2020 Titles To Watch: Your guide to the year's most anticipated books

Choosing 200 titles to represent an entire year’s worth of books is no easy task. Those here are suggested as the most important but also tell a story of where our interests lie as readers and a nation. Our newest residents, race relations, climate change, political tensions—all are issues reflected in 2020’s fiction and nonfiction.

Choosing 200 titles to represent an entire year’s worth of books is no easy task. Those here are suggested as the most important but also tell a story of where our interests lie as readers and a nation. Our newest residents, race relations, climate change, political tensions—all are issues reflected in 2020’s fiction and nonfiction. Note that in popular fiction, this feature avoids big-name series favorites to focus on distinctive finds.


Fiction

 

Coming into Adulthood

In Elena Ferrante’s The Lying Life of Adults (Europa, Jun. tr. from Italian by Ann Goldstein), moody teenager Giovanna seeks her identity in both classy and grubby Naples. Lydia Millet’s A Children’s Bible (Norton, May) features self-reliant children in a storm-tossed landscape resembling one boy’s illustrated Bible. Graham Swift’s Here We Are (Knopf, Apr.) unwinds the story of three friends performing in a variety show in 1959 Brighton, England. With The Death of Vivek Oji (Riverhead, Aug.,) which crosses three generations to limn a young man’s life in Nigeria, Akwaeke Emezi offers a second novel, as does Brit Bennett, whose The Vanishing Half (Riverhead, Jun.) features runaway twin sisters on different paths, one passing for white. In Margot Livesey’s The Boy in the Field (Harper, Aug.), three teenagers are wholly changed after they rescue an unconscious child. Plus standout debuts including questing African American teens from Chicago in Gabriel Bump’s Everywhere You Don’t Belong (Algonquin, Jan.) and Catherine Adel’s Saving Ruby King (Park Row, Jun.); three desire-struck teenagers dealing with tragedy at a California ranch in Kate Milliken’s Kept Animals (Scribner, Apr.); a young black woman throwing herself into art and open marriage (not hers) in Raven Leilani’s Luster (Farrar, Aug.); and teenage Lacy abandoned by her shunned mother in Chelsea Bieker’s Godshot (Catapult, Apr.).

Crossing Borders

Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Ayad Akhtar’s Homeland Elegies (Little, Brown, Sept.) blends fact and fiction to examine lost-its-way America through the experiences of one immigrant family, while Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Kingdom (Knopf, Jul.) limns a Ghanaian family facing triumph and tragedy (including an opioid death) in Alabama. Dalia Sofer’s Man of My Time (Farrar, Apr.) features an Iranian interrogator facing his cold-shouldering family in New York. In Micheline Aharonian Marcom’s The New American (S. & S., May), an undocumented young Guatemalan American expelled from America yearns to recross the border, while Illinois-born Joe Sanderson, whose life is fictionalized in Héctor Tobar’s The Last Great Road Bum (MCD: Farrar, Jun.), heads south to fight with El Salvador’s guerrillas. Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt (Flatiron, Jan.) is an unrelenting tale of a Mexican mother and son fleeing to America after cartel violence wipes out their entire family. Isabelle Allende’s A Long Petal of the Sea (Ballantine, Jan.) revisits refugees from Franco’s Spain struggling to adjust to life in Chile, while Julia Alvarez’s Afterlife (Algonquin, Apr.) is about newly widowed and retired immigrant writer/professor Antonia Vega, whose books are no longer helping her deal with life. In Red Dress in Black and White (Knopf, May), Elliot Ackerman’s first nonmilitary fiction, hotshot Turkish real estate developer Murat hopes to prevent his American wife from returning with their son to America.

