The 7 New Books You Should Be Reading This January

Zora Neale Hurston, a seminal investigation of male sexuality and the Japanese art of living in the moment

best books january 2020
Zora Neale Hurston's latest and a seminal work about male sexuality are among the first great reads of 2020

There is some added special feeling you get reading in January. It’s the first month of a new year (and new decade, in this case), it’s generally colder outside (which gives you all the excuse you need to stay inside) and picking up a new book gives you an opportunity to start things off on a good foot.

The titles offered up here are meant to get you thinking. Whether it’s a dive into minimalism or an eye focused on Silicon Valley, picking up any of these seven books will help you get 2020 off to a strong start.

Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity by Peggy Orenstein (Jan. 7)

Peggy Orenstein has become one of our leading voices on the expectations gender puts on people. As a companion to her last book, Girls & Sex, she turns her eye towards young boys and how their environment shapes them, and what we can do to raise them better. 

Cleanness by Garth Greenwell (Jan. 14)

Garth Greenwell became one of the most talked-about young authors with his 2016 debut What Belongs to You. His sophomore novel uses Eastern Europe as the backdrop to explore longing and leaving, desire, and what happens when we act on it. Greenwell is the sort of writer that you feel belongs to another era, but we’re all better off that he’s living in ours. 

Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener (Jan. 14)

Anna Wiener just wanted something a little better. So she left New York City behind and went west, where the tech world promised jobs with better pay, a future, an opportunity to get in on something big in the early stages and a chance at grabbing a piece of the new American Dream. What she got instead was a view of the industry’s shift into strange and unfamiliar territory. She paid attention to everything and distilled some of it into this, the first great memoir of the ‘20s. 

Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories by Zora Neale Hurston (Jan. 14)

Zora Neale Hurston’s place among America’s literary greats was cemented with Their Eyes Were Watching God, but new readers have been discovering her other work in recent years. This collection of short stories is a shift away from the previously published non-fiction work Barracoon, and shows that the “Genius of the South” can do just about anything.  

Tightrope by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (Jan. 14)

In a book that’s sure to be the source of much debate and consternation among cable-news pundits, the Pulitzer Prize-winning authors cross the country aiming to shine a light on how the government has failed working-class people in America. 

The Longing for Less: Living with Minimalism by Kyle Chayka (Jan. 21)

Why do we think we want less? Why do we listen to “The Minimalists” podcast and tell ourselves that we need to take Marie Kondo’s advice and declutter our lives? In this fascinating look into a term we love to throw around but maybe don’t totally understand, Kyle Chayka, one of our leading young cultural critics, searches for deeper meaning using the artists and thinkers that developed the modern idea of the term. The results are fascinating and profound.

The Book of Ichigo Ichie: The Art of Making the Most of Every Moment, the Japanese Way by Francesc Miralles and Héctor García (Out now)

Trying to live more in the moment in 2020 and beyond? Let us introduce you to ichigo ichie, the idea of grabbing every moment before it slips out of your hands forever. Think of it as a more old-school version of “mindfulness,” demanding that its practitioners pay undivided attention to whatever is happening right now — and think of this book as a guide to introducing it into your daily life.

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