Archive for the ‘book list’ Category

10 Books We’re Looking Forward To This Summer

Summer is in full swing and there are still a lot of wonderful books to come. As usual, our emphasis is on debuts and small press titles. This roundup only scratches the surface of the exciting new works out this summer, including books by our old, established pals Lauren Groff, A. M. Homes, Ottessa Mosfegh and Laura van den Berg. So kick up your feet, relax on the screen porch, in the pool, or just on your favorite comfy chair, and enjoy one of these refreshing summer reads.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai 

We are so pumped about The Great Believers that we’ve just gotta include a shoutout to our Volume VII judge Rebecca Makkai, whose outstanding novel The Great Believers hit the shelves in June. Don’t take our word for it, though. The New York Times had this to say: “It’s a pleasure, as well, when a narrative opens up worlds not familiar to most readers, when it offers actual information along with the momentum of its story and its characters.”

Publication date: June 19

How to Love a Jamaican: Stories by Alexia Arthurs

The literary world is abuzz in anticipation of Alexia Arthurs’s debut collection. Zadie Smith has this to say: “In these kaleidoscopic stories of Jamaica and its diaspora we hear many voices at once: some cultivated, some simple, some wickedly funny, some deeply melancholic. All of them shine.”

Publication date: July 24


I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé by Michael Arceneaux

The world really needs Michael Arceneaux’s debut collection of essays and, luckily for us, we only have to wait until the end of the month. Arceneaux’s essays have appeared in publications such as The Guardian, The Root, New York Magazine, and the New York Times. His essays describe, among other things, what it means to be a gay black man in America today.

Publication date: July 24

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

There are just so many wonderful debuts coming out in July. Fruit of the Drunken Tree, Ingrid Rojas Contreras’s first novel, is set in Colombia during the time of Pablo Escobar and told from the point of view of a seven-year-old girl.

Publication date: July 31


Let Me Be Like Water by S.K. Perry

The debut novel for Perry, who was longlisted for London’s Young Poet Laureate in 2013, relies on a budding friendship between a heartbroken girl and a retired magician. Don’t miss her book, out from Melville House in the dog days of August.

Publication date: August 14


22 Books We’re Looking Forward To This Year

2018 promises to be a wonderful year in books. We tried to keep our list of books we are looking forward to reading this year to just eighteen, but trimming it down to twenty-two was difficult enough. As usual, our list focuses on debuts and books that are out during the first half of the year. So, dive in.

The Afterlives by Thomas Pierce

This book is already out, so read it now! In Thomas Pierce’s strong debut novel, narrator Jim Byrd struggles with the fragility of life and relationships. Holograms walk the streets, a device allows you to view your heartbeats on your phone, and a woman just may have invented a machine that can free you from the constraints of time. For all that, the novel feels incredibly familiar.

Publication date: January 9

Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee

This debut novel has already hit bookstore shelves, and you shouldn’t delay in reading it. Our reviewer Katharine Coldiron writes: “Mira T. Lee’s voice is not reassuring or simple; it is alive, worthy of pursuit and concentration.” Read our review here.

Publication date: January 16


This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins

This is a debut collection of essays from an important new cultural and political voice. Jerkins writes about her own experience being black, female, and feminist and shines a light on injustices that often go unacknowledged and are too rarely discussed. Don’t miss this intelligent and incisive new voice.

Publication date: January 30

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara

Joseph Cassara’s debut novel, set in New York in the eighties and nineties, documents the experiences of Angel, one of the founders of the House of Xtravaganza, and the people she meets as part of the Harlem ball scene. Don’t miss this one.

Publication date: February 6


Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

We are not the only people looking forward to Freshwater, Akwaeke Emezi’s debut novel. Its protagonist, Ada, grows up in Nigeria and leaves to attend college in America, where she is assaulted. Freshwater is narrated by Ada’s disparate selves. Don’t miss this dark, graceful new novel.

