We’ve just put down our reading goals for 2023, which means it’s time for the next step, the more difficult step, might we add—finding the right book to kickstart the endeavour. The right book could do everything—inspire you to read more, uplift all New Year blues, and, basically, get the ball rolling. Which is why we made sure to bring you this eclectic list that is sure to get you going on your reading journey (you can thank us later).
The Bandit Queens, by Parini Shroff
Five years ago, Geeta lost her no-good husband. She actually lost him—he walked out on her and she has no idea where he is. But in her remote village in India, rumour has it that Geeta killed him. And it’s a rumour that just won’t die. And does Geeta want it to? Given that it means the villagers fear her and buy jewellery from her to be on her good side. But when women start coming to her for help to “take care” of their husbands, she must decide what she wants to do. This story on women autonomy in rural India, threaded through the lives of witty women is quite the debut.
This Other Eden, by Paul Harding
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Tinkers, a novel inspired by the true story of the 1912 mass eviction of a historically diverse community in the Malaga Island, an isolated island off the coast of Maine that became one of the first racially integrated towns in the Northeast, in what was one of America’s greatest sins. There are Iris and Violet McDermott, sisters raising three orphaned Penobscot children; Theophilus and Candace Larks and their brood of vagabond children; the prophetic Zachary Hand to God Proverbs, a Civil War veteran who lives in a hollow tree; and many more stories of resilience in the face of intolerance and injustice.
The Survivalists, by Kashana Cauley
From years as an antitrust lawyer comes this debut novel about a single Black attorney who puts her career and personal moral code at risk for her new love interest happens to be a coffee entrepreneur who, along with a bunch of roommates, stockpiles everything from coffee to protein bars to guns, just in case of apocalypse. Will she adopt their way of life or turn against them when they turn against the law? This darkly humourous novel is full of wit, tension, and unafraid curiosity, perfect for a fast-paced first month.
The Half Known Life, by Pico Iyer
For almost 50 years, Iyer has been roaming the world, mixing a global soul’s delight in observing cultures with a pilgrim’s readiness to be transformed. In this culminating work, he brings together the outer world and the inner to offer us a surprising, original, often beautiful exploration of how we might come upon paradise in the midst of our very real lives. From one of the most perceptive writers of our times, this one brings forth a lifetime of explorations to upend our ideas of utopia and ask how we might find peace in the midst of difficulty and suffering. Could there be anything better to pick at the start of the year?
Age of Vice, by Deepti Kapoor
Lee Child said of this one, “Sensationally good—huge, epic, immersive and absorbing … certain to be a book of the year.” And who are we to refute the master? Equal parts crime thriller and family saga, transporting readers from the dusty villages of Uttar Pradesh to the urban energy of New Delhi, Age of Vice is an intoxicating novel of gangsters and lovers, false friendships, forbidden romance, and the consequences of corruption that is sure to make for a binge read. If you’re looking to spare an entire weekend to your reading goals, this is it.