Readers' Most Anticipated Books of March

Posted by Cybil on March 1, 2021

Some interesting news for book nerds: According to recent industry research, book sales spiked dramatically in 2020–otherwise a rather comprehensive bummer of a year. It was the book world’s best year since 2010, with significant growth charted across every major category. That’s the upside of a pandemic, apparently. Everyone catches up on their reading.

Better get to it, then. New this month: Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen returns with the literary thriller The Committed. Gabriela Garcia tracks multiple generations of a Cuban immigrant family in Of Women and Salt. And renown biographer Walter Isaacson profiles gene-editing pioneer Jennifer Doudna in The Code Breaker. Also keep an eye out for stories of WWII cryptographers, artificial intelligence, and groundbreaking Afro-punk musicians. 
Each month the Goodreads editorial team takes a look at the books that are being published in the U.S., readers' early reviews, and how many readers are adding these books to their Want to Read shelves (which is how we measure anticipation). We use the information to curate this list of hottest new releases.

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Maybe the single most anticipated book of the season, Klara and the Sun is the latest from Nobel laureate and Booker Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day). Sophisticated, literary science fiction is a genuine delicacy at this level of publishing and Ishiguro’s new book engages some of the more difficult ethical issues concerning artificial intelligence. What is life? What is love? What is real? What is the release date? March 2, friends.

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Author Kirstin Valdez Quade, renowned for her award-winning short fiction, presents her debut novel about a year in the life of a beguiling New Mexico family. The book begins during Holy Week in the small town of Las Penas, and Amadeo Padilla's life is completely disrupted when he discovers his 15-year-old daughter is pregnant.

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Gabriela Garcia’s buzzy debut novel follows multiple generations of women through a sprawling narrative that spans 19th century Cuban cigar factories and modern-day ICE detention centers in Miami. The youngest of the women, Jeanette, is battling addiction and travels to Cuba to meet her grandmother. Carmen, Jeanette’s mom, is a Cuban immigrant and has her own difficult family knots to untie. Personal and political, Garcia’s story is designed to push the boundaries of the typical diaspora tale.

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Author Imbolo Mbue (Behold the Dreamers) details the seemingly hopeless struggle of poor Africans against a colossal and immoral American oil company. With their farmlands ruined and their children poisoned, the people of the remote village Kosawa decide to fight back the only way they can. It’s a struggle that will last for generations. Mbue’s story chronicles the awful human costs of a relentless and ultimately psychotic dedication to the profit motive.   

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Kate Quinn’s The Rose Code follows three women from Britain’s famed Bletchley Park, where Allied codebreakers thwarted the Nazis with pure dedication and superior brainpower. Reunited after the war, the women join forces again when a mysterious encrypted letter surfaces. Soon enough, they’re fighting off a deadly traitor from their covert espionage days. Author Quinn (The Huntress, The Alice Network) is a veteran storyteller in this realm of historical fiction.

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Those who like innovative narrative strategies in their fiction will want to look over this one, which is best described as a fictional oral history. Set in 1970s Detroit and New York, Dawnie Walton’s frankly fascinating debut introduces Opal, a pioneering Afro-punk musician who teams with Nev, a British songwriter, for a run at fortune and glory. Things get weird. Decades later, Opal and Nev consider a reunion as journalist Sunny Shelton assembles an oral history of their story.

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“They found the bodies on a Tuesday.” Pretty good first line for a thriller, and Alex Finlay’s debut looks like good, clean, terrifying fun. NYU student Matt Pine has returned home to bury his family, previously traumatized by another tragedy and a true crime doc on his imprisoned brother Danny. Now the media is in a frenzy and Matt’s own life is on the line. Finlay’s debut psychological thriller explores the collateral damage of our ghoulish tabloid culture.

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Viet Thanh Nguyen’s debut novel The Sympathizer did pretty well, if by “pretty well” you mean “impossibly successful.” The book won a Pulitzer Prize, along with a dozen other major literary awards. Nguyen is widely acknowledged as a major new voice in contemporary fiction and it’s safe to say that The Committed is rather highly anticipated. The follow-up novel is being billed as a literary thriller and tracks the anonymous narrator of the first book, now a refugee in Paris.

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A tight-knit Columbian family, desperate to escape the urban violence of Bogota, finds a home in America. But it’s not destined to last. When their tourist visas expire, Elena and Mauro decide to risk undocumented status for the sake of their children. Author Patricia Engel–the daughter of Colombian immigrants and a dual citizen herself–presents a carefully observed story of immigrant life in America. Infinite Country is recommended for readers of Valeria Luiselli and Edwidge Danticat.

