Nine books to read in January

Bethanne Patrick

A new year doesn’t have to mean a “new you”, but it should mean new books. Clear your shelves now to make room for this month’s most intriguing titles, which include a startling and relevant memoir about technology, a brilliant work of fiction set mainly in Bulgaria and an important new volume from a master of science fiction.

We Will Rise: A True Story Of Tragedy and Resurrection In The American Heartland by Steve Beaven

The best stories about sports are about life, too. When Indiana’s University of Evansville lost its entire Purple Aces basketball team in a 1977 airplane crash, the community was heartbroken. But a new coach named Dick Walters promised to rebuild the winning team, and in so doing, gave a city new hope. Beaven, who grew up in Evansville, crafts a beautiful story.

Long Bright River: A Novel by LizMoore

This propulsive thriller, set on the meanest Philadelphia streets, is about two siblings – one an addict, the other a cop. Author and characters are all women. That’s a fresh New Year’s breath, and given Moore’s twisty plot, it’s also a book all suspense enthusiasts will want to pick up as early in 2020 as possible.

Martha Stewart’s Organising: The Manual for Bringing Order to Your Life, Home and Routines by Martha Stewart

Consider this: Martha Stewart’s success, from her earliest catering efforts to her current media empire, all stems from her talent for organisation. Her calendar includes reminders to stake her peonies, sharpen her knives and schedule her grandchildren’s sailing lessons, and her book includes month-by-month ideas, including time to “Get Off the Grid”.

Cleanness by Garth Greenwell

Greenwell, whose 2016 What Belongs to You established a new bar for literary fiction with its sinuously elegant prose, returns with a set of stunning vignettes about a young man’s experiences in Sofia, Bulgaria. It is, quite simply, a work of genius that will change the way you understand the world and your place in it.

Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

In 2009, married journalists Kristof and WuDunn published Half the Sky, a manifesto for global women’s rights. In their latest collaboration, the pair examines the plight of working-class Americans. Kristof and WuDunn eschew political diatribe for facts and conversation with people who are trying to not only survive but make a difference.

Uncanny Valley: A Memoir by Anna Wiener

Wiener left book publishing in her mid-20s to move to San Francisco and work for a big-data start-up. She turns that experience into a riveting Silicon Valley tell-all that will captivate those working within and outside of the dot-com revolution.

A Long Petal of the Sea: A Novel by Isabel Allende

Allende returns! The 1930s Spanish Civil War forms the backdrop for her new novel, in which a pregnant young widow named Roser reluctantly marries an army doctor who’s also the brother of her dead love. When they become refugees on the SS Winnipeg they wind up in Chile, the couple becomes determined to return home, only to discover that they already have one.

American Dirt: A Novel by Jeanine Cummins

Lydia runs a bookstore in Acapulco, and her best customer, a suave connoisseur of classic literature, is the local drug kingpin. When Lydia’s journalist husband publishes an exposé of el jefe, she and her son are forced to head north on La Bestia, the train that takes migrants toward the United States.

Agency: A Novel by William Gibson

A follow-up to Gibson’s 2014 The Peripheral, Agency introduces readers to “app whisperer” Verity Jane. When she takes a job testing a digital assistant named “Eunice”, Verity realises this form of artificial intelligence (AI) is more powerful than anyone understands. Meanwhile, in the near future, Wilf Netherton has been tasked with looking into alternate pasts. Soon, the two meet – but not in a cute way.