New month, new books! Book Light is our Dandelion Chandelier curated list of the most-anticipated new book releases every month, and next up is January 2021. If you ask us, the perfect January read is a riveting call to action – it’s a new year, and a time to see things as they really are. So what are the best new books to read coming out in January 2021? Our intrepid team has been exploring and here’s what we found: 31 new books coming soon that we cannot wait to read.
what are the most-anticipated new book releases for January 2021?
Wondering what to read in January 2021? We’ve surveyed the landscape, and rounded up a list of the best new books coming this January. In many ways, understanding what the publishing industry has deemed important for the new year is a great window into the 2021 zeitgeist. You can judge for yourself what the cognoscenti seem to be anticipating based on this list.
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There’s a lot going on the world of fiction this month, including new work from Kevin Barry, Caitlin Horrocks and Sarah Moss. January will also see the arrival of buzzy debut novels from Mateo Askaripour and Ashley Audrain.
Celebrity memoirs continue their domination of the new non-fiction releases heading into 2021. Cecily Tyson and Gabriel Byrne take center stage this month. And there are also new books from Joan Didion, George Saunders and New York Times Editorial Page writer Charles Blow.
The happiest discovery in non-fiction this month, though, may be the new tome about the Dutch art of doing nothing. Which sounds like an extremely useful approach to life for the coming cold COVID-19 weeks ahead.
the best new books coming in January 2021
Here’s our pick of the top new book releases of January 2021 – novels, essay collections, and non-fiction – that we cannot wait to read. You can pre-order them now if you like.
New book releases the week of January 5, 2021
1. The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams.
Mountweazel n. the phenomenon of false entries within dictionaries and works of reference. Often used as a safeguard against copyright infringement.
In the comically mournful spirit of Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener, The Liar’s Dictionary is the story of Peter Winceworth, Victorian lexicographer. He’s toiling away on a multivolume “Encyclopaedic Dictionary.” His disaffection with the work compels him to insert unauthorized fictitious entries into the dictionary in an attempt to assert a sense of individual purpose, agency and artistic freedom.
Fast forward to the present day, when intern Mallory is tasked with uncovering these “mountweazels” before the original dictionary is digitized. She quickly learns that words have meaning and power: for example, is the change in the definition of the word marriage really that upsetting? – Publication date: January 5, 2021
2. A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself by Peter Ho Davies.
In his latest novel, A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself, the author of The Welsh Girl and The Fortunes chronicles a wrenching story of parenthood, marriage, and the quotidian joy and pain of loving someone else and building a life with them. Early reviews have lauded it as “an unprecedented depiction of fatherhood” – Publication date: January 5, 2021
3. The Push By Ashley Audrain.
In The Push, Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby daughter that she herself never had. But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her child. Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Then she gives birth to a son, and with him, she has the blissful connection she’d always imagined having with a child. It becomes clear that this family is not what it seems. And then everything begins to break apart – Publication date: January 5, 2021
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4. Black Buck By Mateo Askaripour.
Black Buck is a buzzed-about satirical debut novel about a young man given a shot at stardom as the lone Black salesman at a mysterious, cult-like, and wildly successful startup. Think Sorry to Bother You, and you’ll be on the right track.
Twenty-something Darren, valedictorian of his class at the elite high school Bronx Science, is living with his mother in Brooklyn. Despite his early promise, he’s content working at a Starbucks in the lobby of a Midtown office building. But when one of his customers lands him a job at one of the hottest tech startups in the city, Darren morphs into “Buck,” super-salesman extraordinaire. But as his professional success erodes his personal life, he hatches a plan to help young people of color infiltrate corporate America. Setting off a chain of events that forever changes the game – Publication date: January 5, 2021
5. Nick by by Michael Farris Smith.
Nick is an inventive and poignant prequel to Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Before Nick Carraway moved to West Egg and into Gatsby’s periphery, he was at the center of a very different story-one taking place along the trenches and deep within the tunnels of World War I. When the war ends, he embarks on a transcontinental journey that takes him from a whirlwind Paris romance to the dizzying frenzy of New Orleans. It turns out that the man behind the narrator of one of our most famous novels has a story of his own – Publication date: January 5, 2021
6. Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson.
