Well, fellow book lovers, I’m bowing out. I’ve read my last book and I’m moving to an ashram to be totally alone with my thoughts.

OK, so that’s not true. The ashram part anyway. This is my last column, however, and with its culmination I leave you a final preview of all the good, great, and exciting new books from everybody’s favorite authors—coming soon to a Kindle near you.

Please read all of them—or any book that moves you. I don’t think books are dying, and as hard as it is to believe, I don’t think technology has made us worse readers or writers. All the talent for and love of words is still out there, which is a relief, because I wouldn’t last five minutes in an ashram.

 

1. Maya’s Notebook, by Isabel Allende (April)

Stepping away from the magical realism she’s so famous for, Allende instead tackles the life and times of Maya, a clever girl quickly descending into depravity after her beloved grandfather dies. Never far from her South American roots, Allende rescues Maya to Chile, where she weaves the threads of her past and present, and Maya begins to recover her purpose and well-being.

2. Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, by David Sedaris (April)

Everyone’s favorite humorist is back with another essay collection, and this time his observations take him from Beijing toilets to a North Carolina Costco, where no doubt hilarity will ensue. (When I wrote my column about funny books, several friends were gobsmacked I didn’t include Sedaris. So, here you go friends. Who’s laughing now?)

3. The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari, Paul Theroux (May)

From one of our most treasured travel writers comes a journey back to the country that started it all. Theroux first fell in love with Africa as a 22-year old Peace Corps volunteer, and now, 50 years later, his 2,500-mile road trip from cities to shanty towns is a reckoning for him and the roads he’s traveled.

4. And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini (May)

Hosseini skyrocketed to fame with his huge hit The Kite Runner and its sequel A Thousand Splendid Suns, and he’s back with another novel about the life of the heart. This time, he examines the bonds that shape a family across generations and geography and how sacrifice, betrayal, and love ultimately shape who we are and who we choose to keep close.

5. Joyland, Stephen King (June)

From horror authority Stephen King comes some hard-boiled action, with all the elements of a good crime novel—including the early ’70s, southern secrets, carnivals, and a meddling college kid. King also has another book coming out this year, a sequel of sorts to The Shining called Doctor Sleep, which finds us reconnecting with a grown-up Dan Torrance still struggling with his “red rum” issues. Perfect for a creepy trip to an abandoned hotel.

 

6. TransAtlantic, Colum McCann (June)

McCann’s Let the Great World Spin is one of those novels that demands a real reading. You have to pay attention, but you never forget it, like lingering snapshots of your own life. There is a lot of great modern fiction, but it is unusual to find a current popular author so deeply committed to serious prose. McCann’s latest, TransAtlantic, spans the last two centuries, from America to Dublin, from Frederick Douglass to George Mitchell, from real heroes to fictional ones, and the history and identity that bind them all together.

7. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (June)

Gaiman, the modern-day master of twisted whimsy, conceives a tale of terror unleashed when one man’s suicide sets loose an ancient menace on Ocean’s narrator, whose only protection is three eccentric, bewitching women who live at the end of the lane. Like all good fantasy, Gaiman does more than just make magic—he renders his stories with poignancy and heartache.

8. Big Brother, Lionel Shriver (June)

Shriver was practically revered as a social scientist after her school massacre novel and the subsequent movie We Need to Talk About Kevin managed to invoke all the confused feelings associated with violent teenagers who commit heinous crimes. Personally, I have mixed emotions about Kevin (manipulative, implausible, overwritten), but her latest social commentary novel Big Brother is about obesity, a topic not often approached in fiction. Pandora loves to cook, but her husband no longer wants to eat what she’s making, while at the same time her once svelte brother comes to live with her, now morbidly overweight. Big Brother is about being fat and what it means socially and specifically, but it’s also about how far we’ll go when someone we love maybe can’t be saved.

Photo of woman reading courtesy of Shutterstock.