December is officially here, and with it comes nonstop holiday songs, sweets galore, and the final roundup of our Most Anticipated books. Some of these December releases have been in our to-be-read lineup for the ENTIRE year, so we can’t wait to shout our exuberance to the world. With these releases running the genre gamut from comedy memoirs to feminist must-reads to cozy mysteries and more, there’s plenty of variety for anyone to find a last-minute new book to add to the gift list.
Anne’s Pick #1: Michelle Buteau won my heart in the first thirty seconds of her Netflix special Welcome to Buteaupia when she revealed that she successfully hid her encyclopedic knowledge of JLo in front of JLo. Look, I'm just saying I think she and I would be really great friends and should get brunch sometime. And her book, SURVIVAL OF THE THICKEST, has the same laugh-out-loud humor, but MORE. Buteau breaks down her life from growing up in Jersey to working in a newsroom to doing stand-up and will bring you along for all of it.
From the stand-up comedian, actress, and host beloved for her cheeky swagger, unique voice, and unapologetic frankness comes a book of comedic essays for fans of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling and We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union.
If you’ve watched television or movies in the past year, you’ve seen Michelle Buteau. With scene-stealing roles in Always Be My Maybe, First Wives Club, Someone Great, Russian Doll, and Tales of the City; a reality TV show and breakthrough stand-up specials, including her headlining show Welcome to Buteaupia on Netflix, and two podcasts (Late Night Whenever and Adulting), Michelle’s star is on the rise. You’d be forgiven for thinking the road to success—or adulthood or financial stability or self-acceptance or marriage or motherhood—has been easy; but you’d be wrong.
Now, in Survival of the Thickest, Michelle reflects on growing up Caribbean, Catholic, and thick in New Jersey, going to college in Miami (where everyone smells like pineapple), her many friendship and dating disasters, working as a newsroom editor during 9/11, getting started in standup opening for male strippers, marrying into her husband’s Dutch family, IVF and surrogacy, motherhood, chosen family, and what it feels like to have a full heart, tight jeans, and stardom finally in her grasp.
Allie's Pick: In December 2018, journalist Rebecca Reid made headlines after shushing a male comedian who had interrupted her during a TV interview. Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly), much of the coverage of the event consisted of criticizing her for being rude to her co-panelist. Now I am eager for her new book, RUDE: STOP BEING NICE AND START BEING BOLD. In it, Reid explores how famous women have been labeled as rude, how women are often held to different standards than men, and how these different standards get in the way of women succeeding. I’m excited to read it and be inspired in my own personal life, but I’m just as excited for Reid to get 224 pages worth of blissfully uninterrupted speaking time.
A timely, intelligent, and entertaining exploration of why ambitious women are often perceived as rude and how the power of rudeness can be harnessed in relationships, in bed, at work, and in everyday life—from journalist Rebecca Reid.
During a TV interview with a comedian, Rebecca Reid found herself unable to get a word in edgewise. So, when she put her finger to her lips and shushed him, she became instantly known on the internet as “Rebecca Rude.” It was only then that she realized that being rude could actually be her superpower.
A captivating blend of advice and pop culture, Rude will show you how to utilize the power of boldness in every area of your life. Exploring famous women who have been perceived as rude—including Princess Margaret, Anna Wintour, Taylor Swift, Meghan Markle, and others—this book demonstrates how those women used their “rudeness” to get what they want—and deserve—out of life.
Reid also addresses whether there are different rules of rudeness for women compared to men (yes, there are) and how being taught not to be rude actually prevents women from being successful—especially because when women are assertive, they are often judged as being aggressive. And while there’s a place for politeness, Rebecca argues that it’s never a bad time to stand up for yourself to achieve your dreams.
Sara’s Pick #1: The world's greatest mystery writer once disappeared entirely, only to be found days later with no memory of the event. That's not a book tagline—that really happened. Mystery icon Agatha Christie vanished in 1926 for eleven days before reappearing, claiming she had a concussion after a car accident. Many writers have taken on the story, imagining where she might have been in those few days and what exactly she was doing. Well, author Marie Benedict is now on the case in THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE, providing readers with her fictional take on the events. When Agatha married Archie Christie, she thought she'd found her happy ending. However, as her new husband tries to shape her more and more into the ideal wife, something inside her changes. Taking on the differing perspectives of Agatha and Archie, this novel will have you enraptured by the intricacies of this rapidly declining relationship, glued to the last page, even if you do already know Agatha reappears at the end.