Publication date: February 13


The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreasen

Michael Andreasen’s debut short story collection is full of surreal and otherworldly thrills. Ramona Ausubel has this to say about it: “Full of explosions of magic, aching tenderness and star-bright writing. This is a book that will make you want to tap the person next to you and say, ‘I’m sorry to interrupt, but you have to hear this.’”

Publication date: February 27 

Awayland by Ramona Ausubel

Oh, how we love Ramona Ausubel’s stories. Though we like to focus on debuts, we couldn’t resist including this book on our list. In Ausubel’s latest collection, a mother turns to mist and a Cyclops looks for love. We’re excited.

Publication date: March 6


Carry You by Glori Simmons

Glori Simmons’ debut short story collection is being published by Autumn House Press this March. We were lucky to be able to publish “Night Vision,” a story from the collection, in our New Voices section. Read it here.

Publication date: March 7


The Natashas by Yelena Moskovich

Yelena Moskovich’s debut novel is coming out from Dzanc Books this spring. In the words of the publisher: “A startlingly original novel that recalls the unsettling visual worlds of Cindy Sherman and David Lynch and the writing of Angela Carter and Haruki Murakami, The Natashas establishes Yelena Moskovich as one of the most exciting young writers of her generation.”

Publication date: March 13

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg

Yeah, readers are pretty excited about Mallory Ortberg’s forthcoming collection The Merry Spinster, in which classic fairy tales and children’s stories are given dark twists. We can’t wait.

Publication date: March 13


Editors’ Favorite Books To Give as Gifts

Still looking for the perfect gift for your various in-laws, your significant other, your best friend, your niece—anyone, really? Well, we asked the editors of some of our favorite literary magazines to share some of their favorite books to give as gifts. We ended up with an eclectic and awesome list. We are tempted to go out and get these all for ourselves, but that wouldn’t quite be in the spirit of the season. Enjoy this list and thanks to all the awesome editors who contributed.

Emma Komlos-Hrobsky, Tin House: My Life in France by Julia Child & The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Julia Child’s My Life in France is both my most re-read and most gifted book. From its opening pages, as Child narrates her 1948 arrival at the port of Le Havre—her beloved station wagon the Blue Flash dangles from her ship’s freight crane—and her first tastes of sole meuniereMy Life in France is pure pleasure. It’s impossible to read the book without Child’s warbly falsetto in one’s head, cooing and trilling her descriptions of her surly French ladyladies, her early culinary forays, and most of all her beloved Paul. Their marriage is one for the ages, one of devotion and mutual support that radiates through Child’s account. (It’s also interesting to get Julia’s side of the story on the erosion of her relationship with her Mastering the Art of French Cooking co-authors; one senses more ego on her part than I might’ve otherwise thought.) Perfect reading for those who love cooking or love Julia, but just as much for anyone in search of a dose of joie de vivre. And for grade- or middle- school-aged readers, I can’t recommend Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s under-read classic The Egypt Game highly enough; it’s got compelling mystery, a savvy (and diverse) cast of kid protagonists, and a darkness and complexity that takes its young audience seriously. Perfect for Harriet the Spy fans searching for their next fix.

Laura Spence-Ash, CRAFT: Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón

Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón. I love Ada Limón’s poems. There’s something so honest, so fresh, and so alive about her work. Each poem tells a story, usually with an unexpected turn towards the end. This is a book of poetry that’s a wonderful gift for those who love poetry but also for those who aren’t so sure. By the time they’ve read this book, they’ll be hooked.

Tara Laskowski, SmokeLong Quarterly: The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

This is an odd one, but the first thing that came to mind is The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. I first read this book in college and it has stuck with me for many years. His advice about trusting your instincts and learning how to take care of yourself is spot-on. This book discusses how to fend off creepy advances, break off ties with exes, deal with stalkers, and how to act in scary or vulnerable situations. I’ve given this book to many friends over the years. Sadly, it’s especially timely now—but then again, it’s always been especially timely.

