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Hardback Non-Fiction (Our Bookseller Favourites of 2021)

Non-fiction is such a broad categorisation considering the wide range of brilliant titles on so many different topics published this year, but we’ve chosen our favourite hardback non-fiction titles from 2021 for this gift guide, including memoirs, nature writing, art biographies, history books and more.

You can find more of our lists of new hardback non-fiction titles from the past year here, here and here.

Storyland: A New Mythology of Britain by Amy Jeffs

Published: 2nd Sep '21
Hardback
£25.00


Ness

In this truly gorgeous book, Amy Jeffs reimagines Britain’s mythology, removing medieval anachronisms from the stories, illustrating them with linocut prints, and generally creating a timeless rendition of archetypal, instructive tales that feel both universal and personal even centuries after they were first told.

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Free: Coming of Age at the End of History by Lea Ypi

Published: 28th Oct '21
Hardback
£20.00


Alice

A fascinating and absorbing read about coming of age in a country probably many of us know little about. Lea Ypi grew up in Albania during the final years of state communism. In Free, she describes her childhood and teenage years vividly as the regime falls apart and gives way to neo-liberalism, then leading to violent conflict. She writes beautifully, tenderly and sometimes humorously about family, her political awakening, the meaning of freedom and truth.

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Right to Sex, The: The Sunday Times Bestseller by Amia Srinivasan

Published: 19th Aug '21
Hardback
£20.00


Marc

The patience and crystalline clarity of Amia Srinivasan’s prose conceals the urgency of her attempt to answer a particularly difficult question: who gets to be desirable, and why?

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These Precious Days by Ann Patchett

Published: 23rd Nov '21
Hardback
£16.99


Jack

I’m a big fan of Ann Patchett’s writing and loved her last book, The Dutch House. This latest collection of essays is as great as her other non-fiction (Truth and Beauty and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage are both excellent), and leaves you feeling full of warmth and like you’ve really spent time getting to know a very kind and sincere human being. She lets the reader into many different aspects of her life from her writing career and the running of her bookshop, to knitting, cooking thanksgiving dinner, Tom Hanks, health crises,  and her many wonderful friendships. A real joy to read.
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Dawn of Everything, The: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber, David Wengrow

Published: 19th Oct '21
Hardback
£30.00


Alice

Ten years in the making, and completed just prior to the tragic death of anthropologist David Graeber last year, The Dawn of Everything, co-written with archaeologist David Wengrow, is a dazzling reinterpretation of human history and challenges existing narratives about social evolution.

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My Body: Emily Ratajkowski's deeply honest and personal exploration of what it means to be a woman today - THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER by Emily Ratajkowski

Published: 9th Nov '21
Hardback
£16.99


Beth

I loved this collection. Exploring power, beauty, shame and the male gaze, each essay is framed against experiences which have been formative in Ratajkowski’s life. Her writing is compulsively readable – partly because her lifestyle is fascinating and unfamiliar – but mainly because her voice is very engaging and sincere. She writes with clarity and honesty, not glossing over her flaws and internalised misogyny.

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Gay Bar: Why We Went Out by Jeremy Atherton Lin

Published: 4th Mar '21
Hardback
£16.99


Euan

I read this during lockdown and it was glorious to revel in the sights, sex, soundtracks and sensations of gay bars past and present. The fusion of Atherton Lin’s own experiences with existing literature on queer history makes this all-consuming personal and socio-cultural history of the gay bar an incredibly enjoyable read.

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Hard Crowd, The: Essays 2000-2020 by Rachel Kushner

Published: 8th Apr '21
Hardback
£18.99


Helena

Rachel Kushner is just too cool… These are some of the most gripping, exciting essays I’ve read this year. She manages to be both intimate and hugely informative touching on a very diverse range of topics, from social issues to meditations on art and literature, and even vintage cars and motorcycles!

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Signed Edition: Small Bodies of Water by Nina Mingya Powles

Published: 5th Aug '21
Hardback
£14.99


Molly

Something about Powles’s writing has captivated me since I first read Tiny Moons. This essay collection moves from redefining nature writing to essays about Mitski, Miyazaki and wild swimming, all in the same dreamy writing style. I’m such a fan.

