New year, new you, new books to sink into. This month brings tales of beginnings and of self-discovery. Whether you’re on a newly-hewn path to improvement or simply need time to unwind after weeks of holiday fuss with the extended family, stick with us, and you’re sure to be Fully Booked.
Recommended for: New mothers and those who have been struggling with the notion of raising a child.
Our reviewer says: “Essayist Harris weaves a medical mystery, love story, parenting memoir, and tale of survival in her stunning debut.” Read more here.
The book: Noor by Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)
Recommended for: Those who used to be part of the robotics club when they were in high school, or who thought Doc Ock from Spiderman made some points wanting to be fused to four fun robotic appendages.
Our reviewer says: “Convenience and comfort come at a cost in this probing, brilliant near-future odyssey from Okorafor.” Read more here.
The book: Anthem by Noah Hawley (Grand Central)
Our reviewer says: “At the start of this grim, thought-provoking near-future thriller from Hawley, five Wisconsin teenagers die by suicide in less than two weeks, each writing "A11" somewhere near where their bodies are found.” Read more here.
Recommended for: Photography buffs interested in the picture behind the camera. After all, if a picture is worth a thousand words, image the tale not one but three photographers could tell.
Our reviewer says: “This suspenseful, eloquent, sprawling novel illustrates the violence of the Vietnam War as witnessed by three interconnected photographers.” Read more here.
The book: Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho (Viking)
Recommended for: When you’re remembering your childhood best friend and wistfully thinking about the shenanigans you both managed to get yourself into (but not always out of).
Our reviewer says: “In Ho’s intimate debut collection, two childhood friends, Fiona and Jane, grow up, grow apart, and then back together.” Read more here.
Recommended for: Fans of switcheroos such as She’s the Man and Mulan, and women who know how powerful and deadly they can be in the name of survival.
Our reviewer says: “Parker-Chan’s fascinating debut, the first in the Radiant Emperor duology, gives the historical Red Turban Rebellion a grimdark fantasy twist.” Read more here.
Recommended for: Black women who have not felt their voices heard despite giving their all.
Our reviewer says: “Allen’s promising debut follows a Black reporter as she navigates matters of race, womanhood, and loyalty while gunning for a promotion at the L.A.” Read more here.
Recommended for: When you hear that your neighbor has been living as an undocumented person, or that your friend has been struggling to survive because they don’t have access to necessary paperwork, or your coworker lets slip that their parents have been deported.
Our reviewer says: “Journalist Villavicencio draws on her background as an undocumented immigrant and Harvard University graduate to deliver a profoundly intimate portrayal of the undocumented immigrant experience in America.” Read more here.
Recommended for: When you’re ready for a new approach to learning about American history, which is also the oldest approach to history of them all: verse.
Our reviewer says: “The poignant and searching debut from Gorman, the youngest presidential inaugural poet in U.S. history, goes beyond the inauguration poem to consider the larger role of history, struggle, and hope in American lives.” Read more here.
The book: Imbibe! by David Wondrich (Perigee)
Recommended for: The aspiring bartender, or that one friend who swears they’re only having one drink, even though you both know they won’t remember that night’s events.
Our reviewer says: “Cofounder of the Museum of the American Cocktail, Wondrich delivers a well-researched chronicle of “Professor” Jerry Thomas's life and times as late 19th-century bartender extraordinaire.” Read more here.
The book: Lot by Bryan Washington (Riverhead)
Recommended for: Your inner young adult (or your current young adult self) trying to figure out how to navigate life and relationships and achieve self-understanding.
Our reviewer says: “Washington debuts with a stellar collection in which he turns his gaze onto Houston, mapping the sprawl of both the city and the relationships within it, especially those between young black and brown boys.” Read more here.
The book: Wahala by Nikki May (Custom House)
Recommended for: When you’re tired of hearing that one cliquey friend group brag about how “perfect” their lives are and you just want to cause them a tiny bit of chaos.
Our reviewer says: “In May’s breezy if overdramatic debut, the mutual friendship of three Anglo-Nigerian women is threatened by an interloper, a Russian Nigerian on a revenge trip.” Read more here.
The book: The Maid by Nita Prose (Ballantine)
Recommended for: Self-titled detectives whose favorite phrase is “the butler did it.”
Our reviewer says: “Not every twist feels earned, but on balance Prose delivers a gratifying, kindhearted whodunit with a sharply drawn protagonist for whom readers can’t help rooting.” Read more here.
Recommended for: Gym rats, runners, and anyone who would rather focus on the next gain than on that one particularly hard situation they aren’t ready to face yet.
Our reviewer says: “Bechdel makes a welcome return with this dense, finely wrought deep dive into her lifelong fixation with exercise as a balm for a variety of needs.” Read more here.
Recommended for: Mothers who are having an extremely bad day and really need a few moments alone for themselves.
Our reviewer says: “Chan’s enthralling speculative debut opens with a woman having ‘one very bad day’ in Philadelphia.” Read more here.
The book: Honor by Thrity Umrigar (Algonquin)
Recommended for: When you want to learn more about what it means to be a woman in India through the eyes of an intrepid reporter.
Our reviewer says: “Umrigar returns to themes of India’s evolution and the transformative potential of women’s relationships in her uneven latest.” Read more here.
Recommended for: The person who masks their sadness or hurt by cracking a few jokes. Humor can be appropriate even in times of deep grief.
Our reviewer says: “Lockwood’s debut novel comes packed with the humor, bawdiness, and lyrical insight that buoyed her memoir Priestdaddy.” Read more here.