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Slow But Sure: 11 Books to Read in January

Eleven new novels from literary stars like Hisham Matar, Kiley Reid and Dolly Alderton will help a dreary month speed by / BY Nathalie Atkinson / January 5th, 2024


January is a month like any other, yet often feels like a Monday that lasts forever. (Cue the annual memes of a bearded, scraggly Tom Hanks at the end of Cast Away.) The scientific explanation for the interminable feeling is that our internal dopamine clock changes our perception of time after the fun festive season.

Our pick of January’s most anticipated literary fiction, old-fashioned charmers and propulsive thrillers will not only help while away the days during the winter doldrums – you’ll actually want time to slow down.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image. 

1Nonfiction by Julie Myerson

The English author made headlines more than a decade ago with The Lost Child, a memoir about how she and her husband grappled with their decision to kick their eldest son out of the family home at 17, due to his heavy drug use (he sold his side of the story to the tabloids). Myerson’s new novel is both a literary ghost story and comeback of sorts, in which an unnamed narrator (also a writer) weaves back and forth in time to consider the ethics of writing from life, and her efforts to save her teenage daughter from drugs. Critics say the devastatingly raw novel, “blazes with truths about not just addiction but female identity and maternal love, compassion and creativity.” (Jan. 2)


2My Friendsby Hisham Matar

Already garnering awards buzz, this delicate interior novel from the American Libyan writer whose memoir, The Return, won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, has been likened to Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. The novel examines repression and freedom of speech by following the lives and close friendships of Khaled, Mustafa and Hosan, three Libyan exiles living in the United Kingdom, from 1983, during the Moammar Gadhafi era, through to the Libyan uprisings during the Arab Spring. (Jan. 9)


3The Watersby Bonnie Jo Campbell

For her first novel in a dozen years, the acclaimed Michigan author (Once Upon a River) – dubbed “a feminist counterpoint to John Irving”– pens a compelling Midwestern gothic that blooms into a realist fairy tale, albeit singed at the edges by a distinctly Shakespearean flame. It’s set in a peculiar community in rural Michigan where Herself, as the matriarch and folk healer is known, lives in a cabin on a swampy island. After raising three daughters, each with similar healing powers, she is enlisted to help raise a granddaughter in the wilds of nature. (Jan. 9)


4Eli Harpo’s Adventure to the Afterlifeby Eric Schlich

Eli Harpo is known as The Chosen One in his devout Kentucky Baptist community after a near-death experience at age four where he saw heaven. As a teenager, Eli finds himself recounting the story on a publicity tour for the Bible World theme park. But was it really a miracle, or just capitalism and toxic religion? Told during Eli’s college years, with glimpses of his childhood and that fateful teenage road trip, this anticipated debut from a teacher of creative writing at the University of Memphis is both a heartfelt coming-out story about evangelical Christianity and sexuality and an affecting satire. (Jan. 16)


5The Furyby Alex Michaelides

Every year, reclusive former movie star Lana Farrar invites old friends to her private Greek island to escape the miserable English winter. Sounds dreamy, right? Readers worth their Agatha Christie know what tropes come next: Secrets and past slights that amplify when the group is cut off from civilization. As this idyllic vacation goes awry, the suspense is narrated by Lana’s sardonic friend, Elliott, with the twists you’d expect (and a few you don’t) from the British writer of the New York Times bestseller The Silent Patient. (Jan. 16)


6Divaby Daisy Goodwin

Fresh from centennial celebrations of her birth, it’s shaping up to be the year of Maria Callas, with Angelina Jolie shooting an impressionistic biopic about the legendary soprano and London-based Goodwin (The American Heiress, Victoria) penning this engrossing portrait of the celebrated singer’s scandalous, longtime love affair with Aristotle Onassis, one of the world’s richest men. The historical novel tracks Callas’ majestic career, and spheres of celebrity and fashion, through to the tragic end of the fairytale romance, when Onassis abruptly married former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. (Jan. 23)


7Blizzardby Marie Vingtras, trans. by Jeffrey Zuckerman

This gripping race against time about Thomas, a 10-year-old boy missing in the middle of an Alaskan snowstorm, is not only an exploration of the Far North, but a panorama of the fates of those desperate to locate him and the people who have chosen to make this remote part of the world their home. Vingtras’ debut novel was a runaway bestseller in France, and won a slew of literary awards, including the 2022 French booksellers’ prize for best novel of the year. (Jan. 23)


