November 2021 Reads for the Rest of Us

The Feminist Know-It-All: You know her. You can’t stand her. Good thing she’s not here! Instead, this column by gender and women’s studies librarian Karla Strand will amplify stories of the creation, access, use and preservation of knowledge by women and girls around the world; share innovative projects and initiatives that focus on information, literacies, libraries and more; and, of course, talk about all of the books.

Each month, I provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups.

The aims of these lists are threefold:

  1. I want to do my part in the disruption of what has been the acceptable “norm” in the book world for far too long—white, cis, heterosexual, male;
  2. I want to amplify amazing works by writers who are women, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, APIA/AAPI, international, LGBIA+, TGNC, queer, disabled, fat, immigrant, Muslim, neurodivergent, sex-positive or of other historically marginalized identities—you know, the rest of us; and
  3. I want to challenge and encourage you all to buy, borrow and read them! 

You may notice that my descriptions this month are a bit less verbose than usual. That’s because I am swamped! And I know you are too, so this month, I am giving you what you want in bite-sized snacks of literary goodness. 

I haven’t been featuring much poetry in my monthly lists this year—there are simply far too many amazing releases. But this month, you get two! I couldn’t help but include them in this list of 27 new releases. I’m reading a lot of poetry lately, gearing up for my annual poetry column coming in April. Also on its way is my 2021 Best of the Rest and my Most Anticipated Reads for 2022 lists, so watch for those!

Until then, have a great November and as you may sit down to express gratitude for all that you have this year, please remember that you are on land stolen from Indigenous peoples. I encourage you to reflect on the true history of the colonization of this land and find ways that you can support local Indigenous groups and respect Native sovereignty across the country.  


Blue-Skinned Gods 

By SJ Sindu (@SJSindu). Soho Press. 336 pages. Out November 2. 

A uniquely brilliant tale of a blue-skinned boy born in India who may—or may not—be a god. 


By Aisha Sabatini Sloan. Coffee House Press. 144 pages. Out November 2.

The first commissioned piece in the new Spatial Species Series by Coffee House Press explores queerness, Blackness and language in the wide-open space of Alaska.

Brickmakers: A Novel

Written by Selva Almada and translated by Annie McDermott (@annielmcd). Graywolf Press. 160 pages. Out November 2. 

Acclaimed Argentian writer Selva Almada confronts masculinity, pride and tradition in her latest lyrical novel.

The Easy Life in Kamusari 

Written by Shion Miura and translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter. Amazon Crossing. 206 pages. Out November 2.

This tender and kaleidoscopic novel centers a young Japanese city boy and his coming-of-age in remote village of Kamusari.

Life, I Swear: Intimate Stories from Black Women on Identity, Healing, and Self-Trust

By Chloe Dulce Louvouezo (@chloe_dulce). Harper Design. 192 pages. Out November 2. 

A beautifully designed book highlighting the variety of Black women’s experiences, identities, hopes, fears and loves.

This Is My Real Name: A Stripper’s Memoir 

By Cid V Brunet (@cidbrunetwrites). Arsenal Pulp Press. 320 pages. Out November 2.

This is a fantastic addition to sex worker lit, and we need more of it!

The Waiting 

Written by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim (@keumsukgendrykim) and translated by Janet Hong (@JanetHong333). Drawn and Quarterly. 248 pages. Out November 2. 

This stunningly written and drawn graphic novel is a testament to the generational familial trauma that is wrought by colonialism, political strife and war. 

Win Me Something 

By Kyle Lucia Wu (@kylelucia). Tin House Books. Out November 2. 

A powerhouse debut, this nuanced coming-of-age story is for anyone who has felt hypervisible and invisible, inside and outside, seen and unseen.

The Perishing: A Novel 

By Natashia Deón (@natashiadeon). Counterpoint. 320 pages. Out November 9.

Is it sci-fi? Is it historical fiction? Mystery? Yes! And it’s unique, wondrous and brilliant. 

The Sentence 

By Louise Erdrich. Harper. 400 pages. Out November 9. 

The latest novel by Louise Erdrich is a funny ghost story that is so much more, reflecting on themes of relationships, racism and meaning-making. 

Slug and Other Stories 

By Megan Milks (@sklimnagem). The Feminist Press. 240 pages. Out November 9.

