Reads for the Rest of Us: The Most Anticipated Feminist Books of 2023 – Ms. Magazine

Through this column, I provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups.

The aims of the column are threefold:

  • I want to do my part in the disruption of what has been the acceptable “norm” in the book world for far too long—white, cis, heterosexual, male;
  • I want to amplify amazing works by writers who are women, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, APIA/AAPI, international, LGBIA+, TGNC, queer, disabled, fat, immigrant, Muslim, neurodivergent, sex-positive or of other historically marginalized identities—you know, the rest of us; and
  • I want to challenge and encourage you all to buy, borrow and read them!
  • You’ve seen the other “most anticipated books for 2023” lists, now read this one… you know, for the rest of us!

I have spent the last few months scouring catalogs and websites, receiving hundreds of books and even more emails from authors, publicists and publishers, reading your book Tweets and DMs, all to find out what books are coming out in 2023 that I think you, my exceptional, inquisitive and discerning Ms. readers, will want to hear about.

But let’s state the obvious first. I know I am biased but the first book I am most excited about this year is releasing in September. It’s 50 Years of Ms.: The Best of the Pathfinding Magazine That Ignited a Revolution, of course, edited by Kathy Spillar, with an introduction by Ellie Smeal and a foreword by Gloria Steinem! Preorder yours and be sure to celebrate with us all year long.

Okay, now on to the rest of the list. There are more than 80 books here and honestly, for each one I’ve included, there are at least two (or 10) other great books coming out by women of color, femmes, queer and gender-diverse writers that I could’ve picked. It was near impossible to choose from among them, and that is so great! I love seeing more books each year that challenge the colonizer status quo of publishing and open more hearts and minds to the delicious joy and wisdom that comes from reading books outside our usual shelves.

So some of the well-publicized books you’ve probably already heard about and should absolutely read but that aren’t on this list include Rebecca Makkai’s I Have Some Questions for You (Feb. 21); Jessica George’s Maame (Jan. 31); Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀’s A Spell of Good Things (Feb. 7); Rachel Heng’s The Great Reclamation (Mar. 28); and more.

While there are some books here from the Big Publishers—HarperCollins included, but I remain in full support of the strike—I focus my energies on indie publishers, debut authors and those who may not have the resources of the heavy hitters. These are still amazing books by wonderful writers that you should definitely check out.

  • The fine print:
  • You’ll notice the list is front-loaded because, well, we know about more books coming out in the next few months than those coming in the fall.
  • Release dates are always subject to change, especially for books due to come out later in the year.
  • I include nonfiction and academic titles because I know you are smart people who are always learning!
  • I also include young adult (YA) books because they are often on the cutting edge in terms of character inclusion and candor about the realities of the world in which we live.
  • I don’t include poetry (SORRY!) only because the list is already so long—but watch for my poetry round-up coming in April.
  • I am certain to have missed some fine new books or just decided not to include others. I can’t include them all, so when I curate these lists, I choose to highlight debut authors and indie publishers presuming the big names may have the resources to reach more people on their own. (That’s why it’s a damn good thing I give you a list of new releases every month so be sure to come back to check those out.)

So let’s get to it!


(See my list of January Reads for more!)

Bad Cree: A Novel

By Jessica Johns (Sucker Creek First Nation) (@JessicaStellaaa). Doubleday. 272 pages. Out now. 

After her sister dies, Mackenzie is riddled with guilt and all-too-real dreams, not to mention the murder of crows that seem to be following her every move. Johns has crafted a magical debut thriller that is both terrifying but also lovingly written. 


I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself: A Novel 

By Marisa Crane (@MCrane_12). Catapult. 352 pages. Out now. 

This singular debut offers a fresh peek at our dystopian future, one in which wrongdoers carry around extra shadows as reminders and warnings of their misdeeds. As one mom struggles to raise her child after her wife dies, she leans on others to resist the injustices of the surveillance state. 


I Saw Death Coming: A History of Terror and Survival in the War Against Reconstruction 

By Kidada E. Williams (@KidadaEWilliams). Bloomsbury Publishing. 384 pages. Out now. 