Ashley Farmer, Juked: Fever Dogs by Kim O’Neil

Right now, Fever Dogs, the debut collection by Kim O’Neil, is at the top of my list. This stunning, evocative book about three generations of women will appeal to a wide audience (and writer-friends will admire the wholly unique voice and the dazzling sentence-level dynamics).

Lena Valencia, One Story: The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark

The Driver’s Seat opens with Lise, the slightly unhinged protagonist, berating a salesgirl in a dress shop for attempting to sell her a dress with stainless fabric (“Do you think I spill things on my clothes?”). From there, we follow Lise on her doomed vacation, which we learn, early on in the book, will be where she spends the last days of her life. This slim little thriller isn’t for everyone, but those with a flair for the morbid will appreciate Muriel Spark’s black humor, sharp dialogue, and the clever way she uses Lise’s character to explore ideas of victimhood and agency.

Josh Roark, Frontier Poetry: Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar

People have an easy conception of poetry as overly-dense, opaque, elite—but Akbar blows that up. His fresh body imagery in Calling a Wolf a Wolf abuts a raw commentary on addiction and self-loss that anyone can connect to, especially younger people. If I were to give poetry to any of my friends who don’t care about poetry, I’d give them Calling.

Sadye Teiser, The Masters Review: My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales edited by Kate Bernheimer

I love to give this thick, magical anthology as a gift. Kate Bernheimer has collected and edited forty contemporary takes on the classic fairy tale form. There is just about no grownup who doesn’t appreciate a good fairy tale, be it whimsical, gruesome, or both. This anthology features stories by authors such as Aimee Bender, Kevin Brockmeier, and Kelly Link. Plus, it makes an excellent coffee table book.

17 Books We’re Looking Forward To This Year

We are beyond excited about all of the wonderful books coming out in 2017, and it was a real struggle to keep this list to just seventeen releases we are looking forward to this year. This is a list of firsts, with many notable debuts and also some first short story collections or novels from authors we are already well acquainted with. It focuses on (mostly) the first half of 2017. If you’re anything like us, it’s been tough finding things to look forward to this year. Well, this list of books is an excellent start.

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

Difficult Women, Roxane Gay’s first short story collection, was released at the very beginning of the year, and it was a great way to ring in 2017. Roxane Gay has already established herself as an editor, New York Times contributor, and the bestselling author of Ayiti, An Untamed State, and Bad Feminist. Really, she needs no introduction. We are also stoked that she is the judge for our 2017 anthology.

Publication date: January 3

Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh

The first short story collection from the ever-wonderful Ottessa Moshfegh has arrived! Her novel Eileen won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction, and her stories have received much critical acclaim. We were honored to publish a craft essay by Moshfegh ourselves. It is high time that this collection was published and we’re so glad that it’s here.

Publication date: January 17

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Refugees is the debut short story collection from Viet Thanh Nguyen, the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Sympathizer. One story focuses on a woman whose husband’s dementia causes him to confuse her with a former lover. Another centers on the experience of a Vietnamese refugee in San Francisco. This collection, twenty years in the making, is not to be missed.

Publication date: February 7

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Well, it happened. George Saunders, long celebrated for his speculative and funny short stories, has written a novel. Saunders starts with a historical premise and takes it into the realm of the unreal: the novel follows Willie Lincoln, President Lincoln’s son who died at eleven years old, as he navigates purgatory. We’re not gonna lie: we’re really excited about this one.

Publication date: February 14

The Idiot by Elif Batuman

The Idiot, the debut novel from New Yorker staff writer Elif Batuman, is set in the good old days of 1995. It follows protagonist Selin, whose parents are Turkish immigrants, as she navigates Harvard and Europe. This worldly novel about self-discovery is on our spring reading list.

Publication date: March 14


Wait Till You See Me Dance by Deb Olin Unferth

2017 seems to be the year of the debut collection, and we could not be more stoked about that. Wait Till You See Me Dance—the first short story collection from Unferth, the author of Minor Robberies, Vacation, and Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War—will be released by Graywolf Press in late March.

