New This Month

Hit the Books! Our Reading List for 2017

If there’s one resolution we can keep this year, it’s to spend less time scrolling and more time reading. Books have the power to transport, entertain, enlighten, inspire, and comfort -- and sometimes one page-turner does all of the above. So whether you devour fiction or history, sci-fi or self-help, start the year with a rich list of life-changing picks from artists, influencers, and tastemakers, as well as titles to anticipate and a coast-to-coast guide to indie bookstores we love.

Advertisement
Advertisement

On Martha's Reading List

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Márquez -- “It is difficult to believe it was 46 years ago that I discovered this novelist and his masterpiece. To this day, I envy anyone who hasn’t yet read it; they have an amazing treat in store.”

 

Romola, by George Eliot -- “Learn about the de Medici family, the Renaissance, and the life of a woman in 15th-century Florence in this introspective novel that incorporates historical figures and actual events.”

 

My Antonia, by Willa Cather -- “Beautifully written, this eloquent book delves into the challenges and vicissitudes of prairie immigrant life at the end of the 19th century. It makes one dream.”

 

The Queen's Necklace, by Alexandre Dumas and Auguste Maquet -- “Picturesque, descriptive, and historical, this novel is full of intrigue and cunning about the court of Louis XVI.”

 

The Fifth Queen Trilogy, by Ford Madox Ford -- “A magnificent series about Katharine Howard and her marriage to Henry VIII, her disputes with Thomas Cromwell, and the tragedy that befell her.”
Advertisement
Advertisement

On Our Friends' Reading Lists

We asked a comedian, a chef, a poet, a novelist, an entrepreneur, a seasoned gardener, and our own Martha for the tattered, dog-eared volumes that have moved them beyond words.

  • Trevor Noah
    Trevor Noah

    The Daily Show host and author of the new memoir Born a Crime

     

    The Bible -- “In my childhood, church was every Sunday, and every Sunday was church. My mother didn’t allow R-rated action movies; the Bible was my action movie.”

     

    The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis -- “Being a mixed-race kid under apartheid, I wasn’t allowed outside much, because my very existence was a crime. I lived in my head, and I loved fantasy books -- anything with imaginary worlds where I could get lost.”

     

    Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela -- “Mandela was as great a writer as he was a leader.”

     

    Born Standing Up, by Steve Martin -- “Probably the best memoir about the life and craft of a stand-up comedian.”

     

    To Quote Myself, by Khaya Dlanga -- “Khaya is one of the great South African writers of my generation. His memoir is a fantastic look at life in the country today.”

  • Dominique Browning
    Dominique Browning

    Book author and senior director and co-founder of Moms Clean Air Force, a program of the Environmental Defense Fund

     

    Merry Hall trilogy, by Beverley Nichols -- “These books set the stage for the best garden writing of all: the kind that connects with what it's really all about -- love, laughter, revenge, solace, you name it."

     

    We Made a Garden, by Margery Fish -- “Written in 1956 about an English garden Mr. and Mrs. Fish created and tended together, it is as much about their marriage, and the negotiation of boundaries, as it is about borders.”

     

    The Gardener’s Bed Book, by Richardson Wright -- “A delight, meant to be read at the end of a long day of work (in office or pasture). Each of the 365 essays is charming; many are funny or poignant.”

     

    Green Thoughts, by Eleanor Perenyi -- “This is the book that got me started down the garden path. Perenyi is an elegant, witty, intelligent, wry, and compassionate writer, who also loved to cook and eat what came out of her garden. Recipes included!”

  • Marcus Samuelsson
    Marcus Samuelsson

    James Beard Award–winning chef and author, most recently of The Red Rooster Cookbook

     

    The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley -- “I find him fascinating, and his influence on the black rights movement was so significant.”

     

    Charlie Trotter’s, by Charlie Trotter -- “One of my favorite cookbooks; I love how layered and complex it is.”

     

    Go Tell It on the Mountain, by James Baldwin -- “This was one of the first books I read when I moved to New York City."

