The best books we can't wait to read in 2015 | Bleader

Friday, January 2, 2015

The best books we can't wait to read in 2015

Posted By on 01.02.15 at 07:30 AM

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For the past few weeks, we've all been looking back on the glories of the past year (or getting Facebook to do it for us) and making lists. Lots and lots of lists. But now 2014 is officially past, we're a full day into 2015, and it's time for looking ahead, for making elaborate plans for diet and exercise and cleanliness and all other forms of self-improvement to banish the general sloth—aside from overeating—of the holiday season. Or maybe some people are actually doing those things. I spent a few hours looking through lists of books scheduled to come out this year and have resolved to keep to my slothful ways so I can read as many of them as possible.

Here, in roughly chronological order, are a few noteworthy upcoming releases, including one by a Reader writer. The only thing that's disappointing about making a list like this is that once you know when books are due out, you know exactly how long you'll have to wait for them. For instance, Judy Blume's new book won't be out until June. June!

Fear the Darkness by Becky Masterman (January) This is the second in Masterman's series of thrillers about middle-aged badass former FBI agent Brigid Quinn; the first was 2013's terrific Rage Against the Dying if you want to start at the very beginning. (Full disclosure: Masterman's an old, dear friend; I've been reading her writing and appreciating her wry sense of humor for about 15 years now, and I'm proud that everyone else can finally read her, too.)

In Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhagen (January) Here I must admit that Goldhagen and I knew each other back in college. But I started reading an advance copy of this, her second novel, about a group of characters who keep running into each other from the early 90s until the present, during a long, crowded, smelly rainy-day commute and almost missed my stop. This sort of thing doesn't happen just because of mere goodwill. (This is the last personal connection on this list, until the very end. Promise.)

In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon's Wars, 1793-1815 by Jenny Uglow (January) In case you've forgotten, 2015 marks the bicentennial of Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo. Here's one book about the Napoleonic era that doesn't star l'Empereur.

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby (February) I will be honest: Hornby's novels since About a Boy have steadily disappointed me, but despite myself, I'm excited about his new one about a young woman's rise to television stardom in 1960s London.

Going into the City: Portrait of a Critic as a Young Man by Robert Christgau (February) One of the most venerable of rock critics (formerly of Rolling Stone and the Village Voice) tells the story of his early years, one show at a time.

Jillian by Halle Butler (February) This debut novel by a Chicago author concerns the art of avoiding self-loathing by concentrating on someone else's disgusting habits. Its publisher promises it is "hilariously brutal." Just in time for Valentine's Day!

Lincoln's Body: A Cultural History by Richard Wightman Fox (February) Fox argues that the 16th president owes a lot of his enduring popularity to his homely appearance. So this is why we love him so much more than Franklin "Handsome Frank" Pierce.

Mr. and Mrs. Disraeli: A Strange Romance by Daisy Hay (February) I quite enjoyed Hay's first book, Young Romantics, a group biography of the second generation of Romantic poets. (And that is saying a great deal, since I consider Lord Byron one of the most obnoxious literary figures of all time.) So I'm looking forward to her take on the odd marriage of the Victorian prime minister and his much older wife.

Selected Letters of Langston Hughes, edited by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel with Christa Fratantoro (February) There are few things more fun than reading other people's correspondence.

Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiny (February) "The Rhett Butlers," one of the stories in this debut collection, appeared in the Atlantic a few months ago and was a delightfully subversive take on the teacher-student romance. I'm looking forward to seeing what else Heiny has come up with.

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (February) All the familiar elements are here—namely a family, Baltimore, a trip through the 20th century—but this is the last time they will all be together. Like Munro and Roth, Tyler is retiring, leaving us with a slew of inferior imitators.

The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty by Amanda Filipacchi (February) I'm looking forward to this one just because of the title.

We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler (February) The publisher's blurb promises that this novel, a hybrid of the YA and adult ennui genres, really is about pirates, though the pirates troll 21st century San Francisco Bay. Nonetheless. Pirates.

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro (March) Here is the Ishiguro novel we've been waiting for since Never Let Me Go. The only thing the publisher has revealed is that it's about an old couple on a journey in search of the son they haven't seen in years, so probably they turn out to be clones or something like that.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson (March) Like him or not, Larson is an unstoppable force of narrative history. Guess what? He's got a new book coming out.

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman (March) This collection is mostly odds and ends, but they're choice odds and ends, especially if you're interested in revisiting the worlds of American Gods or The Ocean at the End of the Lane or reading Gaiman's take on Doctor Who.

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison (April) Toni Morrison was part of my high school English teacher's holy trinity. The other parts were William Faulkner and Virginia Woolf. Morrison, however, is the only one still publishing new work.

Voices in the Night by Steven Millhauser (April) Millhauser's new collection of short stories promises more of his unique mixture of history and magic.

The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects by Deborah Lutz (May) Lutz tells the story of the Brontë sisters through their various possessions. However it turns out, it's definitely an interesting way to go about writing a biography.

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (May) A sequel or companion or something to Atkinson's great 2013 novel Life After Life. This one concerns the life of Ursula Todd's younger brother, Teddy, though it's unclear which life. (Like Ursula, he goes through several variations.)

The Making of Zombie Wars by Aleksandar Hemon (May) Hemon's first novel since The Lazarus Project concerns the misadventures of a young ESL teacher/aspiring screenwriter in Chicago.

The Odd Woman and the City: A Memoir by Vivian Gornick (May) Gornick is cranky and bitter and damned smart. An excerpt of the book ran in the Paris Review last spring and was reprinted in Best American Essays. It promises a sharp examination of the loneliness and odd community of city life.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough (May) Yes, yes, just in time for Father's Day, but no historian is better than McCullough at finding the humanity inside Great Men.

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola (June) Hepola has written some great essays about her drinking years. Now she's expanded them into a book.

Dime Stories by Tony Fitzpatrick (June) Curbside Splendor collects 70 of Fitzpatrick's essays and drawings that first appeared in Newcity.

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume (June) Oh, my God, it's Judy Blume! With her first adult book since Summer Sisters, which came out in 1998! This one is about the effect of a series of plane crashes on a group of people in New Jersey in 1952. And it's by JUDY BLUME!

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan (July) The New Yorker war correspondent looks back on nearly half a century of surfing adventures.

Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture—and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding (August) Anybody want to predict this won't still be relevant in 2015? Didn't think so. Harding's a blogger and columnist, most recently for Dame, and has an amazing capacity for transforming her outrage into clear, considered arguments, as she did in this conversation we had last spring about Elliot Rodger, the Santa Barbara shooter, and the #YesAllWomen hashtag.

And last, but certainly not least . . .

The Lives of Robert Ryan by J.R. Jones (May) The Reader's very own film critic takes a close look at Ryan, the Chicago-born movie star who specialized in playing dark, twisted characters onscreen, but, offscreen, worked as a peace and civil rights activist.

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