Get ready for a backdoor brag: I’m kind of hard to buy books for because I read so much.
Seriously: I’m a reader. It means I’ve tried almost everything. Twice. So I know what I like and what I don’t like. There’s also a good chance that if I want to read a book, I already have. And there’s an even better chance that I already own it even if I haven’t read it yet—because we all know that buying books, collecting books, and reading books are different skillsets, am I right?
That said, here are five books that are on my wishlist this year, and if you’re a picky reader like me—or just looking for something new—maybe you’ll be into them, too.
When literary fiction meets folklore, I’m all in. Five generations of Metis women weave this nonlinear narrative, over Indigenous American land and the bison that roamed them. This one, I don’t want to know too much about before I jump in, especially because it’s a nonlinear narrative. I already decided I want to go on the ride, so I’m going.
I love a fabulist horror, and this book is a collection of weird stories! I can’t wait to hear the story of the woman who’s haunted by her own bodily waste, and I’m just as excited to hear about the cursed child’s lamp in the shape of a rabbit. There’s something about the bite-sized terror that really lingers with me, so this one might be the book I’m most excited about on the whole list.
I love stickers so much that I’m about to tell you something silly: the only reason I behaved myself in school is so I could put that dumb little star sticker on the stupid little chart beside my name. For that reason, I really believe that Paint by Sticker could be for me… because I still love stickers. This book is the sister of paint-by-numbers or coloring books, but with the medium of the sticker.
In my twenties, if I was on vacation, I didn’t care at all about what the hotel looked like. That’s seldom the case, now, because in my late twenties, I need rest. And now that I know more about design, and just pay attention to things more in general, I really appreciate when hotels are intentional with their design… and the honeymoon hotel is one that truly fascinates me. I can turn pages of photos with heart-shaped tubs and themed décor. The social media sensation A Pretty Cool Hotel Tour created this book to celebrate one-of-a-kind hotels of all shapes. Even though it’s not a travel guide, they’re all open for business, so if I find one that I’m really excited about… well that will be next on my wishlist!
Because I’m fascinated with the history of fashion, and why clothes look, feel, and act the way that they do, this ethnographic history of the pocket is right up my alley. Hannah Carlson is a fashion historian, and in this book, she explores all the questions about pockets, from size to placement to absence—and who knew the pocket was so politically charged? I’m excited to learn all about them. And naturally, there are pictures!
Mary Kay McBrayer is the author of America’s First Female Serial Killer: Jane Toppan and the Making of a Monster. You can find her short works at Oxford American, Narratively, Mental Floss, and FANGORIA, among other publications. She co-hosts Everything Trying to Kill You, the comedy podcast that analyzes your favorite horror movies from the perspectives of women of color. Follow Mary Kay McBrayer on Instagram and Twitter, or check out her author site here.