What to Read in 2017


Ready to make good on that 2017 resolution to read more? ‘Atta girl. Whether you’re looking to escape into a work of fiction, extract inspiration or advice, get healthier, or get happier, we’ve got you covered with these outstanding releases from the first half of the year, written by a diverse range of brilliant women. Get at it, bookworm, and stay tuned for a roundup of what to watch this year:

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay, January 3

Cultural and literary tour de force (and Twitter queen) Roxane Gay portrays the lives of women in all their unruly complexity in this short story collection described by the New York Times as “a world of female masochists that give as good as they get.” Intrigued? If so, you’d do well to pick up Gay’s best-selling essay collection Bad Feminist as well. 

The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters by Emily Esfahani Smith, January 10

Ever stop to think about whether living that #blessed life is actually making you happy or not? Emily Esfahani Smith dispels the myth of searching far, wide (and oftentimes expensively) for meaningful lives in lieu of cultivating it right around us, right this moment. She draws on research and insight from psychologists, philosophers, writers, sociologists and famous historical figures, weaving it with narratives that make for an absorbing read.  

I Got This: To Gold and Beyond by Laurie Hernandez, January 24

The gold-medal Olympian with the Bambi eyes and bunny hops shares her story of how she made her way to the top of the podium at age 16 this last summer. If you don’t recall, her exploding-with-sass floor routine was one of the memorable moments of the summer games; here, the Jersey-raised Latina talks candidly about training, her family, the Olympics and her spin on Dancing With the Stars

South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion, March 7

Rejoice, hardcore Didionites: Here’s a chance to get your hands on two long excerpts from never-before-seen notebooks. The first is from a road trip through the South from 1970, containing interviews with prominent local figures and musings on issues of race, class and heritage that dominate the small towns through which she passes. The second notebook is from her Rolling Stone assignment on the infamous Patty Hearst trial, which she never ended up finishing. Both provide intimate insight into the writer’s preoccupations, interests and methods that would go on to inform her later work.

You Are Here: An Owner’s Manual for Dangerous Minds by Jenny Lawson, March 7

New York Times bestselling memoirist and writer of The Bloggess Jenny Lawson brings together an eclectic collection of inspiration, coloring pages, advice, funny stuff and serious stuff to get you through whatever it is you’re going through. The marketing copy suggests you take this book with you into a pillow fort, so what are you waiting for?

Marlena by Julie Buntin, April 4

Debut author Julie Buntin draws a novel out of her heart-wrenching essay published in The Atlantic about repeatedly having to confront the death of her troubled best friend from high school as it resurfaces on social media. Buntin writes movingly about the intricacies of adolescent female friendship, a subject that has long been glossed over as superficial and fleeting by pop culture. 

Startup: A Novel by Doree Shafrir, April 25

The veteran Buzzfeed writer draws on her experience in the fast-paced, traffic-driven media company to turn out this sharp debut novel about a tech startup and the brutal world in which it thrives. Funny and unflinching, Shafrir’s cast is chock full of strong women taking charge of a world the boys still think is their own. 

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki, May 9

The highly anticipated second novel from the New York Times bestselling author Edan Lepucki promises a story of nuance between Lady, a writer on hiatus from her husband, who enlists the enigmatic S to care for her toddler son. When S develops a troubling relationship with Lady’s older teenage son, shit starts to get tense. Set in the Hollywood Hills, count on a darkly funny, dynamic female characters, which is Lepucki’s specialty.

Isadora by Amelia Gray, May 23, 2017

Known for her fiction examining that which is unsettling and dark, a fictionalized portrait legendary dancer Isadora Duncan (the woman more or less credited with creating modern dance) seems like unlikely territory for Gray. But set on the brink of World War I and in the wake of an accident that leaves Duncan bereft of her two young children, Gray spins a rich novel out of the story of an immensely talented young woman as she faces unspeakable devastation personally and in the world around her.


-by Deena Drewis