Read These January Book Releases Over Winter Term

As finals week approaches, I’m spending most of my procrastination time thinking about reading. No, not reading and taking notes that will be graded based on completion or reading and writing a six-to-eight-page essay, but reading for fun. What a novelty!

By this time next week, after I’ve submitted all my final papers, completed all my problem sets, and thrown away my study guides, I will be curled up in my favorite chair in my bedroom, reading for myself. This past semester, I’ve had to work harder and longer than I ever have before, so I need a break from dense, old writing. I want something fresh and exciting, something unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Below, I’ve come up with a few January book releases that I’m looking forward to digging into over Winter Term.

First on this list is Hanya Yanagihara’s To Paradise, which was released on Jan. 11 and follows three narratives set in different American dystopias. The first begins in 1893, as a young aristocrat rejects an arranged marriage when he falls for a penniless music teacher; the second takes place in 1993, when a Hawaiian paralegal hides his dark past from his older lover; and the third opens in 2093, as a woman living in a totalitarian New York investigates each of the men she has ever loved. I read Yanagihara’s 800-page novel A Little Life in three days, so I’m expecting a lot from To Paradise

I’m also really excited to get my hands on Xochitl Gonzalez’ novel Olga Dies Dreaming, which was published on Jan. 4. Touching on the origins and extinction of the American dream, the book follows Olga and Prieto Acevedo, two Brooklyn-born children of Puerto Rican revolutionaries. Now, the siblings are living successful but fragmented lives in their increasingly gentrified borough. From reading the back sleeve, it’s clear the novel will examine the complex, raw relationships between each of the characters, asking fundamental questions about how to live meaningfully and thoughtfully in communities rife with inequality. While I’m certainly looking forward to reading this novel, I’m also excited for its serialized Hulu adaptation starring Aubrey Plaza, which is set to arrive later this year.

I’ve been anticipating the release of this last book for a really long time, eyeing the cover on BookTok and randomly seeing interviews with the author on various news platforms. Jessamine Chan’s explosive debut novel The School for Good Mothers follows one young mother, Frida Liu, as she fights for the custody of her child, Harriet. Published on Jan. 4, this poignant commentary deals with issues of government surveillance, systemic violence, and classism, ultimately offering a chilling critique on motherhood in the modern world. 

As the semester finally comes to a close, these books are waiting for me on the other side. I hope I’ve given you a little bit of reading inspiration!