New year, new you, and so many new books to read. The year ahead promises to keep book lovers busy with much-talked about celebrity memoirs from Prince Harry and Jada Pinkett Smith, as well as splashy new releases from best-selling authors Colson Whitehead, R. F. Kuang, and Lorrie Moore, who returns with her first novel in 14 years. Debuts by up-and-comers Jenny Jackson and Amelia Possanza will get you excited for the future of publishing, while Jenny Odell’s Saving Time might help you figure out how you’ll find the time to read all these books in just one year.
Here, the 23 most anticipated books of 2023.
Bloodbath Nation, Paul Auster, photographs by Spencer Ostrander (Jan. 10)
In collaboration with photographer Spencer Ostrander, novelist Paul Auster traces America’s unique obsession with guns, delving into centuries of horrifying facts and figures that show why the United States’ problem with gun violence is so wholly unique. This short, searing book is about more than statistics; it’s about the real people whose lives have been torn apart by guns. That includes Auster, who examines the rippling effects one act of gun violence has had on his own family.
Ghost Music, An Yu (Jan. 10)
An Yu’s follow-up to her enchanting debut novel Braised Pork is a deliciously surreal tale of music and mushrooms. Former concert pianist Song Yao aches for a child that her husband doesn’t seem to want. Amid all the tension, she begins dreaming of doorless rooms with orange mushrooms that are native to her mother-in-law’s Chinese birthplace. After a package with those same fungi unexpectedly arrives at Song’s door, she’s summoned to a mysterious home where she finds Bai Yu, a world-famous pianist who disappeared a decade earlier and may be the only one who can decipher her dreams.
The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness, Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz (Jan. 10)
For 85 years (and counting), the Study of Adult Development at Harvard Medical School has been interviewing individuals and their families in hopes of discovering what it takes to live a longer, happier life. What Robert Waldinger and Marc Shulz, the current directors of the prolific Harvard study, discovered is that forming close bonds with others is the key to feeling more fulfilled. Their book offers tips on how to form meaningful human connections.
Spare, Prince Harry (Jan. 10)
The Duke of Sussex’s memoir promises to give an unflinchingly honest look at what it was like growing up royal after his mother Princess Diana’s tragic death. (The book’s title is a nod to the loaded phrase “heir and spare,” which refers to the unofficial nickname that a younger sibling, like Prince Harry, is saddled with when they aren’t first in line to the British royal throne.) If Harry & Meghan, the Netflix docuseries that details the challenges that led the Duke and his wife Meghan Markle to step back from their royal duties, is any indication, the fifth in line to the crown has no problem spilling the tea about his family or the monarchy.
Victory City, Salman Rushdie (Feb. 7)
Author Salman Rushdie’s 15th novel, which comes six months after he survived a brutal onstage attack, is an epic tale about a young, grief-stricken girl named Pampa Kampana who, in 14th-century southern India, has a divine encounter with the goddess who shares her name. Pampa becomes a vessel for the deity, who gives the girl the power to create a new metropolis known as “Victory City.” Over the course of 250 years, Pampa witnesses the city’s rise and fall (and rise again) in this awe-inspiring saga that looks at what it’s really like to be the center of the universe.
I Have Some Questions for You, Rebecca Makkai (Feb. 21)
In 1995, while attending a New Hampshire boarding school, Bodie Kane’s classmate Thalia Keith was killed. Bodie, now a famous film professor and podcaster, has managed to ignore the internet’s fascination with the case, which ended in the (some say questionable) conviction of the school’s athletic trainer, Omar Evans. But, in this thriller for the true-crime obsessed, when Bodie heads back to her old school to teach a two-week film course, she finds herself rehashing the details of the case—and realizing she might have information that could prove Omar’s innocence.
Old Babes in the Wood, Margaret Atwood (March 7)
Margaret Atwood’s latest book of short stories—her first since 2014’s Stone Collection—features a mother who claims to be a witch, a female bank teller who is reincarnated as a snail, and a conversation between “Margaret Atwood” and sci-fi great George Orwell that takes place over a séance. Across 15 tales that were inspired by the uncertainty of this pandemic era, the author of The Handmaid’s Tale finds humor and humanity in the most eccentric of characters.
Pineapple Street, Jenny Jackson (March 7)
Book editor Jenny Jackson’s buzzy debut, which has already been optioned for TV, focuses on three women in the über-rich Stockton family: Darley, who gave up the family fortune for motherhood; Sasha, a middle-class girl who married into the clan; and Georgiana, the baby of the family who is reevaluating herself in the name of love. This witty novel about the haves and have-mores is Succession with a soul.
Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock, Jenny Odell (March 7)
Jenny Odell wants us to rethink our relationship to time. In 2019’s How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, she argued for less self-promotion and more quiet contemplation. In her new book, Odell shows how the clock we live by is built for profit, not people. And she warns that if we don’t leave it behind, it will destroy us. That may sound bleak, but Odell’s journey to find the best way to use our limited time on earth is an eye-opening look at what it really means to be alive.
Poverty, By America, Matthew Desmond (March 21)
Matthew Desmond’s follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize-winning 2016 book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, which looked at the role poverty plays in America’s housing crisis, shows how wealthy and middle class Americans knowingly and unknowingly perpetuate a broken system that keeps poor people poor. It’s not an easy problem to fix, but through in-depth research and original reporting, the acclaimed sociologist offers solutions that would help spread America’s wealth and make everyone more prosperous.
