10 culturally-engaging books you need to read in 2021

2020 was a historic year socially, politically and economically for our entire world. This year is primed to be a year of reflection and the latest offerings from our favourite authors certainly reflect this new fast-changing world. While 2020 was the perfect year to get back into reading, 2021 is the perfect year to keep up the habit!

With so many books we’re excited about this year we’ve compiled a list of our favourite newbies that have just hit the shelves, plus included a few highly anticipated books from the end of 2020 that you may have missed the memo on.

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life

by George Saunders


“One of the most accurate and beautiful depictions of what it is like to be inside the mind of a writer that I’ve ever read.” — Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

George Saunders has been teaching a class on the Russian short story for the last twenty years. This collection of essays gives us a version of that class, sharing insights he and his students have learnt about the art of telling stories. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is an exploration of not just how great writing works but of how the mind works while reading. It comes highly recommended for anyone who’s interested in writing a book of their own someday.

Dark Horses: A novel

by Susan Mihalic


This darkly gripping debut novel will have you deeply invested from the very beginning. Following Roan Montgomery, a teenage equestrian prodigy, this is the story of a young girl’s struggle to reclaim her life from her abusive father. This book is perfect for those of you who enjoyed Paula Hawkins’ psychological thriller, The Girl on the Train.

The Speechwriter

by Martin McKenzie-Murray


McKenzie-Murray’s fiction debut, this is a political satire that isn’t one to miss! His novel takes readers on a frantic, hilarious and surreal journey through the corridors of the Australian Government. Toby, the former speechwriter to the Prime Minister has reached a new low and finds himself locked behind bars in a high-security prison. A tale of twisted bureaucracy and government officials gone rogue, Toby makes a bid for freedom from his life as an Australian public servant.

Klara and the Sun: A novel

by Kazuo Ishinguro


The latest fiction offering from Nobel laureate and Booker Prize winner Kazuo Ishinguro. Klara is an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational skills. From her place in the store, she observes the behaviour of those that come in and browse. She remains hopeful that someone will choose her soon.

A thrilling book from an unusual perspective, this novel is perfect for those who enjoyed the Spike Jonze film Her.

The Believer

by Sarah Krasnostein


Sarah Krasnostein is an award-winning author who is meditating on what it means to believe. From UFOs to death doula’s (a midwife for dying), Krasnostein goes to incredible lengths to thoroughly investigate the weird phenomenon of belief.

This non-fiction investigation follows her many real-life adventures, including shadowing ghost hunters in Melbourne and spending four months living with the devout Mennonites in New York City, just to name a couple. The Believer allows you to follow Krasnostein’s journey to better understand the reasons why we believe what we believe. If you love any of Louis Theroux’s documentaries, this book is for you.

A Promised Land

by Barack Obama


The 44th President of the United States presents an authentic and deeply personal reflection on his political beginnings. In this highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his early political aspirations to the watershed moment he was elected as president. Beautifully written, this is a timely read for those interested in learning more about the power of democracy.

Growing Up Disabled in Australia

by Carly Findlay


Disability can present itself in many ways, here are just a few.

The fifth book in the highly acclaimed “Growing Up” anthology series, Growing Up Disabled in Australia, is an honest portrait of what it’s like to be different. Poetry, graphic art and interviews with prominent Australians such as Senator Jordon Steele-John and Paralympian Isis Holt fill the pages of this eye-opening book.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

by Isabel Wilkerson


Beyond race, beyond class, beyond any other factor - there is a power caste system that influences people’s lives and behaviours. Pulitzer Prize winner, Isabel Wilkerson examines this idea across countries like America, India and Nazi Germany. An Oprah’s Book Club pick, this New York Times bestseller is an original and revealing reexamination of what lies under the surface of our ordinary lives.

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

by Katherine May


An intimate, revelatory memoir-styled book that aims to explore the ways we can care for, and repair ourselves when life knocks us down. This deeply personal narrative is woven with lessons from literature, mythology and the natural world, and depicts author Katherine May as she deals with life's challenges. Another New York Times bestseller, this book is perfect for anyone looking for nourishing and uplifting ways to usher in a new season of life.

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need

by Bill Gates


In 2015, Bill Gates gave a Ted Talk where he systematically outlined how our world wasn’t ready for a global pandemic. Five years later, Coronavirus was unleashed across our world and we have since realised he was right. Now Gates tackled the topic of Climate Change and outlines a practical, urgent and accessible plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero. We didn’t listen to him in 2015, but maybe we’ll listen to him in 2021?

Cashrewards is home to some of the biggest names in books, including Dymocks, Angus & Robertson, Booktopia, Book Depository and QBD Books. If you’re looking to build your library throughout 2021 join Cashrewards today and earn cashback when you purchase these great titles.

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