The best books of January 2021, according to Amazon’s editors

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Amazon Books January 2021 4x3

It’s a new year and that means it’s time for a new book or two (or ten!). Whether your resolutions this year included more reading, you’re seeking a screen-free escape, or you’re looking to broaden your perspective, books provide an excellent tool for navigating these uncertain and often anxiety-riddled times.

With all of this in mind, Amazon’s book editors have gathered a list of their top 12 reads for January. The top pick, “Black Buck,” is a satirical novel that Amazon editor Al Woodworth describes as “a wildly funny and exuberant page-turner, a mash-up between the humor of the everyday and the insanity of start-up culture.”

In addition, this month’s list includes a moving and intimate memoir from Gabriel Byrne, a novelized version of Agatha Christie’s disappearance, and a fresh take on the Western genre.

Here are Amazon’s best books of January 2021: 

Captions have been provided by Amazon’s book editors.

“Black Buck” by Mateo Askaripour

1 Amazon Books January Black Buck

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This is a wildly funny and exuberant page-turner, a mash-up between the humor of the everyday and the insanity of start-up culture. The novel follows Darren Vender, a Starbucks employee who joins a new tech company and quickly transforms into “Buck,” the company’s best salesman—and only Black salesman. You’ll root for Buck, his neighborhood, and his mission—just hang on to your hat. —Al Woodworth 

“The Prophets” by Robert Jones, Jr.

2 Amazon Books The Prophets

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The intimate connection between two male slaves toiling on a Mississippi plantation is the only thing that cuts through their otherwise brutal existence. This is the one bright spot in a lyrical but devastating debut novel that shines a harsher light on a shameful legacy that is still deeply felt today. It’s also a profound reminder of love’s power to repudiate it.  —Erin Kodicek 

“Waiting for the Night Song” by Julie Carrick Dalton

3 Amazon Books January Waiting for the Night Song

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This debut novel, which tackles issues as broad as climate change and racism, will rightly be compared to Delia Owens’s “Where the Crawdads Sing.” “Waiting for the Night Song” has the lyricism of a poem, and the pacing of a thriller. Dalton is a writer to watch. —Sarah Gelman 

“Outlawed” by Anna North

4 Amazon Books January Outlawed

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Cowboy antics abound in Anna North’s novel about a band of outlaws and their quest to establish a place where they belong. There are hideouts and shoot-outs but also the grim reality of what it means to be an outcast from society and a barren woman at the turn of the century in America. This is a brilliant twist on the Western genre and a welcome addition, indeed. —Al Woodworth

“Better Luck Next Time” by Julia Claiborne Johnson

5 Amazon Books January Better Luck Next Time

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Johnson’s wryly funny novel celebrates the complexity of friendship and love in its story of a 1938 Reno ranch that caters to women seeking divorce. Charmingly told through the eyes of a ranch hand who is pulled into the shenanigans of two guests, this bighearted story offers hard-won wisdom and will leave readers smiling at the end. —Adrian Liang

“The Mystery of Mrs. Christie” by Marie Benedict

6 Amazon Books January the Mystery of Mrs. Christie

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Readers will hone their own detective skills as they race through Marie Benedict’s exhilarating novelization of Agatha Christie’s true-life disappearance in 1926 on the cusp of her leap to mystery-writing greatness. Whether you’re a Christie enthusiast or a historical fiction lover, every page is a revelation, and Benedict builds this tale of a marriage on the rocks to a flawless finale. —Adrian Liang

“Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder” by T.A. Willberg

7 Amazon Books Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder

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“Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder” reads like “Harry Potter” for adults — set in foggy 1950s London — with dashes of “The Kingsmen” and even a sprinkle of steampunk. Below an unassuming bookshop lies a secret, subterranean detective agency, stunned by a murder in its ranks. Atmospheric world-building, a satisfying locked room mystery, and brave detecting apprentice Marion Lane make this a delightful page-turner. —Vannessa Cronin

“Nine Days” by Stephen Kendrick and Paul Kendrick

8 Amazon Books January Nine Days

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To paraphrase Lenin, sometimes there are weeks where decades happen. Or in this case, nine days. The authors place the reader into a tense historical moment, populated by historical figures just coming into their own, to illustrate how King’s jailing, and Kennedy’s reaction, formed an inflection point that still defines our political parties today. —Chris Schluep

“Aftershocks” by Nadia Owusu

9 Amazon Books January Aftershocks

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Achingly intimate and flaming with rage, hurt, and sadness, Nadia Owusu’s memoir wrestles with big questions of identity and demonstrates just how fragile it can be. After the death of her father and the discovery of tectonic-shifting secrets of her family’s past, Owusu must “construct a story, to reconstruct her world.” A blistering and searching portrait of what it means to belong and to whom. —Al Woodworth

“The Wife Upstairs” by Rachel Hawkins

10 Amazon Books January The Wife Upstairs

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Part of the fun of “The Wife Upstairs” is seeing how closely Hawkins sticks to the plot of “Jane Eyre,” and the other part is how inventively and audaciously she strays from it. And going from English Gothic to Southern Gothic is just the beginning. Unpredictable twists, smart spins on the canon, and even a hat tip to “Rebecca” make this a fun read. —Vannessa Cronin

“Walking with Ghosts” by Gabriel Byrne

11 Amazon Books January Walking with Ghosts

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“Walking with Ghosts” would be a fascinating, moving, lyrical, and touchingly funny memoir even if one didn’t know its subject and author were actor Gabriel Byrne. No celebrity-studded tell-all, Byrne, with the wonder of someone examining pieces of sea glass, touchingly and self-deprecatingly recounts the people and events that shaped him and set him on his life’s path. — Vannessa Cronin

“Drug Use for Grown-Ups” by Dr. Carl L. Hart

12 Amazon Books Drug Use for Grown Ups

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Dr. Carl L. Hart, a neuroscientist and expert on drug use, presents a shocking and revelatory argument for a revisionist drug policy. Hart’s scientific research, close examination of racist drug laws, and his personal experiences shed new light on decades of propaganda and compel us to take a fresh look at the facts of drug use, addiction, and incarceration.  —Seira Wilson

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