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.
The Favorite Sister By Jessica Knoll Out May 15 Kelly knows what happened to her younger sister, Brett, the ingenue founder of a boutique spin cycling franchise. But will she tell the truth during her live interview? Probably not. Because the cast members of Goal Diggers, the reality show both Kelly and Brett were on, weren’t known for truth-telling. Jessica Knoll’s second novel centers on the women of Goal Diggers, a show that supposedly celebrates its cast of extremely successful, self-made women entrepreneurs – but really uses societal expectation and manipulation to pit them against one another. The women in The Favorite Sister each have a sliver of Gone Girl’s Amy in them — they’re razor-sharp, and almost admirable in their commitment to self-preservation and keeping up the appearance of “having it all.” A feminist thriller, and a must read.
The Ensemble By Aja Gabel Out May 15 Henry, the virtuoso violinist for whom everything comes naturally – looks, money, genius talent. Daniel, the serious cellist who always have a chip on his shoulder for getting started too late, for dawdling. Brit, the orphan who longs for connection but will settle for her violin. And Jana, the violinist who pulled the other three together in a string quartet at just the right moment in their lives. Aja Gabel’s absolutely sublime debut follows these four figures through their lives, which are constantly orbiting one another’s. Gabel, a trained cellist, infuses the book with descriptions of music that any Mozart in the Jungle fan will love. Mark our words: This you won’t be able to put this exquisite book down.
Pretend I’m Dead By Jen Beagin Out May 15 With her droll humor and hilarious (but also earnest) observations, the 24-year-old narrator of Pretend I’m Dead had us hooked from page one. Mona gets by cleaning houses; in her free time, she hands out clean needles to heroin junkies. She is adrift; a dreamer without the fuel to make her dreams real. Pretend I’m Dead follows Mona as she moves to a new city, through a few relationships. But reciting the plot doesn’t do the book justice. Glide through Mona’s series of bad decisions with her – she’s a good companion.
Do This For Me By Eliza Kennedy Out May 15 Raney Moore has it all — until she doesn’t. She’s a high-powered Manhattan lawyer with twin girls, a husband who studies bugs (seriously), and a killer wit. And then, she finds out her husband is cheating on her. Without hesitation, Raney becomes set on revenge, and has unlimited financial and social resources to do so. Do This For Me is a fast-paced, outrageously fun pleasure of a book. Bring it to the beach this Memorial Day.
What Should Be Wild By Julia Fine Out May 8 Maisie Cothay’s awful power over life and death manifested itself during her birth, when her mother died after making contact with her daughter. Maisie, you see, can kill whatever she touches – and with another touch, can bring it back to life. Her father raises Maisie in a small cottage by the woods, and never informs her that she’s actually descended from a long line of cursed woman. The answer to Maisie’s identity may lie somewhere in those mysterious woods, but it’s not until her father disappears that Maisie goes off looking to find out who she is. Julia Fine’s novel is a wonderful addition to that genre of lyrical, poetic fantasies, akin to fairy tales in their delicacy and adjacency to the real world.
Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture Edited by Roxane Gay Out May 1 Not That Bad is essential reading — but it will not be easy. For this collection, Roxane Gay sourced frank, devastating essays about men and women’s encounters with rape culture and toxic masculinity. The collection features essays from Gabrielle Union, Ally Sheedy, and memoirist Amy Jo Burns. What remains uniformly clear among these honest, difficult essays: It is that bad.
By Melissa Broder
Out May 1
The Shape of Water
Melissa Broder’s debut The Pisces
prove so definitively, aquatic creatures our new favorite romantic leads. Lucy’s swirling, obsessive mind hasn’t led her anywhere good, so far. She’s stopped work on her thesis, and her relationship with Jamie has fizzled. So Lucy’s perfect sister with a huge Venice Beach house invites her to house-sit for the summer. Lucy, realizing something has to change, attends a support group for love addicts. But a romance with a merman by the beach threatens to completely overwhelm her — and if he gets his way, pull her under completely. Broder, the creator of the popular twitter account
, expertly conveys the pace and intensity of Lucy’s neurotic, romantically fixated mind.
