Our Most-Anticipated Books of 2019!

Books Are Magic
Jan 9, 2019 · 14 min read

New year, new books! We can’t wait for you to read these upcoming releases.

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Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell (Jan. 8) is a collection of short stories from one of Argentina’s most exciting young writers. Schweblin’s work is imaginative, eery, unsettling, and weird. These stories range in themes of violence against the environment, familial obligations, to how and why we keep secrets. — Danni

Psst: This is also our January subscription pick! Sign up now to get brand new books delivered to your door every month!

Invasive Species by Marwa Helal (Jan. 18)

Formally and linguistically innovative, this books deals with memory, displacement, and the humanity of those most affected by racist & xenophobic foreign policies. — Serena

Ditto Invasive Species, it’s so so stunning and she’s [Helal] so so lovely. It’s about the limitations of borders, citizenship, and language — and also about hope and DJ Khaled. — Danilo


Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest by Hanif Abdurraqib (Feb. 1) Hanif Abdurraqib is such a smooth writer, and Go Ahead in the Rain is a melody to fans of A Tribe Called Quest; an intriguing, lyrical dive into the history of hip hop and rap; and notes on why certain songs and their stories matter. — Zoey

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esme Weijun Wang (Feb. 5) A collection of essays from a talented novelist about mental illness and both its devastating and inspiring consequences. Based on personal experience as well as the observed experience of others, these essays are a welcome addition to an important dialogue. — Heather

You get the feeling when reading this that Wang is cracking herself open to tell this story of how an illness warped (and continues to warp) her entire life. A truly terrifying, insightful read that will leave you feeling raw all over. — Ikwo

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (Feb.5) C’mon, friends, it’s Angie Thomas. The Hate U Give completely revolutionized contemporary YA as we know it. If you haven’t read Thug, you need to get on that ASAP — and then get ready to come back to Garden Heights in Thomas’ second novel, which I’m vibrating with excitement for.— Abby

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James (Feb. 5) The first in a trilogy that has been likened to the fantasy/ sci-fi stylings of an African Game of Thrones, this is definitely one to watch out for! — Colleen

The Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli (Feb. 12) This heartbreaking, smart novel somehow manages to tell you the story of children crossing the border through the eyes of a mother and son on the other side, while at the same time questioning what we as a nation think it means to be humane and human. — Zoey

In her previous work, Luiselli’s done a fantastic job of exploring shared immigrant experiences while grappling with the racism that privileges some immigrants and inflicts violence upon others. I’m interested in how that perspective will impact this novel, whose characters seem to be exploring those same issues of privilege and violence. — Maritza

Death is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa (Feb. 12) No Knives in the Kitchens of This City left me floored and feeling around the dark for something to hold on to. I read it at the height of the Syrian refugee crisis, and it changed my understanding of what good writing can do for the individual. Khalifa’s language brings a humanity not often seen in reporting of the region to your very heart. — Ikwo

To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan & Meg Wolitzer (Feb. 12) I can’t think of a single more stunning complement of writers than this pair, and they do NOT disappoint. This is the tale of a reluctantly blossoming friendship between two girls with nothing in common besides their fathers’ romance, and it is more heartwarming and funny than anything I could ever have hoped for. — Abby

Queer Holdings: A Survey of the Leslie-Lohman Museum Collection (Feb. 15) This survey captures the activist history of the Leslie-Lohman Museum and their vital, living collection of LGBTQ art. — Danilo

Sea Monsters by Chloe Aridjis (Feb. 15) This book looks wild and dreamy and a little scary, as a young girl boards a bus to Mexico searching for mystery. — Colleen

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray (Feb. 19) This is a debut novel about a Michigan family struggling with a dark past and deep trauma. If you like character-driven portraits that speak to our country’s broken systems, this one is for you. Plus, such a great cover! — Colleen

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas (Feb 22) In the 60s, four women invent time travel? One of them gets murdered? Nihilistic-ish time travelers? Sign me up. Women talking about paradoxes and quantum displacements shouldn’t be this exciting, but it is! — Ikwo


Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi (Mar. 5) Oyeyemi is, simply put, magic. Her newest novel since Boy, Snow, Bird is every bit as bewitching and tender. Just the thing I have come to expect with her writing. — Ikwo

The Lady from the Black Lagoon by Mallory O’Meara (Mar. 5) Uncovering characters integral to history yet forgotten is a noble task, and I love that O’Meara has done this here! — Margaret

