The holidays are here at last, bringing cooler weather and thoughts of a new — and
better — year. You'll be spending even more time indoors than usual this cold season, so it's time to start preparing your next TBR list, and the most anticipated books of December are here to help.
This month brings new reads for every type of book lover, including exciting fantasy books, fascinating works of nonfiction, and gripping literary novels. Most prominent on the December docket, however, are new thrillers and rom-com novels from your favorite authors.
For thriller fans, December brings books from both established authors and relative newcomers. Karen McManus returns to stores this month with
The Cousins, Christina Dodd delights with Wrong Alibi, and Tarryn Fisher brings us The Wrong Family. Whereas romance lovers will be treated to a new series from Alyssa Cole, Robin Talley's The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre, and Saranna DeWylde's Fairy Godmothers, Inc. Read on for more. 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. Dec. 1
Years ago, a disaster caused 17-year-old Ami Miles' family to seal themselves away on their trailer dealership. Living on what is now a survival compound called Heavenly Shepherd, Ami has spent her whole life knowing that — as one of the last fertile people alive — she's destined to help repopulate the earth. But when her grandfather brings home an older stranger for her to marry, Kristy Dallas Alley's teenage heroine runs away, taking on a world she's never known to find her missing mother, in
The Ballad of Ami Miles. Dec. 1
Emma Baines was a good girl. Now she's dead, and the police are taking a good, hard look at three of her classmates. Was it Claude Vanderly, the promiscuous party girl? Perhaps it was Avery Cross, the airheaded girl who cheered alongside Emma at every school game. Or maybe, just maybe, it was Gwen Sayer: the girl whose sister died in the same place, in a murder mystery that Emma's diary reveals she was close to solving.
Best known as the author of
Harriet the Spy, Memphis, Tennessee native Louise Fitzhugh lived a life more radical than even her pluckiest heroine could imagine. A lesbian children's author from the South who found her place in mid-century New York City, where she rubbed elbows with the literati, Fitzhugh was often called upon to hide who she was from public view. She remains a mystery to this day, but Leslie Brody's new book works to pull back the curtain on Fitzhugh's sensational life. Dec. 1
Admission centers on Chloe: a high-school student whose plans to attend her dream school are dashed when the F.B.I. arrests her mother. As it turns out, the only reason Chloe got into her dream school may have been because her mother bribed the university. Now, instead of heading off to college, Chloe may be facing charges herself, in this ripped-from-the-headlines novel by the author of Tell Me Three Things. Dec. 1
The thrilling follow-up to
Queen of the Conquered picks up two months after its predecessor left off. The people of Hans Lollik have fought back against the colonizing Fjern, but the invaders now appear to be winning the war. It's up to Loren Jannik, a formerly enslaved man turned resistance leader, to help Hans Lollik regain its independence in Kacen Callender's King of the Rising. Dec. 1
Newlywed and newly crowned, Shanti finds that being a queen isn't what she imagined at all. Her husband, King Sanyu, is struggling to lead his people, who don't accept his new wife. When Shanti runs away, Sanyu must find a way to win back his wife in the first installment of Alyssa Cole's Runaway Royals series.
A pair of estranged sisters collide in this funny, heartfelt debut novel about two rival Kansas chicken shacks. Amanda and Mae Moore grew up working at their mom's restaurant, Chicken Mimi's. Then Mae moved to New York, and Amanda married Frank Pogociello and began working at
his family's restaurant, Chicken Frannie's. With the tension between the Moore and Pogociello families at an all-time high, Amanda turns to Food Wars —TV's hottest new competition show — for help. As the Food Wars crew descends on Merinac, Kansas, Mae returns home from New York, looking to get back into her mother's good graces. Dec. 1
Evie Green's lauded horror debut arrives in stores this month. In
We Hear Voices, a mother's love is put to the test when her son gains an imaginary friend after surviving a deadly flu outbreak. Billy's "friendship" with Delfy began as harmless fun, but as his actions grow stranger and more dangerous, Billy's mother must figure out how to save her whole family — including Billy himself. Dec. 1
The Story family don't speak to one another much, not since their matriarch disinherited all three of her children. But Grandmother has recently extended an olive branch to the three Story cousins, inviting Aubrey, Jonah, and Milly to spend the summer working at the island resort she owns. Their parents think this is the perfect way to get them all written back into Grandmother's will, but not all is as it seems in the Story family, as these three teens will soon find out.
Much ink has been spilled in attempts to trace Donald Trump's rise to power, but the problem does not begin or end with Trump. As Ijeoma Oluo's
Mediocre points out, the western world's white supremacist patriarchy has made it possible for white cis men to skate through life without much hassle, and, in rewarding their mediocrity, has created a system in which they may do dangerous and terrible things with impunity. Dec. 1
Homeira Qaderi has always been a rebel. When she found herself unwilling to accept her husband's plan to take a new wife, Qaderi divorced... but lost custody of her young son in the process.
