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41 of Winter’s Best New Books

Hot thrillers, literary novels, memoirs, self-help guides and more to enjoy in early 2023

spinner image from left to right hello beautiful by ann napolitano then the good life by robert waldinger and marc shulz then spare by prince harry then master slave husband wife by ilyon woo then i have some questions for you by rebecca makkai
The Dial Press / Simon & Schuster / Random House / Simon & Schuster / Viking

As always: so many good books to choose from in the coming months! Where to begin? Focusing on the new releases from now through mid-March, we’ve selected a few that we’ve already read and consider exceptionally good, as well as those getting lots of buzz in the publishing world and/or those from popular authors — plus a handful of upcoming books that simply sound intriguing. We hope this helps you start building your list of must-reads for 2023.

General Fiction

spinner image from left to right the house of eve by sadeqa johnson then hello beautiful by ann napolitano then age of vice by deepit kapoor then river sing me home by eleanor shearer
Simon & Schuster / The Dial Press / Riverhead Books / Berkley

Publishers Weekly describes Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor as “Succession meets The Godfather but set in India” — a pithy if insufficient summary of my favorite book of 2023 so far (I’ve read a stack of early galleys). It’s a complex saga that begins with a tragic traffic accident in New Delhi, then shifts back in time to detail how the lives of the three main characters become entangled. There’s reporter Neda (Kapoor also worked as a New Delhi journalist); wealthy, tortured Sunny, heir to his father’s corrupt business empire; and Ajay, Sunny’s quiet, exceptional servant. Exploring issues of class, power and morality, this action-packed page-turner should be one of the first breakout hits of 2023 (Jan. 3).

The release of Victory City by Salman Rushdie is sure to make headlines, coming so soon after he survived an August stabbing at an event in New York. It’s a sci-fi fantasy, written like an ancient epic, about a young girl in 14th-century India who becomes a vessel for a goddess, and sets out to build a magic empire (Feb. 7).

James Rollins, known for his Sigma Force thrillers, had a huge hit with his 2021 action-packed fantasy The Starless Crown. His second book in what he’s calling the Moonfall series, The Cradle of Ice, brings back the motley crew of main characters, who are targeted by enemies in a forbidding, icy world with the threat of apocalypse looming (Feb. 7).

The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson, the author of 2021’s The Yellow Wife, focuses on the challenges of two young Black women in the 1950s, including Eleanor, who falls in love with a wealthy Howard University student and struggles to be accepted into his elite world (Feb. 7).

In Code Name Sapphire by Pam Jenoff, a woman flees Nazi Germany and joins the resistance, then learns that her cousin’s family is on a train bound for Auschwitz. Can she help them? Jenoff is a best-selling author of historical novels such as The Lost Girls of Paris and The Orphan’s Tale (Feb. 7).

A Most Intriguing Lady by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, is a smart romance about Mary Montagu Douglas Scott, a duke’s rebellious daughter, that’s rich with Victorian-era historical detail. The author, who wrote this with historical-romance writer Marguerite Kaye, knows a little something about English high society: Mary’s parents, Walter, the fifth duke of Buccleuch, and his wife, Charlotte, share the names of and are based on the duchess’s own great-great-great grandparents. She and Kaye had another entertaining novel in 2021, Her Heart for a Compass, which was centered on Mary’s flame-haired older sister, Margaret (March 7).

Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano, author of the 2020 bestseller Dear Edward, is an absorbing story featuring two young people, Julia and William, who fall in love. Julia and her family embrace William, but then find themselves having to contend with some disturbing realities from his past (March 14).

Other novels of note include:  

Decent People by De’Shawn Charles Winslow (Jan. 17): A small, segregated North Carolina town is turned upside down after the murder of three siblings. Winslow wrote the well-reviewed 2019 novel In West Mills.

River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer (Jan. 31): In this debut novel a mother sets off on a quest across the Caribbean to find her stolen children after slavery’s end. 

The Queen of Dirt Island by Donal Ryan (Feb. 28): a literary tale that follows four generations of women in a rural Irish family. It’s getting rave early reviews.

Stars in an Italian Sky by Jill Santopolo (Feb. 28): a love story set in 1940s Genoa, Italy, between the son of a count and the daughter of a tailor, by the author of the 2017 bestseller The Light We Lost, among others.

Old Babes in the Woods by Margaret Atwood (March 7): a collection of 15 short stories from The Handmaid’s Tale author, seven of which focus on a married couple and their lives together through the decades.

Now You See Us by Balli Kaur Jaswal (March 7): the story of three women who work in the home of wealthy Singaporeans, by the author of the 2017 hit Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows.

