Well, congratulations everybody, it seems like we've almost made it through this roller coaster of a year (and by roller coaster I don't mean, like, some gently sloping ride which leads to shouts of laughter and delight, I mean more like a terror-inducing hellscape that we may or may not survive). Seeing as how there's only one month left in 2016, some of the best possible advice I can give anyone involves steering clear of social media noise and cable news pundits (although as a responsible citizen of the world, that doesn't mean you should avoid well-reported news from respected print and online outlets).
And, because one of the best distractions from social media rabbit holes is a good book or two, I feel a responsibility to highlight some of the best new releases this month. December can be a fraught time for books to come out; since it's the end of the year, most people are more focused on all the great books that have come out over the last 11 months. And I get it! Some really, really great books came out. But there are also some excellent new releases on shelves right now and in the coming days, all of which would be ideal to hunker down with and will undoubtedly distract your from any of the external stresses that might otherwise be troubling you.
Click through the slideshow below to see our must-read books for the month. Read one, read 'em all, just stay away from Donald Trump's Twitter—that's the ultimate form of self-care, after all.
Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (And Everything In Between) by Lauren Graham (available now)
Okay, so technically this book came out in November (the 29th, to be precise), but what with all the Gilmore Girls withdrawals you're probably feeling from having blown through all four episodes of its revival last weekend, this dishy, funny memoir from Lorelai herself (who says Rory's the writer? not us) is exactly what you should be reading. You'll find out how Graham considered going vegan so that she could become BFFs with Ellen DeGeneres, how she knew fellow actor and Parenthood co-star Peter Krause was the one, and you'll get behind-the-scenes info about all things Gilmore. What's not to love?
Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins (available December 6)
We recommended this book way back in August as one of the fall's must-read selections, but August was a long time ago and so we wanted to boost this signal. This collection of previously unpublished short stories by the now-deceased Collins, who was an author, playwright, teacher, and political activist, has been praised by Zadie Smith, who "adored" it and said "from the first page you know you're in the hands of an exceptional writer." Collins' writing is powerful and poignant, and she offers readers an essential look into issues like race, gender, and sexuality.
Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson (available December 6)
Time for a little holiday cheer with Winterson's latest, which features magical elements (there's a talking tinsel-baby and flying dogs), all of which will leave you feeling the magic of the season—something we think everybody sorely needs right now! Plus, even though the book's title says there's only a dozen tales, Winterson makes it a baker's dozen and includes a retelling of some of her own favorite Christmas memories.
The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma by Ratika Kapur (available December 13)
A fascinating novel which explores the clash of tradition and modernity in current-day India through the eyes of one middle-aged woman, whose chance encounter with a stranger at a train station leaves her questioning everything she thinks she knows about her life and her sense of duty.
Moshi Moshi: A Novel by Banana Yoshimoto (available December 13)
Yoshimoto is one of Japan's most beloved authors and her hallmarks of elegant simplicity of language and slightly surreal and dreamy plots are on full display in this new translation of her 2010 novel. Described as a "coming of age ghost story," Moshi Moshi traces the story of Yoshie, whose father committed suicide in a pact with a woman who was not Yoshie's mother. Greiving and seeking some form of solace and recovery, Yoshie finds herself tormented by nightmares featuring her father, but manages to move forward in a way that is truly life-affirming to read about.
If Our Bodies Could Talk: A Guide to Operating and Maintaining a Human Body by James Hamblin (available December 27)
Hamblin is a doctor-turned-journalist who works at The Atlantic. He not only has a great Twitter account, he also has a finely honed ability to illuminate complex medical conundrums in a way that's easy to understand for those of us without an MD. In this always engaging, oftentimes hilarious book, Hamblin tackles some of the most common health-related questions of our times, like: Is life long enough? And: Do we still not know if cell phones cause cancer? Hamblin's answers to these and other questions are measured, smart, and—perhaps most importantly—never reductive or simplistic. Hamblin's willingness to be honest about the things the medical community does—and does not—know is refreshing in our information age, where actual facts can sometimes be hard to come by and a voice of reason is very much welcome.