Fittingly for uncertain times, this fall authors emphasize the value of returning to old literary favorites. The season won’t be strictly nostalgic, however, and will see its fair share of debuts and forward-thinking treatises.

Top 10

The Black Romantic Revolution: Abolitionist Poets at the End of Slavery

Matt Sandler. Verso, Oct. 20 ($29.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-78873-544-5)

Sandler examines how Civil War–era African American poets used European literary romanticism, and its revolutionary roots, as a lens through which to view the fight to end slavery.

Ex Libris: 100 Books for Everyone’s Bookshelf

Michiko Kakutani. Clarkson Potter, Oct. 20 ($22.50, ISBN 978-0-525-57497-2)

Readers who for decades followed Kakutani’s New York Times book reviews will appreciate this recommended reading list from the famously exacting critic.

The Fall of America Journals, 1965–1971

Allen Ginsberg, edited by Michael Schumacher. Univ. of Minnesota, Nov. 10 ($34.95, ISBN 978-0-8166-9963-6)

The conclusion to a trilogy of Ginsberg’s previously unpublished journals contains notes for his National Book Award winner The Fall of America and thoughts on personal and national turmoil.

The Glorious American Essay: One Hundred Essays from Colonial Times to the Present

Edited by Phillip Lopate. Pantheon, Nov. 17 ($40, ISBN 978-1-5247-4726-8)

Lopate’s look at three centuries of essays emphasizes how writers have wrestled, explicitly or subtextually, with America’s national values.

I Wanna Be Where the Normal People Are

Rachel Bloom. Grand Central, Nov. 17 ($28, ISBN 978-1-5387-4535-9)

The cocreator and star of TV’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend debuts with a collection of essays about fame, insecurity, and pop culture.

Just Us: An American Conversation

Claudia Rankine. Graywolf, Sept. 8 ($30, ISBN 978-1-64445-021-5)

Established as an important voice by 2014’s Citizen: An American Lyric, Rankine examines in this more overtly personal work American silence and guilt around difficult racial topics.

Kant’s Little Prussian Head and Other Reasons Why I Write: An Autobiography Through Essays

Claire Messud. Norton, Oct. 13 ($25.95, ISBN 978-1-324-00675-6)

Messud writes about the family life, travels, and pivotal encounters with art and literature that have fueled and informed her celebrated novels.

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: What Reading the Nineteenth-Century Russians Can Teach Us About Stories, Truth, and Transformation

George Saunders. Random House, Jan. 12 ($28, ISBN 978-1-984856-02-9)

Using seven classic Russian short stories, Saunders discusses how great fiction can influence both one’s understanding of writing as a craft and one’s ethics and worldview.

Take Arms Against a Sea of Troubles: The Power of the Reader’s Mind Over a Universe of Death

Harold Bloom. Yale Univ., Oct. 13 ($35, ISBN 978-0-300-24728-2)

This posthumously published study rounds out the inimitable critic’s career with a look at his favorite poets, including Blake, Shakespeare, and Wordsworth, from a lifetime of reading.

The Writer’s Library: The Authors You Love on the Books That Changed Their Lives

Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager. HarperOne, Sept. 8 ($27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-296850-0)

Pearl and Schwager interview noted authors, among them Jonathan Lethem, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and Donna Tartt, about their favorite books.


Angel City

Becoming Los Angeles: Myth, Memory, and a Sense of Place by D.J. Waldie (Aug. 18, $30, ISBN 978-1-62640-079-5). In this collection of essays, Waldie considers myth, history, and modern-day reality in Los Angeles to explore how the city’s residents perceive themselves and their home.


In the Land of the Cyclops by Karl Ove Knausgaard, trans. by Martin Aitken (Jan. 5, $28, ISBN 978-1-939810-74-8). The bestselling novelist takes on art, literature, culture, and philosophy in this essay collection. The 37 entries consider Swedish politics, brain surgery, Laurie Anderson, Edvard Munch, the Northern Lights, and other topics.


Burning the Books: A History of the Deliberate Destruction of Knowledge by Richard Ovenden (Oct. 13, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-674-24120-6). The director of the Bodleian Libraries at Oxford surveys the deliberate destruction of books and recorded knowledge in general over three millennia. He also looks at ancient written texts that have beaten the odds and survived.

