Publishing traditionally slows down at the end of the year, but don’t worry, book nerds! There are still plenty of great releases for you to sink your teeth into this December, including new titles from Renée Ahdieh, Amanda Gorman, and writing duo Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera.
If you’re a romance reader, you’re in for a treat. In addition to Albertalli and Silvera’s
Here’s to Us, you can pick up Seressia Glass’ The Love Con, Rachel Lacey’s Read Between the Lines, and queer romance anthology Fools in Love — a collection edited by Ashley Herring Blake ( Delilah Green Doesn’t Care) and Rebecca Podos ( The Wise and the Wicked).
Readers more inclined toward literary fiction can look forward to J.R. Thorp’s
Learwife and Wanjikũ wa Ngũgĩ’s Seasons in Hippoland. Learwife centers on King Lear’s queen — a figure absent from Shakespeare play — as she returns from exile following the deaths of her husband and their daughters. And Seasons in Hippoland takes readers to the fictional African nation of Victoriana, where one woman’s childhood stories threaten to change everything for her people, who have long lived under the rule of the deceitful Emperor-for-Life.
Below, the most anticipated books of December 2021.
We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. 1 Read Between the Lines Dec. 1
Rosie and Jane have a lot in common. One is an independent bookseller who runs the store her mother founded. The other works in her family’s property development firm by day, and writes high-heat romances by night. They’ve been flirting online for some time — albeit with Jane using her pen name, Brie, in correspondence — and might be ready to meet in real life. There’s just one problem: Jane’s family business is kicking Rosie’s store to the curb.
2 The Last Rose of Shanghai Dec. 1
Set in Japanese-occupied Shanghai, Weina Dai Randel’s
The Last Rose of Shanghai follows the wealthy owner-operator of a struggling jazz club and her newly hired pianist — a German Jewish refugee — as they struggle to survive in a war-torn country and wrestle with their feelings for each other. 3 Seasons in Hippoland Dec. 6
In Victoriana, truth is whatever the Emperor-for-Life says it is — which means that the Emperor isn’t sick, and he certainly isn’t dying. Mumbi knows this rule as well as anyone. But after she leaves the capital to stay in the countryside with her aunt, Mumbi returns home with a story about a magic bowl that can heal any illness — a bowl the Emperor commands her to find, or else.
4 The Righteous Dec. 7
The fourth installment of Renée Ahdieh’s Beautiful quartet is finally hitting stores. In
The Righteous, Arjun searches for a cure to save Odette’s life, and aids Pippa’s quest to find a missing friend before it’s too late. 5 Fools in Love Dec. 7
Edited by Ashley Herring Blake and Rebecca Podos,
Fools in Love collects queer love stories from 15 acclaimed authors, including Mason Deaver, Malinda Lo, and Natasha Ngan. 6 A History of Wild Places Dec. 7
Theo has lived his whole life in Pastoral, a reclusive community nestled deep in the woods, far from the diseased outsiders who occupy the rest of the world. No one ever comes into the fold, and no one ever leaves. So why has Theo found a long-abandoned truck in the woods? And what do his wife and sister-in-law know that he doesn’t?
7 Call Us What We Carry Dec. 7 Call Us What We Carry collects poems by National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, including “The Hill We Climb,” which Gorman memorably performed at Biden’s presidential inauguration. 8 The Midnight Hour Dec. 7
Elly Griffiths’ sixth Brighton Mystery follows private eyes Emma Holmes and Sam Collins as they investigate the death-by-poisoning of a celebrity’s husband — a case that Emma’s spouse, police superintendent Edgar Stephens, is already looking into.
