The paradox of book publishing is that, just as everybody is lamenting a shortage of serious readers, our shelves are creaking with new books. By the end of this year, we're told, 175,000 new titles bearing a 2004 publication date will have coursed into the market. That's 50 percent more than we saw a decade ago. Who's reading? Plenty of you are. Trade publishers are actually reporting a slight uptick in sales, across most categories.
From the 60,000 books yet to be minted this fall, here is an early alert on a hundred or so that have piqued our interest. (Please note: they have yet to be reviewed on these pages.) The list may seem long -- for some, a lifetime of reading -- but look at it this way: It's less than half of one percent (.005!) of the number of titles the industry is offering this year: a shortlist if ever there was one. Literary Fiction
Author, Author, by David Lodge (Viking, Oct.). A great literary critic turns tables and novelizes a great novelist: Henry James.
Bad Dirt, by Annie Proulx (Scribner, Nov.). More stories about quirky Wyomingans, from America's "laureate of landscape."
Banishing Verona, by Margot Livesey (Holt, Nov.). The author of Eva Moves the Furniture offers a story of galvanic love between a pregnant woman and a carpenter.
Casanova in Bolzano, by Sandor Marai (Knopf, Nov.). The notorious lover meets his erotic match, at long last, and at the very end; by the author of Embers.
The Double, by Jose Saramago (Harcourt, Oct.). A depressed history teacher rents a video, spies a man who could be his twin, and sets out to find him.
The Egyptologist, by Arthur Phillips (Random House, Sept.). An archaeologist stakes his reputation on a scrap of Egyptian pornography; by the author of Prague.
Hannah Coulter, by Wendell Berry (Shoemaker & Hoard, Nov.). The latest installment in Berry's narrative of Port William, Ky.
Heir to the Glimmering World, by Cynthia Ozick (Houghton, Sept.). Set in the Bronx, the story of an immigrant clan and their eccentric American benefactor.
The Inner Circle, by T.C. Boyle (Viking, Sept.). A virginal young man takes a job with Dr. Kinsey, the infamous sex researcher; by the author of Drop City.
Magic Seeds, by V.S. Naipaul (Knopf, Nov.). The hero of Half a Life is resurrected as an underground revolutionary in India.
The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth (Houghton, Oct.). Charles Lindbergh becomes president and the country swings hard right, into virulent anti-Semitism.
Villages, by John Updike (Knopf, Oct.). A coming-of-age story in which women -- many, many of them -- are a young man's defining teachers.
War Trash, by Ha Jin (Pantheon, Oct.). The author of Waiting now gives us a story about a Chinese POW held by Americans during the Korean War.
The Zigzag Way, by Anita Desai (Houghton, Nov.). The author of Fasting, Feasting offers this story of an American historian wandering Mexico in search of his ancestors.
Any Place I Hang My Hat, by Susan Isaacs (Scribner, Oct.). A young reporter sets out in search of the mother who abandoned her as a baby.
Human Capital, by Stephen Amidon (FSG, Oct.). A novel about American suburbanites, dirty little secrets and the allure of easy money.
I Am Charlotte Simmons, by Tom Wolfe (FSG, Nov.). College life in the sex-crazed, power-hungry '00s, by the author of Bonfire of the Vanities.
Light on Snow, by Anita Shreve (Little, Brown, Oct.). By the author of Eden Close: When a father and his daughter stumble upon an abandoned baby, family secrets begin to spill.
Mantrapped, by Fay Weldon (Grove, Dec.). A man and a woman brush past each other on the stairs of their local laundromat and end up switching souls; by the author of Auto da Fay.
Nights of Rain and Stars, by Maeve Binchy (Dutton, Sept.). Sudden tragedy electrifies the lives of a group of travelers in a tiny Greek village.
Outside Valentine, by Liza Ward (Holt, Sept.). Obsessed with a serial murderer, a young woman tries to heal ancient wounds.
The Power Game, by Joseph S. Nye Jr. (PublicAffairs, Dec.). A novel of Washington's corridors of power, by the former dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts (St. Martin's, Oct.). A fugitive from a maximum security prison in Australia makes his way to the teeming underworld of Bombay.
The Vagabonds, by Nicholas Delbanco (Warner, Nov.). Ford, Edison and Firestone leave a large fortune to the Saperstones -- hush money for a night of excess with the beneficiaries' grandmother.