Sara's Pick #2: Going back home is never easy, and for Ronan Szepessy, it's even harder. As a gay man from a small, sleepy upstate New York town, the only thing that can drag him back is the news that his father is sick. The town he finds isn’t quite the same as he remembers it, with gentrification happening in full force. But the big problem comes when he tries to rattle the new neighbors with restless, resentful spirits coming back to haunt the city of Hudson. THE BLADE BETWEEN is a story of horror, but also acceptance and the ties that bind us together, as Ronan reconnects not only with his father, but also two former high school friends. It's one of those reads that seems to ensnare you without your even realizing it, and by the time you've realized, you're trapped in its maw, it's 4 AM, and you've still got the book in hand.
Sara’s Pick #3: You know what's a great thing to read during these cozy winter holidays? A thrilling feminist murder mystery. Emma Baines, the police chief's "good girl" daughter, has been murdered and there are three main suspects: party girl Claude, A+ student Gwen, and head cheerleader Avery. This multiperspective story follows our three suspects as they work to find the real killer before someone else dies and gives us insights into Emma's life through her diary entries leading up to her death. THE GOOD GIRLS definitely gives me Twin Peaks meets One of Us is Lying vibes, all while tackling issues of rape culture, misogyny, and the dangers of labels in the age of social media. If you need something sinister to read while snuggled up with some hot cocoa, this is the book for you.
Heather’s Pick #1: Many of us have gotten a crash course in working from home this year, but a few months of adapting our day jobs to such a unique situation doesn’t make us experts quite yet. So, I don’t know about you, but I could absolutely use more tips and tricks for taking advantage of the rewards and avoiding the pitfalls of remote work. Enter Aja Frost’s WORK-FROM-HOME HACKS, which will apparently offer more than five hundred (!!!) ways to improve the experience and help us find that elusive work-life balance we crave. From exploring what background noise suits us best to establishing boundaries through various subtle means, this book is a must-have for going into the winter season.
Be as productive as possible at work while never leaving your home with these 500 easy-to-follow hacks that will instantly improve your work-from-home experience.
As many have discovered during the Covid-19 pandemic, working from home certainly has its perks. From the easy (non)commute to your computer to the extra time you can spend with your family and pets to the benefits of customizing your environment to your own personal needs, many are continuing to enjoy the work-from-home lifestyle. But it also comes with its challenges. How do you avoid distractions around your home? How can you remain as productive as you are in the office?
That’s where Work-from-Home Hacks comes in to help! With over 500 quick and easy solutions you can implement in your daily life, you’ll find yourself staying more productive, organized, and happier than ever.
You’ll learn useful tips like:
-Create a designated workspace at home
-Figure out what background noise works best for you
-Use a different internet browser for work
-Change your clothes before you start work
-And so much more!
So whether you’re adjusting to a new, permanent work-from-home schedule, are looking to make some changes to a long-standing remote work routine, or just need some advice for the occasional WFH days, this book is here to help you stay as productive as possible so you can maintain a healthy work/life balance and make the most of your days outside of the office!
Anne’s Pick #2: Okay. I'll be honest, I did not know who Laura Clery was before working on her book, but now I understand! Not just because of her amazing Facebook videos with her very cute baby and husband. Not just because she put the word idiot on a sweatshirt and somehow made it chic and cute and made me want to wear it. But because her book is one of my favorite memoirs, period. Clery talks about being a recovering alcoholic and drug addict with so much frankness and humor. Now that her book is in paperback, I'm about make her memoir my go-to gift. (Also, best cover photo of all time.)
From nationally bestselling author, YouTube star, and Facebook Video sensation Laura Clery comes a collection of comedic essays that paint “an honest, complicated portrait of how your life can change” (SheKnows).
Laura Clery makes a living by sharing inappropriate comedy sketches with millions of strangers on the internet. She writes songs about her anatomy, talks trash about her one-eyed rescue pug, and sexually harasses her husband, Stephen. And it pays the bills!
Now, in her first-ever book, Laura recounts how she went from being a dangerously impulsive, broke, unemployable, suicidal, cocaine-addicted narcissist, crippled by fear and hopping from one toxic romance to the next…to a more-happy-than-not, somewhat rational, meditating, vegan yogi with good credit, a great marriage, a fantastic career, and four unfortunate-looking rescue animals. Still, above all, Laura remains an amazingly talented, adorable, and vulnerable, self-described…Idiot.
With her signature brand of offbeat, no-holds-barred humor, Idiot introduces you to a wildly original—and undeniably relatable—new voice.
