Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!

Today’s pick is an absolutely delightful fake dating romance.

Book cover of While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory

This book takes place in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it starts with our hero, Ben Stephens, who is running late to work. Ben works for an ad agency, and they have a major project pitch to give to a tech company. He did a lot of work on the project and knows it backwards and forwards; however, this doesn’t really matter because Ben knows his bosses and the rest of the team will do the presentation and take the glory while Ben, the only Black person, will be present to show how “diverse” their team is. At least, that’s how it normally goes, and that is what Ben is expecting. The universe has other ideas, and he gets a call from the rest of his team, who are stuck in L.A., which is an hour flight but a good six-hour drive from where they need to be, so Ben is going to have to give the presentation alone.

He arrives at the company, about to start his presentation when the most beautiful woman he has ever seen walks in the door to the conference room. This woman is Oscar-nominated actress Anna Gardiner, and she is the talent for this ad campaign. No one expected her to show up to the pitch meetings, and she was counting on that. Of course, she was charmed by Ben, and he got the contract. At Anna’s request, he also oversaw the entire project, and they spent a lot of time together on set.

During one of the shoots, Anna gets a call. Her parents are down near Palm Springs on a trip, and her father has to get rushed to the hospital. Unbeknownst to everyone, Anna deals with severe anxiety. She knew it would be ridiculous to rush down to Southern California to check on her dad when it was likely just dehydration, but she really started to freak out a bit. She called her assistant to get her a flight, but there were none that could work with the schedule. Ben notices Anna’s barely controlled freakout; one thing leads to another, and there is suddenly an impromptu road trip to Palm Springs.

The attraction between the two of them is palpable, and they don’t even try to hide their flirting and chemistry. They get to Palm Springs, but the hotel they get to only has a single room. They keep their physical fun a secret, but Simon, Anna’s manager, catches on. Simon’s not mad; he actually thinks it’s good for Anna’s image, and Ben agrees to no strings and only fun, just how they both want it (this is totally not sustainable).

This book was so incredibly steamy while also being incredibly hilarious.

It’s happening, readers — we’re bringing paperbacks! Whether you (or a reader you know and love) hate carrying around bulky hardcovers, you’re on a budget, you want a wider range of recommendations or all of the above, you can now get a paperback subscription from TBR, curated just for you by one of our Bibliologists. The holidays are here, and we’ve got three different levels for gifting (to yourself or others) to suit every budget. Get all the details at

That’s it for now, book-lovers!


Find me on Book Riot, the All the Books podcast, Bluesky, and Instagram.

Find more books by subscribing to Book Riot Newsletters.

What's Up in YA

These Hotels Don’t Let You Check Out: YA Book Talk and New Books, December 4, 2023

Hey YA Readers!

As we are barreling down to the final weeks of the year, I hope you are finding comfort and joy in some kind of ritual. For many of us, that’s reading, of course. One that I partake in is enjoying a midday hot chocolate–in those sometimes draggy hours of the day, it’s nice to have something to look forward to.

Another little ritual? Looking ahead to the books hitting shelves. For real. I love a good catalog perusal and filling up my ereader and my shelves with upcoming books. Even amid a reading slump, it’s nice having a huge array of options.

And speaking of having reading options—TBR now has paperbacks! Whether you (or a reader you know and love) hate carrying around bulky hardcovers, you’re on a budget, you want a wider range of recommendations or all of the above, you can now get a paperback subscription from TBR, curated just for you by one of our Bibliologists. The holidays are here, and we’ve got three different levels for gifting (to yourself or others) to suit every budget. Get all the details at

Bookish Goods

bookworm bracelet

Bookworm Friendship Bracelet by TheBookishWitchery

Have you been all in on the friendship bracelets this year? It doesn’t matter if your interest came from Taylor Swift or from simply seeing them everywhere, what a fun little accessory. It counters so much of the specific beige-y aesthetics that have dominated so much social media for years.

Anyway, here’s a bookish take on the friendship bracelet. It’d be perfect for a gift or for you to give yourself. $5.50.

New Releases

It is an interesting week for new releases in YA world. Many of the new books hitting shelves are continuations of series, so highlighting them below would feel weird with spoilers, but it also feels wrong not to mention several series continuations released this week. Let’s do it rapid style, then. First, here’s the whole list of new releases today. Second, the following continuations of series hit shelves in hardcover:

And now, two standalones for your TBR this week, including one that is a dual paperback/hardcover release. We’ll be seeing this happen more in the coming year, which is an interesting trend.

caught in a bad fauxmance book cover

Caught in a Bad Fauxmance by Elle Gonzalez Rose

Devin Baez has been looking forward to winter break at his family’s cabin in Lake Andreas. But then he runs into the neighbors, the Seo-Cookes, who have been dominating in the local winter games for years. The families decide to amp things up this year with a bet: the Baez family offers up their cabin as a prize if the Seo-Cookes win again this year.