8Good Materialby Dolly Alderton

This is the one we’ll still be talking about on Valentine’s Day: Andy, a 30-something comedian picking up the pieces after his heart was broken, is doing more spiralling and obsessing than he is moving on in this clever, tender and observational break-up novel. It’s Bridget Jones meets Sliding Doors, told from the perspective of the guy, but when his ex, Jen, gets her say, the love story gets two points of view. If there’s any justice, it will be the North American breakout for Alderton, a wildly popular British journalist who is lesser known elsewhere, just like High Fidelity was for Nick Hornby. She should be a household name. (Jan. 30)


9Interesting Facts About Spaceby Emily Austin

Enid is a neuro-divergent lesbian and true-crime obsessive who’s hard of hearing, full of anxiety and paranoia (an irrational fear of bald men, for example), and constantly wonders if she’s a bad person. This, as she navigates her first serious relationship, cares for a depressive mother and tries to get to know her half-sisters. The Ottawa-based writer explores the reasons people self-sabotage, while also tackling grief, parental neglect and mental illness, in a hilarious and thoughtful novel. (Jan. 30)


10Come and Get Itby Kiley Reid

We’ve been impatiently awaiting new work from the University of Michigan professor since her 2019 smash hit, Such a Fun Age, was longlisted for the Booker Prize. This sharply-observed send-up of academia does not disappoint. Millie, a Black resident assistant at an Arkansas college, is infatuated with Agatha, a white visiting professor, and becomes embroiled in her research into financial attitudes and documentation of the school’s scholarship scammers. It’s a provocative look at perspectives on money, privilege, power dynamics and privilege. (Jan. 30)


11Mrs. Quinn’s Rise to Fameby Olivia Ford

Here’s an uplifting charmer for fans of Julia Child, The Great British Bake Off and Lessons in Chemistry: Jenny Quinn, a 77-year-old retiree living in rural England, applies to a reality-show baking competition. To her surprise (and that of her doting husband of 60 years, Bernard), she makes it! Jenny’s recipes are inspired by her life, and the novel – by a London-based former reality TV producer who knows the milieu – flashes back to these milestones when the septuagenarian reminisces about the backstory of each perfect pastry. A lovable cast of characters, the well-drawn intimacy of a long and lived-in marriage and plenty of evocative descriptions of food make it a delectable read. (Jan. 30)


THE SCROLL

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Donald Sutherland, 88, to Detail His Journey to Hollywood Fame in Long-Awaited MemoirThe Canuck screen legend's first-ever autobiography will hit Canadian bookshelves on Nov. 12.


Camilla Leads Miniature Book Initiative to Celebrate 100th Anniversary of the Queen’s Dolls’ HouseThe miniature book collection includes handwritten tomes by Sir Tom Stoppard, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Sir Ben Okri and other well-known authors


2024 Giller Prize: Noah Richler, Kevin Chong and Molly Johnson Among Jury MembersAuthor Noah Richler is chairing the jury for this year's Giller Prize, an award's body his father literary icon Mordecai Richler helped launch in 1994.


Queen Camilla to Offer Weekly Reading Recommendations in New Queen’s Reading Room PodcastThe Queen's Reading Room Podcast will feature Her Majesty's book picks as well as literary discussions with authors and celebrities every week.


2023 Booker Prize: Irish Writer Paul Lynch Wins For Dystopian ‘Prophet Song’Canadian Booker Prize jury chair Esi Edugyan called the novel a "a triumph of emotional storytelling, bracing and brave."


Sarah Bernstein’s ‘Study for Obedience’ Wins 2023 Scotiabank Giller PrizeThe author, who gave birth to a daughter 10 days ago, accepted the award remotely from her home in the Scottish Highlands


Governor General’s Literary Awards: Anuja Varghese’s ‘Chrysalis’ Among This Year’s WinnersEach of the 14 writers, illustrators and translators will receive a prize of $25,000


Giller Prize Winner Suzette Mayr Among Finalists Shortlisted for 2023 Governor General’s Literary AwardsThe 14 winners, who will each receive a prize of $25,000, will be announced Nov. 8


Five Authors Shortlisted for This Year’s $100,000 Scotiabank Giller PrizeDionne Irving and Kevin Chong are among the finalists who "probe what it means to be human, to survive, and to be who we are"


Norway’s Jon Fosse Wins Nobel Literature Prize for Giving “Voice to the Unsayable”The author's work has been translated into more than 40 languages, and there have been more than 1,000 different productions of his plays.


Scotiabank Giller Prize Longlist Recognizes 12 Authors Who Demonstrate “the Power of Human Imagination”The 2023 longlist includes the prize's 2005 winner David Bergen and debut novelist Deborah Willis. 