Publication date: March 21

Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett

Rabbit Cake is Annie Hartnett’s first novel, out from Tin House in March. It is written from the point of view of a twelve-year-old girl named Elvis whose mother has just died of drowning while sleepwalking, and whose sister suffers from the same dangerous somnambulism. Set in Alabama, this sad and charming debut depicts the strangeness of life through a fresh and unique set of eyes.

Publication date: March 7


7 Books We’re Looking Forward To This Fall

It is officially fall. Along with a rush of pumpkin-spice flavored products comes an impressive new slew of books. Of course, there are many novels and collections we are excited about this fall (including a ton of promising debuts), but here are seven of them.

our-hearts-will-burn-us-downOur Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente

Fans of Anne Valente’s work have been anxiously awaiting her debut novel, out in October. Let us tell you: you will not be disappointed. Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down is a powerful book that chronicles the aftermath of a school shooting in a St. Louis suburb, as the houses of the victims’ families mysteriously begin to burn down one by one. Told in the first person plural, this novel does not shy away from its weighty content. An important book for our times.

Publication date: October 4

the-mortificationsThe Mortifications by Derek Palacio

October brings many promising debuts, The Mortifications by Derek Palacio among them. Palacio’s novel, out from Tim Duggan Books, begins in Cuba in 1980, during the Mariel boatlift, when a woman, Soledad, decides to go to America with her two children—leaving her husband behind. A highly anticipated book from a talented new voice.

Publication date: October 4


him-me-muhammed-aliHim, Me, Muhammad Ali by Randa Jarrar

The first short story collection from acclaimed novelist Randa Jarrar comes out from Sarabande soon. In the words of the publisher: “Bouncing between Cairo, New York, Palestine, Sydney, and Istanbul, these stories explore the worlds of ‘accidental transients’ or displaced people.” The characters in this book include: an Egyptian feminist and her friend, an emerging writer; the women of a matriarchal society; and a woman who is part ibex.

Publication date: October 11

the-german-girlThe German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa

Correa’s first novel, based on a true story, chronicles the experience of twelve-year-old Hannah Rosenthal as she attempts to escape from Nazi-occupied Germany. This one is not to be missed.

Publication date: October 18




We Show What We Have Learned & Other Stories by Clare Beams

We love Lookout Books, and we love a good debut collection. These two come together in We Show What We have Learned & Other Stories by Clare Beams. Joyce Carol Oates calls it: “A dazzling story collection—as if, by a rare sort of magic, Alice Munro and Shirley Jackson had conspired together to imagine a female/feminist voice for the twenty-first century that is wickedly sharp-eyed, wholly unpredictable, and wholly engaging.” High praise, indeed.

Publication date: October 25

pull-me-underPull Me Under by Kelly Luce

Pull Me Under, Kelly Luce’s first novel, comes out from FSG this fall. Laura van den Berg says of the book: “Pull Me Under is a fierce and suspenseful exploration of the profoundly mysterious nature of identity, written with precise and spectacular beauty. Kelly Luce is one of our most thrilling new talents.” Red the Publisher’s Weekly blurb here.

Publication date: November 1

swing-timeSwing Time by Zadie Smith

Get excited for another novel from the wonderful Zadie Smith, out from Penguin Press just before the holidays. Kirkus says of the book: “Smith, who wowed the world at 24 with her debut novel, White Teeth (2000), once again crafts quicksilver fiction around intense friendship, race, and class.”

Publication date: November 15



by Sadye Teiser

Five Prose Writers with Poetry Collections

March 21 is World Poetry Day, and to celebrate we’re sharing five prose authors whom you might not know have poetry collections under their belts.

We all know poets who have turned out a novel or two—Sylvia Plath, Gertrude Stein, Rainer Maria Rilke, to name a few. There are also authors known for their dexterity in both fields, such as Dylan Thomas, Sherman Alexie, and Alice Walker.

