December 2022 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 indie publishers and amazing works by writers who are women, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, APIA/AAPI, international, queer, trans, nonbinary, 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! 

Another year has gone by (so fast!) and I for one am looking forward to a fresh start. The COVID years have been rough for many of us, and 2022 was no exception. If you are like me, you are ready to kiss it goodbye!

Do you celebrate the end of the year with a huge NYE bash? Are you one to mark the New Year with resolutions? I usually don’t do either … but this time ‘round I do think I’d like to mark it in some way.

I thrive on goal-setting and love to envision what I want the future to hold for me so I will probably spend the time in restful reflection. I depend on my friends, mentors and fave leaders for guidance, but I also look to my own intuition, guides, astrology and tarot. In fact, I just had a spectacular natal chart reading last week during which we discussed the last year and my (less challenging?) astrological outlook for 2023.

Quick sidebar: If you are interested in tarot, I highly recommend a few decks that have recently come out—not the least of which is The Pulp Girls Tarot Deck and accompanying book, Astrology for the Cosmic Soul. I love their affirmations and reflection questions.

Releasing Tuesday, Dec. 6, is The Black Tarot deck and journal, Ancestral Illumination, by Nyasha Williams, stunningly illustrated by Kimishka Naidoo. Even the packaging of this deck is divine. One of my favorite oracle decks is The Earthcraft Oracle by Juliet Diaz and Lorriane Anderson. The artwork by Danielle Boodoo-Fortune is incredible. Of course, I have to mention Chani Nicholas’ affirmation deck, planner and guidebooks, all of which are lovely, liberating and hot off the presses. 

However you mark the passage of time, I hope you take time out to read—either your tarot cards of choice or one of the 25 books below. 

Thanks for your continued support; I wish you all a peaceful, joyful and magical new year!   


An Impossible Return: A Novel 

Written by Caroline Laurent (@Caroline.Laurent.Livres). Translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman. Amazon Crossing. 368 pages. Out Dec. 1. 

Based on the unexpected and unjust removal of the Indigenous peoples of the Chagos Archipelago, this award-winning novel is available now for the first time in English. Laurent’s evocative and sensual sensibilities portray an indomitable woman, her love of a Mauritian man and a tragic injustice forgotten by many.  

Erotic Testimonies: Black Women Daring to Be Wild and Free 

By Julia S. Jordan-Zachery (@Dr_JZ). SUNY Press. 177 pages. Out Dec. 1.

What does it mean for Black women to be wild? To be free? To engage in eroticism and self-definition? Jordan-Zachery wrestles with these questions and more through testimony and transits of women as individuals and a collective.

The Vibrant Years: A Novel 

By Sonali Dev (@Sonali_Dev). Mindy’s Book Studio. 316 pages. Out Dec. 1.

This is the first title from Mindy Kaling’s new imprint, and it is a super-fun, bingeable story about three generations of vibrant women navigating relationships, friendships, mishaps and ambitions. 

At Certain Points We Touch

By Lauren John Joseph (@LaJohnJoseph). Bloomsbury Publishing. 384 pages. Out Dec. 6. 

Don’t miss this stunning debut by Lauren John Joseph that is sure to elicit all the feels. In electrifying prose, Joseph manages to thrill, terrify, move and infect you within the space of a page. 

The Bird Tattoo: A Novel

By Dunya Mikhail (@DunyaMikhail). Pegasus Books. 304 pages. Out Dec. 6. 

Spanning two decades in northern Iraq, this searing and insightful novel relates the devastating effects of a religious terror group on a small town and a Yazidi couple who suffer their violence. 

“A Child of the Indian Race”: A Story of Return 

By Sandy White Hawk (Sicangu Lakota) (@NDNAdoptee). Minnesota Historical Society Press. 232 pages. Out Dec. 6. 

As a small child in the 1950s, Sandy White Hawk (Sicangu Lakota) was stolen from her family and forced into a white home. Her powerful and candid memoir details her time there, the pain and trauma it caused, as well as her eventual homecoming and healing.

The Circus Train 

By Amita Parikh (@Amita_Parikh). G.P. Putnam’s Sons. 416 pages. Out Dec. 6. 

This engaging debut is one of magic and love, tragedy and loss, resiliency and agency. Set in a traveling circus during World War II, this historical fiction centers one girl’s struggle to fit in, while also finding her own way. 

Cursed Bunny: Stories 

Written by Bora Chung. Translated by Anton Hur (@AntonHur). Algonquin Books. 256 pages. Out Dec. 6.

Available for the first time in the U.S., this Korean debut collection is a stunner. The stories included are absurdly unique, delightfully monstrous, horrifically insightful and chillingly satisfying. 

The Golden Land 

By Elizabeth Shick (@LizShickAuthor). New Issues Poetry and Prose. 350 pages. Out Dec. 6. 

From Burma in 1988 to Myanmar in 2011, this distinct and beautifully written debut novel explores this complex and little-known country through the eyes of Etta, who lived there as an adolescent and returns after the death of her grandmother. 

How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures

By Sabrina Imbler (@AznFusion). Little, Brown and Company. 272 pages. Out Dec. 6. 

In their debut collection of essays, science journalist Sabrina Imbler uses their fascination with deep sea creatures to enlighten readers about these mysterious crabs, worms, fish and other organisms but also to encourage us to radically reimagine our own families, ways and lives. 

How to Turn Into a Bird 

Written by María José Ferrada (@MJFerradaLefenda). Translated by Elizabeth Bryer. Tin House Books. 296 pages. Out Dec. 6.