Duke and Duchess of Sussex Buy Film Rights to Canadian Author Carley Fortune’s ‘Meet Me at the Lake’Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have purchased the movie rights to the bestselling romantic novel, which was published in May this year.


Booker Prize Longlist ‘Defined by its Freshness’ as Nominees RevealedEsi Edugyan, chair of the 2023 judges, said each of the 13 novels "cast new light on what it means to exist in our time."


Barack Obama Releases His 2023 Summer Reading ListThe list includes the latest novel by Canadian-born New Zealand author Eleanor Catton.


David Suzuki Takes Inspiration From His Own Grandchildren for New Kid’s Book ‘Bompa’s Insect Expedition’The book features Suzuki and two of his grandchildren exploring the insect population in their own backyard.


Milan Kundera, Author of ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’, Dies at 94Kundera won global accolades for the way he depicted themes and characters that floated between the mundane reality of everyday life and the lofty world of ideas.


Cormac McCarthy, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Dark Genius of American Literature, Dead at 89McCarthy won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2006 novel 'The Road.'


Remembering the Life and Loves of Literary Bad Boy Martin AmisThe legendary British author has died at 73. His absence will be keenly felt, but Amis leaves behind a book shelf’s worth of novels, including 'London Fields', 'Money' and 'Success', filled with shambolic anti-heroes raising a finger at society. 


Sophie Grégoire Trudeau to Publish Two Books Related to Mental Health and Wellness With Penguin Random House CanadaThe upcoming releases include a wellness book for adults and a picture book for children, which will roll out over the next two years.


Queen Camilla Celebrated Her Love of Books by Having Some Embroidered on Her Coronation GownThe Queen's coronation gown also featured tributes to her children, grandchildren and rescue dogs embroidered into it.


Better Late Than Never: Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s Unpublished Novel Set for Release in 2024'En Agosto Nos Vemos' or 'We'll See Each Other in August' was deemed by the late author's family to be too important to stay hidden


End of an Era: Eleanor Wachtel leaves CBC Radio’s ‘Writers & Company’ After More Than Three Decades on the AirAfter a career interviewing what she describes as the "finest minds in the world," the long-time radio host says she's ready to begin a new chapter.


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The Book Thief: An Italian Man’s Guilty Plea Ends a Caper That Puzzled the Literary World for YearsFilippo Bernardini’s elaborate phishing scam netted 1,000 unpublished manuscripts by prominent authors including Margaret Atwood and Ian McEwan


The Late Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison Is Honoured with an American StampThe Obamas and Oprah Winfrey pay tribute to the writer whose poetic interpretations of the African American experience gained a world-wide audience


Five Canadian Writers Make the Long List for the Inaugural Carol Shields Prize for FictionThe US$150,000 English-language literary award for female and nonbinary writers redresses the inequality of women in the publishing world


The Furry Green Grump is Back in a Sequel to “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”Dr. Seuss Enterprises will publish “How the Grinch Lost Christmas!” in September


Chris Hadfield to Publish a Sequel to His Blockbuster Debut, “The Apollo Murders,” on Oct. 10"The Defector” brings the Cold War intrigue from space to Earth as the Soviets and Americans race to develop fighter jets


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Barack Obama’s Favourite Books of 2022The former U.S. president’s 13 titles include Canadians Emily St. John Mandel and Kate Beaton, as well as tomes from Michelle Obama, George Saunders and Jennifer Egan


Here are the 5 Books on Bill Gates’ Holiday Reading ListThe billionaire philanthropist is giving hundreds of copies to little libraries around the world


Sheila Heti and Eli Baxter Among 2022 Governor General’s Literary Award WinnersToronto writer Sheila Heti took home the fiction award for 'Pure Colour,' a novel the GG peer assessment committee called "a work of genius."


Suzette Mayr Wins $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize for ‘The Sleeping Car Porter’The 2022 Giller Prize jury called Mayr's novel "alive and immediate — and eerily contemporary."


Writers’ Trust of Canada Awards: Authors Nicholas Herring, Dan Werb Nab Top PrizesThe Writers' Trust of Canada awards amounted to a combined monetary prize value of $270,000.


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Sri Lankan Author Shehan Karunatilaka Wins 2022 Booker PrizeKarunatilaka won the prestigious prize on Monday for his second novel ‘The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’, about a dead war photographer on a mission in the afterlife.


Canadian Council for the Arts Reveals Governor General’s Literary Awards FinalistsThe finalists for the Governor General's Literary Awards spotlight books in both the English and French language, as well as translated works.