But for World Poetry Day, we thought we’d share some authors known for their prose who also have poetry collections. As fiction writers, we sometimes neglect or forget the pleasure and craft of writing poetry. These authors—some of whom started their writing careers as poets—show that not only can you do both, but that writing poetry can strengthen our skills as prose writers. Plus these collections are a great way to rediscover the writing and souls of our favorite authors.

Share your favorite cross-genre authors in the comments and follow #WorldPoetryDay online for more celebration of the verse.

UKL Incredible Good FortuneUrsula K. Le Guin

Le Guin is best known for her award-winning science fiction such as the Earthsea Series and The Left Hand of Darkness. She’s also put out several nonfiction collections discussing the writing world and her career, such as Dancing at the Edge of the World and Steering the Craft. But Le Guin has put out several poetry collections, including Hard Words, and Other Poems (1981),  Incredible Good Fortune: New Poems (2006), Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems (2012).

As a bonus, Le Guin also translated the work of Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, the only Latin American woman to receive the Nobel prize. 

Read it:

The papers are full of war and
my head is full of the anguish of battles
and ruin of ancient cities.

In the rainy light a great blue heron
lifts and flies above the brown cattails
heavy, tender, and pitiless.

—from “Here, There, at the Marsh” (more…)

Seven Books To Take Skiing

books to take skiing

Spring has not sprung yet, and there is still time to hit the slopes. If you are heading out on a ski vacation, here are some great books to take along. Forget beach reads: these seven titles are perfect for a snowy landscape and a cup of hot cocoa. Some will teach you more about the sport, a few will transport you to alternate wintery settings, others will give you an extra chill.

// By Light We Knew Our Names by Anne Valente

Anne Valente’s debut collection is a good book to take anywhere, but many of the stories are ideal reading after a long day on the slopes. In “Dear Amelia,” a group of adolescent girls transforms into Maine black bears. In “By Light We Knew Our Names,” four young women in a small Alaskan town start a fight club under cover of the Northern Lights. All of Valente’s tales contain a wonderful, warming magic.

// The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Many of you probably haven’t read Jack London’s The Call of the Wild since childhood, and a snow-filled vacation is the perfect time to revisit it. Follow the adventures of sled dog Buck, the protagonist of this classic, short novel that takes place in Canada during the Klondike Gold Rush.

// The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

Part of Volume IV judge Kevin Brockmeier’s The Brief History of the Dead takes place in a nearly abandoned Antarctic research station, where Laura Byrd is the sole survivor of a disaster that has befallen it. The other part is set in a city that is populated by the dead who remain in the memories of the living. Our advice? Just read it.

// Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

If being out among the mountains and snowy trees makes you imagine what it would be like to be on your own in the wilderness, it is a great time to revisit Gary Paulsen’s young adult novel Hatchet. In it, a teenager survives a plane crash but is left to fend for himself in the dense forest. A classic.


15 Reading Challenges That Will Encourage You to Read More, and Read Widely

The new year is still fresh, but how about your reading resolutions? We’ve discovered fifteen challenges to keep you going, like a short story a week, books written by Nobel winners, and the banned books challenge. Check ’em out!

girl reading book and drinking fresh coffee

  1. Around the World 2016

There are several variations on this challenge, but the idea is the same: read your way around the world. The main part of this challenge involves tracking your reading on a map, but there are several mini challenges as well. Hosted by: All About Books

  1. Deal Me In Short Stories Challenge

If a book a week sounds rather daunting, try this challenge that requires only a short story each week. If you’re interested but not sure where to begin, check out our New Voices section for some great stories! Hosted by: Bibliophilopolis

  1. Read Harder 2016

Run by Book Riot, this popular challenge consists of 26 tasks that encourage readers to read outside their comfort zone. It covers many different genres, and includes tasks like reading authors from a certain background, reading books about sensitive topics, and reading books that aren’t traditional novels. Hosted by: Book Riot

  1. Goodreads Awards Challenge

You don’t have to be a Goodreads member to take this challenge. Just pick a tier level for each category of the awards, or commit to read through all the nominees of a certain category, and read! Hosted by: Books of Amber

