10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in January

What's on your reading list for the new year? Here are our top choices for new fiction in January.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
by Ayana Mathis
This debut novel chronicles the life of Hattie Shepherd, a young woman who migrates from the South to Philadelphia, and the lives of her children. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie was originally scheduled for release this month, but when the book was selected for Oprah’s Book Club the publisher moved the date up to early December. The novel is receiving rave reviews, even from the hard-to-please New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani, who compared Mathis’ work to that of Toni Morrison and Louise Erdrich.

Tenth of December: Stories
by George Saunders 
George Saunders is a writer of satirical fiction and essays who is perennially compared to Kurt Vonnegut and Mark Twain. Six of the stories in this collection have appeared in The New Yorker, and the title story was included in The Best American Short Stories 2012 and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012Booklist calls the stories in Tenth of December “unpredictable, stealthily funny, and complexly affecting” and Publishers Weekly posits that “behind Saunders's comic talents, he might be the most compassionate writer working today.”

Habits of the House
by Fay Weldon 
Habits of the House is aimed squarely at Downton Abbey fans. The novel is the first in a planned trilogy following the domestic dramas of a titled family and their household in Edwardian England. Weldon wrote the pilot for the original Upstairs Downstairs series, so she is uniquely qualified to tell this type of story.

Truth in Advertising
by John Kenney
This debut by New Yorker contributor Kenney centers around a disillusioned ad writer who learns that his abusive father is dying; he decides to reconnect with his estranged family while juggling the daunting work assignment of creating a smash Super Bowl commercial for a brand of eco-friendly diapers. Booklist calls it a “masterful blend of wit and seriousness, stunning in its honesty” and reviewers recommend it for fans of Nick Hornby and Jonathan Tropper.

A Deeper Love Inside
by Sister Souljah
A Deeper Love Inside is a raw, gritty tale that continues the story that began with The Coldest Winter Ever. The novel follows the trials of the Winter’s younger sister, Porsche Santiaga. Following the incarceration of her parents, Porsche lands in a group home and is ultimately incarcerated herself. Readers of urban fiction have been waiting for this one for years. (Unfamiliar with urban fiction? Read this.)

Umbrella 
by Will Self
The U.S. release of this novel has been anticipated by American readers since it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in September. Self’s latest takes place in a mental institution in 1970’s England, where a doctor tries to revive a catatonic patient whose life story unfolds in the process. Kirkus Reviews calls Umbrella “brainy and outlandish” and says it is “uncompromising and relentless in the demands it makes upon the reader, yet there's a lyrical, rhapsodic element that continually pulls one into and through the narrative.”

A Memory of Light
by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
A Memory of Light is the concluding 14th volume in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time epic fantasy series, famous for complex plots and numerous characters. The Wheel of Time books have achieved both popular and critical success: many volumes have reached number one on the New York Times Bestseller List, and the series has been compared to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. Jordan passed away in 2007, and the final volumes have resulted from a collaborative effort by Brandon Sanderson and the late author’s widow, using material Jordan left for that purpose. Fans will be thrilled that the wait for the final volume is over! If you’re new to this series, it starts with 1990’s The Eye of the World (although there is also a prequel, New Spring, from 2004).

The Last Runaway
by Tracy Chevalier
Historical Novelist Chevalier, best known for The Girl with the Pearl Earring, has a new novel that follows the mid-19th century life of an English Quaker girl who escapes a broken engagement by fleeing to Ohio, where she becomes involved with the Underground Railroad. Publishers Weekly calls it a “thought-provoking, lyrical novel” and Library Journal gives it a starred review.

The Illicit Happiness of Other People
by Manu Joseph
Set in early 1990s Madras, India, a reporter obsessively investigates the suicidal death of his teenage son, searching for clues among his child’s unfinished artworks and comics and interrogating his friends. Kirkus Reviews praises Joseph’s “extraordinary wit, cunning and sympathy about both family relationships and ultimate mysteries.” His debut novel, Serious Men, was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Award and was on the Huffington Post’s list of 10 Best Books of 2010.

The Miniature Wife: And Other Stories 
by Gonzales, Manuel
Gonzales offers a debut collection of short stories that infuse the mundane with fantastic and bizarre elements that are “rife with ingenuity and beholden to few rules” (Kirkus Reviews). Publishers Weekly gave the collection a starred review, saying that “with commendable skill, Gonzales seamlessly blends the real and the fantastic, resulting in a fun and provocative collection that readers will want to devour.” Read or listen to a preview here.

Are you looking forward to an upcoming new release? Tell us about it!

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