If you know anything about the booksellers at Powell's Books, you know we love books and you know we love getting excited about books. Our quarterly book preview is one of our favorite things to put together for the blog, because we get to be loud and enthusiastic about all of the great releases coming out over the next few months, and there are some really great releases. No matter your taste, we're sure you'll find at least a dozen new books on this list that'll delight you, just like they delight us — whether you're looking for books about unicorns, cults, romance, redemption, horrific families, grief, AI, temptation, or anything in between.
Here's to another great year of reading! Happy 2024!
Jump ahead to: JANUARY | FEBRUARY | MARCH
Oh man, this book broke me — in the best way. A beautiful, blistering autofiction about a woman doing what she can to, without being able to do very much, to look after a daughter, while also working to reconcile her own history with her mother, her art, and the world. Fans of Rachel Cusk and Sheila Heti will love this one. — Kelsey F.
I find myself thinking about Burton's The World Cannot Give more than I'd like to admit... Here in Avalon is an alluring tale that beckons to its reader, full of fairy tale influences and cult-like mystique. If you enjoyed Rouge by Mona Awad, this may be the perfect next read. — Charlotte S.
In her blurb from the newest novel from Bonnie Jo Campbell, The Waters, poet Diane Seuss says, “Imagine a mash-up of Flannery O'Connor and the Brothers Grimm, of Angela Carter's reimagined fairy tales and William Faulkner's gothic sublime.” I actually don’t know what more I could ask for in a book? I can’t wait to get me hands on this one, which promises to be brutal, sweet, and absolutely absorbing. — Olive C.
Reluctant TikTok celebrity Madeline Pendleton, famous for her opinions on fashion, politics, and money, condenses many of her thoughts and stories in this financial management book catered to the working class. She is a small but loud voice in a sea of books by wealthy white men. — Stephanie L.
Join us for our event with Madeline Pendleton on Wednesday, January 24 at 7 p.m. at Powell’s City of Books.
I cannot wait to read So Let Them Burn, which the author describes as a story about "how far one would, and should, go to protect the people that one loves." A debut fantasy novel full of dragons, sisterhood, and powerful Black protagonists fighting against an unjust world full of strife and colonialism while dealing with the aftermaths of war. Fans of Iron Widow will love this!
(This novel was part of Cait Corrain's review bombing/sabotaging of BIPOC authors, which only further demonstrates the urgent need for more stories like this one to be read and shared widely.) — Charlotte S.
I honestly can't get enough of folklore and queer protagonists. So, whenever a title has both, I'm instantly intrigued. This debut is beautifully constructed and will remain in your thoughts long after you put it down. — Lindsay P.
When the words "gothic" and "folk tales" come up in a book description, I will always get excited. This anthology promises the creepiness of classic folk tales and lush, dreamlike settings. I've seen many reviews raving about the elegance of the prose, which, fittingly for folk tales, verges into the poetic. I can't wait to read these stories under a warm blanket this winter. — Rachael P.
If you keep reading this blog post, you'll see me reference Tiktok in my next blurb but just because I'm in and influenced by the algorithm space doesn't mean I don't also fear it! Filterworld does an excellent job of diving into a very real and modern problem: the flattening, same-iness that comes from a content-machine driven more and more by algorithms. Excellent read for those interested in if we have (and how to have) choice inside this filtered world. — Sarah R.
Poet Kaveh Akbar’s debut novel, Martyr!, grabs its reader by the hand and takes off, barreling ahead through its final, unforgettable pages. While a singular plot anchors the narrative, the multitudes this book contains live amongst the layers woven throughout — excerpts of poems, half-remembered dreams, absurd imagined conversations, and family history blend to form the literary experience that is Martyr! Akbar’s writing exists in the space between language’s futility and its golden ability to create a feeling akin to magic. I am honored to have had a chance to read this book and cannot wait for others to experience its pull. — Katie V.
Join us for our event with Kaveh Akbar on Friday, February 2 at 7 p.m. at Powell’s City of Books.
Adina is born in 1970s Philadelphia, and while she may look like any other small human, she’s actually a millenia-old humanoid, tasked with taking notes on humanity. But as she grows, she becomes more unsettled and more aware of how different she is from those around her (no one else is sending faxes to their home planet!). Author Ramona Ausubel described Beautyland as “sparkling and alive, funny and magnificently true, this book made me fall back in love with this universe.” I absolutely can’t wait. — Olive C.
Join us for our event with Marie Helene Bertino on Thursday, March 14 at 7 p.m. at Powell’s City of Books.
