Dispatches from the Land of Books

I had the opportunity this past week to attend Book Expo America (BEA) in New York City! BEA is attended by publisher industry professionals, including publishers, editors, publicists, authors, illustrators, book sellers, and librarians. Over three days I learned about publishing trends, diversity in publishing, the future of library eBooks and of course … what books to look out for this year and early 2020!

(Please note these titles will be ordered for the library, but many of them have not been ordered at this time. Please be patient with your requests!)


Timely Fiction

One of the biggest trends in publishing is the plethora of quality “timely fiction” – in other words, fiction inspired by the headlines, current societal problems, and the movements to combat them:

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, Jan 2020 – debut – hugely buzzed about at BEA. This is the moving tale of a bookstore owner in Acapulco forced to flee her home with her eight-year-old son. They soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence and they join the countless people trying to reach el norte. “A Grapes of Wrath for our times.” – Don Winslow

Invisible as Air by Zoe Fishman, Sept 2019 – a personal look at the opioid epidemic. Sylvie has repressed three years of grief after the stillbirth of her daughter. She’s busy planning her son’s Bar Mitzvah and cheerfully tending to her husband who’s lying on the sofa with a broken ankle. She’s also secretly addicted to her husband’s prescribed OxyContin.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, Jan 2020 –debut – think #MeToo. In this multi-layered novel a woman is shocked to learn that her former high school teacher is accused of sexual abuse. The accusations cause her to revisit her own relationship with that same teacher. Was it consensual love like she thought or was she manipulated?

Opioid, Indiana by Brian Allen Carr, Sept 2019 – A teenager in impoverished rural Indiana must find a job and track down his vanished drug-addicted guardian before he’s evicted.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, Jan 2020 – debut – poignant, page-turning look at race and white privilege. A black woman is asked to babysit her white friend’s child. While out with the child one night a security guard accuses her of kidnapping. Bystanders film the encounter and it goes viral.

The Warehouse by Rob Hart, Aug 2019 – a socially aware science fiction novel in the vein of George Orwell, Ray Bradbury and Margaret Atwood. In a near-future “big tech”=“big brother” world, Cloud is an online retailer, a behemoth and the best (practically only) employer. People are desperate for work and they think they are lucky to work for the Cloud warehouse as they are completely taken care of in the company’s live-work facilities. Two employees will discover just how far the company will go, though, to make the world a better place.

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker, July 2019 – twisty, sharp, thrilling, funny look at women – inspired by the #MeToo movement. Four female coworkers learn it is likely their boss is next in line as CEO. There have been whispers about how he has treated women, but nothing was done about it. When they learn he’s made another inappropriate move on a female colleague, they aren’t willing to let it go.


BookExpo entrance


Escapist reads

Still there are plenty of “escapist” reads – books that transport the reader to another time, place, or world. Just don’t be too surprised if you learn something from them:

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas, Jan 2020 – In her first adult fantasy, Maas promises fae, werewolves, and angels with epic world building.

The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull, June 2019 – After observing the US Virgin Islands over hundreds of years an alien race, Ynaa, takes over the land and its people. Though benevolent in many ways, the Ynaa react violently to any acts of aggression. This has led to a strained relationship and a peace that cannot last.

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner, June 2019 – a generational book, the history of America through the eyes of two sisters growing up from the 1950s to today.

Out of Darkness, Shining Light by Petina Gappah, Sept 2019 – A beautifully written historical novel about the 19th-century explorer David Livingstone and the extraordinary group of Africans who carried his body 1500 miles from the interior of the “dark continent” to the sea.

The Poppy Wife by Caroline Scott, Nov 2019 – debut – in the aftermath of WWI, a woman joins her brother-in-law in search of her husband, a soldier declared M.I.A.

Ribbons of Scarlet by Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, Heather Webb, Sophie Perinot, E. Knight & Allison Pataki, Oct 2019 – Seven female authors each write the story of seven real women from the French Revolution.

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott, Sept 2019 – Hidden Figures meets Madmen. This novel is based on the true story of two women pulled from a 1950s CIA secretary pool for the assignment of a lifetime. Their mission? To smuggle Dr. Zhivago out of the USSR.




Thought-provoking Non-Fiction

How We Fight for our Lives by Saeed Jones, Oct 2019 – known for his poetry, Jones injects his poetic writing style into his coming-of-age memoir about being a young, black, gay man in Texas while growing up under a fire-and-brimstone mother. Eventually the two find strength in each other. “A rhapsody” – Roxanne Gay

Uncanny Valley by Anna Weiner, Jan 2020 – debut– an insider’s memoir about the tech world, filled with workplace humor, unethical behavior and finding out you are a cog in the great surveillance economy.


Non-Fiction for Fun

All Blood Runs Red: The Legendary Life of Eugene Bullard – Boxer, Pilot, Soldier, Spy, Nov 2019 – a real-life Forrest Gump in that he lived through countless fascinating moments in history. He was the only African American pilot in WWI, a self-taught jazz musician, a Paris nightclub owner, a spy in the French Resistance and a civil rights pioneer.

Diamond Doris: The True Story of the World’s Most Notorious Jewel Thief by Doris Payne with Zelda Lockhart, Sept 2019

The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder that Shocked Jazz-Age America by Karen Abbott, Aug 2019

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals about Death by Caitlin Doughty, Sept 2019


New Books from Authors You Know

André Aciman – Find Me: A Novel – Oct 2019 (sequel to Call Me by Your Name)

Elizabeth Berg – The Confession Club – Nov 2019

Bill Bryson – The Body: A Guide for Occupants – Oct 2019

Augusten Burroughs – Toil & Trouble ­– Oct 2019 (a memoir)

Candace Bushnell – Is There Still Sex in the City? – Aug 2019

Stephen Chbosky – Imaginary Friend – Oct 2019 (first adult novel)

Ta-Nahisi Coates – The Water Dancer: A Novel – Sept 2019

Malcolm Gladwell – Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know – Sept 2019

Philippa Gregory – Tidelands: A Novel – Aug 2019

Alice Hoffman – The World that We Knew – Sept 2019

John le Carré – Agent Running in the Field: A Novel – Oct 2019

Cixin Liu – Supernova Era – Oct 2019

Rachel Maddow – Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth – Oct 2019

Téa Obrecht – Inland – Aug 2019

Ann Patchett – The Dutch House – Sept 2019

Salman Rushdie – Quichotte: A novel – Sept 2019 (a retelling of Don Quixote)

Karin Slaughter – The Last Widow: A Novel – Aug 2019

Elizabeth Strout – Olive Again – Oct 2019 (sequel to Olive Kitteridge)

Ruth Ware – The Turn of the Key – Aug 2019

Kevin Wilson – Nothing to See Here – Nov 2019


So is that it?? Of course not! But that’s all I have the energy for so … happy reading!

– Stephanie, WFPL Reference Librarian

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