This is how I know I’m
reading an incredible book. All of the day’s obligations — making my bed, walking to the subway, cooking dinner — become obstacles that stand between me and the story's conclusion. If I could, I would dip out of life, and spend the day racing to the back cover. Luckily for me, and unfortunately for my obligations, there is an endless supply of really, really, ridiculously good books.
Looking ahead to 2018, it's
definite that our Goodreads queues will be getting a whole lot longer. These are the books you'll want to escape into when you're having a hard day. These are the books that will stimulate your mind and give you talking points to whip out at awkward parties. These are the books you'll love so much that you'll buy copies for your friends.
So, without further ado, here are the upcoming titles to put on your radar for 2018.
Educated By Tara Westover Out February 20 Fans of The Glass Castle and Wild will find a new inspiring heroine in Tara Westover, the author of this fascinating memoir. To say Westover grew up unconventionally would be a massive understatement. Westover and her six older siblings lived entirely off the grid in the mountains of Idaho. Her father, a devout Mormon, didn’t believe in conventional schooling or government aid, so Tara was 17 the first time she was in a classroom. And yet: Tara, propelled forward by some inner hunger, educated herself, went to college, and then received a PhD from Cambridge. This gripping coming-of-age story shows a woman’s world being opened through education.
She Regrets Nothing By Andrea Dunlop Out February 6 At her mother's funeral, Laila discovers the existence of a glitzy, breezy world of wealth – and that she's related to it. Laila's three cousins, Liberty, Leo, and Nora Lawrence, show up at the funeral to meet their long-lost cousin, separated after a family rift. Now that nothing's tying Laila to her Michigan home, she decides to try her hand at social climbing the Manhattan ladder. Throughout She Regrets Nothing, you (along with the Lawrence cousins) are never sure whether you trust Laila or not, and that's part of the fun. She Regrets Nothing is the love child of Gossip Girl and Crazy Rich Asians, plus the social climbing of a Gatsby party.
The Great Alone By Kristin Hannah Out February 6 Kristin Hannah's gripping WWII novel, The Nightingale, taught us the lesson that when it comes to her novels, we should prepare to stay up all night reading. In The Great Alone, Hannah's intrepid heroines are Leni and Cora Allbright, who move to Alaska at the whim of Allbright patriarch, Ernst. Nobody is prepared for the harsh Alaska winter, least of all Ernst. His mind is fracturing, just at the moment that life has become the most inhospitable. Leni and Cora are on their own.
Freshwater By Akwaeke Emezi Out February 13 If I were Akwaeke Emezi, I’d be clicking my heels together in glee, because this debut novel is truly extraordinary. Freshwater has two narrators: Ada, a young woman from Nigeria, and the trio of ogbanje gods that live inside Ada. After Ada leaves Nigeria to attend school in Virginia, the spirits take more significant control of their host body’s consciousness. To the outside world, Ada is troubled, mentally ill. But in Ada’s mind, she’s chosen. In this imaginative debut, Emezi shirks the conventional narrative of mental illness and creates something new entirely.
White Houses By Amy Bloom Out February 13 If this political climate has you down, then delving into the story of history’s most notable women, Eleanor Roosevelt, may prove a helpful buoy. In White Houses, you’ll encounter a different side of the renowned first lady. The historical fiction novel is narrated from the perspective of Lorena Hickok, Roosevelt’s long-time friend and lover. By page three, Roosevelt is stripped down to her stockings. White Houses is part love story, part portrait of two remarkable women, and so completely vivid you’ll think you’re living through it.
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death By Maggie O'Farrell Out February 6 In this memoir, Maggie O’Farrell catalogues in undramatic, even-keeled prose, her 17 distinct brushes with death. There was an encounter with a serial killer in an abandoned town in Scotland, and the time she jumped off a coastal cliff as a teenager, and 15 more close calls. While the memoir is stark in its subject matter, its effect is just the opposite. It makes you realize the preciousness of life. The value in each passing second that is yours. This memoir will change your perception of life.