The Mars Room By Rachel Kushner Out May 1 Any book by literary darling Rachel Kushner will be highly anticipated, and The Mars Room is no exception. The Mars Room is a bleak look at an American woman whose life has veered off track; an American woman who never had much hope in the first place. For years, Romy worked as a stripper at the Mars Room, a seedy San Francisco club. Then, after killing her stalker, Romy is sentenced to prison. While in prison, Romy loses contact with her son and becomes numbed by the difficulties and mundanities of institutional life. The Mars Room is a bleak, affecting read.
The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death Defying Acts By Tessa Fontaine Out May 1 In this riveting and powerful memoir of bravery and mother-daughter bonds, Tessa Fontaine literally lives out a metaphor. She runs away and she joins the circus – well, America’s last traveling sideshow, to be precise. Without much training at all, Fontaine performs as a snake charmer, a fire eater, and the electric woman. Fontaine is compelled towards this grand adventure after her mother, a daredevil herself, has a series of strokes that leave her unable to walk or speak. Two years after the incident, Fontaine uses her experience on the road as a way of reframing her relationship to herself and her mother — and a dying American legacy.
Hey Ladies! The Story of 8 Best Friends, 1 Year, and Way, Way Too Many Emails By Michelle Markowitz and Caroline Moss Out May 1 Hey Ladies!, a book-in-emails adapted from a popular Toast column, will hit you where it hurts. Each of the eight characters who write to each other in this long, complicated email chain is an exaggerated version of some person you definitely already know, and probably see in yourself, too. Each month, the friends try (and struggle) to make plans around bachelorette parties or Hamptons vacations. This is a hilarious (but also big-hearted) roast of millennial women — our ambitions, our friendships, our dreams of having it all. But Hey Ladies leaves room for the idea that maybe we can.
Welcome to Lagos By Chibundu Onuzo Out May 1 Chibundu Onuzo’s ambitious novel follows five characters of very different social standing, each with the same goal: Making it to Lagos. The housewife, DJ, rebel fighter, and orphan are led by army officer Chike Ameobi, who defected from the army after being ordered to kill civilians. They take a road trip into the city together, and from there, their lives spiral into kaleidoscopic, but always entertaining, plotlines.
You Think It, I’ll Say It
By Curtis Sittenfeld
Out April 24
"I once heard that smart women want to be told they're pretty and pretty women want to be told they're smart. And the most depressing part is that I think I agree," says one of the characters in Curtis Sittenfeld’s newest collection of short stories. Since her debut novel
, Sittenfeld has made a career in giving voice to the witty, occasionally mean, always truthful thoughts that of smart women. The characters in
You Think It, I’ll Say It
have a lot in common – they’re all middle-aged, married, and established. In one way or another, they’re all haunted by the selves they once were. Reese Witherspoon recently announced she was making
You Think It, I’ll Say It into a TV show
starring Kristen Wiig, so you might as well get ahead.
Miss Ex Yugoslavia By Sofija Stefanovic Out April 17 You’ve heard of Miss America, Miss Universe, and Miss World – but Miss Ex-Yugoslavia? Now that’s a niche pageant. Years after emigrating to Australia from Belgrade in socialist Yugoslavia with her parents, writer Sofija Stefanovic competes in the first ever Miss Ex-Yugoslavia pageant (for journalistic purposes, of course). Joined together on the stage are other women whose lives were uprooted by war. This is lively, hilarious coming-of-age memoir, with the dark shadow of one of the most brutal conflicts in recent history always looming.
And Now We Have Everything By Meaghan O’Connell Out April 10 And Now We Have Everything is a shocking book about something we see all the time: motherhood. At the age of 28, writer Meaghan O’Connell and her fiancé of one week find out they’re going to have a baby. This does not fit into O’Connell’s picture of how her life would go. And yet, she continues, and writes about the process. She has given us a gift. A searing, brutally honest portrait of the expectations of motherhood (and the anxieties of fulfilling them), the pressures of a baby on a relationship, and the unexpected moments of breakthrough. Frankly speaking, this is a must-read for anyone with a mother, anyone with a baby, anyone who knows anyone with a baby — anyone.
