By: Em Perper

What are you looking forward to reading this week? Starting Tuesday, September 19, you travel the country with retirees, pore over campy horror novels, and run away and join the circus. Welcome back to Sneak Peek Sunday!

What happens when retirement comes up short? These aging Americans—“workampers”—hit the road, forming a transient workforce living out of RVs. In Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, journalist Jessica Bruder joins this community as they harvest beets, work for Amazon, and clean campground bathrooms. Fans of Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich and Evicted by Matthew Desmond will appreciate Bruder’s immersive approach to storytelling and the fascinating folks who populate her book. Curious Iguana captain Marlene loved Nomadland: It’s “fascinating – and scary, particularly for those of us who may have ‘underprepared’ for retirement. I can’t stop thinking (and talking) about this book,” she wrote. Catch an early glimpse of Nomadland; read Bruder’s original reporting, “The End of Retirement,” at Harper’s. (W.W. Norton, $26.95)

Grady Hendrix is beloved for his horror novels, Horrorstor and My Best Friend’s Exorcism. They’re funny and occasionally campy but beautifully designed, terrifying, and well-executed, pun intended. There’s no author better suited to write Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a compendium of the best, pulpiest horror novels of the 1970s and ’80s, complete with plot summaries, author profiles, and, of course, gory, gorgeous cover art. You can take a look inside Paperbacks from Hell here, but be sure to pick up a physical copy from Curious Iguana; it’s even better in person. Read it with the lights on and your friends close. (Quirk/Random House, $24.99)

The story goes like this: A rabbi’s son runs away from his home in Prague and joins the circus. He has a new name: The Great Zabbatini. When World War II breaks out, he is sentenced to a concentration camp, but survives in part because of his arsenal of magician’s tricks. Almost 70 years later, ten-year-old Max needs a solution to keep his family from falling apart. After discovering an old record of Zabbatini’s finest moments, he seeks out the aging magician, and the two develop an unexpected friendship that stretches further back in time than either of them could’ve ever imagined. This is The Trick, a generous, heartfelt debut novel from Emanuel Bergmann. (Atria/Simon & Schuster, $26)


  • The Good People by Hannah Kent
  • The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott
  • Thalia: A Texas Trilogy by Larry McMurty
  • Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller
  • Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
  • Null States by Malka Older
  • The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs by Janet Perry
  • Zero-G: Green Space by William Shatner and Jeff Rovin
  • The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall


  • Where the Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti
  • Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau
  • National Geographic Atlas of Beer: A Globe-Trotting Journey Through the World of Beer by Nancy Hoalst-Pullen and Mark W. Patterson
  • The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors by Dan Jones
  • Alone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat Into Victory by Michael Korda
  • Why Dinosaurs Matter by Kenneth Lacovara
  • Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years by David Litt
  • The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes that Inspired the Little House Books by Marta McDowell
  • The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison
  • Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change by Ellen Pao
  • On Being Awesome: A Unified Theory of How to Not Suck by Nick Riggle