Best Books Winter 2018 – Best New Books to Read This Winter


1

Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak

From the most widely read female writer in Turkey, here’s a novel that sees violence and nostalgia vie for one woman’s attention on one intense night. In Istanbul, a relatively minor crime—an attempted robbery—sparks a wave of memories as the wealthy Peri ponders an old photograph of her college friends. As terrorist attacks break out, the religious and cultural differences between the three women demand her attention in the fraught present. (December 5, Bloomsbury)

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2

Women and Power by Mary Beard

If you don’t immediately want to read this book because of the title, I don’t know what to tell you. Mary Beard traces women’s battle for inequality all the way back to its historical roots in ancient Greece, tracing it all the way to discrimination’s stronghold on our politics and everyday life. But Beard isn’t content to just leave it at a survey of what’s gone before. What’s next, she asks, for women, and for power itself? (December 12, Liveright)

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3

Dandelions by Yasunari Kawabata

Literary enthusiasts will be fascinated by this unfinished novel. Its incomplete state is a mournful echo of Japanese writer Yasunari Kawabata’s suicide; while its themes of love, madness, and isolation are a painful testament to his troubled spirit, we’re lucky to have more to read from this master of the art. (December 12, New Directions)

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4

Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro

Switching between erotically charged letters and just as inflamed vignettes (think Dept. of Speculation), this debut novel documents a wild affair. Maggie—wife, mother, and Christian—finds herself soul-searching, confessing, and downright reveling in her passion for a man who’s not her husband. Don’t get too close to the fire. (January 9, Grove Press)

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5

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

I can’t imagine wanting to know when I’ll die, but Chloe Benjamin’s ’70s clutch of siblings seek out that morbid—or, for some, inspiring—fact from a purported psychic, and live their lives as if what they discover is true. As the Golds come of age and the decades accumulate, we see the fruit of their knowledge: One sister wants to know how to extend life, while others thrust themselves headlong into adventure and love. This book is one for those who need a prod from destiny, but also those who don’t believe in such lofty promises. (January 9, G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

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6

Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee

A life’s trajectory can waver under the slightest pressure. In this novel, a young woman called Lucia is prone to larger gestures and changes; her sister Miranda has assiduously cushioned the blows, as Lucia moves from country to country, marries and recouples, and grapples with mental illness. Follow the push and pull of this sisterly bond, while wondering if and when it will break. (January 16, Pamela Dorman Books)

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7

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

Whether you’ll enjoy this dystopian tale will depend on your appetite for too-close-to-home fiction. If our path reaches its intended destination, perhaps we’d have the America Leni Zumas imagines: abortion is illegal, and embryos have rights of life, liberty, and property. Five women—daughters, mothers, students, Americans—encounter the limits of their agency as women when one of them falls prey to a witch hunt. (January 16, Little, Brown)

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8

Little Reunions by Eileen Chang

Chinese author Eileen Chang passed away in 1995, but her work is still being gradually revealed to an Anglophone audience—if you’ve seen Ang Lee’s 2007 film Lust, Caution, you’re already familiar with the elegant but stark nature of her stories, and the unforgiving realities her characters must sometimes endure. Here, Chang riffs on her own life, presenting a heroine with an opium-addict father and politically dangerous lover. (January 16, NYRB Classics)

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9

When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele

Patrisse Khan-Cullors co-founded one of the most vital activist groups of recent years. Now, get to the heart of Black Lives Matter with her account of how the movement began, and marvel at the brilliance and persistence of her mission despite a continuing lack of understanding and compassion from many. (January 16, St. Martin’s Press)

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10

Peach by Emma Glass

In the wake of a horrific sexual assault, titular protagonist Peach attempts to navigate a life that has tilted on its axis. As accounts of sexual assault and misconduct have arisen in recent months, our inability to reckon with such events and their aftermath has only become more clear. This short novel—under 100 pages—confronts the enormity with impressionistic grace. (January 23, Bloomsbury)

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11

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Wow, this crime novel just gave me my newest nightmare: Five colleagues go on a hike (first mistake), and one doesn’t return. Four different stories makes it hard for Agent Aaron Falk (whom we met in Harper’s debut, The Dry) to discern the truth. Don’t read this one during the workweek. (February 6, Flatiron Books)

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12

Heart Berries

The great tradition of processing trauma through writing continues with this memoir from the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Facing a diagnosis of PTSD and bipolar disorder, Terese Marie Mailhot details a crucible of an upbringing that formed both a person and a book of wisdom. (February 6, Counterpoint)

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13

The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantú

Donald Trump anchored his political campaign in fear, and one of his most divisive promises was to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. Former Border Patrol officer Francisco Cantú’s nuanced account of this deeply significant, yet to many unknown, territory comes at a time when there is more fear-mongering bluster about the area than there are real stories about the people who live, work, and die there. (February 6, Riverhead)

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14

Cringeworthy by Melissa Dahl

I actually need this book to come sooner, because I’m due for public embarrassment in 3…2…1. Oh, this is your stop too? Hahaha. Uh. Author Melissa Dahl delves into her own shame spirals and explores why we find certain events so mortifying; she even argues that they give us opportunities to grow and be memorable. (February 13, Portfolio)

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15

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

“We came from somewhere—everything does.” So speak the multiple selves within Ada, a young Nigerian woman whose multitudes feel more personal than proverbial. In lyrical prose, debut author Akwaeke Emezi shows us just how a fractured sense of self can be split wide open by new contexts and trauma. (February 13, Grove Press)

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16

What Are We Doing Here? by Marilynne Robinson

Equipped with a heart and mind that seem more capacious than ours (though she might have a match in fan Barack Obama), Marilynne Robinson has made a career out of writing life-expanding novels and wonderings, like Pulitzer Prize–winning novel Gilead. Soon, she’ll give us a new set of essays about faith, life, and culture. (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, February 20)

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17

Sunburn by Laura Lippman

If you’re a fan of noir classics like The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity, here’s the modern equivalent for you to devour. Falling for each other is simply the prelude to dangerous games for drifters Polly and Adam. But someone dies, and the complex weave of their dalliance becomes a total bind. (February 20, William Morrow)

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18

All the Names They Used for God

With praise from Dave Eggers and Kelly Link to recommend it, this debut collection of stories is for those drawn to the wonderful and weird. Ranging from the origins of some of our most established stories to the horrors of mass kidnapping, newcomer Sachdeva’s writings are set to “stun.” (February 20, Spiegel & Grau)

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19

A Girl’s Guide to Joining the Resistance by Emma Gray

2017 was for feeling besieged by the barrage of news that highlighted and in some cases exacerbated the problems women face. 2018, though, is for fighting. Here’s a helpful handbook to set you on your way. (February 27, William Morrow Paperbacks)

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