Behind the Book by
The author of The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway explains why she hopes her new novel will be an oasis for readers “struggling to see the beauty and validity of their own bodies.”
The author of The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway explains why she hopes her new novel will be an oasis for readers “struggling to see the beauty and validity of their own bodies.”

Discover your next great book!

BookPage is a discovery tool for readers, highlighting the best new books across all genres. BookPage is editorially independent; only books we highly recommend are featured.

Leta McCollough Seletzky, author of The Kneeling Man

Leta McCollough Seletzky author photo

Counterpoint | April 4

In the famous photograph of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., one man is kneeling down beside King on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, trying to staunch the blood from the fatal head wound. This kneeling man, Leta McCollough Seletzky’s father, was a member of the activist group the Invaders, but he was also an undercover Memphis police officer reporting on the activities of this group. 

Seletzky is a former litigator turned essayist and a National Endowment for the Arts 2022 Creative Writing Fellow, and in The Kneeling Man: My Father’s Life as a Black Spy Who Witnessed the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., she reveals the story of her father, who went on to work at the CIA, and reflects upon the full weight of these revelations.

Alejandro Varela, author of The People Who Report More Stress

Alejandro Varela author photo

Astra House | April 4

Last year, Alejandro Varela published his first novel, The Town of Babylon, and it became a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction. Varela is following up his hot-out-of-the-gate success with an overlapping story collection centering on the intersecting lives of a group of mostly queer and Latinx New York City residents. The stories explore many of the same themes as Varela’s novel—systemic racism, gentrification and economic injustice—and since his graduate studies were in public health, he brings deep insight to these topics and balances them with crisp humor and a lot of heart.

Emily Tesh, author of Some Desperate Glory

Emily Tesh author photo

Tordotcom | April 11

Emily Tesh won acclaim and a devoted readership with her Greenhollow duology of novellas, the first of which, Silver in the Wood, won a World Fantasy Award. The Greenhollow duology was a romantic take on age-old English folklore, but for her first novel, Tesh switches gears to science fiction and heads into darker moral territory. Set in a future where Earth has been destroyed by aliens, Some Desperate Glory follows Kyr, a young girl growing up in an isolated, militaristic community, where she is being trained to avenge the planet. She soon discovers that the rest of the universe is far more complex than she imagined and that she has a lot further to go to become the hero she wants to be.

Sarah Cypher, author of The Skin and Its Girl

Sarah Cypher author photo

Ballantine | April 25

After two decades as a freelance book editor, Sarah Cypher is making her fiction debut with a novel that draws from her own Lebanese American family’s history, which can be traced back to the incredible Kanaan Olive Soap factory in Nablus, Palestine. On the day of the factory’s (actual) destruction, a Palestinian American girl named Betty is born with bright blue skin in The Skin and Its Girl; as an adult, Betty begins to read the journals kept by the family matriarch, which reveal her aunt’s choice to hide her sexuality during the family’s immigration to the U.S., a discovery that helps Betty follow her own heart.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of Chain-Gang All-Stars

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah author photo

Pantheon | May 2

It’s pretty incredible when a short story collection becomes an instant New York Times bestseller, and doubly so when it’s a debut, as in the case of Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s devastating and nightmarish Friday Black (2018). With his highly anticipated first novel, Adjei-Brenyah continues in the realm of brutal, dystopian surrealism with one of the most audacious premises of the year: Reality television meets America’s for-profit prison system in this story of two female gladiators, Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxxx” Stacker, who fight for their freedom from a private prison reality entertainment system.

Jamie Loftus, author of Raw Dog

Jamie Loftus author photo

Forge | May 23

Jamie Loftus is best known as a comedian, TV writer and podcaster, including co-hosting “The Bechdel Cast” with screenwriter Caitlin Durante on the HowStuffWorks network. Loftus’ debut book, Raw Dog: The Naked Truth About Hot Dogs, is part memoir and part social critique that recounts her cross-country road trip in the summer of 2021 to investigate that backyard barbecue staple, the illustrious hot dog. Along the way, Loftus delves into all the ways hot dogs embody issues of class and culture in the United States, illuminating the complex history of this quintessential American food with her signature mix of intellect and unhinged humor.

