5 Terrific New Books To Read This January

Whether you Kondo’d your bookshelves last fall or recently resolved to read more (and scroll less) in 2016, a new year is the perfect excuse for a revised reading list. Don’t know where to start? Ah, that's where we come in. We've curated a short list of the best brand-new reads, from a Wet Hot American Summer star’s secretly deep memoir to a former ballerina’s head-spinning debut. And we recommend adding one — or all five — of these January releases to your “must read” pile.

What follows are five terrific books out this month that we think are worth your time. It's the first in a new monthly series designed to help you navigate the flood of new titles staring you down at the bookstore, on Amazon, or on iTunes. (Trust us, we know how overwhelming it can get!) So click ahead as we kick off what we hope will be an awesome, exciting new year of bookworming.
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Photo: Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Mr. Splitfoot, Samantha Hunt
Out now

Fans of the wondrous and strange will find solace in Samantha Hunt’s haunting novel. The story follows two orphaned teenage friends, Ruth and Nat, from life inside their religious cult commune in upstate New York to 20 years into the future, once they’ve escaped. Hunt's narrative drips in magical realism, so you’ll have to roll with the whimsy and supernatural elements, including Nat’s charming ability to communicate with mischievous ghosts.
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Photo: Courtesy of Gallery Books.
Navel Gazing, Michael Ian Black
Out now

In this deeply personal memoir, comedian and actor Michael Ian Black opens up candidly about life in the middle-aged lane and the fears that go along with it — his mom’s illness, his thinning hair, his distaste for running, the general insecurities of aging — all delivered with a generous heap of his trademark deadpan snark and humor.
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Photo: Courtesy of Melville House.
The Happy Marriage, Tahar Ben Jelloun, translated by André Naffis-Sahely
Out now

Finally, an English translation of Moroccan author Tahar Ben Jelloun's celebrated novel. It's a he-said, she-said tale about the emotional complications surrounding a rocky marriage, told from the dual perspectives of the husband and wife during a time of burgeoning women’s rights.
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Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Press.
The Portable Veblen, Elizabeth McKenzie
On sale January 19

Thoughtful, absurd (yes, the squirrel on the cover makes an appearance), and never not funny, humorist Elizabeth McKenzie’s newest novel centers around Veblen, a vaguely employed translator, and her medical researcher fiancé, Paul, as they prepare for their nuptials in Palo Alto. In a culture clash between Veblen’s snobbish family and her crunchy future in-laws, McKenzie’s characters must face the question,
Do we ever really escape the influence of our families?
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Photo: Courtesy of HarperCollins.
Girl Through Glass, Sari Wilson
On sale January 26

First-time author Sari Wilson’s debut reads like a literary mashup of
Center Stage and The Diary of a Teenage Girl, bringing together the competitive world of ballet, the quest for creative expression, and an illicit romance, all against the backdrop of 1970s New York. Shifting between the past and present life of her narrator Mira, Wilson uses her own background as a dancer to breathe life into this coming-of-age tale.