New year, new you books to add to your nightstand. From an unputdownable thriller about a true-crime podcast and a fascinating history of adoption in America to a scathing but necessary indictment of white feminism, here are nine books we can’t wait to read this month.

RELATED: The 20 Best Books PureWow Staffers Read in 2020

1. The Center of Everything: A Novel by Jamie Harrison

Searching for a first book club book of 2021? Look no further. The summer of 2002 finds Polly, a woman from small-town Montana, at a crossroads: a recent head injury has scattered her perception of the present, bringing to the surface long-forgotten events. As Polly’s many relatives arrive for a family reunion, she arrives at a deeper understanding of herself and her larger-than-life family. Weaving together the past and the present, The Center of Everything examines the memories and touchstones that make up a life, and what we we all endure along the way.

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2. Good Apple: Tales of a Southern Evangelical in New York by Elizabeth Passarella

Southern Living columnist Passarella is a mother of three, a Southerner married to a New Yorker, an evangelical Christian and a Democrat living on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Her witty debut is about the absurdity of balancing those seemingly opposed identities—disappointing her Tennessean parents by voting for Hillary Clinton, confusing her parents' friends by living with her family of five in a two-bedroom apartment and surprising her Upper West Side friends and neighbors by being an evangelical Christian.

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3. Possession: A Novel by Katie Lowe

Ten years ago, Hannah’s husband was brutally murdered in their home, and she doesn’t remember a thing about that night. But the police charged someone—a stranger—and put him away for life, as Hannah packed up her 6-year-old daughter and left London behind. But now, her hard-won peace is threatened when a viral true-crime podcast known for getting cases reopened and old verdicts overturned turns its attention to Hannah’s husband’s murder for its new season. As the episodes air, Hannah loses the trust of everyone she loves as secrets from her past—and the possibility that the police framed the man convicted of the crime—are revealed.

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4. Ladies Get Paid by Claire Wasserman

The whole “girl boss” thing can be kind of cringey, but at the core of the movement is a kernel of truth: Women can and should be equal to men in the workplace. Wasserman is the founder of Ladies Get Paid, an organization that fights for this professional equality. Her book is filled with straightforward advice and inspiring stories to encourage self-advocacy and activism as a way to advance your career and make more money. Covering topics like how to find the perfect mentor, how to negotiate a raise and how to become a leader, Ladies Get Paid is a reminder that you’re valuable as an individual and as a part of the broader community of women.

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5. Ida B. the Queen: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells by Michelle Duster 

Journalist, educator and activist Ida B. Wells was born enslaved in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1862. In this biography, Duster tells the incredible story of Wells's life, from stories of her childhood in Mississippi, her refusal to give up her seat on a ladies' train car in Memphis and her later work as a pioneering journalist and anti-lynching crusader. Called “a dangerous negro agitator” by the FBI, and a “brave woman” by Frederick Douglass, Wells changed the course of American history and continues to inspire millions.

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6. White Feminism: From the Suffragettes to Influencers and Who They Leave Behind by Koa Beck 

Over the past few years, many well-meaning white feminists have been rightfully challenged to make their own feminism more intersectional. In her first book, Beck, writer and former editor-in-chief of Jezebel, examines the history of feminism, from the true mission of the suffragettes to the rise of corporate feminism and the many overlooked communities—including Native American, Muslim, trans and more—and their difficult and ongoing struggles for social change. Combining pop culture, primary historical research and first-hand storytelling, Beck reveals how white women have shut women who don’t look like them out of the movement, and what we can do to right these wrongs for a new generation.

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7. Single and Forced to Mingle: A Guide for (Nearly) Any Socially Awkward Situation by Melissa Croce

One of the silver linings to 2020’s craziness was being able to avoid weird conversations with distant relatives at holiday parties about whether or not you’re still (yes, still) single. Part real-world guide, part commiseration and part celebration, Croce’s tongue-in-cheek guidebook gives you tips, tricks and advice for how to graciously endure all of the cringe-worthy scenarios your single self may dread, from awkward small talk with an ex to navigating well-meaning but insensitive relatives.

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8. American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption by Gabrielle Glaser

In 1961, 16-year-old Margaret Erle fell in love and became pregnant. Her family sent her to a maternity home, and after she gave birth, social workers threatened her with jail unless she signed away her parental rights. Glaser’s history of adoption in America’s post-war decades uses Erle’s experience to show how a lucrative and sometimes exploitative industry removed children from their birth mothers and placed them with hopeful families, fabricating stories about infants' origins and destinations, then closing the door firmly between the two parties forever.

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9. You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar

Written by Late Night with Seth Meyers’ Ruffin and her sister Lamar, You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey is about the sisters’ everyday experiences with racism—both subtly casual and overt. From strangers putting their whole hand in Lacey’s hair to being mistaken for a prostitute (or for Harriet Tubman), Ruffin and Lamar tackle modern-day racism with the perfect balance of levity and gravity.

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RELATED: Did 2020 Turn Us Into “Bad” Readers?

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