Is there anything more personal than selecting a favorite book? OK, the answer is obviously yes, but for a true book lover, maybe not by much. Releases from seasoned pros as well as exciting new voices made for a competitive, thrilling 2015—and a “best” list that we’re proud of. Look for the full list in our December issue; for now, here's a sneak peek at the back 25 . . .
31. Ghettoside by Jill Leovy
32. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
33. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
34. Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet
35. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
46. Emma and Otto and Russell and James by Etta Hooper
47. The Blondes by Emily Schultz
48. Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie
49. Russian Tattoo by Elena Gorokhova
50. Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
RELATED CONTENT: Read all our "Best of 2015" coverage on the blog.
The best-selling author of Water for Elephants has just sold three more books to her publisher, Spiegel & Grau. First up is another historical novel, tentatively titled Dear Henry, which is set on Black Tuesday—aka October 24, 1929, the day the US stock market began to plummet. The characters receive the news while aboard the Orient Express, which offers another intriguing setting for Gruen to explore. The publisher describes this as "a novel of love and intrigue."
No publication date has been announced, but watch this space for updates!
Teddy Wayne published another piece for The New York Times earlier this week, and even as I was shaking my head (and laughing) over poor Kanye's Persian rug lament, I found myself wishing he would announce a third novel.
Then I saw this tagline at the bottom of the piece:
Some Internet sleuthing revealed that, more specifically, Wayne's publisher Simon & Schuster has scheduled Loner for release on September 6, 2016. The title refers to the main character, David Federman, a high school outcast who hopes that he'll find his tribe at Harvard. Instead, he becomes obsessed with a smart, popular and beautiful female classmate, and his pursuit of her takes over his life and school career. S&S promises that the book "turns the traditional campus novel on its head"—well, he's already put a twist on the traditional coming-of-age and immigrant stories, so why not?
Off to make a few more literary wishes before my luck runs out. Anyone else excited about this one?
Author photo by Kate Greathead.
Attention, lovers of fantastical fiction: These two recent announcements just might make your day. Deborah Harkness, author of the best-selling All Souls trilogy, has just sold another book set in the same world to Viking. The Serpent's Mirror, the first in a new series, will explore historical riddles surrounding the ascent of Elizabeth I to the throne and feature characters from the original trilogy, including vampire Matthew Clairmont and historian Diana Bishop.
And Helene Wecker, whose mythology-steeped debut novel, The Golem and the Jinni, made the bestseller and "best" lists back in 2013, has just made a two-book deal with her editor at HarperCollins. The Iron Season, tentatively scheduled for 2018, is a sequel, and will follow the titular characters through World War I. On her Facebook page, Wecker says that she "had two massive false starts before I arrived at something that felt sequel-worthy," but has completed a detailed outline and expects to spend the next two years writing the book, which finds Chava and Aham encountering "beings of their own kind, only to realize that their close ties to human beings have forever altered them."
RELATED CONTENT: More news about 2016 releases.
Photo of Harkness by Scarlett Freund.
Fans of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series got exciting news this week: The BBC, that most trusted of literary adaptors, will be adapting the trilogy for television. They'll start with an eight-part series that will focus on the first book, Northern Lights—known as The Golden Compass in the U.S.—and hope to continue "for many episodes and seasons to come," according to co-producer (and former BBC executive) Jane Tranter, who also commented that "the broad horizons of television suggests itself as the best of vehicles to capture the expansiveness of the story and worlds of Lyra and Will." Pullman will serve as executive producer.
The series has already been adapted as a graphic novel and a stage play, as well as feature film, which premiered in 2007 to lackluster reviews in spite of an all-star cast that included Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. Rumor has it that Hollywood execs shied away from Pullman's darker themes, especially his controversial attitudes toward religion, resulting in a lack of resonance with audiences.
No word yet on casting, but we'll keep you posted. Any fantasy fans excited about this one?
Has anyone else noticed the flurry of fiction focused on the art world?
The industry reflex seems to be to credit The Goldfinch, but it certainly wasn't the first novel about art to make a splash—think Steve Martin's Object of Beauty, Elizabeth Kostova's The Swan Thieves, Susan Vreeland's The Forest Lover and, of course, Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring, to name just a few. Still, they've become increasingly common in the last few years, and we happen to be featuring two—The Improbability of Love by Hanna Rothschild and The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro—in our most recent issue.
Our eagle eyes have already spotted a few artistically minded releases coming down the pike for 2016. If you're on the lookout for a new page-turning, paint-spattered read, here are our top 3 contenders:
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith (FSG, April). In this twisty thriller from a Pushcart Prize nominee, a museum curator is confronted with her youthful forgery—a work thought to be the last surviving painting of a 17th-century Dutch artist.
Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss (Gallery, April). In her debut novel, Prentiss takes a more modern tack as she explores the NYC art scene in the 1980s through the eyes of an art critic whose synesthesia has made him one of the most original writers around and an exiled Argentinian artist fleeing the Dirty War.
The Muse by Jessie Burton (Ecco, July). The author of The Miniaturist returns with the story of a mysterious painting that connects a Carribbean immigrant and a bohemian artist across decades (the 1930s to the 1960s, to be exact).
You have to admire an author who, after a successful debut, tries something new with a second novel. British novelist Charlotte Rogan, author of The Lifeboat, is doing just that.
Or is she? Now and Again, which will be published in April, is a contemporary novel, set nearly 100 years after the events of The Lifeboat. But Rogan is once again exploring themes of justice and what really constitutes the moral high ground—this time, through the story of a secretary at a munitions plant who discovers her boss is at the center of a high-level cover up. Juxtaposed with her moral dilemma is that of a military captain, who struggles with the fallout of a deadly mission.
The Lifeboat was one of my favorite books of 2012, and I wasn't alone: The novel has sold more than 150,000 copies. I'll definitely be reading this one. How about you?
RELATED CONTENT: More news about 2016 releases.
Here's a long-range forecast for you readers who like to get your holds in early: Emma Donoghue, author of the bestseller Room, has just announced that she will publish a new book in the fall of 2016. The Wonder is a historical novel—the genre where Donoghue first made her name—and it also marks a return to writing about her native country of Ireland. Set in the 1850s, it's the story of Anna, an 11-year-old Irish girl who stops eating yet stays healthy, and the English nurse who is sent to find out whether Anna is a fraud or a miracle.
Donoghue is no stranger to writing about historical oddities—she has already released two short story collections based on similar real-life cases, including 2012's Astray. So it should be interesting to see how she handles similar material in a novel-length format.
Judith Clain, the VP and Editor-in-Chief of Little, Brown, had this to say about the new book: “The Wonder is a haunting and magnetic novel told with the spare and propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller. Like a great piece of classic literature it works on many levels—a simple story of two strangers who will transform each other's lives, a page-turning psychological thriller and a story about faith, doubt, and love. Emma Donoghue has written a masterpiece.”
Will you read it?
Watch out, readers—it looks as though this year's The Ice Twins was just the tip of the iceberg (sorry) when it comes to novels about diabolically dynamic duos. In January 2016 alone, two releases get a chill factor from different explorations of that powerful bond between twins.
Most of the time, twins switching places is done for laughs. Ann Morgan's debut, Beside Myself (Bloomsbury), puts a darker spin on it when favored twin Helen agrees to switch places for a day with her social outcast of a sister, Ellie—and Ellie refuses to switch back. The girls are only 6, and their troubled mother, who has just lost her husband to suicide, doesn't believe it when Helen tells her the truth. Forced to live her life as Ellie, Helen goes through a series of increasingly horrific experiences.
In Eleanor (Crown), by book designer Jason Gurley, twins Eleanor and Esmerelda are also separated at a young age. But this time, it's through tragedy: Esmerelda is killed in a car accident. The twins' mother drowns herself in alcohol and their father leaves. Eleanor is left to raise herself, with the support of her best friend and neighbor, Jack. But once Eleanor becomes a teenager, she begins to have out-of-body experiences that eventually turn into flat-out disappearances into a different world. Is Esmerelda the mysterious voice that pulls her into the void?
So, readers, on a scale of 1 (The Parent Trap) to 10 (The Shining twins) how creepy do you find this trend?
If you're looking for a fresh take on Southern life, get excited about this new collection of stories from Alabama author Helen Ellis.
Almost every reader has at least one "long-lost" author—that writer you Google every few years in the hope of finding an announcement of a new release. Helen Ellis is one of mine. An ARC of Eating the Cheshire Cat showed up at the Auburn University Bookstore when I was working there nearly 15 years ago, and was unlike any book I'd ever read before—a dark, psychologically complex portrayal of female friendships in the South that somehow managed to ring true even while being completely over-the-top (you'll never look at an axe the same way).
Needless to say, I'd been hoping she'd write something else for adults* ever since, so I cannot wait to dive into American Housewife, a story collection that Doubleday will publish in January. They describe the collection as "vicious, fresh, and nutty as a poisoned Goo Goo Cluster," which seems like just about the perfect description of Ellis' charms to me. Will you read it?
* She published a paranormal YA book in 2010, which, as a cat lover, I should probably pick up.