In the new novel Better Luck Next Time, it’s 1938. And women seeking a quick, no-questions split from their husbands head to the “divorce capital of the world,” Reno, Nevada. There’s one catch: they have to wait six-weeks to become “residents.” Many of these wealthy, soon-to-be divorcees flock to the Flying Leap, a dude ranch that caters to their every need. It’s a juicy set-up for a novel about “divorce, marriage, and everything that comes in between (money, class, ambition, and opportunity)” – Publication date: January 5, 2021
7. Exercised by Daniel Lieberman.
In Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding, a Harvard professor of human evolutionary biology explains why some of us may struggle with our new year’s resolutions in January. It turns out that the human race never evolved to exercise—to undertake voluntary physical activity for the sake of better health. Therefore, to become more active, as a society we need to do more than medicalize and commodify exercise. Drawing on insights from evolutionary biology and anthropology, the author offers practical suggestions on how we can make exercise more enjoyable, rather than shaming and blaming people for avoiding it – Publication date: January 5, 2021
New book releases the week of January 12, 2021
8. That Old Country Music by Kevin Barry.
9. The Charmed Wife by Olga Grushin.
In this fractured fairytale retelling of the classic Cinderella story, the author of Forty Rooms returns with The Charmed Wife. Abused and overlooked stepdaughter Cinderella successfully marries the man of her dreams. But after almost 14 years of marriage, she’s fed up and exhausted. Seeking help from a Witch who offers pricey love potions, Cinderella heads into the woods. But as the sorceress flings the last ingredients into the cauldron, she doesn’t ask for a love spell to win back her Prince Charming. Instead, she wants him dead – Publication date: January 12, 2021
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10. Life Among the Terranauts by Caitlin Horrocks.
The author of The Vexations returns with a much-anticipated collection of short stories, Life Among the Terranauts. In “The Sleep,” reprinted in Best American Short Stories, residents of a town in the frigid Midwest decide to hibernate through the bitter winters. In the title story, half a dozen people move into an experimental biodome for a shot at a million dollars, if they can survive two years. And in “Sun City,” published in The New Yorker, a young woman meets her grandmother’s roommate in the wake of her death and attempts to solve the mystery of whether the two women were lovers – Publication date: January 12, 2021
11. Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters.
Detransition, Baby is a love story of . . . well, three women (trans and cis) and a baby. When Reese’s girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, her seemingly perfect world fell apart. Ames isn’t really happy, either. But when Ames’s boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she’s pregnant with his baby—and that she’s not sure whether she wants to keep it—Ames wonders if this is the chance he’s been waiting for. Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family—and raise the baby together? – Publication date: January 12, 2021
12. Summerwater by Sarah Moss.
With Summerwater, the author of Ghost Wall returns with another tale of mounting tension and menace. Set on the longest day of the year in a remote part of Scotland, the hours pass nearly imperceptibly as twelve people go from being strangers to bystanders to allies. At daybreak, each is wrapped up in personal concerns. But as the sun begins to set they each begin to notice one particular family that doesn’t seem to belong – Publication date: January 12, 2021
13. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders.
The wildly acclaimed author of the novel Lincoln in the Bardo and the short story collection Tenth of December returns with a marvelous work of non-fiction. For the last twenty years, George Saunders has been teaching a class on the Russian short story to his MFA students at Syracuse University. In A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life he shares a version of that class. Paired with iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, the seven essays in this book are perfect for those interested in the art and craft of fiction. And no, there’s no final exam at the end – Publication date: January 12, 2021
14. Aftershocks: A Memoir by Nadia Owusu.
Nadia Owusu lived a peripatetic childhood life thanks to her father, a Ghanaian United Nations official, whose work kept the family in constant motion, from Europe to Africa and back again. Her Armenian American mother, who abandoned Owusu when she was two years old, would periodically reappear, only to vanish again. Then her adored father dies when she is just thirteen. As a young woman, Owusu arrives in New York stateless, motherless, and uncertain about her future. Aftershocks is the chronicle of her struggles, depression and eventual triumph as she builds a new life for herself and her siblings – Publication date: January 12, 2021
15. Run to Win By Stephanie Schriock and Christina Reynolds.
For decades, EMILY’s List has supported the campaigns of pro-choice Democratic women – the the hardest part historically was always convincing more women to run. But that changed four years ago. By Thanksgiving 2016, thousands of women had signed up to learn more about how to run for public office. By the end of 2018, there were nearly fifty thousand. Run to Win: Lessons in Leadership for Women Changing the World is organized around the steps that EMILY’s List coaches its female candidates through, imparting essential lessons for any woman trying to succeed in a male-dominated field. And the forward is written by Senator Kamala Harris, the Vice-President Elect of the United States! – Publication date: January 12, 2021