Skeleton Keys by Brian Switek (Mar. 5) The history of bone is longer and more involved than I could ever have expected. This book is a tribute to those essential 206-odd spooky things that hold us upright and keep all our organs right where they’re supposed to be. If you’re a fan of Mary Roach or Caitlin Doughty, or you just want to know exactly where this essential tissue comes from, look forward to this guy. — Abby

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden (Mar. 5) I can’t wait for this memoir to come out. Madden writes about the dangers of growing up in a toxically wealthy environment with such clarity and lyricism. — Colleen

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See (Mar. 5) This book is about two girls living on a small Korean island where they are a part of their village’s all-female diving collective. It is a multigenerational tale about friendship and war, including the one between modernity and tradition. — Serena

The Trial of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson (Mar. 12) I am all about women’s lives being explored richly and accurately, especially when those lives have been turned into mythology. This book promises to do that! — Margaret

Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music (Mar. 19) Carla Lalli Music’s Where Cooking Begins looks incredible and like the next must-have cookbook. — Mike F-S

Lot by Bryan Washington (Mar. 19) I’m really excited for this collection of stories set in Houston, Texas that explore different experiences through the neighborhoods of a culturally vibrant city. — Colleen

The White Card by Claudia Rankine (Mar 19) Rankine is back with an explosive play borne of a brief but cringe-worthy audience interaction at a Citizen event. This time she chooses to explore the sensationalism of black death and tragedy in the claustrophobic medium of a play. Rankine’s writing and thought shines through a dark and layered meditation, reiterating what we already knew of her work. — Ikwo

Sweety by Andrea Zuill (Mar. 26) An odd naked mole rat who marches to the beat of her own drum, Sweety is just trying to learn to embrace her oddities and find her people who will do the same. — Abby

Good Talk by Mira Jacob (Mar. 26) This graphic memoir about being the mother of a mixed race child is so heartfelt and honest and funny and sweet, I found myself tearing up on one page and belly laughing on the next. It is a perfect, timely meditation on parenthood and family in the 21st century. — Liv



Women Talking by Miriam Toews (Apr. 2) In this novel based on actual events, the women of a Mennonite colony meet to determine how to proceed after learning that men in their colony have been repeatedly and systematically drugging and assaulting them. The premise is gripping on its own, but Toews lays out her characters’ varying, conflicting points of view with empathetic humor, from a perspective that proves surprising. — Maritza

The Body Papers by Grace Talusan (Apr. 2): A memoir tracing the impact of abuse, disease, and racism, grounded in her own research on her family. — Margaret

Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine (Apr. 2): This short story collection centers Indigenous Latin American women in the American West and promises to be a haunting exploration of home and abandonment. — Maritza

Trace by Pat Cummings (Apr. 2) Pat Cummings is a dear friend of the store, an immensely skilled & knowledgeable educator, and one of the most brilliant, beautiful brains I know. I’m so excited for her debut middle grade novel, which is both a ghost story and a fantastically told story of healing after loss. — Abby

Stay Up With Hugo Best by Erin Sommers (Apr. 2) This darkly comic novel about an aspiring television writer spending a weekend at the home of her aging ex-boss, Hugo Best — host of a decades long, just-canceled late night talk show — had me sobbing through my laughter. As a novel about powerful men and the women who surround them, this book is timely as well as hilarious. — Liv

Queer Art and Culture by Catherie Lord (Apr. 3) This updated edition in paperback is a key resource for an ongoing history of queer art-making, activism, and community. Let artists continue to teach us about radical alternatives to the normative, spectrums rather than binaries, and communities of support and action. — Danilo

Library of Small Catastrophes by Alison C. Rollins (Apr. 4) First of all, I would buy/read this based of the cover alone, which thoughtfully features one of Nick Cave’s stunning “soundsuits.” In this debut, Rollins uses the archive as a way to explore how our bodies and our nation process, and store, historical tragedies. — Serena

Normal People by Sally Rooney (Apr. 6) I loved Sally Rooney’s debut, Conversations With Friends, and this second book from the brilliant young Irish novelist so eerily and achingly captures what it is like to be young. At its heart a love story, I was totally lost in the world Rooney built around her main characters, Connell and Marianne. A real gem from an author who is only just beginning. — Liv

Halal If You Hear Me edited by Fatimah Asghar and Safia Elhillo (Apr. 12) This third installment of the BreakBeat Poets Anthology centers Muslims who are women, queer, and trans, and it promises to be as essential and canon-expanding as the previous two. — Danilo

Notes From A Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi (Apr. 9) Before age 30, Kwame Onwuachi had opened a restaurant, cooked at the Smithsonian and the White House, and competed on Bravos hit series Top Chef. This book is perfect food memoir: balancing fun reality-TV anecdotes with a side of poignant social commentary, plus heartfelt family history and even a few amazing recipes! — Liv