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Mystery/Suspense

spinner image from left to right i have some questions for you by rebecca makkai then city under one roof by iris yamashita then dont fear the reaper by stephen graham jones
Viking / Berkley / Gallery / Saga Press

There’s been loud buzz in the biz about All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham, about a woman whose son disappears in the night and who, because she’s a sleepwalker, starts to wonder about her own involvement (Jan. 10), as well as City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita, set in a remote Alaska town centered around an isolated apartment building. After a body washes up on the icy shores an Anchorage detective comes to town to search for answers and finds herself with plenty of colorful characters to consider as potential suspects (Jan. 10). 

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson is an imaginative fourth-wall-breaking story featuring a mystery writer whose family is, yes, full of murderers (Jan. 17).

Other biggies in the bone-chilling genre include Every Man a King by Walter Mosley, a sequel to 2018’s Down the River Unto the Sea from the award-winning author known for his Easy Rawlins mystery series. This tale again features unflappable investigator Joe King Oliver, who accepts a dangerous assignment to determine the guilt of a white nationalist jailed for murder. King looks for answers from the alleged perpetrator’s friends and enemies, all with an ax to grind (Feb. 21).

Don’t miss these two: 48 Clues Into the Disappearance of My Sister by Joyce Carol Oates, who offers a seriously unreliable narrator in a gripping story that’s told through the eyes of a troubled woman named Gigi, whose beautiful younger sister, Marguerite, has gone missing and is presumed dead. We learn more about Gigi’s disturbed mind as she unspools clues to her sister’s fate. I couldn't put it down (March 14). And I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai is an entertaining whodunnit set on the campus of a New England boarding school. Bodie Kane, a 40-something alumna and podcaster who’s there teaching a winter-break class, gets caught up in reinvestigating the long-ago murder of a classmate when she realizes the wrong person may be in prison for the crime (Feb. 21).

I Will Find You by Harlan Coben is a classic Coben novel (fast-paced and twisty). It features David Burroughs, a broken man serving a life sentence for the murder of his son — which he vehemently denies. When he finds out the boy may be alive, it sounds impossible, but he plots a daring escape from prison to find the truth (March 14)

Also keep an eye out for:  

Sleep No More by Jayne Ann Krentz (Jan. 3): Kicking off a new suspense series, the Lost Night Files trilogy, this is the story of three women who unite to solve cold cases after surviving an earthquake (of which they have no memory).

Exiles by Jane Harper (Jan. 31): The Australian author of The Dry, among other captivating mysteries, brings us another tale set in rural Australia, where investigator Aaron Falk seeks answers in the disappearance of a young mother. 

Don’t Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones (Feb. 7): Book 2 in Jones’ Indian Lake trilogy, following 2021’s My Heart Is a Chainsaw, brings back the revenge-seeking serial killer Dark Mill South.

Advice/Living Well

spinner image from left to right the good life by robert waldinger and marc schulz then saving time by jenny odell then eight rules of love by jay shetty
Simon & Schuster / Random House / Simon & Schuster

In The Good Life: Lessons From the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness, Robert Waldinger, M.D. and Marc Schulz, Ph.D. use data from the famed Harvard Study of Adult Development, which followed the health and habits of a group of people through the decades, to conclude that the indisputable key to a good life is good relationships. They “keep us healthier and happier. Period,” the authors write in this important, wise book. “We’ve had people say, ‘I’ve never had a happy life. It’s too late for me,’ ” Waldinger told AARP in a recent interview. “But it’s never too late to make deeper connections” (Jan. 10).

Along those same lines is Honest Aging: An Insider’s Guide to the Second Half of Life by Rosanne Leipzig, M.D., in which the geriatrician talks about how our bodies change through the decades, and offers nine simple practices that she says will lead to a better, happier life (Jan. 10).

The best-selling author and mindfulness guru Jay Shetty offers 8 Rules of Love: How to Find It, Keep It, and Let It Go. The former Zen monk — author of the bestseller Think Like a Monk and host of the On Purpose podcast — uses spiritual, Zen principles and science to offer advice on how to solidify romantic relationships. He’s promoting the book with a splashy world tour, dubbed “Jay Shetty: Love Rules” (Jan. 31).

In The Real Work: On the Mystery of Mastery, Adam Gopnik asks, how do highly skilled people — whether artists, bread bakers or driving instructors — become so good at what they do? The New Yorker writer looks to some of these folks for answers, and finds that, more than mastery, “what really moves and stirs us is accomplishment”: the wonderful feeling that “I know how to do this and this is the thing I know how to do” (March 14). 

