As we prepare to say our final farewell to a year most likely to be voted as a surreal experience that portends what is more or less a chaos-driven dystopia, we... ah, wait. Never mind. We're going to skip saying goodbye to 2016 and just pretend that it's already 2017. Because there's definitely no doubt that 2017 will be amazing, right? What could possibly go wrong? Hard to say! What's easier to say is that no matter what the future holds in store for us, we are prepared to greet it, book in hand. Here, then, are 50 books that we can't wait to be holding on to for dear life as we dive into a strange and uncertain future. Will they prevent bad things from happening? Probably not. But they certainly serve as a reminder that, no matter what happens in 2017, there will be tons of great stuff to read.
Selection Day by Aravind Adiga (available January 3)
An incisive peak into modern India through the eyes of a cricket- and CSI-obsessed young man, who is raised alongside his older brother by their domineering father in a Mumbai slum.
Difficult Women by Roxane Gay (available January 3)
Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay's collection of short stories is centered around women who live what could fairly be called complicated lives, that are filled with trauma, but also love and strength.
The Art of the Affair written by Catherine Lacey and illustrated by Forsyth Harmon (available January 3)
This gorgeously illustrated book charts the multiple connections that various artists and creatives of the 20th century had with one another. It's impossible not to lose yourself in the intimate, deliciously scandalous details (did you know that after Madonna and Jean-Michel Basquiat broke up, he made her return all the paintings he'd given to her and then he painted them black?), and to feel a real connection as you look into the deep-set eyes of Caroline Blackwood or a vicarious thrill at the way a cigarette dangles out of Juliette Gréco's open mouth.
Idaho by Emily Ruskovich (available January 3)
This debut novel centers around issues of love and loss, memory and trust; it's a moving, and often astonishing meditation on forgiveness and resilience, with a heightened emotional landscape matched by the wild landscape of rural Idaho.
DC Trip by Sarah Benincasa (available January 10)
This hilarious novel is pure, irreverent fun; it's hard not to finish this wild tale of a high school class trip to our nation's capitol and wish that we had a best friend like Benincasa for our senior year, because there's no doubt we would've had tons of fun sneaking pot cookies into the West Wing.
Transit by Rachel Cusk (available January 17)
The second book in Cusk's trilogy that began with the incredible Outline, Transit follows a writer and her young sons as they move to London after the advent of her family's dissolution. Cusk is one of the most lucid, powerful novelists working today, and Transit reflects her abilities to make a profound impact with deceptively simple and always elegant prose.
Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh (available January 17)
Moshfegh's debut novel, Eileen, was rightly met with great acclaim, so it's no surprise her first story collection is one of the most anticipated books of the new year. Happily, it does not disappoint, and Moshfegh maintains the same darkly unsettling tone in her writing, making the reader almost feel like we're accompanying her on some kind of dangerous literary journey, one that gets at the most deeply hidden parts of the human condition.
The Futures by Anna Pitoniak (available January 17)
Pitoniak's debut focuses on that time of life that is at turns both exhilarating and terrifying: right after getting out of college, when you're forced to confront who you are and who you want to be, when you know life is just beginning, but you're also starting to feel like many of your options are fading away.
The Gringo Champion by Aura Xilonen (available January 17)
Xilonen shares the story of Liborio, a young man who grew up in a Mexican border town and crosses over into the "promised land" of America, where he must struggle to overcome not only the difficulties of his childhood, but also what it feels like to live a life constantly on the margins.
How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell (avaialable January 31)
Easily one of the most anticipated memoirs of the year, How to Murder Your Life tracks the rise up the media ladder of former beauty editor Car Marnell, whose much written about (by herself and by Page Six, among others) drug addiction led her to rehab twice and in and out of several high-profile media gigs. Marnell is a controversial figure to many people (there was that one time she recommended Plan B as a good form of birth control), but one thing's always been certain: She's got an inimitable style (and, oh my god, so many have tried) and a level of talent so high, it's impossible not to be rooting for her.
Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller (available February 7)
This novel has a tantalizing mystery at its center, one which revolves around a presumed dead wife and mother, and the clues she left around her house that will help her daughter unravel the mystery years after her initial disappearance.
Pachinko by Min Jun Lee (available February 7)
This gorgeous saga tells the story of generations within one Korean family, and how they navigated exile, poverty, and discrimination, while also experiencing the joys, passions, and triumphs that inevitably inform all our lives.
All the Lives I Want by Alana Massey (available Febraury 7)
This sharp, brilliant collection of essays weaves personal anecdotes alongside incisive analysis of cultural icons and phenomenons including Winona Ryder, Amber Rose, and Lana Del Rey. Massey's voice is wholly original, and her critical instincts are always spot-on as she illuminates the reasons behind why we celebrate and excoriate the women who exist in the public eye, and what that says about cultural attitudes toward all women.
Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright (available February 7)
Wright brings a reliably sane and bitingly funny voice to a topic we never realized we wanted to know so much about: historically devastating plagues! Read this to learn all about everything from the mysterious dancing plague to the devastations that syphilis wrought before the invention of antibiotics so that you can soon amuse your friends with the best dinner party conversation ever.
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker (available February 14)
Beyond having the best title of any book ever, Parker's poetry collection is a powerful exploration centering around issues of black womanhood and all its inherent complexities and wonders.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (available February 14)
Saunders is one our greatest writers; his short stories are masterworks of the surreal, often taking place in worlds just one or two degrees off from our own. So it is with no little excitement that we greet this, his first novel, which takes place during the Civil War, and tells a story of familial love and tragic loss. And while, yes, Abraham Lincoln is a main character, no, that doesn't prevent this book from venturing into Saunders' specific, surreal milieu.
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg (available March 7)
Attenberg is one of our finest contemporary storytellers, and here, with her trademark clever, witty voice, she tackles the age-old question plaguing people of all ages: When do we know if we're actually all grown up?
South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion (available March 7)
Do I really need to sell you on the newest Didion? I doubt it, but just in case: This book is comprised of excerpts from Didion's never-before-seen notebooks that she kept in the '70s. So, you've got new Didion and vintage Didion all at once. Sold!
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (available March 7)
Hamid's novel takes place in a dystopian reality, wherein a young couple must escape from their war-ravaged city, but the future to which they are headed is uncertain, to say the least.
The Idiot by Elif Batuman (available March 14)
Taking place in 1995 (the dawn of the age of email) The Idiot is clever, darkly funny, and served beautifully by Batuman's ability to render perfectly the confusing chaos of college years, and the weirdly dichotomous, but totally simultaneous feelings of alienation and belonging that accompany that time of life.
Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell (available March 14)
After Helen receives a phone call telling her of her adopted brother's death, she sets about investigating the possible reasons why he might have wanted to kill himself. The resulting novel—Cottrell's debut—is a poignant, profoundly empathetic look at the things that might drive us toward death, or toward life.
The Wanderers by Meg Howrey (available March 14)
Now that Earth doesn't feel like the best place to live anymore (ahem, Donald Trump), it's no wonder that some of our culture's best works of art are related to space travel. Add Howrey's novel, which centers around astronauts exploring both outer and inner space, to the list of must-consume, intergalactic art.
White Tears by Hari Kunzru (available March 14)
Kicked off by the story of two twenty-something New Yorkers and an ill-conceived internet hoax, Kunzru's exceptional novel winds up encompassing everything from a murder mystery to meditations on race relations to topics of greed, theft, and exploitation.
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy (available March 14)
Brilliant New Yorker writer Levy's memoir is about the highs and lows involved with being “a woman who is free to do whatever she chooses," which might not sound like the most difficult thing in the world, but comes with its own tyranny-of-choice struggles. Levy's journey as an unconventional woman takes her to some fascinating places, and readers are lucky to get to go along with her on the ride.
A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes (available March 21)
Hayes has written an essential book which dismantles the myth that we live in a postracial society, and reveals just how damaging our current policing and incarceration policies are to our nation.
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti (available March 28)
Centered around a complicatedly beautiful father-daughter relationship, Tinti's latest novel travels across America and is a truly unfogettable coming-of-age epic.
What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah (available April 4)
Ever since reading Arimah's unsettling New Yorker fiction story, in which a woman longing for a child decides to make one out of hair, I've been eagerly awaiting more of her work. Happily, this collection is finally here, and includes that incredible story and many others that are its equals.
Marlena by Julie Buntin (available April 4)
I tore through this stunning debut, which tracks the maddening, complicated, beautiful, essential friendship of two high school friends. Buntin beautifully captures that time in our lives, when our reliance on our friends feels as profound as our need for water or air. As young women, we breathe in each other, trying to absorb one another's light and darkness, and obsess over each other in order to better understand ourselves.
No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts (available April 4)
Imagine The Great Gatsby, only set in the contemporary American South, and retold with black characters, rather than the lily-white Long Island set. Watts' retelling is smart, unsettling, at times hilarious, and a wonderful update to this classic American novel.
Too Much and Not the Mood by Durga Chew-Bose (available April 11)
Chew-Bose is one of our most gifted, insightful essayists and critics, and her first collection of essays is bound to contain a wealth of her singularly lyrical and profound prose, as she meditates on topics like identity and art, as well as culture and belonging. It's a must-read.
