January 2024: 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! 

Happy New Year, friends!

I’m late but back with my reading recommendations for this first month of yet another new year. 

I hope you had a chance to explore my 2023 Best of the Rest. And soon you’ll be able to dive into my 2024 Most Anticipated list—watch this space! Until then, check out these 30 new titles ranging from necessary nonfiction to fantastic fiction. (I do love me some alliteration.)

At any rate, I hope you had time to relax and rejuvenate over the holidays, because it’s gonna be a bumpy ride in 2024 and we need you in top form for the fights and frolics! Good luck to us all.   

Break the Cycle: A Guide to Healing Intergenerational Trauma 

By Dr. Mariel Buqué (@dr.marielbuque). Dutton. 288 pages. Out now. 

This is a loving and accessible guide to healing the intergenerational trauma that most of us carry. Dr. Mariel Buqué has got the goods and, thankfully, shares her wisdom candidly and compassionately.


The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years: A Novel 

By Shubnum Khan (@shubnumkhan). Viking. 320 pages. Out now. 

South African writer and artist Shubnum Khan makes her stunning U.S. debut with this genre-bending gothic horror fantasy mystery about a girl trying to solve the mystery of a mansion haunted by a djinn.   


The Fetishist 

By Katherine Min. G.P. Putnam’s Sons. 304 pages. Out now. 

This extraordinary novel is Katherine Min’s first posthumous publication. Focused on a daughter’s quest for revenge on the man who caused her mother’s death, this sharp story is at turns vicious and hilarious, critical and engaging.


The Gardins of Edin: A Novel 

By Rosey Lee (@roseyleebooks). WaterBrook. 320 pages. Out now.

I was struck by the heart and reflection demonstrated in this debut novel of a family of four Southern women grappling with the family business in the wake of loss, secrets, resentments and (re)building relationships. Lovingly written, this story explores family dynamics and forgiveness with strength and hope.


Mean Girl Feminism: How White Feminists Gaslight, Gatekeep, and Girlboss 

By Kim Hong Nguyen (@KimHong4thewin). University of Illinois Press. 160 pages. Out now. 

I am so glad someone finally wrote this book; I am only sorry it wasn’t me! In it, Kim Hong Nguyen takes white feminists to task on our performativity, practices and power structures that only serve to perpetuate white supremacy. Being mean isn’t it, white feminists, and it’s time we take a critical look at how we overcome it in service to liberation for all.


Of Greed and Glory: In Pursuit of Freedom for All 

By Deborah G. Plant. Amistad. 288 pages. Out now.

It seems near impossible to imbue hope into such a raw and bold examination of slavery and violence as this, but Deborah G. Plant does it. Clear-eyed and critical in its examination, this volume is necessary for a holistic understanding of the legacy of slavery and the nature of oppression as it still exists today.


On Thriving: Harnessing Joy Through Life’s Great Labors 

By Brandi Sellerz-Jackson (@bstereo). Ballantine Books. 352 pages. Out now.

We all need more peace and joy in our lives, and Brandi Sellerz-Jackson’s new book is focused on helping us achieve the resilience, introspection and patience needed to thrive through life’s great labors. Personal and powerful, On Thriving takes readers beyond survival into presence and pleasure.


Unshrinking: How to Face Fatphobia 

By Kate Manne (@kate_manne). Crown. 320 pages. Out now.

The personal is political when it comes to fatphobia and Kate Manne has written this intimate and razor-sharp examination to expose the gaslighting, double standards and conditioning behind size discrimination. Manne’s new framework of “body reflexivity” offers valuable new ways and words to fight the existing power structures of fat oppression.


All In: Cancer, Near Death, New Life

By Caitlin Breedlove (@breedlovecaitlin). AK Press. 152 pages. Out Jan. 16.

The latest in AK Press’s Emergent Strategy series is the memoir of Caitlin Breedlove’s journey with ovarian cancer, which she grounds in her activism, feminism and unwavering support for liberation. Taking on classism, racial capitalism, and healthcare, Breedlove leaves us with love and invaluable lessons to learn.


Behind You Is the Sea: A Novel 

By Susan Muaddi Darraj (@susandarraj). HarperVia. 256 pages. Out Jan. 16.

Now more than ever, we must hear the voices of Palestinian writers who explore the full spectrum of their lives and experiences. In her dazzling fiction debut, Susan Muaddi Darraj explores generational divides, activism, reproductive justice, labor and tradition, to name a few.


