.

Here are 21 new books coming out in the second half of 2021 that you should consider reading before the year is out.

Book Roundup-London Dog Walking Agency
‘London’s Number One Dog-Walking Agency: A Memoir’
Courtesy of William Morrow & Company

London’s Number One Dog-Walking Agency: A Memoir by Kate MacDougall

Available July 6

On rare occasion, memoirs can serve as light and escapist fun. In 2006, Kate MacDougall was working at auction house Sotheby’s. But after an accident nearly destroyed a work of art, she quit and set up her own dog-walking company—despite knowing almost nothing about dogs and even less about business. But, she persevered, and tells many tales about some of the most pampered pets in London, many of which double as life learning lessons along the way.

July 2021 Books-Startup Wife
Courtesy of Scribner

The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam

Available July 13

The intersection of romance and technology is a popular one—especially as dating apps became the primary (if not only) way single people could still meet someone over more than a year of pandemic lockdowns. In The Startup Wife, a brilliant coder (with a Pi tattoo) writes a new algorithm and builds an app that essentially replaces religious rituals. The coder and her new husband join an exclusive tech incubator called Utopia, and the app becomes a smash hit. But as the saying goes, money doesn’t buy happiness, and it doesn’t seem like an algorithm can predict the perfect relationship, either.

July 2021 Books-Embassy Wife
Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Embassy Wife by Katie Crouch

Available July 13

For those familiar with the State Department, when one partner is in the Foreign Service, it’s all but expected that the spouse is to move their life around the world accordingly, too. In Embassy Wife, there are actually two wives trying to grapple with this lifestyle. First is Amanda, who gave up her job in Silicon Valley to move to Namibia with her husband, who accepted a Fulbright scholarship. Second is Persephone, the wife of an American diplomat already stationed in Namibia. She understands the job, and wants to take it seriously, but learns that it is just as political as that of a diplomat. What these women don’t know is what their husbands are really doing in Namibia, which comes to a head when Amanda’s daughter becomes involved an international conflict.

July 2021 Books-Well This is Exhausting
Courtesy of Gallery Books

Well, This Is Exhausting: Essays by Sophia Benoit

Available July 13

Tired of talk about burnout? Well sometimes the best way to get through something is just to talk about it—endlessly. GQ columnist Sophia Benoit shares her experiences with burnout, starting with her adolescence and having to grow up fast in taking care of her younger siblings, trying to balance life between her divorced parents’ homes, part-time jobs, and school on top of it all. As Benoit illuminates, trying to do everything to please your parents is a condition we carry into adulthood, manifesting itself in a variety of ways, from imposter syndrome to fear of missing out by trying to do too much.

July 2021 Books-What Strange Paradise
Courtesy of Knopf

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad

Available July 20

In What Strange Paradise, we see the global refugee crisis of the last decade through a child’s eyes. The book opens on an overfilled boat that has capsized, resulting in the drowning of Syrian, Ethiopian, Egyptian, Lebanese, and Palestinian refugees trying to make the dangerous sea journey to Europe. The boat washes up on a remote island—with only one survivor: a nine-year-old Syrian boy.

Book Roundup-Shallow Waters
‘Shallow Waters: A Novel’
Courtesy of Atria/Black Privilege Publishing

Shallow Waters by Anita Kopacz

Available August 3

In her debut novel, Anita Kopacz draws on the Yoruban legend of Yemaya, a Black mermaid deity who watched over enslaved African people as they were kidnapped and shipped across the Atlantic. Separated from her family and unaware of her divine destiny, the sixteen-year-old sets off on a journey in search of Obatala, a young man with whom she shares a deep connection. Rooted in history as well as Afro-Caribbean legend, the fantastical novel follows Yemaya as she travels from the Middle Passage to the Underground Railroad, iconic historical figures—including Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.

Summer 2021 Books-Edge Case
‘Edge Case’
Courtesy of Ecco Press

Edge Case by YZ Chin

Available August 10

Edwina is the sole female employee at the tech startup where she works—a miserable experience on its own. To make matters worse, her husband suddenly disappears—prompting not only a search to find him but to also comprehend why he left at all, whether it was due to the struggle of trying to get a green card, problems with their respective parents, or something else altogether.

