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    Colm Tóibín! Geraldine Brooks! A guide to killing time! 19 books out in paperback this January.

    Gabrielle Bellot

    December 22, 2023, 9:01am

    2o24 is approaching! It’s hard to believe that 2023 is over, but a new year means new possibilities (always), new resolutions (maybe), and new books (once again, always). But it also means a new chance to pick up some excellent reads from 2023 that you might have missed when they first came out, and below you’ll find nineteen exciting books that will be out in paperback in January.

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    There are novels by Colm Tóibín, Geraldine Brooks, Tome Crewe, Priya Guns’ queer ride-share-based retelling of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, and many other narratives from authors new and established. You’ll also find a plethora of fascinating nonfiction: a moving reflection on stuttering, a charming look at owls and illness, an inventive “annotated photo album” by Janet Malcolm, an expansive look at phone-free hanging out, an account of the experiences of Black Americans in the Second World War, and much, much more.

    If you missed any of these before, now’s your chance to curl up somewhere cozy with a brand-new paperback, because what, really, can beat that? Here’s to ushering in the new year with a blend of old and new.


    A Guest at the Feast: Essays - Toibin, Colm

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    Colm Tóibín, A Guest at the Feast: Essays

    “These essays show the landscape of the author’s soul, mapping out events that have shaped him as a person and writer….Readers will savor every page of this book. Erudite essays from one of the world’s finest writers.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    Horse - Brooks, Geraldine

    Geraldine Brooks, Horse
    (Penguin Books)

    “[A] marvelous novel. Brooks structures the book like a mystery….Through Jarret’s story, the author reveals the unique and indispensable role Black trainers and jockeys played in the pre-Civil War South….Equestrian or no, readers will appreciate Brooks’s invitation to linger awhile among beautiful and graceful horses, to see the devotion they engendered in her characters.”
    Shelf Awareness

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    The New Life - Crewe, Tom

    Tom Crewe, The New Life

    “The spirit of Forster broods over Tom Crewe’s lyrical, piercing debut, The New Life, which lends a contemporary urgency to an exploration of same-sex intimacy and social opprobrium….The New Life is a fine-cut gem, its sentences buffed to a gleam, but with troubling implications for our own reactionary era.”
    The Washington Post

    Wise Hours: A Journey Into the Wild and Secret World of Owls - Darlington, Miriam

    Miriam Darlington, The Wise Hours: A Journey into the Wild and Secret World of Owls
    (Tin House)

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    “A smooth mixture of memoir and nature writing….Lyrical and captivating…heartfelt, enchanting, and beautifully written.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    Still Pictures: On Photography and Memory - Malcolm, Janet

    Janet Malcolm, Still Pictures: On Photography and Memory

    “[Still Pictures] may be the world’s most elegant annotated photo album….Each sentence, in true Malcolm form, turns out masterful….The collage artist puts fragments next to each other to make meaning, or spark energy, and this is what Malcolm does in Still Pictures.…She is writing about the difficulty we have evoking our former selves, the many ways in which they are strangers to us.”
    The Atlantic

    Half American: The Heroic Story of African Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad - Delmont, Matthew F.

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    Matthew F. Delmont, Half American: The Heroic Story of African Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad
    (Penguin Books)

    “This vivid book shows how much of World War II looks different when viewed from the perspective of Black Americans—many of whom drew parallels between the fascist threat abroad and Jim Crow at home.”
    The New York Times Book Review

    Decent People - Winslow, De'shawn Charles

    De’Shawn Charles Winslow, Decent People

    “De’Shawn Charles Winslow’s powerful second novel Decent People is a gripping mystery but also something more. A thoughtful examination of small-town life becomes a story about America itself, looking directly at the legacies of racism and segregation, homophobia and secrecy, poverty and power.”
    –Rumaan Alam

    Your Driver Is Waiting - Guns, Priya

    Priya Guns, Your Driver Is Waiting

    “A queer feminist retelling of the 1970’s film Taxi Driver, this one had me laughing loud enough to draw looks on the subway, and that takes some doing. It’s a crackling social commentary on the social justice movements of our time, the gig economy, performative wokeness and who gets to speak on behalf of the disadvantaged. It’s a fast-paced read that begs to be devoured.”
    Good Housekeeping

    How to Sell a Haunted House - Hendrix, Grady

    Grady Hendrix, How to Sell a Haunted House

    “Grady Hendrix’s horror novels are a gateway drug to the genre….By weaving violence, family trauma and humor, Hendrix creates a texture that engages the reader emotionally and viscerally…[a] gripping, wildly entertaining exploration of childhood horrors.”
    The New York Times