16. Walking with Ghosts by Gabriel Byrne.
In the memoir Walking with Ghosts, we learn that it was a friend who suggested that Gabriel Byrne join an amateur drama group. The decision changed his life and launched him on a forty-year career in film and theatre. Moving between memories of childhood in Ireland and reflections on stardom in Hollywood and Broadway, Byrne also recounts his battle with addiction and wrestling with the ambivalence of fame – Publication date: January 12, 2021
17. Niksen by Olga Mecking.
Niksen: Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing sounds like perfect reading during a mandatory lockdown of the kind that much of the world is enduring at the moment. In surveys, the Dutch people are consistently among the happiest in the world. Why? The book makes the case that it’s because they are masters of niksen, or the art of doing nothing. Niksen is not a form of meditation, nor is it a state of laziness or boredom. Rather, to niks is to make a conscious choice to sit back, let go, and do nothing at all – Publication date: January 12, 2021
New book releases the week of January 19, 2021
18. Trio by William Boyd.
The very premise of William Boyd’s new novel, Trio, sounds like a Hollywood movie pitch. A producer. A novelist. An actress. In the summer 1968. The world is reeling from riots, war protests and assassinations. But this trio is oblivious, immersed in making a disaster-plagued, Swingin’ Sixties British movie in Brighton. All three are leading secret lives. And then the FBI and CIA get involved – Publication date: January 19, 2021
19. The Divines by Ellie Eaton.
The girls of St John the Divine, an elite English boarding school, were fiercely loyal, sharp-tongued and ambitious. For Josephine, now in her thirties, the years at St John seem like a lifetime ago. She hasn’t spoken to another “Divine” in fifteen years, not since the day the school shuttered its doors in disgrace. Moving between present-day Los Angeles and 1990’s Britain, The Divines is a meditation on female identity, sexuality, class divides and the power of experiences in puberty to shape us for the rest of our lives – Publication date: January 19, 2021
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20. The Rib King by Ladee Hubbard.
In The Rib King, a ripped-from-the-headlines novel set in the early twentieth century, the Barclays – a once well-to-do white family – are increasingly down on their luck. Their hardworking and loyal all-black household staff includes “Miss Mamie,” the cook and August, the groundskeeper – both have spent their adult lives in service to the Barclay family.
When a businessman proposes selling Miss Mamie’s rib sauce to local markets under the brand name “The Rib King”—using a caricature of a wildly grinning August on the label—the patriarch of the Barclay clan, who is desperate for cash, agrees. Yet neither Miss Mamie nor August will see any income from this deal. Humiliated, August grows increasingly distraught, his anger building to a rage that explodes in shocking tragedy. If you’re wondering how the real “Aunt Jemima” and “Uncle Ben” may have felt, this is a good place to start – Publication date: January 19, 2021
21. Land by Simon Winchester.
In Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World the author of The Professor and the Madman and The Perfectionists explores the notion of property. Specifically, he traces the history of how we acquire land; how we serve as stewards for it; how and why we fight over it; and how we can occasionally come to share it with others – Publication date: January 19, 2021
22. The African Lookbook by Catherine E. McKinley.
In The African Lookbook: A Visual History of 100 Years of African Women, the author and curator draws on her extensive collection of historical and contemporary photos to present a visual history spanning a hundred-year arc (1870–1970) of African photography.
These images tell a different story of African women than the ones we are used to. Instead of poverty, or war, or clinical anthropology, these photos focus a human, humane lens on their subjects. We see how thoroughly cosmopolitan and modern they are; and how they were able to reclaim the tools of the colonial oppression. The introduction is from Edwidge Danticat and there’s also a foreword written by Jacqueline Woodson – Publication date: January 19, 2021
23. Craft: An American History by Glenn Adamson.
In Craft: An American History, a noted historian returns craft to its rightful place as an influence in the economic development of the U.S. in this account, revealing makers’ central role in shaping America’s identity. During every phase of the nation’s struggle to define itself, artisans are there: think Paul Revere, Betsy Ross, Mother Jones and the AIDS Quilt. The current “makers” movement is just the next chapter in this long-running narrative, which begins and ends with illustrations of how craft and artisanship have often been a medium of resistance for oppressed people in America – Publication date: January 19, 2021
