New year, new books. 

 

As I’m sure you know, reading is a huge component of writing. Every writer I know is a voracious reader, and they usually have at least two books in rotation. All the writers I know also do something else I think is critical: they make it a point to read books outside of the genre they write. This is a great way to inspire yourself, find new authors, and expand your mind. 

 

I always have a large number of books in my To Be Read (TBR) pile. Often I read them all, but last year was a struggle, what with the pandemic or the summer protests or the fact that I published a freakin’ book

But it’s 2021, and I’m determined to complete my goal of 24 books. Here are 10 I’m most looking forward to reading. 

 

Wings of Ebony, J.Elle

“In this riveting, keenly emotional debut fantasy, a Black teen from Houston has her world upended when she learns about her godly ancestry–and with evil sinking its claws into humans and gods alike, she’ll have to unearth the magic of her true identity to save both her worlds.” 


Perfect for fans of: pantheons of all nations, literal Black Girl Magic, killer covers, and more. 

 

Future Home Of The Living God, Louise Erdrich

“Louise Erdrich, the New York Times bestselling, National Book Award-winning author of LaRose and The Round House, paints a startling portrait of a young woman fighting for her life and her unborn child against oppressive forces that manifest in the wake of a cataclysmic event.” 

 

Perfect for fans of: dystopian thrillers that feel a little too possible and apocalyptic events that spur every action. 

 

When No One Is Watching, Alyssa Cole 

“Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo. But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear.”

 

Perfect for fans of: Black psychological thrillers, characters that feel like family. 

 

Death In Her Hands, Ottessa Moshfegh 

“While on her daily walk with her dog in a secluded woods, a woman comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground by stones. “Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body.” But there is no dead body. Our narrator is deeply shaken; she has no idea what to make of this. She is new to this area, alone after the death of her husband, and she knows no one. Becoming obsessed with solving this mystery, our narrator imagines who Magda was and how she met her fate.” 

 

Perfect for fans of: unreliable narrators, do-gooders who catch a case being nosey. 

 

Vampires of Portlandia, Jason Tanamor

When Marcella Leones relocates her family of aswang vampires from the Philippines to Portland, Oregon, she raises her grandchildren under strict rules so humans will not expose them. Her only wish is to give them a peaceful life, far away from the hunters and the Filipino government that attempted to exterminate them. Before she dies, she passes on the power to her eldest grandchild, Percival. He vows to uphold the rules set forth by Leones, allowing his family to roam freely without notice. After all, they are aswangs. However, when the aswang covenant is broken, the murder rate in Portland rises drastically.” 

 

Perfect for fans of: funny urban fantasy, learning about myths and legends outside your culture. 

 

Hood Feminism, Mikki Kendall

Today’s feminist movement has a glaring blind spot, and paradoxically, it is women. Mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue, argues Mikki Kendall, but food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. All too often, however, the focus is not on basic survival for the many, but on increasing privilege for the few. That feminists refuse to prioritize these issues has only exacerbated the age-old problem of both internecine discord, and women who rebuff at carrying the title.”

 

Perfect for fans of: knowing better to be able to do better, expanding your understanding of the world and your place in it. 

 

An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon

“Odd-mannered, obsessive, withdrawn, Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She’s used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, as they accuse, she’d be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remained of her world, save for stories told around the cookfire. Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations the Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land.”

 

Perfect for fans of: science-fiction space odysseys, murder investigations by a strange genius. 

 

The Ghost Bride, Yangze Choo

“Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, traditional ghost marriages are used to placate restless spirits. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.”

 

Perfect for fans of: gothic horror, ghost dynasties. 

 

Spook: Science Tackles The Afterlife, Mary Roach

“‘What happens when we die? Does the light just go out and that’s that―the million-year nap? Or will some part of my personality, my me-ness persist? What will that feel like? What will I do all day? Is there a place to plug in my lap-top?’ In an attempt to find out, Mary Roach brings her tireless curiosity to bear on an array of contemporary and historical soul-searchers: scientists, schemers, engineers, mediums, all trying to prove (or disprove) that life goes on after we die.”

 

Perfect for fans of: death, paranormal research, science but make it humorous. 

 

Are any of these books on your list?