    Life on Delay: USA Today Book Club - Hendrickson, John

    John Hendrickson, Life on Delay: Making Peace with a Stutter

    Life on Delay recasts stuttering and, in doing so, challenges long-standing attitudes toward disability….Hendrickson transforms the disorder…into an invitation to all of us to demonstrate genuine humanity….This full-hearted memoir grapples with shame, resentment and fear as Hendrickson answers with courage and compassion one of the most meaningful questions in life: ‘How do you accept an aspect of yourself that you’re taught at such an early age to hate?'”
    The Washington Post

    Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time - Liming, Sheila

    Sheila Liming, Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time
    (Melville House)

    “Like me, you will thoroughly enjoy hanging out with this book. Jam-packed with eloquent and authentic testimony, it delivers many fresh insights on experiences that we might otherwise take for granted.”
    –Andrew Ross

    The Declassification Engine: What History Reveals about America's Top Secrets - Connelly, Matthew

    Matthew Connelly, The Declassification Engine: What History Reveals about America’s Top Secrets

    “Connelly has defined an existential crisis: the suppression of American history….The Declassification Engine makes the case that the culture of secrecy diminishes democracy. And it has now become a culture of destruction as well.”
    The New York Times Book Review

    In the Upper Country - Thomas, Kai

    Kai Thomas, In the Upper Country
    (Penguin Books)

    In the Upper Country is not only fiction alive with history; it is historic….In the Upper Country reminds me—yes—of Lawrence Hill’s Book of Negroes and Ernest J. Gaines’s A Lesson Before Dying. And practically every page turns up a sentence or a phrase that could have been penned by Toni Morrison or James Baldwin…a gift of lyric genius to enthrall all—and to educate Afro-Métis people about the love and courage that enabled their creation.”
    –George Elliott Clarke

    The Things We Do to Our Friends - Darwent, Heather

    Heather Darwent, The Things We Do to Our Friends

    “[A] tantalizingly sinister debut thriller….Readers will be on the edge of their seats with this gripping story of codependency and obsession, and fans of Kate Lowe’s The Furies and J.T. Ellison’s Good Girls Lie will devour this—and eagerly await more from Darwent.”
    Shelf Awareness

    Symphony of Secrets - Slocumb, Brendan

    Brendan Slocumb, Symphony of Secrets

    “A provocative follow to his much-lauded 2022 novel, The Violin Conspiracy, praised for its pitch-perfect dive into the world of classical music and the struggles faced by Black musicians who want to be included and respected for their talents….Slocumb writes an intriguing and vivid story about social injustice, cultural appropriation and ‘whitewashing’….[The] thoughtful pacing carries an important message about race and privilege and the lengths to which people in power will go to manipulate history.”
    The Star Tribune

    After Sappho - Schwartz, Selby Wynn

    Selby Wynn Schwartz, After Sappho

    “Long-listed for the 2022 Booker Prize, this time-leaping novel connects a pantheon of queer literary titans—Sappho! Oscar Wilde! Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West!—with one muse. This book reads as if it’s skipping: full of movement, lightness, and whimsical defiance.”

    The Great Escape: A True Story of Forced Labor and Immigrant Dreams in America - Soni, Saket

    Saket Soni, The Great Escape

    “It’s paced like a thriller, written like a poem, and full of vivid characters who’d enliven any novel, but it’s the true story one of the largest modern-day trafficking incidents in recent history and how Saket Soni and his crew went after the powerful perpetrators. A story as important as it is riveting to read.”
    –Rebecca Solnit

    Children of the State: Stories of Survival and Hope in the Juvenile Justice System - Hobbs, Jeff

    Jeff Hobbs, Children of the State: Stories of Survival and Hope in the Juvenile Justice System

    “In this original, heartfelt book, veteran journalist Jeff Hobbs brings us deep into the juvenile justice system, bearing witness to a broken system while capturing the everyday lives of unbroken teachers, counselors, and students locked behind its high walls. At turns touching and intimate, enraging and honest—this book, more than any other I know, forces us to see America’s youngest prisoners for what they truly are: just kids.”
    –Matthew Desmond

    All the Presidents' Gardens: How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America - McDowell, Marta

    Marta McDowell, All the Presidents’ Gardens: How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America
    (Timber Press)

    “History is often best learned from stories, and there are plenty of anecdotes here….The writing is conversational and inviting, as one might find when visiting a garden with someone who knows it well. Photographs, line drawings, paintings, maps, and other documents add to the interesting stories…a delightful and elucidating work.”

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