This collection is back in print—and not for the faint of heart. I triple-dog-dare you.

The Undertakers

By Nicole Glover (@nicoleglower) Mariner Books. 448 pages. Out November 9. 

The magically entertaining sequel to The Conductors, which centers a detective couple in post-Civil War Philadelphia.

You Better Be Lightning 

By Andrea Gibson (@andrewgibby). Button Poetry. 128 pages. Out November 9.

Andrea Gibson is a gift to humanity. Read this collection, read their other collections and then do yourselves a favor and listen to them share their poetry audibly. It’s a whole other level.

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story 

By Nikole Hannah-Jones (@nhannahjones). One World. 624 pages. Out November 16.

This volume is a “dramatic expansion” of the original project and is this fall’s required reading.  

Dressed for Freedom: The Fashionable Politics of American Feminism

By Einav Rabinovitch-Fox (@DrEinavRFox). University of Illinois Press. 288 pages. Out November 16. 

A fascinating and accessible examination of fashion and feminism throughout history.


By Nnedi Okorafor (@nnedi). DAW. 224 pages. Out November 16.

The incomparable Nnedi Okorafor once again gives life to sci-fi and Afrofuturist fans.

Our Violent Ends

By Chloe Gong (@thechloegong). Margaret K. McElderry Books. 512 pages. Out November 16.

The anxiously-awaited sequel to These Violent Delights is just as (or maybe more?) thrilling as the first.

Reclamation: Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson, and a Descendant’s Search for Her Family’s Lasting Legacy

By Gayle Jessup White (@gaylejwhite). Amistad. 288 pages. Out November 16. 

The fascinating account of a Black descendant of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson shines a light on the complicated yet necessary histories of race in the U.S.

The Teller of Secrets: A Novel

By Bisi Adjapon (@bisiadjapon). HarperVia. 352 pages. Out November 16.

Bisi Adjapon’s US debut is an extraordinary representation of feminist coming-of-age in 1960s Ghana. 

There Are Trans People Here 

By H. Melt (@HMeltChicago). Haymarket. 100 pages. Out November 16. 

Remember how I said I included two poetry collections this month? Well, you’re welcome because you don’t want to miss the new collection by H. Melt. 

The Bone Shard Emperor (The Drowning Empire, 2) 

By Andrea Stewart (@AndreaGStewart). Orbit. 560 pages. Out November 23. 

It’s another sequel I have been waiting for! And it’s got it all: action, magic, fantasy, battles, surprises, betrayals and a kick-ass heroine at the center of it all.

Huda F Are You?

By Huda Fahmy (@yesimhotinthis). Dial books. 192 pages. Out November 23.

A different take on identity in this hilarious, vulnerable and candid graphic novel.

The Last One: A Novel 

Written by Fatima Daas. Translated by Lara Vergnaud. Other Press. 208 pages. Out November 23. 

French, Algerian, Muslim, lesbian. Fatima Daas’s debut explores these intersecting, and often contradicting, identities.

Queer As All Get Out: 10 People Who’ve Inspired Me 

By Shelby Criswell (@shelby_criswell). Street Noise Books. 192 pages. Out November 23. 

A unique, uplifting collection of biographies by Southern genderqueer artist Shelby Criswell.

Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People 

By Kekla Magoon (@keklamagoon). Candlewick. 400 pages. Out November 23.

An extraordinary and comprehensive history on the Black Panther Party, now a 2021 National Book Award finalist. 

We Are Meant to Rise: Voices for Justice from Minneapolis to the World

Edited by Carolyn Holbrook and David Mura. University of Minnesota Press. 224 pages. Out November 23. 

This collection is diverse, enraging, heartbreaking, impassioned and this month’s #RequiredReading.

King of Battle and Blood 

By Scarlett St. Clair (Muscogee Nation) (@ScarlettStClai1). Bloom Books. 400 pages. Out November 30.

From beloved author Scarlett St. Clair comes an all-new fantasy series replete with war, vampires, romance and revenge.

Up next:


Karla J. Strand is the gender and women’s studies librarian for the University of Wisconsin. She completed her doctorate in information science via University of Pretoria in South Africa with a background in history and library science, and her research centers on the role of libraries and knowledge in empowering women and girls worldwide. Tweet her @karlajstrand.