The 22 Best Books to Read This Winter

There’s officially a nip in the air, which means it’s time to put aside the beach reads and start updating your holiday gift list with winter’s best books. (Don’t worry, you can finish the Neapolitan Novels when summer rolls around again.) Below is a guide to your best literary options for the season.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (December 31)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of G.P. Putnam's Sons</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of G.P. Putnam's Sons

Kiley Reid’s debut novel, which centers around the uneasy bond between a 25-year-old black babysitter and her privileged employer in the wake of a racist incident, already has Hollywood cred; Lena Waithe bought the film and television rights in August.

The Hills Reply by Tarjei Vesaas, tr. Elizabeth Rokkan (December 10)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Archipelago</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Archipelago

This episodic novel was Norwegian writer Tarjei Vesaas’s last book before his death, and the English translation by Elizabeth Rokkan relates a complex, overlapping set of vignettes that take place against the backdrop of the Norwegian countryside.

Africaville by Jeffrey Colvin (December 10)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Amistad</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Amistad

Structured in three parts, Africaville tells the story of three generations of a family in a small Nova Scotia town settled by slaves, from the Great Depression to the economic boom of the 1980s, exploring the nature of black identity in Canada and the United States.

Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer (December 3)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of MCD</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of MCD

Jeff VanderMeer has been called “the weird Thoreau” for his facility with “psychedelic nature writing.” If you’re one of the many who enjoyed his Southern Reach trilogy, his new book, Dead Astronauts—a work of literary science fiction in which the fate of humanity is at stake—will be right up your alley.

Why We Can’t Sleep by Ada Calhoun (January 7)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Grove Press</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Grove Press

This book is one of the first to explore the problems that specifically plague the women of Generation X, with Ada Calhoun researching housing costs, HR trends, credit card debt averages, and divorce data to unpack the difficulties that accompany approaching middle age in the “Lean In” generation.

Long Bright River by Liz Moore (January 7)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Riverhead Books</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Riverhead Books

The opioid crisis tearing at the fabric of American life is tackled firsthand in this novel, which follows two sisters—one struggling with addiction, the other a police officer—until one disappears, and the other is left with nothing but questions.

Little Gods by Meng Jin (January 14)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Custom House</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Custom House

Meng Jin’s debut novel opens with a birth of a baby in Beijing on the night of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and follows that baby, Liya. At seventeen she grapples with the loss of her mother, traveling back to China to meet people who once knew her and coming to learn more about the woman who gave her life in the process.

Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener (January 14)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of MCD</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of MCD

This much-anticipated memoir of Anna Wiener’s time spent working in San Francisco’s booming, seductive tech industry is guaranteed to make you think differently about the role apps command in our everyday lives.

Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis (January 14)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Fans of survivalist fiction will appreciate this gripping depiction of a plane crash’s sole survivor struggling to stay alive in the Montana wilderness, intertwined with the story of the female park ranger trying to save her.

Followers by Megan Angelo (January 14)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Graydon House</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Graydon House

This novel jumps from the present day, in which two would-be influencers strive for online fame, to a dystopian future in which government-appointed celebrities are on video 24/7, illuminating some harsh truths about social media in the process.

Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey (January 7)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Knopf</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Knopf

Miranda Popkey’s debut novel is composed entirely of women talking to each other—sort of like if Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women were fiction—and will make you feel like you’re eavesdropping on someone else’s conversation, in the best way possible.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (January 21)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Flatiron Books</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Flatiron Books

Blurbed by no less an authority on fiction than Stephen King (who called it “outstanding”), American Dirt chronicles the life of an Acapulco-based bookseller and her family, who are forced to flee when her husband’s journalism lands them on the wrong side of a violent local drug cartel.

Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon (January 28)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

This story of three Laotian orphans making their way through their war-torn world in the 1960s asks important questions about what it means to feel safe, and to call a place home.

The Sweet Indifference of the World by Peter Stamm (January 21)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Other Press</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Other Press

Acclaimed Swiss writer Peter Stamm tells the mysterious, complex story of a time-traveling love affair that tests the boundaries of reality and raises as many questions as it answers.

Verge by Lidia Yuknavitch (February 4)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Riverhead Books</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Riverhead Books

Lidia Yuknavitch’s brutal, beautiful collection of short stories relates various bizarre slices of life—from an organ-harvesting business staffed by children to a young janitor with fantastical powers—in a way that’s as compelling as it is unsettling.

Apartment by Teddy Wayne (February 25)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing

One of New York City’s most ephemeral glories—the illegally subleased, rent-stabilized apartment—provides the base for this novel, which delves into how shared space can make for a powerful, if imperfect, bond between men.

In the Land of Men by Adrienne Miller (February 11)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Ecco</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Ecco

In this memoir Adrienne Miller candidly explores the phenomenon of being the only woman in the room many times throughout her career, giving particular attention to her profound working relationship with David Foster Wallace.

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin (February 18)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Celadon Books</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Celadon Books

Mystery fans will appreciate this engrossing read about two sisters, one of whom goes missing on a Caribbean island during their family vacation, leaving the other to try to solve the case of her sister’s disappearance years later.

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (February 11)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Grove Press</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Grove Press

The drug-ridden backdrop of Glasgow, Scotland, in the 1980s is the backdrop for this story of the fraught bond between a young boy and his mother.

House of Trelawney by Hannah Rothschild (February 11)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Knopf</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Knopf

Hannah Rothschild’s novel tracks the progression of Cornwall’s Trelawney Castle from splendor to ruin, telling the story of its inhabitants—heir Kitto, his wife Jane, and their three children—as they struggle to keep their family together.

When Time Stopped by Ariana Neumann (February 4)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Scribner</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Scribner

This deeply personal narrative tells the story of Ariana Neumann’s family, many of whom were killed by Nazis, and grapples with Neumann’s attempt to uncover secrets left behind by her Holocaust-survivor father after his death.

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde (February 25)

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Classics</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Classics

Black lesbian poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde’s writing remains perennially vital and relevant, and this collection of 15 essays and speeches celebrates her impact.

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Originally Appeared on Vogue