The Truths We Hold
From Senator Kamala Harris, one of America’s most inspiring political leaders, The Truths We Hold is an inspiring memoir about the core truths that unite us, the struggle to discern what those truths are, and how best to act upon them. Drawing from her own upbringing as the daughter of a Jamaican economist and a cancer researcher from India, Senator Harris culls from the lessons and trials within her own life and from those across the life of our country.
The Winter of the Witch
Vanessa Arden’s The Winternight Trilogy introduced an unforgettable heroine, Vasilisa (Vasya) Petrovna, a girl determined to forge her own path in a world that would rather lock her away. Now, in The Winter of the Witch, we see a Moscow struck by disaster, and a people searching for answers — and for someone to blame. Caught at the center of the conflict, one involving the Grand Prince and a wicked demon, Vasya finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders as she desperately tries to save Russia and her beloved magical world.
Mouthful of Birds
Heralded by Vogue as “superb”, the stories in Mouthful of Birds burrow their way into your psyche and don’t let go. An extraordinary collection featuring women on the edge, men turned upside down, and the natural world at odds with reality, Schweblin’s book confronts the notion of how our expectations for how people act, love, and fear can all be upended. Carrying the feel of a sleepless night, this collection will leave your pulse racing, and the line between the real and the strange inexorably blurred.
Elsey Come Home
When Elsey’s husband, Lukas, hands her a brochure for a mountain retreat, she knows he is really giving her an ultimatum: Go, or we’re done. Unable to find a balance between her identities as painter, mother, and wife, Elsey fills her days worrying, drinking, and descending into desperate unhappiness. But once at the retreat, she encounters a group of men and women who will forever alter the way she understands herself.
Told in wry wit and colorful prose, Unmarriageable charmingly updates Jane Austen’s beloved classic, exploring questions of love and marriage; class and sisterhood. As the Binat family prepares for the biggest wedding their small town has seen in years, Mrs. Binat, a woman with five daughters, waits breathlessly to see if her daughter Jena will land a proposal from Fahad Bingla, a wildly successful entrepreneur even as her most practical daughter, Alys, tangles with her own issues around attraction and the heart.
Karen Thompson Walker
In The Dreamers, Karen Thompson Walker’s enthralling tale, a student stumbles into her dorm room in an isolated Southern California college town, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics. When a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, Mei finds herself thrust together with an eccentric classmate as panic takes hold and spreads to the town. The sleepers are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They’re dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?
The Weight of a Piano
In 1962, eight-year-old Katya is bequeathed a Blüthner piano, on which she discovers everything that she can do with music and what music does for her. Yet after marrying, she emigrates with her family to America, and her piano is lost. In 2012, Clara’s apartment search is complicated by the gift her father gave before her parents died: a Blüthner she’s never learned to play. But when Clara’s hand is broken as the piano’s being moved, she rashly chooses to sell it. What becomes more crucial is who the most interested party turns out to be.
Behind every assassination, there is an anonymous mastermind—a plotter—working in the shadows. Raised by a cantankerous killer named Old Raccoon, Reseng is an assassin who’s never questioned anything: where to go, who to kill, or why his home was filled with books that no one ever read. But one day, Reseng steps out of line on a job, and when he uncovers an extraordinary scheme set into motion by an eccentric trio of young women, Reseng will have to decide if he’ll remain a pawn or finally take control of the plot.
We Cast a Shadow
Maurice Carlos Ruffin
“You can be beautiful, even more beautiful than before.” This is the seductive promise of Dr. Nzinga’s clinic in a near-future Southern city, where anyone can get their lips thinned, skin bleached, and nose narrowed. A complete demelanization will liberate you from the confines of being born in a black body—if you can afford it. In this tumult, we meet Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is getting bigger by the day. The darker Nigel becomes, the more frightened his father feels. But how far will he go, and will he destroy his family in the process?
The beautiful yet unsettling Golden Child brings us to Trinidad, and a family trying to live a decent life. Clyde works exhausting shifts at the petroleum plant as Joy, his wife, looks after the home. Their sons, thirteen years old, are twins but nothing alike: Paul has always been considered odd, while Peter is believed destined for greatness. When Paul goes walking one afternoon and doesn’t come home, Clyde is forced to go looking, and as Clyde begins to understand Paul’s fate, his world shatters—leaving him faced with a decision no parent should ever have to make.
