Without further ado . . . here are our 30 most anticipated books of 2012, as selected by the BookPage editorial staff. Visit BookPage.com to find our most anticipated books from this time in 2011. What is YOUR most anticipated book of the year? Let us know in this survey. To keep up-to-date on the latest releases, subscribe to our most anticipated books calendar using the button below.
The Odds by Stewart O’Nan (Viking)
Stewart O’Nan, author of Emily, Alone packs a punch with his slim novel of one couple’s marriage. Art and Marion’s finances—and marriage—are about to go to bankrupt. The couple gambles everything on one weekend at the casino in Niagara Falls: a last resort with powerful consequences.
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey (Harper)
This modernization of Jane Eyre re-imagines the classic governess/master love story in the 1960s. Our heroine, Gemma, is from Iceland, which makes for fascinating reading.
No One Is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel (Riverhead)
We readers know the power a story can hold—the way that someone’s imagination can transform our lives, if only for a little while. This book, one of 2012′s most anticipated debut novels, makes that concept literal when a small Romanian village avoids World War II by imagining it away, only to discover that the real world can’t be held at bay forever.
Carry the One by Carol Anshaw (Simon & Schuster)
Thanks to a compelling premise and a passionate recommendation from Emma Donoghue, Carry the One has been on our radar for weeks. In the book, Anshaw explores the aftermath of a tragedy—when a group of young adults hit and kill a girl after leaving a wedding in the middle of the night. The event haunts them for the rest of their lives.
Arcadia by Lauren Groff (Voice)
Groff’s playful debut, The Monsters of Templeton, marked her as an author to watch, and we’ve been waiting to see what she’ll do next. Answer: write a coming-of-age story set in a 1960s commune. It might sound trite, but Groff is one of the most imaginative young writers working these days, and her spin on this idea is something special (look for an interview in our March issue).
Some Assembly Required by Anne Lamott (Riverhead)
Anne Lamott is just as beloved (if not more so) for her nonfiction as her novels. Some Assembly Required is the much-anticipated follow-up to Operating Instructions: A Journal Of My Son’s First Year, where Lamott chronicled life as a single parent to her son, Sam. Here, she writes about what happens when Sam becomes a father at 19.
The New Republic by Lionel Shriver (Harper)
Shriver says The New Republic deals with terrorism “on a peninsula in Portugal which doesn’t exist—I drew it onto the map. I wrote it in 1998 and at that time I had trouble getting American publishers interested in the manuscript. . . . Now in some ways the U.S. cares too much about terrorism and for a long time I felt it would be wrong to publish something that has a sense of humour about the issue. Enough time has gone by for a droll novel to be well received.”
By the Iowa Sea by Joe Blair (Scribner)
This memoir of “love and disaster” was written by a pipefitter who lives in Coralville, Iowa. It’s a beautifully written story about marriage, responsibility and caring for an autistic child.
The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen (Holt)
McCleen’s debut is about a 10-year-old girl with a powerful faith; she has created a model of the Promised Land in her bedroom. When life goes awry, she becomes convinced that she has the ability to use her model to change reality’s path.
The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler (Knopf)
The Beginner’s Goodbye is the story of Aaron, a man who loses his wife suddenly when a tree falls on their house. Aaron and Dorothy’s marriage had been affectionate but not particularly passionate, yet once she is gone he finds himself surprisingly adrift—and continues to see his dead wife everywhere he goes. Can he figure out a way to say goodbye?
The Cove by Ron Rash (Ecco)
Ecco’s lead title for spring “captures the wondrous beauty of nature and love and the darkness of superstition and fear in this atmospheric and exquisitely rendered novel set in Appalachia during World War I.” The catalog also promises that it is “as mesmerizing as the brilliant Serena.”
Farther Away: Essays by Jonathan Franzen (FSG)
This is a collection of Franzen’s essays and speeches over the past five years, exploring themes of literary rivalry, environmental concern and more.
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen (Random House)
Recently, Anna Quindlen has been focusing on fiction—but readers are sure to rejoice at the news that the former Newsweek and New York Times columnist will be contemplating life once again in Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake.
Home by Toni Morrison (Knopf)
The works of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison go beyond thought-provoking to what could better be called thought-demanding, with their lush prose, deep themes and occasional touches of magic or mysticism. But that’s just what readers and critics appreciate about Morrison, who is one of America’s most treasured writers. Her next novel is the story of a Korean War veteran who returns to small-town Georgia, disappointed in its racist culture and trying to help his emotionally unstable sister while still recovering from the physical and emotional aftereffects of war.