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In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a careful and slippery maniac known as the Last Call Killer preyed upon gay men in the nightclubs and bars of New York City. Elon Green’s true-crime narrative investigates the murders–largely overlooked amid the chaos of NYC crime spike and the AIDS epidemic–and details the subsequent decades-long investigation. But the book also celebrates the loving and courageous community that weathered the storm.

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Biographer Walter Isaacson, author of previous tomes on Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, and Steve Jobs, has more or less cornered the market on big, weighty tomes about severely smart people. With The Code Breaker, Isaacson chronicles the life and work of biochemist Jennifer Doudna, who pioneered the world-changing genetic engineering technology known as CRISPR. It’s serious business. CRISPR-style technology promises a world of genuinely new medical miracles. But it also raises thorny ethical questions including the possibility–inevitability, maybe–of genetically designed babies.


Which new releases are you looking forward to reading? Let's talk books in the comments!

Check out more recent articles, including:
March's Most Anticipated Romances
March's Most Anticipated YA Books
Goodreads' Staff Recommends Their Favorite Audiobooks

Comments Showing 1-20 of 20 (20 new)

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message 1: by TMR (new)

TMR Intriguing list.

message 2: by 如意 (new)

如意 I've been so looking forward to finally read Klara and the Sun, I can't wait until it arrives tomorrow! I really love any medium that explores the idea of humanity in AI. Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Quantic Dream's Detroit: Become Human. When I read about Klara in the shop, I was immediately reminded by the androids in the shopwindow in Detroit videogame.

Other books I'm interested in reading are Machinehood by S.B. Divya and Float Plan by Trish Doller, but all my book slots are pretty much accounted for, so I'll likely read them at a later date.

message 3: by Ivy (new)

Ivy rule of wolves!!

message 4: by Julie (new)

Julie A lot seem very depressing - any happy stories? We sure could use some.

message 5: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne Hodack You've got a little mix-up here...
The Final Revival of Opal and Nev is by Dawnie Walton.
The Lost Apothecary is by Sarah Penner.

message 6: by Thaizi (new)

Thaizi Klara and The Sun:

"What is the release date? March 2, friends."
Like tomorrow... YEY \0/
The most antecipated book for me, huge admirer of Kazuo Ishiguro books since my teen years.
Excellent writer!

message 7: by Emily (new)

Emily 如意 wrote: "I've been so looking forward to finally read Klara and the Sun, I can't wait until it arrives tomorrow! I really love any medium that explores the idea of humanity in AI. Philip K. Dick's Do Androi..."

Have you read "Set My Heart to Five" by Simon Stephenson? It's a fantastic AI exploring humanity story.

message 8: by Lea (new)

Lea A tight-knit Columbian family


message 9: by Skylar (new)

Skylar Poss I have to admit myself surprised to not see Chain of Iron on this list.

message 10: by Lisa of Troy (new)

Lisa of Troy I read How Beauitful We Were, and it was AWESOME! I also preordered Of Women and Salt and Klara and the Sun. I am surprised not to see The Lost Apothecary on this list though....

message 11: by Daniela (new)

Daniela *Colombian

message 12: by Darci (new)

Darci Day Bogota is in Colombia. Therefore the family is Colombian.

message 13: by livirose (new)

livirose Chain of Iron and Rule of Wolves as well!!

message 14: by Jacki (new)

Jacki Julie wrote: "A lot seem very depressing - any happy stories? We sure could use some."

I've already read Klara and the Sun, and it was not depressing. It's tough in the middle but very hopeful in the end.

message 15: by Bethany (new)

Bethany chain of iron!!!!!!

message 16: by AliJ (new)

AliJ Julie wrote: "A lot seem very depressing - any happy stories? We sure could use some."

I just finished The Love Story of Missy Carmichael which I thought was very uplifting and oddly enough it is not a romance. It does feature an older woman as the main character which I liked a lot.

message 17: by Pen&Quill (new)

Pen&Quill  Read Happy March 2nd also know as Dr Seuss's b-day and NATIONAL READING DAY!!!!!📚📚📚📚📚

So go grab a new book or an old favorite and READ!!!!

message 18: by Linda (new)

Linda I look forward to reading at least one of the books I've picked. Thanks for the opportunity.

message 19: by 如意 (last edited Mar 02, 2021 02:27PM) (new)

如意 Emily wrote: "Have you read "Set My Heart to Five" by Simon Stephenson? It's a fantastic AI exploring humanity story. "
Thank you for your suggestion! I haven't read this book, but it sounds like something I would enjoy! d(❁´◡`❁)

message 20: by Kim (new)

Kim I used to look forward to these lists and others. Couldn't wait for the new books. As usual, not much to see here. Where have all the good new books gone?

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