Winter break has come and gone, and if you spent the bulk of your time off getting pure, unadulterated R&R instead of reading, worry not—there's a slew of new page-turners out this month that'll keep you occupied while you embrace the unfortunate fact that the holidays are officially over. If you're in need of a recommendation (or five), we rounded up the best of the bunch. From Marie Kondo's highly anticipated follow-up on the art of decluttering to Paul Kalanithi's deeply moving memoir, these buzzy reads will make you happy to be stuck indoors. Scroll down to see our picks.
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1. My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Whether or not you've cracked open one of this Pulitzer Prize winner's two bestselling novels, Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys, you'll quickly take to this heartfelt story about the tenuous relationship between a mother and daughter. It follows Lucy Barton, a Manhattan writer whose estranged mother comes to visit her following a weeks-long stint in the hospital, where she was treated for a mysterious infection. By swapping gossip about people in their hometown of Amgash, Ill., they unintentionally bring their own deep-seated opinions about love, life, and happiness to the fore.
Available at Amazon | $16
2. The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
Book clubbers who were both appalled and amused by Primates of Park Avenue, Dr. Wednesday Martin's anthropological study of Manhattan motherhood, will be totally engrossed by Benjamin's novel, which catalogs the so-called "Swans" of 1950s New York—a group of glamorous socialites who treat money, real estate, and husbands as equally disposable commodities. The crux of the novel focuses on the complicated friendship between one Swan in particular, Babe Paley, and literary legend Truman Capote, and Frank Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, and Rose Kennedy all make cameos. Sweet nostalgia.
Available at Amazon | $14
3. Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo's much-ballyhooed KonMari method of tidying up has already spawned legions of so-called "Konverts" (and we predict even more in the new year). Now she's supplying an illustrated how-to guide for applying her cleaning philosophy, complete with detailed, step-by-step drawings. Her main philosophy? Keep what brings you joy, and toss what doesn't. Hint: This book will not be among the rejects.
Available at Amazon | $12
4. The Longest Night by Andria Williams
Based on a true story of a little-known fatal nuclear plant accident in the United States, this gripping novel set in the 1950s centers around a young couple named Nat and Paul and their two young daughters, who are faced with a faulty reactor in the remote military town of Idaho Falls, Idaho. Because Paul somehow can't muster up the courage to explain the gravity of the situation to his wife, the tension builds heavily with each page as the unfortunate occurrence nears.
Available at Amazon | $20
5. The Restaurant Critic's Wife by Elizabeth LaBan
With an MBA and a high-profile job as a crisis manager for a major hotel chain behind her belt, Lila Soto never could have predicted that she'd become a glorified housewife. But then, like so many other women before her, she sat back as her husband, Sam, pursued (and subsequently became totally enraptured by) his job as a food writer for the local newspaper. He eventually becomes so obsessed with concealing his identity that he forbids her from coming into contact with anyone who might have ties to the food world, which leads her to question him, and everything else.
Available at Amazon | $11
6. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
This capitivating posthumous memoir by Paul Kalanithi, a 36-year-old neurosurgeon who is suddenly diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, is a beautiful meditation on the fragility of life and the complications of death. With finely crafted prose, Kalanithi poetically chronicles his journey from childhood to attending medical school at Yale and meeting his wife, Lucy. Faced with his own mortality, he begins to question the relationship between doctor and patient, and what makes a fulfilling life.
Available at Amazon | $15