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158: Books We Are Excited to Read in 2021

Episode image: Episode 158: Looking Forward to 2021: Books We're Excited About

In this episode of the Unabridged Podcast, after their Bookish Check-ins, Ashley, Jen, and Sara share books they're excited to read in 2021. These are all books by some of our favorite authors, so we also talk about our histories with the authors' previous works. It turns out there is a focus on Young Adult authors, which is not a surprise since we all love YA Lit! Then, we conclude the episode with the Give Me One segment, sharing some memories of childhood gifts we received from Santa.

Bookish Check-in

Jen - Kate Stayman-London’s One to Watch

Our Picks for 2021 Books We're Excited to Read

Ashley - Nicola Yoon’s Instructions for Dancing (June 3, 2021)

Jen - John Green’s The Anthropocene Reviewed (May 18, 2021)

Sara - Angie Thomas’s Concrete Rose (January 12, 2021)

Mentioned in Episode

Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give and On the Come Up

Give Me One - Memorable Gift from Santa

Listen in to hear special items from childhood that we loved!

(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)

Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.

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Bookish Check-in

book cover of Chip Heath and Dan Heath's The Power of Moments

Ashley said, "So I am reading a genre I don't read very often. We are looking toward a discussion that features behavioral science books in January, and I find that I really enjoy reading those books, but I really don't make time for it very often. So I'm reading Chip and Dan Heath's The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact. So this one is really fascinating in looking at the way that people understand experiences, and so I am really interested in their perspective.

"I just think so far I find that it has a lot of actionable items. It's very approachable, and it helps make a connection for the reader between what the science has revealed about what people enjoy and why and also what makes an impact on people and why and how to make those things happen. They give lots of examples and talk about real-life practices that are doing these things that enhance moments for people. So it's been really interesting and definitely outside of my normal genre range but something that I'm really enjoying. Jen recommended this one to me, and I'm really glad that she did because I am really fascinated by what they share, and I can see how I can put it into play in my own life."

book cover of Kate Stayman-London's One to Watch

Jen said, "So I am reading one, Sara, that you have talked about before. I am reading Kate Stayman-London's One to Watch. I picked it up—I'm in the midst of grading research essays, so I really should have waited because I started reading it last night, and I just really want to read that instead of grading right now, which is not good for my self discipline. But it is great. I don't want to say a ton about it because Sara's talked about it, but it is about a plus-size fashion blogger, Bea Schumacher, who has not been able to find love. She has this relationship that turns out to be pretty toxic, and she is watching this show called Main Squeeze, which is basically The Bachelor really, and just gets really frustrated by it. And on her blog, she posts this critique of it, and that critique makes the new producer of Main Squeeze approach her to be the woman who is trying to find love on the show. Bea knows that it's a risk because she knows that she is going to be acting out a lot of the trauma that she's had in her dating life in front of the nation. She knows that that will make her a potential target for trolls, which she has faced before, but she decides that it's worth it and that it could really make a difference for other people who have felt the same way she's felt. So I am just at the part where she has met the 25 bachelors, which is kind of a horrifying scene. So I am feeling a little traumatized right now. But it is so compellingly told: it's a multi genre book, so there are blogs in it, there are text conversations, there are email conversations, and I just am really, really loving it. So that is One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London. I really enjoyed that one so much.

book cover of James Clear's Atomic Habits

Sara said, "So, like Ashley, I'm reading for our behavioral science, goal-setting episode that's coming in January, and also like Ashley, I don't typically read these types of books because they often make me feel very anxious. Even though the book isn't doing it, in my mind, it's pointing out things where I'm failing, and then I get really overwhelmed. So I decided to start Atomic Habits by James Clear, and I've had it on my desk or my TBR for so long because I've heard so many good things about it. I am actually really enjoying it: I think he does a really good job of talking about clear, actionable things that you can do, and what I like about Atomic Habits is that he talks about making 1% changes and how doing a 1% change every day, which is so small, but over the course of a year or two years, it makes an astronomical difference in what you can accomplish. To me, it's basically saying take things in bite-sized pieces and not trying to do everything at once. That is speaking to me because I am trying to become a better runner. And I'm the type of person who was like, I need to run five miles at one time, and then I can't do it, and I stopped. So I'm going to just try to run one mile every day and then gradually increase. It's working for me, and my running is getting better, and I just think that this feels manageable. The tips that he gives feel really manageable. So I'm really enjoying it. And I'm excited to read the rest.

