More than ever before, we are inundated with forecasts about the “best” books on the horizon or the ones you must read to be au courant or woke or anything else you are supposed to desire (vigilantly armed against the spirit of the age, perhaps, whatever that is alleged to be). These can be annoying, inadvertently hilarious, and so on, but apart from all that, such advance notices can also be diverting, sometimes even intoxicating. If you are a bookish person, you probably have lists, notes, printouts (especially if you’re old, as I am), pages torn neatly from magazines, and so on—or maybe you have all that sort of thing on your phone.
Fully conscious of this, I nevertheless have the effrontery to add another list to the pile—a very modest one, a mere appetizer, but tasty, I hope. The books are not listed alphabetically or chronologically by pub date, but rather in the order that they rose to the top of my mind, jostling other candidates in the scrum.
The House of Love and Death
by andrew klavan
mysterious press, oct. 31
This is the third book in Klavan’s Cameron Winter series; here’s my take on the previous volume. If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, maybe haven’t ever tried Klavan, this wouldn’t be a bad place to start. If you like this book, you’ll have a lot to look forward to.
How the Ocean Works
by helen czerski
norton, oct. 3
This is one of a cluster of recent and forthcoming titles devoted to “the ocean” (see for example Laura Trethewey’s The Deepest Map: The High-Stakes Race to Chart the World’s Oceans, published last month). I don’t care for the title of Czerski’s book, but I am interested to see how she’ll treat the subject.
The Lumumba Plot:
The Secret History of the CIA and a Cold War Assassination
by stuart a. reid
knopf, oct. 3
One of my favorite books of 2015 was Death in the Congo: Murdering Patrice Lumumba, by Emmanuel Gerard and Bruce Kuklick (Harvard University Press). I look forward to this new account.
A City of Mars:
Can we settle space, should we settle space, and have we really thought this through?
by kelly and zach weinersmith
penguin press, nov. 7
I am in favor of space exploration, with the possibility of “settlement,” but I like to read a range of takes on the subject.
by caitlin haskell, tere arcq, et al.
yale university press/art institute of chicago, just published
This book accompanies an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago (July 29–November 27). I have long been an admirer of Varo’s deliciously eccentric work, and I have been looking forward to this event since it was first announced.
Up on the Woof Top
by spencer quinn
forge, oct. 17
This is the fourteenth installment in Spencer Quinn’s marvelous Chet & Bernie series, which I have often written about in these pages; here's my take on the previous volume in the series, Bark to the Future, in which I highlight the way in which these books portray friendship with great humor and insight.
Of course this list could easily be five times as long. So many titles are beckoning to be included—Carlos Eire’s They Flew: A History of the Impossible (Yale University Press), for instance, and Janet Soskice’s Naming God: Addressing the Divine in Philosophy, Theology and Scripture (Cambridge University Press)—that I begin to feel guilty for leaving them out. Perhaps there will be other opportunities.
Books about Trump and current politics? Nah, not interested. Books about how “we” need to learn to talk to each other? Nah. Nothing “therapeutic,” in fact; we’re awash in the stuff. And of course along with new titles there are the blessings of rereading (I’ve almost completed a wonderful tour through the novels of Eric Ambler, which I reported on in its early stages several months ago; consider checking him out if you’ve never given him a try).
I do hope you’ll find at least one title I mentioned above worth looking into, and I hope that you’ll let me know (in due course) what you thought of the book or books in question. We really are blessed to have such an embarrassment of riches.
John Wilson is a contributing editor for The Englewood Review of Books and senior editor at The Marginalia Review of Books.
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