The Fury promises to be one of my favorite kinds of mysteries: set in one location (a luxurious Greek island) and told by an unreliable narrator. Throw in some moody actresses, turbulent friendships, and a whole bucket full of twists, and we’re cooking with gas. — Kelsey F.
Womb City promises an Africanfuturist, genre-bending science fiction/horror tale of bodily autonomy, crime, AI surveillance technology, and motherhood. It's hard to fully convey how complex and ambitious this debut's premise is. For fans of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, Noor by Nnedi Okorafor, and Octavia Butler. — Charlotte S.
With her sophomore novel, Reid takes us onto a college campus to explore race, class, and the impact of micro-aggressions. It's very character heavy, and the characters are very flawed, but you won't be able to get them out of your head. Addicting in a watching-a-dumpster-fire kind of way. — Carrie K.
A vivid, vibrant, and avid call to action, examining the structures that support and maintain the white male oligarchy of the United States while searching for ways that everyday people can push back against systemic oppression. A compelling and rousing handbook, by the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of So You Want to Talk About Race and Mediocre, that tackles how to understand the current conversation on race and offers encouraging first steps anyone can take to make change in the world around them. — Kat H.
In a highly anticipated follow-up to her 2021 book Cursed Bunny, shortlisted for the International Booker Prize, Chung explores the idealization of a perfect future. She looks for the side effects that come with rapid technological progress. A great pick for fans of Black Mirror. — Stephanie L.
Just this morning, I encountered three separate people on TikTok reading or referencing passages from Dolly Alderton's beloved memoir Everything I Know About Love. The people love her writing. I love her writing! Taylor Jenkins Reid describes her voice as feeling like "your very favorite friend." That's why I'm so excited that we're starting the year with Alderton's sophomore novel exploring sudden heartbreak and what it looks like to try and put yourself together in your 30s. Yikes! But also: Mood. — Sarah R.
A second novel from Emily Austin, author of 2021 standout: Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead! This one is billed as perfect "for anyone who has ever worried they might be a terrible person" and promises fumbling through relationships, mounting paranoia, awkward family interactions, quirky humor, and, yes, space facts. — Sarah R.
After House of Sky & Breath dared to have THAT ENDING, I think it's safe to say every SJM fan has been absolutely feral for the next installment of the Crescent City series, and I'm certainly no exception. Will all our crazy theories come to fruition? I can't wait to find out! — Carly J.
Tuck into a cozy baking afternoon with this beautiful book of bakes for every occasion and palate. Not too sweet or savory, this curated collection of sweets, snacks, and brunch favorites will defrost even the most ardent winter blues. Best shared with loved ones over a warm cuppa. — Laura B.
Watch out! I'm sneaking some picture books into the book preview! Also watch out because this unicorn is teeny. Teeny-weeny even! You might step on him! Sometimes we all feel like a pint-sized unicorn in a too-big world and this book help you feel just the right size with some sly, playful fairy-tale humor. — Sarah R.
Sheila Heti has such a singular voice that there's an exclusive book club called The Hetis that meet monthly here in Portland to discuss her funny, sexy, angry, shamelessly self-examining work. Alphabetical Diaries promises to be her most innovative work yet. — Kevin S.
The Hollow Beast caught my eye as a sweeping, generational saga that was centered on a single hockey shot in 1911 — a man shoots the puck into another's mouth, the injured party hits the ice with his head across the goal line, and the neighborhood referee calls the point. The ensuing hockey grudge spans at least three generations, and dramatically shapes the community. The reviews compare it to Don Quixote and James Joyce and Looney Toons, so this 600-page novel promises to be electric, wickedly sharp, linguistically stunning, and — so hard to do! — funny. — Michelle C.
Speculative fiction short story collections scratch a specific itch in my brain, and the feats of imagination in this collection are already drawing me in. Gunflower combines threats very real to us, like climate change and fascism, with elements of the bizarre, like talking animals and living dreamscapes. As the publisher copy says: "The stories in Gunflower explode and bloom in mesmerising ways, showing the world both as it is and as it could be." —Rachael P.
A new book from Anne Carson is always an event, especially when it’s a book being published by New Directions; New Directions always lets Carson push her work to any formal limits she might desire (see: Nox). Carson is probably the best person to describe her work, and as she says: “Wrong Norma is a collection of writings about different things, like Joseph Conrad, Guantánamo, Flaubert, snow, poverty, Roget's Thesaurus, my Dad, Saturday night. The pieces are not linked. That's why I've called them ‘wrong.’" Whatever Carson calls wrong is right in my book; count me in. — Kelsey F.
