6 Great Books To Read This January


Reading is the only good thing to do right now!

While we already released a massive preview of the many excellent books coming out in the first half of 2019, we have still more books we'd like to highlight that are coming out this month: books of poetry, memoir, dystopian fiction. So, yes, do make sure to read Ghost Wall and Sugar Run and Oculus, but also make room on your shelves for the following works, each the perfect accompaniment to this time of year, when it's practically a mandate to stay inside and ignore the outside world and be alone with nothing but yourself—and a good book.

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh (available now)
It certainly is an apt time to read a dystopian novel that centers around a malevolent patriarchal figure and the young women who are subject to his oppressive whims. But whereas most fictional dystopias offer visions of society post-collapse, Sophie Mackintosh's The Water Cure is more elemental, demonstrating a more intimate kind of dystopia, one created not by patriarchal figures, but by a literal father (much is super-literal in dystopian fiction; e.g., the father's name is King). Grace, Lia, and Sky are three sisters who live with their parents on an isolated island, where they are protected from mainland and population that has been "contaminated." It is soon clear that the protection the parents afford their children is no protection against the harm they themselves inflict, and, as the narration switches back-and-forth from Grace to Lia and back again, a more complete picture of just how much harm that is comes into focus. It's a haunting, disturbing look into the ways in which young women are failed by those closest to them, and how those failures echo outward, poisoning all of existence.

An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma (available now)
This lyrical, beautifully wrought epic has echoes of The Odyssey but is told in Obioma's inimitable voice, and through the perspective of Igbo literary tradition. Set in Nigeria, An Orchestra of Minorities is narrated by a "chi," a guardian spirit, and is a story of love, identity, and longing. It follows Chinonso, a poor poultry farmer, who saves the life of and falls in love with Ndali, a wealthy young woman whose family doesn't approve of their relationship. Chinonso sets out and away from Ndali and his hometown, in order to be able to present himself as successful to Ndali's family. As his journeys span the globe and he experiences treachery and despair, Chinonso learns about the exigencies of fate and works to maintain his tether to his home and the woman he loves.

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro (available January 15)
Dani Shapiro's Hourglass was a moving, compelling memoir about the passage of time and her experience with love, memory, and marriage. Her newest memoir is similarly moving, each sentence cuts through you with the precision of a scalpel, and is also about family but hinges on a stunning revelation of a long-held family secret: Shapiro's beloved father was not actually her biological relative. This news came out after Shapiro took a DNA test, and led her to ask questions about identity and family and the ways in which we think we must protect each other. It's a fascinating and pertinent look into the murky world of medical ethics, as well as the kind of profound, insightful look into the meaning of love and connection that we've come to expect from Shapiro.

The Twenty-Ninth Year by Hala Alyan (available January 29)
Although the first I read of Hala Alyan's work was her beautiful debut novel, Salt Houses, it didn't take me long after finishing to read everything else Alyan had written—specifically, her poetry, which similarly offered Alyan's unique lyricism, a sensitivity to the darker currents that course through our life and our loves. There exists, within her poems, the cacophony that pervades our most intimate of relationships, a glistering sheen covering even the most banal interactions. In her newest volume of poetry, The Twenty-Ninth Year, Alyan writes about displacement and lust and marriage and heartbreak and violence and conveys the ways in which we dismantle and rebuild our identities and those of the people closest to us. Her poems feel as familiar as the prayers we make up in our own minds, as we feverishly ask for that which we're only just realizing that we want; they're a quiet triumph, sacred and profane, and, most of all, grounded in humanity.

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin (available January 29)
This biting, brilliant satire is set in the near future, one in which a medical clinic offers patients the chance to experience "demelanization"—a process that not only means bleaching skin but also narrowing noses and thinning lips. Maurice Carlos Ruffin brings a twisted exuberance to this narrative, which he centers around a father who worries and wonders if he should seek a "cure" for his biracial son. Fans of Paul Beatty's The Sellout will recognize and revel in Ruffin's similar unflinching sensibility; this is the perfect novel for people who despair at the everyday horrors and violence of America's systemic racism, but who also want to rejoice in the beautiful art that is still being made within its confines.

All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf by Katharine Smyth (available January 29)
This gorgeous, moving book gracefully moves between memoir and literary criticism, as Katharine Smyth grapples with the grief she feels at losing her father, and the ways in which Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse offered her, if not a respite from her longing, at least a means of understanding better feelings of loss and love. Smyth's writing possesses a unique ability to wend its way into your head, traveling into all the darkest corners of your mind, triggering thoughts on love and loss and family and memory you hadn't known were lurking; it's a profound experience, reading this book—one not to be missed.

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Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video)

Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.