“It’s not a day off. It’s a day on.” Every year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I think of those words that my elementary school teachers used to say before we packed up our backpacks for the three-day weekend. They urged us to remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, honor his legacy by giving back, and reflect on his life as a leader.
Years later, that sentiment still rings true. In fact, it’s a call to action that’s more important than ever. Sure, we can take a day off from work or school. But with everything going on in the world right now, there’s no rest from fighting the good fight for justice and equality. So, how can you do that today, this week, and every day? We often turn to books to reflect, educate ourselves, and help us make sense of the world.
Fittingly, the books coming out this week are full of reflection on important topics like race, tolerance, women’s rights, and mental health, to name a few. Here are 14 books coming out this week that you don’t want to miss!
1Red Clocks by Leni Zumas, out January 16th
In a world where abortion is illegal, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and every embryo has the right to life, liberty, and property, what exactly is a woman for? That’s the question that Red Clocks, a feminist dystopian novel, asks. It tells the stories of five women in a distant future that, the more you read, might not feel as far off as you think.
2So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, out January 16th
Ijeoma Oluo’s book of essays answers the questions about race that many don’t dare ask. Each chapter tackles a different one, with chapter titles including “What is cultural appropriation?” and “I just got called racist, what do I do now?” So You Want to Talk About Race offers a straightforward, accessible, and empowering discussion about race. Everybody needs to read this book.
3Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee, out January 16th
What do you do when you want to help somebody, but it’s never enough? Mira T. Lee’s novel about two sisters takes a unique approach to talking about and portraying mental illness. Everything Here is Beautiful explores what it’s like to love someone who is mentally ill and struggling to find a diagnosis. It’s a truly stunning and emotional debut. More books about mental health, please.
4I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke, out January 16th
We never tire of reading psychological thrillers, and C.J. Cooke’s I Know My Name is next on our list. It’s about a woman who wakes up shipwrecked on an island in Greece without a clue as to how she got there. The only thing she remembers? Her name. It’s a layered story that you won’t soon forget.
5When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele, out January 16th
This is one of the most important books coming out this week, this month, this year, this decade, and this century. Patrisse Khan-Cullors is one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. And When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir tells the story of her life and experiences, both leading up to and after, the movement.
6The Largesse of the Sea Maiden: Stories by Denis Johnson, out January 16th
Denis Johnson passed away in May of 2017. His final collection of short stories, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden: Stories, will be published posthumously. Many of the characters in his five stories are dangerously close to death themselves. “It’s plain to you that at the time I write this, I’m not dead,” Johnson wrote at the end of “Triumph.” “But maybe by the time you read it.” Chills.
7DIY Rules for a WTF World by Krista Suh, our January 16th
Raise your hand if you took to the streets for the Women’s March in January of last year. Now, raise your hand if you did so wearing a pink pussyhat. Well, you have Krista Suh to thank for that. The creator of the Pussyhat Project’s book, DIY Rules for a WTF World: How to Speak Up, Get Creative, and Change the World will inspire you to affect change from the ground up. It’s the perfect way to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Women’s March and renew your commitment to the fight for women’s rights in 2018.
8Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed, out January 16th
Samira Ahmed’s debut, Love, Hate & Other Filters, balances a sweet YA romance with heavier topics like racism. It tells the story of Maya, an Indian-American Muslim teenager torn between the life she wants and the life her traditional parents want for her. Maya faces Islamophobia, hate crimes, and fear — all while just trying to figure out where she fits in the world. It’s an extremely captivating and timely debut.
9Stalking God by Anjali Kumar, out January 16th
What is the meaning of life? What happens when you die? Is God real? These are the kinds of questions that Anjali Kumar set out to answer after her daughter was born. In Stalking God: My Unorthodox Search for Something to Believe In, she tries everything from meditation to speaking with a medium. It’s a moving account of her quest to find enlightenment in one form or another.
10How to Be Single and Happy by Jennifer L. Taitz, out January 16th
These days, it seems like every single one of your Facebook friends is engaged, married, or starting a family. If you’re still single, sometimes it can feel isolating or disappointing that you haven’t found “the one” yet. If you identify with that, pick up How to Be Single and Happy: Science-Based Strategies for Keeping Your Sanity While Looking for a Soul Mate. Make no mistake: Jennifer L. Taitz’s book is not a pity party for single girls. It’s an empowering guide to taking control of your single status while you look (or don’t look!) for a partner.
11The Girl on the Velvet Swing by Simon Baatz, out January 16th
In 1901, at age 16, Evelyn Nesbit was raped by Stanford White. She was a chorus girl and he was a famous architect. Years later, she confided in Harry Thaw, the man she would one day marry. To get revenge, Thaw publicly shot White at Madison Square Garden. The Girl on the Velvet Swing: Sex, Murder, and Madness at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century tells the true story of the murder case and the struggles that Nesbit and Thaw faced in the years after.
12Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson, out January 16th
Speaking of true crime, don’t miss Truly Devious. Yep, there’s not one but books coming out this week with a true crime theme. It’s the first book in a new YA series about Stevie Bell, a young detective and true crime lover. When she starts at Ellingham Academy, a prestigious boarding school in New England, she makes it her mission to solve the old case of the founder’s missing wife and daughter. As Stevie digs in, twists and turns abound. We won’t spoil anything, but we will say that a huge cliffhanger sets the stage for the next book in the series.
13Find Your Goddess by Skye Alexander, out January 16th
2018 is your year. (You got this!) But any time you need a little inspiration or reminder, pick up Find Your Goddess: How to Manifest the Power and Wisdom of the Ancient Goddesses in Your Everyday Life. You’ll learn about goddesses like Aphrodite and Kuan Yin, and be inspired to channel their virtues to help you live your best life.
14The Winter in Anna by Reed Karaim, out January 17th
The Winter in Anna is one of those books that starts at the end — with Eric reading an obituary about Anna, a former love. From there, we travel backward to learn about their short but meaningful time together and the lasting impact Anna had on Eric’s life. It’s a beautifully written love story that will leave you reflecting on those who briefly but deeply impacted your own life.