The Selected Letters of John Berryman, edited by Philip Coleman and Calista McRae (Oct. 13, $39.95, ISBN 978-0-674-97625-2), is the widest ranging collection of the poet’s correspondence yet published. His friends, loved ones, colleagues, and editors are among the correspondents included.

Bloomsbury Continuum

Why Dante Matters: An Intelligent Person’s Guide by John Took (Dec. 15, $24, ISBN 978-1-4729-5103-8) seeks to broaden understanding of Dante Alighieri’s contributions to Western letters. Took discusses the underlying themes of the Divine Comedy, including time and eternity, freedom and destiny, and the polarities of existence.

Bloomsbury Yearbooks

Writers’ & Artists’ Guide to How to Write: How to Plan, Structure and Write Your Novel by William Ryan (Nov. 12, $22.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-4729-7874-5) introduces the techniques Ryan favors for planning and drafting a manuscript, and makes recommendations for writing for different genres and audiences.

Chicago Review

Zorro’s Shadow: How a Mexican Legend Became America’s First Superhero by Stephen J.C. Andes (Sept. 15, $18.99 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64160-293-8) looks at the literary origins of the Zorro character and his impact on pop culture, emphasizing the masked swordsman’s influence on comic book superheroes.

Coffee House

Reel Bay: A Cinematic Essay by Jana Larson (Jan. 19, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-56689-598-9) bends genre in a long-form essay devoted to the real-life case of a Japanese woman discovered frozen to death in North Dakota, apparently while searching for money hidden in a snowbank at the end of the movie Fargo.

Columbia Univ.

Vineland Reread by Peter Coviello (Jan. 12, $20 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-231-18521-9) argues that Thomas Pynchon’s novel Vineland, though generally seen as a minor work in his oeuvre, is in fact a significant look at American culture and politics with vital relevance for the present.


The National Road: Dispatches from a Changing America by Tom Zoellner (Oct. 13, $26, ISBN 978-1-64009-290-7) contemplates the deep divisions in American life, and the potential for a greater sense of shared purpose, in a collection of essays that describe his travels throughout the country.

Nature Matrix: New and Selected Essays by Robert Michael Pyle (Sept. 15, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64009-276-1) selects 16 pieces that convey Pyle’s life as a conservationist and his personal philosophy. Pyle discusses how a breadth of experience and a close connection to nature has benefited his life.


The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity by Carlo M. Cipolla (Oct. 27, $15, ISBN 978-0-385-54647-8) is late economist Cipolla’s satirical essay on the grave threat stupid people pose to humanity, and on the measures the intelligent should take to defend themselves. His treatise attracted widespread notice upon its first publication in Italy in 1988, but is only now being published in the U.S.


Niagaras of Ink: Famous Writers at the Falls by Jamie M. Carr (Sept. 1, $21.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-4384-7998-9) presents notable examples of writing on Niagara Falls, from the 19th to early 20th centuries, along with episodes of famous writers’ visits to the Falls.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Garner’s Quotations: A Modern Miscellany by Dwight Garner (Nov. 10, $25, ISBN 978-0-374-27919-6). The New York Times book critic offers quotes he has collected over the course of his career as a reader and a writer. 50,000-copy announced first printing.

Fiction Collective Two

Out of Nowhere into Nothing by Caryl Pagel (Sept. 15, $17.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-57366-186-7). Poet Pagel, director of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center, devotes her first prose collection to ghosts, both literal and figurative, and their intersections with everyday life.


Earth Keeper: Reflections on the American Land by N. Scott Momaday (Nov. 3, $19.99, ISBN 978-0-06-300933-2). Pulitzer-winning novelist and poet Momaday reflects on his heritage as a member of the Kiowa tribe and shares thoughts on how more Americans can adopt his people’s ethos of stewardship toward the natural world.

Harper Perennial

White Hot Light by Frank Huyler (Aug. 25, $16.99, trade paper, ISBN 978-0-06-293733-9) follows up Huyler’s memoir, The Blood of Strangers, written early in his career as an ER physician in Albuquerque, N.Mex. Here he shares a midlife perspective on his work.


