12 of the best new books to read in January 2024

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Snow in Copenhagen's Søndermarken park
Snow in Copenhagen's Søndermarken park

At the start of a new year, I like to allow myself a bit of “just because” reading: the books I want to read for no other reason than I feel like it. No blog posts, no reviews, just lazy afternoons spent with a good book.

This January, my reading has been especially appealing with two gorgeous clothbound editions from the Folio Society, starting with A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson’s classic memoir of the Appalachian Trail, followed by Louisa May Alcott’s cozy winter classic, Little Women.

After enjoying a wonderful time with these books (while less glamorously navigating what was probably flu), I’m starting to return to usual scheduling with this belated collection of the best new books to read this January. And oh, there are some excellent recommendations here.

Including heaps of insightful non-fiction, healing reads, and adventurous fictional worlds to escape into, these are the new books I’m reading and recommending this month.

Looking for more like this? You can also complement these recommendations with:

The best new books to read in January 2024

The Bullet Swallower by Elizabeth Gonzalez James

The Bullet Swallower is available from January 23

I’ve mentioned The Bullet Swallower in a few places lately – I’m so excited to read it this month. If the idea of epic family saga turned magical realism western sounds amazing to you – or Cormac McCarthy meets Gabriel García Márquez – add this to your reading list.

Little Things by Fearne Cotton

Little Things is available from January 4

Feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, or just need a bit of positivity and comfort? Pick up Little Things, the new book for January 2024 by Fearne Cotton, adored British radio host and founder of the Happy Place podcast.

Described as “a positive toolkit for when life feels stressful”, this is your guide to making small changes to feel better, no matter where you find yourself.

Living the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Living the Artist’s Way is available from January 9

Julia Cameron’s books are usually instant buys for me – she writes some of the very best books to inspire creativity. Her new book for 2024, Living the Artist’s Way, dives into the creative act of writing for guidance.

What does that mean? Ultimately, this is a book about asking for guidance on the page, but also receiving answers on the page – whether you’re looking for guidance in your writing, work, romance, or any other area in life.

Not the End of the World: How We Can Be the First Generation to Build a Sustainable Planet by Hannah Ritchie

Not the End of the World is available from January 9

I’ve been searching for a book like this for a long time. As a worrier, the climate is one of my go-to topics to raise my stress levels. Should I be having children? What will my hypothetical grandchildren’s future look like? And what will happen to the natural world that I love so much?

Although it didn’t entirely zap my worries – and nor should it, really – this is a book about putting things in perspective (“The world is much better; the world is still awful; the world can do much better” – Max Roser) and understand what matters most in the next few years.

With eight chapters covering topics from ocean plastics to food, Hannah Ritchie excels in explaining where we should best place our focus and prioritise our efforts (for example, eating less beef and resisting the allure of woodburners) and what we shouldn’t lose sleep over.

Come Together: The Science (and Art!) of Creating Lasting Sexual Connections 

Come Together is available from January 30

Emily Nagoski’s 2021 bestseller Come As You Are, has been recommended everywhere since its publication. Her anticipated new book, Come Together, promises to be just as transformative, focused on maintaining intimacy in long-term relationships and written with Emily’s trademark scientific rigor, humor, and compassion.

Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands (Emily Wilde #2) by Heather Fawcett

Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands is available from Jan 16

Last year, my time spent listening to Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries was a veritable breath of fresh air. With academia, faeries, winter sunshine, and budding romance, this series is for you if you love fantasy and need a break.

Heather Fawcett’s 2024 sequel, Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands, continues the journey of wonderfully awkward faerie scholar Emily Wilde and her infuriatingly charming colleague, Wendell Bambleby, to the Austrian Alps.

For some of the most lighthearted and whimsical academia you can get your hands on, I’d heartily recommend starting with Book 1 and continuing with the new book this January.

Exhausted: An A-Z for the Weary

Exhausted: An A-Z for the Weary is available from January 18

Among the many new non-fiction books for 2024, one recurring theme I’ve noticed everywhere is burnout. (I guess I’m not surprised – and I also want to read all of these.)

If you fancy reading some non-fiction to understand and navigate your fatigue, pick up Exhausted. Another book to preorder for February is The Cure for Burnout by Emily Ballesteros.

The Life Brief: The Simple Tool to Unlock What You Really Want from Life by Bonnie Wan

The Life Brief is available from January 16

If you want to make 2024 your year, one of the best books to read this January is The Life Brief. In this new personal growth book, leading strategist Bonnie Wan distills the practice of brand strategy into its purest form to help you realign your path with your dreams.

First, Get Messy and see what’s possible. Then, Get Clear on what you truly want. Finally, Get Active and make it a reality. As Bonnie explains, you cannot have it all, but you can have all that matters.

Faebound by Saara El-Arifi

Faebound by Saara El-Arifi book cover

Faebound is available from January 23

Described by Samantha Shannon (The Priory of the Orange Tree) as “a romantic fantasy of epic proportions”Faebound is one of the most anticipated fantasy books of 2024. (And a strong contender for one of my favourite covers of the year already.)

When two elven sisters – a warrior and a diviner – become imprisoned in the intoxicating world of the fae, danger and love lie in wait.

Feel-Good Productivity: How to Do More of What Matters to You by Ali Abdaal

Feel-Good Productivity is available from December 2023

I’ve been recommending Feel-Good Productivity a lot lately, including in my collection of goal-setting books to help you reach your resolutions.

As productivity expert Ali Abdaal explores in this anticipated book, productivity doesn’t have to be at the expense of your mental health. In fact, with feel-good productivity, you can get more done while feeling better than ever.

Together with inspiring stories of founders, Nobel Prize-winners, and Olympians, Ali draws on decades of psychological research to show that the secret to productivity and success isn’t hustle and grind – it’s feeling good.

1000 Words: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Creative, Focused, and Productive All Year Round by Jami Attenberg

1000 Words is available from January 9

Attention, anyone who loves to write (well, or just writes). Another excellent new book is 1000 Words by Jami Attenberg, featuring wisdom and inspiration from more than 50 beloved writers about how they stay creative, focused, and productive. I’m reading this right now and have highlighted so many passages to inspire more focused writing time this year.

Small Pleasures by Ryan Riley

Small Pleasures is available from January 18

While putting together these recommendations with a cup of ginger and lemon tea, I couldn’t resist the allure of a book that Nigella Lawson promises will “nourish both body and soul”.

Whether you’re recovering from illness, facing burnout, or just in need of some self-care, this collection of joyful recipes for difficult times is full of comfort and bold flavours.

From gochujang, ginger, and avocado toast to green herbs and ‘nduja frittata, let these uplifting recipes bring you joy and nourishment this month.

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