In this extraordinary work of scholarship, Williams offers an insightful reexamination of the Reconstruction period and the African American people who lived through it. By centering formerly enslaved peoples’ experiences, Williams challenges previous exclusion, misrepresented understandings and disputed legacies. 


Moonrise Over New Jessup 

By Jamila Minnicks (@Lioness_Tales). Algonquin Books. 336 pages. Out now.

In this impressive debut, Minnicks presents a fresh look at the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama. As the all-Black town of New Jessup considers integration, its residents are at odds with how to move forward. The book triumphs in its quest to offer a provocative perspective on racial justice, sovereignty and joy. 


Warrior Princesses Strike Back: How Lakota Twins Fight Oppression and Heal through Connectedness 

By Sarah Eagle Heart (Oglála Lakota) (@ms_eagleheart) and Emma Eagle Heart-White (Oglála Lakota). The Feminist Press at CUNY. 296 pages. Out now.

These sisters take healing into their own hands with this part-memoir, part-guidebook that’s focused on strategies of Indigenous knowledge, collectivism and reciprocity.


Miss Major Speaks: The Life and Legacy of a Black Trans Revolutionary

By Toshio Meronek (@TMeronek) and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy (@ImMissMajor). Verso. 176 pages. Out Jan. 31. 

In this slim but expansive volume, the legendary Miss Major reflects on her life, her activism and her vision for the future. There’s not much more to say except that It’s Miss Major, and you should consider it #RequiredReading.


Strange and Difficult Times: Notes on a Global Pandemic

By Nanjala Nyabola (@nanjalaone). Hurst. 224 pages. Out Feb. 1.

Among the first new books examining the global COVID pandemic, this collection of essays offers imperative reflections on Western responses that led to exacerbated inequities throughout the Global South in particular. 


Call and Response: Stories

By Gothataone Moeng (@onemoeng). Viking. 304 pages. Out Feb.7.

The stories in Moeng’s debut collection are grounded in her experience of life in Botswana. Focused on everyday life and families there, the book incorporates both unique and universal themes of relationships, infidelity, loss, sexuality, community, opportunity and love. 


Healing Justice Lineages: Dreaming at the Crossroads of Liberation, Collective Care and Safety

By Cara Page and Erica Woodland (@ebmore1). North Atlantic Books. 320 pages. Out Feb. 7.

Dorothy Roberts describes this as “an essential guide for all abolitionists,” and I need no more convincing. Get it, read it, live it, pass it on.  


Hijab Butch Blues: A Memoir 

By Lamya H (@lamyaisangry). The Dial Press. 304 Pages. Out Feb. 7. 

This is an exciting and candid new memoir in essays from a queer hijabi Muslim immigrant who makes sense of her attraction to women through stories from the Quran. It’s being heralded as a new queer classic.


Our Share of Night: A Novel 

Written by Mariana Enriquez. Translated by Megan McDowell. Hogarth. 608 pages. Out Feb. 7.

This is the first novel written by Argentine author Mariana Enriquez to be translated into English, and it is getting all the accolades. It’s also a dark, dystopian, supernatural, queer, occult horror, so sign me up!


Stealing: A Novel 

By Margaret Verble (Cherokee). Mariner Books. 256 pages. Out Feb. 7.

With this latest novel, Pulitzer Prize finalist Margaret Verble examines friendship, family ties and the violence of colonialism in this harrowing story of a Cherokee child stolen from her family and sent to a boarding school in the 1950s.


VenCo: A Novel 

By Cherie Dimaline (Georgian Bay Métis) (@cherie.dimaline). William Morrow. 400 pages. Out Feb. 7.

Luckily for me, Cherie Dimaline—one of my favorite writers—has been exceptionally busy of late! Not only has she written this magical story centering witchy women everywhere, but she’s also got a haunting YA novel coming on April 4 (Funeral Songs for Dying Girls, Tundra Books) and she’s sharing a candid personal essay on Feb. 16 (An Anthology of Monsters: How Story Saves Us from Our Anxiety, University of Alberta Press). Just read ‘em all; I’m going to!

See the complete list at Ms. Magazine