But wait, there’s more:

Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock by Jenny Odell (March 7): She had a hit with her 2019 book How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy (which is harder than it looks). Now she offers ways readers can disengage from the corporate clock and the idea that time is money. 

Gray Love: Stories About Dating and New Relationships After 60, edited by Nan Bauer-Maglin and Daniel E. Hood (Jan. 13): A diverse mix of 45 men and women, ages 60 to 94, discuss the challenges and joys inherent in making and building romantic connections later in life.

Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age by Katherine May (Feb. 28): The author of Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times asks how we might find a different way to live, with awareness of and awe at the beauty around us.

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Memoirs

spinner image from left to right the spare by prince harry then we should not be friends by will schwalbe then call me anne by anne heche
Random House / Knopf / Viva Editions

The big memoir of winter is surely Spare by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. Its publisher, Penguin Random House, has kept its contents under wraps, but a PRH announcement revealed that the book (ghostwritten by J.R. Moehringer) will offer “raw, unflinching honesty,” and quotes Prince Harry, 38: “I’m writing this not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become … and my hope is that in telling my story — the highs and lows, the mistakes, the lessons learned — I can help show that no matter where we come from, we have more in common than we think” Some of the contents have been leaked; read about them here (Jan. 10).

Also of note is Call Me Anne by Anne Heche, the actress who died in a car crash in Los Angeles last August, just as she was completing the book. It’s a kind of sequel to her 2001 bestseller Call Me Crazy that touches on her childhood sexual abuse, relationship with Ellen DeGeneres, work toward self-love and more, including exercises to help readers on their own journeys toward self-acceptance (Jan. 24).

In Love, Pamela by Pamela Anderson, the Baywatch actress and Playboy cover model describes growing up steeped in nature on Vancouver Island, and her subsequent rise to fame and tabloid fodder. Her publisher describes it as “a story of an irrepressible free spirit coming home and discovering herself anew at every turn,” all of which is “interspersed with bursts of original poetry” (Jan. 31).

In We Should Not Be Friends by Will Schwalbe, the author describes his unlikely, decades-long friendship with star wrestler Chris Maxey. Schwalbe is known for his beloved 2012 book The End of Your Life Book Club, a poignant story about how he bonded with his mom over their shared love for reading in the months before she passed away from pancreatic cancer (Feb 21).

And I Am Debra Lee is a memoir by, you guessed it, Debra Lee, former CEO of Black Entertainment Television. She writes about the challenges she faced growing up in the segregated South and in her remarkable career, where she repeatedly broke glass ceilings to become a powerful executive (March 7).

Other

spinner image from left to right the curse of the marquis de sade by joel warner then master slave husband wife by ilyon woo then roald dahl by matthew dennison
Crown / Simon & Schuster / Pegasus Books

In The Nazi Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill Roosevelt, Stalin, and ChurchillBrad Meltzer and Josh Mensch describe the Nazi plot to murder the three world leaders when they met in Iran in 1943. It follows the authors’ best-selling The First Conspiracy and The Lincoln Conspiracy (Jan. 10).

Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey From Slavery to Freedom by Ilyon Woo tells the true story of William and Ellen Craft who fled two different enslavers in Macon, Ga., and traveled 1,000 miles to freedom in Philadelphia. Author Woo describes how they hid in plain sight, with light-skinned Ellen dressed as a wealthy Southern, disabled man, and William as her servant. They succeeded, though their pursuers kept pushing them farther north (Jan 17).  

We’ll see some intriguing new literary biographies, including Roald Dahl: Teller of the Unexpected by Matthew Dennison, who dives into the life of the famed writer of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and other classics (Jan. 3), and A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe by Mark Dawidziak, who explores the horror-story author’s famously suspicious death: Poe was found delirious in a Baltimore tavern and died soon afterward at age 40. Dawidziak presents his own theories on the strange incident (Feb. 14).

For something a bit spicier, there’s The Curse of the Marquis de Sade by Joel Warner, who spins the wild story behind the 18th-century French writer, originator of the term sodomy and author of the orgiastic, unfinished novel 120 Days of Sodom — which de Sade described as “the most impure tale that has ever been told since the world began.” Warner focuses on the book’s strange journey, rescued from its author’s prison cell in the Bastille and passed on to collector after collector, including a notorious scammer, before the French government took possession of it a few years ago (Feb. 21).

And journalist Cokie Roberts’ daughter seems to share her late mother’s interest in American history: Rebecca Boggs Roberts has written Untold Power: The Fascinating Rise and Complex Legacy of First Lady Edith Wilson, an exploration of a complicated character who married widower Woodrow Wilson while he was president and took on many presidential duties after his stroke in 1919 (March 7).

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