In The Club

The Best Book Club Books of January

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.

This is written a little more ahead than usual because of holiday things, so you may have already seen this, but Obama released his favorite books of 2023. He has some books in common with a few best-of-the-year lists, as well as a few ones I haven’t heard of as much. Check it out when you get a chance.

As for today’s roundup, there’s a queer coming-of-age story, a lurking djinn, the story of a trailblazing Black Hollywood star, and social commentary à la Kiley Reid.

But before that, we’re getting a little tipsy!

Nibbles and Sips

red cocktail in champagne flute

New Year’s Eve Champagne Punch by Rebecca

This New Year’s Eve champagne punch sounds (and looks!) magical. It’s also pretty easy to assemble. You’ll need triple sec, blackberry brandy, pineapple juice, Chambord, lemon lime soda, pink or Brut champagne, and garnish. You’ll want to mix some of the ingredients the day before and let them sit overnight. Then, you serve with triple sec and soda the day of.

For a full list of ingredients and instructions, visit Sugar and Soul.

cover of How We Named the Stars by Andrés N. Ordorica

How We Named the Stars by Andrés N. Ordorica

Daniel de La Luna starts his tenure as a scholarship student at a prestigious East Coast college with the weight of the world on his shoulders — his family’s hopes and expectations are heavy, as are the shoes of his late uncle, whose name he shares. But his roommate Sam changes everything. In Sam, he finds a comforting friendship, but then something more. Their relationship isn’t able to fully take off just yet, though, because of Sam’s hesitation as well as a tragedy that changes Daniel’s worldview. When he returns to his ancestral home in México, he’ll finally have a chance to reconcile all that’s changed and what’s to come.

cover of The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years by Shubnum Khan

The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years by Shubnum Khan

Apart from being a great book out in January, this is one I’m looking forward to for the entire year. It’s giving Rebecca meets the movie Three Thousand Years of Longing (starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton, if you’re unfamiliar). It centers around Sana, who, along with her father, is one of the latest inhabitants of the once grand Akbar Manzil, an estate off the coast of South Africa. Usually, the estate is a place where people go to forget themselves, even going so far as to ignore the estate’s uncanny qualities — like bones in the garden and mysterious moving figures — but Sana becomes obsessed with the contents of a forgotten room. The room’s pictures, diary, and other artifacts tell Sana of Akbar Manzil’s original owner’s second wife, who died a hundred years ago. She compulsively dives deeper into the woman’s life, but little does she know of the djinn that watches her from the shadows.

cover of The Queen of Sugar Hill: A Novel of Hattie McDaniel by ReShonda Tate Billingsley

The Queen of Sugar Hill by ReShonda Tate

Here is a fictional portrait of a trailblazer who I don’t see much written about. Hattie McDaniel was a prolific actress and the first Black person to win an Oscar for her portrayal of Mammy in Gone With the Wind. Which is where some of her heartache started. The role was controversial and barred her from both white and Black gatherings because white people only saw her as The Help, while Black people thought her Oscar-winning role was demeaning. Even so, she still fought for a place for Black actors in Hollywood, and leaned on friends like Clark Gable and Dorothy Dandridge when she had to. This tells McDaniel’s story, covering everything from the Oscars to the war to her marriages.

cover of Come and Get It by Kiley Reid

Come and Get It by Kiley Reid

From the author of Such a Fun Age comes a skewering of academia and privilege. At the University of Arkansas in 2017, Millie Cousins is working as a senior resident assistant when visiting professor Agatha Paul offers her an odd but easy chance to earn some money. Agatha wants Millie to let her listen in on conversations had by a group of privileged women who are living in a dorm meant for scholarship recipients. What follows is an often humorous narrative filled with the aptest of social observations.

Suggestion Section

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. We’ve got three different levels for gifting (to yourself or others) to suit every budget. Get all the details at

Book Club:

More To Read

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Book Riot’s 2024 Read Harder Challenge

The Most Popular Books in US Public Libraries 2023

The Best Books We Read in 2023 (That Weren’t Published in 2023)

I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_. You can also catch me talking more mess in our In Reading Color Substack as well as chattin’ with my co-host Tirzah Price on the Hey YA podcast.

Until next time,