BitchReads: 13 Books You Must Read In January

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2018, a year that will be full of incredible fiction and nonfiction books, including essay and poetry collections. Each month, Bitch will continue to highlight the books that are worth reading. Our January edition of BitchReads includes a romance novel that harkens back to the Terry McMillan-dominated ’90s, a graphic novel about a trans woman in the process of transitioning, and a nonfiction book about how restrictive abortion laws have harmed people with wombs from El Salvador to Oklahoma.

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1. First Year Out: A Transition Story by Sabrina Symington

First Year Out by Sabrina Symington

Singing Dragon
Release Date: December 21, 2017
Price: $24.95

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Since we live in a transphobic society, trans people are often reduced to their body parts and the process of transitioning, and their humanity is completely disregarded. First Year Out, a vibrant graphic novel, adds nuance to the conversation by following Lily, a trans woman who’s decided to reveal to her parents and friends that she’s transitioning. Readers follow Lily as she undergoes laser hair removal, has gender reassignment surgery, and begins dating. First Year Out isn’t sensationalized whatsoever, which is probably owed to author Sabrina Symington, who’s a trans woman, and it’s a necessary book to read in the new year.

 

2. Halsey Street by Naima Coster

Halsey Street by Naima Coster

Little A
Release Date: January 1, 2018
Price: $24.95

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“Brooklyn isn’t what it used to be” is a common refrain from natives of New York City’s biggest borough. Between the influx of white, affluent people and the rising cost of rent, Brooklyn is one of the latest American cities to gentrify, pushing poorer people of color out in the process. In Halsey Street, Naima Coster’s debut novel, we see gentrifying Brooklyn through the lens of Penelope, a struggling artist who returns to her father’s decaying brownstone to care for him. Halsey Street is an intimate portrait of a woman finding her footing as the world literally changes around her.

3. Getting Off: One Woman’s Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction by Erica Garza

Getting Off by Erica Garza

William Morrow
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Price: $26.00

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Often, sex addiction is associated with the poor behavior of predatory men. Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey claimed they were addicted to sex. In Getting Off, Erica Garza offers an important correction to that public narrative by telling her own story. Garza loved to orgasm, and would achieve that pleasure by any means necessary—porn, hooking up with strangers, and getting involved in unhealthy relationships. In her memoir, Garza explores how she traversed the world, from Los Angeles to Southeast Asia, to work through her addiction. It’s a complete departure from the usual portrayal of sex addiction, and shows how our vices can get the best of us.

4. Her Body, Our Laws: On the Front Lines of the Abortion War, from El Salvador to Oklahoma by Michelle Oberman

Her Body, Our Laws by Michelle Oberman

Beacon Press
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Price: $27.95

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In 1998, El Salvador banned all abortions with no exceptions for rape, incest, or protecting the life of the mother. Since then, over 150 people who miscarried or terminated their pregnancies have been charged with aggravated homicide; teen pregnancy has skyrocketed; and over 19,000 people had illegal abortions with 11 percent of those people dying. Legal scholar Michelle Oberman has been researching the impact of criminalizing abortion for years, and in Her Body, Our Laws, she draws comparisons between El Salvador’s draconian policies and Oklahoma’s anti-choice efforts. What becomes of those who can’t terminate their pregnancies? That’s the terrifying question Oberman aims to answer.

5. Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Soho Teen
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Price: $18.99

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Love, Hate and Other Filters is an unforgettable debut novel from Samira Ahmed about a high school senior who’s figuring out her place in the world. Maya Aziz is an emerging filmmaker living in Illinois who wants to defy her Indian parents and attend New York University. Since she’s the only child of her fiercely protective parents, their need to shelter her only intensifies after a terrorist attack leads to Islamophobic harassment from her peers and their Illinois community. Love, Hate and Other Filters is beautifully written, and really presents a coming-of-age novel about a teen who’s rebelling against tradition while simultaneously figuring out her parents’ motivation.

6. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Seal Press
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Price: $27.00

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Ijeoma Oluo speaks truth to power. In her first book, So You Want to Talk About Race, The Establishment’s editor-at-large offers a guidebook for others who want to learn how to confront racism and white supremacy in their everyday life. Oluo offers useful tips for recognizing racism and having conversations about it without destroying relationships.