  1. Banned Books Challenge 2016

Banned Books week isn’t the only time to celebrate the freedom of the written word. Any banned or challenged books count toward your total, which determines whether you’re making waves or leading a revolution. Hosted by: Buckling Bookshelves

  1. Book to Movie Challenge 2016

Are you constantly debating whether the book was better than the movie? Join your fellow book nerds and movie buffs with monthly themes, lively discussions, and the chance to win some prizes! Hosted by: ebookclassics

  1. 2016 Alphabet Soup

This challenge isn’t about the content of the books, but the titles. 26 books, one for each letter of the alphabet. Hosted by: Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

  1. Read the Nobels 2016

The books for this challenge don’t have to be Nobel Prize winners, but they do need to be authored by Nobel Laureates. This challenge has the potential to cover both classic and modern literature—the choice is yours! Hosted by: Guiltless Reading (more…)

8 Books You Can Read In The Time It Takes To Watch The Super Bowl

According to Nielsen Holdings, the average length of a Super Bowl broadcast is 3 hours and 35 minutes. We’ve rounded up eight quick reads you can cover in less time than it takes to watch the biggest game of the year.


The Ballad of Ballard And Sandrine  by Peter Straub

Or, the polar opposite of The Super Bowl. Two lovers are widely separated in age but bound together by an erotic obsession. Their story, which takes place over a period of twenty-five years, is primarily set on a mysterious yacht making its way down the Amazon river. Straub’s dark novel combines horror, love, and suspense in an entirely new and unexpected way.



Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery

This little book is as widely read as the Super Bowl is watched, and has become a cult favorite among readers around the world. The synopsis — an aviator whose plane is forced down in the Sahara Desert encounters a little prince from a small planet who relates his adventures in seeking the secret of what is important in life — is simple, but this sweet little title packs an enormous punch.


A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean

“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.” This book celebrates a different American pastime and is based on the author’s childhood fishing in Montana’s Big Blackfoot River. Though more widely known for the movie, this tale of nature and family is a short, but exquisite classic.


41WxxnyABjL._SX301_BO1,204,203,200_ Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger

If you’re a fast reader, you can cover this text in a single sitting. “Franny” debuted in The New Yorker in 1955 and was soon followed by the novella, “Zooey” in 1957. Together they tell the story of the two youngest members of the Glass family, a subject frequently covered by Salinger. He writes: “I love working on these Glass stories, I’ve been waiting for them most of my life, and I think I have fairly decent, monomaniacal plans to finish them with due care and all-available skill.”



The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

As beloved at the Super Bowl, this small little book wins over absolutely every one of its readers. Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide. It’s too fun not to read.


sleep-donationSleep Donation by Karen Russell

In less time than it takes to get to the halftime show, transport yourself with Karen Russell’s novella about an insomnia epidemic turned deadly. In this story, Russell’s protagonist, Trish, works for an organization called Slumber Corps, traveling the country telling the story of her sister’s death in hopes of gather “sleep donations” from healthy sleepers. In our review of the novella Sadye Teiser writes: “…we may be alone in our dreams, but as Sleep Donation shows us, we are useless without them.”

jacksonWe Have Always Lived in The Castle by Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson’s novel about the Blackwood sisters who live in isolation on the outskirts of town is a mysterious tale about a dark family secret. This scary story is quick and complex, and will keep you on your toes throughout. You won’t soon forget the agoraphobic Constance and the increasingly volatile Merricat.


vandermeerAnnihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VandeerMeer guest judged our Fall Fiction Contest this year so it’s no surprise we’re fans of his work. And if you haven’t read Annihilation, the first book in his Southern Reach trilogy, you should start immediately. It’s a story about Area X, which has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decade. It begins with an expedition to provide information on this strange land. An anthropologist, surveyor, psychologist, and biologist must gather data and avoid contamination if they hope to return home.



