25 January 2019

8 Books You Don't Want to Miss This Month

You know how you tend to see the same books over and over in reviews and features? Many of us (me included) are drawn to the books that our friends and trusted sources recommend, and it's easy to completely miss other titles that deserve more attention. That's what today's round-up is all about. Here are eight books, all published this month, that might have escaped your attention. The genres are all over the place, so I've listed the books alphabetically, rather than try to group them.

8 books to read in JanuaryCaroline's Bikini by Kirsty Gunn (Faber & Faber, Jan. 22). This is a novel about unrequited love among the cocktail set of contemporary West London. When middle-aged, successful banker Evan takes lodgings in the top floor of British family home, he's hit hard when he meets his landlady, Caroline. Complete with footnotes and references to the age-old classics, this a modern retelling of familiar, ancient themes. Other things to know: one of the blurbs reads "A gin-fueled love story with one part One Day mixed with one part Zadie Smith and a splash of Ali Smith." Who can resist?

8 books to read in JanuaryThe Current by Tim Johnston (Algonquin, Jan. 22). This contemporary story, set in the icy upper Midwest, involves two college friends, a road trip, and two fatal car accidents that occur along the same rural road but two decades apart. Although the book involves a mystery and an amateur sleuth, this is much more than a whodunit. Other things to know: The author's Descent was one of my favorite books. The novel has won several starred reviews.

8 books to read in JanuaryThe Falconer by Dana Czapnik (Atria, Jan. 29): Set in the 1990s in New York City, this is the story of growing up female, athletic, smart,and talented in a world both full of promise and just about to take a long downward slide. Feminism, art, young love, and the city itself take center stage in this coming-of-age story of a young woman growing up in the shadow of the baby boomers and the light of new possibilities. Other things to know: The author is an award-winning fiction writer with many years as an editor in sports journalism. Tons critical of praise.

8 books to read in JanuaryThe Far Field by Madhuri Vijay (Grove Press, Jan. 15): This contemporary story is set in India and deals with sociopolitical issues, family drama, grief, and religion conflicts. Shalini, a 30-something woman, travels across the country to the Himalayans hoping to better understand her late mother and to look for a man she remembers from her youth. Other things to know: The author, born in Bangalore, won the Pushcart Prize. This debut novel was an Indie Introduces pick. Diversity & Own Voices.

8 books to read in JanuaryHollywood's Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A. by Lili Anolik (Scribner, Jan. 8): This is the biography of one-time groupie / sex symbol Eve Babitz, who hooked up (in one way or another) with movie stars, musicians, and artists of the 1960s and 1970s. Yet from the time she was a teenager, she was also a writer and in her later years went on to write several semi-autobiographical novels, to little notice. Apparently, her work is now seeing a comeback. Other things to know: Anolik is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.

8 books to read in JanuaryLate in the Day by Tessa Hadley (Harper, Jan 15). This contemporary novel focuses on two couples who have been close friends for decades. When one of the quartet dies suddenly, the dynamics of the remaining interrelationships are thrown off kilter. Themes include friendship, marriage, grief, and dealing with the past. Other things to know: The author has won Windham Campbell Prize and the Hawthornden Prize. The book received much critical praise and at least one starred review.

8 books to read in JanuaryA Sky for Us Alone by Kristin Russell (Katherine Tegen Books, Jan. 8): Set in an insular Appalachian town in the heart of coal country, this is a contemporary story of a young boy on the brink of manhood who is trying to come to terms with a family death while balancing his desire to escape the poverty and limits of his home town with the strong ties he feels to place and people. Other things to know: A debut novel. Coming-of-age story.

8 books to read in JanuaryThat Churchill Woman by Stephanie Barron (Ballantine, Jan 29): This is a fictionalized account of the life of Jennie Jerome, a daughter of the New York City elite who traveled to England in the 1870s to marry into the landed gentry. Out of her many suitors, she married Lord Randolph Spencer-Churchill and made it her business to help his political career and their rise in British society. Later she supported her son Winston as he made his own name in politics. Other things to know: Barron is not only an accomplished author but once worked for the CIA as an intelligence analyst.

Which of these books would you read first?


rhapsodyinbooks 1/25/19, 6:23 AM  

They all sound good and you are right in terms of me at least - I hadn't heard of any of them!

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 1/25/19, 7:11 AM  

I've got my eye on The Falconer! Love fiction with female athlete protagonists and there aren't enough of them out there. Just need to wait until pub day b/c don't have a galley.

Kay 1/25/19, 8:30 AM  

I've heard of several of these and have a couple on my list to try at some point, THE CURRENT and THAT CHURCHILL WOMAN. Now there are two that are quite different from each other. I've owned a copy of THE DESCENT for quite a while. I need to get to that one too.

Tina's Blog 1/25/19, 8:49 AM  

There are several (maybe all) of them that I want to read...That Churchill Woman is probably the one I'd pick first.

Daryl 1/25/19, 9:58 AM  

some interesting intriguing books here .. thanks!

bermudaonion 1/25/19, 10:37 AM  

I was just reading about That Churchill Woman the other day. It sounds good to me. I'd also like to read The Far Field.

Tina 1/25/19, 3:51 PM  

The Current recently went on my library request list. I will certainly add Caroline's Bikini.

You are correct, I tend to look at books my online friends are reading.

Jackie McGuinness 1/26/19, 10:36 AM  

Damn! So many for me to add to my TBR list!!

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