The Best New Book Releases Out November 28, 2023

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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_.

In “Oh?” news, Merriam-Webster has revealed the word of the year. This word has been searched the most this year and is really pertinent to the general mood — can you guess what it is?

As for new books, the nonfiction releases include LeBron James’ biography The Book of James by Valerie Babb, and a fabulously queer book of advice and inspirational stories: The Old Gays Guide to the Good Life by Mick Peterson, Bill Lyons, Robert Reeves, and Jessay Martin. Another not to miss is Harry N. MacLean’s Starkweather, which looks at a vicious 1958 crime spree that involved America’s first modern-day mass killer.

In fiction, Nita Prose’s The Mystery Guest sees the same protagonist from last year’s mystery, The Maid, as she sleuths her way to victory. Sarah Hawley’s A Demon’s Guide to Wooing a Witch is a magical rom-com romp, and We Must Not Think of Ourselves by Lauren Grodstein bases its narrative on actual WWII archives centered around a Warsaw Ghetto. Finally, YA is offering up some fresh remixes: we have an alternate Beijing setting with a futuristic Les Misérables story in Kingdom of Without by Andrea Tang; and Gwen & Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher is a queer, medieval rom-com that has been compared to Heartstopper and A Knight’s Tale.

And, of course, the new releases below also bring that heat — there’s desert magic in a futuristic Niger, a gamer girl rom-com, a Surinamese queer classic, and more.


Like Thunder by Nnedi Okorafor

Okorafor, ever in her Africanfuturist bag, continues The Desert Magician’s Duology, which started with 2007’s Shadow Speaker — though I don’t think you need to have read the first to read this one. In Niger in 2077, desert magician and rain bringer Dikéogu Obidimkpa feels as if he’s losing his mind. And he very well might be. Which makes his journey to save the earth — a journey he went on with shadow speaker Ejii Ubaid years ago that he now realizes never quite finished — all the more complicated. When the two reunite, he’s more powerful than ever, but both rainmaker and shadow speaker have changed, and he doesn’t know if he can hold on to his sanity.

cover of Didn't See that Coming

Didn’t See that Coming by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Ms. Sutanto deals in bangers, okay? And this YA shout-out to You’ve Got Mail features a famous gamer girl who uses a secret online identity to keep the male dusties away. She’s so tight-lipped about it that even her sweet online bestie, whose username is Sourdawg, doesn’t know. Which…is fine because that’s online, not IRL. Except that she transfers to the fancy school he goes to, and now that she realizes her feelings are a little deeper than she initially thought, she’s not sure how he’ll react to her secret.

cover of On a Woman’s Madness by Astrid Roemer

On a Woman’s Madness by Astrid Roemer

This 2023 National Book Award finalist was initially released in 1982 and went on to become a Surinamese queer lit classic. When Noenka tries to divorce her abusive husband of nine days, and he refuses, she leaves her coastal hometown for the capital. Thoroughly unmoored, she finds heated romances but is plagued by the past and society’s expectations. Through Roemer’s rich, descriptive, and, at times, dreamy language, we see Noenka as she tries to understand herself in a world of religious judgment and lingering colonialism.

cover of Listen: On Music, Sound and Us by Michel Faber

Listen: On Music, Sound and Us by Michel Faber

I read The Crimson Petal and the White years ago and remember it giving me a little turbulence (the good kind). I would never think the author of that book would write a philosophical book on music, but I’m not mad. With fresh eyes (ears?), Faber looks at how we relate to music, asking both “How do we listen to music?” as well as “Why do we listen to music?” By considering everything that goes into our perception of music — like biology, illness, age, etc. — Faber challenges how music gets classified as “good” or “bad.”

cover of Godly Heathens by H.E. Edgmon

Godly Heathens by H.E. Edgmon

Gem Echols is that enby — someone known to be many people’s queer awakening. But underneath the Georgia Seminole teen’s endearing exterior lies a bundle of nerves and anxiety that only their bestie, trans kid Enzo, understands. But Enzo is miles away in Brooklyn, and Gem’s life just got extra wild. An odd girl named Willa Mae shows up and saves Gem from someone calling themselves the goddess of Death; what’s more, Willa Mae says she and Gem are old companions, and she knows about the visions that haunt Gem. She tells Gem that they are a reincarnated god, and their past trifling ways will have many more gods coming after them.

cover of Kids Run the Show by Delphine de Vigan,  Alison Anderson

Kids Run the Show by Delphine de Vigan, translated by Alison Anderson

Here, De Vigan skewers the “kidfluencer” industry, which is more than due. Mélanie and Clara are two women of the same generation who are thrown together when Clara is sent to investigate the abduction of Kimmy, Mélanie’s daughter. Thing is, Mélanie shares the lives of her children nearly all day on her YouTube channel, and any of the millions of the channel’s viewers could be the kidnapper.

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!