Julian Seo-Cooke needs a fake boyfriend, and Devin agrees. He sees it as a chance to score some secrets and win the games this year.

But as much as Julian and Devin are supposed to be hating each other…there might be more complicated feelings involved.

This book will be available in hardcover and paperback at the same time.

every time you go away book cover

Every Time You Go Away by Abigail Johnson

When they were younger, Ethan and Rebecca met and became quick friends. They shared secrets and kisses until Ethan’s mom took him away. He’s able to visit periodically, and when he does, he leaves a flower on Rebecca’s windowsill.

Four years later, Ethan is gone for good. He’s now responsible for taking care of his mom, who struggles with substance use.

Two years ago, Rebecca and her father were in a terrible car accident that left him dead. She became a wheelchair user.

Now, Ethan and Rebecca are reconnecting. But can they find common ground in their grief and trauma? Or are they forever pulled apart?

Hotel Stories

I keep a list of topics I want to write about in the newsletter and too often, I end up not using it because I’ve got a different idea in mind when I actually sit down to write. This week, I kept coming up empty on ideas–I don’t want to hit you over the head with holiday reads, in part because I did that last year and in part because I know how much *I* like something that is not holiday-focused this time of the year. So I pulled up the handy list.

Several YA books over the last few years have taken place at a hotel or motel. Among them are Sabaa Tahir’s huge hit All My Rage, Where The Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass, Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young, and others. I wanted to pull out two more titles, both of which are recentish, where the story is set primarily in or at a hotel/motel but with a little twist–what if you couldn’t escape the hotel? What if the magic of the space happened because of the humans trapped inside?

hotel magnifique book cover

Hotel Magnifique by Emily Taylor

This book is a little bit of a twist on The Night Circus and follows Jani, who is resigned to her boring life in a small port town taking care of her younger sister. But then Hotel Magnifique comes to town. It’s known for being whimsical and magical, as well as for its ability to appear in a new place every morning. Jani and her sister cannot afford to go stay at the hotel, so they do the next best thing: interview to work at the hotel.

All seems well enough once they’re inside. Then Jani discovers that they cannot get out of their work contracts and now, they’re stuck inside. It does not take long before the magic of Hotel Magnifique begins to wear off and the place shares its much darker underbelly. With her little sister in trouble, Jani needs to build an alliance with a good-looking doorman to save her–and to save them all from a future stuck inside a place that is nothing that it seems to be.

midnight at the houdini book cover

Midnight at the Houdini by Delilah S. Dawson

Anna has always stayed in the background, letting big sister Emily have the spotlight. But when Emily gets married and announces that she’ll be moving away, Anna is shattered. Angry, sad, and devastated, Anna rushes out of the wedding reception and makes her way to The Houdini, a hotel she has never seen before.

Immediately, Anna is taken by the hotel and its luxury…and the cute boy named Max who has lived inside the hotel his entire life. What Anna doesn’t know is that once the clock hits midnight, she’ll be stuck inside forever, too. Can she break through the magical spell the hotel has cast upon her and leave Max behind in order to get out? Or will she become the next Max herself?

As always, thanks for hanging out. We’ll see you later this week for some YA paperback releases and YA book news.

Until then, happy reading–and happy hot chocolate sipping, too.

–Kelly Jensen

Kissing Books

Hello Again December

Greetings and salutations! Welcome, or welcome back, to the Kissing Books newsletter. I’m PN Hinton, here to give you the rundown on the world of romance, including new releases, recommendations, and other entertaining ways to pass your time.

Well December is here, and with it the last month of 2023. I know that a lot of people really look forward to this time of the year. Soon we will be in a new year and *almost* halfway through the current decade, which is just…wow. Hard to believe. Instead of focusing too hard on that, though, I’m going to try to make the best of this season, even though I’m already beyond exhausted.

Before we get into the picks — the holidays have arrived, and so has our new paperback level at TBR! If you (or a reader you know) are just over-carrying around bulky hardcovers or are looking for a more budget-friendly option, we’ve got you. Check out all the offerings at, and give personalized reading recommendations customized for any and every reader.

