Most of us are holding out for bigger and better things in 2021, even as we reckon with the hands 2020 dealt us. New books won't magically fix your problems, but there's nothing wrong with taking a break from the world with a good book. The
most anticipated books of January 2021 include something that's right for every reader, so take some time to treat yourself to a brand-new read.
Whether you're looking for a new author to love or want to fall back on an old favorite, January has plenty to offer you. The month brings a handful of buzzy debuts, including Liz Tichenor's
The Night Lake, Torrey Peters' Detransition, Baby, Eman Quotah's Bride of the Sea. More than a few of your faves return to store shelves in January, so be on the lookout for Emma Lord's You Have a Match, Seanan McGuire's Across the Green Grass Fields, and Angie Thomas' Concrete Rose. Trust us: You're going to want to clear off your nightstand.
Here are the 29
most anticipated books of January 2021: We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. Jan. 5
Blythe is terrified of screwing up her children. Her own mother abandoned her when Blythe was 11 years old, and
her mother died by suicide. After losing both her husband and their son, Blythe becomes increasingly preoccupied with her firstborn: a daughter named Violet. Convinced that Violet means to harm her new half-sibling, Blythe befriends her ex-husband's wife, intent on delivering a word of warning. Jan. 5
Two nearly immortal people battle for the fate of their benefactors in this romping new space opera. The indigenous creatures of a newly colonized planet, the Emissaries blessed Vissia and Rosie with unnaturally long lifespans. Now, 100 years later, Vissia's in charge of the company that owns the Emissaries' home planet, and is determined to milk every last resource from them. It's up to Rosie, a cleric-turned-mafiosa, to save the Emissaries, but they'll need some help to do it.
After Kezi is killed at a social justice rally on her 18th birthday, her sisters, Happi and Genny, must confront the young activist's intricate legacy. The media's portrayal of Kezi is far removed from the sister they remember, so Happi and Genny embark on a memorial road trip based on Kezi's research, using the
Green Book to chart their course. Jan. 5
Set in the late-19th-century Wild West, Anna North's
Outlawed centers on Ada, the newlywed daughter of the town midwife, who has not had a child in the year she's been married. Knowing that her town hangs infertile women as witches, Ada joins the Hole in the Wall Gang — a group of misfit women who live on society's fringe. But the Gang are planning a potentially deadly mission, and their newest member will have to decide whether living the life she wants is worth the risk. Jan. 5
Composed by an Episcopal priest in the wake of her son's and mother's deaths,
The Night Lake is a deft, poignant exploration of how we see and experience grief, both as mourners and as comforters. Jan. 12
Torn apart with grief after Martìn's stroke, but unable to go to his side without drawing press attention, Valeria hires her lover's wife, Isla, to paint her portrait, just so she can be near him. Nothing is cut-and-dry in Valeria and Isla's world, however, and conversations between the two of them soon reveal that a treacherous game is afoot.
A teenager who has always been overshadowed by others finds her place and time to shine in Mahogany L. Browne's lyrical YA debut,
Chlorine Sky. Reeling from a fight with her BFF, the young protagonist turns to others for validation, before blazing her own trail, in this coming-of-age novel. Jan. 12 Find Me in Havana provides a fictionalized account of the life of Cuban actress and singer Estelita Rodriguez. Based on interviews with Rodriguez's daughter, Nina Lopez, Serena Burdick's new novel reexamines the events leading up to the actress' tragic death at age 37 — the causes of which remain unknown to this day. Jan. 12
In the final years of World War II, as Sweden struggles to remain a neutral third-party between the Allied and Axis powers, two workers within the Swedish government form an unlikely alliance to catch a killer responsible for an overlooked case, in Cecilia Eckbäck's
The Historians. Jan. 12
On a fateful night in 1996, while camping out with friends in an abandoned house for an end-of-the-world bash, Andy and her BFF, Peter, both fall for a captivating newcomer named David. Twenty years later, David disappears, leaving Andy to figure out what happened to him — and what connection the missing persons case has to their shared past.
When a comet large enough to cause a mass-extinction event appears in the sky, the world's greatest scientific minds gather to devise some method of knocking it off its collision course with Earth. But as word leaks out that the world may be about to end, human society begins to devolve in ever-more-frightening ways, and it soon becomes clear that the comet may end life on Earth... whether it hits us or not.
The first novel in a planned duology, Greta Kelly's
The Frozen Crown follows Askia, the warrior-princess of Seravesh. Fighting a war that seems more hopeless by the day, Askia journeys to Vishir, where she hopes to form an alliance with Emperor Armaan that will save her people from the encroaching Roven Empire. But Askia's battle training has not prepared her to deal with the palace intrigue she encounters in Armaan's court. Jan. 12
When a DNA test reveals that she has a sister she never knew existed, 16-year-old Abby schedules some time away at a summer camp in the Pacific Northwest. The whole point is to get to know Savvy, but the two sisters turn out to be nothing alike. And with her crush, Leo, working in the camp kitchen, Abby finds herself more than a little distracted in this heartfelt new rom-com.