New Penguin Random House Award Named After Michelle Obama Will Honour High School WritersMichelle Obama Award for Memoir will provide a $10,000 college scholarship to a graduating public school senior based on their autobiographical submission.


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Hilary Mantel, Award-Winning British Author of ‘Wolf Hall’ Trilogy, Dies at 70Wolf Hall, published in 2009, and its sequel Bring Up the Bodies, released three years later, both won the Booker Prize, an unprecedented win for two books in the same trilogy and making Mantel the first woman to win the award twice.


Prince William “Cannot Forgive” Prince Harry, According to ‘The New Royals’ Author Katie NichollPrince William “just cannot forgive his brother,” according to Katie Nicholl, author of 'The New Royals: Queen Elizabeth’s Legacy and the Future of the Crown.'


Five Finalists Announced for Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for NonfictionThe winner — to be announced on November 2 — will take home the annual $60,000 prize.


Peter Straub, Bestselling American Horror Writer, Dies at 79Friend and co-author Stephen King has said the author's 1979 book, "Ghost Story," is his favourite horror novel.


Rawi Hage, Billy-Ray Belcourt and Sheila Heti Make the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize Long ListThe jury read 138 books to choose 14 titles for the long list, one of which will win the $100,000 prize, one of the richest in Canadian literature


Salman Rushdie, Novelist Who Drew Death Threats, Is Stabbed at New York LectureThe Indian-born novelist who was ordered killed by Iran in 1989 because of his writing, was attacked before giving a talk on artistic freedom.


Raymond Briggs, Creator of Beloved Children’s Tale ‘The Snowman’, Dies at 88First published in 1978, the pencil crayon-illustrated wordless picture book sold more than 5.5 million copies around the world while a television adaption became a Christmas favourite in Britain and was nominated for an Oscar.


Canadian Author Emily St. John Mandel Makes Barack Obama’s 2022 Summer Reading ListObama's list includes everything from fiction to books on politics, cultural exploration and basketball.


Canadian Author Rebecca Eckler to Launch RE:books Publishing House Focused on Female Authors and Fun ReadsThe former National Post columnist says her tagline is ‘What’s read is good, and what’s good is read.’”


Brian Thomas Isaac’s “All the Quiet Places” wins $5,000 Indigenous Voices AwardThe B.C. author, a retired bricklayer, drew on his childhood growing up on the Okanagan Indian reserve for his coming-of-age story set in 1956


Canadian-American Author Ruth Ozeki Wins Women’s Book Prize for “The Book of Form and Emptiness”The UK judges said her fourth novel, inspired in part by the Vancouver Public Library, contained "sparkling writing, warmth, intelligence, humour and poignancy."


The Bill Gates Summer Reading List Includes a Sci-Fi Novel On Gender Inequality Suggested by His DaughterBill Gates' summer reading list includes fiction and non-fiction titles that cover gender equality, political polarization and climate change.


American novelist Joshua Cohen wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for “The Netanyahus”The 2022 Pulitzer prizes include this satirical look at identity politics, focused on the father of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a crucial time in the Jewish state’s history


Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro Among Canadian Authors Recognized in Commemorative Reading List Marking Queen’s Platinum JubileeThe authors are among six Canadian scribes included on the The Big Jubilee Read list.


Queen Elizabeth II’s Aide Reveals Details of Life in Royal Pandemic Lockdown in New Addition to BookAngela Kelly, who's worked for the Queen for 20 years, discusses everything from cutting the Queen's hair to "the light and laughter that was shared ... even in the darkest moments."


New Leonard Cohen Story Collection, ‘A Ballet of Lepers,’ Set for October ReleaseThe collection features a novel, short stories and a radio play written between 1956 and 1961.


Archived Letters Reveal How Toni Morrison Helped MacKenzie Scott Meet Future Husband Jeff BezosBezos hired Scott at the hedge fund where he worked after receiving a recommendation from Morrison. Shortly thereafter, the pair married and Scott helped Bezos launch Amazon.


Prince Harry’s Memoir is Set to Rock the MonarchyFriends say the California-based royal got a million-pound book deal to write "an intimate take on his feeling about the family."


European Jewish Congress Asks Publisher to Pull Anne Frank BookThe Congress says 'The Betrayal of Anne Frank' has "deeply hurt the memory of Anne Frank, as well as the dignity of the survivors and the victims of the Holocaust."


Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.


Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.


Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.


Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro


“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.


Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories


Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel


South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 


Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.


Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events


Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards


Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde


Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 


Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members


Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations


Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


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