5 books not to miss: Cicely Tyson memoir ‘Just As I Am,’ Joan Didion essay collection

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Barbara VanDenburgh, USA TODAY
·2 min read
"Just As I Am: A Memoir" by Cicely Tyson
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In search of something good to read? USA TODAY's Barbara VanDenburgh scopes out the shelves for this week’s hottest new book releases.

1. “Just As I Am,” by Cicely Tyson (HarperCollins, nonfiction, on sale Jan. 26)

What it’s about: The award-winning actress, nonagenarian and groundbreaking Black icon reflects on her life and long career in this meditative memoir.

The buzz: “A forthright self-portrait of a determined woman and iconic cultural figure,” Kirkus Reviews says.

2. “Let Me Tell You What I Mean,” by Joan Didion (Knopf, nonfiction, on sale Jan. 26)

What it’s about: In this newly gathered collection of 12 essays, organized from 1968 to 2000, Didion offers insight on everything from a Gamblers Anonymous meeting to Martha Stewart.

The buzz: "The new book captures the essence of Didion in countless lapidary sentences," says a ★★★★ (out of four) review for USA TODAY.

3. “Burnt Sugar,” by Avni Doshi (Overlook Press, fiction, on sale Jan. 26)

What it’s about: Shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, this debut novel set in India finds a grown daughter tasked with caring for the aging mother who never cared for her.

The buzz: “A landmark portrait of toxic parenting and its tangled aftermath,” says a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.

4. “Ida B. The Queen: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells,” by Michelle Duster (Atria/One Signal, nonfiction, on sale Jan. 26)

What it’s about: Wells’ great-granddaughter pens an accessible celebration of the journalist, suffragist and crusader enriched by vibrant illustrations and family history.

The buzz: “Enriched by family history, striking illustrations, and deep knowledge of the ongoing fight for racial justice, this is a worthy introduction to Wells’ life and legacy,” Publishers Weekly says.

5. “Cathedral,” by Ben Hopkins (Europa Editions, fiction, on sale Jan. 26)

What it’s about: The design and construction of a lofty Medieval cathedral over the course of a century brings together a vast array of characters in a tale of ambition, obsession, desire, vanity and power.

The buzz: “This sweeping work is as impressive as the cathedral at its center,” says a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 5 books not to miss: Cicely Tyson memoir, Joan Didion essay collection