10 More New Nonfiction Titles Coming in 2021

Let’s look ahead at a few more new nonfiction releases I’m excited for in the second half of 2021. Any of these on your list too?

Beautiful Country: A Memoir, by Qian Julie Wang (September 7) – Named after the translation of the Chinese term for America, this memoir recalls the author’s immigrant childhood in New York’s Chinatown, where her parents, professors in China, worked in sweatshops. It sounds like a grim and scary world for a child, but an important story, and I loved this description: “Inhabiting her childhood perspective with exquisite lyric clarity and unforgettable charm and strength, Qian Julie Wang has penned an essential American story about a family fracturing under the weight of invisibility, and a girl coming of age in the shadows, who never stops seeking the light.”

Return: Why We Go Back to Where We Come From, by Kamal Al-Solaylee (September 7) – This is such a fascinating concept to me on a personal level, since I also emigrated and then returned home. For the author too, who “ran away” from his childhood homes of Yemen and Egypt for Toronto. In addition to making a journey back to the Middle East, he interviews others who have left their homelands and later returned. It sounds like such an interesting cultural study, and since it’s something I’ve intensively questioned myself, I’m intrigued by what he learned in his research.

Eight Days in May: The Final Collapse of the Third Reich, by Volker Ullrich, translated by Chase Jefferson (September 7) – I’m always interested in nonfiction in translation, a too-rare category, even if it is in the WWII history genre, where we have no dearth of scholarship already in English. Still, Ullrich is an award-winning historian and this draws on “sources never seen before by American readers,” so I’m intrigued. There was also just a massive amount going on in this single week-and-a-day — as Lenin once said, “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen,” and the beginning of May 1945 was certainly the latter.

A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003-2020), by David Sedaris (October 5) — It’s finally here! I loved, with an enthusiasm that even surprised me, David Sedaris’s first volume of his diaries, Theft by Finding. When I finished it I had this massive hangover/letdown feeling because it felt like nothing I read was going to be that good for a very long time. He read some excerpts from this later volume at a reading event I attended in Vienna back in 2017 and the audience was howling with laughter. New David Sedaris is always a delightful joy and I can’t wait!

On Animals, by Susan Orlean (October 12) – I’m not wholly enthusiastic about the topic — nothing against animals, just not sure how interested I am in reading this – but Susan Orlean has proved me wrong before” Her last book, The Library Book, was an instant favorite despite me being so-so about that topic too. “In her own backyard, Orlean discovers the delights of keeping chickens. In a different backyard, in New Jersey, she meets a woman who has twenty-three pet tigers—something none of her neighbors knew about until one of the tigers escapes. In Iceland, the world’s most famous whale resists the efforts to set him free; in Morocco, the world’s hardest-working donkeys find respite at a special clinic.

From Warsaw with Love: Polish Spies, the CIA, and the Forging of an Unlikely Alliance, by John Pomfret (October 26) — When my husband was at the Polish Consulate in Vienna getting some documents for us to get married, the consular officer excitedly told him, when he said he was marrying an American, that Poland and America are “big friends.” We always laugh about that because the way he said it was so funny and enthusiastic, but he’s not wrong: Poland and the US do have a very special relationship, of sorts. In fact: “the intelligence cooperation between Poland and America” is described by a CIA director as “one of the two foremost intelligence relationships that the United States has ever had.” In detail: “Poland’s ex-communist spies snooped for America from Havana to Moscow, Pyongyang to Tehran. Pomfret also reveals shocking details about the CIA’s “black site” program that held suspected terrorists in Poland after 9/11 as well the role of Polish spies in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.” It’s my impression that the US hasn’t always treated our Polish allies as well as we could, but I’m interested in the comprehensive story here.

Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America, by Mayukh Sen (November 2) – I loved Eight Flavors, which examined American culinary history and development through the lens of immigration, so I’m excited for this group biography that looks at women including “Mexican-born Elena Zelayeta, a blind chef; Marcella Hazan, the deity of Italian cuisine; and Norma Shirley, a champion of Jamaican dishes.” American cuisine is such a melting pot thanks largely to the influence of immigration, and this sounds like a fascinating take on the topic.