The Best That You Can Do: Stories

By Amina Gautier. Soft Skull. 240 pages. Out Jan. 16.

Winner of the 2023 Soft Skull-Kimbilio Publishing Prize, you won’t want to miss this collection of stories by award-winning writer Amina Gautier. Tackling themes of loss, nostalgia and displacement, they shine when highlighting the duality of identity, family and culture.


Blackbirds Singing: Inspiring Black Women’s Speeches from the Civil War to the Twenty-First Century 

By Janet Dewart Bell (@JanetDewartBell). The New Press. 256 pages. Out Jan. 16.

Enlightening, energizing and enriching, this robust collection highlights 200 years of Black women’s public speeches addressing freedom, equality and the fight for true liberation in the face of oppression, violence and injustice. From Maya, Myrlie, and Fannie Lou to Paulie, Ella, Audre, this is a collection to cherish. 


Black Women, Ivory Tower: Revealing the Lies of White Supremacy in American Education

By Jasmine L. Harris (@DrHarrisJay). Broadleaf Books. 196 pages. Out Jan. 16.

In this groundbreaking volume, Jasmine L. Harris explores the experiences and challenges of Black women as students and teachers in higher education. Not only does she share personal experiences, but she also provides valuable support and ideas for success. 


Black Women Taught Us: An Intimate History of Black Feminism 

By Jenn M. Jackson (@jennmjacksonphd). Random House. 368 pages. Out Jan. 23.

Jenn Jackson’s debut pays homage to the Black women who led movements for freedom, justice and liberation in the U.S. and around the globe. From Audre Lorde to Ida B. Wells, Jackson’s 11 critical and thoughtful essays illuminate these leaders and implore us to learn from their legacies.


Blood: The Science, Medicine, and Mythology of Menstruation 

By Dr. Jen Gunter (@drjengunter). Citadel. 480 pages. Out Jan. 23.

Gynecologist Jen Gunter has written the essential text for everyone who menstruates. This is an accessible and wildly successful update on topics of menarche, menopause, menstrual products, contraception, health concerns and more. Also check out her blog Vagenda, which is the best name for a blog ever.


Broughtupsy: A Novel 

by Christina Cooke (@christina.j.cooke). Catapult. 240 pages. Out Jan. 23.

This compelling debut features a young Jamaican woman on a quest to reunite with her estranged sister after the death of their brother. To do so means journeying to her native Jamaica and examining loss, resentment, tradition and identity.


Keeping Finance Personal: Ditch the “Shoulds” and the Shame and Rewrite Your Money Story 

By Ellyce Fulmore (@ellyce.fulmore). Hachette Go. 352 pages. Out Jan. 23.

If you are interested in money, there are no shortage of recent books on the topic. This one by queer, neurodivergent TikToker Ellyce Fulmore stands out for its accessibility, intersectionality and honesty. Fulmore talks openly about the influences of identity and experience on personal finance and money management in her signature shame-free and super-fun style. 


Madness: Race and Insanity in a Jim Crow Asylum 

By Antonia Hylton (@ahylton26). Legacy lit. 368 pages. Out Jan. 23.

This is a stunning exploration into the history of Crownsville Hospital in Maryland. Journalist Antonia Hylton poured over the surviving records of one of the last segregated asylums in the country and followed the legacy of slavery, through this work camp, to today’s (mis)treatment of people—particularly people of color—in the current mental healthcare system. 


Moving from the Margins: Life Histories on Transforming the Study of Racism

Edited by Margaret L. Andersen and Maxine Baca Zinn. Stanford University Press. 224 pages. Out Jan. 23.

This collection of essays focuses on how the personal and professional experiences of some of the most influential sociologists have profoundly influenced their perspectives on race, racial inequity and racial justice. This dynamic volume includes contributions from the editors as well as Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Denise A. Segura, C. Matthew Snipp, Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Bonnie Thornton Dill, and more.   


Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts: Stories and Recipes from Five Generations of Black Country Cooks 

By Crystal Wilkinson (@crystalwilki). Clarkson Potter. 256 pages. Out Jan. 23. 

I don’t know that I have ever included a cookbook in Reads for the Rest of Us, but there’s a first time for everything, and this is so much more than “just” a cookbook. It is Wilkinson’s ode to her Black Appalachian ancestry and the formidable and treasured legacy they left her. 