Bookish Goods

picture of gingerbread bookstore sticker

Gingerbread Bookstore Sticker by BlissfullyBookedCo

This adorable sticker seems like the perfect way to kick off December. Even though I feel gingerbread is an acquired taste that I do not share, I know that this cookie in all its various forms tend to go hand in hand with the holiday season. $4

New Releases

cover of Technically Yours

Technically Yours by Denise Williams

When a scandal threatens the reputation of OurCode, a nonprofit coding program aimed at high schoolers, Pearl will do anything to help salvage it, including working with Cord, the man whose heart she broke eight years earlier. When they reunite to help OurCode, the sparks are still there, but both know that it would not be a good idea to entertain them. However, it soon becomes apparent that they cannot ignore their feelings and have to determine the best way to balance it all.

cover of The Toy Runners

The Toy Runners by Adriana Herrera

This steamy anthology, comprised of three novellas previously released by Herrera, includes a Sapphic Santa pairing, an arranged marriage where the soon-to-be bride has eyes for the brother of the groom, and a bodyguard grumpy/sunshine pairing. This collection is the perfect way to kick off the holidays!

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

I’m taking a semi-break from the petty train today and will be recommending holiday romance books. Now, to be fair, both of these were released in 2023 (one just in the last few weeks) so I suppose it could still be considered a jab.

But the second one listed was just released, so I would think it was too new to be considered for a nomination. And the first one mentioned is an inspirational one, which means that it is an “off the pages” romance, and we all know that those almost never appear on the list. Which is an entirely different conversation I don’t have the spoons or word space for.


cover of You Make it Feel Like Christmas

You Make it Feel Like Christmas by Toni Shiloh

Between being single, unemployed, and having to witness her sister get married to her ex-boyfriend, the holidays are not looking so holly-jolly for Starr. Then she discovers that Waylon, her brother’s BFF, will also be in attendance and things start to look up. And since she’s helping him make over his deceased mother’s shop, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the spark between them. Will it be enough to convince her to stay, or will she decide to go back to the big city?

cover of Hook-up to Holidate

Hook-Up to Holidate by Priscilla Rose

When Indigo and Vega first met at the bar, they were both just looking for a fling to blow off some steam from the respective stressors in their lives. Things get completed when they discover that Vega is Indigo’s new boss, and then even more so when Indigo asks Vega to be her fake date for her family’s holiday get-together. As they spend more time together, though, they soon discover that they both want something more than a temporary affair.

Design a romantic holiday movie and get a treat to eat. Y’all, some of these options are unhinged! I freely admit to going through and picking darker ones before creating a more traditionally sweet movie.

And that’s all I have for y’all for today. I’ll be back in your inboxes on Thursday with another newsletter and in the meantime you can find me still over on the bird app under @PScribe801. Until then, happy reading and stay hydrated.

Book Radar

John Green and Jodi Picoult Sue Iowa Over Book-Banning Law and More Book Radar!

Hi Book Friends!

Welcome to another Book Radar Monday! I hope you had a lovely weekend. I cannot tell you how RELIEVED I am that November is behind us and that we’re on to December. I’m ready for the holiday vibes. My Christmas tree is up. Let’s do this.

(Speaking of the holidays! Are you looking for the perfect gift for that bookish special someone in your life this holiday season? Tailored Book Recommendations is here to help! We’ve got three levels — recs-only, paperback, and hardcover — and you can gift a full year or one time, so there are options for every budget! Get all the details at

Book Deals and Reveals

the sunlit man book cover

Brandon Sanderson has a new standalone novel coming in March, and here is the cover reveal! You can preorder The Sunlit Man now.

Penguin Random House and several bestselling authors, including novelists John Green and Jodi Picoult, are part of a lawsuit challenging Iowa’s new book banning law that prohibits libraries and classrooms from having practically any book that depicts sexual activity.

Marcela Fuentes’ debut novel Malas is coming out on June 4, and ahead of its release, we’re getting a cover reveal. The author describes the novel as “a story of passion and revenge, the kinship between two women living on the Texas Mexico border, and a curse that reverberates across generations.”

Here’s another exciting cover reveal for an upcoming debut novel. Lauren Ling Brown’s Society of Lies will be published by Bantam on August 13.

Another debut? Here’s the cover of Jenna Satterthwaite’s Made For You, designed by Elita Sidiropoulou. It’s out from Mira on July 2.

Entertainment Weekly has shared the cover of Kristy Greenwood’s The Love of My Afterlife, a romance novel that explores the possibility of finding love after death. It’s out on June 3!

AudioFIle has released its 53-title list of the best audiobooks of 2023, which are spread out across 9 categories.

A list of the best-selling indie books of 2023 has been released by It includes everything from self-help to monster romance.

Book Riot Recommends

Hi, welcome to everyone’s favorite segment of Book Radar called Book Riot Recommends. This is where I’ll talk to you about all the books I’m reading, the books I’m loving, and the books I can’t wait to read and love in the near future. I think you’re going to love them too!