Heads of the Colored People By Nafissa Thompson-Spires Out April 10 Sometimes, a voice comes around that is so singular, so funny, so wholly original, that you go back and reread each story once you finish it. Such is the case of Nafissa Thompson-Spires and her debut short story collection, Heads of the Colored People. In one story, two competitive mothers communicate by slipping letters in the others’ daughter’s backpack; in another, a young man attending a cosplay convention can dress up, but cannot escape the color of his skin. In each of these humorous, intelligent vignettes, Thompson-Spires explores aspects of being Black and middle-class in today’s America. This is a special collection. Buy it so you can read it more than once.
Sharp By Michelle Dean Out April 10 Sharp is a good quality in knives. It’s a better quality in people. The 10 brilliant women — Dorothy Parker, Rebecca West, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Pauline Kael, Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, Renata Adler, and Janet Malcolm — featured in Michelle Dean’s novel are all characterized by their mental prowess; their sharpness. But “sharp” has another edge, too — these women were often seen as threats to their male colleagues. Dean manages to fit together the story of 10 lives in a compact, readable book. How very sharp of her.
The Trauma Cleaner By Sarah Krasnostein Out April 10 Sandra Pankhurst has lived many lives. Before she became a trauma cleaner — someone who literally cleans scenes of extreme violence, hoarding, and squalor – Sandra was a husband, a father, a drag queen, a sex worker, a gender reassignment patient, and a wife. To report this biography, Sarah Krasnostein followed Pankhurst to over 20 job sites – some of which will make your stomach churn. Along the way, Krasnostein uncovered the traumas in Pankhurst’s past that led her to want to pursue an unconventional life of healing others through radical reorganization.
Circe By Madeline Miller Out April 10 Circe, Madeline Miller’s follow-up to her acclaimed 2011 novel Song of Achilles, will be a gift to classics nerds and newbies alike. In Circe, the witch of the Odyssey (most famous for turning Odysseus’ men into pigs) gets to go on an odyssey of her own. As punishment for practicing witchcraft, the nymph Circe is banished to eternity on the island Aiaia. There, at least, she finds freedom from her massive family and obligations. In addition to brushing paths with some of mythology's most famous figures, from Hermes to Medea, Circe gives shelter to Odysseus for a year — and her narration challenges and complements the conventional take on The Odyssey. Miller offers us the chance to reconsider myths through the eyes of a woman living them. It’s an exhilarating and exquisite book.
The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath By Leslie Jamison Out April 3 In her first collection, The Empathy Exams, Leslie Jamison proved her prowess as a singular essayist. Jamison combined academic theory, reportage, pop culture, and insights from her own life. Essays in The Recovering incorporate a similar blend, but the subject is even more personal. In the book, she tracks her recovery from alcohol addiction, and positions herself amid the many other artists who also struggled with alcoholism. It’s being called the greatest addiction memoir of all time.
The Female Persuasion By Meg Wolitzer Out April 3 If you read The Interestings, you know that Meg Wolitzer has a knack for creating a whirlwind of rich, complicated lives to get lost in for the duration it takes to complete her mammoth novels. So a few years after completing The Female Persuasion, you might mistake Greer Kadetsky, the book’s protagonist, as your old friend from college — that’s how real she feels. Greer is a freshman in college when she meets Faith Frank, the Gloria Steinem-equivalent who snaps Greer out of a funk and pushes her down a path toward, hopefully, fulfillment. As Greer’s career moves one way, toward a feminist organization and a move to Brooklyn, her longtime boyfriend’s life veers sharply and unexpectedly in another. Greer and the other characters in this bustling, large-hearted book negotiate their dreams along with the curveballs. The Female Persuasion discusses timely issues of feminism (and second wave feminism’s struggle to adopt intersectionality), but does so through fully realized characters.
