Reading plans

10 Novels Heading to My Bookshelves

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is on the theme of the most anticipated releases for the second half of 2021. I’m taking a slightly different angle with a list that combines books yet to be released with some I missed from earlier in the year.

New Releases For Second Half 2021

White Spines: Confessions of a Book Collector by Nicholas Royle

Books about books can be dangerous reading territory – they give me too many ideas for books to acquire. Nicholas Royle’s book is not your usual list of books however. It’s a mix of memoir and narrative non-fiction in which Royle shares his passion for Picador’s fiction and non-fiction publishing from the 1970s to the end of the 990s. It explores the bookshops and charity shops, the books themselves, and the way a unique collection grew and became a literary obsession.

Due out 15 July 2021 from Salt Publishing

The Magician by Colm Tóibín

A fictional account of the complex life of Nobel Prize winner Thomas Mann. Publishers Simon and Schuster describe the book as “a stunning marriage of research and imagination. Tóibín explores the heart and mind of a writer whose gift is unparalleled and whose life is driven by a need to belong and the anguish of illicit desire. The Magician is an intimate, astonishingly complex portrait of Mann, his magnificent and complex wife Katia, and the times in which they lived—the first world war, the rise of Hitler, World War II, the Cold War, and exile. This is a man and a family fiercely engaged by the world, profoundly flawed, and unforgettable.

Released September 23, 2021

Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet

Burnet’s first novel His Bloody Project was a terrific read, ingeniously plotted and highly atmospheric book set in the 1860s. His new novel is set in the more modern world of London in 1965. An unworldly young woman believes that a charismatic psychotherapist, Collins Braithwaite, has driven her sister to suicide. Intent on confirming her suspicions, she assumes a false identity and presents herself to him as a client, recording her experiences in a series of notebooks. But she soon finds herself drawn into a world in which she can no longer be certain of anything. Even her own character.

Due for publication in October 2021 by Saraband

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

I’ve never read anything by Jonathan Franzen, but I couldn’t resist this latest novel purely because it’s part one of a trilogy called “A Key to All Mythologies” . That’s the subject of a long- laboured, unfinished project by the Reverend Casaubon in Middlemarch, my all time favourite novel. Details of Crossroads are skimpy at the moment, all we know it’s set in the American midwest which is home to the Hildebrandt family and will trace them through three generations.

Due for publication October 5, 2021 by Fourth Estate

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

Having loved A Gentleman in Moscow, the chance to read more by Towles was hard to resist. The Lincoln Highway is set in 1950s America where an eighteen-year-old boy returns to his Nebraska home having served a year at a work farm for involuntary manslaughter. He intends to collect his young brother and head to California to start a new life but his plans are thrown into disarray by the appearance of two friends from the work farm who have a very different destination in mind.

Scheduled for publication October 5, 2021 from Hutchinson

The Ones That (Almost) Got Away

There are so many new books published every month that it’s hard to keep up. Here are five I missed when they were published but do want to read.

Fox Fires by Wyn Menmuir

Menmuir made the 2016 Booker longlist with his enigmatic novella The Many. His new novel about a lost girl and an unsettling city, sounds just as intriguing. Wren Lithgow has followed her concert pianist mother around the cities of Europe for almost two decades. When they arrive in the mysterious city-state of O, where Wren was conceived during a time of civil war, she resolves to find man she believes is her father.

Published by Salt in June 2021

Lean Fall Stand by Jon McGregor

How did I manage to miss the fact that Jon McGregor had a new novel? I have high expectations for Lean Fall Stand based on my experience of reading the longlisted Booker title Reservoir 13. His latest offering is focused on an Antarctic researcher brought low by tragedy and desperate to communicate with the outside world.

Publishers Harper Collins describes it as “a stunning novel that mesmerizingly and tenderly unpicks the notion of heroism and explores the indomitable human impulse to tell our stories – even when words fail us”.

Issued by Harper Collins in April 2021

China Room by Sunjeev Sahota

I still haven’t got around to reading Sahota’s earlier novel The Year of The Runaways but that doesn’t prevent me wanting to read his latest novel. Sahota takes us to rural Punjab in 1929 where Mehar, a young bride , is trying to discover the identity of her new husband. She and her sisters-in-law, married to three brothers in a single ceremony, spend their days hard at work in the family’s ‘china room’, sequestered from contact with the men. When Mehar develops a theory as to which of them is hers, a passion is ignited that will put more than one life at risk.

Published May 2021 by Harvill Secker

Kololo Hill by Neema Shah

A debut novel set amidst the turmoil of the expulsion of Ugandan Asians by Idi Amin. When a devastating decree is announced which says all Ugandan Asians must leave the country in ninety days, Asha and Pran and Pran’s mother Jaya, must leave everything they’ve ever known for a new life in Britain. But as they try to rebuild their lives, a terrible secret hangs over them.

Published April by Picador

The Art of Losing by Alice Zeniter translated by Frank Wynne

Zeniter takes us to Algeria in a novel which traces a woman’s attempt to unearth secrets of her family’s past. Naïma has always known that her family came from Algeria, but they are silent about their past and the only knowledge she has of that foreign country is what she’s learned from her grandparents’ tiny flat in a crumbling French sink estate. But now Naïma is visiting the country for herself and is determined to answer the questions she has about her family’s history. 