Prepare Your Shelves!

airplane mode book cover

Airplane Mode by Shahnaz Habib (Catapult, December 5)

As you get ready to hop on a plane and travel over the holidays, make sure you pick up a copy of this book. It’s out tomorrow, so don’t even worry about preparing your shelves. Just put this one straight into your carry-on bag.

Airplane Mode is a collection of essays by Indian author and translator Shahnaz Habib. These travel essays explore the history and implications of travel from the perspective of a woman of color raised in a developing country. Through these essays, Habib explores the question, “what does it mean to be a joyous traveler when we live in the ruins of colonialism, capitalism and climate change?” Habib’s essays cover everything from passports to Western consumerism to guidebooks to the concept of wanderlust itself. Airplane Mode is at once curious, optimistic, humorous, and analytical, and it’s the perfect nonfiction read to round out your TBR list at the end of the year.

What I’m Reading This Week

a winter in new york book cover

A Winter in New York by Josie Silver

The Only One Left by Riley Sagar

Making it So by Patrick Stewart

This Spells Love by Kate Robb

Codename: Sailor V by Naoko Takeuchi

Lone Women by Victor LaValle

The Christmas Orphans Club by Becca Freeman

Bookish Memes

Where are my What We Do in the Shadows fans? I absolutely loved this Instagram reel “Books as What We Do in the Shadows quotes.” I have watched it several (and I mean several) times.

And Here’s A Cat Picture!

tuxedo cat in a cat tree

Here’s a cute lil sleepy boy in a cat tree. Look at his little white whiskers! He’s actually meowing at me right now, and I think he’s saying “Tell your Book Radar friends to have a happy Monday.” Thanks, Remy!

So yeah! Go have a happy Monday, and we’ll talk on Thursday, yes?


The Fright Stuff

New Beginnings are Always Scary, Especially in Horror Novels

Hi horror fans! It’s me, Emily, your friend in all things frightful. It’s finally December, which is pretty much my second favorite month after October. What, a horror girlie who loves the holidays? Yes, ma’am, that is me.

(Speaking of holidays! We have a new paperback level at TBR. If you (or a reader you know) are just over-carrying around bulky hardcovers or are looking for a more budget-friendly option, we’ve got you. Check out all the offerings at, and give personalized reading recommendations customized for any and every reader.)

But more than Christmas, do you know what I love? New Year’s Eve.

Apparently this is weird, but New Year’s Eve is right up there with Halloween for me. Like Halloween, NYE is a chance to get dressed up and have fun without all the familial pressures. And on top of that, I love how optimistic NYE is. It’s about fresh starts and looking to a new year with a fresh perspective. So in honor of my favorite holiday coming up in just a few more weeks, we’re going to look at some horror that’s also about fresh starts today. Are you with me?

Bookish Goods

scaredy cats calendar

Scaredy Cats Calendar by BeccabyHandStudio

Speaking of the new year, it’s time for a new calendar. And I love this one because it brings together my two loves: cats and horror. This 12-month calendar includes 12 original hand-painted horror cat images, including The Bride of Chewy, Dracuclaw, Friday The Purrteenth, The Exorhiss, Krampuss, and more! The calendar is 12×18″ and includes a small hole for hanging. $25.

New Releases

cover image for Perfect Little Lives

Perfect Little Lives by Amber and Danielle Brown

This horror/thriller follows Simone, whose mother was murdered when she was only 13. Her father was convicted of the crime, and Simone’s life was turned upside down. Ten years later, Simone is trying to move on with her life. She makes a living writing book reviews and is starting to get involved in a serious relationship. But she still believes in her father’s innocence, and when her childhood next-door neighbor Hunter approaches her with new information — that Hunter’s father was having an affair with Simone’s mother — Simone becomes convinced Hunter’s father is to blame for her mother’s death.

the folly book cover

The Folly by Gemma Amor

Gothic horror fans, take note: this one is for you. And it’s another one about a father wrongfully(?) convicted. Morgan knows that her father didn’t murder her mother, so when he is finally released from prison, Morgan is overjoyed. Looking for a fresh start (this is going to be a theme this week), Morgan and her father become caretakers at a castle on the Cornish coastline known only as “The Folly.” But their peaceful existence is quickly destroyed by a new visitor: a woman who looks, acts, and speaks exactly like Morgan’s mother.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

The Spite House cover

The Spite House by Johnny Compton

New beginnings are always scary, and that’s why a family looking for a fresh start is a pretty standard trope for horror fiction. Here are a couple of novels that do it well. Eric Ross is looking for a fresh start after a family trauma sent him on the run with his two daughters. Unsure of where to turn and desperate to find a job, Eric feels like his prayers are answered when he sees a position advertised for a caretaker of the Masson House. The Masson House is notoriously haunted, but this only draws Eric to the house more. His family has their own ties with the supernatural, and Eric is looking for answers.

