James McBride, Jay Rayner
By Jason Diamond / March 2, 2020 7:55 am

Spring is almost here to save us all. We’ve spent the first two months of the year stuck inside, but it’s nearly time to sit on a porch or stoop or whatever you’ve got at your disposal. You can sip something if you’d like (water, coffee, a beer, whatever), and to pass the time, you’ve got new titles from James McBride, Emily St. John Mandel and one of the world’s best food critics, as well as a book about the science of why people get “on fire.” We’re almost there, guys. Warmer days are ahead, and any of these titles will help take your mind off of the thawing out process.

Deacon King Kong by James McBride (March 3)


Even with a National Book Award under his belt for The Good Lord Bird and the unforgettable memoir The Color of Water, James McBride sort of sneaks up on you. He puts out something new every few years to remind you he’s one of America’s best writers, and this novel set in the 1960s might really be his best.

Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen by Dan Heath (March 3)


Dan Heath thinks you should get ahead of problems before they happen. That sounds simple enough, right? You’d think that, but we really don’t spend enough time thinking about prevention. This book aims to change that.

Salmon: A Fish, the Earth, and the History of Their Common Fate by Mark Kurlansky (March 3)


Mark Kurlansky is really good at picking a single subject that you wouldn’t think worthy of hundreds of pages of exploration, but by the time you get to the end of it, your worldview has totally changed. From Salt to Cod, it’s almost like the guy opens up a dictionary, picks a word out of it and says, “That’s my next book.” For Salmon he looks at the history of the species, but also offers up a warning that saving the fish is critical if we want to save the planet.

My Last Supper by Jay Rayner (March 3)


If you eat for a living, how do you find that one truly exceptional, mind-blowing, world-altering meal? That’s the mission Observer lead restaurant critic Jay Rayner went on, and the critic turned it into one of the most entertaining food books you’ll read this year.

New Waves by Kevin Nguyen (March 10)


What secrets buried in our digital past are supposed to go with us when we die? That’s one of the deeper questions in this twisting, sometimes funny, always smart debut by Kevin Nguyen.

The Hot Hand: The Mystery and Science of Streaks by Ben Cohen (March 10)


“He’s on fire” is easily one of the quotes most younger Gen. X and millennials recall from the video game NBA Jam. But how does somebody get to be on fire — metaphorically speaking? Ben Cohen, a sports reporter at the Wall Street Journal, explores that question in this book that’s about more than just sports.

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel (March 24)


Emily St. John Mandel had been writing novels that went sort of under the radar for some time before putting out the modern dystopian classic Station Eleven in 2014, but that was the book that really put her on the map. Six years later, she’s released The Glass Hotel, an atmospheric mystery set in the northwest that you’ll want to read while putting winter to rest.

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby (March 31)


Samantha Irby is quite possibly the funniest essayist in America right now. Here, she explores the trappings of hitting 40 and suddenly having some success: the good, the bad and the utterly hilarious.

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