The Best New Book Releases Out March 19, 2024

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Erica Ezeifedi

Associate Editor

Erica Ezeifedi, Associate Editor, is a transplant from Nashville, TN that has settled in the North East. In addition to being a writer, she has worked as a victim advocate and in public libraries, where she has focused on creating safe spaces for queer teens, mentorship, and providing test prep instruction free to students. Outside of work, much of her free time is spent looking for her next great read and planning her next snack. Find her on Twitter at @Erica_Eze_.

First up, I’ve got a pick-me-up for the Golden Girl fans (you’re welcome).


This is by far my favorite series right now😭 comment songs you want to hear me remix🫶🏾 #fyp #afrobeat #water #viral #blowthisup #followme #share #repost #goldengirls #themesong

♬ original sound – Ms. Tatiana🤎

Now for book things: last week, The Atlantic released its list of the Great American Novels, and I thought it was pretty dope. It’s split into decades — starting in the 1920s and continuing on to the 2020s — and has a good amount of diversity. It doesn’t feel like the usual round-up of its kind.

The 59th Nebula Award finalists were also announced. Of course, I haven’t read all of them — or even a majority of them — but there are a few I’m excited to see named (Mammoths at the Gates by Nghi Vo, The Water Outlaws by S.L. Huang, and To Shape a Dragon’s Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose), and a few I’ve been put onto (Shigidi and the Brass Head of Obalufon by Wole Talabi and The Saint of Bright Doors by Vajra Chandrasekera).

Today’s new releases are tales of art, family, and love that are full of magical realism (The Waves Take You Home by María Alejandra Barrios Vélez), YA psychological thrillers (Under This Red Rock by Mindy McGinnis), and memoirs that look at a Hmong family’s escape to safety and how the AIDS crisis and the rise of the internet are connected (Where Rivers Part: A Story of My Mother’s Life by Kao Kalia Yang and The Observable Universe: An Investigation by Heather McCalden, respectively).

The books below are by award-winning, bestselling, freedom-fighting writers. They tell familiar stories, but from new angles, analyze the changing times, and advocate for the voiceless.

James by Percival Everett

James by Percival Everett

From the author of Erasure — what the Oscar-winning movie American Fiction is based on — comes a retelling of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but from Jim’s point of view. Jim is an enslaved man who learns he’s about to be sold to a white man in New Orleans, and so hides out until he can think of something that’ll keep him with his family. Then there’s Huck Finn, who is trying to escape his own violence. The two embark on their familiar story, this time with Jim’s full humanity on display.

cover of Memory Piece  Lisa Ko

Memory Piece by Lisa Ko

The latest from National Book Award finalist Lisa Ko (The Leavers) follows three teenagers as they journey through life. At first, Ellen Ng, Jackie Ong, and Giselle Chin are united by how different from everyone else in their ’80s high school they are. Once they’re adults, a changing tech and social landscape has them reconsidering where they and their dreams stand — Giselle finds herself in an unfamiliarly elite world as a performance artist, Jackie witnesses in real time the early internet’s shift from being for everyone to being yet another arm of capitalism, and Ellen fights back against increased policing that comes courtesy of gentrification in New York City. Then the narrative moves to the 2040s, where things are considerably worse.

book cover for Where Sleeping Girls Lie

Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Àbíké-Íyímídé is following up her smash hit Ace of Spades with another dark academia mystery. This time, the protagonist, Sade Hussein, has just started her third year of high school when her boarding school roommate Elizabeth disappears. And, for some reason, people think she was involved. In between studying for classes, becoming close to the most popular girls in school, and trying to find Elizabeth, Sade uncovers dark secrets about what’s been happening to the female students at the prestigious academy.

cover of Woman, Life, Freedom by Marjane Satrapi, translated by Una Dimitrijevic

Woman, Life, Freedom by Marjane Satrapi, translated by Una Dimitrijevic

Satrapi has been doing the damn thing as far as graphic nonfiction is concerned. Here, she returns to the medium with more than 20 artists, journalists, activists, and scholars who’ve come together to tell the story of the feminist uprising happening in Iran that was sparked by Mahsa Amini’s murder in 2022 after the Tehranian religious police arrested her for not wearing the proper headscarf.

cover of Who's Afraid of Gender? by Judith Butler

Who’s Afraid of Gender? by Judith Butler

Feminist thought leader Judith Butler looks at how gender has become front and center in right-wing issues. They examine how this anti-gender movement works with similarly right-wing exacerbated fears surrounding things like critical race theory and migration to undermine the fight for equality.

cover of The Tree Doctor by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

The Tree Doctor by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

When the unnamed narrator of The Tree Doctor returns to California to take care of her dying mother in the early days of the pandemic, the separation from her husband and children — who are back in Hong Kong — and the weight of caring for a loved one makes her dissociate. She becomes transfixed with her mother’s garden and soon starts an affair with an arborist. Meanwhile, she notices parallels between the novel she’s trying to teach remotely — The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki — and life during a pandemic.

Other Book Riot New Releases Resources:

  • All the Books, our weekly new book releases podcast, where Liberty and a cast of co-hosts talk about eight books out that week that we’ve read and loved.
  • The New Books Newsletter, where we send you an email of the books out this week that are getting buzz.
  • Finally, if you want the real inside scoop on new releases, you have to check out Book Riot’s New Release Index! That’s where I find 90% of new releases, and you can filter by trending books, Rioters’ picks, and even LGBTQ new releases!