Look Alive Out There By Sloane Crosley Out April 3 The inside of Sloane Crosley’s head is a nice place to be. It is funny and full of warm, witty observations that ring true and will make you think, “Why didn’t I think to verbalize that!?” It is because we are not affixed to Crosley’s head, though we can benefit from it. Crosley, who is being called the modern-day Nora Ephron, writes about loud neighbors, an appearance on Gossip Girl, and a trip to Ecuador. She elevates what might be short anecdotes in our own retellings, to witty, intelligent observations on modern life.
America Is Not The Heart By Elaine Castillo Out April 3 America is Not the Heart is the sprawling, multi-generational family epic about immigration, national identity, and generational divides you need in your life. Castillo’s debut novel centers on Hero de Vera, a young woman who arrives to her aunt and uncle’s house in the Bay Area after being released from political prison in the Philippines. California of the ‘80s is a far cry from Hero’s past life in the Filipino countryside, then fighting the dictatorship in the New People’s Army, and then being tortured in prison. She and her cousin, Roni, set forth into the immigrant communities of East Bay, where Hero has space to explore her bisexuality. But her aunt, Paz, who came to this country by becoming a nurse, and her uncle, Pol, who works tirelessly as a security guard, struggle to relate to this “Hero’s journey.” This is the story of three generations of Filipino women making it in America, and you won’t want to miss out.
Dread Nation By Justina Ireland Out April 3 An alternative history about hordes of zombies rising and ending the Civil War? Sign us up. Jane is born two years before the undead rise. She comes of age in an America governed by another line — that of life and death. Jane wants to avoid the battlefield. Instead, she attends Miss Preston’s School of Combat for Negro Girls with the hope of becoming an Attendant, and using her combat skills to guard a wealthy woman. But then, Jane finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy. Dread Nation is the fearless must-read YA book of the month.
Unwifeable By Mandy Stadtmiller Out April 3 At 30, Mandy Stadtmiller moves to New York to take a job at the Post. She’s emerging from a five-year-long, emotionally abusive marriage, and is starting off as a blank slate in the scariest, best way. Stadtmiller’s career takes off, and soon she’s socializing in the circles you read about in gossip magazines. This is journalism the way you always thought it was: schmoozing, gathering tips, cashing in favors, flirting with subjects. Along for the ride on this ridiculous pace of life are Stadtmiller’s demons of alcohol and sex addiction. Stadtmiller gives an honest — sometimes searingly so — account of her journey through this time, and the radical work and self-love required to come out the other side.
By Mary H.K. Choi
Out March 27
As much as we talk about our phones isolating us from the world, of course, they connect us to the world as well.
explores the multifaceted — at times infuriating, and at times wonderful — role our phones play in our lives, through the complicated flirtation between a college freshman and a college dropout who works in a local Austin coffee establishment. Boxing
into the genre of YA romance would be a disservice. It’s a blisteringly honest slice of life; it’s a wholly realized character study, it’s so relatable that you won’t be sure whether Penny is you, or your best friend. While waiting for the book to come out, read Choi’s
article on the way
young people use social media
Tangerine By Christina Mangan Out March 20 Don’t go to the beach this summer without Tangerine tucked into your bag. Each page of this vividly rendered book carries with it a whiff of bygone, ‘50s-era Tangier, Morocco — and a bite of suspense. After graduating college, Alice Shipley gets married and moves across the globe. A year later, she certainly wasn’t expecting her former roommate, Lucy, to show up on her doorstep in Tangier — especially after what had happened. But there she was, a tornado of bold, vivid energy, looking to stir up Alice’s life like she had those four years at Bennington. Told through alternating perspectives, Tangerine will leave you as unmoored and constantly guessing as Alice.
The Gunners By Rebecca Kauffman Out March 20 Here’s how it goes for most of us. Every couple of years, you return to your home town for your high school reunion and see what the years have done to the people you once knew and loved. The friend group in The Gunners are brought together for a funeral, not for a reunion — but it’s still an occasion for reflection on the way the years have shaped their bonds. Years ago, the Gunners, a group of six neighborhood kids, grappled with the sudden pulling away of one of their core members. The group drifted apart after that. Now, at 30, they’re brought back together, and have a chance to confront that shared trauma. The thing about childhood friendship is that it is part of the DNA of your formation, something all the Gunners, but especially the narrator, knows too well. The Gunners is one of the most moving portraits of friendship I’ve read, perhaps ever.