White Smoke cover image

White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

You’ll probably see me recommend this book a lot because I love it so much, so listen up and read it! You won’t regret it! Marigold’s family moves to a new place in a new town in the hopes of starting over (seeing a pattern here?). At first, when Marigold and her family move to the picture-perfect house on Maple Street, it seems too good to be true. But Marigold can’t help but overhear the whispers about her neighborhood at her new school. And then there’s the house itself, where things keep disappearing, and the family feels strange presences watching them around every corner.

Happy December! Thanks so much for tuning in, and I can’t wait to share more horror with you next week. Same time, same place? In the meantime, you can follow me (and message me) on Instagram at emandhercat. Sweet dreams, horror fans!

The Kids Are All Right

Christmas, Dinosaurs, And More!

Happy Sunday, kidlit friends! We went to our first Scholastic book fair last night. My daughter was so excited and looked forward to it all week, though she had a bit of a disappointment over the cash registers not working and being unable to bring the books home. I’m writing this on a Wednesday, and she will bring the books home from school today after I paid online. Attending the fair definitely made me think back to my childhood of going to the books fairs, and how excited I always was. I don’t always agree with the decisions Scholastic makes — like separating out diverse books for the fairs (which they have now discontinued) — but I am happy to support authors and schools by buying books, and I loved seeing the joy on all the children’s faces. The fair was packed with kids!

This week, I review children’s Christmas books and two new releases.

The holidays have arrived, and so has our new paperback level at TBR! If you (or a reader you know) are just over-carrying around bulky hardcovers or are looking for a more budget-friendly option, we’ve got you. Check out all the offerings at, and give personalized reading recommendations customized for any and every reader.

Bookish Goods

Children's Christmas Ornament by Island Boho Designs

Children’s Christmas Ornament by IslandBohoDesigns

This is such an adorable woodland-themed Christmas ornament. $30

New Releases

Cover of The Bone Wars by Kurtz

The Bone Wars by Jane Kurtz, illustrated by Alexander Vidal

This picture book relates the dinosaur bone wars waged between two scientists in the 1800s: O.C. Marsh and Edward Cope. Initially, the two scientists were friends and went on fossil digs together, but when Marsh pointed out a mistake Cope had made in fitting dinosaur bones together, the two began competing against each other instead of working together. They would send spies to one another’s digs and even resorted to blowing up bones so the other couldn’t find them. This is an entertaining and fascinating glimpse into their rivalry.

Cover of Tagging Freedom by Roumani

Tagging Freedom by Rhonda Roumani

This middle grade novel is set in 2011. Kareem is a graffiti protest artist in Syria, but when the protests start getting dangerous, his parents send him to the U.S. to live with his cousin Sam in Massachusetts. Sam and Kareem were close when they were younger, but they have trouble connecting now, and when the popular girls at school dismiss Kareem, Sam distances herself from him even more. This is a fantastic middle grade novel about art, resistance, and friendship.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

It’s the Christmas season, so I wanted to share my favorite new Christmas children’s books.

Cover of Merry and Hark by Tucholke

Merry And Hark: A Christmas Story by April Genevieve Tucholke, illustrated by Rebecca Santo

In this beautifully illustrated picture book, a saw-whet owl named Merry makes her home in a Norway Spruce named Hark. She loves hearing stories of adventure and travel from the great gray owl Sebastian. Merry has a frightening adventure of her own when Hark is cut down while Merry is still in it and the two leave their forest home and go to the city, where Hark becomes the city’s Christmas tree. Merry is frightened and hungry in the city, but then a human finds and rescues her. This is a magical picture book.

Cover of Lullaby for the King by Grimes

Lullaby for the King by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Michelle Carlos

This is another gorgeously illustrated Christmas picture book, this one depicting the Christian Christmas story of Jesus’s birth. It depicts a caravan of creatures making their way to Bethlehem to honor the baby. The animals bring gifts with them, like a stork cradling wildflowers, an antelope with myrrh, a raven with a ruby ring, and more. When they arrive, the baby Jesus gurgles at them. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are all portrayed as brown-skinned.

Cover of The Christmas Songbook by Adele

The Christmas Songbook by Amy Adele

This is my daughter’s personal favorite new Christmas book. It’s an adorable soundbook featuring a mouse family. Each page spread depicts a Christmas scene and the sheet music to a Christmas song. It opens with the mouse family on a street decorated for Christmas listening to carolers. The accompanying song is “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Children can press the button and hear the song. Other songs include “Joy to the World,” “Deck the Halls,” and more. It’s a blast!

