Some of Indieland’s best books are works of nonfiction that consider narrow topics—the benefits of boredom, a guide to important sites in Sikh history in Pakistan, the work of a “behavior change designer” (more on that below). Indie editors hope to see more of such well-considered passion projects in 2021.

Andreas Elpidorou, a philosophy professor at the University of Louisville, examines the upsides of boredom, frustration, anticipation, and the like in Propelled. For example: “Boredom emphasizes what it disrupts or takes away. It forces us to see things anew,” observes Elpidorou. Our reviewer says the author makes “a strong and ultimately persuasive case that when life gives you lemons, you should simply value the lemons—a counterintuitive argument, to be sure, but one that the author convincingly backs up over the course of his book.”

In The Sikh Heritage, Dalvir S. Pannu, who is both the author and photographer, portrays Pakistan’s Sikh shrines and holy places in glorious detail. “Over the course of 400-plus pages, the work covers Pakistani sites in Sheikhupura, Kasur, Nanakana Sahib, Narowal, and Lahore,” says our reviewer. “In each chapter, the author pairs historical mentions of the place and shrine at hand with photos of its current appearance, and the juxtapositions between past and present often result in a compelling dissonance….And the juxtaposition is ultimately spellbinding.”

Our reviewer has high praise for Engaged: Designing For Behavior Change by Amy M. Bucher. “‘Behavior change designer’ may well become a widely recognized job title thanks to this breakthrough work. Bucher, who describes herself as a psychologist applying her knowledge to the design of behaviorally based digital experiences, has created a volume that is absorbing, timely, and (not surprisingly) impeccably designed….Destined to become a seminal work on innovative digital design.”

Karen Schechner is the vice president of Kirkus Indie.