Above Ground, Clint Smith (March 28)
When poet and Atlantic staff writer Clint Smith became a dad, it changed how he saw the world. With his second book of poetry, the father of two attempts to put all of his complicated feelings surrounding parenthood into perspective. Whether it be the utter joy of watching his children make new discoveries or the heartbreak of knowing you can’t always protect your little ones from social injustice, the author of How the Word is Passed doesn’t sugarcoat the emotional rollercoaster that most parents are on. Above Ground is a beautiful meditation not only on Smith’s own journey as a dad, but also on the effect our ever-changing world has on the way we raise our children.
Birdgirl: Looking to the Skies in Search of a Better Future, Mya-Rose Craig (March 28)
In her evocative memoir, which doubles as a travelog, British-Bangladeshi environmental activist Mya-Rose Craig (a.k.a. Birdgirl) writes of her passion for birdwatching, her mother’s struggle with mental illness, and her dedication to saving the planet. The astuteness with which the 20-year-old writes about her early life will reassure readers that our future is in good hands.
Evil Eye, Etaf Rum (March 28)
After Yara is placed on probation at work for fighting with a racist coworker, her Palestinian mother claims the provocation and all that’s come after were the result of a family curse. While Yara doesn’t believe in old superstitions, she finds herself unpacking her strict, often volatile childhood growing up in Brooklyn, looking for clues as to why she feels so unfulfilled in a life her mother could only dream of. Etaf Rum’s follow-up to her 2019 debut, A Woman Is No Man, is a complicated mother-daughter drama that looks at the lasting effects of intergenerational trauma and what it takes to break the cycle of abuse.
A Living Remedy, Nicole Chung (April 4)
After writing about her experience as a Korean American transracial adoptee of a white family in her poignant 2018 memoir, All You Can Ever Know, TIME contributor Nicole Chung returns with the heartbreaking story of how she lost both her adopted parents to a broken healthcare system. It’s a story about American inequality, but it’s also about a grieving daughter attempting to make sense of her own beginnings in order to heal.
Romantic Comedy, Curtis Sittenfeld (April 11)
Late night comedy writer Sally Owls swears off relationships, only to fall in love with a famous pop star who appears on her show. After putting her own spin on Pride and Prejudice with 2016’s Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld is taking on the modern rom-com. Her follow-up to 2020’s Rodham adds a bit of levity and honesty to the kind of meet-cutes you only see in the movies.
Quietly Hostile, Samantha Irby (May 16)
The Wow, No Thank You author returns with a hilarious new essay collection that touches on her rotting teeth, QVC obsession, and frequent bouts of diarrhea due to Crohn’s disease. All of which prove that no matter how famous Samantha Irby gets, she’ll never stop being #relatable.
Yellowface, R. F. Kuang (May 16)
Acclaimed fantasy writer R. F. Kuang’s latest novel, Yellowface—a reference to the racist practice of altering one’s appearance in an attempt to look Asian—is a razor-sharp indictment of white privilege and cultural appropriation. June Hayward, who is white, steals the work of her late friend Athena Liu, who was Asian American, passing it off as her own using an ambiguous author photo. June sees her crimes as an innocent way to celebrate her friend, but when she becomes a best-selling author, many start to question whether she is telling the truth about her identity. How far is June willing to go to keep the fame she didn’t earn but believes she deserves?
Lesbian Love Story: A Memoir in Archives, Amelia Possanza (May 30)
Amelia Possanza celebrates the greatest lesbian love stories never told in her delightful debut that has her taking a deep dive into the queer archives searching for role models for her own love life. What the Brooklyn book publicist-turned-author finds is Bushwick drag kings and activists in Harlem who prove there is no one way to love—and there never has been.
I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home, Lorrie Moore (June 20)
Lorrie Moore’s first novel since 2009’s A Gate at the Stairs is a century-spanning ghost story that explores love, death, and rebirth through the lens of a teacher visiting his dying brother, an assassin, and a therapy clown. It’s the kind of wry tragedy that fans have come to expect from the author.
Buy Now: I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home on Amazon
Crook Manifesto, Colson Whitehead (July 18)
Colson Whitehead’s new crime novel picks up where 2021’s Harlem Shuffle left off. In 1970s Harlem, former fence-turned-furniture store owner Ray Carney is trying to lay low as crime skyrockets all around the city. But when he needs a little help getting Jackson 5 tickets for his daughter, Ray finds himself falling back into bad habits that could have deadly consequences.
Family Lore, Elizabeth Acevedo (Aug. 1)
Flor has a gift for predicting when someone will die. When she invites her sisters Matilde, Pastora, and Camila to her living wake without any explanation, they begin to panic: Has Flor seen her own death or is someone else about to lose their life? With her first novel for adults, poet and YA author Elizabeth Acevedo traces the lineage of one Dominican American family through the lives of women who hope their past can provide a roadmap for the future.
We Feel Now a Largeness Coming On, Tracy K. Smith (Nov. 7)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States returns with a collection that interrogates how song, prayer, and other forms of public gathering can help us process America’s shared problematic history.
Untitled memoir, Jada Pinkett Smith (TBD)
Anyone who has seen Red Table Talk knows that Jada Pinkett Smith isn’t afraid to tell her truth. So it should be no surprise to hear that she’s called her coming memoir a “no-holds barred” look at her unconventional upbringing, her decades-spanning career, and her marriage to Will Smith.