January is the start of a new year and promises lots of exciting things, including new paperback releases! January has a way of strengthening our resolve and getting us ready for all the new challenges we’ll tackle that year. While you’re planning all the amazing things you’re going to do, make sure to add these awesome paperbacks to your collection for some much-needed reading time.
6 Unforgettable Novels New in Paperback This January
The hilarious Jen Beagin is back with Vacuum in the Dark, the follow-up novel to Pretend I’m Dead, the story of a house cleaner named Mona whose life and antics make for a great story. In Vacuum in the Dark, twenty-six-year-old Mona is living in Taos, New Mexico, and having an affair with her client. She also has eccentric neighbors, a dark past, and a way of dealing with her life that is almost always as funny as it is chaotic. Vacuum in the Dark is a short novel but will have you connecting with Mona in no time, and laughing and cringing for her all the way.
From the Whiting Award–winning author of Pretend I’m Dead and one of the most exhilarating new voices in fiction, a “thoroughly delightfully, surprisingly profound” (Entertainment Weekly) one-of-a-kind novel about a cleaning lady named Mona and her struggles to move forward in life.
Soon to be an FX television show starring Lola Kirke.
Mona is twenty-six and cleans houses for a living in Taos, New Mexico. She moved there mostly because of a bad boyfriend—a junkie named Mr. Disgusting, long story—and her efforts to restart her life since haven’t exactly gone as planned. For one thing, she’s got another bad boyfriend. This one she calls Dark, and he happens to be married to one of Mona’s clients. He also might be a little unstable.
Dark and his wife aren’t the only complicated clients on Mona’s roster, either. There’s also the Hungarian artist couple who—with her addiction to painkillers and his lingering stares—reminds Mona of troubling aspects of her childhood, and some of the underlying reasons her life had to be restarted in the first place. As she tries to get over the heartache of her affair and the older pains of her youth, Mona winds up on an eccentric, moving journey of self-discovery that takes her back to her beginnings where she attempts to unlock the key to having a sense of home in the future. The only problems are Dark and her past. Neither is so easy to get rid of.
Jen Beagin’s Vacuum in the Dark is an unforgettable, astonishing read, “by turns nutty and forlorn…Brash, deadpan, and achingly troubled” (O, The Oprah Magazine). Beagin is “a wonderfully funny writer who also happens to tackle serious subjects” (NPR).
Critically acclaimed author Sam Lipsyte’s latest novel follows a guru named Hark Morner, who, despite his own flaws, is on a mission to help others find meaning in a world filled with political instability and environmental collapse. Through a combination of methods promoted by other gurus in the past—yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and a touch of religion—Hark’s message spreads, and he winds up with a following bigger than anything he imagined. Hark is a thoughtful look into what makes us human and how we connect with each other in times of struggle.
An “extremely funny...brilliantly alive” (The New York Times Book Review) social satire of the highest order from bestselling author Sam Lipsyte, centered around an unwitting mindfulness guru and the phenomenon he initiates.
In an America convulsed by political upheaval, cultural discord, environmental catastrophe, and spiritual confusion, so many of us find ourselves anxious and distracted, searching desperately for peace, salvation, and—perhaps most immediately—just a little damn focus. Enter Hark Morner, a failed stand-up comic turned mindfulness guru whose revolutionary program is set to captivate the masses. But for Fraz and Tovah, a middle-aged couple slogging through a very rough patch, it may take more than the tenets of Hark’s “Mental Archery” to solve the riddles of love, lust, work, and parenthood on the eve of civilizational collapse. And given the sudden power of certain fringe players, including a renegade Ivy League ethicist, a gentle Swedish kidnapper, a social media tycoon with an empire on the skids, and a mysteriously influential (but undeniably slimy) catfish, it just might be too late. But what’s the point of a world, even a blasted-out post-apocalyptic world, if they don’t try with all their might to keep their marriage alive?
In this “awfully funny...tartly effective sendup of 21st-century America” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis) Sam Lipsyte reaches new peaks of daring in a novel that revels in contemporary absurdity and the wild poetry of everyday language while exploring the emotional truths of his characters. “Recommended reading” (Vanity Fair), in which “every line feels as thrillingly charged as a live wire” (O, The Oprah Magazine), Hark is a smart, incisive look at men, women, and children seeking meaning and dignity in a chaotic, ridiculous, and often dangerous world.
Correa offers up another achievement in historical fiction with The Daughter’s Tale. This story is about the Sternberg family in Berlin, whose life is shattered when the Nazis burn down their family bookstore and send husband and father Julius to a concentration camp. His wife, Amanda, resolves to stop at nothing to save her two daughters from a horrific fate. Meanwhile, in 2015, Elise Duval receives a message that brings back her fearful past. Correa weaves together the time lines and narrative seamlessly, and offers a heartbreaking, poignant picture of loss, family, and resilience.
