By: Em Perper

I wrote this Sneak Peek in one of my favorite Frederick coffee shops. Outside, it smells like autumn, my favorite season. This morning, dressed in jeans, a flannel button-down, and a lightweight scarf, and I felt like myself for the first time in months. Thank you, Maryland weather gods, for blessing us. But you’re not here to hear me wax poetic about a high of 70 degrees; you’re here for the books. And boy, do we have books for you: Ta-Nehisi Coates! Masha Gessen! Caitlin Doughty! I wish I had time to highlight each of the 30-plus titles debuting Tuesday, so I’ve bolded a few more favorites in the lists at the end of this post.

Masha Gessen is an award-winning Russian-American journalist and activist who’s written books about Vladimir Putin, Pussy Riot, the Boston Marathon bombing, gene therapy, and her grandmothers’ experiences during World War II. She is the writer I turned to for strength and clarity after the 2016 election, specifically her article “Autocracy: Rules for Survival.” So I’m thrilled for her new book, The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia. Longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award in Nonfiction, Gessen examines Russia’s descent into autocracy via the lives of several individuals born after the fall of the Soviet Union, when it seemed democracy might have a chance to take hold. Library Journal said it “[offers] a dire warning of how other nations could fall under a similar spell of state control”; Pankaj Mishra said it’s “a fine example of journalism approximating art.” You can read an excerpt from The Future is History at BuzzFeed Reader. (Riverhead/Penguin, $28)

Like Masha Gessen, Ta-Nehisi Coates is an incontrovertibly important cultural critic. Following his powerful National Book Award-winning treatise Between The World and Me, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy collects essays about reparations, race, family, the election and legacy of Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. While Coates has covered many of these topics for The Atlantic, there is new, personal material, too; We Were Eight Years in Power traces Coates’ immense growth as a writer. At the Washington Post, nonfiction book critic Carlos Lozada commented, “Together, these introspections are the inside story of a writer at work, with all the fears, insecurities, influences, insights and blind spots that the craft demands. There are two books here, really.” In this writer’s opinion, you can’t go wrong with either. (One World/Random House, $28)

To develop her understanding of international burial rites and funeral customs, 33-year-old mortician and activist Caitlin Doughty spent three years writing and travelling to Bolivia, Indonesia, Spain, Colorado, and Japan. The result is From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death. Doughty takes death seriously, but she believes the death-averse attitude of American society does more harm than good. Rather than reckon with and accept death, we tend to avoid discussing it altogether. Doughty wants to change that. Through her first memoir, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes; her organization, The Order of the Good Death; and her webseries, “Ask a Mortician,” Doughty is bringing levity and thoughtfulness to our approach towards death and dying. (W.W. Norton, $24.95)


  • T.C. Boyle, The Relive Box and Other Stories
  • Dan Brown, Origin
  • Wiley Cash, The Last Ballad
  • Jennifer Egan, Manhattan Beach
  • Jeffrey Eugenides, Fresh Complaint: Stories
  • Mark Helprin, Paris in the Present Tense
  • Dirk Kurbjuweit, Fear
  • Matthew McIntosh, Themystery.doc
  • K. Arsenault Rivera, The Tiger’s Daughter
  • Rivers Solomon, An Unkindness of Ghosts
  • David Walton, The Genius Plague
  • David Wong, What the Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror








  • Rupi Kaur, The Sun and Her Flowers



  • Dan Buettner, The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons from the World’s Happiest People
  • Roz Chast, Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York
  • Sara Clemence, Away & Aware: A Field Guide to Mindful Travel
  • Tim Federle, Life is Like a Musical: How to Live, Love, and Lead Like a Star
  • Tristan Gooley, How to Read Nature: Awaken Your Senses to the Outdoors You’ve Never Noticed
  • Gazmend Kapllani, A Short Border Handbook: A Journey Through the Immigrant’s Labyrinth
  • Amanda Litman, Run For Something: A Real-Talk Guide to Fixing the System Yourself
  • Jaime Lowe, Mental: Lithium, Love, and Losing My Mind
  • Linda Akeson McGurk, There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge)
  • Armistead Maupin, Logical Family: A Memoir
  • Samhita Mukhopadhyay & Kate Harding, Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America
  • Adam Rutherford, A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes
  • Melanie Shankle, Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up a Life
  • Tererai Trent, The Awakened Woman: Remembering & Reigniting Our Sacred Dreams
  • Jeannie Vanasco, The Glass Eye
  • Supriya Vani, Battling Injustice: 16 Women Nobel Peace Laureates
  • Garry Wills, What the Qur’an Meant: And Why It Matters
  • Edward O. Wilson, The Origins of Creativity










The Best American Series—2017 anthologies, sorted by editor:

  • John Joseph Adams, Science Fiction and Fantasy
  • Lauren Collins, Travel Writing
  • Hope Jahren, Science and Nature Writing
  • Leslie Jamison, Essays
  • Ben Katchor, Comics
  • John Sandford, Mystery Stories
  • Glenn Stout, Sports Writing
  • Sarah Vowell, Nonrequired Reading
  • Meg Wolitzer, Short Stories