Be/Hold by Shira Erlichman (Apr. 12) This is the debut picture book from my favorite poem who poems, SHIRA ERLICHMAN, Books Are Magic bookseller and all-around rock star. Read it to your kids, to yourself, to your cats, to the world. All deserve nothing less. — Abby

Walking on the Ceiling by Aysegul Savas (Apr. 30) Set in Paris but haunted by Istanbul, Walking on the Ceiling is about the power and limitations of imagining a foreign country as well as the need to confront the past before you can live in the present. — Heather


Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju (May 7) A queer teen lost in love with her unfortunately straight girlfriend falls face-first into the drag scene on the other side of her small hometown. Funny and bright and life-affirming, Kings is the book I wish I had when I was a fifteen year old baby gay, and I’m so happy that it exists now. — Abby

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo (May 7) Acevedo knocked it out of the park with The Poet X winning the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2018. (I wouldn’t be surprised if she also netted the Printz Award in the upcoming American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards — which are being announced on January 28!) I CANNOT WAIT to see what she does with her sophomore novel. — Abby

Furious Hours by Casey Cep (May 7) Murder! Harper Lee! Highly researched and well told narrative! What’s not to love?
— Margaret

Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell (May 14) No one does hilariously creepy whimsy like Karen Russell. From a romance with a centuries-old bog girl to a vampiric tree, her new stories will enchant as much as they entertain. — Heather

I Like to Watch by Emily Nussbaum (May 14) — I like TV and books and Emily Nussbaum. Amazing combo! — Margaret

Hybrida by Tina Chang (May 14) I’m currently reading Chang’s searing collection of gods & strangers, in anticipation of what I expect to be an equally ferocious and imaginative book. I’m very intrigued to see how Chang confronts notions of hybridity through mode in this collection, which reckons with the fears and challenges of raising a mixed-race child in a heavily racialized society. — Serena

Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark (May 28) The [My Favorite Murder] podcast is amazing, the book promises to be a sliver of that — I’m sold! — Margaret



On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (June 4) Until poets rule the world, I will settle for poets writing all the books. This debut novel, by the brilliant poet Ocean Vuong, is a sumptuous heartbreaker. — Emma

A novel written by a poet? Yes, you’re going to cry. Yes, you’re also getting an intimate look into the relationship of a mother and son. — Zoey

I’ve only just started reading this, but this novel is already proving to be a poignant exploration of the love and power dynamics in an evolving mother-child relationship. — Maritza

In Waves by Aj Dungo (June 4) This graphic memoir is part tribute to the author’s partner who died of cancer, and part tribute to surfing, which weaves their lives together, and holds him up as he explores grief through stunning art that recalls Craig Thompson’s Blankets. — Zoey

In at the Deep End by Kate Davies (June 4) I’m always in the mood for a romcom, and poor Julia stumbling through her newly self-proclaimed and newly minted “lesbian life” is the perfect remedy for readers who wanted The Pisces to be an extra 200 pages. — Ikwo

Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn (June 4) Chronicling the journey of an undocumented immigrant from Jamaica to Brooklyn who has to leave her daughter behind, Patsy promises to be an intense book of depth and heartbreak. — Colleen

Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner (June 18) Taffy is my very favorite journalist, and has a singular, zingy voice that is the MOST pleasurable to read, and her debut novel is full of the same energy and insight as her celebrity profiles, only she can go on for hundreds of pages! For those of us who devour every word she writes, this book feels like a birthday present. — Emma


The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (July 16) New Colson Whitehead alert! This time the Pulitzer Prize winner takes on the era of Jim Crow, with a novel based on a true story set in a vicious reform school in Florida. — Colleen


Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino (Aug 6) For those of us who read the New Yorker just for Jia, this book is heaven-sent. Hilarious, sharp, and brilliant. — Emma

New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino’s collection of essays promises to be witty, smart, and incisive. — Margaret


Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (September) A surly necromancer and her contrary lady cavalier race against eight other teams to explore an interstellar haunted gothic mansion in pursuit of the ultimate necromantic power. Hilarious, heartbreaking, horrifying. — Abby

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout (September) More Olive Kitteridge! Thank you, universe. — Emma

Odes to Lithium by Shira Erlichman (September) Our insanely talented bookseller Shira is coming out with not one but TWO books this year. Its about time the world be acquainted with her warm and beautiful brilliance. — Colleen

Seeking the South by Rob Newton (October) — Rob is the former owner/chef of beloved local spots Searsucker, Wilma Jean, and Nightingale 9 and this is his first cookbook. — Mike FS

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