 

 

 

7. When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors

When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele

St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Price: $24.99

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The senseless death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer sparked many Black people into organizing action. Black Lives Matter cofounder Patrisse Khan-Cullor counts themselves among that group. In When They Call You a Terrorist, Khan-Cullor and beloved author asha bandele paint a portrait of an activist coming into their own, and realizing how racism and white supremacy has been integral to their understanding of themselves and their world.

 

 

8. Brass by Xhenet Aliu

Brass by Xhenet Aliu

Random House
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Price: $27.00

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The relationship between a mother and a daughter is complex and fraught, but can also be tender and loving. Xhenet Aliu explores this multitude of dimensions in Brass, a novel that alternates between Elsie, a waitress in Waterbury, Connecticut, who falls for Bashkim, a married Albanian immigrant who has big dreams, and Luljeta, her 17-year-old daughter who finds herself stuck in Connecticut instead of building a new collegiate life in New York. Their tenuous relationship develops throughout Brass, and throughout the novel, their understanding of each other also blossoms.

 

9. Peach by Emma Glass

Peach by Emma Glass

Bloomsbury
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Price: $18.00

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Peach is an unconventional and disturbing novel about the traumatic aftermath of a sexual assault. When Peach is raped by a stranger named Lincoln, she doesn’t believe she can tell anybody, though she recalls the rape in startlingly clear detail. She doesn’t tell her parents, her boyfriend Green, or her classmates, and doesn’t go to an emergency room or doctor. Instead, she stitches her own wounds with a sewing needle and thread, and tries to regain control of her life. In this inventive novel, Emma Glass explores how survivors cope with devastating trauma that seems unexplainable.

10. Fifty Million Rising: The New Generation of Working Women Transforming the Muslim World by Saadia Zahidi

Fifty Million Rising by Saadia Zahidi

{ Nation Books }
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Price: $27.00

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In the Muslim world, which “covers a vast spread of geographies cultures and economies,” women are joining the workforce in unprecedented numbers. In the last 10 years, Muslim women have taken advantage of their “widening set of choices” to create disposable income, increase their purchasing power, and exact more personal autonomy. In Fifty Million Rising, economist Saadia Zahidi interviews an array of Muslim women, including doctors and domestic workers, about how they’ve embarked on this personal and collective revolution.

 

11. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory book cover

Berkley
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Price: $15.00

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I’ve been raving about The Wedding Date for weeks because it’s just that good. It’s been a long time since Black women were given a romance novel that’s written well and really captures a relationship that many of us are pining for me. The Wedding Date is all that and then some. It follows Alexa, an uptight lawyer-turned-mayoral-chief-of-staff, as she falls for Drew, a playboy lawyer who typically dumps women while the relationship is still amicable. Their love affair is magical, and deserves the cinematic treatment.

 

12. This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins

This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins

Harper Perennial
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Price: $15.99

Buy It Now

Coming-of-age essay collections are some of my favorite books to read, particularly when they’re written as well as This Will Be My Undoing. Morgan Jerkins’ debut collection explores how she came into her own as a Black woman, a Black feminist, and a writer who illuminates the chasm between who we are and who we want to be.

 

 

 

 

13. A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History by Jeanne Theoharis

A More Beautiful and Terrible History by Jeanne Theoharis

Beacon Press
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Price: $27.95

Buy It Now

Political scientist Jeanne Theoharis has done important historical work around the female figures of the Civil Rights Movement. In her groundbreaking book, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, Theoharis pulled back the layers of Parks’ life to show how she dedicated her life to justice, particularly as it related to the sexual violence inflicted on Black women in the South. In A More Beautiful and Terrible History, Theoharis continues this important work by exploring how narratives around the Civil Rights Movement have been purposefully distorted to fit a specific agenda that doesn’t do justice to the figures who organized blatant disruptions of social order.

Evette Dionne
by Evette Dionne
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Evette Dionne is Bitch Media’s senior culture editor. She’s all about Beyoncé, Black women, and dope TV shows and books. You can follow her on Twitter.

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