Reclaiming UGLY!: A Radically Joyful Guide to Unlearn Oppression and Uplift, Glorify, and Love Yourself

By Vanessa Rochelle Lewis (@black.woman.blooming). North Atlantic Books. 288 pages. Out Jan. 23.

What is ugly, anyway? For Vanessa Rochelle Lewis, it is to “Uplift, Glorify, and Love Yourself” in a world oppressively focused on violent, socially constructed definitions of what’s ugly and what’s not. By sharing her examination of the weaponization of ugly as well as activities, meditations, and more, Lewis encourages us to Reclaim UGLY for ourselves. 


What’s Wrong?: Personal Histories of Chronic Pain and Bad Medicine 

By Erin Williams (@erin_r_williams). Abrams ComicArts. 256 pages. Out Jan. 23.

With What’s Wrong, Erin Williams tackles some of the most challenging and important topics today: chronic pain, the people who endure it and the failures of our healthcare system to effectively and empathetically address them. Candid and compassionate, Williams shares her own experiences with chronic pain, Western medicine and holistic healing. 


Abolition: Politics, Practices, Promises, Vol. 1 

By Angela Y. Davis. Haymarket. 300 pages. Out Jan. 30.

Well, it’s Angela Davis, so it’s automatically a must-read. This is a collection of the brilliant thinker and activist’s essays and interviews from the last 50+ years. It’s the first of two volumes, and it is this month’s #RequiredReading. 


Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World―and How You Can, Too 

By Ijeoma Oluo (@ijeomaoluo). HarperOne. 416 pages. Out Jan. 30.

From the incomparable writer, speaker, and “internet yeller” Ijeoma Oluo comes this exploration into anti-racism and racial justice activism in the U.S. Including profiles of people doing The Work, this useful guide seeks to educate, inspire hope and, most importantly, encourage action to achieve the equity and liberation we seek.



Written by Simone Atangana Bekono. Translated by Suzanne Heukensfeldt Jansen. Bloomsbury. 192 pages. Out Jan. 30.

This debut centers on a mixed heritage teenage girl in a juvenile detention center in the Netherlands. While she committed the crime and is doing her time, she doesn’t regret it and refuses to play the games of the racist, carceral system she must endure. Bekono handles violent content with care and explores themes of family, identity, carcerality and dreams.  


The End of Love: Racism, Sexism, and the Death of Romance 

By Sabrina Strings. Beacon Press. 264 pages. Out Jan. 30.

The brilliant professor and writer of Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia is back with this blistering critique on love and relationships—or the withholding of them—and how they are used to maintain the white supremacist cishetallopatriarchy. Personal, historical, rigorous and readable, this is a fresh and essential feminist analysis on sexism, whiteness and toxic masculinity. 


HBCU Made: A Celebration of the Black College Experience

By Ayesha Rascoe (@ayesharascoe). Algonquin Books. 224 pages. Out Jan. 30.

More joy and celebration in this collection of essays by and about those who have attended historically Black colleges and universities. Contributors speak to reasons for choosing an HBCU, their experiences while attending and the lasting legacies of the care and community they felt while there.


The House of Plain Truth: A Novel 

By Donna Hemans (@donna_hemans). Zibby Books. 288 pages. Out Jan. 30.

If you’ve enjoyed Donna Hemens’s previous novels, River Woman and Tea By the Sea, as I have, you’ll be similarly excited for her latest book, which exudes the reflective and intimate style I’ve come to appreciate in her work. This story is inspired by the author’s own and travels through time and space, addressing family, loss, home and sacrifice.


A Short History of Trans Misogyny 

By Jules Gill-Peterson (@gpjulesss). Verso. 192 pages. Out Jan. 30.

Focused, accessible and (unfortunately) necessary, this dynamic volume explores intersectional trans feminism and the misogynistic forces at work in the oppression of trans people. Gill-Peterson explains the origins and goals behind trans panic and violence rampant in our world today.


Your Utopia: Stories

Written by Bora Chung. Translated by Anton Hur (@antonhur). Algonquin Books. 256 pages. Out Jan. 30. 

If you liked Bora Chung’s debut, Cursed Bunny, you will love her latest collection! It is brimming with the unique and kaleidoscopic voice you know and the weird and wonderful stories you want. Original and thought-provoking, it’s also haunting and entertaining.


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.