Amazon's best books of January

Erin Kodicek on January 04, 2021
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Amazon's best books of January

New year, twelve new books to help fuel that “read more” resolution for 2021.This month's releases include a smart satire about start-up culture, an impressive debut that's drawing comparisons to Toni Morrison, an autobiography by famed actor Gabriel Bryne, and much more.

Learn about these and all of the Amazon Editors' picks for the Best Books of the Month.


Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

This is a wildly funny and exuberant page-turner, a mash-up between the humor of the everyday and the insanity of start-up culture. The novel follows Darren Vender, a Starbucks employee who joins a new tech company and quickly transforms into “Buck,” the company’s best salesman—and only Black salesman. You’ll root for Buck, his neighborhood, and his mission—just hang on to your hat. —Al Woodworth


The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.

The intimate connection between two male slaves toiling on a Mississippi plantation is the only thing that cuts through their otherwise brutal existence. This is the one bright spot in a lyrical but devastating debut novel that shines a harsher light on a shameful legacy that is still deeply felt today. It’s also a profound reminder of love’s power to repudiate it. —Erin Kodicek


Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton

This debut novel, which tackles issues as broad as climate change and racism, will rightly be compared to Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing. Waiting for the Night Song has the lyricism of a poem and the pacing of a thriller. Dalton is a writer to watch. —Sarah Gelman


Outlawed by Anna North

Cowboy antics abound in Anna North’s novel about a band of outlaws and their quest to establish a place where they belong. There are hideouts and shoot-outs but also the grim reality of what it means to be an outcast from society and a barren woman at the turn of the century in America. This is a brilliant twist on the Western genre and a welcome addition, indeed. —Al Woodworth


Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Johnson’s wryly funny novel celebrates the complexity of friendship and love in its story of a 1938 Reno ranch that caters to women seeking divorce. Charmingly told through the eyes of a ranch hand who is pulled into the shenanigans of two guests, this bighearted story offers hard-won wisdom and will leave readers smiling at the end. —Adrian Liang


The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict

Readers will hone their own detective skills as they race through Marie Benedict’s exhilarating novelization of Agatha Christie’s true-life disappearance in 1926 on the cusp of her leap to mystery-writing greatness. Whether you’re a Christie enthusiast or a historical fiction lover, every page is a revelation, and Benedict builds this tale of a marriage on the rocks to a flawless finale. —Adrian Liang


Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder by T.A. Willberg

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder reads like Harry Potter for adults—set in foggy 1950s London—with dashes of Kingsman and even a sprinkle of steampunk. Below an unassuming bookshop lies a secret, subterranean detective agency, stunned by a murder in its ranks. Atmospheric world-building, a satisfying locked room mystery, and brave detecting apprentice Marion Lane make this a delightful page-turner. —Vannessa Cronin


Nine Days: The Race to Save Martin Luther King Jr.’s Life and Win the 1960 Election by Stephen Kendrick and Paul Kendrick

To paraphrase Lenin, sometimes there are weeks where decades happen. Or in this case, nine days. The authors place the reader into a tense historical moment, populated by historical figures just coming into their own, to illustrate how King’s jailing, and Kennedy’s reaction, formed an inflection point that still defines our political parties today. —Chris Schluep


Aftershocks: A Memoir by Nadia Owusu

Achingly intimate and flaming with rage, hurt, and sadness, Nadia Owusu’s memoir wrestles with big questions of identity and demonstrates just how fragile it can be. After the death of her father and the discovery of tectonic-shifting secrets of her family's past, Owusu must “construct a story, to reconstruct her world.” A blistering and searching portrait of what it means to belong and to whom. —Al Woodworth


The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Part of the fun of The Wife Upstairs is seeing how closely Hawkins sticks to the plot of Jane Eyre, and the other part is how inventively and audaciously she strays from it. And going from English Gothic to Southern Gothic is just the beginning. Unpredictable twists, smart spins on the canon, and even a hat tip to Rebecca make this a fun read. —Vannessa Cronin


Walking with Ghosts: A Memoir by Gabriel Byrne

Walking with Ghosts would be a fascinating, moving, lyrical, and touchingly funny memoir even if one didn’t know its subject and author were actor Gabriel Byrne. Avoiding the celebrity-studded tell-all, Byrne, with the wonder of someone examining pieces of sea glass, touchingly and self-deprecatingly recounts the people and events that shaped him and set him on his life’s path. —Vannessa Cronin


Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear by Dr. Carl L. Hart

Dr. Carl L. Hart, a neuroscientist and expert on drug use, presents a shocking and revelatory argument for a revisionist drug policy. Hart’s scientific research, close examination of racist drug laws, and his personal experiences shed new light on decades of propaganda and compel us to take a fresh look at the facts of drug use, addiction, and incarceration. —Seira Wilson


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