The most anticipated new reads of the new year.
You can put aside all those best-of-2012 lists, because you're not going to ever get to any of them. Instead, as winter draws us in and keeps us home--or (if we're lucky) on the beach--give it a fresh start with a few to get excited about as 2013 gets started. There are more, of course, later this spring, with the return of our great sensualist James Salter, David Sedaris having more fun with animals, Michael Pollan's history of cooking, J.M. Coetzee on the childhood of Jesus, Mary Roach going inside our stomachs, Claire Messud's schoolteacher, and more. But let's not take on too much too soon. We don't want a repeat of what happened in 2012 ... --Lucas Wittmann
Coolidge By Amity Shlaes
After a controversial and engaging reinterpretation of the Great Depression in her last book, Amity a[umlaut]Shlaes takes a step back in time to suggest that Coolidge, punchline of presidents, deserves more credit than history has given him. Expect this book to be the most debated biography of the season, with its unavoidable echoes of and lessons for our own time. (Out Feb. 12) --L.W.
Going Clear By Lawrence Wright
Al Qaeda or Scientology, which is more impenetrable? Our money is on the cultish church, as Wright expands on his New Yorker article about film director Paul Haggis's departure from Scientology and conducts more than 200 hundred interviews with current and former members to understand why Hollywood performers are so tempted by the organization. (Out Jan. 17) --Jimmy So
The Book of My Lives a[umlaut]By Aleksandar Hemon
One of the happier recent phenomena in American publishing has been the popular success of exceptional essay collections (from Katie Roiphe, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Elif Batuman, and others). Bets are on Aleksandar Hemon's wise and entrancing memoir-in-essays to be the next. (Out March 19) --L.W.
Vampires in the Lemon Grove By Karen Russell
All of 31, and Russell has already had a whiff of victory, but quite not tasted it (her debut novel was one of three fiction finalists in a year when no Pulitzer was awarded). Her new story collection (her second) proves that prize hijinks aren't distracting her. The title story is as advertised--two married vampires talking in a lemon grove. The second offering is about daughters of samurai warriors. What surprises spring from Russell's imagination, and how she captures the way we humans think. …