The Books That Publishing’s Marketers Are Actually, Genuinely Excited About This Year

by  | January 20

People who work in book publishing do so for one reason, and one reason only: CASH MONEY BABY!$!$!

(Related: 13 Real Questions I Have Been Asked As Someone Who Works In Book Publishing)

Kidding. It’s because we love books. Like a lot. Like books are all we ever want to talk about every minute of every day for the remainder of our personal and professional lives. (We’re as weird as you think.) That said, we work on lots and lots of different books, and if anyone who works in book marketing tries to tell you they love all their books equally, they’re lying. They just are. Not that we dislike any, but we all have our babies.

(Related: 7 Things Younger Gets Right About the Publishing Industry)

So whenever I need a book recommendation, I go to my fellow marketers. Because they are the people in publishing who will give you the real lowdown on the books that are actually worth your time. Trust me, there is no better way to put together your TBR for 2017. So I tracked down all the publishing marketing peeps I know and demanded that they give me one book. Just one book, for the entire year. And since I’m in charge here, I get to go first.

‘Round Midnight by Laura McBride

My gushing about Laura McBride has become a joke among colleagues—I fangirl over her as if she’s Bruce Springsteen. And it’s because she is amazing. When I found out I would be working on ‘Round Midnight, I immediately grabbed a copy of her debut novel, We Are Called to Rise, a book that had been on my “I keep meaning to read it” list since it came out in 2014. It blew me away. Then I read ‘Round Midnight. Ugh. UGH YOU GUYS. Three words: Great American Novel. I’m not even shitting you. (By the way, the photo above is me doing some m@rKet!nG on our Insta.)

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Okay I guess I’ll let some other people talk now…

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

“After reading All the Missing Girls last year, I immediately became a fan of Megan Miranda’s. Her books are unpredictable and brilliantly plotted—a perfect combination that results in a “can’t put this down” page turner. While I was drawn to the way All the Missing Girls was told backwards, it’s the plot layering in The Perfect Stranger that really drew me in. It all comes together beautifully and unpredictably in the end, making this one of my favorites for 2017.”

—Nicole McArdle, Simon & Schuster

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Trust No Aunty by Maria Qamar (and Untitled Project by Julie Houts)

“I have Instagram crushes on both Maria Qamar and Julie Houts so I’m super pumped to be able to work on their books, coming out this summer and fall respectively. They’re both incredibly cool people creating smart and funny artwork–what’s not to love?”

—Elizabeth Ireland, Touchstone

Learn more about Trust No Aunty and Julie Houts

Bleaker House by Nell Stevens 

“My pick is Bleaker House because it’s a badass, genre-defying work featuring a creative twenty-something writer who knows what she wants, but doesn’t quite know how to do it. For anyone struggling to figure out how to write a novel, or how to get through life, this book is for you.”

– Sarah Engelmann, Doubleday

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Wild Things by Bruce Handy

“Bruce Handy’s Wild Things because I often flip through a lot of the children’s books my parents and I read together, and reflect on how much they–and that daily ritual–meant to me then and now.”

—Stephen Bedford, Simon & Schuster

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Made for Love by Alissa Nutting

“Our 2017 is such a murder’s row of champions, it’s ridiculously hard for me to answer this question! But I would like to give a special nod to Alissa Nutting’s Made For Love (July 4), an excellent novel that is nearly impossible to describe with accuracy. It’s hilarious and poignant and strange and hopeful in unexpected ways.”

—Meghan Deans, Ecco

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Camanchaca by Diego Zúñiga 

I can honestly say I’m excited for the entire lineup of Coffee House books in 2017. That being said, there’s a little gem coming out in March, Camanchaca by Diego Zúñiga (translated by Megan McDowell), that I want everyone to read. Brilliant, sparse, and devastating, Camanchaca meditates on the inescapable nature of family and the past. I’m especially glad we can introduce Zúñiga’s voice to the U.S. as part of our focus on translations from the Americas.”

—Nica Carrillo, Coffee House Press

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The Necklace by Claire McMillan

“I can’t wait to make everyone I know read this one, which I predict will be on every summer reading list from Bustle to Vanity Fair. Based on the author’s discovery of a trove of turn-of-the-century letters and journals in the attic of her family estate, this fizzy cocktail of a novel has all the elements you could want in a beach read—a wealthy, eccentric family, tempestuous love triangles past and present, and a disputed inheritance: a mysterious necklace potentially worth millions.”

—Meredith Vilarello, Touchstone

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everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too by jomny sun

“Jomny is brilliant and the story he’s writing and illustrating is one that I believe everyone should read. Aside from being an entertaining adventure that Jomny the Aliebn has visiting earth, he’s sharing important messages about life, love, happiness, and how to be human through the very clever conversations he has with everyone he meets along the way. ”

—Kathryn Ratcliffe-Lee, Harper Perennial

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Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave 

“EVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN! The book industry usually rolls its eyes when copy is filled with phrases like “master storyteller” or “gorgeous prose” and usually doesn’t believe a novel is as “tour de force” as everyone says it is. But this meticulously researched WWII story from Chris Cleave actually IS all of those things! Do not miss the paperback in May. Atmospheric wartime London, a plucky heroine, epic friendship, and an unforgettable affair drawn out through letters–the only thing you need is a beach blanket!”

—Elizabeth Breeden, Simon & Schuster

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Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward 

“I personally can’t wait for Scribner to publish Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing this September. I loved spending time in Ward’s Mississippi with Jojo, his little sister Kayla, and wayward mom Leonie; and some of Ward’s sentences are just knock-your-socks-off, have-to-read-that-again gorgeous.”

