2023 Bestsellers & Collective Picks

This year was a real horror show, but it wasn't our first season. We're squarely in season two, or even three, with the studio attempting to pivot clumsily from the pandemic plotline to a global conflict arc they started developing in 2022. The big themes—natural disasters, fascism, celebrity drama—all feel bleakly repetitive, which only heightens our suspicion that episodes were being AI generated after the showrunners walked out. Maybe next year we write our own script?

Horror is having a moment and we read a lot of it this year—unsettling and terrifying, new horror titles from marginalized authors were our vaccine against the real world horrors we're facing. When we weren't reading for escape, our community gravitated to books about collective care and the safety that can only be won through struggle and solidarity.

Presented here are the new titles that resonated most with our community during a fourth pandemic year!

Showing 1 - 12 of 24 items

In this stunning epic fantasy, lush with detail and nuance, Shannon weaves a tale of three powerful women that intersect in the most thrilling ways. Huge in scope, rich with emotion, and gorgeously queer, A Day of Fallen Night is the Roots of Chaos book fans have been waiting for. Shannon is simply a master of the genre.
—C. S. Pacat, author of Dark Rise

These vivid and provocative stories represent a dreaming, a collective vision of future worlds where humanity has gathered itself, shared resources and wisdom, to arrive at a place of intentional action, health, and thriving... The tales of Afterglow offer the glimmers of possibility, the hard choices to be made, and the radiance of worlds not yet known but deeply needed.
—Sheree Renée Thomas, editor of Africa Risen

A shockingly powerful, wrenchingly beautiful queer cyberpunk fable from debut novelist and veteran artist micha cárdenas... Cárdenas fearlessly plumbs the depths of her characters' terror and trauma as they resist the depredations of fascism and digital surveillance, but also infuses her novel with hope, healing, and possibility.
—Kai Cheng Thom, author of Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars

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What if a powerful church community is hiding secrets more horrifying than you can even imagine? The best contribution to the conversion camp cannon since But I'm a Cheerleader, Camp Damascus is not a one note experience, and Tingle expertly balances the bitter taste of religious trauma with the sweetness of first love, friendship in the face of the greatest odds, and the most satisfying 'fuck around and find out' moment in literary history.
Esmé, The Firestorm Collective

A defiant, awe-inspiring novel that will be read, studied, and celebrated for generations, Chain-Gang All-Stars leads with love. Adjei-Brenyah writes with stunning compassion and moral clarity as he interrogates every facet of our carceral world and the American spectacle of violence, never losing sight of the human cost of systemic injustice. Readers will be forever changed by this book.
—Jessamine Chan, author of The School for Good Mothers

[A] baffling murder happens on a starship traveling from Earth to a distant star, knocking the travelers off course... The Deep Sky is a rare treat: a totally satisfying whodunnit featuring great clues, twists, reveals and red herrings, along with clever science-fictional concepts... Kitasei uses her starship setting to show how nationalism and technology conspire to divide people, even far from home... Highly recommended.
—Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky

Kai Cheng Thom’s new collection is a tender incantation against the failures of hope. In these letters, Thom reaches toward lost souls of all kinds: outlaws, movement martyrs, fellow trans femmes of color, and ‘the ones this world was never made for,’ to whom she sends poems that read like prayers, rituals to lay down our collective hurts. I am grateful for these spells and balms, for the worlds of generosity this book dares into being.
—Franny Choi, author of The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On

Rich, rigorous, poetic and accessible, this is a book I will return to again and again for guidance and affirmation, a reminder of the interconnectedness of all who resist oppression, of all who despair, of all who live for Revolutionary Love.
—Yassmin Abdel-Magied, author of Talking About a Revolution

It Did Happen Here offers a front-row seat to what really happened on the streets of the Pacific Northwest, when working-class people confronted fascism, white supremacy, and the Far Right head on. At a time when calls for combating ‘violent extremism’ often are synonymous with draconian surveillance and State repression, this book shines a light on the ability and courage of everyday people to defend their streets and communities.
It’s Going Down

This is a prophetic work, one that will be pressed with great urgency into the palms of friends and comrades, kin and colleagues, and anyone else ready to rise up against machineries of mass death. With great clarity and generosity, Hayes and Kaba model how participants in movements can be tough on systems while being gentle with one another and themselves, nurturing a ‘counterculture of care’ as an integral part of building the next world.
—Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything

Angry, beautiful, raw, visceral, and heartfelt, Let Us Descend is the literary equivalent of an open wound from which poetry pours. This novel is a thing you can't help but to feel, a narrative that hurts to read but that also fills you with hope... Ward has taken Black history in a time of racial and political turmoil and used it to scream about grief and injustice, but also about beauty, queer love, history, determination, and joy.
—Gabino Iglesias, author of The Devil Takes You Home

The editors and contributors of Make the Golf Course a Public Sex Forest understand the centrality of erotics to the creation of a better tomorrow... [The book] imagines civic space that encourages all willing adults to explore their environment, their relationship to others and nature. It is a wildly fun, singular book, an exciting new work from the Midwest, and a compelling pro-sexuality independent project.
—Anna Aguiar Kosicki, The New Inquiry