6 debut books you should read this January

Each month, Debutiful will recommend a handful of buzzworthy and under-the-radar debut books for you to read.

Start the new decade off by reading a new author. This month’s selection offer meditations on gender and place, non-fiction about Silicon Valley and Appalachia, as well as the first great sci-fi novel of the decade.

Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey (Knopf; January 7)

A search for identity through two decades of conversation. The unnamed narrator is a graduate student at the beginning of the novel on vacation in Italy. There she begins questioning the power of gender and the role it plays in our society. The novel is thought-provoking and a tender exploration into who we are.

Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener (MCD; January 14)

A memoir from a woman who climbed the boys club ladder of Silicon Valley. Wiener’s work is explosive. She explores a time when the tech industry was booming and the bubble was far from bursting. The memoir is partly her coming-of-age, but also a cautionary tale about unchecked power.

The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez (Del Ray; January 14)

The first great science fiction of the decade. When a mute child falls into the care of a woman, she must find a way to care for him even though she can barely take care of herself. When others start coming for the boy, it becomes a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Little Gods by Meng Jin (Custom House; January 14)

A story of grief and wanting to belong told through time and place. Su Lan is a mother, lover, and friend. When she dies, her daughter, former lover, and neighbor reminisce about her mysterious life and how her decisions pushed people away. Filled with beautiful prose and striking passages, the novel leaves a lasting impression.

The Third Rainbow Girl by Emma Copley Eisenberg (Hachette; January 21)

Part true crime; part anthropological criticism; part memoir. Eisenberg investigated a double murder case that has gone cold over two decades. The books also spirals to an exploration about how violence can leave a lasting impression on a location and how cyclical it can be. This breaks boundaries the way Truman Capote did with In Cold Blood.

Heart of Junk by Luke Geddes (Simon and Schuster; January 21)

An odd, humorous novel about, well, junk. Set in Kansas, a group of quirky characters inhabit an antique mall as they try to strike rich off of other people’s treasures. The standout touch of this novel is the hilarity of which Geddes writes with. His comic touch propels this novel into a story that will please the masses.


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