2024 already has hundreds of amazing books sprouting up on everyone's "Most Anticipated" lists. Could it be that this will be an even better year than the one that came before it? Is every year of reading better than the last? If these 15 books are any indication, the answer is: Yes.
If you're looking for a Dry January motivator, a self-care story, an inspiring historical novel, a spy drama, friendship tales from high school through old age, cancel culture cautionary stories and a look at racism in industry, grab those reading glasses and get comfortable. These are just a few bound to capture the collective attention in the new year. Cheers!
"Ilium: A Novel" by Lea Carpenter
Novelist and screenwriter Lea Carpenter is known for her perceptive look at the secrecy of the military, which she has chronicled from various perspectives in her beautiful novels "Eleven Days" and "Red White Blue." Now, Lea has created a glamorous underworld for her young, unnamed narrator in "Ilium." When a lonely British young woman marries a dashing older gentleman, Marcus, she is suddenly whisked around the world, starting with a honeymoon in Croatia. She soon learns that she must pose as an art adviser with a family in the south of France, helmed by Edouard. She has become a pawn in an elaborate CIA-Mossad operation. Written with exquisite prose, "Ilium" is like "James Bond" as told by The New Yorker.
"Goldenseal: A Novel" by Maria Hummel
Author of "Still Lives," "Motherland" and "Lesson in Red," Maria Hummel returns with "Goldenseal," a novel about two estranged, elderly best friends, Lacey and Edith, who meet up in a hotel lobby after a 40-year hiatus. Looking back on their relationship to its beginning at summer camp in Maine and on to their adventures in Hollywood, the two women reveal their secrets over the course of one single evening. A meditation on female friendship, loneliness, and how to move on after betrayal, "Goldenseal" is both melancholy and escapist.
"Legacy: A Black Physician Reckons with Racism in Medicine" by Dr. Uché Blackstock
Did you know that only 2% of all U.S. physicians are Black women? Neither did Uché Blackstock, despite being the daughter of a prominent Black woman physician herself. Blackstock's own career in medicine, like that of her twin sister, seemed predetermined from childhood. Attending Harvard Medical School like her mother, working in the emergency room, pursuing academia and then activism, Blackstock soon became an expert on the unspoken inequities in health care, where racism and care mix.
"Olivia Strauss is Running Out of Time: A Novel" by Angela Brown
What if you could find out the exact day that you'll die? Would you do it? Olivia Strauss, a 39-year-old suburban mom, joins her best friend Marian at an NYC hipster "wellness clinic" which promises to do just that. Quite the birthday gift! But the results set both women off on a course they weren't expecting. Written in a relatable, funny, fresh new voice in fiction, Angela Brown -- and Olivia Strauss -- will have all readers considering how to make the most of their lives in this new year.
"Family Family: A Novel" by Laurie Frankel
Cancel culture meets Hollywood in this smart dark comedy seemingly ripped from the Us Weekly headlines. India Allwood is a mom who gave her first child up for adoption years before. After all, she was going to be a famous actor! She also adopted her own children. But when she stars in a big deal movie about adoption, she can't help but tell a journalist her views of how adoption is often portrayed on the big screen -- and how her current movie doesn't do it justice. Of course, the movie execs aren't exactly fans of their lead actor badmouthing her own film. The media goes nuts. Her 10-year-old Fig finds a way to redeem her mom. But at what cost?! Fun, thought-provoking, and an enjoyable reflection of culture and family, "Family Family" is just fabulous.
"Everyone But Myself: A Memoir" by Julie Chavez
This is the perfect book for anyone who feels run down after caring too much for everyone but themselves. And really, isn't that most of us? Julie Chavez, a hilarious, witty, and insightful school librarian in California, shares her unexpected period of anxiety and depression, kicked off by a systemic reaction to an epinephrine shot that triggered panic attacks. To get back to baseline, Chavez must find help, examine how she mothers her boys (too intensely!) and the role she plays in her marriage, along with every decision she makes without really thinking about how it might impact her. Does she really have to go to Parents' Night?! Is bagged salad really OK? It turns out, small steps make huge strides in her recovery, a lesson she shares openly and with a fabulous sense of humor. For anyone who put self-care on their new year's resolutions, this is the book for you.
"The House of Plain Truth: A Novel" by Donna Hemans
Donna Hemans' sentences are absolutely beautiful. Originally from Jamaica, Hemans' previous novels, "Tea by the Sea" and "River Woman," won numerous prizes, setting the stage for her most personal novel yet. Hemans writes about Pearline, a Brooklyn grandmother, who returns to her native Jamaica to say goodbye to her dying father. As he takes his final breaths, he speaks of the family he left in Cuba long ago and tasks Pearline and her two sisters with finding their long lost siblings. Family tensions soar as old secrets rise to the surface in this exquisite portrait of a family, a woman, and two countries: Jamaica and Cuba.