The Merry Spinster By Daniel Mallory Ortberg Out March 13 With their book Texts from Jane Eyre and their work on the site The Toast, Daniel Mallory Ortberg has made a career of putting dark, feminist twists on classic literature. In The Merry Spinster, the Little Mermaid is not a red-haired singing princess, but an evil swamp creature who has no respect for human values. Cinderella is actually a man named Paul (go with it). Frog is being gaslit by Toad. The stories in The Merry Spinster are at times haunting, often funny, mostly strange. What remains constant is Ortberg’s narrator, a delicious blend of sensible and sentimental, who parses the stories' wild events with wit.
Everyone Knows You Go Home By Natalia Sylvester Out March 13 Isabel meets her father-in-law, Omar, for the first time on the day of her wedding. Omar also happens to be dead. Since Isabel and Martin are marrying on the Day of the Dead, Omar is able to pass through the veil and visit the couple, as he'll continue to do each year on their anniversary. Only Isabel, however, is willing to communicate with Isabel because of a long-held, secret family rift that Isabel doesn't quite understand. Everyone Knows You Go Home is a touching portrait of a family willing to risk everything for a better life, and what happens when they do.
Children of Blood and Bone By Tomi Adeyemi Out March 6 Mark the day you bought Children of Blood and Bone in your calendar. That was the day you were initiated into the Next Big Thing in literature. Adeyemi’s electric debut, which was sold in an unprecedented seven-figure book deal, takes place in Orïsha, a fictional African kingdom in which magical people once intermingled with the non-magical. Years prior, an authoritarian king wiped out all adult maji, including Zelie’s mother, eliminating all traces of magic from Orisha. Zelie has a chance to bring magic back to her people, but it will take remarkable effort. She’s joined by her brother and a rogue crown princess. Expect giant lions, epic magic battle scenes, and a fantasy whose intentions are to make us reconsider our own world.
Girls Burn Brighter By Shobha Rao Out March 6 When Poornima and Savitha meet in their rural Indian village, neither has any idea of the trials and challenges each will face very, very soon. They’re too busy relishing having their first real best friend to worry about the future. They know eventually, Poornima will be married, and Savitha will continue to work so her younger sisters can have dowries. All that, and worse, will come. And when it does, the girls will have to hold on to the memories of each other to pull through.
Awayland By Ramona Ausubel Out March 6 The precise word for the stories in Awayland is enchanting. Each of them is tethered to reality to a different degree. In some, the tether is far — a daughter travels to Lebanon to visit her mother, who is gradually wasting away, the Cyclops creates an online dating profile. Others are set firmly in the real world, but have an aura of magic. The stories span the globe, from Caribbean islands to towns in Midwestern America. What remains consistent in this globetrotting collection is Ausubel’s wit, and her tenderness, and her commitment to exploring universal quandaries in fabulist ways. Each of these stories shines.
Whiskey and Ribbons By Leesa Cross-Smith Out March 6 Soon before she’s set to give birth, the unthinkable happens to Evangeline: Her beloved husband, Eamon, is killed in the line of duty. Two weeks later, she has a baby boy. Eamon’s adopted brother, Dalton, is the only person who can join Evi in that place of deep grief, and an idiosyncratic relationship of its own forms between them. As narrators, Eamon, Dalton, and Evi weave a story of love, loss, and the families that life gives us. Leesa Cross-Smith’s debut novel is going to burrow itself in your heart, and it’s not going to leave. It’s a must-read. And a must read with tissues.
All the Names They Used For God By Anjali Sachdeva Out February 20 Are you ever-so-slightly bitter that you, an adult, are supposed to have outgrown fairy tales by now? Don’t worry — thanks to Sachdeva’s debut short story collection, you can have fairy tales for grown-ups. The stories in All the Names They Used For God are myths told in spare, but effective, sentences. Even if they’re set in the modern day, each imagines a world in which the possibility for magic isn’t entirely ruled out.
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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