The Best New Fiction Books To Give, Receive Or Read This Winter If You're A Grown-Up

Dec 2, 2019

Got a bookworm on your list to shop for this holiday season? We've got recommendations.

Each year Talk of Iowa generates lists for the best new books to give during the holiday season. This year, we're creating curated lists for adult fiction, young readers, and non-fiction for both the adults and the kiddos in your life.

These titles below were chosen by Jan Weismiller and Tim Budd of Prairie Lights Bookstore and Hunter Gillum of Beaverdale Books. 

Fiction

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

This book is a migration story that is also a literal archive. It's the story of a family who is going from New York to Apacheria. While traveling, the start of a child migration crisis is underway. The book is divided into sections Box 1, Box 2 ect. Boxes contain notebooks, books, folders, cds, tapes, brochures and maps. 

Find From Your Local Bookseller | Find At Your Local Library | Find On Amazon

Dishwasher by Stephane Larue
The main character is a graphic design student who has a gambling addiction. He gets a job as a dishwasher in an upscale restaurant in Montreal to try and make ends meet. The descriptions of the chaos of the kitchen are wonderful. 

Find From Your Local Bookseller | Find At Your Local Library | Find On Amazon

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
This book is an autobiographical novel about Little Dog, a Vietnamese immigrant who has grown up in Hartford. This book tells the Asian American immigrant story, and shows the growing divide between Little Dog and his mother.

Find From Your Local Bookseller | Find At Your Local Library | Find On Amazon

Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick
This book is the story of brothers. One comes to America (Ilya) and the other that stays behind in Russia (Vladimir). Vladimir is convicted of murder, and Ilya is determined to prove his innocence.

Find From Your Local Bookseller | Find At Your Local Library | Find On Amazon

Lot by Bryan Washington
"Lot" is a collection of stories that take place in Houston. It really captures the feeling of the city.

Find From Your Local Bookseller | Find At Your Local Library | Find On Amazon

Biloxi by Mary Miller
Louis, the main character, is recently divorced and just retired. He randomly decides to pick up a dog on the fly, and this dog changes his outlook on life.

Find From Your Local Bookseller | Find At Your Local Library | Find On Amazon

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
This book opens at Melody’s coming of age ceremony. The story then bounces back and forth in time and tells the story of Melody’s parents and grandparents and how she got to where she is.

Find From Your Local Bookseller | Find At Your Local Library | Find On Amazon

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
This newly translated novel by the this year's Nobel Prize winner in fiction is also the winner of the Man Booker International Prize.  It is a fairly tale thriller narrated by a reclusive woman in a remote polish village.  Jamina devotes her time to astrology, translating William Blake and taking care of the homes of the wealthy, until she unwittingly discovers a murder.  "You'll love the dark humor and deep humanity of this book."

Find From Your Local Bookseller | Find At Your Local Library | Find On Amazon

Maggie Brown and Others by Peter Orner
This collection of stories by the masterful Peter Orner has been making a lot of best-of-the-year lists. Orner has been described as a writer who doesn't just bring his characters to life - he gives them souls.  These stories, reminiscent of Raymond Carver or Tobias Wolff, feel both timeless and contemporary.

Find From Your Local Bookseller | Find At Your Local Library | Find On Amazon

The Usual Uncertainties by Jonathan Blum
Jonathan Blum is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop from the 1990's, and this is his highly anticipated first collection of stories. Characterized by deadpan humor and wisdom, these stories track the lives of the people who find themselves unwittingly on the fringes of society. 

Find From Your Local Bookseller | Find At Your Local Library | Find On Amazon

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett's new novel is a psychological character study of two siblings raised in prosperity who suddenly find themselves disinherited by their stepmother after the death of their father.  Obsessed by the house from which they have been ousted, their lives unfold in its shadow.  With echoes of Shirley Jackson, this is a compulsively readable novel.

Find From Your Local Bookseller | Find At Your Local Library | Find On Amazon

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The book is an epic tale of Hiram Walker, a slave with a mysterious gift, and his journey from bondage to becoming an agent of the Underground Railroad.  "Mr. Coates' first foray into fiction is a moving, beautifully written novel of humanity's resilience, strength, and power."

Find From Your Local Bookseller | Find At Your Local Library | Find On Amazon

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
Set in 1932 Minnesota, this odyssey follows four orphans on the run from their school to find a new life for themselves.  "The Great Depression comes to life in this wonderful novel about the search for belonging, family and home."

Find From Your Local Bookseller | Find At Your Local Library | Find On Amazon

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia
Tuesday Mooney, a tech-savvy researcher for a Boston hospital, joins with three friends on a scavenger hunt to find the treasure hidden by a late eccentric billionaire.  "Funny, clever, (and an exciting urban adventure to boot!), this is an excellent read for the thirty-something on your list."

Find From Your Local Bookseller | Find At Your Local Library | Find On Amazon

The Remaking by Clay McLeod Chapman
This horror novel takes the murder of a mother and daughter accused of witchcraft in 1931 Virginia and follows this tale through its cultural retellings:  urban legend, cult film, film remake, and finally, the podcast.  "I was fascinated by this novel and its exploration of how stories can go on to have lives of their own.  And it's pretty darn scary too!"

Find From Your Local Bookseller | Find At Your Local Library | Find On Amazon

A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill
The Turner family has been haunted for years by a monster, but only the youngest, Noah, can actually see it and then forms a lifelong relationship with the beast.  "More fantasy than horror, Shaun Hamill's first novel is an eerie and strange tribute to H. P. Lovecraft.  The perfect book for the reader who wants to try something completely different."

Find From Your Local Bookseller | Find At Your Local Library | Find On Amazon

Poetry

To the Wren: Collected and New Poems by Jane Mead
Jane Mead, who died in September, was an accomplished poet and beloved teacher.  She was also the co-owner of Prairie Lights.  "To the Wren" was published in August and contains all of the poems in her five books as well as a selection of new poems.  These eloquent poems are full of beauty and sorrow and a deep connection to the natural world.

Find From Your Local Bookseller | Find At Your Local Library | Find On Amazon