Nerdette is taking advantage of the cold weather to cozy up with 12 of the most exciting new books of 2024.
Book Riot’s senior contributing editor Liberty Hardy is always ahead of the curve with her reading – she has already read 58 books from 2024! She joined Nerdette host Greta Johnsen to share some of the titles that they are most excited about this year. From literary novels that “feel like candy” to cult-favorite graphic novels and speculative thrillers, there’s something for every type of reader to look forward to.
Beautyland by Marie-Helene Bertino (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Jan. 16)
The premise of this book – a girl born the day the day the Voyager spacecraft launched from Earth finds out she’s an alien and sends missives about humanity to her superiors via fax machine – sounds like it could make for an unwieldy sci-fi novel, but this is a gorgeous story about the bizarre beauty of human life. It also just happens to be the April selection for Nerdette Book Club!
Martyr! by Kaveh Akbar (Knopf, Jan. 23)
Greta calls Martyr! “truly phenomenal,” which makes it an excellent choice for Nerdette Book Club’s March selection. The novel follows Cyrus, an Iranian American poet and recovering addict, as he contemplates the meaning of life. “He’s trying to decide whether and how he should die and how to make it worthwhile, but there’s such a sweetness to it at the same time,” Greta says.
Interesting Facts About Space by Emily Austin (Atria Books, Jan. 30)
Our protagonist is Enid, who, among other things, loves true crime podcasts and has a phobia of bald men. Most of all, she is obsessed with space. The novel follows Enid through her romantic entanglements and family relationships, as Enid comes to believe that she is being followed. Liberty was already a fan of Emily Austin, who previously wrote Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead. “Austin writes these heartbreaking but funny stories, which are the best kind in my opinion, you know, laugh through the tears,” she says.
Nightwatching by Tracy Sierra (Pamela Dorman Books, Feb. 6)
“If home invasion is high on your list of fears, this is a very stressful book and you might want to skip it,” says Liberty. A mother is home alone with her two children during a blizzard when she realizes someone has entered her home. In the darkness of a crawl space, she struggles to determine what she must do to save her family. When Liberty heard that people had to sleep with the lights on after reading this book, her response was “challenge accepted!” And the book lives up to its reputation.
Anita de Monte Laughs Last, Xochitl Gonzalez (Flatiron Books, March 5)
This campus novel follows Raquel, a first-generation Ivy League student, in the late 90s, and the life of Cuban artist Anita de Monte, who died years earlier and whose work was buried in the footnotes of history. Xochitl Gonzelez’s first book Olga Dies Dreaming was a 2022 Nerdette Book Club pick, and Greta enjoyed this one just as much. “She’s upping the ante in every way and I’m really excited about that,” says Greta.
The Princess of Las Vegas, Chris Bohjalian (Doubleday, March 19)
In this literary thriller, a Princess Diana impersonator and her estranged sister get wrapped up in a series of murders at a dumpy Las Vegas casino. This book is about many things, including cryptocurrency, organized crime and family secrets. Greta calls Chris Bohjalian’s books “juicy but literary at the same time. They’re so smart but feel like candy.”
The Husbands By Holly Gramazio (Doubleday, April 2)
Lauren comes home to her London flat and her husband. The only problem is, she wasn’t married before she left the house! Eventually, Lauren discovers that her attic is switching out her husbands every time one of them enters the room. “She decides, ‘I’m just going to keep sending them up until I get one that I like,’ but like how long can she do that for?” Liberty asks. “There was a huge bidding war for this and they already sold the film rights. You’re going to be hearing about this book everywhere.”
My Favorite Thing is Monsters Book Two by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics, April 9)
The first installment of this graphic novel series, which came out in 2017, was “one of the most sought after books of the last decade,” Liberty says, and for good reason – she says it’s “the greatest graphic novel I have ever read,” so she’s thrilled for this long-awaited sequel. (Plus, it’s set in Chicago!)
A Better World by Sarah Langan (Atria Books, April 9)
Greta was obsessed with Langan’s 2021 novel Good Neighbors, and her next book is just as enthralling. While Greta calls it a “suburban thriller,” Liberty says it’s solidly “social horror.” “This is one of those books that will be very difficult to put down,” Greta says. “You’re just going to read so hard because you have to know what’s going to happen.”
Moonbound by Robin Sloan (MCD Books, June 11)
Robin Sloan is the beloved author of the 2012 novel Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and the 2017 novel Sourdough, about an animate lump of dough, and Liberty says his third novel is just as remarkable. “This is one of the most original, weird, wonderful things I have ever read,” says Liberty, and that might just be all you should know – Liberty recommends starting this one with very few preconceived notions about it.
Bear by Julia Phillips (Hogarth, June 25)
Phillips’ second novel is set in the isolated islands off the coast of Washington. The lush landscape lends itself to fairytales, which means it’s unclear what will happen when a large bear shows up on the property of two sisters. “They both react in very different ways,” Greta says, “but their lives are definitely upended by the appearance of this bear.” The novel is richly atmospheric, but also taut. “I am haunted by it,” Greta says.
The Dead Cat Tail Assassins by P Djeli Clark (Tordotcom, August 6)
This dark fantasy novel follows assassin Eveen the Eviscerator who breaks one of the core vows of her guild of assassins: to complete every job you accept. Her misstep puts her on the wrong side of her fellow assassins, forcing her to confront her past before she gets herself killed. “This is a fast, smart, occasionally super dark novella,” Liberty says. Plus, it’s written by one of her favorite authors.
Greta Johnsen hosts and produces WBEZ’s Nerdette podcast, which Anna Bauman produces.