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Sweet Anticipation for March 2020

Sweet Anticipation graphic
New Titles

Don’t let the mounds of crusty snow or the frigid blasts of winter’s winds fool you: spring is nigh. Much like a cranky groundhog roused from his winter den, the publishing industry is waking up to some of the more anticipated titles of 2020, and a fine crop of them can be found landing on shelves in March. On to the notable offerings:

--The folks at the Wisconsin Book Festival have been crazy busy finding new and established authors to visit Madison readers, and their efforts pay off big time this March. Madison-based author Quan Barry mixes an unholy trinity of field hockey, teenage girls and witchcraft in her forthcoming novel We Ride Upon Sticks, all set against the backdrop of 1980s-era Danvers, Massachusetts; she appears at Central Library March 3, the same day her novel hits shelves. Donna Leon is a must-read for many mystery fans for her long-running Commissario Brunetti series, compelling mysteries that blend entertaining detecting and memorable characters with probing examinations of guilt and responsibility. She’ll be here from Venice on March 4 to talk about the newest Brunetti novel Trace Elements. Take a break from monitoring the latest primary results on March 11, when former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe is in town to talk about his timely Citizen’s Guide to Beating Donald Trump. One of the buzziest books of the season happens to be by Madison’s own Kate Elizabeth Russell. My Dark Vanessa is already appearing on must-read lists for its #MeToo-related storyline; I’ve read an early copy, a couple of other librarians around MPL have read it and we’re running out of superlatives—bottom line, it’s a fantastic debut on a tough and timely topic that will linger in your mind long after you finish it. My Dark Vanessa releases March 10; Russell will be at A Room of One’s Own for the Wisconsin Book Festival on March 16. All Wisconsin Book Festival events are free and open to the public; check their website for more specifics and upcoming events. 

--Nonfiction readers! Former Trump NSA advisor John Bolton wouldn’t speak to Congress, but he has something to say in The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir; it’s embargoed, so reviews will have to wait until it goes on sale March 17. Emerging from the winter doldrums can be tough mentally; Anna Mehler Paperny tackles suicide in her forthright memoir/cultural study Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me. Publisher’s Weekly has called it an ‘earnest and informative…a frank guide for those dealing with depression.’ Those with a scientific bent may want to check out Neil Shubin’s latest, Some Assembly Required: Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, from Ancient Fossils to DNA. Shubin, who had a previous bestseller with Your Inner Fish, pares down the science behind the great transformations of evolution. Library Journal calls it ‘an engaging, must-read for anyone with an interest in evolution.’

--Last but not least, there are some very notable literary titles that demand attention. It’s been eleven years since Hilary Mantel’s epic Cromwell series began with Wolf Hall, and eight since Bring Up the Bodies; both won Booker Prizes. Can she make it three for three with the final book The Mirror and the Light? The wait is finally over March 10. Louise Erdrich is no stranger to prizes; her 2012 The Round House took the National Book Award. Her latest, The Night Watchman, is drawn from her grandfather’s letters of the 1950s. The Night Watchman is on shelves early March. N. K. Jemisin has racked up multiple Hugo Awards with her Broken Earth trilogy; she might win another and earn new readers with her newest, The City We Became. An expansion of a short story and the launch of a new trilogy, City imagines New York as a living soul, divided against itself. Library Journal called it ‘raw and vibrant…pushes the boundaries of fantasy writing.’  Look for it in late March.

Click on through for the complete list. Happy reading!

Feb 20, 2020