10 Books to Read in January
This month's new releases include a Carl Bernstein memoir, an epic tale set in an alternate America, and a twisty thriller about wealth and social class.
What are your reading goals for this year? Do you participate in a reading challenge to guide your picks? Do you try to read a certain number of books every year? Are you happy if you get a few minutes to read at all? Whatever your literary plans are for 2022, the books on this list should get you off to a great start.
by Julia Kelly
The year 1958 was the last time debutantes were presented before the British monarchy. Lily Nicholls longs to go to university, but her mother and grandmother are determined she’ll have a successful coming out and settle down with a man of good social standing. Amid the lunches and the balls, Lily makes new friends and uncovers family scandal as she tries to navigate a changing society in this engrossing story that brings the glamour and pressure of the debutante season to life. Available January 4. Library catalogue link here.
by Seanan Maguire
The Home for Wayward Children is a refuge for those who’ve traveled through magical doorways to other realms and unwillingly returned home. Previous installments of this novella series explored the lives of children who have sought to return to the magical worlds they found. But there are other institutions for returned children. Cora used to be a mermaid, but after she was claimed by another magical world, the water holds no comfort. She transfers to the Whitethorn Institute, which encourages students to forget the other worlds. Whereas the Home for Wayward Children was welcoming and understanding, she soon discovers that Whitethorn exists to break the spirits of its students, and the lengths it will go to are more diabolical than Cora can imagine. This darker installment of the series will captivate fans, both returning and new. Available January 4. Library catalogue link here.
by Hanya Yanagihara
This sprawling epic imagines life in an alternate United States in three different centuries, though each chapter takes place in the same Washington Square townhouse. In 1893, the Civil War still rages, and a man must choose between an arranged marriage and love. In 1993, against the background of the AIDs epidemic, a young man hides his past from his older and wealthier partner. In 2093, a totalitarian government rules a country shattered by plague and a young woman looks for her missing husband. Each section deals with illness, disability, loss, family, and racism. This captivating and terrifying work is sure to be heavily discussed in reader circles this coming year. Available January 11. Library catalogue link here.
by Eliza Jane Brazier
In this sharp-edged and twisty thriller, super wealthy Lyla and Graham channel their boredom in a nefarious game—they rent out their guest house to successful, self-made people and then conspire to ruin their lives and strip them of everything as “punishment” for trying to change social class. But their latest tenant, Demi, has secrets of her own—she’s homeless and stole the identity of the actual tenant, and the survival skills that have gotten her this far mean she’s not succumbing to Lyla and Graham’s plots without a fight. The pulse-racing result has already been purchased for television, so read it now. Available January 25. Library catalogue link here.
Chasing History: A Kid in the Newsroom
by Carl Bernstein
The award-winning investigative reporter looks back on his childhood and early career before Watergate turned him into a household name. Landing a job at the Washington Star while he was still in high school, Bernstein worked his way up in the newsroom. In addition to the stories of his early days in journalism, local readers will be interested in the author’s memories of growing up in mid-century Washington D.C. and how the city has, and has not, changed. Available January 11. Library catalogue link here.
Lost in the Valley of Death: A Story of Obsession and Danger in the Himalayas
by Harley Rustad
Justin Alexander Shetler was a trained and experienced survivalist with a massive social media following when he disappeared in India’s Parvati Valley in 2016. Author Harley Rustad traces Shetler’s life and possible motives while examining the allure of the Parvati Valley, where several foreign backpackers have similarly vanished. Both a biography and a travelogue, this book is a well-crafted and captivating examination of a multifaceted life and place. Available January 11. Library catalogue link here.
Lorraine Hansberry: The Life Behind a Raisin in the Sun
by Charles J. Shields
Drawing on unpublished interviews and privately held documents, biographer Charles J. Shields illuminates author Lorraine Hansberry’s tragically short life. He deftly puts her work into the context of the time period, noting her involvement in various literary and political movements. Through this lens he examines the personal, cultural, and historical events that influenced her most famous work, A Raisin in the Sun, which she wrote when she was only 28. Available January 18. Library catalogue link here.
Eating to Extinction: The World’s Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them
by Dan Saladino
A grim look at the economic, cultural, and industrial forces that have changed the way the world eats, resulting in a much more homogenized diet. While it may seem like our options and palettes are expanding, the stark reality is that out of the 6,000 different plants humans used to eat, only nine remain major staples and three of those provide half of our calories. Dan Saladino travels the world to explore the foods and culinary traditions that are soon to be lost, and calls on readers to save them in this fascinating and eye-opening read. Available February 1. Library catalogue link here.
Freedom! The Story of the Black Panther Party
by Jetta Grace Martin, Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin, Jr
Starting with founding members Huey Newton and Bobby Seale and going through the 1980s, this flowing narrative clearly and matter-of-factly details the Black Panther Party’s actions, beliefs, and history. The authors take care to place the movement in the wider historical and cultural context for teen readers. Arresting photographs contribute to a visually stunning portrait that is both sweeping and intimate. Available January 18. Library catalogue link here.
Evicted!: The Struggle for the Right to Vote
by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by Charly Palmer
When Black residents of Fayette County, Tennessee, began registering to vote in 1958, white citizens retaliate by refusing to sell them food and other necessities, and by evicting them from their homes. Many of these evicted families moved into tents on Black-owned land, and the resulting Tent City made national news and helped usher in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This collection of interconnected stories illuminates the people involved in the movement, from farmers to students, old and young. Available January 11. Library catalogue link here.
Jennifer Rothschild is the Collection Engagement Librarian at Arlington Public Library, where she specializes in helping patrons find their next great read. She has served on numerous book award committees and reviews books for trade journals, including Library Journal and Booklist.