Book covers on a celluloid background with spotlights
Book covers on a celluloid background with spotlights


If summer is the season for Blockbuster Movies then autumn is undoubtedly the moment for Blockbuster Books. 

Not only does the change in weather mean there is the perfect excuse to bunker down with a good read, but bookshops are filled to the brim with exciting new releases, from landmark memoirs by Hollywood stars to thought-provoking reads from the world’s most talented artists, stories of espionage bursting with action to great adventures you can join from page one.

Jump to: Gripping Crime and espionageUnmissable drama and adventureMind-boggling fantasyBlockbuster memoirs

There are books to make you laugh, cry and sit at the edge of your seat – as well as some long-awaited installments from your favourite series. So swap your popcorn for a cup of something warming and put your feet up while we present our 2021 literary blockbusters.

Gripping crime and espionage

Silverview by John le Carré

If you haven't read a book by John le Carré then you might know him from the many Oscar, Bafta and Emmy-winning film and TV adaptations his work has inspired, from The Night Manager to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. But for die-hard fans of his novels, there was welcome news this year that there was one final, as yet unpublished novel arriving following the author’s death in December 2020. In Silverview, a British Spy Chief takes a sudden interest in a seaside bookshop. And unbeknown to the owner Julian Lawndsley, his peaceful retirement by the sea is about to take a sinister turn. 

READ MORE: Where to start with John le Carré’s books


The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

It is often said a movie’s sequel is never as good as the original, but Richard Osman is here to prove the same rule does not apply to books. The follow up to record-breaking bestseller The Thursday Murder Club, in his sequel we rejoin Elizabeth and her fellow retirees-turned-amatuer-sleuths as they bust drug rings, hunt for lost diamonds and solve murders that have MI5 baffled. The Man Who Died Twice is a novel that explores as much of love and friendship as it does crime scenes, so no wonder it has already won fans around the world, including legendary film director Steven Spielberg who has snapped up the movie rights.

READ MORE: Richard Osmon on the real-life retirement village that inspired The Thursday Murder Club

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

Author of the 2015 sensation The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins returns this year with another gripping thriller. A Slow Fire Burning is about three women who, despite living in close proximity to Regent’s Canal in London, are relative strangers. That is until a body discovered on one of the moored boats connects them together. As the investigation progresses, long buried secrets bubble to the surface in each of their stories leading to a devastating conclusion. Every bit as gripping as Hawkins' early work and a perfect read to discuss at your next book club too.

READ MORE: Paula Hawkins on the walk that inspired her new novel


Better off Dead by Lee Child and Andrew Child

Jack Reacher is back in this brand new thriller in the bestselling series from brothers Lee and Andrew Child. This time we find Reacher and his companion Michaela Fenton, an army veteran turned FBI agent, in a small backwater town in Arizona. The gang they believe who have answers about Michaela’s missing brother have a strong hold over the community and the residents are not exactly rolling out the red carpet. Be prepared for relentless action, a gripping mystery, and a host of new enemies that Reacher must defeat in one of the best instalments of the series to date. 

READ MORE: Lee Child on the 5 books that have shaped his life


Unmissable drama and adventure

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

Take a road-trip through 1950s America with eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson who, after serving time at a juvenile work farm, begins a journey for a new life in California with his younger brother in tow. But like most road-trips, things don’t quite go to plan, and when Emmett discovers two fellow inmates who escaped in the car that brought him home, the boys begin a fateful journey away from the Sunshine State and towards the bustle of New York City. This extraordinary novel from one of the world’s most masterful storytellers is bursting with unforgettable characters and scenery that transcends the page. 


Matrix by Lauren Groff Cornerstone

Matrix is the first novel from Lauren Groff since her 2015 book Fates and Furies stormed the bestseller charts and was crowned Barack Obama’s book of the year. Set in the 12-Century, it is the story of Marie de France, a nun who becomes the prioress of an impoverished abbey after her exile from the royal court. Banished from her beloved Queen Elonaor and her secret lover Cecily, Marie, who is born from a long line of female warriors and crusaders, draws on her inner strength to lead her fellow sisterhood to claim what is theirs. Matrix is not only a nail-biting adventure but an exploration of belonging, identity and female power. 

READ MORE: An exclusive extract from Matrix by Lauren Groff

The Morning Star by Karl Ove Knausgaard, Martin Aitken (Translator)

Karl Ove Knausgaard’s astonishing new novel, his first after the groundbreaking My Struggle series, follows a group of strangers who all witness an unusually bright star blazing in the sky and experience a mysterious sense of foreboding. Strange things begin to happen as each of the nine character’s worlds shift in unexpected and inexplicable ways. The Morning Star is a dark and unsettling novel which explores the thin line between life and death, questioning how humanity survives when forces beyond our comprehension are unleashed.