  • Judy Blume
    Judy Blume

    Iconic author of children’s and adult novels who has sold more than 85 million copies of her books

     

    Them, by Joyce Carol Oates -- “I had two small children. They were playing in the backyard sandbox. It was summer. Bathtime came and went, supper-time came and went. But I could not put down this book. It was unlike anything I’d ever read. When my then-husband came home and found me reading and the children still playing outside, he was not happy. But I was.”

     

    Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld -- “My daughter told me I had to read this book. And she was right. Sittenfeld’s debut novel is one of the best and funniest (if you can stand the heartache) coming-of-age stories ever told.”

     

    American Pastoral, by Philip Roth -- “One of my go-to novels for inspiration. It never fails to amaze me."

  • Randi Zuckerberg
    Randi Zuckerberg

    New York Times best-selling author of Dot Complicated and founder/CEO of Zuckerberg Media

     

    Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being, by Brian Little -- “This book is for people like me who are actually introverts (shocker!) and have learned to act like extroverts to pursue their goals and succeed in the workplace.”

     

    Find Your Extraordinary: Dream Bigger, Live Happier, and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms, by Jessica Herrin -- “An inspirational book on entre- preneurial success and leadership from the amazing female founder of Stella & Dot.”

     

    Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love, and Play When Nobody Has Time, by Brigid Schulte -- “In this age of overconnectivity, the first thing that vanishes is our ability to put down our device and play and be creative. Read this if you want to bring more fun, creativity, and play into your life in order to be happier and inspire better ideas.”

  • Juan Felipe Herrera
    Juan Felipe Herrera

    The U.S. poet laureate, and author of several books, most recently Notes on the Assemblage

     

    Complete Works, by Federico Garcia Lorca -- “I first read this when I was an undergrad and noticed the words; the dream-like, liquid images; and the haunting music and inner rhythms of each poem. I followed his embers for decades.”

     

    The Survivor, by Tadeusz Rózewicz -- “Written by one of the great postwar Polish poets, this book is most present, most alarming, most piercing.”

     

    Snake Poems, by Francisco X. Alarcón -- “I hold up this book to everyone I meet. It stands out and moves me beyond casual reading into the realm of deep ‘invocation,’ a kind of quantum imagination.”

     

    The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, a Wedding in St. Roch, the Big Box Store, the Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & Allby C. D. Wright -- “Hold her book. See things, think things, notice and document things: the poets, the questions, the mind and its images, writing, art, and all of us, here and never, in an unexpected meeting, of deep, clear, life arrangements.”

  • Trevor Noah
    Trevor Noah

    The Daily Show host and author of the new memoir Born a Crime

     

    The Bible -- “In my childhood, church was every Sunday, and every Sunday was church. My mother didn’t allow R-rated action movies; the Bible was my action movie.”

     

    The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis -- “Being a mixed-race kid under apartheid, I wasn’t allowed outside much, because my very existence was a crime. I lived in my head, and I loved fantasy books -- anything with imaginary worlds where I could get lost.”

     

    Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela -- “Mandela was as great a writer as he was a leader.”

     

    Born Standing Up, by Steve Martin -- “Probably the best memoir about the life and craft of a stand-up comedian.”

     

    To Quote Myself, by Khaya Dlanga -- “Khaya is one of the great South African writers of my generation. His memoir is a fantastic look at life in the country today.”

  • Judy Blume
    Judy Blume

    Iconic author of children’s and adult novels who has sold more than 85 million copies of her books

     

    Them, by Joyce Carol Oates -- “I had two small children. They were playing in the backyard sandbox. It was summer. Bathtime came and went, supper-time came and went. But I could not put down this book. It was unlike anything I’d ever read. When my then-husband came home and found me reading and the children still playing outside, he was not happy. But I was.”

     

    Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld -- “My daughter told me I had to read this book. And she was right. Sittenfeld’s debut novel is one of the best and funniest (if you can stand the heartache) coming-of-age stories ever told.”

     

    American Pastoral, by Philip Roth -- “One of my go-to novels for inspiration. It never fails to amaze me."