Issue-Oriented

In Deacon King Kong (Riverhead, Mar.), James McBride visits a rapidly gentrifying 1969 Brooklyn community where an unassuming Baptist deacon shoots a housing project’s drug dealer dead, while Charles Baxter’s The Sun Collective (Pantheon, Nov.) moves to contemporary times to track an activist group more sinister than it seems. In Kiley Reid’s illuminating Such a Fun Age (Putnam, Jan.), a high-profile white blogger radically miscalculates when trying to help her African American babysitter, while Brandon Taylor’s Real Life (Riverhead, Feb.) shows how out of place a gay African American man from the South feels in a Midwestern graduate biochemistry program. Featuring a young woman questioning the relationship she had as a teenager with her English teacher, Kate Elizabeth Russell’s My Dark Vanessa (Morrow, Mar.) fiercely sums up the #metoo moment. While Gilded Razor memoirist Sam Lansky’s first novel, Broken People (Hanover Square, Jun.) deals with an addict’s sometimes unorthodox efforts to recover, Liz Moore’s Long Bright River (Riverhead, Jan.) vivifies a young cop’s worry that she has already lost her sister to drugs. Dennis E. Staples’s This Town Sleeps (Counterpoint, Mar.) features a mid-twenties gay Ojibwe man who launches an affair with a closeted former white classmate and is led by a dead dog’s spirit to the grave of a murdered teenage Ojibwe basketball star. And Jonathan Lethem’s The Arrest (Ecco, Nov.) envisions two siblings duking it out over a woman and a nuclear-powered car in a post-apocalyptic future.

The World Upended

In Paul Yoon’s Run Me to Earth (S. & S., Jan.), three orphans in war-shattered 1960s Laos help at a field hospital, then are scattered painfully to the winds. The Mountains Sing (Algonquin, Mar.), award-winning poet/novelist Nguyen Phan Que Mai’s first novel in English, delivers an understanding of Vietnam’s wartime and postwar experiences via the Tran family. Imbolo Mbue’s How Beautiful We Were (Random, Jun.) reveals a fictional African village battling a mighty American oil company and paying the price, while five young people shelter in an abandoned airplane during their country’s violence in Ishmael Beah’s Little Family (Riverhead. Apr.). While Phil Klay’s mostly Colombia-set Missionaries (Penguin Pr., Oct.) show four characters fatally undercut by American warmongering, Colum McCann’s Apeirogon (Random. Feb.) brings together Palestinian Bassam Aramin and Israeli Rami Elhanan in a quest for peace after their children are lost to the ongoing violence. In Lawrence Osborne’s The Kingdom (Hogarth, Oct.), high living doesn’t protect ex-pats from political unrest in Bangkok. And in Muriel Barbery’s A Strange Country (Europa, Apr. tr. from French by Alison Anderson), two Spanish soldiers are transported to a magical new place during the world’s longest war.

The Environment

In Andrew Krivak’s The Bear (Bellevue Literary, Feb.), a father and daughter are the last two people on Earth after civilization’s likely climate-change ruin. Giller and IMPAC long-listed Michael Christie presents Greenwood (Hogarth, Feb.), moving from 2034 to 1934 to track the degradation wrought by the Greenwood family’s timber industry. Taylor Brown’s Pride of Eden (St. Martin’s, Mar.) features Vietnam veteran Anse Caulfield, who takes on the breeders, smugglers, and trophy hunters exploiting wildlife. In Flannery O’Connor Award winner Becky Mandelbaum’s The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals (S. & S., Aug.), Ariel returns to her mother’s Kansas animal sanctuary, threatened by financial collapse and anti-Semitic hate crimes.