9 Bright Burning Things Dec. 7
Lisa Harding’s American debut is
Bright Burning Things — a story about a onetime star struggling to maintain custody of her beloved son, even as she wrestles with an alcohol-use disorder and the lasting scars from her own abusive childhood. 10 Beasts of a Little Land Dec. 7
In this sweeping novel reminiscent of Min Jin Lee’s
Pachinko, a chance encounter between a Korean hunter and a member of Japan’s occupying military forces sets off a 50-year-long chain of events. 11 The Cat Who Saved Books Dec. 7
Bestselling Japanese author Sosuke Natsukawa brings a little levity to bookshelves this December with
The Cat Who Saved Books. The story follows a high schooler who finds himself whisked away on a literary adventure, led by a talking cat determined to save books from owners who don’t read them. 12 The Women I Love Dec. 7
Class author Francesco Pacifico comes the story about a male writer desperate to understand women. When poet and would-be novelist Marcello finds himself unable to capture the women he knows in his writing, he begins writing about his relationships with them instead — a move that paves the way for a raw, yet charming, story. 13 Tell Me How to Be Dec. 7
In Neel Patel’s
Tell Me How to Be, a widow and her adult son wrestle with the skeletons in their closets and the uncertainty of the future. After she begins the process of selling her longtime home, Renu begins chatting with an ex-lover. Renu’s son, Akash, also gets caught up in the past when he returns home to help her move — but it’s his first heartbreak that he finds himself obsessing over. 14 The Hawthorne School Dec. 7
A single mother’s decision to send her 4-year-old son to a non-traditional preschool turns disastrous in Sylvie Perry’s
The Hawthorne School. At first, Henry’s new school seems like a godsend, and Claudia is able to ignore the strange discomfort she feels around Hawthorne. But when Henry reveals secrets about the school that chill his mother to the bone, Claudia starts looking for a way out. 15 Learwife Dec. 7
King Lear and his three daughters are dead — and his wife, never named in Shakespeare’s play, has been exiled to a nunnery for a 15 years. Now, with her country in shambles, she delves deep into the mystery of her banishment.
16 The Love Con Dec. 14
Perfect for fans of Olivia Dade’s
Spoiler Alert, Seressia Glass’ The Love Con follows Kenya as she competes on the reality show Cosplay or No Way. Winning may help her turn her passion into a profitable career, but there’s a catch: The final challenge requires competitors to bring their significant others on the series, and Kenya’s as single as they come. Thankfully, her best friend has agreed to pose as her boyfriend for the cameras, and everything’s going well — at least, until their faux relationship starts to feel a little too real. 17 Orphans of the Storm Dec. 14
Based on a sensational true story, Celia Imrie’s
Orphans of the Storm follows Marcelle and Margaret: two women leading very different lives, whose paths cross in the aftermath of the Titanic’s sinking. 18 Oh, the Pics That You'll Post! Dec. 14 Oh The Pics That You'll Post is an irreverent, millennial take on the Dr. Seuss. But instead of “soaring to high heights and seeing great sights to being left in a Lurch on a prickle-ly perch,” Rose takes readers into the world of social media: a universe more wild than anything Seuss could've ever imagined. 19 Here’s to Us Dec. 28
In this sequel to
What If It’s Us, authors Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera pick up with Ben and Arthur two years after their love story ended. When Arthur takes an internship in New York, he has a chance encounter with Ben — a meeting that prompts both men to reconsider what they really want out of life. 20 The Untold Story Dec. 28
In the eighth installment of the Invisible Library series, the fraught truce between the realms may be coming to an end. Caught in the middle is Irene, a Librarian whose organization has recently ordered her to assassinate the man who could be her father. As always, Genevieve Cogman delivers a romp through time and space.
21 The Spanish Daughter Dec. 28
Set in Ecuador in the immediate aftermath of World War I, Lorena Hughes’
The Spanish Daughter centers on Puri, a young Spanish woman who inherits her late father’s cocoa plantation. While she’s traveling across the Atlantic, an assassin strikes. The attack is meant for Puri, but it’s her husband, Cristóbal, who is killed. Now posing as Cristóbal to protect herself, Puri tries to settle into her new life in Ecuador, but she can’t help looking over her shoulder.