This season’s essays take a turn toward joy, laughter, and survival. In addition to collections from notable names, be on the lookout for a feminist biography of the Wife of Bath from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.

Top 10

Animal Joy: A Book of Laughter and Resuscitation

Nuar Alsadir. Graywolf, Aug. 2 ($17 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64445-093-2)

Psychoanalyst Alsadir investigates laughter in literature, culture, and her own life in a study that PW’s review called “gorgeously written and by turns hilarious and crushing.”

Conversations with Birds

Priyanka Kumar. Milkweed, Nov. 8 ($28, ISBN 978-1-57131-399-7)

Novelist Kumar takes stock of the beauty she’s found in birds, from northern India to the American West.

How Far the Light Reaches: My Life in Ten Sea Creatures

Sabrina Imbler. Little, Brown, Dec. 6 ($27, ISBN 978-0-316-54053-7)

Imbler, a former staff writer for Atlas Obscura, debuts with essays that combine nature writing and memoir, and feature profiles of underwater wildlife as well as anecdotes on family and survival.

Inciting Joy: Essays

Ross Gay. Algonquin, Oct. 25 ($27, ISBN 978-1-64375-304-1)

Poet Gay follows The Book of Delights with 13 essays on the joy that accompanies looking after one another. He focuses on care, masculinity, mutual aid, and death, among other topics.

The Philosophy of Modern Song

Bob Dylan. Simon & Schuster, Nov. 1 ($45, ISBN 978-1-4516-4870-6)

In his first collection of new work since 2004’s Chronicles, Vol. 1, Dylan offers more than 60 essays on Elvis Costello, Hank Williams, and Nina Simone, among other artists, to get at the root of what makes a song work.

A Private Spy: The Letters of John le Carré

Edited by Tim Cornwell. Viking, Dec. 6 ($30, ISBN 978-0-593-49067-9)

The prolific espionage novelist’s correspondence with politicians, artists, and spies come together for the first time in this volume.

The Traces: An Essay

Mairead Small Staid. Strange Object, Sept. 13 ($17.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64605-200-4)

Staid blends memoir and criticism in her debut, a look at happiness and joy that draws on the work of Italo Calvino, Anne Carson, and the author’s own travels.

Too Much of Life: The Complete Crônicas

Clarice Lispector, trans. by Margaret Jull Costa and Robin Patterson. New Directions, Sept. 6 ($29.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-8112-2679-0)

Lispector’s crônicas, a Brazilian literary genre akin to newspaper columns, are gathered in this collection that spans 1967–1977.

Victory Is Assured: Uncollected Writings of Stanley Crouch

Edited by Glenn Mott. Liveright, Sept. 13 ($32.50, ISBN 978-1-324-09090-8)

Quentin Tarantino’s films, Duke Ellington’s performance at Disneyland, and Miles Davis’s subversion of masculinity get critiqued by Crouch in this posthumous anthology.

The Wife of Bath: A Biography

Marion Turner. Princeton Univ., Jan. 17 ($29.95, ISBN 978-0-691-20601-1)

Turner, a professor of English literature at the University of Oxford, argues that Chaucer’s Wife of Bath has enduring power in this biography of the character.

Essays & Literary Criticism

Abrams Image

All Things Aside: Absolutely Correct Opinions by Iliza Shlesinger (Oct. 18, $27, ISBN 978-1-4197-5940-6). Comedian Shlesinger takes to task the mundanities of life in this essay collection, which brings her characteristic humor to bear on topics including social norms and women-specific product marketing.


I Curse You with Joy by Tiffany Haddish (Nov. 29, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-06-324935-6) follows up The Last Black Unicorn with this collection on her life in the spotlight, her experience as the first Black woman comedian to host SNL, and her reunion with her father after 20 years.

And Other Stories

Fifty Forgotten Books by R.B. Russell (Sept. 13, $19.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-913505-50-9) explores the fiction and nonfiction that influenced Russell’s writing.

Andrews McMeel

I’m Wearing Tunics Now: On Growing Older, Better, and a Hell of a Lot Louder by Wendi Aarons (Oct. 4, $19.99 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-5248-7373-8). Humorist Aarons debuts with a comic memoir in essays about growing older and finding self-acceptance.

Astra House

No Country for Eight-Spot Butterflies: A Lyric Essay by Julian Aguon (Sept. 13, $23, ISBN 978-1-66260-163-7). A Chamorro human rights lawyer and activist, Aguon reflects on his youth in Guam and his work fighting climate change.