Relationships

With Jack (Farrar, Oct.), Marilynne Robinson says good-bye to her beloved Gilead novels, even as Sigrid Nunez contemplates life, death, and friendship in What Are You Going Through (Riverhead, Sept.). In Anne Tyler’s Redhead by the Side of the Road (Knopf, Apr.). a squeamish superintendent at a Baltimore apartment building must learn to accept change, while the protagonist of Nick Hornby’s Just Like You (Riverhead, Sept.) learns to accept happiness. Courtney Sullivan’s Friends and Strangers (Knopf, Aug.) and Jane Smiley’s Paras in Paris (Knopf, Oct.) do their magic with family, while Jodi Picoult’s The Book of Two Ways (Ballantine, Sept.) considers what a well-spent life looks like. Fredrik Backman’s Anxious People (Atria, Sept.) amusingly recounts a hostage incident during an open house, and Lily King’s Writers & Lovers (Grove, Mar.) features a young woman refusing to give up on her novel while caught between two very different lovers. In Maxwell’s Demons (Grove, Sept.), Granta Best of Young British Novelists Steven Hall introduces another struggling young novelist, puzzled after receiving a voicemail from his long-dead famed-writer father, while Chuck Palahniuk’s The Invention of Sound (Grand Central, Sept.) reveals a father’s search for his daughter even as a badly intentioned recording makes everyone in the world shriek simultaneously. In debuter Byron Lane’s A Star Is Bored (Holt, Jun.), utilizing the author’s time as Carrie Fisher’s assistant, Charlie Besson gets a job with Hollywood’s golden girl. Finally, in Jude Deveraux’s Thief of Fate (MIRA, Sept.), written with Tara Sheets, angels send an 1840s Irish thief to small-town America to convince his beloved to marry another—or he’s damned for eternity.

Literary Historical

Edmund White presents A Saint from Texas (Bloomsbury, Aug.), about twin sisters who leave 1950s Texas, one for Parisian nobility and the other for a convent. Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror & the Light (Holt, Mar.) wraps up her trilogy on the life of Thomas Cromwell, while Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet (Knopf, Jul.) reimagines the death of Shakespeare’s son. Utopia Avenue (Random, Jun.), David Mitchell’s first novel in five years, introduces us to a psychedelic Sixties British band. Bridging the Civil War, Afia Atakora’s Conjure Women (Random, Mar.) features a midwife/healer trained by her curse-conjuring mother from the old plantation, while Alice Randall’s Black Bottom Saints (Amistad, Aug.) sweeps through Detroit’s Black Bottom mid-20th-century. Ian McGuire turns in The Abstainer (Random, Apr.), about a late 1800s England-based Irish detective and his radicalized American nephew, while Stefano Massini’s The Lehman Trilogy (HarperVia, Jun.), basis of the West End/Off-Broadway hit, tracks three generations of a Bavarian family that settled in the South. In Louise Erdrich’s The Night Watchman (Harper, Mar.), Chippewa Council member Thomas Wazhushk, based on the author’s grandfather, challenges a Congressional bill detrimental to Native Americans. Finally, Katy Simpson Smith’s The Everlasting (Harper, Mar.) conducts us to Rome with four interlinked stories that rangee glowingly from an early Christian child martyr to a contemporary field biologist.

Pop Historical

Two huge titles include Christina Baker Kline’s Tin Ticket (Morrow, Sept.), which portrays the trials of women convicts exiled to 1800s Australia, and Janet Skeslien Charles’s The Paris Library (Atria, Jun.), recounting the bravery of the librarians at the American Library in Paris after the Nazis marched in. Top American history titles include Paulette Jiles’s Simon the Fiddler (Morrow. Apr.), about a Confederate fiddler who falls for the governess of a Union colonel’s daughter; Lisa Wingate’s The Book of Lost Friends (Ballantine, Apr.), which reimages true stories of those looking for loved ones after Reconstruction; and Fiona Davis’s Lions of Fifth Avenue (Dutton, Jul.), about the enterprising wife of the NYPL superintendent, who deals with book thefts in 1913 that reverberate decades later. Farther afield, Kate Mosse’s The City of Tears (Minotaur, May) conjures a royal wedding and a relic hunt in Paris directly before the St. Bartholomew Day’s Massacre. Debuts include Ellen Alpstein’s Tsarina (St. Martin’s, Oct.), which reimagines the life of Catherine I of Russia; Bryn Turnbull’s The Woman Before Wallis: A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts, and Royal Scandal (MIRA, Jul.); and Asha Lemmie’s Fifty Words for Rain (Dutton, Sept.), whose heroine seeks acceptance in post-World War II Japan.