More Than Words
Nina Gregory has always known who she’s supposed to be. But is that who she truly is? Raised by her father, owner of New York City’s glamorous Gregory Hotels, Nina was taught that family, reputation, and legacy matter most. But when Nina’s father dies, he leaves behind a secret that shocks Nina to her core, leading her to see the men in her life—her father, her boyfriend, and unexpectedly, her boss, Rafael—in a new light. Soon Nina finds herself caught between the world she loves, and a passion that could upend everything.
Where Reasons End
Where Reasons End confronts grief and transforms it into art, in a book of surprising beauty and love. Yiyun Li meets life’s deepest sorrows as she imagines a conversation between a mother and child in a timeless world. Composed in the months after she lost a child to suicide, the narrator trespasses into the space between life and death, resulting in moving conversations about the love and complexity of a relationship.
I Owe You One
Since Fixie Farr’s father passed away, leaving his housewares store in the hands of his family, Fixie spends all her time picking up the slack instead of striking out on her own. If she doesn’t take care of her father’s legacy, who will? When she crosses paths with a handsome stranger, Sebastian, in a coffee shop and her childhood crush, Ryan, returns, Fixie wants nothing for herself—but she’d love Seb to give Ryan a job. No sooner has Sebastian agreed when the tables are turned again, and Fixie realizes she’s torn between her family and the life she really wants.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf
The first in Marlon James’ Dark Star trilogy, Black Leopard, Red Wolf draws from African history and his own dynamic imagination. Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard. Defying categorization, it’s a story both surprising and profound that explores the fundamentals of truth and the limits of power.
In July 1953, at a party thrown by Truman Capote in Portofino, Tennessee Williams and his lover Frank meet Anja Blomgren, a mysteriously taciturn young Swedish beauty and aspiring actress, in an encounter that will go on to alter their lives. What keeps two people together and what breaks them apart? Can we save someone else if we can’t save ourselves? Seamlessly weaving fact and fiction about the tensions between public figures and their private lives, Leading Men is a heartbreaking story about the burdens of fame and the negotiations of life in the shadows of greatness.
It’s 1986 and Marie Mitchell is an FBI intelligence officer, a brilliant young black woman caught in an old boys’ club, her career stalled. So when she’s given the opportunity to join a task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the charismatic president of Burkina Faso whose Communist ideologies made him a target for American intervention, she says yes. In the ensuing year, Marie observes and seduces Sankara, and has a hand in the coup that will bring him down. But doing so changes everything she believes about what it means to be a spy, lover, and good American.
Lost Children Archive
A mother and father set out with their two children, driving from New York to Arizona in the summer’s heat. Their destination: Apacheria, the place the Apaches once called home. But on the radio, there is news about an “immigration crisis”: thousands of kids trying to cross the southwestern border into the United States, but getting detained—or lost in the desert along the way—and as the family drives, we sense they are on the brink of a crisis of their own.
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
The Butler family has had their share of trials, as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest, but nothing prepared them for the one that upends their lives. Althea, the eldest, is a force to be reckoned with. Her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will, but they’re stunned when she and her husband Proctor are arrested, and in a heartbeat the family plummets to utter disgrace. What unfolds is a portrait of the core of an American family in a story that’s as page-turning as it is important.
Bangkok Wakes to Rain
In the stirring collection Bangkok Wakes to Rain, a missionary doctor pines for New England even as he succumbs to the vibrant chaos of nineteenth-century Siam. A post-WWII society woman marries, mothers, and holds court, little suspecting her solitary future. A jazz pianist in the age of rock, haunted by ghosts, is summoned to appease the resident spirits. And in New Krungthep, savvy teenagers row tourists past landmarks of the drowned city they themselves do not remember. Time collapses as these stories converge, linked by the forces remaking this amphibious, ever-morphing capital.
Melissa Scrivner Love
It took sacrifice, pain, and more than a few bodies, but Lola has clawed her way to the top of her South Central Los Angeles neighborhood. Her gang has grown into a full-fledged empire, and the influx of cash has opened up a world that she’s never known. But as Lola ascends, she attracts a dangerous new cartel’s attention. Finding herself sucked into a deadly all-out drug war that threatens to destroy everything she’s built, Lola learns the greatest threat may be a danger much closer: her own brother.
The Lost Night
In 2009, Edie had New York in her thrall, the beguiling star of a group of recent graduates living in Brooklyn. When Edie’s body was found near a suicide note at the close of a drunken night, no one could believe it. Grief and resentment scattered friends, and brought the era to an abrupt end. A decade later, Lindsay has come a long way, nestled in a cozy apartment and with a thriving career. But when Lindsay discovers an unsettling video from that hazy night, she starts to wonder if Edie was actually murdered—and if she herself was involved.
