The last 365 days yielded a considerable bounty of great books to get through, and the next 12 months on the calendar promise to be no different. Even though you’re surely sick and tired of reading what people thought about 2013 books while you’re maybe still trying to get through The Flamethrowers or James McBride’s past works before diving into his 2013 National Book Award winner The Good Lord Bird, some of these 2014 books might make you consider putting last year’s selections to the side, and living in the now. And since there is so much to chose from when you visit your local bookstore, we picked out 15 coming out in the first half of the new year that have our undivided attention.
On Such a Full Sea, Chang-rae Lee (Riverhead, January 7th)
The author of Native Speaker and The Surrendered gives us a splendidly written dystopian novel that shows an America that fallen apart, hundreds of years in the future.
Praying Drunk, Kyle Minor (Sarabande Books,February 4th)
Before the clock strikes midnight to close the book on 2013, we’re going to make the prediction that 2014 will be the year when literary folk won’t be able to stop talking about Kyle Minor’s masterfully written collection of stories.
What’s Important Is Feeling, Adam Wilson (Harper Perennial, February 25th)
Wilson’s debut novel, 2012’s Flatscreen, was one of the funniest books to come out in years. We can only imagine what he does in short bursts with this collection that features a selection from The Best American Short Stories.
Made to Break, D. Foy (Two Dollar Radio, March 18th)
D. Foy’s debut about friends that are supposed to go to a remote cabin in Lake Tahoe, only to run into all sorts of different troubles, is garnering comparisons to Roberto Bolaño and Denis Johnson. That sounds quite promising to us.
A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man, Holly George-Warren (Viking, March 20th)
One of the most important music biographies of the year, Holly George-Warren tells the story of one of the true under-appreciated geniuses of the 20th century in this book about singer-songwriter and producer Alex Chilton.
Can’t and Won’t, Lydia Davis (FSG, April 8th)
A collection of short stories by Lydia Davis should be considered a big time event, so consider taking April 8th off so you can celebrate by reading and rereading the latest by the Man Booker International Prize winner.
Valerie Solanas, Breanne Fahs (The Feminist Press,March 1st)
Valerie Solanas will always be known as the woman who shot Andy Warhol and the writer of the SCUM Manifesto, but nobody has taken the time to write a truly definitive book on her life. This book by Breanne Fahs changes all that.
A Broken Hallelujah : Rock and Roll, Redemption, and the Life of Leonard Cohen, Liel Leibovitz (W. W. Norton, April 14th)
One of music’s most captivating individuals, Leonard Cohen’s fanbase is large and obsessive with the poet and songwriter, yet understanding the guarded Cohen has often proven difficult. A Broken Hallelujah, which takes a long look at the life of the enigmatic genius, is a very necessary document to help us better understand one of the great voices of the last century.
Save the Date : The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest, Jen Doll (Riverhead, May 1st)
In her hilarious debut book, Jen Doll tells us about life as a perpetual wedding guest, and the things she’s learned and observed along the way.
An Untamed State, Roxane Gay (Grove Press, May 6th)
Easily one of the most anticipated novels of 2014 and the debut novel by a strong literary voice, Roxane Gay’s harrowing An Untamed State is about a young woman who is kidnapped, and her attempt to make sense of things afterwards.
Inside Madeleine, Paula Bomer (Soho Press, May 13th)
Anybody who read Paula Bomer’s Nine Months knows she is an author that is unafraid to go to places most authors are too timid to visit. This collection of stories includes tales of strange relationships, mental illness, and much more.
Cutting Teeth, Julia Fierro (St. Martin’s Press, May 13th)
A bunch of 30-something urbanites pile into a beach house dubbed “Eden” in the last days of summer with their kids in tow. Nothing can go wrong with a setup like that, right? Julia Fierro gives us the answer to that question with her debut novel that signals the arrival of a fresh new voice.
The Last Illusion, Porochista Khakpour (Bloomsbury, May 13th)
Going from rural Iran to New York City, Porochista Khakpour gives us a stunning, darkly humorous, and at some points totally heartbreaking novel abut an Iranian boy who thinks he’s a bird after years of torture; it’s sure to stick around in brain long after you’ve closed it.
Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush, Geoff Dyer (Pantheon, May 20th)
When Geoff Dyer wants to write about something, he gets totally into it. Be it a Russian film or yoga, Dyer’s unique take on whatever situation he’s focused on always yields a great book. In this latest case, Dyer finds himself on an American supercarrier, and the results are nothing short of superb.
The Vacationers, Emma Straub (Riverhead, May 29th)
Emma Straub visits the always entertaining story of a group of people getting away from the big city, expecting rest and relaxation only to find the exact opposite. We never get sick of this sort of stuff, and told in Straub’s signature style, we’re sure you’ll see armies of folks reading The Vacationers on the beach over the summer.