The 10 Best New Books to Read in December
From the new installment of The Babysitters Coven to Karen McManus's latest YA novel.
We did it: We made it to the end of 2020. This year tested us in ways we’ve never experienced before. When we needed to relax, unplug, and ground ourselves, we turned to our bookshelves, sought comfort in fictional worlds, and read books by Black authors.
So, it’s time to welcome the end of the year with December’s best new books. Let these stories, memoirs, and essay collections bring you comfort and joy (and perspective) during the holiday season. From a drag queen leading an uprising in a dystopian society to sisters dueling over who runs the best fried chicken shack, there’s something for every reader. (And they make excellent gifts!)
1. Admission by Julie Buxbaum, out December 1st
If you couldn’t get enough of the 2019 college admissions bribery scandal, you’re in luck. Admission is about Chloe, the daughter of a B-list celeb who is headed to her first-choice college—until the FBI shows up at her door and arrests her mom. Chloe realizes her admissions coach was more than just a counselor—he rigged the system for her. There’s nothing guilty about loving this book about privilege and ambition.
2. How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams, out December 1st
It’s been a long year, and you deserve a feel-good romance: a steamy, sexy, swoon-worthy story that balances sweetness and substance. How to Fail at Flirting delivers all of that and more. You’ll instantly fall in love with professor Naya Turner and root for her to have it all: the perfect career and the perfect guy.
3. The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley, out December 1st
Meet your new favorite genre: queer #ownvoices high-school theater rom-coms. Melody McIntyre is a stellar stage manager. Her love life? Not so much. She swears off showmances until their next production, Les Mis, is over. But then she meets Odile, a rising star who’s already been on Broadway, and all bets are off. Your inner theater kid will devour it in one sitting.
4. Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo, out December 1st
The last four years brought an increase in white male rage, particularly toward people of color, women, and immigrants. Ijeoma Oluo wondered, When did this happen? How did we get here? In Mediocre, Oluo presents thorough research and powerful, compelling reflections on white male power in the last century. This book will inspire you to stand up and make real, lasting change.
5. The Cousins by Karen M. McManus, out December 1st
Karen McManus is the undisputed queen of YA mysteries. And, as you can tell from the cover, you’re in for a thrilling read about family drama. The Cousins, her latest standalone novel, is about three cousins who barely know each other but are about to discover some seriously dark family secrets. It’s her best book yet.
6. The Chicken Sisters by K.J. Dell’Antonia, out December 1st
If you prefer your family secrets served with a side of fried chicken, we highly recommend The Chicken Sisters. This funny, heartfelt book is about two sisters, Amanda and Mae, and two chicken shacks, Chicken Mimi’s and Chicken Frannie’s, vying for fame and feeding their rivalry on a show called Food Wars. Of course, it’s about so much more than just food—it’s also about relationships, family ties, motherhood, and more. Which sister will win? You’ll have to read it to find out.
7. Girl Gurl Grrrl: On Womanhood and Belonging in the Age of Black Girl Magic by Kenya Hunt, out December 8th
We’re electing Black women to public office, casting them in movies, and putting them on magazine covers. But we’re still not providing Black women with what they need in everyday life. Kenya Hunt’s insightful, informative, and honest collection of essays speaks to topics like inclusive feminism, history lessons, Black motherhood, and racism. Celebrate Black girl magic and add it to the top of your anti-racist reading list.
8. Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez, out December 8th
Crosshairs takes place in a near-future dystopian world that’s a little too close for comfort. In the book, a government-sanctioned group called The Boots take “Others”—people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and the disabled—into labor camps. Read along as a drag queen named Kay, a transmasculine refugee named Bahadur, a social worker named Firuzeh, and a rogue army officer named Beck plan an uprising to fight for what’s right. This cautionary tale is truly riveting.
9. Survival of the Thickest by Michelle Buteau, out December 8th
Make room on your ‘funny lady memoir’ bookshelf, because comedian Michelle Buteau has landed. She’s been making us laugh for years, and it’s time to learn more about her road to stardom. Survival of the Thickest is a hilarious and heartfelt memoir about her childhood (growing up Caribbean and Catholic in New Jersey), her early jobs (working in a newsroom on 9/11), how she got her start in comedy (opening for male strippers), and more.
10. For Better or Cursed by Kate Williams, out December 15th
The Babysitters Coven series continues, and we couldn’t be happier. For Better or Cursed is the next installment of the story of Esme and Cassandra, two teenage babysitters who use Sitter witchcraft to help protect the world from evil. And this time, they’re attending the Summit, a big witchy conference. It’s a super fun, quirky read that’ll make you nostalgic for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all your favorite '90s teenage witches.