This season’s titles include career retrospectives from cultural critics, musings from media figures, reflections on the purpose of literature, and examinations of William Shakespeare’s legacy and treatment of race.

Top 10

The Best Strangers in the World: Stories from a Life Spent Listening

Ari Shapiro. HarperOne, Mar. 21 ($28.99, ISBN 978-0-06-322134-5)

Shapiro, cohost of NPR’s All Things Considered, debuts with a collection of autobiographical essays on connecting across difference. 150,000-copy announced first printing.

How to Write About Africa: Essays

Binyavanga Wainaina. OneWorld, June 6 ($27, ISBN 978-0-8129-8965-6)

These pieces by the late Kenyan writer discuss coming out and Western media’s racist depictions of Africa.

The Nerves and Their Endings: Essays on Crisis and Response

Jessica Gaitán Johannesson. Scribe US, Feb. 7 ($15 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-950354-59-7)

Bookseller and climate activist Johannesson explores how people come to terms with crises, in essays that touch on climate change, eating disorders, and privilege.

Once upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature

Sarah Hart. Flatiron, Apr. 11 ($29.99, ISBN 978-1-250-85088-1)

Mathematician Hart unpacks the numerical patterns and references in writings by James Joyce, George Eliot, and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Political Disappointment: A Cultural History from Reconstruction to the AIDS Crisis

Sara Marcus. Belknap, May 30 ($39.95, ISBN 978-0-674-24865-6)

Examining works by W.E.B. Du Bois, Lead Belly, and Audre Lorde, English professor Marcus suggests that disappointment undergirds the major works of 20th-century American art and thought.

Quietly Hostile: Essays

Samantha Irby. Vintage, May 16 ($17 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-593-31569-9)

The Wow, No Thank You author delivers autobiographical pieces on therapy, reiki, and QVC addiction.

Shakespeare Was a Woman & Other Heresies

Elizabeth Winkler. Simon & Schuster, May 2 ($29.99, ISBN 978-1-98217-126-1)

Journalist Winkler takes on the Bard’s legacy by investigating how he came to hold his place in the Western canon and why the debate over the authorship of his plays is so heated.

Tabula Rasa, Vol. 1

John McPhee. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, July 11 ($27, ISBN 978-0-374-60360-1)

McPhee serves up vignettes from his career he had intended to write about, but didn’t get around to, including episodes about meeting Thornton Wilder and visiting the river-bound islands of central California.

Wanting: Women Writing About Desire

Edited by Margot Kahn and Kelly McMasters. Catapult, Feb. 14 ($17.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64622-011-3)

Women writers examine the intersection of gender and desire, be it for cowboy boots, a former lover, or time.

Writers and Missionaries: Essays on the Radical Imagination

Adam Shatz. Verso, May 9 ($29.95, ISBN 978-1-80429-059-0)

The U.S. editor of the London Review of Books probes the relationship between writers’ work and their political commitments by looking at the lives of such intellectuals as Jean-Paul Sartre, Edward Said, and Richard Wright.

Essays & Literary Criticism Listings

Abrams Image

Comedy Bang! Bang! the Podcast: The Book by Scott Aukerman (Apr. 25, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-4197-5481-4) adapts the antics of Aukerman’s podcast to the page, featuring dispatches from the show’s fictional characters. 50,000-copy announced first printing.


The Kevin Powell Reader: Essential Writings and Conversations by Kevin Powell (Apr. 4, $32.95, ISBN 978-1-63614-101-5) collects pieces that span the cultural critic’s career on topics including the AIDS epidemic, the murder of George Floyd, and such celebrities as Dave Chappelle and bell hooks.


How We Do It: Black Writers on Writing in Color, edited by Jericho Brown and Darlene Taylor (July 4, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-327819-6), brings together previously published and original essays by writers of color on their craft. Natasha Trethewey, Jamaica Kincaid, and Tiphanie Yanique are among the contributors.

Astra House

Pleasure of Thinking by Wang Xiaobo, trans. by Yan Yan (July 25, $26, ISBN 978-1-66260-125-5), provides new translations of major essays by the Chinese intellectual weighing in on Italo Calvino, living in the U.S., and getting mugged.


