10 Riveting New Books to Cuddle Up With This Winter
All signs indicate we are officially in the depths of fall. Crisp weather! Pumpkin spice lattes! That rush you get when you jump into a pile of leaves. Most importantly, new book releases! I have compiled this handy list of all of the books that I'm excited for readers to embrace throughout the next couple of months, before 2021 draws to a close. From memoirs discussing the reign that pop culture has on our lives to vulnerable bisexual and queer immigrant stories that will squeeze your heart, there's truly something for everyone here.
Funeral for Flaca by Emilly Prado
They say to never judge a book by its cover, but I will not lie: this is one of the best book covers that I've ever seen in my entire life. The best part? The work inside is just as gorgeous. Funeral for Flaca is a humorous yet heartbreaking yet uplifting essay collection that explores what it is like to lose yourself in the process of finding out who you are truly meant to be. One-part memoir-in-essays, and one-part playlist, but full of heart, Prado has created something that will speak to women everywhere, especially those who are attempting to heal from past traumas in order to grow into the kind of women that they have only dreamed about. You'll lose yourself within these pages, and come out better than ever.
We Are the Baby-Sitters Club: Essays and Artwork from Grown-Up Readers
Like many girls before me, when I was younger, I was OBSESSED with the Baby-Sitters Club. I inhaled every single copy that I could get my hands on, imagining what my role in this fictional club would be. Ironically, I didn't even like children when I was a child myself. Nevertheless, I found the series refreshing and an essential part of girlhood. Now, 35 years after Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Stacey—and later on, Dawn, Jessi, and, Mallory—took on their first clients, we're being blessed with an anthology that asks how Ann M. Martin's groundbreaking series shaped a generation's ideas of what feminism, friendship, racism, and more look like. Contributors include New York Times bestselling author Kristen Arnett; Lambda Award-finalist Myriam Gurba; Black Girl Nerds founder Jamie Broadnax, and more.
Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So
Taken from this Earth far too soon, the late So's collection of short stories diving into the intimate lives of queer and immigrant communities is exquisite. Depicting Cambodian-Americans living in California while shouldering the weight of the Khmer Rouge genocide and discovering what it means to begin to live the lives that are meant for them, rather than the ones their parents dream about, So's fictional debut is full of complex, memorable characters. While I wish that So had been granted more time to continue to wow his fans, I am grateful that he left us with something exciting and fresh to remember him by.
Sometimes I Trip On How Happy We Could Be by Nichole Perkins
Oh, Nichole Perkins, how I love you so. I love reading essays that focus on how Black women relate to varying forms of pop culture, because no two experiences are alike. How I view certain songs is different than how Perkins views them, because we have two different viewpoints. However, once I saw that an essay in Sometimes I Trip mentioned mental health and Frasier, I screamed with glee. Every essay in this ambitious collection is worth reading and rereading. By the time you turn the page and close the book, you'll love Nichole almost as much as I do.
Seeing Ghosts by Kat Chow
I will never get tired of discovering new memoirs focusing on how to handle grief, since grief affects all of us in different ways. Chow, a former reporter at NPR and a founding member of the Code Switch team, writes about her mother, a woman seemingly bigger than life. When her mother unexpectedly dies from cancer, Chow's family is plunged into grief that is lonely and consuming. Seeing Ghosts asks the important question: how does one reclaim and preserve their family's story? It's a refreshing question that I rarely seen answered, so you better believe that I'm excited to see how readers respond.
The Bennet Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi
Called a modern-day spin on the beloved Pride and Prejudice, the Bennet House is the only all-women's dorm at prestigious Longbourn University. Within the house lives three best friends: EJ, a Black woman working on an engineering degree; her best friend, Jamie, a newly out trans woman studying French and theatre; and Tessa, a Filipina astronomy major with a whole slew of guy trouble. It's really wonderful to read a book filled with a diverse cast of women characters, and have them have dreams and ambitions outside of getting married or falling in love. There is romance within these pages, don't be mistaken, but for the most part, you get to follow along as EJ, Jamie, and Tessa discover what they desire out of life.
Carefree Black Girls: A Celebration of Black Women in Popular Culture
In 1962, Malcolm X said that "the most disrespected person in America is the black woman," and he wasn't wrong. But where there is a challenge, Black women continue to raise the bar each and every time. Film and culture critic Zeba Blay was one of the first users to adopt the term #carefreeblackgirls, which was used to highlight the essential showcase of celebration, freedom, and joy that comes with being a Black woman. Now, in her essay collection Carefree Black Girls, Blay dives even deeper, showcasing Black female writers, artists, actresses, and more that have influenced the concept of what being carefree while defending themselves against the bigotry, misogyny, and stereotypes that come with identifying as a Black woman in this world. An excellent collection.
Dreaming of You by Melissa Lozada-Oliva
For fans of pop icon Selena—or anyone who loves reading about celebrity worship in general—Lozada-Oliva has written something remarkable for you. One day, a young Latinx poet grappling with feelings of loneliness and heartbreak decides to see if she can bring Tejano pop star Selena Quintanilla back to life. The results are kooky, funny, troubling, and more. I have never read a novel like this before (much less one written in verse), and I can't wait to read more of what goes on in Lozada-Oliva's brain.
Tacky by Rax King
I will go on the record as saying that I am incredibly jealous that I didn't think of writing this essay collection first. On the other hand, though, I truly don't think that I could have even come close to embodying the true definition of "tacky" as well as King does. We, as a culture, love to hate things: Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. The Cheesecake Factory's menu that is the size of a phone book (am I dating myself here?). Jersey Shore. The legendary Guy Fieri. In Tacky, King flips the script and instead shows readers that just because something is tacky doesn't mean that it doesn't have value. Instead, the things that we are so quick to judge are the very things that can help us heal from traumatic breakups or bring joy to our lives if we're only willing to look past our own shallowness. Rax King has done it. Most importantly, she has done it well.
I'm Not Hungry But I Could Eat by Christopher Gonzalez
I have been following Gonzalez on Twitter (you can find him at @livesinpages) for years, and as soon as he announced that his collection of short stories examining the desires and hungers of bisexual and gay Puerto Rican men was available for pre-order, I signed right up. With a title like this, how could you consider walking past it in a bookstore? The answer: You can't. Gonzalez does such an excellent job showing readers tender, kind, humorous, and vulnerable moments within these 15 stories, depicting emotions that aren't often witnessed. I will think about this collection forever.