  • Dominique Browning
    Dominique Browning

    Book author and senior director and co-founder of Moms Clean Air Force, a program of the Environmental Defense Fund

     

    Merry Hall trilogy, by Beverley Nichols -- “These books set the stage for the best garden writing of all: the kind that connects with what it's really all about -- love, laughter, revenge, solace, you name it."

     

    We Made a Garden, by Margery Fish -- “Written in 1956 about an English garden Mr. and Mrs. Fish created and tended together, it is as much about their marriage, and the negotiation of boundaries, as it is about borders.”

     

    The Gardener’s Bed Book, by Richardson Wright -- “A delight, meant to be read at the end of a long day of work (in office or pasture). Each of the 365 essays is charming; many are funny or poignant.”

     

    Green Thoughts, by Eleanor Perenyi -- “This is the book that got me started down the garden path. Perenyi is an elegant, witty, intelligent, wry, and compassionate writer, who also loved to cook and eat what came out of her garden. Recipes included!”

  • Randi Zuckerberg
    Randi Zuckerberg

    New York Times best-selling author of Dot Complicated and founder/CEO of Zuckerberg Media

     

    Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being, by Brian Little -- “This book is for people like me who are actually introverts (shocker!) and have learned to act like extroverts to pursue their goals and succeed in the workplace.”

     

    Find Your Extraordinary: Dream Bigger, Live Happier, and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms, by Jessica Herrin -- “An inspirational book on entre- preneurial success and leadership from the amazing female founder of Stella & Dot.”

     

    Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love, and Play When Nobody Has Time, by Brigid Schulte -- “In this age of overconnectivity, the first thing that vanishes is our ability to put down our device and play and be creative. Read this if you want to bring more fun, creativity, and play into your life in order to be happier and inspire better ideas.”

  • Marcus Samuelsson
    Marcus Samuelsson

    James Beard Award–winning chef and author, most recently of The Red Rooster Cookbook

     

    The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley -- “I find him fascinating, and his influence on the black rights movement was so significant.”

     

    Charlie Trotter’s, by Charlie Trotter -- “One of my favorite cookbooks; I love how layered and complex it is.”

     

    Go Tell It on the Mountain, by James Baldwin -- “This was one of the first books I read when I moved to New York City."

  • Juan Felipe Herrera
    Juan Felipe Herrera

    The U.S. poet laureate, and author of several books, most recently Notes on the Assemblage

     

    Complete Works, by Federico Garcia Lorca -- “I first read this when I was an undergrad and noticed the words; the dream-like, liquid images; and the haunting music and inner rhythms of each poem. I followed his embers for decades.”

     

    The Survivor, by Tadeusz Rózewicz -- “Written by one of the great postwar Polish poets, this book is most present, most alarming, most piercing.”

     

    Snake Poems, by Francisco X. Alarcón -- “I hold up this book to everyone I meet. It stands out and moves me beyond casual reading into the realm of deep ‘invocation,’ a kind of quantum imagination.”

     

    The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, a Wedding in St. Roch, the Big Box Store, the Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & Allby C. D. Wright -- “Hold her book. See things, think things, notice and document things: the poets, the questions, the mind and its images, writing, art, and all of us, here and never, in an unexpected meeting, of deep, clear, life arrangements.”

Page-Turners for 2017

As executive director of the National Book Foundation, Lisa Lucas gets a sneak peek at everything coming down the pipeline. (Lucky woman!) Take note of the titles she’s most excited to lose herself in this year, and remember: It’s never too early to pre-order.

  • 1
    Difficult Women, By Roxane Gay (Grove Press, January)

    “I cannot wait for this story collection, which I hope is chock-full of the complex, strong, unexpected, and wonderful female characters Gay’s so good at capturing and celebrating on the page.”

  • 2
    A Separation, by Katie Kitamura (Riverhead, February)

    “This novel has everything I love in a book: love, loss, a journey, and stunning writing.”

  • 3
    Animals Strike Curious Poses, by Elena Passarello (Sarabande, February)

    “Passarello is brilliant, and these essays exploring famous animals that have been named and immortalized by humans look like they will not disappoint in quirkiness, intelligence, and delight.”

  • 4
    Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders (Random House, February)

    “Saunders is one of my favorite writers, and everyone I know is waiting with bated breath for his first novel, which is inspired by President Lincoln’s reaction to his son Willie’s death.”