Emily’s Pick #1: There are so many near-future dystopian novels to be read that it’s hard to keep track—and yet I automatically can’t help but add each one to my TBR list. What catapults a book straight to the top is a speculative tale promising a unique, timely, and terrifying adventure. CROSSHAIRS hits all adjectives on that list, with one of the most horrifying premises I’ve read in a LONG time. Former drag performer Kay is determined to overthrow an oppressive government regime that rounds up communities of color, disabled, and LGBTQ+ into labor camps. Joining forces with a transmasculine refugee and headstrong social worker, Kay fights for the right to live and love. This is a tough read, but like any good speculative fiction it brings up important, timely themes and explores terrifying futures that’ll make you hyperaware of the present.
The author of the acclaimed novel Scarborough weaves an unforgettable and timely dystopian tale about a near-future, where a queer Black performer and his allies join forces to rise up when an oppressive regime gathers those deemed “Other” into concentration camps.
Set in a terrifyingly familiar near-future, with massive floods leading to rampant homelessness and devastation, a government-sanctioned regime called The Boots seizes on the opportunity to round up communities of color, the disabled, and the LGBTQ+ into labor camps.
In the shadows, a new hero emerges. After he loses his livelihood as a drag queen and the love of his life, Kay joins the resistance alongside Bahadur, a transmasculine refugee, and Firuzeh, a headstrong social worker. Guiding them in the use of weapons and close-quarters combat is Beck, a rogue army officer, who helps them plan an uprising at a major televised international event.
With her signature “raw yet beautiful, disturbing yet hopeful” (Booklist) prose, Catherine Hernandez creates a vision of the future that is all the more frightening because it is very possible. A cautionary tale filled with fierce and vibrant characters, Crosshairs explores the universal desire to thrive, love, and be loved for being your true self.
Heather’s Pick #2: We all need some fairy-tale-esque escapism from the real world this year, and that’s exactly what the first installment in Alyssa Cole’s Runaway Royals series promises. In HOW TO CATCH A QUEEN, Shanti Mohapi agrees to an arranged marriage with Sanyu, the king of Njaza, to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a queen who can make a positive difference in people’s lives. Neither she nor Sanyu expects their pragmatic partnership to transform itself into a love match, but the more time they spend together, the more at-risk their hearts become. Even if I weren’t already a devoted fan of Cole’s work, this novel would’ve had me at “marriage of convenience,” because it’s one of the most popular tropes in romance fiction for good reason.
Emily’s Pick #2: Pope Francis explores how a community in crisis can learn to grasp hope from upheaval—and how the choices we make after failure take courage and are important to get right. He analyzes the many elements that have led us to our current crises in COVID and in division and greed. He advises that we must grow from this experience and learn from this time as a society, finding ways to encourage unheard voices to speak out. I think we all could use this book after the year we’ve had. Not only to help us understand how we got here, but to envision a way forward.
In this uplifting and practical book, written in collaboration with his biographer, Austen Ivereigh, the preeminent spiritual leader explains why we must—and how we can—make the world safer, fairer, and healthier for all people now.
In the COVID crisis, the beloved shepherd of over one billion Catholics saw the cruelty and inequity of our society exposed more vividly than ever before. He also saw, in the resilience, generosity, and creativity of so many people, the means to rescue our society, our economy, and our planet. In direct, powerful prose, Pope Francis urges us not to let the pain be in vain.
He begins Let Us Dream by exploring what this crisis can teach us about how to handle upheaval of any kind in our own lives and the world at large. With unprecedented candor, he reveals how three crises in his own life changed him dramatically for the better. By its very nature, he shows, crisis presents us with a choice: we make a grievous error if we try to return to some pre-crisis state. But if we have the courage to change, we can emerge from the crisis better than before.
Francis then offers a brilliant, scathing critique of the systems and ideologies that conspired to produce the current crisis, from a global economy obsessed with profit and heedless of the people and environment it harms, to politicians who foment their people’s fear and use it to increase their own power at their people’s expense. He reminds us that Christians’ first duty is to serve others, especially the poor and the marginalized, just as Jesus did.
Finally, the Pope offers an inspiring and actionable blueprint for building a better world for all humanity by putting the poor and the planet at the heart of new thinking. For this plan, he draws not only on sacred sources, but on the latest findings from renowned scientists, economists, activists, and other thinkers. Yet rather than simply offer prescriptions, he shows how ordinary people acting together despite their differences can discover unforeseen possibilities.
Along the way, he offers dozens of wise and surprising observations on the value of unconventional thinking, on why we must dramatically increase women’s leadership in the Church and throughout society, on what he learned while scouring the streets of Buenos Aires with garbage-pickers, and much more.
Let Us Dream is an epiphany, a call to arms, and a pleasure to read. It is Pope Francis at his most personal, profound and passionate. With this book and with open hearts, we can change the world.
image credit: iStock / FabrikaCr