27 Books to Watch For in 2017

6:05 AM 1/11/2017

by Andy Lewis

This year brings Barbra Streisand’s memoir, campaign books galore and a new 'Game of Thrones' (maybe).

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    Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin

    By Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin

    LOGLINE: The book by the parents of the Florida teen whose 2012 killing by George Zimmerman helped spark the Black Lives Matter movement is being touted as an "intimate" account of both his life and their effort to use his death to advance social justice.

    BUZZ: With the issue of police brutality more relevant now than ever, expect intense media interest in the book and Martin's parents.

    Spiegel & Grau, January

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    The Animators

    By Kayla Rae Whitaker

    LOGLINE: Two female cartoonists who meet in college form a partnership, and then find success, fracturing their friendship and personal lives.

    BUZZ: Whitaker's debut novel is getting rave advance reviews, including one that describes it as a mix of Beaches, HBO's Girls and Thelma & Louise.

    Random House, January

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    City of Saints & Thieves

    By Natalie C. Anderson

    LOGLINE: A teenage Congolese refugee (a blend of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo's Lisbeth Salander and X-Men's Storm) in Kenya seeks revenge for the killing of her mother.

    BUZZ: Former African relief worker Anderson's debut novel is the first YA pick for Barnes & Noble's Discover Great New Writers program in six years (John Green was the last).

    Putnam's Sons for Young Readers, January

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    High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic

    By Glenn Frankel

    LOGLINE: The Washington Post journalist's deep dive into the iconic 1952 Gary Cooper-Grace Kelly Western focuses on how screenwriter Carl Foreman's refusal to testify before Congress about Communism shaped the script (and led to his blacklisting).

    BUZZ: Frankel's last best-seller about a famous Western — 2013's The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend — was praised as "fascinating" by Martin Scorsese in a THR review.

    Bloomsbury, February

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    Norse Mythology

    By Neil Gaiman

    LOGLINE: The legendary American Gods creator gives his take on some of the world’s most well-known myths.

    BUZZ: Fans have been eagerly awaiting this since Gaiman first announced it.

    Norton, February

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    All Our Wrong Todays

    By Elan Mastai

    LOGLINE: A man from a utopian alternate universe ends up in the "real world" of 2016 via a time-travel malfunction, but when he grows to like his new life, he hesitates to hit "reset."

    BUZZ: After a fierce bidding war, screenwriter Mastai (What If) nabbed a $2 million advance and a movie deal for his debut novel.

    Dutton, February

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    Six Four

    By Hideo Yokoyama

    LOGLINE: A detective who investigated the famous kidnapping of a young girl now must find his own daughter who has gone missing; he’s forced to revisit that earlier case where things went wrong.

    BUZZ: One of the biggest sellers in Japan in recent years finally comes to the States.

    Farrar, Straus and Giroux, February

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    Stranger Than Fanfiction

    By Chris Colfer

    LOGLINE: A popular young TV star takes four fans up on their offer for a cross-country road trip and as the journey progresses, his secrets spill out.

    BUZZ: Colfer, a former Glee star who hit No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list with his middle-grade books, tackles YA this time.

    Little, Brown, February

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    South and West: From a Notebook

    By Joan Didion

    LOGLINE: Excerpts from two of her 1970s notebooks — one about a road trip through the South, the other about covering the Patty Hearst trial.

    BUZZ: Fans will flock to this retrospective look at the celebrated writer, who turned 82 in December.

    Knopf, March

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    Runnin' With the Devil: A Backstage Pass to the Wild Times, Loud Rock and the Down and Dirty Truth Behind the Rise of Van Halen

    By Noel E. Monk

    LOGLINE: The group's manager from 1978 to 1985 tells all about their rise from Valley party band to global superstars — including the feuds and famous romances (Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli).

    BUZZ: HarperCollins' pop culture imprint has a killer track record of turning celebrity memoirs into hits (Amy Poehler, Russell Brand, Bob Saget).

    Dey Street, March 

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    How the Hell Did This Happen? The Election of 2016

    By P.J. O’Rourke

    LOGLINE: The humorist recounts the campaign from the primaries to his endorsement of Hillary Clinton and on to Trump’s victory.

    BUZZ: This will be an early test of the public’s interest in revisiting the ugly and divisive 2016 election.

    Atlantic Monthly, March

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    New York 2140

    By Kim Stanley Robinson

    LOGLINE: In the future, every building in a flooded New York is its own island.

    BUZZ: The creator of the Red/Blue/Green Mars trilogy (and a committed environmentalist) is one of the best-loved and smartest science fiction writers working today.

    Orbit, March

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    The Most Dangerous Place on Earth

    By Lindsey Lee Johnson

    LOGLINE: L.A. resident and USC grad Johnson’s debut novel is set in a wealthy San Francisco suburb where the tragic consequences of a middle school cyberbullying incident continue to reverberate through high school (the putative "most dangerous place").