A violent crime. A broken future. Quiet lives. A reclusive family of irish immigrants. Ordinary Human Failings is a compassionate, tense tale of ‘we don’t talk about it’ generational family secrets, steeped in class, trauma, and repression. — Sarah R.
Join us for our event with Megan Nolan on Sunday, February 18 at 3 p.m. at Powell’s City of Books.
Everything about this book is tempting to me, including the fact that one of its primary themes is temptation. The publisher has compared it to Annie Ernaux, Lolita, and Death in Venice, which has me doubly intrigued: from Swedish author Hannah Johannson, Antiquity follows the relationship between a 30-something woman, an older artist, and that artist’s young daughter, all set on a beautiful Greek island. As the publisher copy puts it, we'll watch these three as “the roles of lover and beloved, child and adult, stranger and intimate...become distorted.” I can’t wait to read this one and then immediately sing its high, high praises. — Kelsey F.
If you like books with messy characters and messier relationships, this one's for you. Reilly's prose is super witty, and I caught myself smiling and smirking on several occasions. It's about family and love and trying to find yourself in this crazy world. Rebecca K. Reilly, please be my best friend. — Carrie K.
If you read only one book in 2024, it should be The Hammer: Power, Inequality, and the Fight for the Soul of Labor by Hamilton Nolan. Drawing on his experience as a labor journalist and organizer, Nolan offers a searing and thoughtful critique of America's labor movement in its current form (or lack thereof) and expounds on the potential it has to transform the lives of the working class as well as democracy and politics in America. Suffice to say, I was enamored with this book. — Madeline S.
This book is for the playlist people, for those who love music but also love to collect and categorize, for those of us who love punk but aren't afraid to admit we don't mind following certain rules. Okay but in all seriousness — this is the perfect book to read with your headphones on and the volume all the way up. Its technically a book about love, in its many forms, but it’s also a fantastic journey through subculture and an incredible exploration of the way music shapes all of our lives. — Aster H.
Kelly Link's debut novel is as expansive, funny, human, and strange as I could've possibly hoped. The Book of Love reads like it has a heart, beating so strongly and desperately, it strains at its container. The story is full of grief and friendship and acrimony, teenagers trying to sort through impossible feelings and circumstances, memories that erode and rewrite themselves and turn inside out. It's such a phenomenal feat; I'm so grateful for this book and can't wait to reread it. — Kelsey F.
Join us for our event with Kelly Link on Monday, February 26 at 7 p.m. at Powell’s City of Books.
Katherine Arden's historical fantasy Winternight trilogy is one of my favorite series ever. After a long run of wonderful middle grade fiction, she's given us another historical fantasy for adults, this time a standalone novel. A young combat nurse receives word that her brother has died in the trenches of World War I, but something doesn't add up. She returns to Belgium to find out the truth of his disappearance, uncovering Faustian bargains, a new hell, a dreamy yet nightmarish disappearing hotel, and the power of love and human endurance in the process. Eerie, vibrant, and unputdownable. — Claire A.
Join us for our event with Katherine Arden on Wednesday, February 28 at 7 p.m. at Powell’s City of Books.
I'll read anything Leslie Jamison writes. Her new memoir embraces the answerless questions of what we owe each other and ourselves, charting the end of her marriage, the beginning of parenthood, and the onset of a global pandemic all at once. Tender, unflinching, radiant, true to both the limits and the vastness of what we can do in this world with the patterns and circumstances we are given — incredible. — Claire A.
Join us for our event with Leslie Jamison on Monday, March 4 at 7 p.m. at Powell’s City of Books.
Every time I walk someone back to our grief section, my heart aches. A mother mourning her son. A wife mourning her husband. Grief is often associated with death, with endings. But Sloane Crosley and I find grief as part of a natural cycle in many areas of our lives. When one chapter closes, another opens. I've grieved my fertility, career, friendships, and homeland. Crosley unpacks everyday grief in this frank but empathetic masterwork set at the crest of the pandemic after her dear friend's suicide. — Laura B.
Another instant classic from an author whose career I’m so excited to continue following in the decades to come. Wandering Stars is exactly the book its title promises: a constellation of stories, all orbiting around the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 and the lives and legacies that unravel in its aftermath through the 20th and 21st centuries. Through Orange’s deeply felt characters, written in language that cuts to the quick, we feel the violence of assimilation and the ways that grief and trauma are passed down through generations. Wandering Stars is a masterpiece. — Kelsey F.
