A flatlay of titles recommended by indie booksellers

Enticing reads for 2021. Image: Ryan McEachern/Penguin

If 2020 showed us anything, it was how much we need our independent booksellers. As the country locked down, these community hubs and beloved book shops adapted in the most trying of times to keep us stocked up with reading material.

It’s a new year, and we’re still in lockdown, but independent bookshops are still delivering us with brilliant new books. Up and down the country, we asked those who run them which titles they’re most looking to selling in 2021.

Molly at The Portobello Bookshop, Edinburgh

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson 

This short novel is rightfully receiving a lot of hype as Nelson's writing is vibrant and emotive, following two Black British artists falling in and out of love in London, and exploring race, masculinity and sexuality with a deft hand.

Checkout 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett

In Pond - a collection of short stories linked in their eccentricities - Bennett's writing proved itself to be fresh and inventive, and Checkout 19, about a young female writer and exploring similar themes of class and artistic freedom, will appeal to readers of Deborah Levy and Rachel Cusk. 


Emma at The Hungerford Bookshop, Hungerford

I’m a big fan of Claire Fuller’s novels (Bitter Orange was a big seller for us last Summer): she’s such a great storyteller. So I am very excited that Unsettled Ground is due to be published in March (it’s set near us too!). This promises to be a story of resilience and hope, of homelessness and hardship, of love and survival, in which two marginalized but remarkable people take centre stage. I can’t wait to read it – I know I will be totally immersed in her characters’ lives.


William at Stillwater Books, Felixstowe

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing is a best seller in the shop and a staff favourite. I’m looking forward to another moving and thoughtful novel that deals with important social and emotional issues.


Sheridan at Aardvark Books, Bucknell

Why Women Are Poorer Than Men by Annabelle Williams

I am the only full-time male employee in the bookshop and this book really struck a chord with my female co-workers.

A New History of Britain by Philip Parker

We have organised a number of really large antique map shows here over the last decade and maps are really important to us. This looks like a really new and original take on history.

Three Summers by Margarita Liberaki

Liberaki is not an author that any of us have come across before but this looked really intriguing – sort of in the Elena Ferrante wheelhouse, and just at the moment anything set in Greece seems appealing.


Isobel and Caitlin at City Books, Hove

Empireland by Sathnam Sanghera 

Considering how popular titles concerning race and empire were following the murder of George Floyd last year, I think Empireland will follow suit. Having read a bit about it, it looks like the perfect book for our customers who have read books on the topic (such as White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and Natives by Akala) but now want to delve more into the details and the history behind it.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I've read previous titles by Taylor Jenkins Reid that I really enjoyed so Malibu Rising is one of my most anticipated reads of 2021. I read a proof a couple of months ago and think it will really appeal to our customers.


Louise at Reads Bookshop, Holmfirth

The Push by Ashley Audrain

I read a proof copy of The Push in November in a day. I couldn’t put it down! It was gripping, fast moving and a heart-wrenchingly painful look at motherhood, marriage and trust. I still think about this book often, it has really stayed with me.


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