    BUZZ: This 21st century Less Than Zero made all the important monthly “best of” lists and is generating rave reviews.

    Random House, April

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    The Secrets of My Life

    By Caitlyn Jenner

    LOGLINE: Jenner’s journey from Olympic decathlon winner to transgender icon.

    BUZZ: Even though her reality show failed, interest in Jenner’s story remains high and she is one of the best self-promoters in town.

    Grand Central Publishing, April

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    Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

    By David Grann

    LOGLINE: How Native American murders and oil prospecting in Oklahoma in the 1920s helped birth the FBI.

    BUZZ: An adaptation of the New Yorker writer’s Lost City of Z also arrives in theaters in April.

    Doubleday, April

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    The Most Beautiful: My Life With Prince

    By Mayte Garcia

    LOGLINE: The first wife of the Purple One offers a rare insider’s account of the musical legend who died April 21, 2016.

    BUZZ: Interest in Prince remains high and the publisher is giving this a reported 400,000-copy first printing.

    Hachette, April

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    Nevertheless

    By Alec Baldwin

    LOGLINE: The actor, 16-time Saturday Night Live host (the record) and now Trump impersonator recounts his life from his childhood on Long Island to an almost career in politics to his distinguished acting career.

    BUZZ: His well-received Trump impersonation gives the book added visibility.

    Harper, April

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    When the World Stopped to Listen: Van Cliburn’s Cold War Triumph, and Its Aftermath

    By Stuart Isacoff

    LOGLINE: In 1958 at the height of the Cold War, 24-year-old Texan Van Cliburn won the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow and became an American hero (celebrated with a ticker tape parade). Music journalist Isacoff retells the story of one of the biggest stories of the time.

    BUZZ: With the 70th anniversary of Cliburn’s win approaching, expect lots of interest in the book

    Knopf, April

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    Are You Anybody

    By Jeffrey Tambor

    LOGLINE: The actor, whose career has spanned from Kojak and The Ropers to The Larry Sanders Show to his Emmy-winning turn as transgender woman Maura Pfefferman, tells his life story.

    BUZZ: Tambor has handled his late career boom with grace and this title is likely to get lots of (positive) coverage and media exposure.

    Crown, May

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    Dragon Teeth

    By Michael Crichton

    LOGLINE: The based-in-real-life rivalry of two dinosaur hunters in the American West in the late 1800s.

    BUZZ: Crichton died in 2008, but his unpublished catalog is still being mined for material and the Jurassic Park-homage cover doesn’t hurt.

    Harper, May

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    Testimony

    By Scott Turow

    LOGLINE: An American prosecutor gets sucked into a wider conspiracy when he gets recruited to investigate war crimes in Bosnia.

    BUZZ: Turow’s 10th novel is being touted as his best since Presumed Innocent.

    Grand Central, May

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    This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare

    By Gabourey Sidibe

    LOGLINE: The Academy Award nominee (for Precious) who has been outspoken about how Hollywood views plus-size people and actors of color challenges those stereotypes in this memoir.

    BUZZ: The continuing debate over the lack of diversity in Hollywood will give the book an added bump.

    Houghton Mifflin, May

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    Defectors

    By Joseph Kanon

    LOGLINE: In the early 1960s, a CIA agent who defected to Russia in 1949 asks his brother to come to Moscow to edit his memoirs but doesn’t reveal his real motives for the invitation.

    BUZZ: Kanon, whose Good German was adapted for film, is one of the best writers of period Cold War thrillers working today.

    Atria, June

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    Untitled Memoir

    By Khizr Khan

    LOGLINE: The Pakistani-American Gold Star father whose Democratic Convention speech denouncing Donald Trump electrified the crowd tells the story of his journey to America, his immigrant life and the death of his son UVA grad and Army Captain Humayun Khan in Iraq.

    BUZZ: Khan probably doesn’t need Trump to attack him on Twitter again to attract attention to the book, but it sure wouldn't hurt sales.

    Random House, fall

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    Unbelievable

    By Katy Tur

    LOGLINE: The NBC reporter whom Trump attacked by name more than once recounts what it was like to spend more than a year and half covering the reality star’s unlikely march to the White House.

    BUZZ: Tur was one of the breakout reporting stars of the campaign.

    Dey Street, fall

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    Untitled Memoir

    By Barbra Streisand

    LOGLINE: The memoir of the reclusive singing/acting/directing legend was announced in 2015 with a 2017 publication date. If it arrives on schedule, it will be the celebrity book of the year.

    BUZZ: On everybody’s shortlist for most-wanted Hollywood memoir.

    Viking, undated

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    Winds of Winter

    By George R.R. Martin

    LOGLINE: Part of this book was revealed in season six of the TV show; more will come in season seven. The author says the sixth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series is coming this year, but probably not before the TV show returns this summer since he also says it is not done.

    BUZZ: Fans Can. Not. Wait. For. This.

    Bantam, undated

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