Sunshine State by Sarah Gerard (available April 11)
Gerard's latest is a collection of essays revolving around her life growing up along Florida's Gulf Coast. She brings the same lucid insight and keen, poetic observations that are a part of her fiction (if you haven't read her book Binary Star, do so now!) to these nonfiction meditiations.
At the Lightning Field by Laura Raicovich (available April 11)
This lovely little book can be read in a couple hours—but what a magical couple hours they are! Raicovich's work explores not only her time at and observations of "The Lightning Field"—Walter de Maria's incredible outdoor New Mexico art installation—but also the way we all experience art and life and nature and the exigencies of the human condition.
Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro (available April 11)
Shapiro's wonderful book reads like a diary, and it is a privilege to get her insights on topics like love and marriage, motherhood and anxiety, and the dreams we have and those we lose.
Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke (available April 18)
This graphic novel/memoir takes readers on an incredible journey, both to places ranging from Iceland to the Philippines, but also into the dark recesses of the mind and the heart.
The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch (available April 18)
A sci-fi, dystopic retelling of the Joan of Arc story, Yuknavitch's latest feels particularly essential at this moment in history. But then, every time we read something by the immensely talented Yuknavitch, it feels particularly essential.
Startup by Doree Shafrir (available April 25)
Shafrir's hilarious debut takes place in the startup world, which is, of course, ever-ripe for a funny, cogent takedown. Not only does Shafrir explore the limits of our technological advances, she also pushes up against the limits of all forms of human interaction—the way we love and learn from one another, and the way we live.
Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout (available April 25)
Strout wrote this as she was writing her excellent, wildly successful novel My Name Is Lucy Barton, and like that book, Anything Is Possible is a compelling story populated by characters that readers won't soon forget.
This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe (available May 1)
Known for her wonderful acting career, Sidibe now graces us with a funny, smart memoir, which grapples with the complexities of her life, both pre- and post-fame.
The Leavers by Lisa Ko (available May 2)
An inspiring debut, which focuses on issues of assimilation and the true meaning of home. Ko's unforgettable narrative voice is a credit to the moving stories of immigration, loss, recovery, and acceptance that feel particularly suited to our times.
The Gift by Barbara Browning (available May 9)
Provocative and fiercely intelligent, Browning's novel includes several modern touchstones—the Occupy movement, or annoying ukelele covers of sappy songs—but transcends these tropes to give readers a trenchant look at the complicated realities of life today.
Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki (available May 9)
Lepucki's newest novel is a modern-day noir which involves a seductive stranger, and a harried newly single mother, all set against the dark, lush classic backdrop of the Hollywood Hills.
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby (available May 30)
Don't judge a book by its cover and all that, but if this cover doesn't make you want to buy Irby's latest, we don't really know what to say. Well, we guess we'll just point out that Irby is an incredible writer, deftly able to make us howl with laughter on one page and be awestruck and reverently silent by her spot-on observations on the next.
The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro (available June 6)
Set in the summer of 1992 on the fictitious Avalon Island, Gypsy Moth Summer is focused on the tenuous ties that connect us all, and the struggles we go through in trying to forge bonds with one another.
Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash (available June 6)
This coming-of-age story centers around a young wrestler and his search for his own identity and the obsessive tendencies inherent within. It's a complex look at one of life's most persistently simple questions: Who am I?
Everybody's Son by Thrity Umagar (available June 6)
Following the stories of two families in 1991—one black and one white—this novel is a meditation on the profound moral questions surrounding issues of race, identity, privilege, power, and belonging.
Made for Love by Alyssa Nutting (available July 4)
Nutting's debut novel Tampa is one of the darkest, funniest, and just plain hottest books we've ever read, so we're super excited for her latest. That Made for Love has already been described as "an absurd, raunchy comedy and a dazzling, profound meditation on marriage, monogamy, and family" means we're definitely not going to be disappointed.
Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo (available August 1)
Set in Nigeria, this novel employs the two voices of husband and wife, as they recount the tumultuous experiences of their marriage, and explore what it means to be commited to and sacrifice for another person.
The Grip of It by Jac Jemc (available August 1)
This compelling story of a seemingly haunted house transcends any mere ghost story expectations and ventures into the too human territory of how we make our homes in the world.
Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang (available August 1)
Zhang's debut collection of short stories revolves around the lives of young women growing up in New York City. If her fiction is anything like her incredible essays, Zhang is bound to have a huge hit on her hands—and readers are bound to have a new favorite book in 2017.
Eat Only When You're Hungry by Lindsay Hunter (available August 8)
Hunter's second novel centers around the topic of addiction and all the ways that we demonize addicts and seek to absolve ourselves of our own sins by blaming addicts for falling prey to a devastating disease. It's a brilliant and empathetic way of handling a difficult and delicate topic, and, well, August 8 can't get here soon enough.