Dancing in the Mosque is one woman's brilliant love letter to the son she had to leave behind. Dec. 1
An escaped racehorse takes center stage in this lively new novel from
A Thousand Acres author Jane Smiley. After she leaves her stable to see all of what Paris has to offer, Paras — short for Perestroika — falls in with a dog, two ducks, and a raven, who become her new best friends in the big, wide world. But when Paras meets Etienne, a boy who lives a hermit-like life with his aging grandmother, she finds a new connection. Etienne will do his best to hide the runaway horse from her racing handlers, but can he keep Paras all to himself? Dec. 1
Sabaa Tahir began telling Laia and Elias' story in her 2015 debut,
An Ember in the Ashes. Now, their saga comes to a stunning conclusion in A Sky Beyond the Storm. The Nightbringer and his Empress are closing in on Laia and the Blood Shrike, and even though Laia has discovered a new set of abilities, she may not be able to fend off the forces of evil alone. The Soul Catcher left his old life behind, but will he return to help Laia defeat the Nightbringer? Dec. 1
High school stage manager Melody McIntyre can micro-manage everything except her love life. Tired of serial monogamy, Mel decides to swear off dating as she works to bring
Les Misérables to the stage. There's just one problem: an up-and-coming new starlet has decided to audition for Les Mis, and she's just as dedicated to the success of the performance as Mel. Now, the unlucky-in-love stage manager will have to work even harder to make the production a success... without falling in love in the process. Dec. 1
College professor Naya is an inveterate workaholic, but her friends have challenged her to have a little fun tonight. Armed with a checklist that ends in a one-night stand, Naya's ready to let herself relax, but things don't exactly go according to plan. Naya wants Jake to be more than just a casual hookup, but being with him means putting her whole career in jeopardy, in
How to Fail at Flirting. Dec. 8
Calling all dog lovers: If you don't have
The Particulars of Peter on your December TBR, get ready to make some adjustments. The story of a dog who found his perfect forever home with his foster mom, Kelly Conaboy's new memoir is just the kind of touching read we all need as 2020 comes to a close. Dec. 8
A poignant coming-of-age story about love and loss set in postwar Korea, Sumi Hahn's
The Mermaid from Jeju centers on Junja: the heir to a family legacy of freediving for abalone and pearls. When she trades places with her mother on a trading expedition to Korea's mountains regions, Junja falls in love for the first time. Happiness quickly turns to tears, however, when her mother dies in a dive that Junja would have made, had they not traded places. As her life begins to spiral quickly out of control, young Junja must find the strength to stand on her own in a rapidly changing world. Dec. 8
As a nation struggles to recover from a series of catastrophes, the government begins rounding up marginalized people and forcing them into labor camps in Catherine Hernandez's frightening new novel. Together, four unlikely comrades — including a former drag queen and a trans refugee — must band together and fight back in
Crosshairs. Dec. 8
Leeds loves Layla, but does he bear some responsibility for the attack that put her in the hospital? His ex-girlfriend attacked his new love after seeing a picture of the two of them on Leeds' social media account. Now, the Layla he fell in love with has been replaced by someone he doesn't recognize, and Leeds makes one last-ditch effort to save their relationship. At the B&B where they first met, he hopes to rekindle his romance with Layla, but meeting a new and enigmatic woman might result in a change of plans.
When her first post-high-school summer doesn't go as planned, 17-year-old Ellen must find some way to convince her parents to let her out of the house to see her BFFs, even though she's technically grounded. She finds her way out of the house by joining the local Quidditch team, but will getting involved with her new team mean losing her best friends forever?
For 11 days in 1926, no one knew where Agatha Christie was. When she returned, she never spoke of what transpired during her week-and-a-half-long disappearance.
The Other Einstein author Marie Benedict imagines what might have happened to the beloved whodunnit writer during those 11 days in The Mystery of Mrs. Christie. Dec. 29
When Yolanda's old law firm became the center of an F.B.I. investigation, she rolled over on them to become an agent herself. Now she's working undercover, infiltrating a Black activist group that the Bureau has marked as an "extremist" organization. She has every intention of turning in the leaders of Red, Black, and Green, but then she falls in love — with both a person and a mission.
Ever After, Missouri's three resident fairy godmothers think the town's love and magic stores could use a boost. They begin to meddle in the affairs of the mortals who live there, with catastrophically hilarious results, in Saranna DeWylde's
Fairy Godmothers, Inc. Dec. 29
Evelyn's employer has vanished without a trace, but losing her job is the least of her worries. Convicted of charges that range from theft to murder, 18-year-old Evie has no choice but to flee deeper into the Alaskan wilderness and start a new life under an assumed name. Then her employer shows up again, and the game is on to clear Evie's name... or die trying.
Dec. 29 The Wives author Tarryn Fisher returns to store shelves this month with The Wrong Family. Juno thought the Crouches truly had it all, but nothing is as it seems in this twisty new thriller. Now, the retired therapist is stuck living with the picture-perfect family, and she's about to get sucked into the tangle of their not-so-perfect lives.