Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.
Have you settled on your bookish resolutions yet? Some of mine include becoming more involved with nonprofit organizations and volunteering. I’m already a mentor through Girls Write Now, which I’ve really enjoyed so far, and am thinking of becoming pen pals with an incarcerated person through an organization I first learned about through Book Riot (Abolition Apostles).
Another resolution I have is reading more diversely. While the authors I read are pretty diverse, because*waves hands around vaguely* obviously, I tend to stick to the same genres. I know this year will be the year I balance my fiction with nonfiction!
To help me out, I’m going to be choosing a few challenges from our Read Harder challenge, which is in its the ninth year. If you’d like to participate, click here to sign up to receive a newsletter that has sends tailored to each of the 24 prompts.
Today I’ve got some new releases, and a few books coming out this year that I’m excited about!
Patterned Book Journal by lucysaysido
Get a new journal for a new year of tracking books! This one comes in a variety of patterns. $32
Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert
I’m a super big fan of Hibbert and this YA debut of hers sounds…well, unfairly cute (lol). In it, Celine, the resident conspiracy theorist and local weird girl at her high school, and Bradley, star football player who struggles with OCD, are ex best friends. Actually Bradley abandoned Celine because she didn’t fit in with his new, cool friends (*tsks loudly*). Now they’re just rivals who engage in petty rivalries and now also have to work together in a survival course in the woods. To win, the outdoors aren’t the only messy thing they’ll have to wade through.
The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff
Everyone thinks Geeta killed her trifling husband who disappeared years ago. She didn’t, but she doesn’t bother correcting her because of killed my husband perks — people are nice to her, no one has tried to remarry her (i.e control her), and people buy her jewelry. Thing is, Greta’s life is looking pretty sweet to other women in the village, and now some of them want to know how to kill their husbands and get the same freedom.
For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.
The Buried and the Bound by Rochelle Hassan (January 24)
Aziza El-Amin is the only hedge witch in Blackthorn, Massachusetts, and sees to it that the magical beasties in the area are managed. But things change, of course, and a darkness breaks down the boundary between humdrum human world and the magical fairyland, making previously benign fae shenanigans turn dangerous. She strikes a deal with Leo, another teen in town whose dormant curse kicked in a year ago and has been wrecking his life her since. She gets help patrolling the magic in town and he gets help breaking his curse…except we already know it won’t be that simple.
Maame by Jessica George (January 31st)
Between caring for a father with Parkinson’s, an overbearing mother overseas, and her job, Maddie is through. She’s spent, done, and just over it. That’s why when her mother comes back to London from Ghana, she jumps at the chance to get out of the house and make up for being a late bloomer. She’ll finally move, go out for drinks, and be more assertive to get what she wants.
Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H (February 7)
I have not read many queer Muslim books at all, so I’m extra excited for this one. It’s a coming-of-age memoir written by a Muslim girl whose family moves from South Asia to the Middle East. There, she masks her attraction to girls — starting with one of her female teachers — by cracking jokes and trying to have the best grades in class. When she comes across a passage about Maryam in the Quran, who was pregnant but claimed that no man had been with her, she wonders if maybe Maryam liked girls like she did. She starts to question other things about her religion, too, like if Allah is nonbinary since they’re considered to be neither male nor female. This questioning spirit continues once she gets to the U.S. for college, which she notices has some of the same racial issues as her homeland (i.e. colorism). I’m super here for this story of self-discovery!
Yellowface by R.F. Kuang (May 16)
Kuang only writes bangers, and in this one, June witnesses the death of Athena Liu — who just finished a novel that promises to be a masterpiece about Chinese laborers’ contributions to the Allied forces during WWI. She decides to take her manuscript and claims the story as her own. To take full advantage (because, you know, stealing someone’s book wasn’t enough), she also lets her publisher rebrand her with an Asian-sounding name and an author photo of someone who is racially ambiguous. The book is successful, but June can’t shake the feeling that it could all come tumbling down, and that the truth of Athena is about to be exposed.