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The Best New Book Releases Out January 16, 2024

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Erica Ezeifedi

Associate Editor

Erica Ezeifedi, Associate Editor, is a transplant from Nashville, TN that has settled in the North East. In addition to being a writer, she has worked as a victim advocate and in public libraries, where she has focused on creating safe spaces for queer teens, mentorship, and providing test prep instruction free to students. Outside of work, much of her free time is spent looking for her next great read and planning her next snack. Find her on Twitter at @Erica_Eze_.

Do you have reading resolutions? How are they going? Our Managing Editor, Vanessa Diaz, discussed some of her goals this year, which may give you some ideas for yours. If your goals extend beyond reading, here are some of the best self-improvement books to read in 2024.

Now for new releases — there are so many! I even added an extra featured mention as a result. First off, we have a couple entries to ongoing series: Heather Fawcett’s Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands shows part two of the titular faerie scholar’s adventures, and Beasts of War concludes Ayana Gray’s action-packed mythological trilogy.

Shifting to nonfiction, there’s American Wings by Sherri L. Smith and Elizabeth Wein, the story of Black aviators desegregating flight written with a YA audience in mind. Meanwhile, Transient and Strange: Notes on the Science of Life by Nell Greenfieldboyce marries everyday life to science. There are also a couple books to keep us ahead of SkyNet (for now). Filterworld by Kyle Chayka looks at how algorithms have damaged culture, and Benny the Blue Whale by Andy Stanton looks at storytelling and AI by giving ChatGPT a prompt that is…interesting.

Below, there’s a locked-room mystery on a Greek island, the intersection of three Palestinian American families’ lives, an Indian Medusa retelling, and lots more.

cover of The Fury by Alex Michaelides

The Fury by Alex Michaelides

After the popularity of The Silent Patient and The Maidens, this latest thriller by Michaelides is bound to be a hit. Here, an unreliable narrator tells the story of a yearly outing to a private Greek island that a reclusive movie star holds every year for her friends. Then, someone ends up murdered. The question is, who?

cover of Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

This debut uses humor and endearing moments to shine a light on the lives of Palestinians in America. Through three families — the wealthy Ammars, the struggling Baladis, and the Salamehs — Darraj shatters stilted narratives surrounding Palestinians, instead offering a nuanced look at generations trying to balance both old and new customs. The Ammars’ spoiled teenagers get looked after by a Baladi, while one of the Salameh aunts is married to an Ammar. We watch their dynamic as it’s applied to weddings, funerals, and secrets.

cover of Witchcraft: A History in Thirteen Trials by Marion Gibson

Witchcraft: A History in Thirteen Trials by Marion Gibson

Through 13 different witch trials, Gibson tells the story of what has historically gone into being accused of witchcraft. Spoiler alert (not really): it has a lot to do with gender, indigeneity, colonialism, and resistance. The well-known Salem trials are analyzed, as are the trials of an indigenous Sami woman in Norway in the 1620s, a local healer in the U.S. in 1929, and native leaders in Lesotho in 1948. Through Witchcraft, Gibson tells the story of the women and men whom those in power tried to silence — sometimes permanently.

cover of So Let Them Burn by Kamilah Cole

So Let Them Burn by Kamilah Cole

This made my Hey YA list for one of my most anticipated books of 2024. It’s a Jamaican-inspired chosen-by-the-gods-girlie fantasy with dragons. I am geeked. The chosen girlie in question? Faron, who has been able to channel the power of the gods since she was 12. The power granted to her was used to free her island from the dragon-riding Langley Empire, the same empire that she’s been summoned to play nice with five years later at an international peace summit. But faking the funk with the Langleys is the least of her worries once her sister Elara forms a bond with a Langley dragon. When something makes the dragons go berserk, Faron is told the only solution is to kill them on-site, but killing a dragon also kills the one they’re bonded to. She and Elara will have to rethink their ideas around their country, dragons, and family if they’re both to live.

cover of Beautyland by Marie-Helene Bertino

Beautyland by Marie-Helene Bertino

This one is out there. Like, out there out there. A small, jaundiced baby is born in Philly to a single mother as soon as Voyager 1 launches into space. The baby, Adina, knows as a child that she is different — she has memories of a planet far from Earth, for starters. Turns out she was sent by her alien relatives to spy on Earthlings, and she does, once she’s gifted a fax machine. The notes she sends back as reports tell of all the joys and sorrows of her day-to-day life in a poor Italian neighborhood in the ’80s and ’90s. As she grows up masquerading as a (mostly) normal human girl, her differences from the other humans become more obvious to her, and she’s encouraged by a friend to share her notes with the world.

cover of A Drop of Venom by Sajni Patel

A Drop of Venom by Sajni Patel

This YA Medusa retelling is steeped in Indian lore and follows 16-year-old Manisha. She’s been fleeing for years from the danger of beasts and the king’s army and now serves as a temple’s priestess on a floating mountain. It’s on this floating mountain that she meets the king’s most valued monster slayer, Pratyush, and both see potential for a future in the other. But then Manisha is assaulted by a temple visitor and thrown off the mountain into a pit of vipers. A month later, Pratyush has one more monster to slay — one that turns men to stone — before he’s free. But she’s the toughest one yet.

If you’re down for more YA retellings, L.L. McKinney’s Escaping Mr. Rochester gives a new look at Jane Eyre, and Gabe Cole Novoa’s Most Ardently: A Pride & Prejudice Remix expands the Remixed series with a trans protagonist.

cover of Tripping on Utopia: Margaret Mead, the Cold War, and the Troubled Birth of Psychedelic Science by Benjamin Breen

Tripping on Utopia: Margaret Mead, the Cold War, and the Troubled Birth of Psychedelic Science by Benjamin Breen

Breen paints a picture of America’s true psychedelic era, and it’s not the ’60s and ’70s as you’d think. Turns out, the sense for experimentation that emerged in the ’40s and ’50s had people plenty zooted. Life-altering drugs went mainstream, and John C. Lilly shared LSD with dolphins, but the true stars of this drug age were lovers and pioneering anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. Their mission to scientifically expand human consciousness involved everything from temples in Bali to WWII espionage and sexologists.

Other Book Riot New Releases Resources:

  • All the Books, our weekly new book releases podcast, where Liberty and a cast of co-hosts talk about eight books out that week that we’ve read and loved.
  • The New Books Newsletter, where we send you an email of the books out this week that are getting buzz.
  • Finally, if you want the real inside scoop on new releases, you have to check out Book Riot’s New Release Index! That’s where I find 90% of new releases, and you can filter by trending books, Rioters’ picks, and even LGBTQ new releases!