Photo of Seletzky by Gretchen Adams. Photo of Varela by Allison Michael Orenstein. Photo of Tesh by Nicola Sanders Photography. Photo of Adjei-Brenyah by Alex M. Philip. Photo of Loftus by Andrew Max Levy.

These up-and-coming authors are going places, and we will be hot on their heels.
Feature by

Liar City

Allie Therin’s instantly intriguing Liar City is set in an alternate Seattle where some people are empaths, able to read others’ emotions just by touching them. The story begins when Reece, an empath and part-time police consultant, receives a mysterious phone call telling him that Reece’s detective sister, Jamey, needs his help. When Reece arrives at Jamey’s latest murder investigation, he also encounters the caller: empath hunter Evan Grayson, also known as the Dead Man. Enigmatic and relentless, Evan is on a mission to stop the killings, which may have something to do with the imminent passage of an anti-empath law. Reece is a very appealing viewpoint character, and chapters from Jamey’s perspective are equally engaging. Evan and Reece’s chemistry crackles throughout Liar City’s nonstop action, but be warned that they do not exchange even one intimate touch. However, as this fantastic paranormal is the first installment in Therin’s Sugar & Vice series, hopes abound for the future.

The Portrait of a Duchess

An aristocratic title reunites an estranged couple in The Portrait of a Duchess, Scarlett Peckham’s hotly anticipated second book in her Society of Sirens series. When she was young, Cornelia Ludgate secretly married horse breeder Rafe Goodwood, which freed her from the strictures of high society and allowed her to pursue painting. Twenty years later, Cornelia is an established artist and an activist for women’s rights. But when her long-estranged husband unexpectedly inherits a dukedom, he proposes that they go public with their marriage. Doing so would provide Cordelia with extra income to devote to her cause and would grant Rafe instant notoriety, which he intends to parlay into governmental reform. Though the iconoclastic pair deny their feelings, their attraction sizzles and they enjoy a mutual understanding when it comes to their desire to take lovers of all genders, both together and apart. Scorching love scenes make this white-hot read a standout.

Cold-Blooded Liar

Karen Rose begins an exciting new romantic suspense series with Cold-Blooded Liar. An anonymous tip leads San Diego detective Kit McKittrick to a body wearing a pair of pink handcuffs, echoing a murder spree 15 years earlier. To solve this latest killing, Kit must first uncover the identity of the tipper. It turns out to be do-gooder psychologist Dr. Sam Reeves, whom Kit instantly likes but must consider a suspect all the same. Kit is not a trusting woman, but as more deaths occur and the murderer hits closer to home, she must turn to Sam to help her nab the killer. The crimes are brutal, but Rose balances the story with a heroic team, lovable dogs and Kit’s warmhearted foster parents. It’s a gripping and satisfying tale, even if Kit has yet to kiss the good doctor by story’s end—which readers will surely be rooting for in the next installment.

Scarlett Peckham’s long-awaited sequel to The Rakess is here! Plus, two suspenseful series get off to a thrilling start.
Feature by

The Maltese Iguana 

Buckle up for another wild ride with Florida ne’er-do-well Serge A. Storms and his stoner sidekick, Coleman, in their 26th adventure, The Maltese Iguana by Tim Dorsey. The title, a nod to Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, refers not to a precious statue but instead to its modern-day Florida counterpart—an iguana-shaped bong. The basic premise of the book is that Serge Storms, now fully vaccinated after a long COVID-19 lockdown, decides a celebration is in order, upon which mayhem ensues, both figuratively and literally. Meanwhile, a CIA operation goes off the rails in Honduras, and after barely escaping with his life, the agency’s local contact makes his way to Florida, putting both him and the agents the CIA sends after him directly in Hurricane Serge’s path. There are murders, explosions, drugs, mercenaries, Florida history and folklore, wild parties, an exotic dancer, an appearance by Captain Kangaroo, a boxing rabbit and enough pingpong balls to fill the trunk of an old Ford LTD. Imagine one of those newspaper articles in which the headline begins with “Florida man” and then imagine the article extending to 336 pages. That will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect in The Maltese Iguana.

