We’re all ready to say goodbye to 2020 and hello to a fresh new start! A new year, a new season and plenty of new books to cozy up with this January. We’ve got much-anticipated prequels to the timeless classic The Great Gatsby and the international phenomenon The Hate U Give, as well as a few exceptional debuts that are sure to leave a lasting impression for years to come. Whether you’re ready to read hilarious satires, page-turning psychological dramas, or epic fantasies, we’ve got a lineup of must-read titles this January to start your year off right.
The Mystery of Mrs. Christie
Here’s what we know: in December of 1926, the queen of mystery disappears for eleven days. And that’s where the mystery seemingly ends — or is it? A novel of literary suspense and verve that fluidly mixes fact and fiction, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie gives us a glimpse into Agatha’s “unreliable narration” of her own life, and a formidable take on what really could have happened during one of the most notorious events in literary history. “A deft, fascinating page-turner replete with … plot twists that would stump Hercule Poirot.” —Kate Quinn, author of The Rose Code
The Wife Upstairs
An undeniably intelligent twist on the classic Jane Eyre, The Wife Upstairs offers a fresh and feminist thrill ride of a country-fried gothic. Dogwalker Jane may find security with the widower Rochester, but she soon realizes she may be in for more than she bargained for. Get ready for secrets, shocks and surprises: this one is a page-turner that will keep you guessing.
Emotionally devastating and compulsively readable, The Push explores the ramifications that come about when mothers are not heard, not believed and the interminable questions that swirl around the notion of nature versus nurture. Thought-provoking and impactful, this is the type of story that will stay with you from a skillful star on the rise.
Robert Jones, Jr.
A love story against all odds, The Prophets is filled to the brim with poetic voice and heartrending emotion. Despite unrelenting hardship and painful obstacles, this debut is ultimately one of hope and resilience. “The Prophets shakes right down to the bone what the American novel is, should do, and can be. That shuffling sound you hear is Morrison, Baldwin, and Angelou whooping and hollering both in pride, and wonder.” —Marlon James, author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf
Angie Thomas has delivered yet another pitch-perfect return to Garden Heights, set seventeen years before The Hate U Give. In Concrete Rose, we meet a young Maverick Carter — he’s not yet Starr’s father, but at seventeen years old himself, he already knows the importance of taking care of his family. Though set in the past, this raw and eye-opening exploration into what it means to be a man in the Black community is just as relevant today. A must-read for all.
**Join us for a live virtual event with Angie Thomas in-conversation with Dhonielle Clayton on Wednesday, January 13 at 7 PM EST, to discuss Concrete Rose. You must purchase a ticket on Eventbrite to gain access to this event.
Aftershocks: A Memoir
A searing and wonderful debut work; a memoir that stares hard at the fault lines that sorrow and trauma etch into us and into those we love. It is as well a meditation on the meaning of home and the raw urgency of family. In a world that loves a simple explanation, but is rent by sexism, racism, nationalism and hurt, Owusu offers up the reality of complication and the ability to embrace and create our own stories. Aftershocks is a book that will linger in the mind long after the last page.
A razor-sharp and highly intelligent debut, Black Buck brings the idea of the American Dream into a new century. It is a darkly comic novel about a young Black man named Darren, who moves from trying workplace drama to a rollercoaster journey of self-actualization. A novel bred to make you think. “Full of quick pacing, frenetic energy, absurd — yet spot on — twists and turns, and some of the funniest similes I’ve ever read, this novel is both balm and bomb.” —Nafissa Thompson-Spires, author of Heads of the Colored People
Wings of Ebony
After the murder of Rue’s beloved mother and the only parent she’s ever known, Rue is whisked away by her estranged father to a new world — literally. Once she’s arrived in Ghizon, Rue learns that she’s half-god, half-human, and thus her very existence is a crime. Wings of Ebony is a mesmerizing, multilayered debut with an unapologetically fierce heroine whose loyalty to her family, friends and community shines through the pages and will have you rooting alongside her until the last page.
The House on Vesper Sands
Such a brilliant cast of characters in this fantastical novel! This story is so rich with description of the setting, it feels like you’re living in Victorian England. The fog and snow, at times, will have you worried you’ll catch a “death of a cold” — but it’ll be worth it! I was quickly engrossed in every character I was introduced to, no matter how brief or extended their stay in the story. Gideon Bliss and Inspector Cutter would have starring roles if there were ever such thing as a “Victorian buddy plot movie.” Serious fun in this one!
A Thousand Ships
In A Thousand Ships, Calliope, goddess of poetry, takes us through the Trojan War — where women become the deserving center of the most epic story ever told. A fresh entry into a burgeoning category of modern retellings, this story collection is a beautiful doorway to the inimitable ancient works. “[Haynes] thoughtful portraits will linger with you long after the book is finished.” —Madeline Miller, author of Circe
Saunders is the master class instructor of our dreams. He is witty, charming and informative, willing to pepper in just the right amount of personal asides to make us feel like we are in direct conversation with him. He walks us through Russian short stories to help us, ultimately, become better readers and writers. There are only seven stories in this collection and, with Saunders as our faithful guide, we suspect we will all be reading even more. This book will inspire the writer within all of us.
**Join us for a live virtual event with George Saunders in-conversation with Cheryl Strayed on Thursday, January 14 at 7 PM EST, to discuss A Swim in a Pond in the Rain. You must purchase a ticket on Eventbrite to gain access to this event.
Michael Farris Smith
A tumultuous origin story of one of the most famous and unforgettable literary narrators, Nick is a true cross-continental bildungsroman. This emotional novel successfully puts The Great Gatsby into an entirely new perspective and era: from the battlefields of World War I to the drunken streets of Paris and New Orleans. Dive back into the world of an unparalleled classic.
Let Me Tell You What I Mean
A new book by Joan Didion sets our hearts on fire. From politics to culture, Didion sets the bar high for literary nonfiction essays. Hilton Als’ generous introduction is worthy of its own anthology. Als states her writing “anticipated the deeply troubling politics of today.” This collection captures the best of the most interesting conversations. One moment you’re discussing history, the next a favorite novelist, and then, at another point, a personal anecdote. Joan Didion should be first the person on your literary dinner party guest list. If she’s busy — then you still have these essays.