24. Sonic Boom by Peter Ames Carlin.
Sonic Boom: The Impossible Rise of Warner Bros. Records, from Hendrix to Fleetwood Mac to Madonna to Prince is written by a bestselling music biographer. It’s the story of the most successful record label in the history of rock and roll, Warner Bros Records. It’s roster of artists includes Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, James Taylor, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, Prince, Van Halen, Madonna, Tom Petty, R.E.M. and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
What’s the secret to the studio’s success? The author makes the case that it was the 1967 declaration by the new President of the label, Mo Ostin: “We need to stop trying to make hit records. Let’s just make good records and turn those into hits” – Publication date: January 19, 2021
New book releases the week of January 26, 2021
25. Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi.
Shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, the debut novel Burnt Sugar is set in India. It’s about mothers and daughters, obsession and betrayal. Tata had a wild and adventurous youth, including leaving her husband on a whim and raising her daughter for a time on an ashram. But now, that daughter is a grown woman. And Tata is exhibiting signs of dementia. Leaving her child searching for a way to make peace with the past, and caring for a woman who never cared for her – Publication date: January 26, 2021
26. The Copenhagen Trilogy: Childhood; Youth; Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen.
The reissue of The Copenhagen Trilogy: Childhood; Youth; Dependency marks the overdue recognition of a Scandinavian writer of distinction. Long overlooked as a writer of “women’s fiction,” Tove Ditlevsen is now being rediscovered and championed as one of Denmark’s most important modern authors. This new issue compiles in one volume the three novels, written between 1969–71, that are collectively considered to be her masterpiece. Publication date: January 26, 2021
27. Bride of the Sea by Eman Quotah.
A novel of a family torn apart with an ocean between them, Bride of the Sea is the story of the father of a small daughter. Shortly after she is born, he divorces his wife in America and returns to Saudi Arabia. Consumed by a growing fear of losing her daughter, the mother disappears with the little girl, leaving leaving her ex-husband trapped in a futile search for his daughter for years. The repercussions of the abduction ripple outward, and when the daughter comes of age, she has to decide which side of the ocean is really home – Publication date: January 26, 2021
28. The Devil You Know by Charles Blow.
In the impassioned treatise The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto, the New York Times Editorial Page columnist speaks in candid terms about what it will take to right the scales of justice in the U.S. Drawing on both political observations and personal experience as a Black son of the South, Blow offers a call to action and lays out a path by which Black people can achieve equality in America. On their own terms – Publication date: January 26, 2021
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29. Just as I Am by Cicely Tyson.
Just As I Am is the memoir of the great Cicely Tyson, actor, activist, role model, daughter, mother, sister. She has been witness to some of the best and worst moments in recent American history – and has influenced the progress toward racial justice and equality in immeasurable ways. As she humbly writes in the introduction: “Here in my ninth decade, I am a woman who, at long last, has something meaningful to say.” We’ll be hanging on every word – Publication date: January 26, 2021
30. Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion.
Let Me Tell You What I Mean is a collection of essays written by Didion in the early years of her decades-long writing career. Among the twelve works collected here, we find her writing about a Gamblers Anonymous meeting; a visit to San Simeon; and a reunion of WWII veterans in Las Vegas. And about topics ranging from Nancy Reagan to Robert Mapplethorpe to a pre-incarceration Martha Stewart – Publication date: January 26, 2021
31. A Shot in the Moonlight by Ben Montgomery.
A Shot in the Moonlight: How a Freed Slave and a Confederate Soldier Fought for Justice in the Jim Crow South is a riveting account of the true story of George Dinning, a freed slave, who in 1899 joined forces with a Confederate war hero in search of justice. Spoiler alert: Dinning became the first Black man in American history to win damages after a wrongful murder conviction. It’s a story so unlikely it’s hard to believe that it actually happened. And its the perfect note upon which to step into a new year – Publication date: January 26, 2021
the most-anticipated new books January 2021
Those are our picks for the best and most-anticipated new book releases coming in January 2021. Thirty-one in total: one for each day of the month! So many options to answer the pressing matter of what to read in January 2021. What’s at the top of your list? Whatever you decide to dive into, stay safe and strong, dear reader.
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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter, here. And see luxury in a new light.
Join our community
For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter. And see luxury in a new light.