Join us for our event with Tommy Orange on Tuesday, April 9 at 7 p.m. at Powell’s City of Books.
Kirsten Bakis is back after twenty-five years with a Gothic-style feminist tale set in 1918. Annie Fort’s author husband, Charlie, gets invited to a lavish but secluded island to write his book about “anomalies.” They both find out from a group of petitioners on their way there that three girls from the island are missing with no explanation or answers. This kicks off the mystery and moodiness of the novel and it unfolds beautifully. — Vicky K.
Jensen always delivers exceptional world building, complex characters, and swoony romance. Throw in the Norse-inspired world of her latest release and I already know this is going to be a new favorite! — Carly J.
Tessa Hulls explores three generations of her family of her family in Feeding Ghosts — her grandmother Sun Yi, a journalist and author who left communist China and had a mental breakdown; her mother Rose, who took on the burden of care for her mother from an early age and worries about her own daughter; and Tessa herself, who tried to get as far away as possible before coming back for the scariest sort of exploration (into her own family’s past). The art is stunning, and vital, and devastating. This feels like a book I’ll return to over and over again as part of my own education on family, aging, the shape love can take, the different ways history shapes us, and what we can do to better understand ourselves and our people. — Michelle C.
Join us for our event with Tessa Hulls on Tuesday, March 5 at 7 p.m. at Powell’s City of Books.
As soon as I picked up this book, I couldn’t put it down. The writing is fresh and sharp and quietly devastating. After the narrator, a woman who makes money by scoring short films, is diagnosed with Sudden Deafness, her relationship to the world and people around her shifts. As she attempts to understand what her new circumstances mean and how to reconstruct a meaningful life for herself within these freshly drawn limits, she thinks about music and everyday existence, relationships and solitude. Every detail is deliberate; every observation is precise. And the lists in this book! The groceries bought, the phone calls made, the forums read. Immensely satisfying — a stunning read. — Kelsey F.
I was very excited to see there was a new Xochitl Gonzalez novel coming out! This book traverses between two different eras with two different characters but their stories mirror each other in their relationships in the world of art. I loved how this novel showed how some people’s stories get left behind and whose stories get chosen to be told. — Vicky K.
A new book from the legendary, inimitable, and utterly unpredictable Helen Oyeyemi? Yes please!!! From the cover to the title to the brief description, which calls it “a novel about competitive friendship, the elastic boundaries of storytelling, and the meddling influence of a city called Prague” — Parasol Against the Axe promises to be a delightfully unhinged riot, in the best way possible. I love an anthropomorphic city; I love Oyeyemi. Let’s go! — Kelsey F.
If Tana French has a million fans, then I’m one of them. If Tana French has one fan, then I’m that one. If Tana French has zero fans, that means I’m dead. I am always, always rabid for new Tana French releases, and when I found out that this one was a follow-up to her 2020 mystery, The Searcher, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I found The Searcher so compelling and so devastating (I cried!!) and The Hunter, which returns us to rural Ireland and Cal, a retired Chicago PD detective who just can’t escape mystery. The publisher copy promises “a nuanced, atmospheric tale that explores what we’ll do for our loved ones, what we’ll do for revenge, and what we sacrifice when the two collide.” Let’s go. — Kelsey F.
As a long-time reader of Kim Harrison's urban fantasy books, the upcoming arrival of her newest series almost slipped past my radar. Once found, I pounced on a copy of Three Kinds of Lucky, and then quickly devoured it. It was so enjoyable to dive into a completely new series, with unique new magical elements and complicated characters. I am now enamored of the world where certain people can see the residue left over from using magic, residue that can literally trip you, and can't wait to see what happens to Petra and her crew. — Mecca A.
Join us for our event with Kim Harrison on Thursday, March 7 at 7 p.m. at Powell’s at Cedar Hills Crossing.
The one good thing to come from Review-Bomb Gate is that I get to tell you about this book, a book I probably wouldn’t have known about without The Situation. I get to tell you about family relationships, and allegories for real-world injustices, and magical girls who will stop at nothing to protect their family, both blood and found. I get to tell you about queer representation, and how love really will save us. You get a wonderful book full of how beautiful and how terrible and cruel the world can be. But like I said, love will save us. — Lauren M.
