It’s a new year with new books…and, a new method for picking books for me!
After many of my 2017 Most Anticipated Books flopped, I re-evaluated my system for picking books. Previously, I’d comb the publishers’ catalogs and Preview lists from various bookish media sources looking for books that appealed to me. But, all I had to go on was the description of the book and marketing material provided by the publisher. There are precious little unbiased opinions out there months before a book is published.
I realized this system wasn’t serving me well and was leading me to waste time with a lot of books that didn’t pan out. So, I’ve changed things up this year…and it will hopefully benefit you too!
My Most Anticipated Books of Winter 2018 list is almost entirely made up of books from trusted sources (to find your personal trusted recommendation sources, check out this post and free downloadable template) who, in as many cases as possible, have already read the book. For the first time ever, I did not look at a single publisher’s catalog to create this list. I’m sharing the recommendation source for each book and will specify if that source has or has not read it yet.
Finally, I’ve already read two of the books on this list myself and can personally vouch for them!
This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).
Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates (January 9, Picador)
You know how I always rave about the 2014 novel, Black Chalk (my review)?! Well, Grist Mill Road is Yates’s sophomore novel. I’ve already read this one and the bottom line is that, despite some structural elements that bothered me, I couldn’t put it down. A dark, twisty, coming of age story about friendship.
The year is 1982, the setting an Edenic hamlet some 90 miles north of New York City. There, among the craggy rock cliffs and glacial ponds of timeworn mountains, three friends—Patrick, Matthew and Hannah— are bound together by a single, terrible, and seemingly senseless crime. Twenty six years later, in New York City, living lives their younger selves could never have predicted, the three meet again–with even more devastating results.
Recommendation Source(s): Trusted author and I’ve already read the book
Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan (January 9, Random House)
This memoir absolutely spoke to me in a “yes, that’s exactly how it is” kind of way. It’s funny, relatable, and covers all kinds of big life issues including marriage, motherhood, illness, and religion…yet, it’s a light, easy read. This might be for you if you loved Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake or This is the Story of a Happy Marriage.
In channeling the characteristically streetwise, ever-relatable voice that has defined Corrigan’s work, Tell Me More is a meaningful, touching take on the power of the right words at the right moment to change everything.
Recommendation Source(s): Already read by Annie Jones on From the Front Porch podcast (one of my Go-To Bookish Media Sources) and me
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (January 9, Putnam)
This is not a book that would naturally appeal to me (psychics?! No, thanks!), but the good reports from trusted sources are piling up and my recent enjoyment of The Rules of Magic (another book with magical elements) has made me more open to these themes I don’t normally go for. I just started it and am enjoying it so far.
If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?
It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.
Their prophecies inform their next five decades.
Recommendation Source(s): Already read by Renee at It’s Book Talk (trusted book blogger), Susie at Novel Visits (trusted book blogger), and Michael Kindness (co-host of the now defunct Books on the Nightstand podcast)
The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin (January 16, Delacorte Press)
Melanie Benjamin wrote The Swans of Fifth Avenue (my review), one of my favorite books of 2016 and very best of the Brain Candy. This is all I needed to know to grab this book immediately…but, a trusted book blogger has also read it already. So, we’ve got some icing on the cake!
An intimate portrait of the close friendship and powerful creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female superstars: Frances Marion and Mary Pickford.
Recommendation Source(s): Trusted author and already read by Susie at Novel Visits (trusted book blogger)
Berlin 1936: Sixteen Days in August by Oliver Hilmes (February 6, Other Press)
I have a slight (OK, massive) obsession with the Olympics and became fascinated with the 1936 Olympics in particular after reading The Boys in the Boat. This was the “Nazi Olympics” and it was used by Hitler’s regime as a propaganda tool. I’m certain the events of this story are fascinating and I hope the book about them proves to be too!
A lively account of the 1936 Olympics told through the voices and stories of those who witnessed it, from an award-winning historian and biographer.
Recommendation Source(s): Published by Other Press (the publisher who brought me Quicksand, one of my favorite books of 2017)
The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson (February 6, Touchstone)
I love novels about dysfunctional families and literary suspense (though, I hear this one is a slower burn). Plus, this novel is getting fantastic reviews from regular readers on Goodreads.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookseller comes a gripping literary suspense novel set in the 1960s about a deeply troubled family and three women who will reveal its dark truths.
Recommendation Source(s): Susie at Novel Visits (trusted book blogger) via her 2018 Winter Preview (not yet read)
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (February 6, Algonquin Books)
I love a good marriage drama and this one is getting great reviews from regular readers on Goodreads. I’ve heard you want to go into this one as blind as possible.
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
Recommendation Source(s): Already read and loved by Nicole Bonia (host of The Readerly Report Podcast), published by one of my Go-To Imprints
Sunburn by Laura Lippman (February 20, William Morrow)
Lippman is a new-to-me author and I’m always a little skeptical of psychological thrillers. But, Annie Jones (one of my Go-To Bookish Media Sources) said it was “a different kind of thriller,” which are the kinds that generally appeal to me.
New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman returns with a superb novel of psychological suspense about a pair of lovers with the best intentions and the worst luck: two people locked in a passionate yet uncompromising game of cat and mouse. But instead of rules, this game has dark secrets, forbidden desires, inevitable betrayals—and cold-blooded murder. . .
Recommendation Source(s): Already read by Annie Jones on From the Front Porch podcast (one of my Go-To Bookish Media Sources)
Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman (March 6, Dutton)
I should probably be embarrassed to admit that this is one of the books I’m most excited about for 2018, but I’m truly not! Amy Kaufman has covered The Bachelor for the LA Times for years and I’ve been following her on Twitter for awhile now. I’ll be listening to this on audio the very second it’s released!
The first definitive, unauthorized, behind-the-scenes cultural history of the Bachelor franchise, America’s favorite guilty pleasure.
Recommendation Source(s): Honestly, I don’t even need a recommendation source for this one. I’d read it even if people said it was terrible. But, Annie Jones on From the Front Porch podcast (one of my Go-To Bookish Media Sources) has already read it, so there!
Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao (March 6, Flatiron Books)
I love the focus on female friendship coupled with the India setting. Plus, the Goodreads reviews from regular readers are outstanding. Plus, it’s a debut, which I’m always eager to try.
A searing, electrifying debut novel set in India and America, about a once-in-a-lifetime friendship between two girls who are driven apart but never stop trying to find one another again.
Recommendation Source(s): Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot’s All the Books podcast) on Instagram (has not yet read the book), published by one of my Go-To Imprints.
The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian (March 13, Doubleday)
Bohjalian’s page turners always have an unique element that makes them stand out from the sea of run-of-the-mill thrillers out there. I hear the main character in this one may not be especially likable (which doesn’t bother me, but does bother some readers).
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest Room, a powerful story about the ways an entire life can change in one night: A flight attendant wakes up in the wrong hotel, in the wrong bed, with a dead man – and no idea what happened.
Recommendation Source(s): Trusted author
Tangerine by Christine Mangan (March 27, Ecco)
I like the 1950’s Morocco setting and the reports of extreme tension in this friendship. Plus, it’s another debut.
The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year.
But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.
Recommendation Source(s): Liberty Hardy via Book Riot’s 101 2018 Books list (unclear whether she’s read the book yet).
*All book summaries (in block quotes) are from Goodreads (edited for length).
What Winter 2018 books are you looking forward to?