Storm Watch

C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett mysteries have been excellent since the Wyoming game warden’s very first case, 2001’s Open Season. But Box’s latest novel, Storm Watch, is perhaps the most intricately plotted and fully realized of the bunch so far. Joe is on the trail of a wounded elk as an immense winter storm closes in, but he soon stumbles across something totally unexpected: a semi-decapitated body in a mysterious shed far off the beaten track. Joe only has time to take some photos before beating a hasty retreat in hopes of outrunning the snow. When he returns after the storm, the body has disappeared. What initially seems to be a lack of interest on the part of the sheriff soon morphs into a full-blown, high-level warning that Joe keep his nose out of matters that don’t concern him. (As if that could ever happen.) Conspiracies abound, reaching up to the highest levels of state government and involving uber-wealthy absentee ranchers, bitcoin miners and underground militias. There is a lot going on, but Box keeps all the balls in the air, culminating in an ending sequence that’s pure gold and extremely satisfying on multiple levels.

Murder at Haven’s Rock

Canadian author Kelley Armstrong is perhaps best known for her Rockton mysteries, a series of seven books set in the titular village, which is hidden in Canada’s Yukon wilderness and serves as a refuge for those who cannot be effectively protected by the authorities. The Rockton series’ protagonist, detective Casey Duncan, is breaking ground on a similar endeavor with her husband, Sheriff Eric Dalton. Their new village, Haven’s Rock, will differ from Rockton in only one major way: Casey and Eric plan to handpick the residents in hopes of eliminating some of the shortcomings of the Rockton project. But things do not get off to a good start. Murder at Haven’s Rock, the title of the new book, says it all. It starts when a couple of construction crew members break the cardinal rule—Do Not Venture Out Into The Forest—and never return. Casey and Eric launch a search for the missing workers but instead find the body of an unknown woman who has been stabbed to death. Just like Armstrong’s Rockton series, Murder at Haven’s Rock is an immediately intriguing mystery populated by well-drawn characters. It’s certainly accessible as a standalone read, but I wouldn’t be surprised if readers new to Armstrong immediately seek out her previous books after finishing this superb series starter.

The Cliff’s Edge

The mother-and-son writing team known in the publishing world as Charles Todd (the mother of which, Caroline Todd, died in 2021) boasts two hit series, each set in the years immediately following World War I. The first features Inspector Ian Rutledge, a cop haunted by the ghost of a wartime casualty, and Todd began the second in 2009, a spinoff series centered on Bess Crawford, a former combat nurse marked by her own war experience. As the 13th installment, The Cliff’s Edge, opens, Bess accepts a temporary nursing position to care for a wealthy woman after a surgery. While she is on duty, a tragic accident takes place nearby: Two men, Gordon Neville and Frederick Caldwell, fall from a rocky outcropping, with Frederick dying from his injuries. But things take an ominous turn when it is revealed that the two men shared a contentious past and that Frederick’s injuries seem inconsistent with his fall. It falls to Bess to care for Gordon, who has a dislocated shoulder and a badly broken arm, and she finds herself drawn into the mystery of what actually transpired at the cliff’s edge. Both men’s grieving and angry family members complicate the situation, as does a local cop bent on pinning a murder on Gordon. As is always the case with the Bess Crawford books, the writing is perfectly evocative of the period; the conversational style, relationships and manners are all very “Downton Abbey”-esque, making for an exceptionally pleasurable ride to the ultimate reveal.

Batten down the hatches—Serge Storms is back. Read our review of Tim Dorsey’s absolutely wild Florida-set caper in this month’s Whodunit column.
Feature by

Tomiko Brown-Nagin pays tribute to a history maker in Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality. Born in Connecticut in 1921, Constance Baker Motley studied law at Columbia University and went on to serve as a federal judge, becoming the first Black woman to do so. She was instrumental in ending Jim Crow and in arguing Brown vs. Board of Education. Brown-Nagin’s richly detailed narrative chronicles Motley’s working-class background and her rise in law and politics. Book clubs will enjoy digging into complex topics such as gender, social justice and the nature of power.

