January’s best new books

In Reading Lists - Best New Books by The Editors

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If reading more is one of your goals for the new year, then we’ve got some exciting new releases to add to your TBR-list. Highly-anticipated YA novels like the prequel to The Hate U Give? Check. Moving memoirs from the likes of Cicely Tyson and Nadia Owusu? Check. Delightfully inventive sci-fi adventures from Charles Yu and Mike Chen? Check. Plus, a new history of land ownership from Simon Winchester rounds off the list of the books we can’t wait to read this month.

The Only Living Girl on Earth by Charles Yu

National Book Award-winning author Charles Yu welcomes you to Earth: The Gift Shop, where the history of Earth: A Bunch of Civilizations has been commodified into knick knacks sold by the last living soul on this planet, Jane. A witty and absurd Scribd Original about the destruction of Earth, the survival of capitalism, and the strength of the human spirit from Yu, the author of Interior Chinatown and a writer for Westworld.
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Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

One of the most highly anticipated novels of the new year from the exciting new voice of debut author Mateo Askaripour. Despite being his high school’s valedictorian, 22-year-old Darren is satisfied to be living with his mom and working as a barista in a Manhattan office building. His life plans change when the CEO of a major tech company invites him to come work as part of an elite sales team. Being the only Black employee in the whole organization, Darren soon realizes a higher calling.
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A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself by Peter Ho Davies

After discovering potentially serious health issues with their unborn baby, a couple makes the agonizing decision to terminate their first pregnancy. They then make the equally agonizing decision to try again. The second baby comes to term, although not without complications. This achingly moving novel about parenthood told from the father’s perspective is a treasure.
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One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Following the suspicious death of activist Kezi at a social justice protest, her sisters Happi and Genny set out on a journey to both honor their sister and figure out who she really was. Was Kezi simply a just, virtuous, straight-A martyr that was taken too early? Or was she something more? Kirkus Reviews calls this YA novel “Close to perfection.”
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Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Sixteen-year-old Tessa’s own life rarely lives up to those of the characters in the love stories she writes. After getting accepted into a prestigious writing program, she finally gets to be the protagonist in her own romance when she becomes involved in a love triangle with a handsome artist and the nice boy who lives across the street. This lovely YA novel radiates Black Girl Magic.
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The Life I’m In by Sharon Flake

In the highly anticipated follow-up to the Coretta Scott King Award-winning The Skin I’m In, catch up with the resilient Maleeka who has battled constant bullying due to her skin color. In this YA novel, Maleeka’s struggles have taken a darker turn when she finds herself caught in a sex-trafficking ring. Will she find a way to rescue not only herself, but the other young women trapped along with her?
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When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris

The riveting, tense story of a young man trying to find his missing sister from buzzy debut author Pamela N. Harris. This YA novel doesn’t shy away from the serious issues of racism and poverty that surface when a Black woman goes missing: the actions — and inactions — of the authorities quickly reveal where society’s priorities lie.
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Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas’ prequel to The Hate U Give follows our favorite character from the original novel: Maverick Carter, Starr’s father. At 17, Maverick hasn’t yet grown into the Big Mav we know and love from THUG; on the cusp of adulthood, he’s still navigating his way through the expectations of manhood, of his father’s legacy as a gangster, of young parenthood. This is the origin story we’ve all been waiting for, and in Thomas’ masterful hands, it remains fresh and spellbinding.
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Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu

As the daughter of a United Nations official, Nadia Owusu’s childhood was nomadic, never allowing her family to put down roots. An absent mother, the death of her father as an adolescent, and a series of family secrets and lies left her unmoored; depression threatened to drag her down further. Her move to New York and subsequent rewriting of her own identity result in a deeply compelling tale of self-fulfillment in a sea of turmoil.
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You Have a Match by Emma Lord

Going to summer camp with the sister you never knew you had until a recent DNA test and the best friend you have a crush on is bound to lead to many hijinks. That’s the premise of Emma Lord’s sophomore novel, where she delivers yet another touching contemporary YA story following her breakout hit, Tweet Cute.
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Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire

The newest book in Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series is a standalone story that introduces readers to Regan, a young girl who has embarked on an unexpected quest. Like all characters in the series, Regan finds herself thrust into another world, in this case the “Hooflands,” a place filled with magical equines like centaurs and kelpies. As Regan joins the herd, she finds that humans are expected to become heroes, and all is not as it seems.
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Tales from the Hinterland by Melissa Albert

The 12 fairy tales written by Althea Proserpine that form the crux of Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood are finally being told in their entirety in Tales from the Hinterland. A dark, gruesome series of stories about women exacting their revenge on a universe that abuses and underestimates them.
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Land by Simon Winchester

After bringing to life the history of one of America’s most storied, symbolic, and lawless bodies of water in the Scribd Original The End of the River, Simon Winchester turns his attention to land, exploring what we mean when we talk about “owning” it. The New York Times calls Land one of the top “new books to watch for in January,” writing “Using his own land purchase as a jumping-off point, Winchester explores the political, social and emotional meaning humans have attached to property over the centuries. His book takes readers across the world, touching on dispossession, boundary-drawing and humanity’s ‘frenetic appetite for territory.’”
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Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

The newest science fiction thriller from Nnedi Okorafor (Who Fears Death, Binti, Akata Witch) weaves together a tale of female empowerment and the importance of community, set against a futuristic backdrop that incorporates Okorafor’s Nigerian heritage. In it, a young girl named Fatima’s life is forever changed after an alien artifact transforms her into Death’s adopted daughter. With a new name — Sankofa — she walks the earth, with no one but a fox as a companion, in search of answers. What will be the future of Death’s daughter?
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We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faiza

Travel to ancient Arabia once again in the final installment of the Sands of Arawiya duology, a beautifully intricate YA fantasy series. The first book, We Hunt the Flame, was a runaway hit, and author Hafsah Faizal became the first niqabi writer to make the New York Times bestseller list. Faizal is also included on Forbes’ “30 Under 30: Art & Style” list for 2021.
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If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur

A story of a mother and daughter with a troubled history that alternates between poetry and prose. Kiran leaves Punjab pregnant with the child of her rapist, and makes the tough decision to stay in Canada so she and her daughter, Sahaara, can lead safer lives. Jasmin Kaur pens a heartfelt, raw picture of two generations of immigrant women grappling with sexual assault.
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Just As I Am by Cicely Tyson

Over the course of her 96 years (and counting), entertainer, activist, and humanitarian Cicely Tyson co-created the Dance Theater of Harlem, launched an award-winning and iconic career on stage and screen, married jazz legend Miles Davis, and won the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And these are just a few of the stories of her incredible life that she shares in her inspiring memoir.
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We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen

Two archrival super(anti)heroes walk into a memory loss support group. Mind Robber (aka Jamie Sorenson) and Throwing Star (aka Zoe Wong) put their differences aside when Jamie agrees to use his mind manipulation powers to restore Zoe’s memories if she helps him pull off a banger of a bank robbery. But, things get complicated — in the best sort of way. You won’t want to forget a minute of this charming, quirky adventure from sci-fi star Mike Chen (A Beginning at the End).
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The Devil You Know by Charles M. Blow

New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow is a man with a plan, and in The Devil You Know he lays it out with stunning clarity and resolution. He argues that if more Black people moved South, reversing the previous trend of migration to the North and West, it would create crucial political majorities in the Southern Heartland. And upending longstanding power structures could pave a new path toward racial equality for Black Americans. Blow’s powerful and timely manifesto is an urgent call to action.
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