When his uncle takes a job looking after a billboard and eventually decides to live there, Miguel is fascinated and confused. As time goes on, Miguel is faced with questions of perspective, acceptance and conformity in this touching and transfixing new novel.  

Plain: A Memoir of Mennonite Girlhood

By Mary Alice Hostetter. University of Wisconsin Press. 168 pages. Out Dec. 6.

In this slim and graceful memoir, Mary Alice Hostetter reflects on growing up Mennonite, and how her faith and practices changed with time, experience and her growing awareness of being a lesbian. 

Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion: A Novel 

By Bushra Rehman (@WriterBushra). Flatiron Books. 288 pages. Out Dec. 6.

As Razia grows up, she (not-so-)secretly pushes the boundaries of her traditional Pakistani-American family as she tries to find a balance between her heritage and her authentic self. Endearingly written, this is a powerful reflection on friendship, immigrant life, queerness and self-actualization.

So When Are You Having Kids?: The Definitive Guide for Those Who Aren’t Sure If, When, or How They Want to Become Parents 

By Jordan Davidson (@JA_Davids). Sounds True. 368 pages. Out Dec. 6. 

After struggling to find resources to help her decide if, when, or how she wanted to have kids, Jordan Davidson decided to write her own book. Inclusive, candid, validating and full of valuable info, this debut will be helpful to anyone considering parenthood. 

Waiting in the Wings: Portrait of a Queer Motherhood 

By Cherríe Moraga (@CherrieMoraga). Haymarket Books. 160 pages. Out Dec. 6. 

If you’ve never read this groundbreaking book on lesbian motherhood or it’s been a while, pick up this revised 25th-anniversary edition, now with an updated introduction, expanded insights and an added afterword by Rafael Angel Moraga, the author’s son. 

Weightless: Making Space for My Resilient Body and Soul

By Evette Dionne (@FreeBlackGirl). Ecco. 272 pages. Out Dec. 6.

The latest book by National Book Award nominee Evette Dionne explores the challenges, expectations and truths of being a fat Black woman in today’s world. Candid, unflinching, earnest and cathartic, this is a healing read. 

Where it Rains in Color 

By Denise Crittendon (@DeniCrittendon). Angry Robot. 416 pages. Out Dec. 6.

At the center of this original and kaleidoscopic debut is Lileala, the Rare Indigo—“the beauty among beauties”—who lives on the lush and peaceful planet of Swazembi. As her world is turned upside down, Lileala begins to face new challenges, see a new world and awaken a new power.

Tell Me What You See

By Terena Elizabeth Bell (@TerenaBell). Whisk(e)y Tit. Out Dec. 8. 

One of the first fiction books to take on the January 6 invasion of the U.S. Capitol, Tell Me What You See is a collection of unique and potent short stories. Also exploring #CoronaLife, the climate crisis and more, its varying formats eerily illustrate the look and feel of our times.  

I’m Not Yelling: A Black Woman’s Guide to Navigating the Workplace

By Elizabeth Leiba (@UrQueenToBe). Mango. 216 pages. Our Dec. 13.

Referred to as “a gift” and “a must-read”, this is the business leadership book for Black women who are tired of code-switching, gaslighting, microaggressions and outright discrimination at work. Written by dedicated advocate and business professional Elizabeth Leiba, it is sure to be a source of useful knowledge, validation and freedom for many.

Feelin: Creative Practice, Pleasure and Black Feminist Thought 

By Bettina Judd (@BettinaJudd). Northwestern University Press. 232 pages. Out Dec. 15.

In this compelling and evocative work, Bettina Judd examines the intersections of Black women’s artistic creation and knowledge production. Themes of embodiment, sensuality, wisdom, emotions, poetics, care and criticality fluidly run throughout. 

Queen of Myth and Monsters

By Scarlett St. Clair (Muscogee) (@AuthorScarlettStClair). Bloom Books. 384 pages. Out Dec. 20.

This is the second volume in the Adrian X Isolde series and it gives us all the romance, drama, fantasy and vampires we’ve grown to love in St. Clair’s books. Grab this one to curl up with on a cold winter’s night. 

The Book of Everlasting Things: A Novel 

Written by Aanchal Malhotra (@AanchalMalhotra). Flatiron Books. 480 pages. Out Dec. 27.

This extraordinary debut is receiving high praise and descriptions including  “mesmerizing,” “exquisite” and “majestic.” Set in the time of Partition, it follows the forbidden love of a Hindu perfumer and a Muslim calligrapher. 

Fear of a Black Republic: Haiti and the Birth of Black Internationalism in the United States 

By Leslie M. Alexander (@LeslieMAlex). University of Illinois Press. 328 pages. Out Dec. 27.

In this clear and impeccably researched volume, historian Leslie M. Alexander explores the imperative role Haiti and the Haitian Revolution played in the growth of Black internationalism, sovereignty and freedom.  

Financial Feminist: Overcome the Patriarchy’s Bullsh*t to Master Your Money and Build a Life You Love 

By Tori Dunlap (@HerFirst100K). Dey Street Books. 320 pages. Out Dec. 27.

Well, thank the financial goddesses for Tori Dunlap and her no-nonsense, inclusive and totally shame-free lessons in money. Get it, read it, form a club with your besties and live it!  

The Sugar Jar: Create Boundaries, Embrace Self-Healing, and Enjoy the Sweet Things in Life

By Yasmine Cheyenne (@YasmineCheyenne). Harper One. 288 pages. Out Dec. 27.

Via a metaphor of a sugar jar with no lid, wellness coach Yasmine Cheyenne explores the importance of protecting your energy (the sugar) by setting boundaries (the lid). Focused especially on women of color, this inviting volume helps readers realign, reimagine and reconnect. 

Up next:

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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.