The Woman They Could Not Silence: The Shocking Story of a Woman Who Dared to Fight Back by Kate Moore is a fascinating look at the life of Elizabeth Packard, who was wrongfully sent to an Illinois insane asylum by her husband in 1860. During her confinement in the asylum, where living conditions were appalling, Packard found other women who had been unfairly institutionalized. Determined to stand up for herself and her sister inmates, Packard advocated for their rights against all odds. Packard is an extraordinary figure, and Moore brings her to vivid life in this haunting book.

Dorothy Wickenden’s The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women’s Rights focuses on a trio of formidable women from the 19th century—Harriet Tubman, Frances A. Seward and Martha Coffin Wright—each of whom worked to further the causes of freedom and equality at a critical time in America. Wickenden documents the lives of these groundbreaking women, showing how their controversial work impacted their personal relationships and social standing. Themes of loyalty, family and feminism will inspire rewarding dialogue among readers.

In The Correspondents: Six Women Writers on the Front Lines of World War II, Judith Mackrell spotlights a roster of unforgettable journalists who forged their own paths as war reporters despite red tape, gender-based prejudice and the hardships of international conflict. Mackrell tells the personal stories of Martha Gellhorn, Clare Hollingworth, Lee Miller, Sigrid Schultz, Helen Kirkpatrick and Virginia Cowles while exploring their remarkable contributions to history. Thoroughly researched and briskly written, Mackrell’s salute to a group of intrepid writers captures the spirit of an era.

Celebrate Women’s History Month with your reading group by picking up a book that honors overlooked female trailblazers.
Feature by

The Philosophy of Modern Song

In The Philosophy of Modern Song (6.5 hours), celebrated singer-songwriter Bob Dylan once again proves he’s a masterful storyteller. In these essays, Dylan provides rich, detailed commentary on 66 songs by other artists, including insight into the songwriting process and the backstories of the writers, musicians and performers involved. The audiobook is performed by Dylan, along with an all-star cast: Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi, John Goodman, Oscar Isaac, Helen Mirren, Rita Moreno, Sissy Spacek, Alfre Woodard, Jeffrey Wright and Renée Zellweger. Numerous performers appear per chapter, each adding a unique resonance to the narrative with a powerful, lyrical effect. This is a gorgeous tribute to songs, their creators and the music of life itself.

Playing Under the Piano

While Hugh Bonneville’s musical interests mostly involved playing under a piano as a child, his performance in this entertaining memoir will be music to your ears. Blending animated self-deprecating humor, earnestness and charm, Bonneville recounts humbling experiences of being an actor, as well as tasty morsels of celebrity insights. Perhaps most famous for his roles as the Earl of Grantham on “Downton Abbey” and Paddington Bear’s hapless friend Henry Brown, Bonneville lends a spectrum of voices and tones to his stories, infusing them with warmth, tenderness or grand amusement. A witty and delightful listening experience, Playing Under the Piano: From Downton to Darkest Peru (10 hours) hits all the right notes.

Read our review of the print edition of Playing Under the Piano.


In this collection of 40 essays, each titled after one of Bono’s songs and introduced by an audio clip, the singer-songwriter and humanitarian activist provides a sumptuous selection of stories that charts his journey from growing up in the tumultuous north side of Dublin in the 1970s, to becoming the frontman of the celebrated rock band U2. His Irish accented voice is gentle but has a bit of an edge, and he reveals a wisdom that can be traced back to his childhood spent listening to the music of David Bowie and Bob Dylan. Filled with enlightening details about the people and experiences that inspired him, Surrender (20.5 hours) is a candid, moving expression of how music can touch your life and make you realize what’s important.

This article has been updated to correct information regarding the songs Bob Dylan writes about in The Philosophy of Modern Song.

Music is “a thing with which to make memories,” writes Bob Dylan. These three memoirs each play to their own tunes that will, hopefully, spark a memory for you.

Discover your next great book!

BookPage highlights the best new books across all genres, as chosen by our editors. Every book we cover is one that we are excited to recommend to readers. A star indicates a book of exceptional quality in its genre or category.