The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger (Knopf)
No, it’s not based on the show starring Nick & Jessica. Literary luminary Freudenberger (she was one of the New Yorker‘s best 20 under 40) follows her impressive debut novel The Dissident with a story of a couple who meet online, marry and then uncover each other’s secrets. A modern take on star-crossed romance.
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (Holt)
This is the eagerly anticipated sequel to Wolf Hall, the Booker-winning story about Thomas Cromwell’s life in Tudor England. Thanks to a gruesome title, our love of Wolf Hall and a plotline that will include the downfall of Anne Boleyn—we are especially excited for this one.
In One Person by John Irving (Simon & Schuster)
This new novel explores the life of a 60-year-old bisexual man and is told in the first person—Irving’s first novel from that point of view since A Prayer for Owen Meany. It’s also his first with Simon & Schuster after leaving longtime publisher Random House.
Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel (HMH)
This second graphic memoir from Bechdel—whose Fun Home was a bestseller that made it onto countless best books lists upon its release in 2006—focuses on her brilliant but distant mother, whose life was both an inspiration and a cautionary tale to her equally talented daughter.
Canada by Richard Ford (Harper)
The first novel in more than five years from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford is narrated by 15-year-old Dell Parsons, who flees his Montana home after his parents are arrested for robbing a bank. He ends up on the plains of southern Saskatchewan, taken in by a “charismatic” American who is more sinister than he appears.
The Passage of Power by Robert A. Caro (Knopf)
The fourth volume in Caro’s epic Lyndon Johnson biography will “focus on the years 1958 to 1964, from the time Johnson began seeking the presidency, through his years as vice president under John F. Kennedy, to becoming president after JFK’s assassination.”
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (Harper)
Jess Walter’s latest sounds a little lighter than his last two novels—it deals with Hollywood and unrequited love rather than the aftermath of 9/11 or the implications of our financial crisis. The action begins on the coast of Italy in 1962, where a young man glimpses a beautiful actress and falls in love. Fifty years later, he heads to Hollywood to find her.
The Queen’s Lover by Francine du Plessix Gray (Penguin Press)
New Yorker contributor, memoirist, novelist and historian Francine du Plessix Gray has taken on the ultimate challenge. The Queen’s Lover will tell the story of Marie Antoinette as framed by her relationship with Swedish nobleman Count Axel von Fersen, a man she first befriends early in her reign
Gold by Chris Cleave (Simon & Schuster)
We can’t wait to read Chris Cleave’s take on the friendship between two female athletes who, on the eve of the Olympics, must make a choice between their personal and professional goals. It’s his first novel since the 2009 smash Little Bee.
Broken Harbour by Tana French (Viking)
Tana French’s particular brand of psychological suspense really strikes a chord with readers. Her fourth novel in the loosely connected Dublin Murder Squad Series is narrated by Scorcher Kennedy as he investigates what seems to be an open-and-shut domestic murder-suicide.
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (Viking)
This sequel to A Discovery of Witches returns to the saga of Diana the historian-witch and Matthew the geneticist-vampire. In Shadow of Night, the couple investigate the mystery of a magical manuscript in Elizabethan England. A Discovery of Witches was a smart and sexy story with romance, paranormal elements—and lots of good library scenes.
The Twelve by Justin Cronin (Ballantine)
Since The Passage ended on a terrible cliffhanger, you can just about bet that Justin Cronin’s sequel will be an overnight bestseller. We can’t wait to return to Amy and Peter’s post-apocalyptic, creepy world.
FALL (MONTH TBA)
Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe’s fourth novel—his first for Little, Brown—addresses “class, family, wealth, race, crime, sex, corruption, and ambition” in Miami. He received a $7 million advance for the book. Will it live up to expectations?
The Son by Philipp Meyer (Random House)
Philipp Meyer’s debut, American Rust, was one of the most acclaimed novels of 2009. His second novel, The Son, focuses on three generations of a Texas family: Eli, his son Pete and Pete’s daughter Jeanne. Each face their own challenges—Comanche raiders, border wars and a changing civilization, respectively.
Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon (Harper)
Telegraph Avenue is a real street that runs from Oakland, CA, to Berkeley. Chabon’s new novel is about the distinct character of each place, as well as the borderline between them (where the author lives in real life). It’s Chabon, so you know it’s going to be good.
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper)
Barbara Kingsolver is a perennial reader favorite. Her newest novel takes place in a small-town Tennessee. It’s about a woman who must confront “her family, her church, her town, her continent, and finally the world at large.”