Sixteen Books We’re Looking Forward To This Year

There are so many great books coming out this year, it was hard to pick  just sixteen that we are especially excited to read. We present our annual list of upcoming releases: from traditional short story collections to sci-fi novels to memoir. While the majority of the books on this list are from emerging authors, some are by old, established favorites. Mark your literary calendars, and enjoy. 

AND AGAINAnd Again by Jessica Chiarella

In this novel, four people who are terminally ill are given the chance to start again in new bodies, which are exactly like their old ones, except for the fact that they are free of flaws. Chiarella plumbs the emotional and psychological repercussions of this premise in her inventive, literary debut.

Publication date: January 12

THE UNFINISHED WORLDThe Unfinished World: And Other Stories by Amber Sparks

The Unfinished World is Sparks’ second collection of stories, out at the end of the month from Liveright. In one story, a janitor cleans floating debris—flakes of dead skin, liquid salt—from a space station while she thinks about her troubled past on earth. In another, siblings practice the family art of taxidermy. Sparks’ sentences are dense, dark wonders, capable of holding worlds in themselves.

Publication date: January 25

DOG RUN MOONDog Run Moon by Callan Wink

The majority of stories in this debut collection are set in Montana and Wyoming, orbiting Yellowstone National Park. Wink’s stories have already garnered wide acclaim. Joy Williams says: “Callan Wink seems to know well the stratagems and delusions of men’s hearts. He also seems born and bred to short-story mastery.” You can read the title story, originally published in The New Yorker, here.

Publication date: February 9

PRIVATE CITIZENSPrivate Citizens: A Novel by Tony Tulathimutte

This witty, satirical debut novel is told from the point of view of four different San Francisco millennials as they sort out their post-college lives. Alexandra Kleeman says of Private Citizens: “This book will leave you raw with feeling and aching at the ribs.”

Publication date: February 9

CITIES I'VE NEVER LIVED INCities I’ve Never Lived In by Sara Majka

We can’t wait to get our hands on Sara Majka’s debut collection of linked stories, which is the product of collaboration between Graywolf and A Public Space. The collection centers on stories told by the same narrator, a recently divorced woman reflecting on her past relationships and desires. You can read a preview here.

Publication date: February 16


Hit the Road: Books to Read While Traveling

It’s Fourth of July weekend, which means we’re in the thick of summer. Road trips, camping trips, fishing trips, family trips — we’re all hitting the road at some point. Here are six novels to bring on your summer excursion.

9780062041265The Sisters Brothers, Patrick DeWitt – This is especially appropriate for a trip down the west coast. Follow the Sisters Brothers  from Oregon City to San Francisco and imagine yourself a prospector looking to strike it lucky during the Gold Rush. Bonus points if you travel by horseback.




9780140042597On the Road, Jack Kerouac – The quintessential travel book. On the Road is based on Kerouac’s own experiences and features Beat Generation authors Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. Who wouldn’t want to read this in the passenger seat of their car from New York to California and back?




9780345339683The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien – If On the Road is the quintessential travel book, The Hobbit is the same for the fantasy world. Tolkien’s classic set in Middle Earth is perfect for those road trips with friends, or when you can only focus for a short while at a time. For the full hobbit experience, only read this novel barefoot.




8696Last Chance to See, Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine – If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly going on the same long, boring car rides across the Midwest. Live vicariously through Adams’ wit as he travels around the world – from Madagascar to Indonesia, from Zaire to Chile – discovering the endangered animals that live in each destination. In case you’re the driver on these long trips, Douglas Adams recorded a five-part radio series in 1997, reading through the book and talking about his adventures.


9781608198108The Infinite Tides, Christian Kiefer – A novel for returning home. In this modern Space Odyssey, astronaut Keith Corcoran returns to find his house empty, his wife and daughter gone. A novel that has been described as an astronaut stranded on earth, The Infinite Tides will keep you thankful for what you are returning to at home.



