Best books of 2021: from our team


Small scratch
by Rebecca Watson, Faber & Faber € 12.99

The FT’s Associate Arts Editor tells the story of a single day in the life of an anonymous woman through a jumble of internal monologues and experimental typography, including split text and fractured prose. Gradually, the “microcosmic” world of office politics gave way to a poetic treatise on power dynamics and hidden traumas. Small scratch has recently been adapted for the stage.

Britain alone: The way from Suez to Brexit
by Philip Stephens, Faber & Faber 25 €

Longtime FT columnist Philip Stephens places Brexit in its true historical context. He argues that Britain never fully accepted the loss of its great power status, tracing the UK’s efforts to forge a new identity after the 1950s. Britain alone, Stephens defines Brexit as the culmination of “exaggerated ambition and diminished circumstance”.

Built on a lie: The rise and fall of Neil Woodford and the plight of central England money
by Owen Walker, Penguin Business £ 20

Neil Woodford made a name for himself as a fund manager who enriched central England, becoming a rock star in the investment world. Then everything went horribly wrong and Woodford lost over £ 1billion from investors in a ruinous discount sale. FT’s European banking correspondent expertly tells the story.

How to love animals: In a world shaped by man
by Henri Mance, Cap Jonathan £ 20

Our relationship with animals is “unethical,” “irrational” and “unsustainable,” says the FT’s feature film editor. Through vivid reporting and conversations with slaughterhouse workers, activists, leaders and environmentalists, Mance exposes the horrific way we treat the creatures we so often claim to love.

Anthro-Vision: How Anthropology Can Explain Business and Life
by Gillian Tett, Random Home Business £ 20

FT US editor-in-chief Gillian Tett works to prove to readers that anthropology – so often applied to unfamiliar and distant cultures – can explain the behavior of businesses, workers and consumers in the home.

Broken hearts: A journey through England lost from work
by Sébastien Payne, Pan Macmillan € 20

The 2019 general election marked a tectonic shift in Britain’s political makeup. Many voters in the Midlands and the north of England backed the Tories for the first time, turning large sections of Labor’s “red wall” blue. In Broken hearts, the FT Whitehall editor is trying to pinpoint the source of this shift, with interviews with people and politicians on both sides of the divide.

Barça: The rise and fall of the club that built modern football
by Simon Kuper, Short Books £ 20

From Cruyff to Messi, Simon Kuper traces the rise and fall of the almost mythical football club of Catalonia. In Barça, the FT Weekend columnist traces the seismic change that has taken place at the club over the past three decades. Here, the co-author of Soccernomics takes readers on a discovery of the well-kept secrets of FC Barcelona.

Books of the year 2021

The Caesars Palace coup: How a billionaire brawl over the famous casino revealed the power and greed of Wall Street
by Sujeet Indap and Max Frumes, Fun books € 28.99

It’s the story of a nearly $ 30 billion buyout, the war of corporate titans and the unforeseen collapse of a gaming empire. From boardrooms to casinos to Congress US editor, FT’s US Lex, and co-author detail brawl for Caesars Entertainment after bankruptcy, revealing new forces at play on Wall Street in the process – from private equity greats to troubled debt investors .

Billions: How a gang of Wall Street renegades invented the index fund and changed finance forever
by Robin Wigglesworth, Penguin Stuff € 28.99

Paul Volcker once joked that the biggest innovation in finance over the past few decades was the humble ATM. This is not the case, argues FT’s global finance correspondent, who advocates the index fund as the instrument that democratized investment, upset established structures and changed capitalism. Told through the stories of the group of radical nerds who made it all happen.

The vaccine: In the race to conquer the Covid-19 pandemic
by Joe Miller with Dr Ozlem Tureci and Dr Ugur Sahin, Welbeck € 14.99

Miller follows the married couple and longtime research partners who assembled a team of scientists in Germany to produce the first Covid vaccine. Based on interviews with scientists, politicians and public health officials, the FT Frankfurt correspondent describes a race against time. Originally published in Germany, it became a bestseller there, where readers included Angela Merkel.

Race for tomorrow: Survival, Innovation and Profit at the forefront of the climate crisis
by Simon Mundy, HarperCollins £ 20

On a journey through 26 countries, the FT’s Moral Money editor takes us to the battlefields of the climate crisis and explains how environmental collapse is already reshaping the modern world.

Tell us what you think

What are your favorites on this list – and which books have we missed? Tell us in the comments below

Re-educated: How I changed my job, my house, my husband and my hair
by Lucy Kelaway, Ebury Press € 16.99

Re-educated is a guide on how to change direction later in life. The FT editor gives a radical and inspiring account of how she left her marriage, her job and her home to become a teacher.

Dohany Street
by Adam LeBor, Head of Zeus € 18.99

In the latest installment of his Hungarian crime trilogy, the FT thriller critic follows Detective Balthazar Kovacs as he investigates the disappearance of a young Israeli historian. In Dohany Street, LeBor taps into a forensic understanding of Budapest, cultivated during his time there as a correspondent.

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