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If you’re anything like me your New Year’s resolution is to read more. If you’re anything like me you’re usually done with that before the second week of January. We need to be able to escape, cry and laugh into books more than ever. Here’s our picks for fiction, nonfiction, poetry and cookbooks to start 2017.


For the person who resolved to get caught up with modern lit

Swing Time by Sadie Smith

This book will catch you up on what’s happening in the literary world. You might recognize this author from her amazing debut book White Teeth or from our holiday gift guide. The story follows two female friends throughout their careers, travels and dreams of being a dancer. I can’t decide what I love more about this book: the plot or the beautiful prose. You’ll love this story if you’re a fan of Toni Morrison’s work. Pairs well with turning off your phone for the night or single tracking on the red line.

For that person who wants to explore more art in 2017

Pond by Claire Louise Bennett

This is Bennett’s first book, and it does not disappoint. You’ll love it if you’re a fan of experimental art because it completely ignores some literary standards like a conventional plot or named characters. The voice in this book is so surreal you’ll find yourself surrendering to the unconventionality of it. Pairs well with accidentally getting drunk on a weeknight and taking a “sick day” the next day.

For that person that wants to read more classics in 2017

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

This is a great classic for January because what could be better than an early-romantic feminist text to start the new year? Pairs well with smashing the patriarchy and sitting on the couch while your significant other watches Sunday Night Football.


For that person who has already given up on their New Year’s Resolution

The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place: The Art of Being Messy by Jennifer McCartney

If you’re the kind of person that will never commit to The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you need to read this. This guide teaches that messy people are more creative and productive. This is your time to buy more shit and shine! Pairs well with ignoring the growing dirty pile of laundry at the foot of your bed and ordering take-out for the fourth night in a row so you never have to run the dishwasher.

For the person that was done with 2016 in March

 Against Everything by Mark Greif

This cover has been all over bookstore Instagrams for the last month and you need to get your hands on a copy. The essays are deeply philosophical and intellectual–perfect for people who want to cram in a lot of literature into a little bit of time. Pairs well with morning WMATA commutes or snow days.

For the person that wants to explore new areas of D.C. in 2017

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This should be your go-to book if you’re terrified about the impending political climate. This is Coates’ letter to his son about what it means to grow up as a black male in America today. It deals with themes of the modern American dream, police brutality and gender construction. This book also has unique D.C. feel too it. Coates has a section of the book dedicated to the years he studied at Howard. He paints the streets of Shaw in the early 90’s so vividly you feel like you’re walking with him. Pairs well with Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and Kanye West’s Life of Pablo.

For the person that wants to try a different genre in 2017

Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl by Sandra Beasley

There is so much to love about this book. First of all, Sandra Beasley is a local author. This has cutting dark humor about being a kid growing up who is allergic to almost everything. Beasley introduces you to the science of what it’s like to be a person with a body designed to fail. This is a science book for people that think they hate science books. Pairs well with an episode of Good Eats and a trip to the any of D.C.’s locally owned bookstores.


For the person trying to expand their book collection in 2017

Penguin Modern Poets Series by Various Authors

This collection is really great if poetry isn’t really your thing, but you’re willing to give it a try. Penguin initially launched this series in the 60s and revived it last year. Each edition gives sense of work of the three different poets. Pairs well with eventually taking down the Christmas tree and finishing off the eggnog with some Bailey’s.

For that person that wants a quiet escape in 2017

Splitting an Order by Ted Kooser

This is the best collection of poems.  This is another favorite if you’re not sure you jive with poetry. Kooser is well known for being a really accessible poet, so you won’t get lost in his metaphors or narratives. You’ll love this book if you grew up in a small town. Pairs well over a quiet lunch or a weekend getaway.

For that person that wants to support local artists

Honest Engine by Kyle Dargan

Kyle Dargan is a poet and professor at American University. He is a serious emerging voice in the literary world. He was a finalist for the 2016 Tufts poetry award. This collection has poems that relate to the macro-political world of D.C. and the smaller nooks and crannies of D.C.’s neighborhoods.  Pairs well with the lighting in the Kogod Courtyard and unfollowing Trump on Twitter.

For that person who enjoys political literature

Notes on Assemblage by Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera is the current (and maybe best) U.S. Poet Laureate which means that he produces some damn good poems. He is the country’s first Latino Poet Laureate and much of his work centers around this identity. Every time I read a poem from Notes on Assemblage I feel a little more human than I did before. Pairs well with random acts of kindness and a trip to the Library of Congress.


For that person who is going to be partying with BYT this Saturday

Nordic Light by Simon Bajada

Nordic Light is one part coffee table book one part cookbook. Bajaba showcases the beautiful natural light of Scandinavia and the culture’s light cuisine. Some of the highlights from the collection are the saffron-pistachio-coconut pines, brown-butter mussels with an apple-dill sauce, or the smoky caccao bars. Pairs well with BYT and The Hirshhorn Present: Ragnaröck A Hirshhorn Late Night and launching your foodstagram.

For the person that wants to stop drinking Whole Food’s Three Wishes Wine in 2017

The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert: Take a Whiff of That by Richard Betts

The new year calls for indulging in the finer things in life like wine that costs more than three dollars. Betts’ book is fun and interactive without making you sound like a douche-wine-snob. You scratch and sniff your way to being a wine connoisseur.  This book also makes a good gift for a wine novice friend that can’t tell the difference between a Shiraz and a Chardonnay. Pairs well with cheese and any wine not served out of a bag.

For that person that wants to read more than they watch Netlix in 2017

Eat Like a Gilmore: The Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Gilmore Girls by Kristi Carlson

This cookbook does more than the expected Luke’s burger and Al’s Pancake World cuisine. Fans will be pleased by the way Carlson dives into the GG’s deep-cuts with dishes inspired by Emily’s dinners and Sooki’s famous dishes. Pairs well with the obvious: coffee and restarting the series for the twelfth time.