Book List

Best Memoirs of 2021

  • NONFICTION

    1000 YEARS OF JOYS AND SORROWS

    NOV. 2, 2021

NONFICTION

1000 YEARS OF JOYS AND SORROWS

by Ai Weiwei ; translated by Allan H. Barr

A beautiful and poignant memoir demonstrating perseverance and the power of art. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • NONFICTION

    FLOATING IN A MOST PECULIAR WAY

    FEB. 2, 2021

NONFICTION

FLOATING IN A MOST PECULIAR WAY

by Louis Chude-Sokei

A beautifully written contribution to recent work of the African diaspora. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • NONFICTION

    I LIVE A LIFE LIKE YOURS

    AUG. 17, 2021

NONFICTION

I LIVE A LIFE LIKE YOURS

by Jan Grue ; translated by B.L. Crook

Absorbing, insightful reflections on being human. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • NONFICTION

    THERE IS NOTHING FOR YOU HERE

    OCT. 5, 2021

NONFICTION

THERE IS NOTHING FOR YOU HERE

by Fiona Hill

A shrewd, absorbing memoir that casts a sharp eye on America's future while offering feasible solutions for change. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • NONFICTION

    NUESTRA AMÉRICA

    FEB. 9, 2021

NONFICTION

NUESTRA AMÉRICA

by Claudio Lomnitz

A masterpiece of historical and personal investigation, perfect for anyone trying to uncover their family’s past. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • NONFICTION

    THE EDUCATION OF CORPORAL JOHN MUSGRAVE

    NOV. 2, 2021

NONFICTION

THE EDUCATION OF CORPORAL JOHN MUSGRAVE

by John Musgrave

Smart and self-aware, Musgrave delivers one of the best recent books on America’s experience in Vietnam. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • NONFICTION

    NAMES FOR LIGHT

    AUG. 17, 2021

NONFICTION

NAMES FOR LIGHT

by Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint

An imaginative and compelling memoir about what we inherit and what we pass on. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • NONFICTION

    A QUANTUM LIFE

    JUNE 15, 2021

NONFICTION

A QUANTUM LIFE

by Hakeem Oluseyi & Joshua Horwitz

A sharp, relatable book about self-reinvention and a loving nod to anyone who has ever believed in the potential of another. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • NONFICTION

    SEEK YOU

    JULY 6, 2021

GRAPHIC NOVELS & COMICS

SEEK YOU

by Kristen Radtke ; illustrated by Kristen Radtke

Superb. A rigorous, vulnerable book on a subject that is too often neglected. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • NONFICTION

    APP KID

    SEPT. 21, 2021

NONFICTION

APP KID

by Michael Sayman

Sayman’s superpower is turning his specific Silicon Valley success story into something sweet, universal, and inspirational. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • NONFICTION

    SMALLTIME

    FEB. 2, 2021

NONFICTION

SMALLTIME

by Russell Shorto

A lively addition to the history of Italian American immigration and its discontents. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • NONFICTION

    AS YOU WERE

    FEB. 16, 2021

NONFICTION

AS YOU WERE

by David Tromblay

An incandescent addition to both Native American letters and the literature of the Iraq and Afghan wars. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • NONFICTION

    THE EMPATHY DIARIES

    MARCH 2, 2021

NONFICTION

THE EMPATHY DIARIES

by Sherry Turkle

A masterful memoir by a pioneering researcher and incisive thinker. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >

More Book Lists

The Magazine: Kirkus Reviews

We continue our coverage of 2021's best books with our favorite children's and YA titles of the year plus our regular Dec. 1 issue. 

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  • The Kirkus Star

    One of the most coveted designations in the book industry, the Kirkus Star marks books of exceptional merit.

  • The Kirkus Prize

    The Kirkus Prize is among the richest literary awards in America, awarding $50,000 in three categories annually.

    See the 2020 winners.

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