Asymmetry By Lisa Halliday Out February 6 A young woman having an unexpected, surprisingly tender affair with an older, Pulitzer Prize-winning author in New York, soon after 9/11. An Iraqi-American man detained at an airport in 2008. An interview between a luminary thinker nearing the end of his life. In her stunning debut novel, Lisa Halliday places three storylines in close proximity, leading to fascinating contrasts. After reading only a few sentences of her intelligent prose (and that dialogue!), you’ll be itching for her next novel, whenever it should come.
Feel Free By Zadie Smith Out February 6 General tip: When Zadie Smith publishes something, read it. Feel Free is Smith’s take on contemporary culture. In this essay collection, she applies her wit and incisive perspective to creators, like Beyonce and Joni Mitchell, places, like Manhattan and London, and phenomena, like rap music and British politics. You’ll come away from the book feeling like you understand the world just a little bit more.
An American Marriage By Tayari Jones Out February 6 Read this book, sure — just prepare to fling it across the room in frustration, and in empathy, for the sheer difficulty of each main character’s situation. It’s a year into their marriage, and Celestial and Roy are still in that dreamy, young lovers phase when the future stretches boundlessly before them. Then, during an evening stay at a motel, Roy is wrongly accused of rape and later sentenced to 12 years in prison in Louisiana. While he’s locked up and in standstill, Celestial’s life keeps going: Her work as an artist takes off, and she sees her relationship with her old best friend in a new light. And then, Roy comes home, all ready to resume their life together. Can she? Debate freely at your next book club.
Back Talk By Danielle Lazarin Out February 6 The women and girls in Danielle Lazarin’s excellent short story collection don’t need you to tell them who they are. They know who they are — it’s the whole life and relationships stuff they haven’t quite figured out yet. There is a girl whose heart is stretched from mourning her mother, and falling in love. There is an unnamed teenager, caught between forces of masculine aggression. There are sisters whose mutual understanding verges on psychic. Lazarin’s trove of protagonists, ranging in age, circumstance, and city, will speak to a different part of you.
Call Me Zebra By Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi Out February 6 Bibi Abbas Abbas Hosseini, the protagonist of Call Me Zebra, is probably more similar to Don Quixote and Ignatius Reilly of A Confederacy of Dunces than she is to you and I. Partly, that’s because she stems from a family that prizes knowledge of literature above all other practical skills. And it’s partly because her life is a picaresque adventure on par with some of the greats in literature, weaving in dark family tragedy (she’s orphaned by the time she’s 23) with international globetrotting and grand acts of romantic pursuit. Call Me Zebra is a novel in the best sense of the word. It’s filtered entirely through an idiosyncratic mind, who thinks in sentences that are sharp and smart and utterly ridiculous.
Force of Nature By Jane Harper Out February 6 If you’re the kind of person who relishes gossiping about coworkers, then Force of Nature will appeal to you in some deep, primal way. The entire book is essentially coworker drama — mixed in with a dramatic disappearance in the Australian bush. A randomly selected group of employees sets off on a corporate wilderness retreat far outside of Melbourne. The female group returns hours later, and without Alice Martin. Flipping between the perspective of police agent Aaron Falk and the actual events of the trip, Harper will keep readers taut from endless cliffhangers. Force of Nature is the kind of crime novel that will appeal to everyone.
The Hazel Wood By Melissa Albert Out January 20 Alice is 17 and, alongside her mother, has spent most of her life on the road, trying to stay a step ahead of the bad luck that seems to follow them everywhere. But when her grandmother, a reclusive writer of frightening fairytales, dies, Alice's mother vanishes, stolen away by a supernatural force and taken to the the fantastical world where those stories are set. To get her mom back, Alice is forced to seek out her grandmother's cultish fans and venture to the family manor, where she learns that the twisted tales go deeper than she ever could have known.
Flight Season By Marie Marquardt Out February 20 (Yep, we're early on this one — but trust us, for good reason!) The first time TJ Carvalho met Vivi Flannigan was the only time that she'd completely lost control of her life — and she wants to forget all about it. But when Vivi returns home during her first year of college and they both wind up working in the heart ward of a university hospital, the pair is forced together whether they like it or not. Their task: Keeping an eye on Ángel, a feisty patient in their hospital hall. But it turns out Vivi and TJ have much more to learn from the dying man than they ever could have imagined.
