Spring used to be the shoulder season in the publishing industry, after the big holiday blockbusters and before the waves of “summer reads.” Now it’s hard to categorize – one of 2015’s big books, Erik Larson’s “Dead Wake,” about the sinking of the Lusitania, popped up on the first of March. English writer Helen Macdonald’s memoir “H is For Hawk,” a memoir of Macdonald’s mourning for her father by training a goshawk, is already one of the “it” books of the year, and also came out March 1.
There’s more to come between now and July 1 – David McCullough’s history of the Wright brothers and new fiction by Kazuo Ishiguro, Toni Morrison, Kate Atkinson, Stephen King and Sara Gruen.
Lesson? Eternal vigilance is the price of snagging a good book. Here’s a reading list of upcoming titles, listed by month of publication, categorized by fiction and nonfiction. (We include March in case some readers missed these titles.)
“The Buried Giant” by Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf). The author of “The Remains of the Day” sets his new novel in sixth-century England, not long after the death of King Arthur. An elderly couple encounter supernatural creatures, a memory-eating mist and other obstacles as they make their way toward their long-lost son’s village.
“Crow Fair” by Thomas McGuane (Knopf). New stories from the Montana writer, featuring Montana men and women struggling with their personal demons against the background of their home state’s stunning but harsh wilderness.
“At the Water’s Edge” by Sara Gruen (Spiegel & Grau). By the author of “Water for Elephants”: a young Philadelphia socialite travels to a tiny village in the Scottish Highlands with her husband in search of the Loch Ness monster, as Great Britain struggles with the losses and deprivations of World War II.
“God Help the Child” by Toni Morrison (Knopf). This short novel follows the trajectory of a woman who rises from a tough childhood to become a highly successful cosmetics executive, but who begins to doubt herself after a chain of events leads her back into the past.
“A God in Ruins” by Kate Atkinson (Little, Brown). Atkinson follows her stunning “Life After Life” with the story of Teddy, the brother of Ursula Todd, the heroine of “Life,” as he pursues poetry, lives through World War II as an RAF bomber and experiences life as a husband and father.
“Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins” by James Runcie (Bloomsbury). Fourth in the series about the estimable priest-detective Canon Sidney Chambers, the basis for the PBS series “Grantchester.”
“Early Warning” by Jane Smiley (Knopf). On the heels of her critically acclaimed 2014 novel “Some Luck,” Smiley publishes the second installment in her trilogy about an Iowa farm family’s journey through the 20th century, from 1953 to 1986. If you haven’t read “Some Luck,” it’s a necessary primer.
“Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson (Morrow). An epic from the science-fiction virtuoso about pioneers who escape the end of the world and about their descendants, who return 5,000 years later to find a radically transformed Earth.
“In the Unlikely Event” by Judy Blume (Knopf). The wildly popular children’s author publishes a novel for adults, the story of three generations of families, friends and strangers whose lives change after a series of airplane crashes during three months in the 1950s.
“The Truth According to Us” by Annie Barrows (Dial Press). The author of “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” returns with a story of another small town, this one in 1930s America. While writing the history of a West Virginia hamlet for the Federal Writers Project, a young woman is drawn into the secrets of one family’s history.
“Language Arts” by Stephanie Kallos (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Kallos, author of “Broken for You,” returns with the story of a high school English teacher who takes stock and wonders if he should “rewrite the script of his life.”
“Finders Keepers” by Stephen King (Scribner). Including a return of some of the characters of “Mr. Mercedes,” the latest King scarefest features a vengeful reader who goes way too far when his favorite author doesn’t deliver another book.
“Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Harper). The controversial author of “Infidel” and “Nomad,” brought up in the Muslim faith but now a target of death threats for her opposition to terrorism, calls on the worldwide Muslim community to help end terror, warfare and oppression of women and minorities by extremist groups.
“The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot” by Blaine Harden (Viking). Harden, author of “Escape from Camp 14,” chronicles the rise of Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s founding dictator, interweaving that history with the story of a young North Korean fighter pilot who attempted a daring escape from the totalitarian country in a MiG-15 jet fighter.
“Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis” by Robert Putnam (Simon & Schuster). The author of “Bowling Alone” examines how paths to upward mobility in America are being blocked, stunting opportunities for a large segment of young Americans.
“Michelle Obama: A Life” by Peter Slevin (Knopf). This is billed as the first comprehensive biography of our current first lady, from childhood through her Ivy League education to her position as adviser-in-chief to her husband.
“The House of Owls” by Tony Angell (Yale University Press). The renowned wildlife artist and naturalist recounts his 25 years of living with, studying and reimagining owls in his art. Copious illustrations.
“Weed the People” by Bruce Barcott (Time Home Entertainment). Barcott (“The Measure of a Mountain”) looks at the issues and implications surrounding the legalization of marijuana, from party etiquette to how to talk to your children about it.
“Rain: A Natural and Cultural History” by Cynthia Barnett (Crown). The science, natural history and culture of rain on Earth, from the first deluges to the prospect of climate change.
“The Road to Character: The Humble Journey to an Excellent Life” by David Brooks (Random House). The New York Times columnist and PBS commentator, who believes our culture has lost sense of the value of humility, offers a prescription for a more engaged life via profiles of eight exemplary people, including President Eisenhower and Catholic activist Dorothy Day.
“Days of Rage: America’s Radical Underground, the FBI and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence” by Bryan Burrough (Penguin Press). Burrough (“Public Enemies”) tells the story of the battle between the FBI and American revolutionaries, from the Weathermen to the Symbionese Liberation Army, during the 1960s and 1970s, when, in the name of social justice, “nice middle-class kids” blew things up and killed people.
“The Triumph of Seeds” by Thor Hanson (Basic Books). San Juan Island natural-history writer Hanson (“Feathers”) examines seeds, their natural history and their role in our diet, our economies and our civilizations.
“Listening to Stone: the Art and Life of Isamu Noguchi” by Hayden Herrera (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). The biography of the sculptor who, with a Japanese father and an American mother, spent his career attempting to straddle both cultures.
“Reagan: the Life” by H.W. Brands (Doubleday). The first full biography of President Reagan since his death. Brands is a distinguished Texas historian, biographer and author of 2008’s “Traitor to his Class,” a biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
“The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough (Simon & Schuster). Two-time Pulitzer winner McCullough tells the story behind the well-known saga of the two young men from Dayton, Ohio, who brought the world into the age of flight, mining a trove of diaries, books and correspondence to chronicle the influences leading to Wilbur and Orville’s accomplishment.
“Forensics” by Val McDermid (Grove Press). The best-selling Scottish crime novelist ventures into a history of forensic science, weaving in real-world murders and the scientists who investigate them, both at home and in far-flung and hostile places.
“Of Orcas and Men: What Killer Whales Can Teach Us” by David Neiwert (Overlook). Nonfiction writer Neiwert (“And Hell Followed With Her,” “Strawberry Days”) delves into the subject of orcas, including their natural history, role in human mythology, language and their long-term memories, providing context for the continuing debate over their captivity at amusement parks.
“It’s a Long Story: My Life” by Willie Nelson with David Ritz (Little, Brown). Nelson, who recently turned 80, looks back at a long and very eventful life.
“On the Move: A Life” by Oliver Sacks (Knopf). The memoirs of the physician/neurologist/writer who became famous for writing stories of people struggling with brain malfunction. Sacks announced last month that he has terminal cancer.
“The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings” by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). A new group biography of the small Oxford literary club that included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and how its members changed the face of 20th century literature.