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Arts + Culture

Best Books to Read This January

Winter is fully upon us, and we don't know about you, but it's damn tempting to hole up in our house and watch episode after episode of our favorite Netflix show. But because it's the new year, and we're trying to do that whole self-improvement thing, we've resolved to crack open a read every time we're looking for a little escapism. Here, seven new books to jump-start our reading resolutions.

See recent posts by Siobhan Reid

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Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

If you loved Roxane Gay’s best-selling essay collection Bad Feminist, you’ll devour her latest release—a series of inventive stories that explores the lives of women who, because of race, class, sexuality, and yes, gender, have been deemed “difficult.” You’ll meet a young student who moonlights as a stripper; a female engineer who is constantly patronized by her male colleagues; and a Latina aerobics instructor who works in a gated community. It’s not an easy read (the stories are bleak and oftentimes upsetting), but it’s revelatory and impactful—and a collection we plan on gifting our mother, sisters, and girlfriends.

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A Really Good Day by Ayelet Waldman

For years, acclaimed novelist and essayist Ayelet Waldman struggled with severe mood swings, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain that eroded her personal relationships and jeopardized her literary success. Desperate to find a cure for her disorder, Waldman set off on a one month experiment with microdoses of LSD—an experience she recounts in this courageous, funny, and eye-opening memoir.

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Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

This heartbreaking narrative follows two immigrant women living in present-day Berkley, California: Soli, an undocumented woman from Mexico who struggles to care for her newborn son while working as a cleaning lady; and Kaya, an Indian-American woman who becomes a foster parent to Soli’s son after learning she’s unable to conceive. Life-affirming and humanizing, this novel kept our attention until the very last page.

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The Signal Flame by Andrew Krivak

Memory, loss, and war are themes at the heart of this second novel from National Book Award finalist Andrew Krivak. The elegiac novel is set in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains in the 1970s, and weaves a beautiful portrait about a family awaiting the return of their youngest son from the Vietnam War. Kirkus called it “a story about love and loyalty, with moments of sudden violence and great beauty.”

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Selection Day by Aravind Adiga

You don’t have to be a cricket fan to enjoy Aravind Adiga’s newest novel, Selection Day. The soaring tale is about two young cricket-playing brothers living in the slums of Mumbai, and reckoning with their father’s dreams of them becoming master batsmen. As the boys strive towards stardom, they must face personal and professional challenges that threaten to undermine their relationships and their love for the sport.

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Transit by Rachel Cusk

Fans of Rachel Cusk’s 2014 bestseller Outline won’t be disappointed by Transit, the second installment in the captivating trilogy. The novel is set in London, where protagonist Faye has moved in attempt to rebuild her life on the heels of a messy divorce. What follows are vignettes of Faye's everyday encounters with friends and strangers — experiences that cause her to gradually heal and "confront questions that she has, up until now, avoided."

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4321 by Paul Auster

Paul Aster is a writer of tremendous flair and linguistic dexterity, so it should comes as no surprise that his newest novel is a little well, daunting. (As in, we were pulling out the dictionary every other paragraph). But if you’re undeterred by the challenge, what awaits you is an epic coming-of-age story that spans the years following WWII.

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