Between the supply chain issues we’ve been hearing about impacting which frontlist titles are available on bookstore shelves and the closer we get to Christmas, Boxing Day, and Kwanzaa, here are some backlist book recommendations from the past few years that you might have overlooked, but that might be more readily available. Here, in no particular order, are 10 backlist book recommendations for 2021.
When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole
Most well-known for her romance novels, Alyssa Cole’s When No One Is Watching was one of the most disturbing (yet realistic) psychological thrillers I’ve read to date.
The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida by Clarissa Goenawan
A little bit mystery, a little bit magical realism, and a heavy dose of learning the truth of those closest to you, Goenawan’s sophomore novel is a beautifully rendered novel of discovery and grief.
The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed Masood
Syed Masood is great at balancing serious topics with a side of irreverent humor and The Bad Muslim Discount does just that.
The Strange Museum by Ran Walker
Ran Walker has written about 100-word stories for WD (see his article in our Sept/Oct 2021 issue) but this collection of 50-word stories pushes flash fiction to the edge. Walker makes every word count.
Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie
For the historical fiction lover on your list, this novel deals with the complicated aftermath of World War II in Japan with family drama mixed in.
His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
What would it be like to be told you’ll be taking part in an arranged marriage (with someone who’s in love with someone else) and therefore also moving from the small town where you’ve lived your whole life to a bustling city where you know no one? Read this one to find out.
The Editor by Steven Rowley
For the reader interested in both publishing and celebrity, check out Steven Rowley’s The Editor (and don’t miss his incredible 2021 title, The Guncle!).
The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
This romance was laugh-out-loud funny but thoughtful at the same time. Plus, it features a group of superstar male athletes reading romance novels and rejecting toxic masculinity. Now that’s a turn on!
Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar
This genre bending book is called a novel but feels like it could be a memoir and may or may not resemble the author’s own life. Either way, it’s a fascinating portrait of present-day America.
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
Imbolo Mbue’s sweeping 2021 book How Beautiful We Were has appeared on numerous “Best of” lists recent weeks and might be hard to find. If so, look for her brilliant 2017 title instead.