Sturdy and beautiful, hardcovers arrive during a book's loudest buzz, filling bookstore windows and library shelves as their authors embark upon book tours. Later, later, paperback versions of the same stories head out into the world, less heralded but, dare I say it, easier to love.
A paperback invites reading while eating Doritos, reading while taking a bath, reading while riding the bus or the subway or train. Shove that little lovely into your pocketbook, your laptop case, your overnight bag. Paperbacks are the perfect books for every time, and especially the summertime. Here are six coming out in the next few months — four originally published in hardcover plus two paperback originals — that I can't wait to read.
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Scribner, June 5, 2019. Everyone everyone everyone said "read this book," and still I want to, in spite of their pushy pushing. Egan is a literary star who defies genre, though this latest title might justify an historical fiction label. At the book's center swims Anna, a diver repairing ships at the Brooklyn Naval Yard during WWII and uncovering previously hidden pieces of her father's past. Sounds like a very interesting mystery-history hybrid.
A Terrible Country by Keith Gessen
Penguin Books, July 9, 2019. I just finished Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah (paperback version!) and am thick with thoughts of home and place, of traveling away from, of returning to. Gessen's novel, about Andrei who must leave Brooklyn to return to his birthplace, Moscow, and care for his ailing grandmother, promises to keep my mind musing along the same track, in a new direction.
Vox by Christina Dalcher
Berkley, July 16, 2019. No way I could stick to 100 words every 24 hours, but 100 words is all women are allowed to speak each day in the dark future of Christina Dalcher's debut novel Vox (read our interview with Dalcher). Imaginary dystopias feel real-ish to me as of late, and I've been avoiding them, but Dalcher's book sounds amazing, if terrifying, and so I'm daring myself to read it.
Too Sweet to be Good (Sugar Lake) by KM Jackson
Dafina, July 30, 2019. Once upon a time ago, Spine was light on romance. Looking around on lists just like this one – coming soon! — for an author to cover, a book to read, I found K.M. Jackson and As Good as the First Time, the debut title in her Sugar Lake series. I read the book, and the book charmed me — the characters, the fictional town of Sugar Lake — and then I interviewed K.M. She's a visual person, a former fashion designer, and I am not a visual person, and I loved listening to her talk about how that sensibility feeds into her writing. I can't wait to see what she does with the second book in this series.
Hard Mouth by Amanda Goldblatt
Counterpoint, August 13, 2019. Full disclosure: This one's for work, for Spine, as part of our second Beginning to End series. I read the book in ARC form, and I fully fell into it. The publisher's description sold it as an "adventure novel." I didn't know what that was, really, but if Goldblatt's debut is true to form, than I'm a new fan of the form. Protagonist Denny journeys far away from home, and away from her dying father, to wrestle a variety of demons up a mountain before returning back to her father. During our e-interview, Goldblatt offered excellent insight about her writing process. I'm excited for you to read the piece (out soon!), and hope you'll start by reading her book.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Seal Press, September 24, 2019. A year back, when Oluo's debut book came out in hardcover, reviewers said "unflinching" and "blunt"; also "empathetic" and "a welcome gift." In it, Oluo not only tackles issues intertwined with race, but also guides readers of all races to starting conversations with people in their own lives. I've coveted the book since before the hardcover came out. I think it's time for me to commit.
Spine Authors Editor Susanna Baird grew up inhaling paperbacks in Central Massachusetts, and now lives and works in Salem. Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including Boston Magazine, BANG!, Failbetter, and Publishers Weekly. She's the founder of the Salem Longform Writers' Group, and serves on the Salem Literary Festival committee. When not wrangling words, she spends time with her family, mostly trying to pry the cat's head out of the dog's mouth, and helps lead The Clothing Connection, a small Salem-based nonprofit dedicated to getting clothes to kids who need them. Online, you can find her at susannabaird.com and on Twitter @SusannaBaird.