Cover of Merry Christmas, Anna Hibiscus! by Atinuke

Merry Christmas, Anna Hibiscus! by Atinuke, illustrated by Lauren Tobia

I adore the Anna Hibiscus chapter book series. In this one, Anna Hibiscus leaves her home in Nigeria to visit her grandmother in Canada. It’s a huge change for Anna. Of course the weather is very different, but she’s also nervous about Granny Canada’s dog because dogs are not pets in Nigeria. She loves playing in the snow and tries to make friends with the other nearby kids. At first, the kids shun her, but they eventually come around. This can be read as a stand alone, without having read the previous books in the series.

Letter to Grandma, The Kids Are All Right

My daughter made my mom cry by writing this Christmas letter to her at school. I especially like the smiley face with heart eyes that gets its own exclamation point (or an “excited i” as my daughter calls it) in the middle.

If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is

All the best,

Margaret Kingsbury

Bookish Goods

Bookish Good of the Week: December 3, 2023

Cozy Holiday Ghost Reading

Cozy Holiday Ghost Reading Sticker by ArtisanStickerCo

This little ghost sticker is perfectly seasonal and cute. $4



We’re giving away three audio book bundles from Dreamscape Media to three lucky Riot readers!

Enter here for a chance to win, or click the image below!

From a sapphic rom-com perfect for fans of Alison Cochrun to a culinary cozy mystery, celebrate the festive holiday season with some new audiobooks from Dreamscape Media! Enter for a chance to win Sugar Plum PoisonedStalking Around the Christmas TreeA Merry Montgomery Christmas, and The Christmas Swap.

Check Your Shelf

When Is a Book Ban Not a Book Ban?

Welcome to Check Your Shelf. We’ve got snow on the ground in Chicago land. It’s less than an inch, and a lot of it melted today, but the cold weather is definitely here, and no one’s happy about it.

Are you looking for the perfect gift for that bookish special someone in your life this holiday season? Tailored Book Recommendations is here to help! Here at TBR, we pair our customers with a professional book nerd (aka bibliologist) who just gets them. They fill out a survey and then sit back and relax as we pick books just for them. We’ve got three levels — recs-only, paperback, and hardcover — and you can gift a full year or one time, so there are options for every budget! Get all the details at

Libraries & Librarians

News Updates

Partisan bickering amongst Pennsylvania legislators has led to a delay in already-approved funds for public libraries.

The New York Public Library is facing significant graffiti cleanup costs following several weeks of protests in the city.

A new bylaw will allow some Montreal libraries to fine and remove patrons with poor personal hygiene. “People will be fined between $350 and $1,000 for a first offense, $2,000 for a second offense, and $3,000 for subsequent violations.” This is absolutely horrendous.

Gaza authorities say that the Gaza Public Library has been destroyed by Israeli strikes.

Cool Library Updates

The Houston Public Library has launched a self-service book kiosk at Hobby Airport.

Book Adaptations in the News

Talia Hibbert’s Ravenwood series has been optioned for TV.

Paul Greengrass is adapting and directing TJ Newman’s Drowning: The Rescue Of Flight 1421 for Warner Brothers.

Censorship News

When is a book ban not a book ban? The rebrand of a national pastime.

Most parents rank librarians as trustworthy in the latest survey from Book Riot and the EveryLibrary Institute.

What is SkyTree Book Fairs? A “new” Scholastic competitor.

In the battle over books, who gets to decide what’s “age-appropriate” in libraries? Who indeed…

Moms for Liberty reported more than $2 million in revenue in 2022.

Across the US, Catholic groups are often behind LGBTQ book banning efforts.

PEN America joins 16 other organizations in filing an amicus brief over the Texas READER Act.

(May be paywalled): Conroe ISD (TX) is modeling its book policy after the controversial policy approved by Katy ISD.

More out of Conroe ISD, and this one is bonkers: This “mystery” 20-year-old woman spoke at a recent board meeting about how her exposure to a “single kiss” in a Scholastic book led to a debilitating addiction to porn, which she cited as a reason for the district to ban Drama, get rid of Scholastic books, and end their participation in the Scholastic book fairs. Turns out that this woman is an employee of Brave Books, which, if you read the previous link about SkyTree Book Fairs, you’d know that there is a strong connection between the two, so there’s a very obvious monetary motivation here to push the district away from Scholastic.

The Alachua County School District (FL) has removed Gender Queer from library shelves, despite questions about the complaint’s validity — there are some who believe that the woman who submitted the challenge is not a legal resident of the county.

Hernando County School Board (FL) removed three of the six books that were recently challenged. They are keeping And Tango Makes Three, The Family Book, and Julian Is a Mermaid, and removing Thirteen Reasons Why, The Handmaid’s Tale, and This Day in June.

Pasco County (FL) residents are demanding that the schools sever ties with the American Library Association because the affiliation goes against their Christian beliefs.

