The TBR List in the New Year: Books Worth Reading

Wonderland Knows Stories Worth Reading!

These are a few of the stories we’re looking forward to reading and reviewing in the months ahead. Not all of these are published in the calendar year – no one’s TBR list is that caught up – but these are all books we’ve heard a bit of a buzz about — or have been intrigued by, despite their noticeable lack of buzz, and we want to raise their profile here.

Out February 14th, 2017: AMERICAN STREET by Ibi Zoboi, Balzer + Bray – As a Haitian-born émigré to America, author Ibi Zoboi has had a front-row seat to the striking disparity between America as a concept to America as a real place. Why we think it’s worth reading: Right now, a lot of people are waking up to the realization that America – its politics, policies and people – are unfamiliar. They’re waking up to a reality which a lot of people of color and immigrants have already known – the American Dream, as a concept, is tarnished and false. Something new must take its place. In the novel, Fabiola Toussaint immigrating from Port-au-Prince loses her mother to the red tape of the process, and must stand alone, deciding her identity, and the price she’s willing to pay for it. This is something we all need to consider.

Out January 30th: FRED KORAMATSU SPEAKS UP, by Laura Atkins & Stan Yogi, Heyday Books – This MG social studies book is well out of our usual review scope, but we’re big Laura fans at the blog – full disclosure, there – and we were intrigued that after her first picture book success she sneaked in the kick-off story in the series titled Fighting For Justice. Why we think it’s worth reading: How do you grow activists? By teaching them their history. This is an informative book which will be useful in a classroom, but it’s also a story about a boy named Fred who was just… normal. He listened to the Top 40, he played tennis, he hung out with his friends and he had secret crushes. And suddenly, he was considered an enemy of the State. We must remember our history, or repeat it, folks, and the danger is already on the horizon. Looking forward to reading this book, and talking with the authors and the publisher about what comes next in the series.

Out March 28th, 2017: THE GAUNTLET, by Karuna Riazi, Salaaam Reads – Another MG chapter book, this has THE BEST cover, which is one of the reasons it’s on our list. Why we think it’s worth reading: The jacket copy says this book is like Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair. We love game books, and getting locked/lost in a game universe is a deliciously creepy idea. That a.) Middle Eastern people play games and b.) Middle Eastern people could be part of an adventure is something which seems to occur to far too few speculative fiction writers, so we’re REALLY looking forward to tearing into the magic here.

Out September 12th, 2017: YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR, by Mitali Perkins, Farrar, Straus and Giroux – WHAT?? Mitali sneaked a YA novel out and nobody told us?? Well, we’re telling you now: surprise! Mitali has produced a novel with a really lovely cover. Why we think it’s worth reading: A novel about generations of women in a family, identity and its contemporary iterations – American identity, gender identity, ethnic identity, our identity as women of worth – these are the types of things that we think about a great deal. Who am I? Who am I supposed to be, according to you? Mitali historically has had a lot of quiet and wisdom her MG fiction, and we’re looking forward to seeing how she works with a contemporary novel for young adults.
These are the stories we want to read – they’re stories of people of color, living lives of richness and depty and complexity. They’re stories of real people who aren’t stereotypes, who live and love and hurt and struggle in ways familiar to us. These are the stories we want to tell – stories of honesty and integrity. By reading, we become better writers. So, until next time – keep reading, keep writing, keep thinking. This is the way we change the world.

About the author

tanita s. davis is a writer and avid reader who prefers books to most things in the world, including people. That's ...pretty much it, she's very boring and she can't even tell jokes. She is, however, the author of nine books, including Serena Says, Partly Cloudy, Go Figure, Henri Weldon, and the Coretta Scott King honored Mare's War. Look for her new MG, The Science of Friendship in 1/2024 from Katherine Tegen Books.

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