Book buzz: Exciting January releases to look out for on the shelf

As the new year begins and we slowly ease back into “normal” routines, the realisation hits that the coronavirus pandemic is still with us. For many, a welcome distraction and a way to self-soothe can be found in books — reading is both escape and comfort.

The South African has done the work for you and compiled a list of upcoming new releases to hit bookstores in January. Whether you’re an avid crime or thriller reader or a non-fiction fanatic, there’s something for every bookworm.

1. ‘The Runner’ by Stephen Leather

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Sally Page is a junior Secret Service agent who maintains “legends” — fake identities or footprints used by the “real” spies. Her average day consists of maintaining flats and houses where the legends supposedly live.

She does online shopping, using payment, loyalty and travel cards, and goes on social media in their names — anything to create the impression to hostile surveillance that the legends are ordinary, living, breathing individuals.

One day she goes out for a coffee run from the safe house from which she and her fellow juniors operate. Everything seems normal. When she returns, however, they have all been murdered and she barely escapes with her own life.

Now she is on the run: but from whom she has no idea. To live and learn the truth, she will have to use all the lies and false identities she had so carefully created.

2. ‘The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker’ by Joanna Nell

Evelyn is the wife of retired ship’s doctor Dr Henry Parker and is living out her twilight years aboard the Golden Sunset. Every night she dresses for dinner and enchants fellow passengers with stories of her glamorous life travelling the world. The crew treat her with deference, coldness and forbearance.

But when Henry goes missing, Evelyn sets off to search every part of the ocean liner to find him. If only she could remember the events of the night before as clearly as she could recall the first time she met Henry on a passage from England to Australia in 1953 – abandoning her dreams to become a midwife to be a wife instead – and the long-ago painful events that left Evelyn all at sea.

Why is it so hard to remember some things and so hard to forget others? And where is Henry?

3. ‘News of Our Loved Ones’ by Abigail DeWitt

Set in France and the US, News of Our Loved Ones is a haunting and intimate examination of love and loss, human strength and the cost of survival, experienced by two generations of one French family — a family whose lives are touched by the tragic events of the D-Day bombings in Normandy.

Moving back and forth in time, and told from varying points of view, News of Our Loved Ones explores the intricate ways family histories are shared, and illuminates the ultimate power of storytelling to understand the past, the present and the future.

4. ‘The Little Book of Self-Care: Restore, Recharge, Flourish’ by Joanna Gray

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From the mind of the witty and relatable author Joanna Gray comes her new book, The Little Book of Self-Care. This new release shows you how to take time for yourself, keep stress at bay and take control of your mental health.

Through restorative tips, positive quotes and inspiring exercises, learn how to untangle your busy life, embrace your wellbeing and fall back in love with yourself.

5. ‘Greenlights’ by Matthew McConaughey

From the Academy Award-winning actor comes an unconventional memoir filled with raucous stories, outlawed wisdom and lessons learnt the hard way about living with eventual greater satisfaction.

It’s a love letter to life and a guide to catching more greenlights — and to realising that the yellows and reds eventually turn green too.

6. ‘Ready Player Two’ by Ernest Cline

The world has been eagerly awaiting the sequel to the bestselling science-fiction novel Ready Player One and it has finally arrived.

Days after Oasis founder James Halliday’s contest, Wade Watts makes a discovery that changes his world. Hidden within Halliday’s vault, waiting for his heir to find, lies a technological advancement that will once again change the universe and the lives of everyone it it.

With this secret technology comes a new riddle and a new quest. A last Easter egg from Halliday, hinting at a mysterious prize. And an unexpected, impossibly powerful, and dangerous new rival awaits, one who will kill millions to get what he wants.

Wade’s life and the future of the Oasis are again at stake, but this time the fate of humanity also hangs in the balance.

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