To celebrate the new year, NewsBreaks and Information Today contributors and staffers are sharing the (already published and to-be-published) books they’re most looking forward to reading in 2023, whether for pleasure, for education, or both. I hope this helps you find your next great read!
—Brandi Scardilli, NewsBreaks and Information Today editor
I just heard Ilyon Woo on NPR’s Morning Edition talking about her new book, Master Slave Husband Wife. I have an American history degree, and I am always amazed that so many stories are unknown to me. Master Slave Husband Wife chronicles the incredible journey of William and Ellen Craft, who were married slaves living in Georgia. In 1848, they escaped to freedom in Philadelphia by traveling in disguise—with Ellen posing as the disabled, white male owner of William. I can’t wait to start it, but first I have to finish my current read, Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead. While it is fiction, sadly, Demon’s reality is grounded in many of the hard truths that we struggle with in this country. I can’t put it down.
As a lifelong fan of horror fiction, I’m about to begin Grady Hendrix’s new book, How to Sell a Haunted House. Hendrix has a dry wit, and it comes through in his fiction, which is the perfect blend of terrifying and titillating.
I have a hold on the title The One: How an Ancient Idea Holds the Future of Physics by Heinrich Päs. He is a particle physicist who finds relevance in the ideas of Plato about the interconnectedness of all things. I came upon it the easy way when my favorite public librarian (my wife) said, “This looks like something for you.”
In fiction, I look forward to the latest title by Spencer Quinn, whose Chet and Bernie series recounts adventures of a private detective and his dog Chet. The twist is that the books are told from the dog’s point of view. The latest in this long series is entitled Bark to the Future.
Otherwise, I’ll pursue my standard reading diet of history, psychology, and science books.
To learn about the tools of our trade, I look forward to reading the cleverly titled Index, a History of the: A Bookish Adventure From Medieval Manuscripts to the Digital Age by Dennis Duncan. I also enjoy essays about food and will savor a gift from my wife, The Best American Food Writing 2022, edited by Sohla El-Waylly.
I’m a beach reader at heart! I love breezy, fun reads. Specifically, rock bios. Usually about crappy, scrappy bands from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. Some reads are inspired by bands I love, like Joy Division (Touching From a Distance is great book about Ian Curtis written by his widow Deborah), or my tween celebrity crush Rick Springfield (sigh, his autobiography Late, Late at Night), but I also enjoy books about bands and singers I never intentionally listened to, such as Mötley Crüe (The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band) and David Lee Roth (get your zebra-print leggings out when you read his autobiography Crazy From the Heat). I love the formula: first-person narrative that goes back in time, usually to the most pedestrian suburban places, and a square peg refuses the round hole, has a dream, hears more in music than most, finds their people, stumbles on a lucky break, gets tested by the trappings of sudden fame and wealth, either takes a dive or carves out a niche in the celeb world, then time passes and they reflect back and tell a page-turning what-it-really-was-like tale.
Upcoming for me, I’ll be reading Kim Gordon’s Girl in a Band and re-reading an old favorite, I’m With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie by Pamela Des Barres.
What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall looks to be an exciting thriller with a double meaning title. Sign me up. Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is science fiction take on the private prison system where imprisoned women act as gladiators to win their freedom. Exposing the private prison system, racism, and the horrors of mass incarceration in a dystopian America? Adjei-Brenyah did not come to play. The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell is our favorite bake-off show with a dash of murder folded in. Hulu has picked up the rights to adapt it into a limited series and I will eat every morsel of both.
In addition to upcoming releases, there are a few books from 2022 and prior I missed and hope to rectify. How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu is a climate tale about an arctic plague with deeply human elements that I first noticed on BookTok and can’t wait to try out. On the nonfiction side of things, I want to work on life organization and hope In Case You Get Hit by a Bus: How to Organize Your Life Now for When You’re Not Around Later by Abby Schneiderman and Adam Seifer will help me out. Finally, It’s Not TV: The Spectacular Rise, Revolution, and Future of HBO by Felix Gillette and John Koblin has been on my list since I heard about it on a podcast. HBO is my favorite content producer and its (Warner Bros.) merger with Discovery seems to be lining up a worrisome future for “prestige” television storytelling. Entertainment is a business. But where does art fit in? I hope they can help me wrap my head around it.
I’ve never been a huge Bob Dylan fan, but I love how much he’s created and how that music has had such an impact on our culture over the last 50-plus years. I am really excited to sit down and read his latest book The Philosophy of Modern Song. I’m always up for learning about new tunes that I can weave into my daily life, and I also love hearing how music has impacted others.
Sustainability is a big focus area for me in 2023, and I will keep dipping into Handbook on the Business of Sustainability, a reference volume full of practical insights. The Carbon Almanac, a gentle primer on key climate change topics, will also be on my desk.
The Equality Machine by professor Orly Lobel, a book on how technology can be a force for good, is on my reading list. Books on personal finance and money are not usually on my list, but my BITS School of Management MBA students voted The Psychology of Money as their favorite book. So, I will also check that out.
