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Non-fiction to watch out for in 2021

Memoir, biography, essays and more.

Image: Shutterstock/patpitchaya

YES, THERE ARE still more books to look out for this year. We already told you what Irish books to watch out for, and what international fiction to keep track of.

Here’s our list of mostly international non-fiction for those who prefer things out of the fictional realm. 

Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley Ford  

Ford, a features writer, has a huge amount of fans in the US – but many here too in Ireland. This book, about the imprisonment of her father and its effect on her life, is sure to be a fascinating read.

Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? by Séamas O’Reilly

O’Reilly will be familiar to Guardian readers, and his followers on Twitter. This memoir about life as one of 11 children following the death of their mother in the 90s is sure to have his blend of humour and pathos.

Unsettled by Rosaleen McDonagh

A playwright and writer, McDonagh is a Traveller and disability activist – this book tells her story.  

The Disconnect: A Personal Journey Through the Internet by Roisin Kiberd 

Anyone who has grown up in the age of the internet will be interested in Kiberd’s exploration of its impact on her life.

Shorelines: The Coastal Atlas of Ireland by Robert Devoy, Val Cmmins, Barry Brunt, Darius Bartlett and Sarah Kandrot

Get ready to dive into the world of Ireland’s coastline, and discover some fascinating things.

The Irish Assassins: Conspiracy, Revenge and the Murders that Shook an Empire by Julie Kavanagh

Kavanagh takes a look at the notorious Phoenix Park murders.

Rememberings by Sinéad O’Connor 

The legendary Irish musician’s memoir is set to be a summer must-read.

My Rock n Roll Friend by Tracey Thorn

Thorn has already written two memoirs about parts of her music career and life – here, she explores her friendship with another musician, Go Betweens Drummer Lindy Morrison.

An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang

Will you delete your Facebook account after reading this book about the social media behemoth?

The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls by Mona Eltahawy

Tramp Press brings us feminist writer Eltahawy’s dismantling of the seven “sins” women and girls are socialised to avoid.

Everybody by Olivia Laing

British writer Laing turns her gaze on the human body for this latest book, having previously explored loneliness and the lives of writers who were alcoholics.

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders

The incomparable author explores how Russian short stories work, and what we can learn about ourselves from them. 

Beginners by Tom Vanderbilt

The joy of lifelong learning and why we should embrace it is examined in this book.

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How To Avoid A Climate Disaster by Bill Gates 

This is described as a “practical and accessible plan” for how the world can get to zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Life Support by Jim Down

An ICU doctor at a London hospital shares his Covid diary.

Heavy Light: A Journey Through Madness, Mania and Healing by Horatio Clare

Horatio Clare writes about a psychiatric breakdown and how he dealt with it.

A World Without Email by Cal Newport

We could file this under ‘fantasy’… or perhaps not. From the author of Digital Minimalism and Deep Work, who does know his online onions.

Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion   

The iconic author is back with a collection of early pieces that have never been collected together before.

The Beauty of Living Twice by Sharon Stone

 In The Beauty of Living Twice, actress and humanitarian Sharon Stone reflects on how she rebuilt her life after a massive stroke that altered her family, love, and career.

Francis Bacon: Revelations by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan

A doorstopper of a book that still is very readable, this promises to use new information and archive documents to tell the fascinating story of the life of one of the 20th century’s most influential artists.  

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