This Will Be My Undoing By Morgan Jerkins Out January 30 At a moment where the market seems almost overwhelmed with feminist manifestos, Jerkin's book is truly a standout must read. Whether she's writing about Black female sexuality, Sailor Moon, or what it means to date a man who "doesn't see color," her insights cut deep and can't help but pave new roads in a reader's mind. Her essays are full of revelations and cathartic moments, and at the heart of every subject she tackles is a pulsing question: What does it mean to be a black woman in the world today? The answer is complicated, but what's clear is that This Will Be My Undoing should be required reading for the world we live in now.
Swearing Is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language By Emma Byrne Out January 23 All those times you had to fork over a quarter for swearing as a kid, and it turns out foul language was good for your brain after all! (Take that, mom.) Byrne's witty popular science books digs into the history of colorful language, how it's evolved, and why swearing has been shown to reduce physical pain, decrease anxiety, prevent violence, and generally help people cooperate with one another. Our one-line review? Shit, this book is fascinating.
The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner's Guide to Getting Good with Money By Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage Out January 2 Maybe you have a savings account and a 401(k); maybe your credit is somewhere in the "excellent" zone and you're paying off your credit cards each month... But if you still don't feel like you're making the best decisions with your dollars — well, then this is the book your should gift yourself. File this one under: brass tacks, immediately useful advice you can actually implement no matter what you're working with, from two women who truly get it. Your future self will someday thank your present self for this good reading decision.
Heart Spring Mountain By Robin MacArthur Out January 9 In August 2011, Tropical Storm Irene whipped through Vale's small Vermont hometown — and in the aftermath of the flooding, her mom, Bonnie, is nowhere to be found. Despite their estrangement, Vale packs up her life in New Orleans and goes home to join the search effort. What she finds when she gets there is a place that is at once familiar and unrecognizable — and a family secret that has deeper roots than she could have ever imagined.
Everything Here is Beautiful By Mira T. Lee Out January 16 When Miranda and Lucia lose their mother, Lucia begins to hear voices, and older sister Miranda knows it's up to her to bring her sibling back into the real world. But Lucia can't be contained: Before anyone can stop her, she gets married, then leaves that man for a lover, has a baby, moves countries, shakes up her entire life. Ultimately, Lucia's mental illness brings her crashing back down to Earth, and Miranda — who has finally found peace in her own life — must confront a difficult question: At what point do sisterly bonds break — and how far should one sister go to save the other from herself?
Neon in Daylight By Hermione Hoby Out January 9 Set in the dog days of an unbearable heat wave in New York City, this story follows Kate, a young Englishwoman cat sitting in Manhattan, while also trying to figure out her future. She has a boyfriend back home, but her love affair with the city is starting to swirl: The siren song of crowded club and bars are irresistible — as are two strangers who will change the course of her life forever.
Red Clocks By Leni Zumas Out January 16 It's a story that's frighteningly easy to imagine: Abortion has become illegal once again in America. Doctors are banned from performing in-vitro fertilization. A Personhood Amendment has endowed embryos with the right to liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and above all else, life. In a small Oregon town, five women are forced to navigate the confines of this new world, in a novel that is like The Handmaid's Tale for the new millennium, that both terrifies and lays bare the strength and resilience of women.
The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure By Shoba Narayan Out January 23 Narayan, a writer and cookbook author, lived in Manhattan for years. But when she moves back to Bangalore to be with her family she finds herself suddenly befriending the "milk lady," who sells her fresh dairy every day. The two bond, and eventually Narayan agrees to buy her friend a brand-new cow — so they set off together looking for the perfect one. This lovely, lighthearted novel is a journey through cultural mores and female friendship, as well as a look at the spiritual and historical part that cows play in India; an easy read that you can't help but love.
Our Lady of the Prairie By Thisbe Nessen Out January 23 Phillipa Maakestad barely recognizes her life anymore. A long-married professor, she finds herself falling for a colleague during a semester spent teaching at another college; when she returns from Ohio to Iowa, she's thrust into the mix of her difficult daughter's madcap wedding — complete with a maniac mother-in-law, a (soon-t0-be ex) husband who wants his revenge, and a literal tornado on top of everything else. So how does Phillipa make it through? By burning. Shit. Down. Brazen, sexy, and whip smart: We adored this ode to the power and spirit of feisty midwestern women.
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