This Is the One Book You Should Read in December

published Dec 1, 2021
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Black woman wearing hijab reading a book.
Credit: shutterstock/Prostock-studio

If the thought of figuring out presents for everyone is stressing you out, giving the gift of reading could be the perfect option this year. Gifting books is not only a personal and thoughtful present, but there are a lot of excellent book releases happening in Dec. that you can order online or buy at a bookstore near you (shop small, independent shops, if possible!).

One book to take note of is “Beasts of a Little Land” by Juhea Kim. This epic historical fiction novel artfully crafts a picture of 20th-century life in Korea as the country struggles for independence from Japan.

Here, the relationships and intricate cast of characters are just as important as Korea’s historical (albeit fictional) account. The two elements work together to create a story of love, resilience, connections, and colonization. With marvelous prose and immersive storytelling, “Beasts of a Little Land” shows that Juhea Kim is an author to watch. You won’t be able to book this book down. 

Check out a few other great reading choices this month: 

In this memorable debut from Indian American author Neel Patel, a mother and son are forced to face the true selves they have been hiding from their family, themselves, and the world. Told in alternating perspectives, readers take a trip inside the minds of Renu Amin, a semi-recent widow who believes she made the wrong choice 35 years ago when she married her now-deceased husband, and her son Akash, a young gay man living his best life in L.A., but who has yet to come out to his family. ​​A delightful and poignant story about relationships and growing up, “Tell Me How to Be” highlights the complexity of love and identity, and culture. 

From the youngest presidential inaugural poet in U.S. history comes this stirring collection of poems, including “The Hill We Climb,” the now-famous poem Amanda Gorman recited during the most recent inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021. Originally titled “The Hill We Climb and Other Poems” and not to be confused with “The Hill We Climb,” a book published earlier this year featuring the single poem and a foreword from Oprah Winfrey, “Call Us What We Carry” explores history, language, identity, and erasure. You will want to quote and share every line Gorman wrote; a great gift idea for young activists and poetry lovers alike. 

At first glance, Francesco Pacifico’s “The Women I Love” may seem like a story about sexual escapades. But this candid novel explores sex, gender, and power by chronicling the diverse women that have come and gone from the life of Marcello, the novel’s protagonist. A 40-something editor and poet, Marcello is trying to write a story about love, but he can’t do that without diving into the complexities of the women. There’s more to them than what is seen under this alcohol-soaked maze gaze.