No One Asked for This: Essays by Cazzie David (Nov. 17, $17.99 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-358-19702-7). TV writer David debuts in print with humorous essays about anxiety, social media, misanthropy, and what it’s like to grow up with Larry David as a father.


World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, illus. by Fumi Nakamura (Aug. 11, $24, ISBN 978-1-57131-365-2). Poet Nezhukumatathil makes her nonfiction debut with a collection of essays that focus on subjects from nature and the inspiration she finds in them.

New York Review Books

Suppose a Sentence by Brian Dillon (Sept. 22, $17.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-68137-524-3) follows up Essayism with a collection of pieces each inspired by a single sentence from a famous writer. His inspirations include Shakespeare, Joan Didion, and Virginia Woolf, while his subjects include sentence structure and linguistic change.


Defacing the Monument by Susan Briante (Aug. 1, $21 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-934819-90-6). A journalist turned university professor and poet offers a lyric essay based on her experience of taking graduate students to the U.S.-Mexico border in 2016 to research and write about migration issues.


Ghostways: Two Journeys in Unquiet Places by Robert Macfarlane and Dan Richards (Nov. 24, $15.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-324-01582-6) collects two short works by nature writer Robert Macfarlane not previously available in the U.S. “Holloway,” cowritten with Richards, explores southwestern England, while “Ness” concerns a secret U.K. atomic weapons testing site.

ONE World

How to Teach Classics to Your Dog: A Quirky Introduction to the Ancient Greeks and Romans by Philip Womack (Nov. 10, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-78607-814-8) provides an accessible introduction to the myths, theater, and literature of the classical world, humorously presented as a primer for his dog, Una (whom he compares to Cerberus, the three-headed hellhound).

Open Letter

Age of Skin by Dubravka Ugresic, trans. by Ellen Elias-Bursac (Nov. 17, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-948830-22-5). Croatian writer Ugresic reflects on nationalism; profiles people who, like herself, have left the former Eastern Bloc to start new lives abroad; and discusses the anxieties and hopes of modern life.

Oxford Univ.

Jane Austen: Writing, Society, Politics by Tom Keymer (Oct. 1, $18.95, ISBN 978-0-19-886190-4) explores the major themes and historical context of Austen’s six published novels. Keymer shows the novelist as a conservative social thinker with a strong sense of satire and irony, and a keen awareness of her era’s political controversies.

Whitman in Washington: Becoming the National Poet in the Federal City by Kenneth M. Price (Jan. 2, $35, ISBN 978-0-19-884093-0) looks at the period Whitman spent living in Washington, D.C., from 1863 to 1873, discussing his writing output and jobs as a military nurse and government clerk.

Pen and Sword History

Ian Fleming’s Inspiration: The Truth Behind the Books by Edward Abel Smith (Aug. 19, $34.95, ISBN 978-1-5267-5769-2) examines how Ian Fleming’s real-life experiences fed into the James Bond novels and short stories. Inspirations discussed include Fleming’s service in British intelligence during WWII and his life post-WWII in Jamaica.

Princeton Univ.

Émigrés: French Words That Turned English by Richard Scholar (Aug. 18, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-691-19032-7) surveys French words, such as ennui and naïveté, and expressions, such as à la mode, that entered the English language untranslated. He uses his topic to consider themes of nationalism and linguistic change.

The Man of the Crowd: Edgar Allan Poe and the City by Scott Peeples (Oct. 13, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-691-18240-7) studies Poe’s life and works in terms of the four cities in which he lived: Richmond, Va.; Baltimore; Philadelphia; and New York City. Peeples traces how the tumultuous urban conditions of the times informed Poe’s writing, and how the author tailored his work to an urban readership.

On Seamus Heaney by Roy Foster (Aug. 25, $18.95, ISBN 978-0-691-17437-2). Historian and literary biographer Foster argues that Heaney, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature, is the most important post-WWII Irish poet. The book considers Heaney’s engagement with an era of political strife in Ireland and parallels his career with that of fellow Irish poet W.B. Yeats.


Encounters and Destinies: A Farewell to Europe by Stefan Zweig, trans. by Will Stone (Oct. 27, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-78227-346-2), collects essays by Austrian writer Zweig (1881–1942), one of the most popular literary figures in Europe between WWI and WWII, about artists and thinkers of his day, including Freud, Proust, Rilke, and Toscanini.

