1. For a real trip
Children of the Moon
by Anthony De Sa
De Sa’s first two novels explored 1970s Toronto from inside the Portuguese community. For his latest book, he goes farther afield and farther back in time. In Tanzania in 1956, a child with albinism is viewed as a curse, and her turbulent upbringing pushes her toward a young man from Mozambique who has also been cast aside. $33, May 7. Penguin Random House.
2. For unabashed romantics
by Sally Rooney
Connell and Marianne are secret high-school sweethearts turned college confidantes turned friends with benefits, and their complicated emotions — precisely rendered by 27-year-old Sally Rooney — give her novel its intimate force. This razor-sharp book isn’t afraid of its own open-heartedness. $30, April 16. Penguin Random House.
3. For a sweet ode to heartbreak
by Dana Czapnik
This charming coming-of-age story will get no shortage of comparisons to The Catcher in the Rye. But Dana Czapnik gives readers a heroine all her own: 17-year-old Lucy, a half-Jewish, half-Italian, whip-smart basketball dynamo who is desperately in love with her best friend, a fellow hoops player. $34, January 24. Simon & Schuster.
4. For an up-all-night read
All the Wrong Places
by Joy Fielding
A widow, a divorcee, a jilted lover and a straying woman try their hands at online dating. It could be the beginning of a really corny joke, but it’s the premise of author Joy Fielding’s twisty new thriller. Lurking behind a charming profile is a tech-savvy killer who uses the app to target his next victim. $24, March 12, Penguin Random House.
5. For after a Netflix binge
I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution
by Emily Nussbaum
In these whip-smart essays, the TV critic for The New Yorker discusses her fondness for series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and also argues that their female protagonists have broken new ground for anti-heroes, moral ambiguity and feminism. $37, May 14, Penguin Random House.
6. For righteous anger
Era of Ignition
by Amber Tamblyn
The day after U.S. president Trump was elected, a pregnant Amber Tamblyn collapsed in an NYC subway station, having suffered a panic attack at the idea of bringing a girl into the world. She turned her fear into action, helping to launch Time’s Up and writing this fiery memoir that tackles power, the pay gap and womanhood. $34, March 5. Penguin Random House.
7. For some age-old wisdom
Bolder: Making the Most of Our Longer Lives
by Carl Honoré
Thanks to advances in health and technology, we’re pushing what’s possible in midlife and beyond. Carl Honoré’s delightful book tags along with octogenarian gamers, DJs and entrepreneurs to show how this “longevity revolution” can be a boon, not a burden. $32, March 5. Penguin Random House.
8. For a master class in resilience
The Pianist from Syria
by Aeham Ahmad
Ahmad has been displaced twice: He fled Israel for a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus, and then Syria’s civil war forced the pianist to take his family to Germany. (In 2014, Aeham Ahmad began playing piano in the ruins of Damascus and became a hit on YouTube.) This moving memoir shows how, even after a grenade damaged his hand, music provides salvation. $34, February 12. Simon & Schuster.
9. For an unlikely hero
by Anakana Schofield
Schofield dedicates her propulsive novel to “every woman who has had enough.” Bina certainly ranks among them: The feisty older Irishwoman has done something terrible that has brought the police to her door. But first, Bina has a few scores she wants to settle. $30, May 14. Penguin Random House.
10. For a leg up on 2020
The Truths We Hold
by Kamala Harris
No official word yet, but U.S. senator Kamala Harris is releasing that presidential-campaign staple: the mission statement–cum-memoir. The daughter of a Jamaican economist and a breast-cancer researcher from India, Harris is a committed activist who has transformed California’s criminal justice system. $40, January 8. Penguin Random House.
11. For major family drama
by Alix Ohlin
Lark is accustomed to hanging out in the shadows: of her mercurial mother, of her artistic sister, of the celebrated filmmaker who is happy to hook up but won’t be persuaded to give her a child. Fresh off a Giller nomination for her last novel, Inside, Ohlin takes Lark in fascinating and unexpected directions. $23, June 4. House of Anansi.
12. For a bold new voice
by Zalika Reid-Benta
This heartbreaking debut novel follows Kara from a Toronto elementary school through to her high-school graduation as she tries to shape her own identity despite the competing pressures of her intractable Jamaican grandparents, her protective mother and her sometimes reckless white friends. $20, June 4. House of Ananasi.
13. For an unlikely love story
Machines Like Me
by Ian McEwan
Taking place in an alternative 1980s London, where Britain has lost the Falkland Islands and Alan Turing has broken through in AI, this is a love triangle for the modern age. Charlie (aimless) teams up with Miranda (mysterious) to craft a personality for Adam (a robot), which lets McEwan pose urgent questions about what really makes us human. $32, April 23. Penguin Random House.
14. For challenging the patriarchy
The Time Has Come: Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution
by Michael Kaufman
There’s never been a better opportunity for gender equality, Kaufman argues. But the work can’t fall to women alone. To galvanize men to join the movement, he challenges expectations around power, parenthood and progress in this timely new book. $23, January 15. House of Anansi.
15. For gobbling up
by Helen Oyeyemi
At first, the British novelist’s new book looks like a straightforward tale of Harriet, a working-class mother who is trying to fit in with other parents, and her stubborn daughter. But what unfolds is a delectable fairy tale centred around the twin powers of gingerbread and Harriet’s childhood friend, named (what else?) Gretel. $25, March 5. Penguin Random House.
16. For a slice of goodness
A Girl Named Lovely
by Catherine Porter
Upon arrival in Haiti in 2010 to report on the eathquake, Porter, then a Toronto Star columnist, heard rumours that a two-year-old had been pulled from a collapsed building after six days. This riveting memoir details what happens as she draws closer to her family and confronts the limitations of foreign aid. $25, February 26. Simon & Schuster.
17. For being scared senseless
by Andrew Pyper
When Raymond Quinlan, an absent father and a preposterously rich man, dies abruptly, the Quinlan siblings and their mother convene at his palatial lodge in the woods. But to claim their inheritance, they need to stay alone on the isolated property for a month, which becomes every bit as chilling and creepy as you’d expect. $25, February 26. Simon & Schuster.
18. For some real talk
A Mind Spread Out on the Ground
by Alicia Elliott
The Haudenosaunee writer folds a memoir into a searing examination of intergenerational trauma across North America. Between indictments of systemic oppression and a racist court system, she grapples with her family’s mental health struggles, her sexual assault and the crystallizing force of motherhood. $25, March 26. Penguin Random House.
19. For a magical mystery tour
Black Leopard, Red Wolf
by Marlon James
In his first novel since the Man Booker Prize-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings, James goes all in on the fantasy genre, sending witches, vampires, a trickster monkey, and a scent-sniffing tracker on the trail of a missing boy. This is the kick-off to a trilogy that he describes as “an African Game of Thrones.” $37, February 5. Penguin Random House.
20. For Generations of stories
by Ian Williams
In this novel about fathers who vanish and the families that spring up in their place, the Vancouver-based poet deftly weaves together the voices of a 14-year-old Black boy, a 16-year-old white girl and a motley crew of middle-aged parents who are all struggling to do right by their children — with mixed results. $35, January 22. Penguin Random House.