The best new and upcoming books to read in 2017
List includes new works by Carrie Fisher, Sara Shepard ("Pretty Little Liars") and Elizabeth Strout ("Olive Kitteridge").
Believe it or not, in 2017 silent reading parties are going to be a thing. The movement was started back in 2009 by editor Christopher Frizzelle. The idea is simple: A group of people get together and read their favorite books. Now the Silent Book Club is taking the trend global with a website, blog and regular events from the Bay Area in California to Birmingham, England.
“Reading is not an inherently social activity, but reading together in a public space creates a sense of belonging that many of us crave in this age of disconnected media,” Silent Book Club founder Guinevere de la Mare told From the Grapevine. “Volunteers host meet-ups in dozens of cities around the world, and anyone is welcome to join or launch their own chapter. If we were revolutionaries, our credo would be 'Put down your phone, pick up a book.’”
Of course you don’t need to join an official reading event to spend some time with your next favorite book. This list of 10 great new and soon-to-be-published books should be inspiration enough to put down that screen and snuggle up with a new hardcover!
'The Princess Diarist'
Mourning Star Wars fans will be wiping their tears long enough to read "The Princess Diarist," Carrie Fisher’s hilarious and revealing behind-the-scenes look at one of the most famous film sets of all time. Fisher drew from her own personal journals she kept while playing Princess Leia to write the book. Published just weeks before her death, the intimate memoir reads like a Young Adult novel narrated by Fisher as she falls in love with Harrison Ford on the set of the first movie in the 1970s.
While Hollywood scrambles to figure out what to do for two more Star Wars films in the works, Princess Leia has her final say as Fisher meditates on her life as a character and the price of fame.
'A Horse Walks into a Bar'
"A Horse Walks into a Bar" is a short novel from Israeli author David Grossman telling the story of Dovaleh G., a hard-working middle-age stand-up comedian trying to get a break in a small club in the coastal town of Netanya, Israel. But the jokes are bad, and as the night goes on, the heckling gets worse, the comic crumbling on stage. This isn’t a work of comedy, although some of the jokes in the book are funny. Rather, it tells the story of the relationship between actor and audience, love and loss.
The Irish Times called the book “shocking, raw and eloquent” and it was named one of the best books to read at the start of 2017 by The Washington Post. It will be released in hardcover on Feb. 21.
De la Mare says the book she recommended and gifted most last year was "Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi. The book, which came out in June, tells the story of Effia and Esi, two sisters with two very different destinies: one sold into slavery and one a slave trader’s wife. The story spans three continents and seven generations, from the Gold Coast of Africa to the dive bars of Harlem.
“One of the most fantastic books I’ve read in a long time … you cry and you laugh as you’re reading it … a beautiful story,” said Trevor Noah of "The Daily Show."
"Homegoing" was NPR’s Debut Novel of the Year, a New York Times Notable Book and is on the shortlist for a 2017 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. It’s currently in hardcover, and will be available in paperback on April 25.
"Lucky Boy" is the story of two mothers bound together by their love for one young boy. Solimar Castro-Valdez is an undocumented Mexican living in Berkeley, Calif. when she realizes she’s pregnant. She raises her son Ignacio on her own, cleaning houses to make ends meet until she’s placed in immigration detention. Ignacio becomes the foster son of Kevya Reddy, a successful woman struggling with infertility.
"Lucky Boy," the second novel from Indian-American author Shanthi Sekaran, has been called one of the most anticipated books of 2017, and the Kirkus Review called it “a superbly crafted and engrossing novel.” The book became available on Jan. 10.
'Between Life and Death'
"Between Life and Death" is one of the last works of Israeli author Yoram Kaniuk. An autobiographical novel tells the story of the four months Kaniuk spent in a Tel Aviv hospital slipping in and out of a coma, as he is compelled to reflect on the times in his life of the greatest enlightenment and trial. At times, the book seems to be told in a sleepy fog, his prose dreamlike, but at other times defiant. It is part memoir, part meditation, while also a riveting medical drama.
The French newspaper Le Mond called "Between Life and Death" the "funniest text ever written about death.” It has been shortlisted for the 2017 PEN Translation Prize. Kaniuk passed away at the age of 83 in 2013.
Looking for something lighter? "Pretty Little Liars" best-selling author Sara Shepard is back with a new novel, "The Amateurs." When 18-year-old Seneca Frazier sees a post on the online crime solving community Case Not Closed about the high-profile disappearance of Helena Kelley five years previous, she’s hooked. Shepard is an expert as writing page-turner mystery stories packed with friendships and a good helping of romance.
"The Amateurs" might not win any literary prizes, but if you need something to do on a cold, snowy Sunday, this is the book.
"The Sleepwalker" is the latest from New York Times bestselling author Chris Bohjalian. The American novelist is known for writing strong female characters, and his 19th book is no exception. "The Sleepwalker," which arrived in bookstores on January 10, surrounds the disappearance of 47-year-old Annalee Ahlberg, an architect, mother and chronic sleepwalker. The story is narrated by her 21-year-old daughter Lianna. Annalee isn’t just a sleepwalker; she’s a “sleep sexer” who wanders the neighborhood when her husband is away looking to satisfy her sexual desires.
The Washington Post called the book a “dark, Hitchcockian novel featuring two beautiful icy blondes reminiscent of those found in many of the renowned director’s films.” The book is a page-turner exploring love, lies, desire and an affliction manifesting itself in a bizarre and devastating way.
"Two She-Bears" by Meir Shalev, one of Israel’s most prolific authors, has been called a cross between the magic realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Stephen King’s suspense. The story begins in an Israeli town in the 1930s and spans 70 years as Ruta Tavori tells the story of her family – a tale of love, revenge and masculinity. Ruta, who feels herself to be part man with small breasts and a tall frame, explores her relationship with her grandfather, her husband and the tragedy of her son’s death.
“Shalev’s style is unmistakable, and in this book he takes on themes that haunt your thoughts… After reading 'Two She-Bears,' you start seeing snakes everywhere,” wrote the Italian journal Internazionale.
'Anything Is Possible'
Elizabeth Strout wrote "Anything Is Possible" in tandem with her 2016 bestselling novel "My Name is Lucy Barton," making it one of the most anticipated novels of the year. The book features many of the characters of Amgash, Ill., but moves beyond Lucy’s first-person narration to feature a panoply of characters offering a wide-angle glimpse of life in rural America.
Strout won the Pulitzer Prize for her 2008 novel "Olive Kitteridge," and her writing has just gotten better ever since then. "Anything is Possible" will be released in hardcover April 25.
'Men Without Women'
Japanese author Haruki Murakami riffs on Ernest Hemingway’s short story collection "Men Without Women" with a new collection of his own. The collection features seven stories about the lives of men, told in Murakami’s signature surrealist form punctuated by cats and smoky bars, baseball and the Beatles. In “Scheherazade,” which was previously published independently in the New Yorker magazine, a man living in isolation is visited regularly by a woman who claims to remember him from a past life.
"Men Without Women" was published in Japan last year and will be available translated into English in the U.S. on May 9.
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