"More: A Memoir of an Open Marriage" by Molly Roden Winter
A married mother and teacher explores sex and relationships outside of her marriage in this fabulous, blush-worthy memoir. Molly Roden Winter has had enough. She storms out of her home in Brooklyn one night after her husband Stewart is late, again, and meets a hot younger man named Matt. When Matt asks her out, Stewart surprisingly encourages Winter to go for it. And she does. Then Stewart starts having relationships outside of their marriage. While the two of them set many ground rules, most of the rules end up broken. And, it turns out, Winter's parents also had an open marriage. Who knew?! In a warm, engaging style, Molly welcomes all of us into what could be a conversation with a best friend and shows us the answer to: what if?
"Love, Me: A Novel" by Jessica Saunders
Mother of two, soccer mom and lawyer Rachel Miller is going about everyday life chaos when old, racy photos of her and Jack Bellow, the mega movie star who just happens to be her high school ex-boyfriend, get leaked to the press along with his love letters to her. Suddenly, Rachel is the talk of the town. Who would have shared the photos!? And how is her husband handling things?! Reunited with a long lost love, Rachel has to confront the real question: Is a good enough life… enough? Make room for the latest rom-com author to join the ranks. Jessica Saunders is funny, talented, and destined for long-term shelf space.
"Drunk-ish: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving Alcohol" by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor
Stefanie Wilder-Taylor made readers and moms into BFFs with her blog-based parenting books like "Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay" and "Naptime is the New Happy Hour." Now, Wilder-Taylor is looking back on those wine-filled early years with her three young kids, including twins (now grown), and how a habit that she didn't think was problematic became something to contend with, forever. Written in a hilarious, confessional style, Wilder-Taylor takes us into her bedroom, her couch (where she wakes up hungover), her marriage, her friendships, and her car (where she even drove her kids drunk once), and shows us what happens when things get out of control. For Dry January, this book is perfect, but really it's perfect for anyone who has gotten through -- or is getting through -- parenthood, drinking and everything in between.
"Come and Get It: A Novel" by Kiley Reid
Kiley Reid is a great writer. Full stop. Her observations and point of view make even the most mundane moments, like a few students meeting for a focus group in college, feel reexamined and truly original. The New York Times bestselling author of "Such a Fun Age" tells an intriguing tale about Millie Cousins, a residential assistant at the University of Arkansas, and her relationship with three students and a visiting professor, Agatha Paul, and all of their relationships to wealth in this captivating read that fans will gobble up.
"The Fury" by Alex Michaelides
Alex Michaelides is a master. In his latest novel, "The Fury," he takes on a wholly new voice, speaking directly to the reader, being self-referential, and breaking the third wall. The story is a thriller about Lana Farrar, a former movie star, and her invited friends, who all descend on a private Greek island for Easter. When a murder happens in their midst, it sets off a chain reaction. Who even is the narrator? And what role do we, the reader, play in this adventure? It's like the game of Clue. Intriguing and page-turning, "The Fury" is Michaelides at his best, which is saying a lot after the success of "The Silent Patient."
"Only If You're Lucky" by Stacy Willingham
New York Times bestselling author Stacy Willingham is back with a standalone thriller after the success of "A Flicker in the Dark" and "All the Dangerous Things." Only If You're Lucky is a captivating look at campus culture, female friendships, and the South. Set in South Carolina, Lucy Sharpe, the cool girl on campus, asks Margot, her shy friend still grieving the loss of her best friend in an accident after high school graduation, to room with her sophomore year. Of course, Margot agrees and soon moves in with Lucy and her friends Sloane and Nicole. But when one of the fraternity boys next door gets brutally murdered, Lucy is nowhere to be found. What happens next will have readers flipping pages to find out.
"The American Queen" by Vanessa Miller
Being a hero during the Civil War era took on lots of different forms. One woman, hero Louella, is the subject of award-winning author Vanessa Miller's latest historical novel. Based on a true story, Louella, a resilient Black woman, becomes queen of a kingdom in 1869, built on American soil. Her mother had been sold by Montgomery plantation owners, her father was hung from a noose and killed, and Louella herself was enslaved for more than 20 years. Grown up and married to Rev. William, she joins a group fleeing their plantation, allowing a sliver of hope to displace hate. Louella and William become king and queen of a kingdom of their own making in order to survive. This powerful story must be told and retold.
"The Book of Fire" by Christy Lefteri
Christy Lefteri, the daughter of Cypriot refugees, author of "The Beekeeper of Aleppo," runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and finalist for the Aspen Literary Prize, returns with an evocative look at Greece, family and wildfires. While it's told almost like a childhood fable at times, it is an important work of eco-fiction. When one family's home is devastated by wildfires, the musician, the painter, and their daughter try to move forward. But when the mother finds the dead body of the man who started the fire, she makes a decision she may come to regret. Meanwhile the father -- the artist – had his hands burned in the fire and can no longer paint. A look at home, family, creativity, and resilience, this timely yet timeless book is one to look out for.