Wonder Confronts Certainty: Russian Writers on the Timeless Questions and Why Their Answers Matter by Gary Saul Morson (May 9, $37.95, ISBN 978-0-674-97180-6) argues that Russian literature has long been animated by the friction between radical dogmatism and a more inwardly focused humanism.

Cambridge Univ.

Dublin: A Writer’s City by Chris Morash (Mar. 16, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-108-83164-2) offers a literary tour of the city by unpacking the writings of W.B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett.


The Male Gazed by Manuel Betancourt (May 30, $26, ISBN 978-1-64622-146-2) reflects on the author’s coming out as gay and his conflicted relationship with masculinity in these meditations on telenovelas, drag queens, and Antonio Banderas.

Coffee House

This Wide Terraqueous World by Laird Hunt (Mar. 21, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-56689-667-2). Hunt follows up his novel Zorrie with contemplations on Jane Bowles, childhood games, taxidermy, and denim.

Columbia Univ.

Freedom Reread by L. Gibson (Feb. 7, $20 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-231-18893-7) considers Jonathan Franzen’s 2010 novel, Freedom, in light of the novelist’s polarizing public persona, juxtaposing the book with the works of George Eliot and Susan Sontag.

On Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: The First of a New Genus by Susan J. Wolfson (Apr. 25, $14.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-231-20625-9) studies how Wollstonecraft’s rhetorical and aesthetic strategies contribute to the impact of reading her feminist manifesto.


Uncle of the Year: And Other Debatable Triumphs by Andrew Rannells (May 16, $28, ISBN 978-0-593-44343-9). The Book of Mormon star shares his thoughts on the hollowness of traditional metrics of success in essays on the awards circuit, children, and perfectionism.

Paul Dry

Incarnation and Metamorphosis: Can Literature Change Us? by David Mason (Mar. 7, $19.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-58988-172-3) offers takes on Claudia Rankine, Tom Stoppard, and Sylvia Plath to probe literature’s capacity to influence readers.


The Loved Ones by Madison Davis (June 13, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-950539-77-2). Autobiographical pieces contemplate the deaths of four members of Davis’s family—by murder, car accident, illness, and combat.


Voyager: Constellations of Memory by Nona Fernández, trans. by Natasha Wimmer (Feb. 21, $15 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64445-217-2) takes the author’s mother’s illness as the impetus for meditations on Chilean democracy, memory, and astronomy.


Tough Titties: On Living Your Best Life When You’re the F-ing Worst by Laura Belgray (June 13, $28, ISBN 978-0-306-82604-7) serves up dispatches about dating, falling for internet scams, and refusing responsibilities, from the TV writer.

Hanover Square

Adult Drama: And Other Essays by Natalie Beach (June 20, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-335-91402-6) expands the author’s viral New York magazine article about her contentious relationship with Instagrammer Caroline Calloway, and includes additional pieces on heartache, jeans, and existential crises.


You’re That Bitch: A Gay Cinderella Story by Bretman Rock (Feb. 14, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-358-69410-6) recounts episodes from the social media personality’s life, from growing up in the Philippines through living as a first-generation immigrant in Hawaii to his ascent to online fame. 100,000-copy announced first printing.


I Finally Bought Some Jordans by Michael Arceneaux (May 9, $17.99 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-06-314041-7) follows up I Don’t Want to Die Poor with a collection of essays touching on dating in the age of social media and the obstacles to achieving success as a Black creative. 35,000-copy announced first printing.

Wannabe: Reckonings with the Pop Culture that Raised Me by Aisha Harris (May 2, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-324994-3). The cohost of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour muses on the art that has influenced her. 50,000-copy announced first printing.


Holding the Note: Writing on Music by David Remnick (May 23, $29, ISBN 978-1-4000-4361-3). The editor of the New Yorker brings together pieces on such musicians as Aretha Franklin, Charlie Parker, and Paul McCartney. 60,000-copy announced first printing.

Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma by Claire Dederer (Apr. 25, $28, ISBN 978-0-525-65511-4) grapples with the relationship between the audience and the works of such problematic artists as Ernest Hemingway, V.S. Naipaul, and Woody Allen. 35,000-copy announced first printing.

New Directions

War Diary by Yevgenia Belorusets, trans. by Greg Nissan (Mar. 7, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-8112-3480-1), collects the Ukrainian author’s writings on living in Kyiv during the Russian invasion.