The Rockwell Public Library (NY) has been closed since September when the director and all but one staff member resigned simultaneously in response to public harassment over a drag queen story hour. Three other board members quit, which left the board without a quorum and unable to function. At the board’s most recent meeting, the Sheriff had to be called after the meeting turned violent and punches were thrown.

Heartstopper is being challenged in front of the Ocean City School Board (NJ) because it was available for purchase at a school book fair.

The Fluvana County High School (VA) received two dozen book challenges from a would-be school board candidate back in October, and they’ve finally begun the review process. The problem is that these books were removed from the shelves shortly after receiving the challenges, meaning they’ve been out of circulation for over a month.

Spotsylvania School District (VA) has decided to use Kirk Cameron’s new book fair.

Here is the full 75-title list of books removed by the Hanover School District (VA) — paywall broken courtesy of Kelly Jensen.

What happened after the Yancey County Public Library (NC) put up a Pride display in June. (I’ll summarize — most of the initial comments they got were supportive, but a few bigoted residents and politicians got involved and raised an enormous stink.)

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools’s (NC) superintendent has decided to ban Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) despite the review committee’s decision to keep it. Why even bother having a review committee if you’re just going to override their decisions?

Catawba County Schools (NC) are requiring students to have parental permission in order to borrow Lolita or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Despite parents’ efforts to get Flamer returned to school library shelves, the Marietta School District (GA) has permanently banned the book

“More than 11,000 Pulaski County (AR) students are unable to access online educational materials through their local public library as a legal precaution, according to school district administrators, in light of the statewide debate over what content children should be able to access in libraries.”

Former Arkansas Senator Jason Rapert has been appointed to the state’s library board by Sarah Huckabee-Sanders. The article doesn’t give much information about his thoughts regarding library policy and governance, but if he was appointed by Huckabee-Sanders, then I think that gives all of us an idea of what he’ll be in favor of.

Conservative issues stall after backlash in St. Charles County (MO), including a proposal to remove a requirement for diverse materials and classroom libraries in the Wentzville School District.

Meanwhile, in St. Charles County, “an internal review committee has determined that the controversial book Bang Like a Porn Star: Sex Tips From the Pros should be removed from the St. Charles City-County Library system — just not right away.” They’re waiting until the holds list clears out. The library CEO said that the book was purchased because “‘it was the only item readily available at the time about sexuality and sexual health for gay men.’” Also worth noting that this book was purchased five years ago, but the controversy is only showing up now.

“New restrictions could be coming to the Rutherford County Library System [TN]. County officials are looking to pass stricter rules on funds provided to their local libraries, along with an age-restrictive checkout policy. The new policy debate comes as the county and city of Murfreesboro have been embroiled in controversy and legal wrangling over what constitutes community decency.”

Maryville High School (TN) will retain The Perks of Being a Wallflower, even after the decision to keep the book was appealed.

The right-wing group “Save My America” is fighting to remove Making a Baby from the children’s section at the Pickaway County Public Library (OH).

The Hamilton East Public Library (IN) has thankfully agreed to end their book review and relocation policy after wasting an inordinate amount of staff time and tax dollars.

A proposed Republican bill in Wisconsin would require libraries to notify parents about the books their kids check out.

A Menomonee Falls School Board (WI) member doesn’t believe the district followed its own book banning policy, and she wants all 33 books put back on the shelves.

This newspaper’s editorial board published a piece criticizing the Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial School District’s (MN) practice of removing challenged books from library shelves before they’ve undergone an official review.

Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Iowa have filed a federal lawsuit to block key provisions of the state’s recent book banning legislation.

Oklahoma Moms for Liberty are continuing to challenge elementary school textbooks — now they claim that the math textbooks contain inappropriate “social-emotional learning concepts.”

Garfield County (CO) commissioners suggest that the library’s refusal to ban books could have consequences. Know what that sounds like? Intimidation and fascism.

A Billings (MT) parent is criticizing the school district for having Assassination Classroom on the library shelves.

The Community Library Network in Idaho discussed a policy modification that would allow the library to evaluate books “in part” rather than in their entirety, which goes against all professional and legal standards for evaluating materials for content. This will give book banners free rein to continue cherry-picking passages from books they don’t like as evidence for why these books should be banned.

The Chino Valley School District (CA) has enacted a book-banning policy that would allow books and teaching materials to be pulled due to “‘sexually obscene’ content, or even political material.”

A quirk in Washington state law may give the Liberty Lake City Council an opportunity to try and have city trustees take over library governance again after the proposal was defeated earlier.

Tracking banned books in Canada.

