For the patrons of West Hollywood's Book Soup, BaoHaus restaurant… (Ken Hively / Los Angeles…)
Looking ahead to books in 2013 is a little like predicting the Los Angeles weather: sunny, pleasant, better than average. The fiction fields are fertile, the nonfiction skies clear and the young adult books are fresh like spring rain.
We'll see new books from old favorites: January brings Brad Meltzer's "The Fifth Assassin" and "The Storyteller" by Jodi Picoult arrives in February. March marks "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" novelist Mohsin Hamid's "How to Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia." April brings food activist Michael Pollan's "Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation" and a new witty book of essays from David Sedaris: "Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls."
There are many literary reasons to make room on the bedside table. Aleksandar Hemon's "The Book of My Lives," a memoir from the Bosnian writer who has made a home in Chicago. Novels from 87-year-old James Salter, "All That is," and National Book Award finalist Rachel Kushner, "The Flamethrowers," arrive in April. And rumor has it that October will bring a new novel from reclusive author Thomas Pynchon, "Bleeding Edge." But that's a long way off.
There's no obvious blockbuster in the next few months: no Harry Potter sequel, no next Dragon Tattoo mystery. Then again, publishing can't always see what the future holds. "Last year we didn't know that 'Fifty Shades of Grey' was going to be a defining trend," says Patricia Bostelman, vice president of marketing at national bookseller Barnes & Noble. Much to the surprise of everyone in publishing, E.L. James' erotic trilogy topped bestseller lists.
Will it lead to more works of erotica finding audiences, or to publishers hitting big with books that were originally self-published? No one is sure. "Some things are left to reveal themselves," Bostelman says.
We talked to some local and national booksellers to see what upcoming books they're most anticipating.
Vroman's in Pasadena / Book Soup in West Hollywood
A plethora of new fiction is on tap at Vroman's. There's Jamaica Kincaid's "See Now Then," her first novel in 10 years, coming in February. Bestselling novelist Claire Messud's "The Woman Upstairs," which arrives in April, is about "a single teacher who gets entwined in the life of a visiting family," explains book buyer Sherri Gallentine. "So far, it's one of my favorites for 2013." She's also enthusiastic about L.A. author Marisa Silver's "Mary Coin," a dramatization of the life of Dorothea Lange and the migrant mother whom she famously photographed (the photograph, she notes, is part of the Getty's collection). And out in May is Philip Meyer's "The Son" — his debut novel won the L.A. Times book prize for first fiction. As for nonfiction, Gallentine thinks "Fresh Off the Boat," by Eddie Huang of the restaurant BaoHaus, a no-holds-barred memoir of his immigrant food experience, will be particularly popular with the Book Soup crowd.
Mysterious Galaxy Books in Redondo Beach and San Diego
With its dual focus on crime and science fiction novels, Mysterious Galaxy is anticipating an interesting mix of books. On the young adult side, there's "Scarlet" by Marissa Meyer coming in February. It's the second in her Lunar series, fairy tales retold in a science fiction future. "These books definitely have crossover appeal for adults," says Mysterious Galaxy's Maryelizabeth Hart, who recommends February's "The Best of All Possible Worlds" by Karen Lord as straight-ahead "science fiction for grown-ups." One of the biggest science fiction/fantasy titles of the year may be "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman, a book for adults coming in June. Hart admits she has mixed feelings about Charlaine Harris' "Dead Ever After" because it is the last Sookie Stackhouse novel, coming in May. Overall, Hart sees one trend, and it's not new. "There's a continued interest in dystopian futures," Hart says. "We didn't get the Mayan apocalypse, so we'll read it in 2013."
Skylight Books in Los Feliz
Skylight's Charles Hauther is looking forward to the May paperback release of George R.R. Martin's "A Dance With Dragons," the fifth book in his "A Song of Ice and Fire" (a.k.a. "Game of Thrones") series; Maurice Sendak's "My Brother's Book," an illustrated title out in February by the late children's author that is actually for adults; and in March "Middle C" by William Gass, who at 88 is still a major literary force. On the nonfiction side, "The Democracy Project" by David Graeber arrives in April. Graeber is the sometimes controversial academic whose 2011 book "Debt: The First 5,000 Years" received high praise.
Eso Won Books in Leimert Park