The best new books to read in December 2018

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Publishing always slows down a bit at the end of the year, but 2018’s final month isn’t without a few must-read titles — including a bunch that’d make for perfect holiday gifts.

All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson, by Mark Griffin

This comprehensive, complex biography of Rock Hudson — drawing on more than 100 interviews, as well as intimate access to his private journals and files — is already set to be adapted into a film, directed by Greg Berlanti (Love, Simon). (Dec. 4)

The Dakota Winters, by Tom Barbash

This new period piece from Barbash (The Last Good Chance) is set in the year leading up to the murder of John Lennon, unfurling a family saga against a critical moment in New York City’s history. (Dec. 4)

Into the Night, by Sarah Bailey

The second book in Bailey’s Gemma Woodstock series, Into the Night takes place in the aftermath of a high-profile celebrity’s shocking killing, a mystery with a little glitz attached to it. (Dec. 4)

Milkman, by Anna Burns

Burns’ demanding new novel isn’t the breeziest read, but it’s one of the year’s most fulfulling: a story about youth and inaction that feels genuinely new in its telling. And don’t just take our word for it: Milkman won this year’s prestigious Man Booker Prize. (Dec. 4)

North of Dawn, by Nuruddin Farah

The celebrated Somolian novelist returns with a quiet heartbreaker, about a happy couple whose lives are disrupted when they offer a haven of sorts to their late son’s grieving, volatile family. (Dec. 4)

Once Upon a River, by Diane Setterfield 

Setterfield’s prose feels lifted from another era, a gothic lyricism resembling old classics like Jane Eyre. River is no different, transporting readers to a U.K. river village circa 1870 and unfurling a mystery from the return of a girl presumed dead. It’s gripping stuff, but the aching stories of townsfolk who’ve loved and lost hit even harder. (Dec. 4)

Queen of Air and Darkness, by Cassandra Clare

A major new YA title to close out the year, Clare’s second book in her Dark Artifices series speaks rather urgently to the present political moment, while still continuing a story that has fans hooked. (Dec. 4)

Radiant Shimmering Light, by Sarah Selecky

A ridiculously fun satire, Selecky’s sharp, funny new novel questions how capitalism is taking over the wellness movement, and posits intriguing questions about what we’re willing to look the other way on to gain some enlightenment. (Dec. 4)

Revolution Sunday, by Wendy Guerra

If you’re interested in getting to know a great new author this holiday season, Guerra, a decorated Cuban writer, tells a fascinating story of corruption and espionage set in her home country, present-day. It’s eye-opening in more ways than one. (Dec. 4)

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