Book Roundup-Hell of a Book
‘Hell of a Book: A Novel’
Courtesy of Dutton Books

Hell of a Book by Jason Mott

Available August 10

In this novel about what it can mean to be Black in America, the book opens on a Black author setting out on a cross-country book tour to promote his bestselling novel. Simultaneously, the novel looks back in the recent past toward a character referred to as The Kid—presumed to be the author on his tour (or maybe not)—and Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town. Ultimately, the story wrestles with the nation’s obsession with a tragic police shooting playing over and over again on the news within the book—and, in the real world, the nation’s reckoning with the never-ending instances of police violence and brutality against the Black community.

Summer 2021 Books-King of Infinite Space
‘The King of Infinite Space’
Courtesy of G.P. Putnam’s Sons

The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsay Faye

Available August 10

A queer take on Hamlet set in modern-day New York City, Ben Dane (yes, that is his name) is devastated after his Broadway baron father is suddenly dead. But this isn’t simply an adaptation with similar names and moved to another country and time period. The most intriguing story line could be that of Ophelia’s counterpart: Lia, whose mental illness and addictions are examined in a more enlightened, feminist mindset.

Book Roundup-Sometimes I Trip
‘Sometimes I Trip on How Happy We Could Be: Essays’
Courtesy of Grand Central Publishing

Sometimes I Trip on How Happy We Could Be by Nichole Perkins

Available August 17

In this series of essays from writer and podcast host Nichole Perkins, we follow her journey to self-realization through the lens of American pop culture, social media, dating, and southern culture. Sometimes I Trip explores her search for identity in a world constantly telling her who she should be, while also celebrating female sexuality by deconstructing stereotypes about gender, love, and sex.

Book Roundup-Velvet Was the Night
‘Velvet Was the Night: A Novel’
Courtesy of Del Rey Books

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Available August 17

Following her bestseller and lauded 2020 release Mexican Gothic, novelist Silvia Moreno-Garcia returns, this time jumping into 1970s Mexico City amid a time of social unrest and student protests consuming the capital. Told in similar noir style to Mexican Gothic, Maite—a secretary who likes to escape the never-ending stream of bad news in the real world through romance stories and magazines (which doesn’t sound too off base from how many of us handled the last year)—our protagonist finds herself searching for a missing woman and journeying deeper into a secret life of student radicals and dissidents.

Book Roundup-Seeing Ghosts
Courtesy of Grand Central Publishing

Seeing Ghosts: A Memoir by Kat Chow

Available August 24

Kat Chow, former NPR reporter and a founding member of the popular podcast Code Switch, admits in her new memoir that she’s unusually obsessed with death. But when her mother died unexpectedly from cancer, Chow learned what came after: grief. Chow examines the brutal levels of grief: from her father’s debilitating loneliness to tracing those lost along the way (and those who survived them) when her family emigrated from China and Hong Kong to Cuba and the United States. The result is a portrait of grief over the course of three generations, asking who we become after we’ve experienced loss.

Book Roundup-Afghanistan Papers
‘The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War’
Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War by Craig Whitlock

Available August 31

Washington Post reporter and three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Craig Whitlock conducted more than 1,000 interviews for this new look at the 20 years of the war in Afghanistan. While the original goals of the conflict seemed clear in 2001, after thousands of deaths and billions in spending, it’s troubling to even begin to come up with an answer to the question as to what went wrong.

Book Roundup-Magic Dust
‘Magic Dust: What Is It? Who Has It? How Do You Get It?’
Courtesy of Brown Books Publishing Group

Magic Dust: What Is It, Who Has It, and How Do You Get It? by Mark Harris

Available September 7

This collection of true stories—assembled by Mark Harris, founder, president, and CEO of the Maxim Management Group—is meant to demonstrate how how individual work styles can be divided into four categories: visionaries, implementers, motivators, and warriors. According to Harris, a company needs a combination of each. They also need a big of “magic dust.” Harris points to his mentor Mark Cuban as an example of what it means to have magic dust, but Harris’s bigger point is that this quality is so relevant and necessary after a year of upheaval like 2020 when an increasing number of workers are finding themselves looking for a change in their careers.