—Ashley Gilliam, Scribner

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Righteous by Joe Ide

“I can’t wait for the second coming of IQ! In Righteous (October) Isaiah Quintabe and Dodson investigate the most central mystery of IQ’s life: who killed his older brother? Author Joe Ide is kind, funny, wise, enthusiastic, and a pleasure to spend time with—and the same goes for his characters.”

—Pamela Brown, Little, Brown and Mulholland

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Dreadnought by April Daniels

“I was honored to be able to work on April Daniels’ Dreadnought, and am ridiculously excited to watch it hit shelves this January—it’s an incredibly thought-provoking journey of a transgender teen finding herself, all wrapped up in a superhero epic. Also: I cried, laughed, and thought critically about gender, so A+.”

—Nita Basu, Diversion Books

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Van Life: Your Home on the Road by Foster Huntington

“The title I’m most excited to work on in 2017 is a photographic book from Black Dog & Leventhal, Hachette Books’ sister imprint. Van Life: Your Home on the Road by Foster Huntington is an ode to the new American Dream. In 2011, Huntington quit his fashion job in New York City and moved his life into a camper van (talk about a tiny house!). Since then he has driven more than 100,000 miles around the American west, chronicling his offbeat adventures using the Instagram hashtag #vanlife.”

—Odette Fleming, Hachette Books

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The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

“THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS! This book is so fun and has so many hooks that the marketing ideas are endless! So far we’ve dressed like it’s 1987, sent out with hundreds of nerds candies, challenged the entire internet to play against us in a video game, and gathered hilarious photographs of our esteemed colleagues in their awkward teenage years. On top of that, the book is such a fun read. It’s the kind of book you know people are going to absolutely love when you hand it to them. It’s a really special book and I can’t wait for people to read it!”

—Dana Trocker, Simon & Schuster

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Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber 

“I must have upset the book gods in some way because for some silly reason I only brought half the manuscript with me on a train out to my parents house. And I have never wanted to finish a book more in my life. This book essentially puts you on the other end of a podcast similar to Serial. Instead of being the listener, this story is about what would happen if your life—your father’s murder—was the central story of a podcast and the questions you though had been answered are now being reconsidered. Kathleen keeps you guessing at every page and I absolutely loved how uses Reddit and Twitter threads into the story to help accomplish that. If you’re a looking for a book to scratch your Serial itch, this is it!”

—Diana Velasquez, Gallery/Pocket Books

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The Actual One: How I Tried, and Failed, to Avoid Adulthood Forever by Isy Suttie

I first read this book about a year ago and it made me laugh out loud so much. Laughter is good for the soul, so now I’m recommending it to everyone I know.” [Editor’s note: it’s true, she sent me the galley and the finished book, and it is f*cking hilarious.]

—Mary Sasso, Harper Perennial

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Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf by Helene Cooper 

“I’m excited to be working on Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf by Helene Cooper. Helene an extraordinary writer and journalist and Madame President is a powerful story of the first democratically elected African female president. What’s most intriguing about this book is Ellen faced many obstacles to get in that position, and it was the women of Liberia who helped her get elected.  That in itself shows the power of sisterhood and what women can accomplish when we rally together. I think that’s pertinent now more than ever.”

—Ebony LaDelle, Simon & Schuster

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Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 by David Sedaris

“Talking 2017 books I’m excited about? Easy! Narrowing it down to one (or two or three books)? Extremely difficult. However, I can say that as someone in the audiobook world, recording a new David Sedaris is always going to be an event. I cannot wait to hear his impeccable delivery of Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, out in May. Hearing him perform at Town Hall in November only served to whet my appetite.”

—Megan Fitzpatrick, Hachette Audio

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At Balthazar by Reggie Nadelson 

“I’m excited to be working on At Balthazar, by Reggie Nadelson (coming in April). This is more than a portrait of a restaurant, it’s the story of a family—the family of regulars who make Balthazar their “local,” and the behind the scenes cast of chefs, bartenders, servers, and all the myriad personalities who’ve made this brasserie feel like home for twenty years. Whether you’re a foodie or just someone who loves great writing, you’ll love At Balthazar; reads like a novel, but every word is true.”

—Abby Zidle, Gallery Books

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You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie

“I’m really excited about Sherman Alexie’s memoir, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me. Alexie’s an incredible author, and in a time where race, culture, and ethnicity are being demonized, he shares his experiences as an American Indian growing up on a reservation, a group which has been largely ignored by society.”

–Mitch Kelly, Hachette Audio

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Penguin the Magpie by Cameron Bloom and Bradley Trevor Greive 

“I’m in love with Penguin the Magpie by Cameron Bloom and Bradley Trevor Greive (April 4). It’s the true story of an adorable magpie named Penguin (because of his white and black feathers). Didn’t know that magpies can be cute? Me neither, until I read this book. This is an incredible story of how a magpie helped a family recover after a tragic accident, told alongside beautiful photos shot by Cameron Bloom. This little bird book will be your newest obsession. Did I mention he’s on Instagram?”

—Jackie Jou, Atria Books

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American War by Omar El Akkad

“Omar El Akkad’s debut novel American War envisions a dystopian future in the midst of a second American Civil War. It is eerie and alarming and, in these divided times, I couldn’t stop talking about it. I’m excited for a wider audience to read it this spring.”

—Sara Eagle, Alfred A. Knopf

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

“I’m counting down until The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo goes on sale June 13. I’ve been a fan of Taylor’s books since the beginning, and this publication feels extra special. For one thing, it’s the first time that one of Taylor’s books is being published as a hardcover. For another, it’s a fun read partially set in Hollywood’s Golden Age that also takes on larger questions, like what one might sacrifice for true love or to live authentically. And the story—can we talk about the story?!? In Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid has created such a singular character that I wanted to look up all of her old movies on Netflix!”

—Hillary Tisman, Atria Books

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