Your to-be-read list is about to get way longer. We tapped the literary curators of six local independent bookstores to share the titles they’re most excited about in 2024, and they delivered, offering nearly 30 incoming releases, from heartrending memoirs and heart-pounding thrillers to science-driven nonfiction and steamy romances.
That said, one book emerged as the most-anticipated of the year: Tommy Orange’s Wandering Stars. Four of our seven sources shouted it out. The author’s debut, There There, won the American Book Award and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2019. His sophomore novel is a sequel, “the story of a survivor of the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, his son’s subsequent horrific experience at the Carlisle Indian School, and that of his descendants in modern day Oakland, coping with the fallout from the events of There There,” says Seth Marko of South Park’s The Book Catapult.
“The truths placed on the page within this novel invite the reader to confront the devastating truths of US history and create space for layered empathy for indigenous communities,” adds Jesi Gutierrez of Libélula Books and Co. Wandering Stars hits shelves on February 27.
Read on to see 28 more books our experts recommend keeping an eye out for this year.
Mimi Hannan of La Playa Books
“The author of acclaimed psychological thriller The Silent Patient is back with his best yet, a locked-room murder mystery set on a private Greek island. If you liked The Glass Onion, you’ll love this.”
“This debut historical fiction [novel] inspired by Moby Dick follows four generations of women from 19th-century Nantucket to 20th-century Idaho with stops in Boston, Brazil, and Florence in between.”
Seth Marko & Matthew Hein of The Book Catapult
Get the Picture: A Mind-Bending Journey Among the Inspired Artists and Obsessive Art Fiends Who Taught Me How to See by Bianca Bosker
“Gonzo journalist Bosker takes a deep dive into the world of contemporary art in an attempt to learn how to see and understand art. She works in galleries, artists’ studios, and museums, sifting through the backbiting, gossiping, and undercutting going on while trying to understand what makes ‘good art.’ Spoiler alert: Taste in art is entirely subjective! A fascinating, hilarious book.” –SM
“Millet’s novel Dinosaurs has been one of my favorite books from the last few years, so I’m super excited about her first nonfiction book. In addition to writing fiction, she also works for the Center for Biological Diversity, and this new book is all about how closely linked to and dependent upon we all are to the rest of life on earth. Her writing is exquisitely beautiful and earnestly riveting.” –SM
“Talty’s debut, the multi-award-winning story collection Night of the Living Rez, absolutely knocked me off my feet, so I’m very excited for his first novel. Also set on the Penobscot Reservation in Maine, this is a story of family legacies, cultural inheritance, secrets, and truths and whether it’s better or worse to just let stories remain untold.” –SM
“[This is] yet another follow-up book that I’m super excited about. I loved every word of Nezhukumatathil’s previous World of Wonders, and her new book offers the same gorgeous prose as she explores the confluence of memory and food, paired once again with the lavish illustrations of Fumi Nakamura.” –SM
“Sante is an incredible thinker, feeler, and writer. She’s a prose magician who hasn’t graced us with a true memoir since 1999’s stunning A Factory of Facts. Everyone will be talking about this one, but nothing will compare with reading it.” –MH
“We’ve all been waiting for this essay collection. Oyler’s wildfire hit of a cover story for Harper’s Magazine last year, “I Really Didn’t Want to Go,” won her thousands of new fans, and this one surpasses every hope. My favorite chapter is titled “My Perfect Opinions.” Fasten your seat belts!” –MH
“Ruby McConnell is a geologist, but also a historian of the Pacific Coast, a weekend camper, and a great storyteller. From the Applegate Trail of the 1800s to today’s coastal ecology, this book uses a trail to tell a tale of our path from the past to the present.” –MH
“If you like hilarious and action-packed novels about far-from-perfect people, have I got a book for you. Theranos meets The Big Lebowski, with the luxury porn of Crazy Rich Asians sprinkled on top.” –MH
“An international art heist? Yes, please. A couple of cunning and sexy Polish ex-pats vamping their way from Venice Beach to Venice Italy? Count me in!” –MH
“Of the 85 novels Balzac wrote in his last two decades, The Lily of the Valley is possibly the most smolderingly perfect [warm-weather] read, as those spring flings heat up, with a hot summer breathing down the back of your neck. Or, like Henriette in The Lily of the Valley, you meet a young stranger at a dance, he covers your exposed back with kisses, then… well, no spoilers!” –MH
John Evans of DIESEL, a Bookstore
“Poet Akbar has written a startling novel with the whole world packed in it. Imaginative and deeply felt, it embraces a wild love of art, language, and the ways we humans create meaning.”