Wynn and Jack are best friends, bonded by their shared love of mountains, books, and fishing. Wynn is a gentle giant, while Jack’s more rugged, raised on a Colorado ranch. Setting off on a Canadian canoe trip, they anticipate days of leisurely paddling, but a wildfire making its way across the forest adds unexpected urgency. When they hear a man and woman arguing on the fog-shrouded riverbank, their search for the pair turns up nothing. Yet next day, a man appears, paddling alone. Is this the man they heard? If he’s the man they heard, where is the woman?
From the moment a doctor put “male” on Jacob Tobia’s birth certificate, everything went wrong. Alongside “male” came words that carried expectations, words like “masculine” and “aggressive” and “SPORTS!” Naturally sensitive, playful, and creative, Jacob was given the label “sissy.” In the two decades that followed, “sissy” joined forces with “gay,” “trans,” and “nonbinary,” to become a source of pride and, today, a rallying cry for a gender revolution. Through their memoir, Jacob invites us to rethink what we know about gender, offering a blueprint for a healed world–one free from gender-based trauma and bursting with trans-inclusive feminism.
Perdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet may seem just a working mother; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. They share a gold-painted apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation, and there’s the gingerbread they make. Londoners find themselves able to take or leave it, but the world’s truest lover is Harriet’s charismatic friend Gretel. Decades later, when Perdita sets out to find long-lost Gretel, it prompts a new telling of Harriet’s story, following the Lees through snags of jealousy, ambition, family grudges, and wealth.
Daisy Jones & The Six
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things. When a producer realizes the key to supercharged success is combining Daisy with Billy Dunne, the brooding frontman of The Six, what happens next will become the stuff of legend.
The Dragonfly Sea
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
On the Kenyan island of Pate lives solitary, stubborn Ayaana and her mother. When a sailor named Muhidin enters their lives, Ayaana finds something she has never had before: a father. But as Ayaana grows into adulthood, forces of nature and history reshape her life and the island itself, and Ayaana embarks on a journey to the Far East, where she will reclaim her devotion to the sea, and find her own tenuous place amid a landscape of beauty, violence, and surprising joy.
The Last Year of the War
Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa teen in 1943—aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Yet when her father is arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer, the family is sent to an internment camp where Elise feels stripped of everything beloved, including her identity. Meeting her fellow internee Mariko, a Japanese-American teen from L.A., empowers Elise to believe the life she knew will again be hers. But when the Sontags are exchanged for American prisoners behind enemy lines in Germany, Elise will face head-on the person the war desires to make of her.
When her Ukranian family begins their new life in Florida, Oksana’s physicist father delivers pizza to make ends meet, her mother sits home worrying, and her flamboyant grandmother relishes the attention she gets, not realizing the road they traverse is known as Prostitute Street. Oksana keeps getting herself in trouble, from stealing the coveted key to New York City’s Gramercy Park, to falling in love with a married man. As her grandmother moves back to Ukraine, Oksana visits and learns how alike they are, and how to embrace life without causing harm to the people dearest to her.
In Houston, a sprawling, diverse American microcosm, the son of a black mother and Latino father is coming of age; working at his family’s restaurant, weathering his brother’s blows, and discovering he likes boys. Others live and thrive and die in Houston’s myriad neighborhoods: a young woman whose affair detonates across an apartment complex, a ragtag baseball team, a group of young hustlers, hurricane survivors, a drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, a reluctant chupacabra. Soulful and insightful, Lot explores trust and love in all its unsparing and unsteady forms.
The Other Americans
Late one Californian spring night, Driss Guerraoui, a Moroccan immigrant, is killed by a speeding car while crossing a darkened intersection. The repercussions of his death bring together his daughter Nora, a jazz composer; his widow Maryam; Efrain, an undocumented witness; Jeremy, an Iraq war vet; Coleman, a detective discovering her son’s secrets; Anderson, a neighbor reconnecting with his family; and the murdered man himself. As the invisible connections that bind them are unveiled, a family’s secrets are exposed, a town’s hypocrisies faced, and love, in its messy and unpredictable forms, is born.
My Lovely Wife
Samantha Downing’s wildly compulsive debut thriller introduces a couple whose fifteen-year marriage has finally gotten too interesting. “Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with. We all have our secrets to keeping a marriage alive. Ours just happens to be getting away with murder…”
Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she’s gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and love. Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation—and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.