The sixth instalment in Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series,
Across the Green Grass Fields is a standalone story perfect for newcomers. Dissatisfied with her life, Regan steps through a magical doorway and into the Hooflands: a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other equine creatures she thought only existed in fairytales. When humans enter the Hooflands, however, they're supposed to be heroes, and Regan doesn't know if she has it in her to live up to her hosts' expectations. Jan. 12
In her debut memoir, Nadia Owusu opens up about being abandoned by her mother as a toddler, travelling the world with her father and sisters, and getting caught in the middle of natural disasters. Throughout
Aftershocks, Owusu explores the tangled realities of living in her multicultural heritage. Jan. 12
Another memoir, this time from Olympic runner Alexi Pappas,
Bravey examines the author's life in the wake of her mother's death by suicide. The athlete discusses navigating grief, overcoming challenges, and finding beauty in the face of desolation here. Jan. 12
Reese and Amy once had the perfect life. Their relationship ended when Amy detransitioned to become Ames, but he's always hoped that he and Reese could get back together. Now that Ames' boss, Katrina, is pregnant with his baby, he's come to Reese with an unlikely request. Will she agree to be the third parent to his first child?
Jan. 12 The Au Pair author Emma Rous returns to stores this month with The Perfect Guests. Aspiring actress Sadie lands an easy gig playing a guest at a murder-mystery party, but soon finds that not all is as it seems. Who are the other guests at the party, and what is their connection to the teenage girl who played another game in the manor house, 30 years earlier? Jan. 12
Angie Thomas is back this January with a prequel to
The Hate U Give. Concrete Rose centers on Maverick Carter, whom readers will recognize as the father of Starr and Seven. This time around, Mav is a 17-year-old kid trying to raise his newborn son without dealing drugs to survive. Jan. 12
Mia only knows her name because her phone told her so. She's just woken up in the hospital, dressed in designer clothing, with no idea of who she was before the accident and no identification besides her cell. Her Instagram reveals that she lives in a pink duplex, but the home's resident house-sitter, Max, has never seen her before. The duplex's owner, JP, is only a text away, and he tells Mia she's his girlfriend... but the truth is more convoluted than Mia's marred memories.
An aimless, nameless college student takes center stage in this debut novel from Australian American writer Madeleine Watts. Taking its name from a mythical geographical feature that the protagonist's ancestors disappeared while searching for,
The Inland Sea follows the young writer as she talks to strangers who phone the emergency call center in which she works. Jan. 19
It's been 15 years since Josephine was one of the Divines: the notoriously rebellious students of the all-girls' boarding school, St John the Divine. Now she's back on the school's hallowed grounds, searching for answers about what happened at St John... and why it closed down for good.
Tavern wench Tanya has helped keep her guardian's pub up and running for as long as she can remember. Now, in the wake of tragedy, she stands to lose everything she's ever known. There's only one way to protect her legacy, and that's to convince the queen to bequeath the tavern to Tanya herself. Too bad there's plenty of danger to stand in her way...
A locked-room mystery set against a snowy, Alpine backdrop, Allie Reynolds'
Shiver centers on five friends who come together to catch up after spending the last 10 years apart. Once they arrive, however, they quickly come to realize that they're stranded in the cold. Someone wants them to remember a sixth friend, but who is it and — after all this time — why? Jan. 26
A new biography of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ida B. Wells, written by none other than Wells' great-granddaughter, is headed your way this month. With bold graphics and a compelling story,
Ida B. the Queen is sure to be one of the year's best biographies. Jan. 26
After falling in love with an older man, art student Rosie finds herself living a survivalist lifestyle to keep her small daughter, Miranda, alive. Abandoned in a wilderness cabin for weeks at a time, Rosie and Miranda forge a new and different kind of existence. But when their family patriarch reenters the picture, bringing treachery to their doorstep, wife and mother Rosie must make a harrowing choice in Melanie Finn's
The Hare. Jan. 26
Drawing comparisons to
The Time Traveler's Wife, Helen Fisher's Faye, Faraway centers on a 37-year-old woman raising two children without her own mother's guidance. Jeanie died when Faye was young, but when a miraculous temporal shift occurs, daughter and mother reconnect in ways that neither of them could have expected. Jan. 26
From the Bustle Digital Group family, there's
Everybody (Else) Is Perfect: the debut essay collection from former Nylon Editor-in-Chief Gabrielle Korn. In her first book, Korn details her rise to the upper echelons of fashion publishing, coming out in the L Word era, and living with an eating disorder, among other intimate topics. Jan. 26
Years ago, Hanadi's father left her and her mother in Cleveland when he returned to Saudi Arabia. Her mother kidnapped her to keep her away from him, terrified of losing her daughter in addition to her husband. Now, Hanadi's all grown up and forced to reckon with the aftershocks of her parents' decisions in Eman Quotah's compelling debut,
Bride of the Sea.