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Everyone You Hate is Going to Die: And Other Comforting Thoughts on Family, Friends, Sex, Love, and More Things That Ruin Your Life by Daniel Sloss

Published: 12th Oct '21
Hardback
£16.99


Cecilie

This is peak Daniel Sloss. If you are a fan of his stand-up, this book is for you. It reads like a loosely-structured comedy set but will last you longer than a Netflix special. He is rude and sweary and offensive but he is kind, observant and funny too. This book is also for you if you don’t know who Daniel Sloss is but are wondering what one white middle-class Scottish comedian thinks of the US, love, death and friendships. If you know for a fact that you do not like either of those things, I would not recommend you buy this book.

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Signed Edition: Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo

Published: 7th Oct '21
Hardback
£14.99


Jack

Manifesto is a fascinating read. I loved reading about different episodes of Evaristo’s life as well as the commentary and understanding she brings to so many different themes that arise along the way (race, gender discrimination, the constant work it takes to make it as a creative and to have your voice heard when so many things are weighted against that happening). Evaristo has been writing for a long time, and had many well-loved books published long before her Booker-winning Girl, Woman, Other but, as she discusses in Manifesto, there are always those who will want to paint you as an ‘overnight success’ because of an award win. What people will take away from this book is how much work and time it takes to actually achieve that Booker win, and I’m sure anyone who’s less familiar with Evaristo’s previous work will find many reasons to go and pick up her other books if Manifesto is the first one they’ve read.

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This Dark Country: Women Artists, Still Life and Intimacy in the Early Twentieth Century by Rebecca Birrell

Published: 19th Aug '21
Hardback
£25.00


Imogen

Elegantly written, engaging and original, this hybrid between a group biography and art criticism explores the lives and work of women artists loosely associated with the Bloomsbury group. I found it fascinating!

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Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Published: 5th Aug '21
Hardback
£16.99


Kira

An unapologetic account of a daughter’s harrowing grief following her mother’s short and agonising battle with cancer. Focussed on their bond over Korean food, this memoir is beautiful in its connection of grief with food and memory.

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King of the Blues: The Rise and Reign of B. B. King by Daniel de Vise

Published: 14th Oct '21
Hardback
£20.00


Gavin

This is a definitive biography of the life of B.B. King, the iconic blues superstar, but also an examination of the progress of civil rights in America, as both of those stories are undeniably intertwined.

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Signed Bookplate Edition: Many Different Kinds of Love: A story of life, death and the NHS by Michael Rosen

Published: 18th Mar '21
Hardback
£14.99


Niamh

This book was more moving and special to me than I could have anticipated. Much loved poet and children’s writer Michael Rosen shares poems, emails, diary entries and messages that were created and sent whilst he fought to stay alive after contracting Covid-19. The extracts written by nurses and NHS staff caring for Michael were by far the stand out element of this book for me. Chris Riddell’s accompanying illustrations are wonderful as always.

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Bomber Mafia, The: A Story Set in War by Malcolm Gladwell

Published: 27th Apr '21
Hardback
£20.00


Cecilie

What started as personal fascination and several episodes dotted throughout his podcast series ‘Revisionist History’ has now grown into this book. It is a concise explanation of the philosophy of The Bomber Mafia, that of minimising civilian casualties, and how they tried to achieve it. This is an excellent read for anyone with an interest in the way warfare was conducted from the air in the 20th century, a fascinating bit of history passionately told by Gladwell.

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Misfits: A Personal Manifesto - by the creator of 'I May Destroy You' by Michaela Coel

Published: 7th Sep '21
Hardback
£9.99


Jack

Like many I watched and loved I May Destroy You, and fans of Cole’s work will find a lot to like in her first book. It’s a short work of non-fiction based around her MacTaggert lecture, which she gave in Edinburgh in 2018. It details her upbringing in East London and discovery of theatre and storytelling and discusses the value of individuality, non-conformity and creativity. A short and important read.

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