Writing, Publishing, and Book Reviews
Lose 10 pounds! Give up sugar forever!—traditionally, these are the kinds of messages promoted in start-the-year-off-right books. For 2023, new titles instead suggest forgoing drastic changes in favor of attainable improvements and deep inner work.
“A January juice cleanse is not going to solve your problems,” says psychiatrist Pooja Lakshmin, founder and CEO of women’s mental-health digital platform Gemma and author of Real Self- Care (Penguin Life, Mar. 2023). “The new year is the perfect time to reflect on commodified self-care.”
The title of Jonathan Lethem’s 2003 best-selling novel, The Fortress of Solitude, is an allusion to Superman’s private retreat, located far away from his primary residence in Metropolis, the sprawling city that in many ways defines the Man of Steel. Likewise, Lethem, who is known to many readers for writing about his own metropolis, Brooklyn, New York, is often found in another, more secluded home, in Blue Hill, Maine.
The pandemic prompted many people to reassess what they prioritized in the “before times.” Among them is
Caldecott-winning author and illustrator Sophie Blackall. Her Things to Look Forward To (Chronicle, Mar. 2022)
details 52 simple, and sometimes idiosyncratic, moments of joy: learning a new word, not opening a present—
even making a list.
Boston College English professor Min Hyoung Song, in Climate Lyricism (Duke Univ., Feb.), proposes that reading literature with an eye toward how such works acknowledge, allude to,
or obscure the pervasiveness of the climate crisis “can make it easier to think
about climate change without feeling
The notion that attention spans are narrowing isn’t new, but the past year has brought even more reasons for shrinking mental bandwidth. Readers seeking neural nourishment can look away from their conspiracy-minded cousins’ Twitter feeds and toward forthcoming essay and short fiction
and collections, novellas, and quick-study nonfiction. We’re not judging anyone swept up by the vertiginously
rotating news cycle, but we hope these books can bring screen-bleary eyes back to the page.
Here’s a sobering thought: the Covid-19 pandemic has been with us long enough that the first books written on the subject
have already moved to the backlist. By July 2020, Hachette had published science journalist Debora MacKenzie’s Covid-19: The Pandemic That Never Should Have Happened and How to Stop the Next One; four months later, Apollo’s Arrow by Nicholas A. Christakis (Little, Brown Spark), “a comprehensive and evidence-based rundown of the Covid-19 pandemic from December 2019 to August 2020,” per PW’s review,