Addicted to Noise: The Music Writings of Michael Goldberg by Michael Goldberg (Nov. 1, $34.95, ISBN 978-1-4930-6810-4) collects pieces on Bob Dylan, Prince, and Michael Jackson, and interviews with Patti Smith and the members of Sleater-Kinney, among other music-based musings.


Have I Told You This Already? Stories I Don’t Want to Forget to Remember by Lauren Graham (Nov. 15, $28,
ISBN 978-0-593-35542-8). The Gilmore Girls actor shares essays on working and aging in Hollywood.


Still No Word from You: Notes in the Margin by Peter Orner (Oct. 11, $26, ISBN 978-1-64622-136-3) blends personal anecdotes on love, loss, and hope with notes on literature including the works of Lorraine Hansberry, Primo Levi, and James Alan McPherson.


Is It Hot in Here (or Am I Suffering for All Eternity for the Sins I Committed on Earth)? by Zach Zimmerman
(Nov. 1, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-79721-757-4). Comedian Zimmerman debuts with an essay collection on urban living, vegetarianism, queerness, and more.

Nature Swagger: Stories and Visions of Black Joy in the Outdoors by Rue Mapp (Nov. 1, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-79721-429-0) features profiles of members of the nature leadership organization Outdoor Afro, and essays that take to task the white-dominant nature of enjoying the outdoors.

Coffee House

Groundglass by Kathryn Savage (Aug. 2, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-56689-640-5). Poet Savage debuts with a survey of the impact of industrial waste, primarily in Minnesota, that our review called “tough to forget.”

Columbia Univ.

The Last Samurai Reread by Lee Konstantinou (Nov. 22, $20 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-231-18583-7). Konstantinou, an associate professor of English at the University of Maryland, covers the
history, writing, and reception of Helen DeWitt’s 2000 novel.

Duke Univ.

Ain’t but a Few of Us: Black Music Writers Tell Their Story, edited by Willard Jenkins (Dec. 2, $27.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-4780-1903-9). Farah Jasmine Griffin, Greg Tate, and Tammy Kernodle are among the writers featured in this collection that spotlights Black journalism and criticism on jazz.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The Call of the Tribe by Mario Vargas Llosa, trans. by John King (Jan. 17, $28, ISBN 978-0-374-11805-1). Nobel Prize winner Llosa holds forth on the literature that has shaped his writing and thinking.

A Left-Handed Woman: Essays
by Judith Thurman (Dec. 6, $30,
ISBN 978-0-374-60716-6). Thoughts on literature, history, gender, art, and more come together in this anthology from New Yorker contributor Thurman.

Feminist Press

It Came from the Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror, edited by Joe Vallese (Oct. 4, $25.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-952177-79-8). Carmen Maria Machado, Jude Ellison S. Doyle, and Addie Tsai, among other queer and trans writers, examine the horror films that have made an impact on them.


The World Deserves My Children by Natasha Leggero (Nov. 15, $28, ISBN 978-1-982137-07-6). Comedian Leggero delivers an essay collection on motherhood that takes on IVF, the
phrase “geriatric pregnancy,” and climate-
caused panic.

Grand Central

The World Record Book of Racist Stories by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar (Nov. 22, $29, ISBN 978-1-5387-2455-2). Comedian Ruffin and her sister Lamar follow up You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey with this look at the rest of their family’s experience facing racism.


Why Read: Selected Writings
by Will Self (Jan. 17, $27, ISBN 978-0-8021-6024-9) shares Self’s thoughts on Burroughs, Kafka, Woolf, Orwell, and Sebald in this case for the power of reading.


I Wouldn’t Do That if I Were Me: Modern Blunders and Modest Triumphs (but Mostly Blunders) by Jason Gay (Nov. 1, $29, ISBN 978-0-306-82856-0). A columnist at the
Wall Street Journal, Gay examines
parenthood, friendship, and work in this collection on finding joy among modern woes.


Abominations: Selected Essays from a Career of Courting Self-Destruction by Lionel Shriver (Sept. 20, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-309429-1) gathers 35 of Shriver’s essays, reviews,
and op-eds from Harper’s,
the New York Times, and
the Wall Street Journal, among other publications.


Relations: An Anthology of African and Diaspora Voices, edited by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond (Jan. 17, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-308904-4), collects stories, poems, and essays on the African and diaspora experience.

Harvard Univ.

