Add these 2021 books to your reading list

New year, new reading goals! Whether you set lofty reading goals on Goodreads, take part in reading challenges throughout the year, or just want to find something that captures your attention during these seemingly endless stay-at-home days, a new year brings so many great books to look forward to reading. Here are some roundups of some of the top anticipated reads of the year.

Our partners at Kirkus Reviews founded up their top 50 most anticipated books of the year including fiction, nonfiction, teens and YA, and children’s books. See the full list here!

Literary Hub created an exhaustive list of 228 (!) books you should be looking forward to in the year ahead, organized by publication date so you can plan ahead. Read it here.

BuzzFeed is constantly sharing roundups of book releases on their books page, but they’ve also got a roundup of 40 YA contemporary books coming out this year.

If you’re not sure where to start, the New York Times Book Review‘s “What to Read Now” page might help — they publish a list of new books to check out every single week.

Still not caught up on 2020 books? Same. Check out these resources to find books you may have missed last year:


Register for the Simon Han Conversation

UPDATE: Please see the new date for the discussion below. 

Book Club update! Simon Han will be in conversation with Literary Director Matt Patin for our January book club discussion. The conversation will take place on Tuesday, March 2, at 5:30 pm CT. Register for the Simon Han Conversation here!

We will collect questions ahead of time. Please send any questions that you have for the author to

For our first book club pick of 2021, we’re reading Nights When Nothing Happened by Texas author Simon Han, which was named a 2020 Best Book of the Year by TIME, the Washington Post, and Harper’s Bazaar. Lone Star Literary Life calls the debut novel, which follows an Asian American immigrant family living in the Dallas suburbs, a “comedic, harrowing, thoughtful exploration of displacement, home, [and] infectious fear.” It is “absolutely luminous,” says fellow Texas novelist (and two-time TBF alum) Bryan Washington, a story that “weaves the transience of suburbia between the highs and lows of a family saga.” Get it from BookPeople here!

Stay tuned for discussion details! Make sure you join the Texas Book Festival Book Club on Facebook for more book recommendations and monthly picks!

2020 book club picks:

Discuss ‘Caste’ on January 28

We’re all about setting new reading goals for the new year, and we suspect you are as well!

Still on our minds are all the great books featured at the 25th annual Texas Book Festival in the fall, including one book that’s really stuck with us: Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Pulitzer Prize-winning author (and TBF 2010 alum) Isabel Wilkerson. 

We chose Caste as our December pick for the Austin360 Book Club Powered by TBF, as the session was the most attended session at the Festival and so many of you wanted to discuss the book more. We’re excited to announce we are hosting a free virtual book club discussion about Caste at the end of this month. 

The conversation will be hosted by TBF Executive Director Lois Kim and Austin African American Book Festival Founder Rosalind Oliphant Jones. Come prepared to discuss this excellent book in an intimate setting with fellow book lovers on Thursday, January 28, at 5:30 p.m. CT! on January 28! The conversation is first-come, first-served, so make sure you register early if you’re planning to attend, since we only have a limited number of spots. 

Register here to save your spot. You’ll receive a Zoom link closer to the event.

Watch these 2020 Festival sessions on Book TV on C-SPAN 2

Our partners at Book TV on C-SPAN 2 are airing select Festival sessions this weekend. Catch great conversations with authors like Robert Draper, Jessica Luther, Mychal Denzel Smith, Isaac J. Bailey, Rosayra Pablo Cruz, Joe Holley, and more. See the schedule and broadcast details below! These programs also will be available to watch online any time after they air in Book TV’s extensive video library.

Saturday, December 12

Sunday, December 13

Monday, December 14


December Book Club: ‘Caste’ by Isabel Wilkerson

To finish out 2020, this month we’re reading Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents with the Austin360 Book Club powered by Texas Book Festival.

Wilkerson was one of the highlights of the 2020 Virtual Texas Book Festival in conversation with writer and poet (and previous book club author) Saeed Jones. We’re keeping the video up for you to continue to view through the end of the year, so once you’re done reading Wilkerson’s excellent book, head to this link to watch this illuminating conversation.

About Wilkerson:

Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, is the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestsellers Caste and The Warmth of Other Suns. Her debut work won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and was named to Time’s 10 Best Nonfiction Books of the 2010s and New York Times’s list of the Best Nonfiction of All Time. She has taught at Princeton, Emory, and Boston Universities and has lectured at more than two hundred other colleges and universities across the United States and in Europe and Asia.

About the book:

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.

Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today.

Past 2020 book club picks:

Don’t miss our virtual cooking demos!

Want to level up your cooking skills? We’re thrilled to have three excellent chefs hosting cooking demonstrations at the 2020 Texas Book Festival. RSVP for their sessions below, and remember, like the rest of the Festival, these cooking demos are free and open to the public!

Still hungry? We’ve got more food-friendly TBF sessions on our schedule!

Tacos and Coffee: The Origins of—and Controversies Behind—Our Favorite Foods
November 7, 2 p.m. CT

In their new books, Texas Monthly taco editor José R. Ralat (American Tacos) and food-history researcher and journalist Augustine Sedgewick (Coffeeland) follow the histories of the taco and the coffee bean across time and space, revealing valuable insights about culture and power along the way. RSVP here!

Life in Food: New Memoirs from James Beard Award Winners David Chang and Lisa Donovan
November 13, 10 a.m. CT

In poignant new memoirs from Momofuku founder and Ugly Delicious host David Chang (Eat a Peach) and prize-winning pastry chef Lisa Donovan (Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger), the James Beard winners share their struggles and successes on their paths to becoming acclaimed chefs, and each explores how their craft helped them face and battle personal and systemic challenges, from sexism and mental illness to imposter syndrome.  RSVP here!

¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat!

Looking for a family-friendly foodie session? On Monday, November 2, author and illustrator Raúl The Third welcomes you and all your favorite characters back for a reading of his latest book, ¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat. He’ll also show off his favorite artist’s tools and explain how he creates his colorful illustrations — and he may even include a special preview of his next project! RSVP here!

Thank you to Central Market for sponsoring our cooking demonstrations and food panels!