Random House

Love, Kurt: The Vonnegut Love Letters, 1941–1945, edited by Edith Vonnegut (Nov. 17, $35, ISBN 978-0-593-13301-9). Kurt Vonnegut’s eldest daughter presents a collection of more than 200 previously unseen letters written by the author to his first wife, Jane. The letters cover the couple’s romance as college students, their experiences during WWII, and Vonnegut’s early struggles as a writer.


Lecture by Mary Cappello (Sept. 8, $15.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-945492-42-6) begins Transit’s Undelivered Lectures series with a look at the radical possibilities within the staid form of the lecture. Cappello cites, among others, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mary Ruefle, and Virginia Woolf, to explore how lectures could be made more open-ended and exciting.

Stranger Faces by Namwali Serpell (Sept. 29, $15.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-945492-43-3) collects speculative essays that consider how the human face figures into ideas about identity, truth, beauty, and authenticity.

Univ. of Delaware

Inventing the Critic in Renaissance England by William M. Russell (Sept. 18, $49.50 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64453-191-4) analyzes the period, in the early 17th century, when the concept of a literary critic first began to enter the English language, emphasizing the part played by such figures as Philip Sidney and Ben Jonson.

Univ. of Pennsylvania

The Broadside Ballad in Early Modern England: Moving Media, Tactical Publics by Patricia Fumerton (Sept. 25, $89.95, ISBN 978-0-8122-5231-6) looks at the 17th-century English broadside—a single, large sheet of paper, printed on one side with a popular song and woodcut illustrations, and sold by vendors in city streets or town squares.

The Rise and Fall of Jewish American Literature: Ethnic Studies and the Challenge of Identity by Benjamin Schreier (Oct. 16, $49.95, ISBN 978-0-8122-5257-6) discusses how Jewish-American literary studies emerged as a formal academic discipline in the 1950s. Schreier also looks at the field’s place within modern American letters.

Univ. of Texas

Sonata by Charles Bowden (Nov. 3, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-4773-2223-9) concludes Bowden’s six-volume Unnatural History of America series. With this essay collection, the journalist contrasts themes of humanity’s capacity for violence with the sense of wonder and hope he gains from contemplating nature.

Univ. of Virginia

Henry Adams in Washington: Linking the Personal and Public Lives of America’s Man of Letters by Ormond Seavey (Oct. 12, $47.50 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-8139-4464-7) proposes that Henry Adams, despite having won the Pulitzer Prize, has become an underrated literary figure over time. In particular, Seavey argues for the significance of Adams’s novels, biographies, and nine-volume History.


The Walker: On Losing and Finding Yourself in the Modern City by Matthew Beaumont (Nov. 10, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-78873-891-0) is a study of writers who enjoy, or enjoyed, exploring cities on foot. Ranging chronologically from Charles Dickens to Slavoj Žižek, the book considers what one can learn about urban landscapes this way.


Personal Writings by Albert Camus (Aug. 4, $16 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-525-56721-9). Camus scholar Alice Kaplan provides a foreword to this newly organized collection of writings from throughout Camus’s career, selected with an eye to illuminating his personal concerns and demonstrating his contemporary relevance.

Wayne State Univ.

101 Middle Eastern Tales and Their Impact on Western Oral Tradition by Ulrich Marzolph (Aug. 18, $49.99 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-8143-4773-7) investigates cross-cultural literary interplay and Western ideas about “the Orient,” in terms of more than 100 narratives originally written in Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish and later, in the 19th and 20th centuries, disseminated in the West.

Yale Univ.

For Now by Eileen Myles (Sept. 22, $18, ISBN 978-0-300-24464-9). Poet Myles frankly discusses the aesthetic and sociopolitical influences on their writing, and reflects on how all writing is shaped by time.

Tragedy by Terry Eagleton (Sept. 22, $26, ISBN 978-0-300-25221-7). Literary critic Eagleton looks at how tragedy figures as a concept in various areas of Western culture, including theater, politics, and philosophy. He cites Ibsen, Nietzsche, Shakespeare, and Sophocles, among others, in the course of his exploration.

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