January is a month made for reinvention, inspiration, and new experiences…but it’s been so cold that by now you’ve probably traded in your treadmill for a Toblerone, and your passport for a Snuggie. If you’re looking to recapture that sense of infinite possibility that January 1st inspired (before it was blown away by the Polar Vortex), pick up one of these new releases, featuring women breaking conventions, traveling the world, and leaving the past behind:
Still Life With Bread Crumbs, by Anna Quindlen
Photographer Rebecca Winters ditches life in New York City and puts her fading career on hold to seek inspiration in an isolated country cottage. Wildlife run-ins, a May-December romance, and, yes, artistic reinvention all follow.
The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd
Sarah Grimke and Hetty “Handful” meet on Sarah’s 11th birthday, when the daughter of the wealthy Grimke family receives slave Hetty as a gift. This Oprah’s Book Club pick follows the two women’s entwined lives over the course of the ensuing 35 years, as each pushes back against the limitations imposed by race and gender. Kidd based her novel on the life of early 19th-century abolitionist and feminist Sarah Grimke, like her fictional counterpart born into privilege on a Charleston plantation.
Under the Wide and Starry Sky, by Nancy Horan
Horan’s historical fiction charts the stormy romance between author Robert Louis Stevenson and divorcée Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. When they meet in the French countryside, both are on the run—Stevenson from the weight of his family’s expectations, Osbourne from a broken marriage. Their decades-long romance unfolds in sites around the globe, and introduces readers to the adventurous, convention-bucking Osborne.
The Impossible Knife of Memory, by Laurie Halse Anderson
Teenaged Hayley is a wanderer not by choice but because of her father, an Iraq War veteran whose PTSD is held tentatively at bay by their rootless existence. When they return to his hometown, Hayley has the chance to build a life in one place, but it’s threatened by both her father’s demons and her own.