New York Review Books

Affinities: On Art and Fascination by Brian Dillon (Mar. 28, $17.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-68137-726-1) examines what attracts individuals to the art they hold dear, drawing on insights from Goethe, Baudelaire, and Walter Benjamin.


Alexandra Petri’s U.S. History: Important American Documents (I Made Up) by Alexandra Petri (Apr. 11, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-324-00643-5). The Washington Post humor columnist takes on U.S. history via a survey of imaginary documents.

In Search of a Beautiful Freedom: New and Selected Essays by Farah Jasmine Griffin (Mar. 28, $20 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-393-35577-2) anthologizes the comparative literature professor’s writings on Malcolm X, Hurricane Katrina, and bans of Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

One Signal

Not Funny: Essays on Life, Comedy, Culture, Et Cetera by Jena Friedman (Apr. 18, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-982178-28-4). Comedian Friedman opines on the post-#MeToo era, giving celebrities second chances, and joking about controversial topics.

OR Books

Dispatches from the Diaspora: From Nelson Mandela to Black Lives Matter by Gary Younge (Apr. 18, $22.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-68219-385-3) brings together the journalist’s reports on Nelson Mandela, Angela Davis, Hurricane Katrina, and the night Obama first won the presidency.

The Manifesto of Herman Melville by Barry Sanders (June 6, $22.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-68219-399-0) suggests Moby Dick should be read as a warning about the destruction of nature.

Penguin Books

Watch Your Language: Visual Essays, Sketches, and Meditations on a Century of Poetry by Terrance Hayes (July 25, $20 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-14-313773-3). The National Book Award winner offers an illustrated critical meditation on the last 100 years of poetry.


In Our Shoes: On Being a Young Black Woman in Not So Post-Racial America by Brianna Holt (Apr. 11, $17 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-593-18639-8) brings together autobiographical essays about surviving the bigotry aimed at American Black women.

Princeton Univ.

Impermanent Blackness: The Making and Unmaking of Interracial Literary Culture in Modern America by Korey Garibaldi (Feb. 14, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-691-21190-9) details Black-white partnerships in commercial publishing in the first half of the 20th century.

Pleasure and Efficacy: Of Pen Names, Cover Versions, and Other Trans Techniques by Grace Elisabeth Lavery (May 30, $29.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-691-24393-1) examines written depictions of gender transition, with a focus on the works of George Eliot and Sigmund Freud.

Random House

Letters to a Writer of Color, edited by Deepa Anappara and Taymour Soomro (Mar. 7, $17 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-593-44941-7). Mohammed Hanif, Madeleine Thien, Amitava Kumar, and other writers of color from across the globe reflect on the politics and craft of composing literature.


Without Model: Parva Aesthetica by Theodor W. Adorno, trans. by Wieland Hoban (Apr. 5, $24.50, ISBN 978-1-80309-218-8), compiles essays previously unavailable in English by the German philosopher on how art should change with the times.

Simon & Schuster

The Ugly History of Beautiful Things by Katy Kelleher (Apr. 25, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-98217-935-9). Paris Review contributor Kelleher highlights the seedy processes and ingredients that produce such beautiful objects as lipstick, perfume, and silk.

Univ. of New Mexico

A Description of Acquaintance: The Letters of Laura Riding and Gertrude Stein, 1927–1930, edited by Logan Esdale and Jane Malcolm (June 1, $65, ISBN 978-0-8263-6489-0), compiles and contextualizes correspondence from the poets’ brief friendship.

Univ. of Pennsylvania

Bad Blood: Staging Race Between Early Modern England and Spain by Emily Weissbourd (June 20, $55, ISBN 978-1-5128-2290-8) studies early modern depictions of race in the plays and fictions of Spanish and English writers.

Capitalism and the Senses, edited by Regina Lee Blaszczyk and David Suisman (June 13, $65, ISBN 978-1-5128-2420-9), serves up essays on how capitalism has changed and exploited everyday sensory experience.


The Great White Bard: How to Love Shakespeare While Talking About Race by Farah Karim-Cooper (June 6, $28, ISBN 978-0-593-48937-6) examines how Shakespeare approached race throughout his plays and poetry.

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