Mystery/Thrills

Don’t-miss titles include Stephen King’s If It Bleeds (Scribner, May), short fiction billed not as horror but thrills; Liv Constantine’s The Wife Stalker (Harper, May), with an abandoned wife learning that her husband’s new love has a dangerous past; John Hart’s The Unwilling (St. Martin’s, Jun.), with a young man investigating his hardened Vietnam vet brother’s past when both are accused of a murder; S.J. Watson’s Final Cut (Harper, Aug.), with a documentary filmmaker in a town full of secrets where two girls have vanished; Nanny author Gilly McMillan’s untitled thiller (Morrow, Sept.), featuring dark atmosphere and faulty memory; and Bradford Morrow’s The Forger’s Wife (Mysterious, Sept.), centering on Edgar Allan Poe’s Tamerlane. Unexpected thrills come from shapeshifter Chris Bohjalian, whose The Red Lotus (Doubleday. Mar.) stars an ER doctor whose lover, a former patient, vanishes while they are cycling in Vietnam; Cara Black’s Three Hours in Paris (Soho Crime, Apr.), detouring from the beloved “Aimée Leduc” series to ask why Hitler spent only three hours in fallen Paris; and Louise Penny, taking her next Armand Gamache mystery to the City of Light in an untitled fall work from Minotaur.

Mystery/Thrills: Rising Stars

Titles to watch for include Megan Goldin’s The Night Swim (St. Martin’s, Aug.), following The Escape Room with the study of a podcaster obsessed with a long-ago small-town crime; multi-best-booked Susie Steiner’s Remain Silent (Random, Jun.), with off-her-beat detective Manon Bradshaw investigating an immigrant’s hanging; Sandie Jones’s The Half-Sister (Minotaur, Jun.) using the popular new trope about a just-discovered sibling to thriller effect; Stuart Turton’s Devil and the Dark Water (Sourcebooks, Oct.), following The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle but with a different setting; and Lauren Beukes’s Afterland (Mulholland, Jul.), with the author again adding an sf twist as she drops us into a world lacking men.

Mystery/Thrills with a Social Edge

Sara Paretsky’s Dead Land (Morrow, Apr.) is driven by a battle among high-stakes developers over lakefront usage in Chicago; Jussi Adler-Olsen’s Victim 2117: A Department Q Novel (Dutton, Mar. tr. from Danish by William Frost) examines the impact in Denmark of a refugee’s drowning while crossing the Mediterranean; Nelson George’s The Darkest Hearts: A D Hunter Mystery (Akashic, Aug.) stars a talent-manager protagonist encountering human trafficking, reactionary politics, and a dead body near the Canarsie Pier; and David Heska Wanbil Weiden’s Winter Counts (Ecco, Aug.) gets Virgil Wounded Horse good and mad when drug cartels invade South Dakota’s Rosebud Indian Reservation.

Debut Thrills

In Susan Allott’s The Silence (Morrow, May), Isla returns to Australia to investigate her family history and home country’s dark colonial past when her father is accused of murder. In Lucy Foley’s The Guest List (Morrow, May), a wedding off the coast of Ireland turns bloody. Elizabeth Kay’s Seven Lies (Pamela Dorman, Jun.) shows a woman’s dislike of her friend’s stuck-up husband leading to trouble, while in Sara Sligar’s Take Me Apart (MCD: Farrar, Apr.), an archivist is drawn dangerously into the past of her photographer subject. Finally, in Francesca Serritella’s Ghosts of Harvard (Random, May), first-year Cady encounters dark doing on campus while investigating her older brother’s suicide.