Book Roundup-You Got Anything Stronger
‘You Got Anything Stronger?: Stories’
Courtesy of Dey Street Books

You Got Anything Stronger?: Stories by Gabrielle Union

Available September 14

In her first memoir, We’re Going to Need More Wine, actress and activist Gabrielle Union was candid, hilarious, and, at times, heartbreaking, tracing the days from her childhood in Northern California to breaking into Hollywood. In You Got Anything Stronger, Union returns with a series of essays grounded in lessons and experiences in her adult life, including opening up about surrogacy, depression, and responses in Hollywood (or lack thereof) to Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.

Book Roundup-The Pain Gap
‘The Pain Gap: How Sexism and Racism in Healthcare Kill Women’
Courtesy of Tiller Press

The Pain Gap: How Sexism and Racism in Healthcare Kill Women by Anushay Hossain

Available October 12

Reflecting on her own pregnancy experience—including nearly dying in labor—author and policy analyst Anushay Hossain explores women’s relationship with and treatment by the U.S. health care system. Often dismissed as hysterical, pain experienced by women—especially women of color—has long been overlooked by many medical professionals in the most advanced and expensive health care infrastructure worldwide.

Book Roundup-Speaking of Race
‘Speaking of Race: Why Everybody Needs to Talk About Racism—and How to Do It’
Courtesy of HarperCollins

Speaking of Race: Why Everybody Needs to Talk About Racism—and How to Do It by Celeste Headlee

Available November 2

As someone who is both Black and Jewish, PBS host Celeste Headlee has felt like she has had to talk about race and her identity since birth. But over the years, she had a startling realization: people want to talk about race usually only want to talk with people who agree with them—whatever the case may be. Headlee argues we have to break out of these bubbles if we are to achieve any kind of productive discussion and/or progress for racial justice.

Book Roundup-Our Country Friends
‘Our Country Friends: A Novel’
Courtesy of Random House

Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart

Available November 2

Call it the COVID-era Decameron. In March 2020, eight friends decamp to a country house for six months to spend quarantine together. After the last year, you can just imagine how badly that must have gone—even if they had an abundance of outdoor space. But Shteyngart has demonstrated time and again a natural talent for bringing wit to even the bleakest situations. (See: Super Sad True Love Story and Lake Success.)

Book Roundup-Flying Blind
‘Flying Blind: The 737 Max Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing’
Courtesy of Doubleday Books

Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing by Peter Robison

Available November 16

As one of the top aviation giants worldwide and after more than 100 years in business, Boeing had been soaring high—until 2018. Two fatal crashes of 737 Max aircraft—killing everyone onboard both jets, a total of 346 lives—was a shocking tragedy and deadly wakeup call. Soon, airlines and governments around the world grounded the aircraft model. But, as illuminated in Flying Blind, the story behind the scenes—based on interviews with current and former employees of Boeing, members of the FAA, industry executives and analysts, and family members of the victims—reveals a broken corporate culture that rewarded top executives even while the company missed deadlines and got lazy with safety tests.

Book Roundup-These Precious Days
‘These Precious Days: Essays’
Courtesy of Harper

These Precious Days: Essays by Ann Patchett

Available November 23

One of the most lauded and successful American authors of her generation, novelist Ann Patchett’s newest work is a collection of essays reflecting on family, friendship, and writing—including the titular essay about a surprising friendship that would become a consequential relationship for the author.

Book Roundup-Smile and Look Pretty
‘Smile and Look Pretty: A Novel’
Courtesy of Park Row

Smile and Look Pretty by Amanda Pellegrino

Available December 28

This acerbic novel’s title, Smile and Look Pretty, is both a dog whistle and a rallying cry. Inspired by the author’s own experiences in Hollywood with famous actors, directors, and screenwriters, the plot follows four overworked and mistreated personal (and female) assistants working in media. Amid the #MeToo movement, they band together to take on their toxic work environments and go public about the sexual harassment inflicted by their bosses, who happened to be very revered (and powerful) male media moguls.

Our mission to make business better is fueled by readers like you. To enjoy unlimited access to our journalism, subscribe today.