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11 Book Releases We're Excited About This Month

And What You Can Read in the Meantime

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • January 06, 2021

Reading Ahead

When it's cold outside, there's nothing we like so much as curling up with a good book. From romance to sci-fi to historical, this month's releases include some enticing titles—many of them debuts! Here are eleven that we're particularly excited about. A few of these came out this week, so they’re already available! (But don't worry, we'll still include a comparable previously published title.)

January 5

The Prophets by Robert James Jr.

With a lyricism reminiscent of Toni Morrison, this debut novel depicts the passionate love affair between two enslaved young men in the antebellum South. Isaiah was Samuel's and Samuel was Isaiah's. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. Until a betrayal threatens their very existence.

What to read first: The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother that she never had. But in the exhaustion of early motherhood, she becomes convinced that something is wrong with her baby daughter. This tense psychological drama is about a woman whose experience of motherhood is nothing at all what she hoped for—and everything she feared.

What to read first: The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

This crackling, satirical debut has drawn comparisons to the movie Sorry to Bother You, original screenplay by Boots Riley. The novel features a young man given a shot at stardom as the lone black salesman at a mysterious, cult-like, and wildly successful startup where nothing is as it seems. Described by Colson Whitehead as "a high wire act full of verve and dark, comic energy."

What to read first: The Sellout by Paul Beatty

January 12

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Set seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give, this prequel reveals the poignant story of seventeen-year-old Mav Carter, grappling with unexpected fatherhood and what it means to be a man. As he contemplates an opportunity to go straight, loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear him apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one.

What to read first: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu

This poetic, genre-bending work blends memoir with cultural history. Abandoned by her mother when she was two years old, the author traces the fault lines of her identity: the meaning of home, black womanhood, and the ripple effects, both personal and generational, of emotional trauma. A powerful coming-of-age story exploring timely and universal themes.

What to read first: Children of the Land by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

Detransition Baby by Torrey Peters

Ames thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but the decision led to the breakup of his relationship with his girlfriend Reese. When his new lover, Katrina, reveals that she's pregnant with his baby, Ames wonders if the three of them could form some kind of unconventional family and raise the baby together? A witty, timely, and moving debut.

What to read first: The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

January 19

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From now on she will be known as Sankofa. Her touch is death, and she can fall a town with a glance. Now she walks alone, except for her fox companion. But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa? A thrilling sci-fi tale of community and female empowerment from a Nebula and Hugo Award-winner.

What to read first: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal

The second installment in this YA fantasy series, sees the return of Zafira and Nasir to a ghostly Sultan's Keep, low on resources and allies alike. The dark forest has fallen, but the kingdom teems with fear of the Lion of the Night's return. As Nasir fights to command the dark power in his blood, Zafira fights against her own festering darkness.

What to read first: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

January 26

Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion

From an iconic and influential writer comes twelve pieces never before collected that offer an illuminating glimpse into the mind and process of the legendary figure. Written between the years of 1968 to 2000, each essay is classic Didion: incisive, bemused, and stunningly prescient. Her trademark subjects emerge, including the press, politics, California, writing, and her own self doubt.

What to read first: Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

An inventive retelling of the story of the Trojan War from an all-female perspective. This was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of all of them. In the middle of the night, Creusa wakes to find her beloved Troy engulfed in flames. After ten brutal years of conflict, Greece has triumphed. These are the stories of the women embroiled in that legendary war.

What to read first: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Longtime public radio producer Shay Goldstein has been at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can't imagine working anywhere else. But lately it's been a constant clash with her newest colleague, Dominic Yun. So she's peeved when she is tasked with hosting a new show with him—one in which they must pretend to be exes.

What to read first: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Hopefully there's something here that piques your interest! Let us know which new books you're most excited about this month. And be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily book recommendations, literary tidbits, and more.

Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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