How the Other Half Eats: The Untold Story of Food and Inequality in America, by Priya Fielding-Singh (November 16) I’ve been obsessed with this topic of food inequality in the US since a National Geographic series some years ago about the state of food really stuck with me. It’s still incredible to me that in the richest country on earth with an unbelievable amount of food waste so many people experience food insecurity, and I’m curious about whether this addresses changes in our food situation post-Covid.

The Next Supper: The End of Restaurants as We Knew Them, and What Comes After, by Corey Mintz (November 16) -Must be a good month for food-related books. This looks at the restaurant industry and the changes it’s facing in the wake of Covid. Before the pandemic, “Many of the best restaurants in the world employed unpaid cooks. Meal delivery apps were putting many restaurants out of business. And all that dining out meant dramatically less healthy diets. The industry may have been booming, but it also desperately needed to change. And, then, along came COVID-19.”

Sex Cult Nun: Breaking Away from the Children of God, a Wild, Radical Religious Cult, by Faith Jones (November 30) – Title seems like self-explanatory reason enough here. Jones was in the notoriously abusive Children of God cult and grew up in their Macau branch. As I’ve mentioned before, I find leaving-a-cult memoirs really fascinating for the insight and progression they show of the author’s belief system. I’m curious if confused about the “nun” aspect of this one though.

What new nonfiction still to come this year are you most looking forward to?


29 thoughts on “10 More New Nonfiction Titles Coming in 2021

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  1. Oh I’m adding so many of these to my TBR list. I love any books that have to do with food, so definitely those. And I loved The Library Book so I’m excited to read more from Orleans.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh you know I’m here for that last one. As a person named after an Old Testament character, I was just thinking the other day that that must be even worse for those of us who leave the faith and are named things like Grace, Hope, Faith, etc. I’d wear it like a badge of honor 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Return and Taste Makers really appeal to me out of these! What a great selection, though. I have Dennis Duncan’s Index, A History of The coming up in September which I can’t wait to read!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m really excited about it. Also just received “Your Voice Speaks Volumes” by Jane Setter about British accents, which looks great, just out.

        I’m feeling a bit low about the nonfic I’ve been reading and reviewing, as the stuff by Black authors isn’t getting so many reads and comments, which is upsetting. Hopefully people are just lagging behind with their blog reading, as indeed am I …


  4. Am definitely ordering Sex Cult Nun from my local library staffed by elderly ladies; they ring you up when the book comes in and I need an octogenarian saying “Sex Cult Nun” to me down the phone. Sorry not sorry.


  5. Hello! Nancy Rommelmann here, you covered my book TO THE BRIDGE a few years ago. I continue to be a big fan of your work. I am launching a media company at the end of August in which we post original journalism (writing, podcasts) as well as aggregate and post links to work we love and think is valuable. I would love to link to you! I’d probably just clip the very beginning of your post – an image, a paragraph – and then send people straight to you. Does that sound okay with you? I can send you a link to the site once we are closer!

    Hope you are well – Nancy Rommelmann

    Nancy Rommelmann | nancyromm.com | Twitter @nancyromm | Substack | Paloma Media YouTube

    Portland protest reporting for Reason.com

    Author *To the Bridge, a True Story of Motherhood and Murder *

    On Wed, Jul 21, 2021 at 9:22 AM What’s Nonfiction? wrote:

    > whatsnonfiction posted: ” Let’s look ahead at a few more new nonfiction > releases I’m excited for in the second half of 2021. Any of these on your > list too? Beautiful Country: A Memoir, by Qian Julie Wang (September 7) – > Named after the translation of the Chinese term for A” >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Nancy! So nice to hear from you and hope you’re doing well! I would be so honored to be linked with your media, please feel free! Send me a link when it launches, I’m excited to see what new work you’re up to 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. How The Other Half Eats and The Next Supper both sound like fascinating and important books on the current state of the world.

    I also enjoyed The Library Book but am a little dubious about the topic of Orlean’s next book. I love reading about animals, but only if I’m sure nothing too sad is going to happen to them. The tiger story in the summary makes me worry this one might be pretty depressing sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean, I don’t want to read any depressing stories about animals in sad situations, and backyard tigers tend to fall into that category for sure. I might have to wait to read some other reviews of it first!

      Liked by 1 person

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