SF/Fantasy/Horror/Dystopian

Max Brooks’s Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre (Del Rey, May) reinvents the Bigfoot legend, N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became (Orbit, Mar.) opens a series with New York City’s newborn avatars countering an ancient evil, Alice Hoffman’s Magic Lessons (S. & S., Sept.) offers a Salem-set prequel to The Rules of Magic, Christina Dalcher’s dystopian Master Class (Berkley, Apr.) features high-Quotient students attending elite schools and everyone else stuffed into sinister state institutions, and S.A. Jones’s The Fortress (Erewhon, Mar.) is debut speculative fiction from a new publisher whose antihero toxic male lawyer learns his #metoo lesson. Richard Kadrey’s Ballistic Kiss (Harper Voyager, Aug.) continues the story of Sandman Slim. S.A. Chakraborty’s The Empire of Gold (Harper Voyager, Jun.), R.A. Salvatore’s Relentless (Harper Voyager, Jul.), and John Scalzi’s The Last Emperox (Tor, Apr.) wrap up big series. Terry Brooks’s The Last Druid (Del Rey, Jun.) wraps up the entire Shannara saga, while Gene Wolfe’s Interlibrary Loan (Tor, Jun.) is both a follow-up to A Borrowed Man and the master’s last work. More gems: multi-award-winning Ken Liu’s The Hidden Girl and Other Stories (Saga. Feb.), Sergey Dyachenko & Marina Dyachenko’s stand-alone fantasy Daughter from the Dark (Harper Voyager, Feb. tr. from Russian by Julia Meitov Hersey), and Katie M. Flynn’s dystopian debut The Companions (Gallery, Mar.), wherein the dead can be uploaded.

 

Nonfiction

 

The Political Scene

Don’t miss Washington Post Pulitzer Prize winners Philip Rucker & Carol Leonnig’s A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America (Penguin Pr., Jan.); Thomas Frank’s The People, No: The War on Populism and the Fight for Democracy (Metropolitan, Jun.); CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Scuitto’s World War Trump: Inside the Chaos and Betrayals of America’s International Failures (Harper, Jun.); Carlos Lozada’s Reading Trump’s America (S. & S. Jul.), with the Pulitzer Prize–winning nonfiction book critic of the Washington Post surveying 150 books on Donald Trump; and Colin Quinn’s Overstated (St. Martin’s, Sept.), edgy belly laughs from the creator/star of the one-man Broadway show Red State Blue State and the Netflix special Unconstitutional. Plus political biography/memoir including Madeleine Albright’s Hell and Other Destinations: A 21st Century Memoir (Harper, Apr.), Molly Ball’s Pelosi (Holt, Jun.), the late Elijah Cumming’s We’re Better Than This (Harper, Jun.), Ilhan Omar’s This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman (Dey Street, Jun.), and Lynda Lopez’s AOC: A Celebration of the Fierce Brilliance of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (St. Martin’s, Jun.).

Today’s Issues

Mychal Denzel Smith’s Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream (Bold Type, Sept.) studies America’s mythologies in light of the 2016 election, Elliot Currie’s A Peculiar Indifference: Race, Violence, and Social Justice (Metropolitan, Sept.) explores racial disparities in violent death and injury in America, and Tiffany Cross’s Black Voters, Black Voices: The Shaping of the American Democracy (Amistad, Jun.) argues for the voting power of African Americans. Award-winning novelist Laila Lalami’s Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America (Pantheon, May) uses memoir to consider the rights and limits to U.S. citizenship. In This Is Ohio: The Overdose Crisis and the Front Lines of a New America (Counterpoint, Sept.), journalist Jack Shuler shows communities in a state hit badly by the opioid crisis fighting back. Michael Sandel’s The Tyranny of Merit (Farrar, Sept.) investigates a world dominated by winners and losers, plummeting mobility, and rising inequality, while Jane the Virgin star Justin Baldoni’s Man Enough (Atria, Nov.) expands on the author’s web series examining male privilege. Also look for Barton Gellman’s Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State (Penguin Pr., May), Steven Levy’s Facebook: The Inside Story (Blue Rider, Feb.), Paul Krugman’s Arguing with Zombies: Economics, Politics, and the Fight for a Better Future (Norton, Jan.), PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel’s Dare To Speak: A Guide to Defending Free Speech in Our Time (Dey Street, May), and former defense secretary Robert M. Gates’s Exercise of Power (Knopf, Sept).