Main Segment - Books We Are Excited to Read in 2021

Sara said, "Now we are going to get into the main part of the episode, and what we are going to do is to talk about a book by an author that we love that is coming out in 2021 that we're excited to read. Jen, do you want to start us off?"

book cover of John Green's The Anthropocene Reviewed

Jen said, "I don't know that I can describe how excited I am about this book. This is John Green's The Anthropocene Reviewed. It is coming out on May 18, and we have talked often on the podcast about how much we all love John Green. His fiction I think is so smart and so relevant to teenagers. I just I love his fiction. The Anthropocene Reviewed is a bit of a shift for him—I also love his podcast of the same name, and I actually used it in class today as an example of a podcast with a single voice. So in that podcast, he takes just these random topics from what he says is the human-centered world, and he reviews them on a five-star scale.

"So The Anthropocene Reviewed, the book, is based on a lot of those podcast episodes. I think he's adding some topics that he maybe didn't talk about in the podcast, but I think it's that same approach of just sort of bite-sized pieces of how his brain works and the way he approaches the world, which is one of my favorite things about him. I think he's just a kind person. And I think I love the way he thinks about the world and thinks about what's important, so I am all about anything he writes. That was an auto-buy for me."

book cover of Nicola Yoon's Instructions for Dancing

Ashley shared, "This is another author that we all love. I am really excited about Nicola Yoon's new book, she has another book coming out called Instructions for Dancing. So this one is coming out on June 3. Her other two books, Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also a Star are very different in their plot, and in some ways, they're different styles as well. But the plot lines are really different and what the characters work through, but I think that what resonated for me when I first read Everything, Everything, I had read very little romance, and that I loved everything about that book. I could not put it down; I thought it was phenomenal.

"So this one is about Evie, who is really disillusioned about love, and she gets a copy of a book of instructions for dancing. There's a note inside, and she winds up going to this dance studio based on the note. She's really reluctant to pursue that, but then at the studio, she meets someone. So she has a dilemma between her steadfast determination to say no to love and kind of what's in her face is what it looks like from the overview. Like I said, I mean, I think that the plot sounds great, but I'm also here for everything that she writes because I think that regardless of what the story itself is, what she does with her characters really works for me, and I can't wait to read it. So again, that's Nicola Yoon's Instructions for Dancing."

book cover of Angie Thomas's Concrete Rose

Sara shared her pick, and she said, "You're not going to have to wait long for this one because it comes out January 12. It's no secret that we at Unabridged love Angie Thomas and her work. We all love The Hate U Give, and we enjoyed On the Come Up. I am just so excited for Concrete Rose, which is kind of a prequel to The Hate U Give. So in The Hate U Give, Starr is the main character, and her father is Big Mav, and this is Big Mav's story. This is about his life as a teenager, how he sells drugs to take care of his mom while his dad is in prison, and then he becomes a father at 17 to Seven, who is also in The Hate U Give. It's all about the choices he makes about trying to get out of the King Lords, the gang that he sells drugs for to take care of his family, and trying to straighten out his life.

"I watched the trailer of Angie Thomas talking about it, and I always love seeing an author talk about their own work. From watching her talk about Starr and the characters in The Hate U Give, I know that she loves her character so much, and it's evident that she loves Maverick. I'm just really excited to see what she does with Maverick's story and to learn more about him."

Jen said, "I think it's interesting that we all chose young adult authors."

Ashley responded, "I did notice that about that too, and I realized when I was thinking about when I was looking for books that were coming out, all the authors who came to my mind were YA lit authors. That's still, I think, when I get to the core of what I read the most, where I'm coming back to an author, that those are the favorite authors (outside of the people that I've read from studying them in college and stuff), those are the authors that I've loved as an adult and come back to."

Sara said, "I think that what is present now for kids that wasn't present when I was in middle school and high school is that you can find yourself in Young Adult lit. Authors are doing a great job of representing all kinds of kids and all kinds of social situations."

Give Me One - Memorable Present that You Received from Santa as a Child

Sara ended with a final comment about our book picks for 2021 and a reminder to check the blog on Mondays for our Pub Day Shout-outs.


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