From the internationally bestselling author of The German Girl, an unforgettable, “searing” (People) saga exploring a hidden piece of World War II history and the lengths a mother will go to protect her children—perfect for fans of Lilac Girls, We Were the Lucky Ones, and The Alice Network.
Seven decades of secrets unravel with the arrival of a box of letters from the distant past, taking readers on a harrowing journey from Nazi-occupied Berlin, to the South of France, to modern-day New York City.
Berlin, 1939. The dreams that Amanda Sternberg and her husband, Julius, had for their daughters are shattered when the Nazis descend on Berlin, burning down their beloved family bookshop and sending Julius to a concentration camp. Desperate to save her children, Amanda flees toward the South of France. Along the way, a refugee ship headed for Cuba offers another chance at escape and there, at the dock, Amanda is forced to make an impossible choice that will haunt her for the rest of her life. Once in Haute-Vienne, her brief respite is interrupted by the arrival of Nazi forces, and Amanda finds herself in a labor camp where she must once again make a heroic sacrifice.
New York, 2015. Eighty-year-old Elise Duval receives a call from a woman bearing messages from a time and country that she forced herself to forget. A French Catholic who arrived in New York after World War II, Elise is shocked to discover that the letters were from her mother, written in German during the war. Her mother’s words unlock a floodgate of memories, a lifetime of loss un-grieved, and a chance—at last—for closure.
Based on true events and “breathtakingly threaded together from start to finish with the sound of a beating heart” (The New York Times Book Review), The Daughter’s Tale is an unforgettable family saga of love, survival, and redemption.
James’s debut novel is a witty, contemporary tale that offers up as many tears as it does laughs. Frank Widdecombe is struggling with depression, and his wife insists that they stay at their new home on the Puget Sound, Willowbrook Manor, for the summer. With a son mourning a lost love and the Widdecombes’ personal assistant jumping headfirst into a new romance, as well as an eccentric new gardener, the summer turns into one of secrets, passion, and bad decisions as all the characters come together in the name of unlikely alliances and strange misunderstandings. This smart and slightly outlandish novel will have you wishing you had a front-row seat for all the family drama.
Named one of 2019’s most anticipated reads by Entertainment Weekly, “a hilarious and witty joy of a novel about a family’s insanely dramatic summer at their new island home” (Cosmopolitan) in the Pacific Northwest.
The inimitable—some might say incorrigible—Frank Widdicombe is suffering from a deep depression. Or so his wife, Carol, believes. But Carol is convinced that their new island home—Willowbrook Manor on the Puget Sound—is just the thing to cheer him up. And so begins a whirlwind summer as their house becomes the epicenter of multiple social dramas involving the family, their friends, and a host of new acquaintances.
The Widdicombes’ son, Christopher, is mourning a heartbreak after a year abroad in Italy. Their personal assistant, Michelle, begins a romance with preppy screenwriter Bradford, who also happens to be Frank’s tennis partner. Meanwhile, a local named Marvelous Matthews is hired to create a garden at the manor—and is elated to find Gracie Sloane, bewitching self-help author, in residence as well. When this alternately bumbling and clever cast of characters comes together, they turn “as frothy and bitter as a pot of freshly brewed dark-roast coffee, the kind that’s always available on the Widdicombe’s sideboard. And the dialogue, oh how it singes and sears” (The Washington Post).
A “gleefully over-the-top satiric debut” (Kirkus Reviews), Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe is perfect for fans of Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, Andrew Sean Greer’s Less, and Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins.
Set during the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Ghaffari’s novel paints a rich, complex world and characters. Though in the midst of a revolution, a retired judge and his wife continue to run their orchard in the northeastern city of Naishapur and oversee their family and ensuing conflicts. Life moves on for the family, but trouble is always just around the corner. Ghafarri uses a large cast of characters to tell a story about how the personal is always political and provides us with voices ranging from the judge himself to the servants in the household. Through To Keep the Sun Alive, we have a unique seat from which to watch the Iranian Revolution, one that puts humanity and family at the forefront.
A thrilling novel told from the dual perspective of a mother and daughter, Freefall is a mystery that will be impossible to put down. Allison Carpenter is presumed dead when her fiancé’s private plane crashes in the Colorado Rockies. But back in small town Maine, Allison’s mother, Maggie, thinks otherwise. Though they have been estranged for two years, Maggie knows something isn’t right. The novel switches between Maggie’s perspective as she investigates Allison’s life and her disappearance, and Allison’s struggle to survive in the wilderness. The two women’s voices and strength unite them in this page-turner that’s a mystery and so much more.