READ MORE: A reading guide to Knausgaard's My Struggle

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

Liane Moriarty’s previous novels have had glitzy adaptations; Big LIttle Lies picked up Emmy’s and Golden Globes in 2018, while a miniseries of Nine Perfect Strangers earlier this year boasted a starry cast including Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy. Moriarty’s new novel, Apples Never Fall, is just as dramatic and irresistible. It follows the Delaney family who appear, from the outside, to be as close to perfect as can be. But when Joy Delaney, the matriarch, disappears, her four adult children are forced to reassess their parents’ marriage and their upbringing with new eyes. 

READ MORE: Where to start with Liane Moriarty’s books


Mind-boggling fantasy

Endgame by Malorie Blackman

It has been 20 years since Malorie Blackman first introduced us to Sephy and Callum in her groundbreaking and multi-award-winning series Noughts & Crosses. Five novels, and a starry TV adaptation later, Endgame brings the series to it’s breathtaking conclusion. Influenced by the global events of recent years, Blackman’s grand finale promises to be an emotional read full of twists and turns. And if you haven’t read the first five novels - then now is the time to start binging! 

READ MORE: Malorie Blackman on why she wrote Noughts & Crosses



The Upper World by Femi Fadugba

Set to be a major Netflix movie starring Academy Award winner Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Black Panther) debut author Femi Fadugba’s ‘time-travelling thriller’ will be one of the most talked about books of the year. The Upper World follows Esso who is haunted by the vision of a bullet heading his way after discovering he can see into the future, and Rhia, a fifteen-year-old who is desperate to unlock the mystery surrounding the parents she never got to meet. Mixing time-travel, quantum physics and set in Peckham, London, this Fadugba's debut combines the conceptual films of Christopher Nolan with the realism of Top Boy to conjure a story that’s equal parts gripping thriller and thought-provoking exploration of free will.

READ MORE: Femi Fadugba on how I wrote The Upper World

Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone by Diana Gabaldon

Fans of Outlander have been waiting four years for the next installment of Diana Gabaldon’s historical, time-travelling series. Whether you have been a reader from the start or discovered the books through its suitably breathtaking TV adaptation, Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone, will transport you back to the 18th Century with Claire and Jamie who find themselves on the brink of disaster as they fight for survival during the American Revolution, with war once again threatening to tear their family apart.

READ MORE: Diana Gabaldon on how she created her strong-willed protagonist, Claire Randall

Blockbuster memoirs

Will by Will Smith, Mark Manson

Earlier this year Will Smith shared with his 55 million Instagram followers details of his first book, a memoir the actor and musician described as a ‘labour of love’ which has been written over ‘the past two years’ with the help of bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck Mark Manson. Covering his life from a troubled childhood in West Philadelphia to dominating Hollywood box offices, the global-superstar also provides insight into the life-lessons he picked up on the way. Part memoir, part self-help, this book is just as astonishing as the author himself.


Taste by Stanley Tucci

Award-winning actor Stanley Tucci has already written two cookbooks sharing recipes from his Italian-American family’s table, and now he explores his love of food more deeply in his memoir Taste. Going far beyond recipes, Tucci’s book is filled with anecdotes about growing up in New York, preparing for and filming the foodie films Big Night and Julie & Julia, and falling in love over dinner. This is not just a book for Tucci fans, but a read that will spark the imagination of foodies everywhere.


Misfits by Michaela Coel

Drawing on themes explored in her MacTaggart Lecture, which caused a sensation in 2018, Michaela Coel shares an intimate portrait of her life from her upbringing in East London to her love of theatre and her incredible ability as a storyteller. The BAFTA award winning creator and star of I May Destroy You and Chewing Gum, shares her experience of how harnessing trauma and your sense of not belonging can be turned into something powerful, amounting to a thrilling call-to-action for any reader looking to improve their life.

READ MORE: 5 things we learn from Michaela Coel’s Misfits


Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo

After becoming the first Black woman to win the Booker in 2019 with her celebrated novel, Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo was propelled into the spotlight after three decades as a teacher, activist and author of several novels. Her inspirational story is shared in her new book, Manifesto which charts her journey to success, her creative rebellion against the mainstream and the importance of never giving up. 

READ MORE: Bernardine Evaristo on 5 books that have shaped her life

The Transgender Issue by Shon Faye

Described as a "landmark work that signals the beginning of a new, healthier conversation about trans life”, Shon Faye’s The Transgender Issue aims to uncover the reality of what it means to be trans in a transphobic world. Cutting through the toxic and increasingly polarised ‘debate’ which causes reliable controversy for the media, this book is a manifesto for change and a call for justice and solidarity between all marginalised people. 

READ MORE: “It would be fun to take shots with Emily Dickinson”


1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows by Ai Weiwei 

The long-awaited memoir of internationally renowned artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei explores the origins of his exceptional creativity and passionate political beliefs, as well as telling the incredible story of his father, Ai Qing, once an intimate of Mao Zedong and China’s most influential poet. Guaranteed to be a powerful read and a timely reminder of the urgent need to protect freedom of expression.




Image: Ryan MacEachern for Penguin

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