Morgan Parker is an amazing poet, essayist, and all-around writer, so we’re already excited for anything that she wants to publish. But You Get What You Pay For is an especially kind gift, an essay collection/memoir where Parker closely considers her self within the context of this country and the ongoing effects of slavery. She touches on topics like Serena Williams (and how her media treatment shifts); mental health; romance and safety; beauty culture (and the consequences of who is and isn’t considered beautiful); and so much more. Saeed Jones has accurately called it: “This is the kind of book that saves lives.” — Michelle C.
Originally published in the UK, I first read the titular poem, The Orange, online, and it has stuck with me ever since. Life can be a lot, and The Orange's simple but hopeful premise really resonated with me: "I love you. I'm glad I exist." — Charlotte S.
Recently, a coworker sent me a link to this book and asked if I'd heard about it, because it seemed right up my alley. When I clicked through, I gasped because it was so completely up my alley, I was shocked I hadn't already been receiving my mail there for the past year. An anthology with a title that metal, a cover that creepy-good, an author list filled with legend after legend (including Mónica Ojeda! Mariana Enriquez! and more!), and stories about a murdery Kermit, abandoned houses, and mysterious fogs — this book is going to rock my world, and I am so here for it. — Kelsey F.
Beautiful, and slightly terrifying. I was all too eager to grow with three friends and watch how life doesn't turn out exactly how they dreamed. Dystopian, yet all too real. You'll be eager to dive into the past and not-so-far-off future. — Lindsay P.
Gombrowicz was a master at depicting the absurd and paradoxical aspects of life, and I love the freaky effects his fiction creates as one reads it. I can't wait to see what his gothic novel by way of modern romance reads like, which is how The Possessed is billed. It almost sounds like too much fun! &mdsah; Jennifer R.
Written from the POV of Annie, an AI-powered robot companion, Annie Bot tackles themes of agency, personhood, and control. Annie's existence is based around her owner Doug, and being exactly what he wants. As Annie continues to learn and grow, the intensity of Doug's control grows too. An unsettling look into what it means to be human — I cannot wait to read Annie Bot. — Charlotte S.
Pulitzer Prize finalist Percival Everett offers a fresh perspective on his vision of Huckleberry Finn by reimagining it from Finn's companion's view. He reminds the writer that every character has a story in a way that’s done in the same faith as Wide Sargasso Sea. — Stephanie L.
Hanif Abdurraqib is one of our greatest living writers (it’s fact! no one can really capture a thought as precisely and beautifully as he can, and its a crowded field)! His newest book is about basketball, and Ohio, and hope, and what success is and isn’t, and the very idea of a role model. Like all of his work, it’s bound to be stunning and emotionally resonant and impeccably realized and deeply personal, and the sort of thing you want to frantically share with your friends. (Confidential to my friends: read this so I don’t have to send you a photo of every page so we can talk about it. Neither of our phones can handle it.) — Michelle C.
It's me. The cat is me. Sometimes you genuinely can't be bothered and sometimes there's some big feelings hiding under that attitude. Perfect balance of poignant and silly. —Sarah R.
The third and final installment in Stephen Graham Jones’s Indian Lake trilogy brings us back to Proofrock, Idaho, and back to our favorite final girl, Jade Daniels. It’s already receiving starred reviews across the board (Library Journal calls it a perfect conclusion!!!), so I am waiting on pins and needles to get my hands on a copy of what promises to be a high-octane, no-punches-pulled, bloody work of horror fun. — Kelsey F.
Whip-smart and laugh-out-loud funny, Diavola features a protagonist who wants to get the f*** out of the haunted house. This book is a breath of fresh air in the horror genre — I loved the way it casually reveals aspects of a shitty family dynamic as the plot ramps up, and classic horror elements like ghosties and possessions just add to the fun. Sometimes, family is the real horror — it's up to you to become the final girl. Maybe don't gift this to your relatives, unless you really want to make a point. In which case, I applaud you, and you can tell them I said so. — Sophie C.
"This time will be different," I tell myself. "This time, I won't tear through the new Rene Denfeld book in twenty-four hours and then be sad I don't have it to look forward to anymore," I lie as I turn another page. "This time, I'll savor it," I mutter unconvincingly as I look up from my half-read book to discover day has turned to night. — Tove H.
Join us for our event with Rene Denfeld on Tuesday, March 26 at 7 p.m. at Powell’s City of Books.
I am so excited to read Worry! It sounds absurd, relatable, and weird in the best of ways. I'm a huge fan of the women vs. the void, no plot just vibes genre, which this seems to fit into perfectly. — Charlotte S.