The Book Hive's top 10 books of 2021

Whether you’re looking for a gift or just a good read for yourself, there’s something for everyone in The Book Hive‘s top 10 books of 2021. 

The Book Hive is a much-loved and beautifully curated multi-award winning independent book shop in the Norwich Lanes! Lauded by authors, publishers and readers alike – the Book Hive is truly one of the finest independent book shops to be found anywhere in the UK. Not only that – The Book Hive stocks lots of great publications by Norwich and Norfolk based authors too. 

The Night Always Comes by Willy Vlautin

From the great American writer and musician comes this bone dry, super tense story told over the course of one night. A woman who has everything stacked against her – and that stack just gets bigger – struggles to get herself out of a desperate situation. A tour de force of taught, muscular writing with an addictive plot line, led by a lead character who you invest so much hope in from the outset that it’s almost unbearable watching her go through the often terrifying motions of the story. Classic American short fiction at its best. 

The Blind Accordionist by C.D. Rose

Bizarre, funny, and beguiling short stories which may or may not be anything they claim to be! Superb writing from CD Rose in the great European tradition. Like a Wes Andersen movie in bite size chunks – dont expect the everyday, but do expect to be entertained and amused.

Jack Joliffe Goes Forth by Henry Chancellor

A tick-all-the-boxes romp of great imagination for 8 year olds upwards!. A fantastical mix of ideas with a great story and wonderful heroine, beautifully produced and illustrated. If you like Harry potter, Lewis Carroll, Tolkein and CS Lewis – buy this!

Arthur: The Always King by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Great myth telling and stunning illustrations dont come any better than this. Norfolk man Kevin Crossley-Holland, one of the English language’s most revered tellers of myth and legend for children, has returned to old ground with this book on the evergreen King Arthur. With glorious pictures throughout from the inimitable pen of Chris Riddell, this is the perfect team to retell this timeless story. A once and future classic…

O Caledonia by Elspeth Barker

Another reissue (also previously re-issued by Black Dog). Famous matrich of Norfolk’s Barker family, Elspeth Barker’s award winning novel is talked about  by those in the know as one of the great 20th century novels that not enough people have read. Put that right; read it now. It’s sheer brilliance won’t disappoint.

Playtime’s Over by James Kinsley

The first novel from Norwich writer James Kinsley, published by us in the shop, (Propolis Books). Playtime’s Over tells the story of a man in the moments before death reassessing the value and meaning of his life. A beautifully crafted look at the agonies of mental ill-health as well as the many small joys of the everyday.

Sea-Change by Jessica Streeting

Also from Propolis comes this Epic poem-length memoir with a foreword from Stephen Fry. The author revisistes her 1970’s childhood and recalls the joy of moving to Norfolk as a small child, the bucolic countryside existence, and the moment of tragedy that shook the lives of her family and community forever. A glorious and poignant achievement in poetry which is accessible to all.

The Owl and the Nightingale by Simon Armitage

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage’s latest and final medieval epic translation, beautifully illustrated by Clive Hicks-Jenkins. Simon’s well loved podcast over the past two years talked a lot about this work, two birds having it out in funny and acerbic verse over the length of the book. Signed copies available while stocks last.

Extraction to Extinction by David Howe

Norwich writer David Howe has written a rare thing – a book of huge scientific and historical importance that anyone can pick up, relate to and enjoy. The story of how pretty much everything in the world humans depend on has at some point been mined out of the ground – and what that has done to our planet.

A Furious Devotion by Richard Balls

Norwich writer Richard Balls – whose previous books on Stiff Records and Ian Drury have both been hits – has achieved the impossible: A biography of the legendary Pogues front man Shane MacGowan, written with his collaboration! Expect madness and surprises – including the extraordinary fact of MacGowan actually being a Westminster School educated Englishman. Mind blowing.

You can find The Book Hive at 53 London Street, Norwich, NR2 1HL and online at

About the Author

The Book Hive

The Book Hive is an independent book shop in the heart of Norwich. There you’ll find hand-picked new fiction & nonfiction, poetry, small press, children’s, cookery & art titles.

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