The Best New Book Releases Out December 19, 2023


Erica Ezeifedi, Associate Editor, is a transplant from Nashville, TN that has settled in the North East. In addition to being a writer, she has worked as a victim advocate and in public libraries, where she has focused on creating safe spaces for queer teens, mentorship, and providing test prep instruction free to students. Outside of work, much of her free time is spent looking for her next great read and planning her next snack.

Find her on Twitter at @Erica_Eze_.

A week from Christmas, the new releases have slowed down a bit. But there are still some great books to be read! Since I won’t be writing a new releases roundup for December 26th, I’ve included a book coming out next Tuesday here as well.

Before we get to the new releases, though, let’s talk bookish tea. First off, as usual, we have many feelings on the state of things. Kelly Jensen shows us how book bans lead to more book bans by way of a PEN report. She also let us know about The Books Save Lives Act that was just introduced to Congress by Massachusetts’ Ayanna Pressley, who explained that “The Books Save Lives Act pushes back on this dangerous trend and reaffirms the need for representative literature by ensuring libraries nationwide maintain a diverse collection of books and classifying book bans as violations of federal civil rights laws.”

I also wrote about some of my thoughts surrounding Goodreads following the Cait Corrain situation. Book recs-wise, Jessica Avery lists some queer reads that sleigh, and Courtney Rodgers gathers up the bestselling romance books of all time.

Now, for new releases — the books below are a good mix of cozy foodie mystery, family drama, feel-good romance, self-help, and more.

cover of Coconut Drop Dead by Olivia Matthews

Coconut Drop Dead by Olivia Matthews

This is the third in the Spice Isle Bakery Mystery series, but, as with many cozy mysteries, you don’t have to read them in order. But if you still want to, you can start with Against the Current, in which the main character, Lyndsay Murray, opens the Caribbean Spice Isle Bakery with her family but then has to find out who killed a rival baker. Or, you can go ahead with this latest release, where she works as one of the vendors for the Caribbean American Heritage Festival but has to take a step back from the festivities in order to figure out who killed an up-and-coming reggae singer.

cover of Familia by Lauren E. Rico

Familia by Lauren E. Rico

Gabby DiMarco lives a happy existence as the fact checker for a popular magazine. It’s this job that has her taking a genealogy test and finding out that she…has a sister. One who has been trying to track her down ever since — according to her — Gabby went missing from San Juan 25 years ago. Suddenly, Gabby’s world is turned upside down, and even though she agrees to meet her biological sister Isabella in Puerto Rico, the women may not have the reunion Isabella was hoping for.

cover of On the Plus Side by Jenny L. Howe

On the Plus Side by Jenny L. Howe

Everly Winters is happy with being the mostly ignored but still appreciated wallpaper in everyone’s life. She craves a career in art, but stays in the safe space of being a receptionist, vital but unremarkable in her own eyes. But then she secretly gets nominated to be on the plus-sized makeover show, On the Plus Side, and realizes that maybe she does want attention from Logan, the show’s cameraman. When their burgeoning romance takes center stage, it may be a little more than her introverted heart can handle.

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

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

Self-help books always make the rounds this time of year, and in recent years, there’s been a growing sentiment that maybe a lot of the start-of-the-year goal setting is cliché and that the same general rules don’t work for everyone. But books like this one by Ali Abdaal, who has gained a huge following on YouTube as a productivity expert, are helping to reshape how we look at productivity and how to achieve it. Abdaal argues that by finding joy in work, we can be the most productive and outlines ways to do this.

cover of The Black Joy Project by Kleaver Cruz

The Black Joy Project by Kleaver Cruz

This is such a joyful collection of 117 pictures and eight essays, all on the lives of Black people around the world. It takes you from the Bronx to Lagos to Namibia and beyond, showing the trendsetting, art, resistance, and joy experienced by Black people all over. It’s been described as Humans of New York meets The Black Book, which I love.

cover of That's Not My Name by Megan Lally

That’s Not My Name by Megan Lally (December 26)

In this thriller, two teens have two very important questions to answer. The girl who woke up on a dirt road with no memory must figure out if the panicked man who showed up at the police station with her school ID and birth certificate claiming to be her father is telling the truth, and Drew needs to find his girlfriend Lola before it’s too late…and before he gets charged with her murder.

Other Book Riot New Releases Resources:

  • All the Books, our weekly new book releases podcast, where Liberty and a cast of co-hosts talk about eight books out that week that we’ve read and loved.
  • The New Books Newsletter, where we send you an email of the books out this week that are getting buzz.
  • Finally, if you want the real inside scoop on new releases, you have to check out Book Riot’s New Release Index! That’s where I find 90% of new releases, and you can filter by trending books, Rioters’ picks, and even LGBTQ new releases!

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