Shoe Dog, a riveting chronicle of the Nike journey by its founder Phil Knight, is one of my favorite business books. Only now did I learn that it has a ghostwriter, J.R. Moehringer. JRM is also behind the memoirs of Andre Agassi and the British Prince Harry, and I am tempted to read JRM’s own memoir, The Tender Bar.
But the book I am most looking forward to? The next book in the children's fantasy adventure Fungalore series by my 12-year-old daughter Kavya, who’s already penned three well-received books in this series.
Last year, I was looking forward to reading Marge and Julia: The Correspondence Between Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Julia Scribner Bigham, which totally lived up to my expectations. If you want to know why this book has personal meaning for me, look for me at Computers in Libraries. Meanwhile, I’ve turned my attention to The Shortest History of Germany by James Hawes, a recommendation from my son.
I’ve just learned that Ken Follett will be releasing The Armor of Light, the fifth and reportedly final book in the Kingsbridge series, in September. I’ve read the other books in the series (in historical chronology: The Evening and the Morning, The Pillars of the Earth, World Without End, and A Column of Fire), and my summer plan is to re-read them again in order leading up to the new book. In the meantime, my list includes Weird Al: Seriously by Lily E. Hirsch and Mark Haskell Smith’s Rude Talk in Athens and Naked at Lunch.
—George H. Pike
Books by authors I love:
I recently discovered Emily Henry—through my library book club—and tore through her novels Beach Read, People We Meet on Vacation, and Book Lovers. I’m obsessed with the books’ brightly colored cover designs of people in various stages of relaxing; the read-on-vacation vibes of these books belie the stories of grief, existential angst, and insecurity inside. But they’re also heartwarming, romantic, and funny. I’m hoping Henry can go four-for-four with her April 2023 title, Happy Place.
Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo is one of the most joyful books I’ve ever read, so I’ve kept an eye on this young adult (YA) author, excited to see if she’d publish something else that would appeal to an adult who reads YA. To my pleasant surprise, publishing in April is Throwback, a time-travel romance set in the 1990s. The cover features one of the characters dressed like Cher in Clueless—this book cannot get into my hands fast enough!
Books by new-to-me authors:
I keep hearing great things about Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson. It’s her first novel—publishing in March—and it sounds perfect for fans of HBO’s The Gilded Age.
I preordered this March book for my Kindle because the title caught my eye: Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto. I dip in and out of the cozy mystery genre, and this one looks like a ton of fun.
The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks by Shauna Robinson is a 2022 title that I didn’t get to read yet, but I love books about bibliophiles, and books about books, and books set in bookstores or libraries—basically, I’m all about that bookish life.
Becca Freeman’s podcast, Bad on Paper, is a favorite of mine, and on it, she’s spoken extensively about the process of getting her first novel published and the inspiration behind writing it. I’m excited to support my parasocial friend by buying The Christmas Orphans Club when it comes out in September.
Books I kept putting at the bottom of my TBR pile:
As a huge Hunger Games fan, I wanted to read Suzanne Collins’ prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, but I never got around to it. Now I have a hard deadline—the movie adaptation will be released on Nov. 17, 2023, so I need to borrow the book from Libby before that. I like to read books before going to their movie counterparts, not because the book is always better (that’s a reductive argument that doesn’t take the requirements of two vastly different mediums into account), but because I like to visualize the characters and the world myself before seeing a director’s interpretation of them. Then all of the little details the director might include are movie Easter eggs for the book readers.
John Green is one of my favorite authors, but I was hesitant to read his essay collection The Anthropocene Reviewed because the back cover copy mentions the pandemic, and I’ve been wanting to read for escapism. But now I finally feel ready to dig into this COVID-era exploration of humanity.
Nonfiction I’m looking forward to:
As someone who grew up on Disney princess films (I’m a ’90s kid, if my discussion of Throwback didn’t make that clear), I will be digging into Emily Zemler’s Disney Princess: Beyond the Tiara: The Stories. The Influence. The Legacy., which is the perfect way to celebrate the Walt Disney Co.’s 100th anniversary in 2023.
Speaking of princesses, I like the real ones too. I listen to the U.K. royal family-focused podcast Royally Obsessed, and Omid Scobie is a frequent guest. His upcoming book, Endgame: Inside the Royal Family and the Monarchy’s Fight for Survival, looks at the post-Elizabeth II era of the royals.
There are two books that I’m extra excited to read this year (because let’s be real: I love books). The first is A Sinister Revenge by Deanna Raybourn. It’s the latest in her Veronica Speedwell series, about an irreverent and thoroughly relatable detective, whose wit is as sharp as a razor. The series is suspenseful and delightful at every turn so far, so I’m looking forward to this one. (Bonus suggestion: If you haven’t read Raybourn’s Killers of a Certain Age, do. It was easily my favorite book from last year. Newly retired female assassins reunited for one last job? Yes. Tightly written, full of humor, with a mystery that will keep you guessing.)
The second book is The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi. This promises to be a haunting gothic story about a marriage and secrets, a fairy tale of sorts, rife with mystery and tragedy. Chokshi’s writing is generally gorgeous and lyrical, so this will be an absolute pleasure, I am sure.