Barnes & Noble Announces Their Top Ten-ish Books of 2021

Press Release

Barnes & Noble Announces Their Top Ten-ish Books of 2021

Titles include literary masterpieces, a celebration of musical genius, a poignant poetry book, groundbreaking history, a one-of-a-kind mental health guide and more 

New York, NY – October 12, 2021 – Barnes & Noble today announced its selection for The Top Ten Books of 2021. The Bookseller’s team of experts selected these ten titles, plus one bonus title, from the incredible new releases in publishing this year. The list includes epic masterpieces, compelling memoirs, the can’t-miss expansion of a groundbreaking work of journalism, and a plethora of what is sure to be instant classics.

“2021 has been an incredible year for publishing and an absolute treat for book lovers,” said Jackie De Leo, Chief Merchandising Officer, Barnes & Noble. “The list of wonderfully curated books includes something for every type of reader: A masterpiece of hope that spans centuries, a wild heist novel from an author better known for his literary Pulitzer-Prizes in fiction, a powerful exploration of the origins of American identity, a cookbook for every type of chef, a dive into the creative history of musical legend, Paul McCartney, and a highly-anticipated collection of poetry from the Inaugural Youth Poet, Amanda Gorman, who quite literally put the art of poetry on the world stage this year.”

Barnes & Noble booksellers connect readers with the best in publishing, with the goal of helping customers discover their next great read or favorite new author. The Best Books of 2021 list joins the Barnes & Noble Book Clubs, Discover Debut Authors, Monthly Picks, Children’s and YA Book Awards, and Book of the Year program to highlight the titles that Barnes & Noble booksellers are most excited about.

Throughout 2021, Barnes & Noble has highlighted a range of diverse and talented authors from a variety of genres and publishers that cover all manner of topics.  This list resurfaces some of those titles while also featuring new titles that readers may have not been introduced to previously.

“It proved impossible to limit our Best Books of 2021 to ten titles this year without a little bit of bloodshed. Every one of these books has passionate advocates and, for the sake of peace, this year we have eleven titles on the list.” said Shannon DeVito, Director of Books, Barnes & Noble. “This list has our favorite publishing of the year. All the titles would make great gifts for the holidays or perfect additions to any readers TBR piles.”

Here are the Barnes & Noble Best Books of 2021:  

The 1619 Project, by Nikole Hannah-Jones
This riveting conversation among journalists, historians, poets, novelists, essayists and photographers lends a Technicolor depth to our American story, opening a kaleidoscopic historical vista that leaves us to ponder voices and stories only now heard. An exhilarating read, The 1619 Project responds to W.E.B DuBois' once asked question: “Nations reel and stagger on their way; they make hideous mistakes; they commit frightful wrongs; they do great and beautiful things. And shall we not best guide humanity by telling the truth about all this, so far as the truth is ascertainable?”

Burnt Toast & Other Disasters, by Cal Peternell
After spending 20+ years as chef at Chez Panisse, Cal Peternell decided to help readers learn from his mistakes with a cookbook featuring great ideas and hacks to rescue food that's burnt, mushy or overcooked. His writing style is often humorous, but his ideas are perfect for all. 

Call Us What We Carry, by Amanda Gorman
Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s poem from the 2021 Inauguration helped set the tone for year, so it is only fitting her poetry have a place on this list. If the light and beauty and understanding washed over you as you read “The Hill We Climb,” then you are ready for full immersion. We are going to say this right out: The world is a better place for the work of Amanda Gorman.

Cloud Cuckoo Land,  by Anthony Doerr  
From beloved, prize-winning author Anthony Doerr comes his first new novel in over six years: Cloud Cuckoo Land. A welcome read that is a celebration of both resilience and hope told from the perspective of children set worlds (and times) apart. An unforgettable epic from a master storyteller at the top of his craft. 

Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner
Michelle Zauner, indie rockstar of Japanese Breakfast fame, is an amazing songwriter and her writing chops are on full display in this often wistful memoir describing life as a rebellious youth trying to reconcile her Asian heritage in a very white Eugene, Oregon.

Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead
Following up his back-to-back Pulitzer Prize winning novels, Colson Whitehead returns with a vivid, wildly entertaining heist novel that makes you feel as if you're walking down a bustling 125th Street in 1960s Harlem. A veritable page-turner from start to finish.

The Lyrics, by Paul McCartney and Paul Muldoon (Editor)
A landmark publishing event featuring two volumes of Paul McCartney's lyrics from his time before The Beatles, with The Beatles, Wings and his solo career — 154 songs in all. Included in the book is McCartney's commentary, never-before-seen photos, handwritten notes, art and ephemera, all of which are part of his personal collection and viewed by the public for the first time. This two-volume set is a masterpiece inside and out with an attractive case and McCartney's face on the spine. It is the gift item of the year and an essential addition to any fan's library.

Pony, by R. J. Palacio
Pony is the poignant tale of a young boy on a journey to find his beloved father on the 19th-century American frontier. Accompanied by a mysterious pony and a ghost only he can see, Silas faces his fears to embark on an epic quest fueled by the indomitable power of love. This richly imagined adventure story is undoubtedly worthy of a spot on every young reader's bookshelf.

 The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich
The inimitable and award-winning voice of Louise Erdrich is back, and this time she is taking on a tumultuous year with the help of a lovable, quirky cast of characters. An unexpected ghost story that is both a timely novel with laugh out loud moments as well as a beautiful commentary on identity.  Erdrich cements herself as one of America’s greatest living authors.  

Under the Whispering Door, by T.J. Klune   
Barnes & Noble Booksellers adore TJ Klune and his charming, big-hearted books like The House in the Cerulean Sea, and waited, admittedly impatiently, for his follow up, Under the Whispering Door, a delightful book about life with Death as a character and a ghost who doesn't want to cross over to whatever's next. A little comfort and a lot of hope goes a long way in a novel by TJ Klune.

You Will Get Through This Night, by Daniel Howell
Daniel Howell is best known for two bestsellers (with his friend, Phil Lester): The Amazing Book is Not On Fire and Dan and Phil Go Outside. He has amassed a huge social media following and understands the importance of the platform; he has been touched by those who are having a hard time...both emotionally and psychologically.  So with the help of a psychologist, he has created this book to guide people through tough times by having them focus on three key stages - getting through tonight, getting through tomorrow and the days after. With his trademark humor, he shares his deeply reflective personal journey to lend power to his words.

The team of Barnes & Noble Buyers also curated the Best New Releases of 2021 in multiple popular categories including Science Fiction and Fantasy, Mystery and Thriller, Young Adult, Young Readers, and more. Readers can visit to learn more about the books selected.  

Customers can find all these titles at their local Barnes & Noble and on They can also join the conversation on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook, using hashtag #BNBestBooks.

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Barnes & Noble, Inc. is the largest retail bookseller in the United States, and a leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products. The Company operates over 600 Barnes & Noble bookstores in 50 states, as well as the Nook Digital business and one of the Web’s premier e-commerce sites, (