The Old Drift
On the banks of the Zambezi River, there was once a colonial settlement called The Old Drift. Here begins the epic story of a small African nation. In 1904, in a smoky hotel room, an Old Drifter named Percy M. Clark, foggy with fever, makes a mistake that entangles three Zambian families as they collide over the course of the century, into the present and beyond. As the generations pass, their lives—triumphs, losses and hopes—form a symphony about what it means to be human.
In Nathan Englander’s fresh and funny satire, Larry is an atheist in a family of orthodox Memphis Jews. When his father dies, it is his responsibility as the surviving son to recite the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, every day for eleven months. To the horror of his mother and sisters, Larry refuses, imperiling his father’s soul. In appeasement and as penance, he hatches an ingenious if cynical plan; to hire a stranger through a website called kaddish.com to recite the daily prayer and shepherd his father’s soul safely to rest.
Lights All Night Long
Fifteen-year-old Ilya arrives in Louisiana for what should be the adventure of his life: a year as an exchange student, bolstered by the fact that Sadie, his host family’s enigmatic daughter, is interested in him. But when Ilya was tapped for the exchange, his brother Vladimir disappeared into their Russian town’s seedy underworld as the murders of three young women shook their hometown, landing Vladimir in jail. Scrambling to prove his brother’s innocence, Ilya discovers the radical lengths Vladimir has gone to protect him—a truth he could only have learned by leaving him behind.
Allie Garvey is heading to the funeral of a childhood friend, grief-stricken and full of dread, for going home means seeing two people with whom she shares an unbearable secret. Twenty years earlier, a horrific incident shattered the lives of five teenagers, as they played a dangerous prank that went tragically, fatally, wrong. Haunted by what she and the others did, and by the fact that she never told a soul, Allie stands on the precipice of losing everything. She’s ready for a reckoning, determined to unearth the truth, as she discovers a shocking conclusion she never saw coming.
With the coming of the Great Flood only one family was spared, drifting on an endless sea, waiting for the waters to subside. We know the story of Noah. Now, in a work of astounding invention, Sarah Blake reclaims the story of his wife, Naamah, the matriarch who kept them alive, a woman torn between faith and fury, lending her strength to her sons and their wives, caring for an unruly menagerie. Naamah revisits the story of the Ark that rescued life on earth, and rediscovers the burdens endured by the woman at the heart of the story.
In Sally Rooney’s newest, the popular footballer Connell and lonely yet proud Marianne pretend not to know each other at school. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her job at Marianne’s house, a strange, indelible connection grows between them. A year later, both studying at Dublin’s Trinity College, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward others, but always magnetically drawn back together. It’s as Marianne veers into self-destruction, and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, that each must confront how far they’re willing to go to save the other.
Jennifer Cody Epstein
East Village, 1989. Things had never been easy between Ava Fisher and her estranged mother Ilse. Too many questions hovered between them: Who was Ava’s father? Where had Ilse been during the war? But Ilse’s ashes have arrived, along with a trove of unsent letters addressed to Renate, Ilse’s childhood friend. As her mother’s letters unfurl a dark past, Ava spirals deep into the shocking history of a woman she never truly knew. An unflinching exploration of Nazi Germany and its legacy, Wunderland delves deeply into a contemplation of womanhood, wartime, and how far we’ll go in order to belong.
Golden Oaks is a retreat boasting every luxurious, complimentary amenity. The only catch? For nine months, you cannot leave the grounds, and your movements are monitored as you dedicate yourself to the task of producing someone else’s perfect baby. Jane, a Filipino immigrant, is in search of a better future when she commits to being a “Host”. Yet now pregnant and consumed with worry, Jane is determined to reconnect with her life outside—even if it may mean losing the money she’s counting upon. The Farm raises provocative, crucial questions about the trade-offs women make to fortify their futures.
The start of a new year is an idyllic time to take stock of what’s fresh and exciting in the world—and the same goes for updating your To Be Read list. Whether you’re hungry for forthright memoirs by gender-fluid iconoclasts, rapt and inspiring political reads, literary story collections, or edge-of-your-seat thrillers, the next six months hold a wealth of bookish treasures to take up space on that recently Marie Kondo-ed shelf. From the wildly popular Sally Rooney to new works from Helen Oyeyemi and Marlon James, these expansive and fabulous new titles guarantee you’ll be reading straight through to the summer.
Featured Image: @rafi.dizon/Twenty20