The New College Try

Jeff Hobbs’s Show Them You’re Good: A Portrait of Boys in the City of Angels the Year Before College (Scribner, Jun.) compares four students in very different schools. See also higher education consultant Jeffrey Selingo’s Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions (Scribner, Sept.) and “Your Money” New York Times columnist Ron Lieber’s The Price You Pay for College: An Entirely New Road Map for the Biggest Financial Decision Your Family Will Ever Make (Harper, Aug.).

Trekking

Actor/comedian Nick Offerman offers a celebratory journey through America in an untitled work coming from Dutton this fall. Epic Magazine’s Little America (Farrar, Sept.) portrays upbeat stories on new arrivals, while Brandon Stanton, author/photographer of Humans of New York, goes global with Humans (St. Martin’s, Oct.).

The Middle East

For context, consider Elizabeth F. Thompson’s How the West Stole Democracy from the Arabs: The Arab Congress of 1920, the Destruction of the Syrian State, and the Rise of Anti-Liberal Islamism (Atlantic Monthly, Apr.) and Kim Ghattas’s Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (Holt, Jan.). Pulitzer Prize–winning Joby Warrick’s Red Line (Doubleday, Oct.) investigates the Syrian war and the line President Obama said could never be crossed. Also look for Karen Attiah’s Say Your Word, Then Leave: The Assassination of Jamal Khashoggi and the Power of the Truth (Dey Street. Apr.), Margaret Corker’s The Spymaster of Baghdad: A True Story of Bravery, Family and Patriotism in the Battle Against ISIS (Dey Street, Sept.), and journalist Theo Padnos’s Blindfold: A Memoir of Capture, Torture, and Enlightenment (Scribner, Jul.), on being held in Syria by al Qaeda for two years.

Ecology

Check out Erin Brockovich’s Superman’s Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It (Pantheon, Aug.), New York Times columnist David Pogue’s How To Prepare for Climate Change (S. & S., Aug.), Bill Gates’s How To Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need (Doubleday, Jun.), and Pulitzer Prize–winning Daniel Yergin’s The Map (Penguin Pr., Sept.), reassessing the world’s energy reserves.

U.S. History/Biography

See Lynne Cheney’s The Virginia Dynasty: Four Presidents and the Creation of the American Nation (Viking, Oct.), Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard’s Killing Crazy Horse (Holt, May), Jia Lynn Yang’s One Mighty and Irresistible Tide: The Epic Struggle Over American Immigration, 1924–1965 (Norton, May), A.J. Baime’s Dewey Defeats Truman: The 1948 Election and the Battle for America’s Soul (Houghton Harcourt, Jun.), Edward Ball’s Life of a Klansman: A Family History with White Supremacy (Farrar, Jun.), Morgan Jerkins’s Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots (Harper, May), David Zucchino’s Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy (Atlantic Monthly, Jan.), David Michaelis’s Eleanor (S. & S., Sept.), Matthew Van Meter’s Deep Delta Justice: A Black Teen, His Lawyer, and Their Groundbreaking Battle for Civil Rights in the South (Little, Brown, May), Jerry Mitchell’s Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era (S. & S., Feb.), Robert Zoellick’s America in the World: A Definitive History of U.S. Foreign Policy and Diplomacy (Twelve, Aug.), and Larry Tye’s Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy (Houghton Harcourt, May), ultimately a study of demagoguery in America. Plus, lighten up with Margot Mifflin’s Looking for Miss America: Dreamers, Dissidents, Flappers, and Feminists; A Pageant’s 100-Year Quest To Define Womanhood (Counterpoint, Aug.).

