Readers' Most Anticipated Books of December

Posted by Cybil on December 1, 2020

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.”

That’s Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani human rights activist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize–at age 17. Yousafzai’s famous quote starts with a book, and it’s a good reminder of the central role of reading in any society that hopes to successfully move forward through time. Reading, as they say, is fundamental.
New this month: The real-life disappearance of a famous novelist stumps the world in The Mystery of Mrs. Christie. And a veteran writer takes on a national malady in Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America. Also keep an eye out for escaped racehorses, heroic drag queens, and Victorian polar explorers (also a good band name, by the way.)
Each month the Goodreads editorial team takes a look at the books that are being published in the U.S., readers' early reviews, and how many readers are adding these books to their Want to Read shelves (which is how we measure anticipation). We use the information to curate this list of hottest new releases.

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Employing a throwback style of imaginative literary fiction, author Jane Smiley (A Thousand Acres) brings us the story of the racehorse Perestroika, who escapes into the city of Paris for a rendezvous with destiny. Her adventure leads to friendships with a streetwise dog, an opinionated raven, some remarkably chill rats, and a lonely little human boy named Etienne. The point being: All species crave love and freedom. Who can argue with that?

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From the author of The Wives, this twisty psychological thriller probes the consequences of being wrong. Retired therapist Juno got it wrong when she first moved in with the Crouch family–Winnie, Nigel and their son. Juno’s initial admiration for the picture-perfect marriage? That was wrong, too. In fact, there’s something seriously wrong with this whole set up. Oh, and there may be a few things wrong with Juno, too. Well, you can’t get them all right.

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Three cousins–Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah–are invited by their wealthy grandmother to work at her island resort for the summer. It seems like a great opportunity. Grandma broke off relations with the rest of the family years ago, after some unspoken incident, and this is a chance to get back on her good side. But when they arrive, it becomes clear that Grandma has other plans in mind. Whatever happened way back when, Grandma hasn’t forgotten….

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This buzzy thriller from debut author Darby Kane starts with a reasonable complaint: Is it too much to ask that a dead body stay dead? When a sleepy college town is roiled by a series of mysterious disappearances, Lila Ridgefield finds herself in the middle of the investigation. Makes sense–after all, her husband is one of this missing. The wrinkle: Lila knows her husband is dead. The other wrinkle: But now his body has disappeared.

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As a specimen of “what if?” literary conjecture, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie has a great hook. In December 1926, world-famous author Agatha Christie suddenly went missing. Investigators were baffled and for 11 days the world waited and watched as Christie seemed to vanish into one of her own mysterious stories. Author Marie Benedict (The Only Woman in the Room) proceeds from these real-life events to provide a historical fiction account of what happened, and when, and why.

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In this twisty tale of suspense, the new neighbors aren't quite what they seem to be. When the welcome wagon goes off the rails, look for plenty of unhealthy obsessions along with a bevy of temptations, secrets, and toxic jealousy from the author of the Deanna Madden series. 

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Good adventure novels are a particularly nice treat in the cold days of December, and Greer Macallister’s latest keeps the chilly theme up front and center. Inspired by true events, The Arctic Fury depicts the mad quest of eccentric Lady Jane Franklin and adventurer Virginia Reeve, who set out to rescue a lost Arctic expedition in 1850. A dozen women departed on the trip. Only five returned. And one of them is now on trial for murder.

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Here’s an intriguing adventure for you: In an unnervingly plausible near-future dystopia, heavy weather has degraded the planet and a lethal new regime has assumed power. Terror squads are rounding up the disabled, LGBTQ communities, and persons of color and sending them to forced labor camps. Former drag queen Kay joins up with the resistance, led by the rogue army officer and fierce ally known as Beck. Author Catherine Hernandez presents a new kind of cautionary tale.

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Writer, scholar and radio host Michael Eric Dyson confronts America’s history of racism and oppression with five in-depth essays on our ongoing national trauma. Each essay is addressed to a Black martyr–Breonna Taylor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney–dramatically underlining the terrible truth of this life-or-death struggle. Dyson’s book is a passionate call for true reckoning, and perhaps a new trailhead for the path to redemption.

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Author Ijeoma Oluo–writer, speaker, and proud “Internet Yeller”–launches an ambitious foray into the occupied lands of white male America. Speaking with fellow citizens around the country, Oluo asks the hard questions. How did one specific group manage to get such a stranglehold on our land of immigrants and opportunity? What has it cost us, ultimately? And where do we go from here? They’re good questions, really.


Which new releases are you looking forward to reading? Let's talk books in the comments!

Check out more recent articles, including:
Goodreads Staffers Share Their Top Three Books of the Year
The Most Anticipated YA Books of December
Steamy Romances to Heat Up December

Comments Showing 1-20 of 20 (20 new)

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message 1: by Carole (new)

message 2: by Debra (new)

Debra The Mystery of Mrs. Christie - enjoy Marie Benedict. Looking forward to how she handles this tale.

message 4: by vicki (new)

vicki honeyman I can’t wait to read reactions to Jane Smiley’s new’s, in a word, delightful!

Jenannisreading....Ihope The Frozen Prince
That is the second book in the beast charmer series and came out December 1st and is under rated but the first book is really good and I can't wait to pick this one up.

message 6: by ClaraBelle (new)

ClaraBelle I’m excited about the Mrs Christie book, The Cousins, and the Jane Smiley book!

message 7: by Ibraheem (new)

Ibraheem Suhail Where is a Sky Beyond The Storm. It's my most anticipated book of 2020

message 8: by Temiteturtle (new)

Temiteturtle Dont temite me it's almost 2021©®

message 9: by Temiteturtle (new)

Temiteturtle Little more serious than usual

message 10: by Sharon, Goodreads employee (new)

Sharon Ibraheem wrote: "Where is a Sky Beyond The Storm. It's my most anticipated book of 2020"

You can find it in our most anticipated young adult books of December coverage!

Jenannisreading....Ihope But this list is really good I like it.

message 12: by Elke (last edited Dec 02, 2020 09:06PM) (new)

message 13: by Abinet (new)

Abinet thanks

Alma (retirement at last) Arctic Fury is my choice. Nothing like a group of kicka** women to get the party started for 2021

message 15: by AJ (new)

AJ Ugh.

Alma (retirement at last) I say this with tongue in cheek lol😄

message 17: by None (new)

None Of your Business The villain by LJ shen💓💓

message 18: by Thea (new)

Thea The general plot of Jane Smiley's new book sounds remarkably similar to a book from 2019... only, the players in that were, a horse, a fox, a mole and a boy, also searching for love, freedom and home.

message 19: by Floyd Jones (new)

Floyd Jones Read the book The Waltz by Morgan Mercer, clean, no sex or violence.

message 20: by Beth (new)

Beth Higdon Im looking for some new serries to read...i have read steel brother by helen hardt ...safegard by Kennedy layne but im looking for more suspense, thriller,,,treasure hunting things like that...series that keep u on the edge of your seat....real page turner's....and help would be great...

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