Published by Picador in February 2021


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

27 thoughts on “10 Novels Heading to My Bookshelves

  • Towles interests me. Love reading about the midwest, but I fear from the description that the story might be crime-related? I wonder. I have read a couple of Franzens and liked them.

    I have a problem though and wonder if you have confronted it too. You know that little W icon on Comments blocks that you can click to have your commenter details filled in? Well, it works for me on some blogs (like Lisa’s, Bill’s, Brona’s) but not others (like yours, Kate’s, Buried in Print’s). Does this happen to you. Is it something to do with connecting to self-hosted versus not blogs?

      • I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read by him – still to read The Master however

    • I don’t the issue is with self hosted (mine isn’t anyway). I get it with some blogs too – but only when I access them via the iPad. I also then get asked to log into WordPress, for each separate blog I follow where I want to leave a comment. It never used to happen but is so, so irritating.

  • The Art of Losing is next for me, after I finish The Great Mistake by Jonathan Lee. It’s been waiting for me since March! I also have assigned myself a few summer reading books, outside of new releases, and one of them is Colm Toibin’s The Master, which I’m very excited to read. Not sure I’ll be ready to pick up The Magician come September; I’ll see what you and others think of it.

    • I have yet to read The Master – I did get it as an audiobook a few years ago but it didn’t work in that format – not all books transfer well to audio do they. I kept meaning to get the book from the library but so many other books got in the way

  • I’ve never read any Graeme Macrae Burnet, but I just downloaded His Bloody Project, so I hope I’ll agree with you about this being terrific! Also, I look forward to your view on the new Amor Towles – A Gentleman in Moscow is definitely a favourite of mine as well.

    • His Bloody Project was so convincing, I thought it was a true story!

    • I do like so much of what Salt publishes. I didn’t recognise the name Nicholas Royle but since I too love a rummage around second hand bookshops, he sounded like a kindred spirit

  • Lean Fall Stand is my choice – but what a wonderful smorgasbord of books.

  • You do so well at keeping up with hew books. I’ll never finish all my old ones

    • Neither will I Derrick – but I do like the thought of discovering a new author who could become a favourite

  • I’ve read China Room, Lean Fall Stand and White Spines which is a wonderfully idiosyncratic book, a treat for the bookish nerds amongst us, and have a copy of The Lincoln Highway. I’ll be finishing The Magician today. Very different from my favourite Toibin novels but extremely impressive. Happy reading, Karen!

    • I should have known you’d be so far ahead and will have already read many of these….

  • Several caught my eye in this list The Lincoln Highway lloked particulalry interesting.

    • Towles is wonderful at creating atmosphere so I’m hoping that is evident in this book

  • What an ambitious list. Many look intriguing. I’m adding Art of Losing to my TBR list. Thanks.

    • I chose that one because I’ve read only one other novel by an Algerian author and it wasn’t very good. So I’m hoping this will be much better

      • A couple of years ago I read a reworking of Camus’ The Stranger by Algerian author Kamel Daoud Stands. This time, the story is told from the perspective of the younger brother of the “Arab” who is murdered on the beach by Camus’ central character Mersault. It was very well done but I read it in the original French.

        • My French isn’t up to that level sadly…

        • If you’re interested, I believe the English translation also had good reviews.

  • Very interesting list of forthcoming books. Isn’t this the Nicholas Royle who was Alison Moore’s (To The Lighthouse) editor? Also associated with Nightjar Press? His bookish memoir should definitely be worth reading!
    I’d almost forgotten His Bloody Project, which I read when it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. I liked it and am definitely interested in Burnett’s Case Study. I also like Jonathan Frantzen, albeit in limited doses (if you only read one, go for The Corrections), so Crossroads definitely goes on the TBR list as well. BTW Middlemarch is one of my very favorite novels — every time I read it I find something new.
    I’m looking forward the most, however, to Toíbín’s latest. I loved his take on Henry James (The Master); this sounds like another interpretation of an almost-as-great novelist (to me, no one equals HJ), whom I also really admire.
    I just checked your review of Memuir’s The Many BTW and was gratified to discover that it left you, too, a bit baffled! I read it years ago, liked it in a mild kind of way, but thought it didn’t quite add up or, more likely, I had missed something. I must admit that Fox Fires has potential; depending on the reviews I may go for it.
    I’ll probably skip the new Towles novel. I finally read Rules of Civility last month and, while it was most enjoyable, it didn’t leave me with an overwhelming desire to read more of his novels. I realize this is a minority opinion and I should probably check out Gentleman in Moscow first, as many readers seem to prefer it.

    • I don’t know about his connection to Alison Moore but she is part of the Salt Publishing stable and he works as an editor there, so I suspect you are right… Yes he is indeed the man behind Nightjar.

      I laughed when I saw your comment about Middlemarch because I could have written those exact words myself. I think I’ve read it at least 12 times and still find something new in it

    • I’ve only read Gentleman in Moscow but it was so wonderful I knew I wanted to read more by him


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