Books & Authors in the News

A 2017 state law in Arkansas requires academics and writers to sign a pledge that they will not participate in anti-Israel boycotts in order to receive a speaker’s fee for their presentations and engagements. Author Nathan Thrall recently refused.

A group of nonfiction authors have filed a lawsuit against Microsoft and OpenAI for copyright infringement.

Numbers & Trends

The best-selling books of the week.

The best-selling indie books of the year.

Almost one million children in the UK don’t own a book.

Award News

The 2023 Booker Prize winner has been announced.

Related: A Booker judge admits that it’s nearly impossible to read ALL the books.

1700 Canadian writers are asking the Scotiabank Giller Prize to drop charges against a group of pro-Palestinian protestors who disrupted the recent awards ceremony.

Bookish Curiosities & Miscellaneous

In the age of AI, Merriam-Webster’s word of the year is “authentic.”

Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange, was also a composer, and now a newly-discovered string quartet composition from Burgess will have a premiere.

On the Riot

10 reading volunteer opportunities.

What to do when you hate your own book club pick.

How to cure a reading slump.

A beginner’s guide to Tolkien studies and commentary.

A dive into pop culture cookbooks.

two black cats laying back-to-back on an unmade bed

Nothing but brotherly love in the Horner household! Look at these snurgly boys!!

Okay, friends. I’m going to grab a warm pair of slippers and hiss at the freezing temperatures outside. I hope you have warmer weather or at least can tolerate cold weather better than me. See you on Tuesday!

—Katie McLain Horner, @kt_librarylady on Twitter.

True Story

Backlist Award Winners for Your TBR

We’re wrapping up the fall book season with so many incredible new books on the shelf. Plus, It’s been a wild award season this year. It seems like every other day, there’s a new winner or new “best books of the year” list. My TBR keeps growing and growing! Isn’t that the best kind of problem to have? So, this week, I’m talking about two previous award winners that I enjoyed reading this year. But first, new books!

Are you looking for the perfect gift for that bookish special someone in your life this holiday season? Tailored Book Recommendations is here to help! Here at TBR, we pair our customers with a professional book nerd (aka bibliologist) who just gets them. They fill out a survey and then sit back and relax as we pick books just for them. We’ve got three levels — recs-only, paperback, and hardcover — and you can gift a full year or one time, so there are options for every budget! Get all the details at

Bookish Goods

a photo of a custom of a row of books on a clear ornament

Personalized Christmas Book Club Ornament by TonyshopArts

This is the perfect gift for folks in your book club! I love that this is such a personal touch to a holiday gift. $20

New Releases

a graphic of the cover of Airplane Mode: An Irreverent History of Travel by Shahnaz Habib

Airplane Mode: An Irreverent History of Travel by Shahnaz Habib

Shahnaz Habib writes about how traveling — how easy it is, where you can go, for how long — is often determined by the color of your passport and the color of your skin. Habib describes how traveling as a woman of color has changed her perspective on travel, inspiring her to research and write more on the topic.

a graphic of the cover of Into Siberia: George Kennan's Epic Journey Through the Brutal, Frozen Heart of Russia by Gregory J. Wallance

Into Siberia: George Kennan’s Epic Journey Through the Brutal, Frozen Heart of Russia by Gregory J. Wallance

George J. Wallance details the system that Russia used to send people into exile, often without much proof of wrongdoing. In the late 19th century, George Kennan went to Siberia to investigate Siberia, changing the diplomatic relationship between Russia and the USA forever.

Looking for more new releases? Check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

a graphic of the cover of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek won the Pulitzer Prize back in 1975. Dillard, a master prose stylist, describes her life at Tinker Creek. She chronicles the changing of the seasons and shares the comings and goings of the other living creatures around her. There’s just something beautiful about the calm her writing creates. I love her ability to see the tiniest things and communicate their vast importance to the reader. She has an obsession with parasites and the way they exist in the world. Admittedly, I don’t share this fascination, but I respect the way she loves them.

a graphic of the cover of The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broome

The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom

In 2019, Sarah M. Broom won the National Book Award for The Yellow House, which follows the story of her family and their connection to New Orleans. She describes her family’s history through the Yellow House, the childhood home that her mother owned for decades. We learn about Broom’s family history and the history of New Orleans. Her writing is vibrant and engrossing. You come to love her family and the Yellow House. This book is such a beautiful work of nonfiction, and I can’t recommend it enough.

a photo of Dylan, a red and white Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and Gwen, a black and white Cardigan Welsh Corgi, sitting on a multi-colored rug.

That’s it for this week! You can find me over on my substack Winchester Ave, over on Instagram @kdwinchester, or on my podcast Read Appalachia. As always, feel free to drop me a line at For even MORE bookish content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy Reading, Friends!

~ Kendra