THE YEAR STARTED OFF WITH THE PROMISE OF VACCINES, THE WORLD REOPENING AND socializing in person once again, but the resurgence of COVID-19 with Delta, and now Omicron, variants makes the comfort of losing yourself in the pages of a book all the more appealing. Luckily, 2021 provided a plethora of intriguing options to pique any interest from thrillers on this planet and in space to a Dustbowl family saga, or from the real-life promise of artificial intelligence to the heartbreak wrought by addiction and gun violence. Here are Newsweek's picks for the best books of 2021, fiction and non-fiction treasures that helped us get through another challenging year. - Juliana Pignantaro
The Four Winds
By Kristin Hannah | ST. MARTIN’S
Hannah’s brutally beautiful latest novel unfolds in 1930s Texas, where the Martinelli family must choose between the blighted dust of the land they love dearly, or face the unknown country to the west.
Project Hail Mary
By Andy Weir | BALLANTINE
From the author of The Martian and Artemis comes another interstellar story, in which the sole survivor of a mission has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Weir spins a space yarn in a way only he can. Fans of his earlier works won’t be disappointed.
By P.J. Vernon | DOUBLEDAY | $26.95
This fever dream of a thriller follows a former addict who finds himself living the life of his dreams, or so he thought. Oliver Park is living with his partner, a distinguished, older, surgeon, who has given him everything he's ever wanted. But Oliver risks it all at a bathhouse, unleashing a nightmarish spiral of events that won't stop in this chilling, compulsively readable tale.
By Maggie Shipstead
KNOPF I $28.95
Maggie Shipstead defies gravity and expectations with her best work to date. The epic tale of a young girl, Marian, who will stop at nothing to take to the skies grows with each page, as richly imagined details bring to life a woman who doesn't neatly fit into the box life has given her. Interwoven is the story of Hadley, cast to play Marian on film. Every character is extraordinarily real, making for a stunning story that will wrap you up in its complex web and keep you there long after the final word.
By Richard Powers
W.W. NORTON & COMPANY I $27.95
This slim novel is nothing short of transportive, starting from the very first line. A scientist, shattered by his wife's untimely death, struggles to raise his unusual young son in a world that wants to mold him into something he is not. When he is introduced to a treatment that may change everything for the both of them, he must decide which path he'll travel. Powers expertly grapples with existential questions, interspersing beatific rays of hope throughout the story like sunbeams.
By Caitlin Wahrer
PAMELA DORMAN BOOKS | $27
At first glance, a book that could have been like so many others, The Damage manages to be wholly original, no easy feat in contemporary fiction. The life of a young lawyer, Julia, is turned upside down when her brother-in-law lands in the hospital after a violent sexual assault. The family is nearly shattered as Nick's older brother Tony's protective instincts drive him to the brink. Wahrer's emotionally charged and raw debut is made to be devoured in one sitting.
Once There Were Wolves
By Charlotte McConaghy
FLATIRON BOOKS | $27.99
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