“This new book from one of North America’s finest fiction writers is a beautiful, sweeping, and intimate novel of heart, compassion, mystery, and wisdom. This one is a treasure in its form, its reach, and its artistry.”
“When a strange death occurs in the Empire’s backwater, it takes a pair of strangers to get to the bottom of what happened. Din, a boy with an eidetic memory, is assigned to be the assistant to Ana Dolabra, an investigator so blindingly brilliant, she literally blindfolds herself. Casually weird and incredibly fun for it, this is like if Knives Out took place in the world of Perdido Street Station.”
“A kind of Braiding Sweetgrass for human society, Benjamin’s book embraces, highlights, celebrates imagination as a force to reckon with. Filled with visionary examples and strategies, this is the empowering we individually and collectively need to transform our human world into what it can be.”
Jesi Gutierrez of Libélula Books and Co
“Cemeteries are spaces where we laugh, cry, and rest. This story asks us to do the same. It is a beautiful collection of unfinished fantasies that are nothing short of pure magic.”
“We have been anticipating this divine text for what feels like a lifetime. San Diego local author Christopher Marmolejo links crucial concepts such as literacy, liberation, and radical intersectionality to tarot in a seamless way that instantly leads the language of the tool directly back to the people. It’s a beautiful, poetic promise for the future and our collective healing.”
“Visionary Akwaeke Emezi is once again tempting us with a good time… and this seduction includes a sex party, politics, corruption, and, of course, Emezi’s irresistible writing.”
“Writer, speaker, and scholar Lenny Ducan uses the illuminated pages of Psalms of my People to continue the labor of bridge-building to Black liberation, laying bricks passed down throughout hip-hop history. This is a deliberate dive into the truths of Black America.”
Kris Nelson of Bluestocking Books
Though Bluestocking is mostly a used bookstore, they do carry a few new authors and books, mainly classics and most-requested titles.
Reclaiming UGLY! A Radically Joyful Guide to Unlearn Oppression and Uplift, Glorify and Love Yourself by Vanessa Rochelle Lewis
“Lewis is one of the many thoughtful authors on the podcast Finding Our Way by Prentiss Hemphill, which I really adore, so I try to carry the authors that appear there.”
“Originally self-published by the author in the early 1990s, this incredible story is now an award-winner. [It’s in my] top ten best-ever graphic novel series.“
Becca Title of Meet Cute Romance Bookshop
“This is the next book from the author of Red, White and Royal Blue (the movie version of which made a splash last summer). It promises to take readers along on a decadent European vacation where two exes find themselves unexpectedly booked on the same food and wine tour.”
“We cannot wait for this sapphic rivals-to-lovers adventure set in an Afro-Arab-inspired world populated by elves and fae. Romantasy, the new portmanteau for romance novels with fantasy settings, is trending big-time right now.”
“This debut historical rom-com about a rakish duke in desperate need of a respectable wife and his very proper matchmaker (who secretly runs an erotic circulating library) is overflowing with wit and heart. Vasti has really ramped up our excitement by releasing a series of free historical novellas that became so popular that her publisher bought the rights to print those, too!”
“Sports romance has been very popular lately (hockey, especially), so we’re excited to get this book set in the world of women’s basketball on our shelves. Kelly writes with empathy and a light touch, letting characters sit with the hard stuff without weighing down what is still a warm, fun, and sexy book.”
“With her trademark elegance, Williams gives us the story of the free-spirited daughter of a powerful Atlanta family who falls in love with an enigmatic musician. Each word is steeped in the history, art, and magic of Harlem. A lot of contemporary romance has been incorporating speculative elements lately, and this forthcoming release from the author of Seven Days in June is no exception.”