  • 5
    All Grown Up, by Jami Attenberg (HMH, March)

    “Attenberg knows how to make a reader laugh and feel. This novel takes a hard look at what it means to be a woman living on her own terms.”

  • 6
    White Tears, by Hari Kunzru (Knopf, March)

    “The blues, friendship, and race explored in a novel? I’m super-sold.”

  • 7
    A Little More Human, by Fiona Maazel (Graywolf, April)

    “I absolutely loved her dark and funny Woke Up Lonely and can’t wait to dive into her third novel.”

  • 8
    Imagine Wanting Only This, by Kristen Radtke (Pantheon, April)

    “Starting off with the death of her uncle and the sight of an abandoned mining town, Radtke’s gorgeous, graphic memoir ponders ruins and the people and places that are left behind.”

  • 9
    Augustown, by Kei Miller (Pantheon, May)

    “Set in the backlands of Jamaica, this is a magical and haunting novel of one woman’s struggle to rise above the constraints of history, race, class, collective memory, violence, and myth. Miller’s storytelling is moving, poetic, and inventive.”

  • 10
    Blind Spot, by Teju Cole (Random House, June)

    “Cole's fiction and essays are incredible, unexpected, and beautiful; he’s also a spectacular photographer. His first collection of photographs, each image accompanied by his stunning prose, promises to show us the world through his eyes, which always seem to see things in a brilliant new light.”

The Importance of Being Independent

When you shop at your neighborhood bookstore, you support your local economy and also join a community that cares deeply about the written word. Behold our list; for a shop near you, go to indiebound.com.

Best Places to Find the Best Reads

If there’s one resolution we can keep this year, it’s to spend less time scrolling and more time reading. Here's how to track down the right book, and a coast-to-coast guide to indie bookstores we love.

 

Rare Finds

Whether you’re looking for a used first edition or a hard-to-find collectible, James Goldwasser, owner of Locus Solus Rare Books, has the ins and outs of how to track down special books.

 

Where to Look

Buy the best version of a book you can afford. Abaa.org offers only items from members of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA), meaning quality and satisfaction are guaranteed. The selection on AbeBooks.com, owned by Amazon, is vast and uncurated, so you can find everything from inexpensive paperbacks to valuable rarities. And Vialibri.netaggregates all sites into a single search.

 

What to Know

Beware of online shenanigans. Use advanced search options (such as first or signed editions) to focus your results, and opt for reputable dealers, such as members of the ABAA or those with good references.

 

How to Care

Keep books out of direct sunlight so they don’t fade, and avoid extreme heat and humidity. No matter how often you clean, books attract dust. Carefully wipe them with a soft cloth or chamois, such as a Dust Bunny dust cloth ($10, gaylord.com).

 

Advertisement
Advertisement

Up Your Digital Game

Revisit the Library: The free Overdrive app connects you to your local branch. Log in with your library-card number and you can borrow e-books, audiobooks, and videos.

Stay tuned: The latest e-book trend is serialization, according to Michael Kozlowski, editor in chief of the blog GoodEreader.com. The free Pigeonhole app is a virtual book club, sending daily passages, interviews, playlists, and photographs to facilitate reading-group discussions.

Rediscover Classics: You can download a 20-pound tome for free through Project Gutenberg, a volunteer-run website of public-domain books.

Get Well Versed: Sign up for a poem a day from the Academy of American Poets.

Simply Listen: “Audiobooks are the fastest-growing segment in publishing,” says Kozlowski. Audible.comDownpour.com, and Audiobooks.com are bringing books to life in full sound, with A-list celebrity narrators.

Best Idea!

That’s the motto of the Little Free Library, a community-driven free-book exchange started in Wisconsin in 2009 by Todd Bol. As a tribute to his mother, a former teacher, he built a wooden box shaped like a one-room schoolhouse and filled it with volumes for his neighbors to enjoy (and add to). Today there are more than 50,000 such “libraries” around the world. Order a premade one or a kit (from $150), and start spreading the word.

Advertisement
Advertisement