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Michelle Obama’s second book, The Light We Carry, comes out on November 15th. (Credit: Tim Pierce, Dezeen)

The colder the weather outside becomes, the more appealing it is to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a good book.

Our winter reading list, curated with bold stories that illuminate the female voices of today’s literary landscape, has you covered. Although the novels grapple with planet-sized topics like climate change, social media and family trauma, the gentle wisdom and fearless optimism of the authors helps us emerge from each story with a brighter, more empathetic outlook on the world.

Here are seven titles to keep on your radar for all the impending snow days and nights by the fireplace. 

1

The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama (Nov. 15)

In The Light We Carry, Obama offers readers a series of fresh stories and insightful reflections on change, challenge and power, including her philosophy that lighting up for others allows us to illuminate the richness and potential of the world around us, discovering deeper truths and new pathways for progress. She details practices such as “starting kind,” “going high,” and assembling a “kitchen table” of trusted friends and mentors. She also explores issues connected to race, gender and visibility, encouraging readers to work through fear, find strength in community, and live with boldness.

 

2

Aesthetica by Allie Rowbottom (Nov. 22)

A former Instagram celebrity prepares to undergo an operation that will reverse all of her past plastic surgery procedures, in hopes of returning to a truer self. Leading up to the surgery, her traumatic past resurfaces as she’s asked to participate in the public takedown of her former manager/boyfriend, who has rebranded himself as a paragon of “woke” masculinity in the post-#MeToo world. Aesthetica delivers a fresh, nuanced examination of feminism, #MeToo and mother-daughter relationships, all while confronting our collective addiction to followers, filters and faux realities.

 

3

Winterland by Rae Meadows (Nov. 29)

In the Soviet Union in 1973, there is perhaps no greater honor for a young girl than to be chosen to be part of the famed USSR gymnastics program. So when eight-year-old Anya is tapped, her family is thrilled. As Anya moves up the ranks of competitive gymnastics, and as other girls move down, Anya soon comes to realize that there is very little margin of error for anyone. Winterland tells the story of a previous era, shockingly pertinent today, shaped by glory and loss and finding light where none exists.

 

4

The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton (Dec. 6)

For readers of Station Eleven and Where the Crawdads Sing comes a hopeful, sweeping story of survival and resilience spanning one extraordinary woman’s lifetime as she navigates the uncertainty, brutality and arresting beauty of a rapidly changing world. The Light Pirate paints a picture of a family whose lives are unraveled by devastating weather patterns and rising sea levels in Florida. It is a meditation on the changes we would rather not see, the future we would rather not greet, and a call back to the beauty and violence of an untamable wilderness.

 

5

Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion by Bushra Rehman (Dec. 6)

Razia Mirza lives in a close-knit Pakistani-American community in Corona, Queens. When she gets into a prestigious high school in Manhattan, the gulf widens between her true self and the daughter her parents want her to be. She meets Angela at her new school and is instantly attracted to her, but when their blossoming relationship is discovered by an Aunty in the community, Razia must choose between her family and her own future. Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion is a fiercely compassionate coming-of-age story of a girl struggling to reconcile her heritage and faith with her desire to be true to herself.

 

6

Small World by Laura Zigman (Jan. 10)

From bestselling author Laura Zigman comes a heartfelt novel about two offbeat and newly divorced sisters who move in together as adults. Instead of forging the bond they’d always dreamed of having, their relationship frays. And they rarely discuss the loss of their sister, Eleanor, who was significantly disabled and died when she was only ten years old. When new revelations from their family’s history come to light, will those secrets further split them apart, or finally bring them closer together?

 

7

Maame by Jessica George (Feb. 7)

With a mother who spends most of her time in Ghana, Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced stage Parkinson’s. At work, she is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting. A self-titled late bloomer, she’s ready to experience some important “firsts”: She finds a flat share, says yes to after-work drinks, pushes for more recognition in her career, and tries online dating. But when tragedy strikes, she must face the perils of putting her heart on the line. Maame explores what it’s like to be torn between two homes and cultures―and it celebrates finally being able to find where you belong.

 

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