The Critical Writings of Oscar Wilde: An Annotated Selection by Oscar Wilde, edited by Nicholas Frankel (Dec. 13, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-674-27182-1), argues that Wilde had a lot to offer in the way of criticism, both literary and cultural. The pieces cover fashion, art, literature, masculinity, and more.


The End of Solitude: Selected Essays on Culture and Society by William Deresiewicz (Aug. 23, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-250-85864-1). Deresiewicz’s thoughts on Avatar, Harold Bloom, and technology come together in this collection spanning 25 years of the critic’s work.


Novelist as a Vocation by Haruki Murakami, trans. by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen (Nov. 8, $28, ISBN 978-0-451-49464-1), contains the novelist’s thoughts on inspiration, his own work, and the place of the novel in society.

New York Review Books

Bright Unbearable Reality: Essays by Anna Badkhen (Oct. 18, $17.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-68137-706-3). Badkhen, a former war correspondent, covers such topics as racism, the environmental crisis, and the pandemic.


Black Folk Could Fly: Selected Writings by Randall Kenan (Aug. 9, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-393-88216-2) muses on James Baldwin, science fiction, Ingmar Bergman, and growing up Black and gay in the South.

The Waste Land: A Biography of a Poem by Matthew Hollis (Dec. 20, $30, ISBN 978-0-393-24025-2). In this celebration of The Waste Land’s 100th anniversary, poet Hollis reflects on the work’s history and lasting influence.

Open Field

No Filter: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful by Paulina Porizkova (Nov. 15, $27, ISBN 978-0-593-49352-6). Model Porizkova debuts with a series of essays on womanhood, marriage, motherhood, grief, and beauty.


Maus Now: Selected Writing, edited by Hillary Chute (Nov. 15, $28, ISBN 978-0-593-31577-4), brings together contemporary criticism of and academic essays on Art Spiegelman’s graphic biography as it comes under increasing fire as a frequent subject of book-banning debates.

Penguin Books

My First Popsicle: An Anthology of Food and Feelings, edited by Zosia Mamet (Nov. 1, $26,
ISBN 978-0-14-313729-0). Stephanie Danler, Anita Lo, Patti LuPone, and Jia Tolen-
tino are among the artists and writers who reveal their favorite dishes and the
emotions they evoke.


Poor Naked Wretches: Shakespeare’s Working People by Stephen Unwin (Sept. 26, $27.50,
ISBN 978-1-78914-661-5) makes a case that the Bard portrayed working-class folks with as much depth and attention as his high society characters.


Guest at the Feast: Essays by Colm Tóibín (Jan. 17, $27, ISBN 978-1-4767-8520-2). Novelist Tóibín meditates on life in Ireland, homosexuality, and literature.


The Language of Languages by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o (Aug. 5, $19, ISBN 978-1-80309-071-9) brings together two decades’ worth of the Kenyan novelist’s essays and lectures on translation.

Seven Stories

Whorephobia: Strippers on Art, Work, and Life, edited by Lizzie Borden (Oct. 18, $21.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64421-227-1). Twenty-three sex workers write about friendship, art, activism, and more in this collection from film director Borden.

Simon & Schuster

Our Red Book: Intimate Histories of Periods, Growing & Changing, edited by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff (Nov. 1, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-982168-65-0), follows up My Little Red Book with these pieces on menstruation written by activists, writers, scholars, athletes, and midwives.

St. Martin’s

Dispatches from the Gilded Age: A Few More Thoughts on Interesting People, Far-Flung Places, and the Joys of Southern Comforts by Julia Reed (Aug. 23, $28.99, ISBN 978-1-250-27943-9) contains the late columnist’s profiles of André Leon Talley, George and Laura Bush, and Madeline Albright, among other examples of her journalism.

Univ. of Chicago

States of Plague: Reading Albert Camus in a Pandemic by Alice Kaplan and Laura Marris (Oct. 6, $20, ISBN 978-0-226-81553-4) examines what Camus’s 1947 novel The Plague can teach contemporary readers about recovery, care, and grief.

Univ. of Minnesota

Making Love with the Land: Essays by Joshua Whitehead (Nov. 15, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-5179-1447-9). Novelist Whitehead makes his first foray into nonfiction with these essays on loss, the body, and Indigenous ways of life.

Univ. of Nebraska

If This Were Fiction: A Love Story in Essays by Jill Christman (Sept. 1, $21.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-4962-3235-9). In essays that cover the death of her fiancé, her experience as a mother, and her life with her husband, Christman examines what she’s learned in the first 50 years of her life.

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