World History/Biography

Mark Galeotti’s A Short History of Russia (Hanover Square, Jul.) is scholarship aimed at lay readers; Zachary D. Carter’s The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes (Random, May) reveals Keynes as more than a visionary economist; Scott Anderson’s The Quiet Americans (Doubleday, Sept.) profiles four spies to limn the early Cold War years; Joshua Foer & others’ Gastro Obscura (Workman, Sept.) has those Atlas Obscura folks viewing history through glorious food; and Barbara Demick returns with Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town (Random, Jul.).

World War II

Among hundreds of titles, Dick Lehr’s Dead Reckoning: The Story of How Johnny Mitchell and His Fighter Pilots Took on Admiral Yamamoto and Avenged Pearl Harbor (Harper, May) and Dan Hampton’s Operation Vengeance: The Astonishing Aerial Ambush That Changed World War II (Morrow, Jun.) treat Yamamoto’s killing. Other standouts: Judy Batalion’s The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos (Morrow, Jun.), optioned by Steven Spielberg, and Robert Weintraub’s The Divine Miss Marble: A Life of Tennis, Fame, and Mystery (Dutton, Aug.), about the international tennis star’s work with American intelligence during the war.

Science

Helen Macdonald’s Vesper Flights (Grove, Aug.) offers essays on the natural world after soaring with H Is for Hawk, plus stargazing with Mario Livio’s Galileo: And the Science Deniers (S. & S., May); theoretical astrophysicist Katie Mack’s big-print-run The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) (Scribner, Jun.); MIT astrophysicist Sara Seager’s The Smallest Lights in the Universe (Crown, Jun.), a memoir blending outer space and inner grief; and Emily Levesque’s Labgirl-like The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy’s Vanishing Explorers (Sourcebooks, Aug.).

The Arts

Go creative with Azar Nafisi’s I’ll See You in My Book: A Guide to Reading for Political Resistance (Dey Street, Sept.); award-winning poet Mark Doty’s memoir/criticism blend, What Is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life (Norton, Apr.); Paul Lisicky’s Later: My Life at the Edge of the World (Graywolf, Mar.), both his story and that of multiple artist friends as the AIDS crisis loomed; Jed Perl’s Calder: The Conquest of Space: The Later Years: 1940–1976 (Knopf, Apr.); New Yorker critic Alex Ross’s Wagnerism (Farrar, Sept.); celebrity Val Kilmer’s I’m Your Huckleberry (S. & S., Apr.); Dr. François S. Clemmons’s (of Mister Rogers fame) memoir, Officer Clemmons (Catapult, May); and an untitled memoir by Mariah Carey (Holt, Sept.).

Memoir

Key untitled memoirs arrive from U.S. women’s soccer captain Megan Rapinoe (Penguin Pr., Nov.), law enforcement officer William Bratton & Peter Knobler (Penguin Pr., Sept.), and Chelsea Manning (Farrar, Jul.). Plus Oliver Stone’s Chasing the Light: Writing, Directing, and Surviving Platoon, Midnight Express, Scarface, Salvador, and the Movie Game (Houghton Harcourt, Jul.), Noé Álvarez’s Spirit Run: A 6000-Mile Marathon Through North America’s Stolen Land (Catapult, Mar.), activist Linda Sarsour’s We Are Not Here To Be Bystanders: A Memoir of Love and Resistance (S. & S., Mar.), essayist/activist Rebecca Solnit’s Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir (Viking, Mar.), Deborah Tannen’s Finding My Father: His Century-Long Journey from World War I Warsaw and My Quest To Follow (Ballantine, Jun.), Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Natasha Trethewey’s Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir (Ecco, Jul.), and Wayétu Moore’s The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir (Graywolf, Jun.), in which the novelist recalls her escape from the First Liberian Civil War.
 
And get happy with Jay Shetty’s Think Like a Monk (S. & S., Apr.), just scheduled with a 500,000 copy first printing.

 

Author Image
Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Book Review; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president of the National Book Critics Circle, to which she has just been reelected.

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