9781594631573The Vacationers, Emma Straub – A book to begin on your way to the beach, and a book to finish while you’re there. Straub’s 2015 novel explores the life of a suburban family on vacation in Mallorca. As the Posts attempt to celebrate a 35th wedding anniversary and their daughter’s graduation from high school, secrets are revealed and their vacation goes awry. Straub’s witty thriller will keep you turning pages until you’re sunburned.

by Cole Meyer

Anthologies to Love

Anthologies are notoriously difficult to publish. Marketing is tough, it’s a challenge to wrangle all the authors together for readings, and generally it’s just difficult to get people interested. As a publisher of a yearly anthology, we think the world is crazy. Anthologies are awesome. They offer a lot of bang for your buck, often aligning a group of writers around a single cause or theme. And while we’re certainly very proud of our own anthology, we thought we’d point out several others that are also worth a look.

51BUGUZhYOL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Uncanny Reader edited by Marjorie Sandor: This recent release celebrates and explores the uncanny. With stories by classic writers like HP Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, and Shirley Jackson, to contemporaries like Aimee Bender, Kelly Link, Steven Millhauser, and Joyce Carol Oates, this collection of thirty-one stories reflects the uncanny in literature throughout the years. As Sandor writes in her introduction: “Therefore, dear reader, get out your flashlight and read in the dark.” If you like stories that are paranormal, dark, mysterious, or unsettling, this is your collection.


41wwHAaiMjL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_You’ve Got to Read This: Contemporary American Writers Introduce Stories That Held Them in Awe edited by Jim Shepard and Ron Hansen: This anthology offers a lens into how some of our most celebrated contemporary authors experience and think about literature. This hefty collection, which published in 1994, provides introductions to pieces from today’s writers explaining what they loved, appreciated, or what moved them — what held them in awe! — about the published piece. It is a wonderful and diverse collection of stories that will impress and delight any reader.


short-storiesThe Best American Series: This series of anthologies includes Best American Short Stories, Essays, Mystery, Travel, Non-Required Reading, and more. These collections are celebrated by today’s best authors whose stories appear in the books. The collection is curated by a guest editor each year and accompanied by a series editor. (In the case of Best American Short Stories the series editor is Heidi Pitlor.) It is an excellent sampling of strong writing from the previous year and it a great way to learn about new voices and to see the work of old favorites.


Best-Horror-vol-7-final-cover1The Best Horror of the Year edited by Ellen Datlow: Ellen Datlow is the foremost expert on horror and scary stories. She has been editing science fiction, fantasy, and horror for over thirty years, and has edited more than sixty anthologies, including the annual Lovecraft’s Monsters, Fearful Symmetries, Nightmare Carnival, and The Cutting Room. Most recent are The Doll Collection and The Monstrous. Best Horror of the Year is the best place to find that perfect scary story. The disturbing, the terrible, the unthinkable, the terrifying — it’s all here… every year. (Check out our interview with Ellen Datlow, here.)


41Z7YO2iWIL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The O. Henry and Pushcart Prize Anthologies: These two anthologies are what literary magazines and published short story writers look forward to each year. Both anthologies collect short stories from literary magazines that were published in the previous year and present them as the best work from the lit-mag scene. It is an extraordinary honor for the magazines and writers where the stories first appeared, often reflecting new voices in literary fiction as well as the best up-and-coming magazines.


botnBest of the Net Anthology: This anthology also collects short stories and essays from literary magazines and presents them to readers in one easy to find place. What’s different about Sundress Publications, however, is they publish stories online, and only accept writing that was previously published on the web. With so much online reading, they are an important and valued publication.

The-World-Split-OpenThe World Split Open: Great Writers on How and Why We Write: In celebration of the thirty-year anniversary of Portland’s Literary Arts, Tin House Books put together this collection to honor the nonprofit literary center’s storied lecture series. It collects speeches given by ten well-known authors on literature and craft, with warm words of introduction from Jon Raymond. Wallace Stegner, Ursula K. Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, Robert Stone, EL Doctorow, and other favorites have all contributed lectures. It is a fantastic and unique anthology; a wonderful way to experience the knowledge of today’s best writers.


What is your favorite anthology? Tell us in the comments!