Books we need in 2021

After the tumultuous events of last year our bookseller Paul takes a look at some of the books we should be reading in 2021


I doubt there are many who aren’t glad to see the back of 2020, and I suspect also that many of us will be struggling to summon up any of the optimism and resolve we usually associate with a new year. But in the midst of adversity this period of pause is cause for reflection, a time to stop for a moment and consider what lessons we have learned and how we might better prepare for the unmapped challenges of the months ahead.

The first real lockdown was made bearable by the unseasonably good weather, but how to survive a cold, dark January lockdown?  Like me you’ll have probably exhausted the best of what Netflix has to offer so of course you’ll be wanting to stock up on books…. But aside from the masses of good reads we could recommend there are some great new titles to comfort, console, inspire and help you better cope with the challenges of our times.


The Art Of Rest by Claudia Hammond

Being encouraged at every turn to do more with our time, proper rest can be a difficult transition. The brilliantly erudite and entertaining Claudia Hammond takes the results of the largest global survey into rest ever undertaken and presents ten activities that can help us work backwards through the gears and enjoy better relaxation. I’m pleased to report that reading is one of the ten activities.


How To Stay Sane In An Age Of Division by Elif Shafak

In this powerful, uplifting plea for conscious optimism, Booker Prize-nominated novelist and activist Elif Shafak addresses our common anxieties and feelings of injustice, and reveals how listening to each other can nurture democracy, empathy and our faith in a kinder and wiser future.


Silence In The Age Of Noise by Erling Kagge

Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge once spent fifty days walking solo across Antarctica, his radio broken. In this charming, quietly life-changing book he takes us on a journey to unlock the power of silence, showing us how to find perfect silence in our daily lives, however busy we are.


There Are Places In The World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness by Carlo Rovelli

A collection of essays that offer an insight into the brilliant mind of theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli. Asking questions such as what it must be to have a brain spread throughout the body like the octopus he takes us way beyond our narrow concerns, broadens our perspectives by asking us to contemplate the infinite. A much needed shot of positivity, the last chapter which addresses the pandemic is entitled ‘This Short Life Feels Beautiful To Us, Now More Than Ever’.


The Stubborn Light Of Things by Melissa Harrison

Moving from the city to the countryside just before lockdown, novelist Melissa Harrison’s diary captures her new found wonder at the marvels of her surroundings and her appreciation of the slowing of time. This book and the accompanying podcasts reaffirm how important it is to slow down, pause and take time to smell the roses.


On Connection by Kae Tempest

At their very best in both poetry and performance Kae Tempess can summon up the godlike authority and wisdom of the sages. This is a meditation of the very essence of creation and how the principles and practices of creativity can help us to develop our sense of self, a greater understanding of others and a deeper connection to the world.