The First Desire, by Nancy Reisman (Pantheon, Sept.). An eldest child vanishes at the cusp of the Great Depression -- and the whole family tree creaks and tumbles.
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson (FSG, Nov.). By the author of Housekeeping, an epic of three generations of preachers in a single American family.
Life Mask, by Emma Donoghue (Harcourt, Sept.). Dangerous liaisons in 18th-century London; by the author of Slammerkin.
Love and Honor, by Randall Wallace (Simon & Schuster, Sept.). A Virginia cavalryman travels to Russia on a clandestine mission for Benjamin Franklin.
The Red Queen, by Margaret Drabble (Harcourt, Oct.). On the eve of her trip to Korea, a woman receives a mysterious package from Seoul: the ancient memoir of a crown princess.
Shoulder the Sky, by Anne Perry (Ballantine, Sept.). The story of a World War I British army chaplain who uncovers the murder of a war correspondent -- by one of the soldiers in his care.
Something Dangerous, by Penny Vincenzi (Overlook, Oct.). Born into a publishing empire, the beautiful Lytton twins suddenly find their charmed lives threatened by world events.
To the Last Man, by Jeff Shaara (Ballantine, Oct.). Shaara leaves behind the American Revolution to give us this view from the trenches as America enters World War I.
Mysteries and Suspense
Call for the Dead and A Murder of Quality, by John le Carre (Walker, Oct.). George Smiley, as he first appeared four decades ago -- a reissue of le Carre's first works.
Metro Girl, by Janet Evanovich (HarperCollins, Nov.). Cuban contraband, South Beach bimbos, a missing boat captain -- and the bored Baltimore girl who stumbles into it all.
Night Fall, by Nelson DeMille (Warner, Nov.). An illicit tryst on a beach turns into another kind of obsession when an aircraft explodes overhead.
Skeleton Man, by Tony Hillerman (HarperCollins, Nov.). A new chapter in the Leaphorn and Chee adventures.
A Taint in the Blood, by Dana Stabenow (St. Martin's, Sept.). Twenty years after a fire that claimed her house and brothers, a woman hires Kate Shugak to clear her mother's name.
Whiteout, by Ken Follett (Dutton, Nov.). A canister containing a deadly virus goes missing just as a blizzard descends.
The Winds of Change, by Martha Grimes (Viking, Sept.). A dead girl, a well-known financier, a house of horrors and . . . Superintendent Richard Jury.
Wolves Eat Dogs, by Martin Cruz Smith (S&S, Nov.). Moscow detective Arkady Renko scouts out the dread Chernobyl.
American Smooth, by Rita Dove (Norton, Sept.). Her first collection in five years.
Blue Iris, by Mary Oliver (Beacon, Oct.). New work from a poet of the pastoral.
The Displaced of Capital, by Anne Winters (Univ. of Chicago, Oct.). The long-awaited follow-up to The Key to the City.
Inner Voices, by Richard Howard. (FSG, Oct.). Selected poems.
The Prodigal, by Derek Walcott (FSG, Oct.). A lifetime of journeys.
Taboo, by Yusef Komunyakaa (FSG, Sept.). Part One of his Wishbone Trilogy.
The Unsubscriber, by Bill Knott (FSG, Oct.). By the author of The Naomi Poems.
A Voice: Selected Poems, by Anzhelina Polonskaya (Northwestern, Dec.). A fresh voice from Russia.
Bound to Please, by Michael Dirda (Norton, Nov.). Our man on page 15.
The Five Books of Moses, by Robert Alter (Norton, Sept.). A new translation with commentary.
Gilgamesh, translated by Stephen Mitchell (Free Press, Oct.). A contemporary take on the oldest story in literature.
Guide to Philosophy in Six Hours and Fifteen Minutes and Polish Memories, by Witold Gombrowicz (Yale, Oct.). Two doors to an idiosyncratic mind.
The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, edited by Leslie S. Klinger (Norton, Nov.). Lavishly illustrated, copiously footnoted.
The Proust Project, edited by Andre Aciman (FSG, Nov.). Twenty-eight writers riff on In Search of Lost Time.
A Reading Diary, by Alberto Manguel (FSG, Oct.). Favorites of a discriminating reader.
Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?, by Harold Bloom (Riverhead, Oct.). How literature informs us.
The Bomb in My Garden: The Secrets of Saddam's Nuclear Mastermind, by Mahdi Obeidi and Kurt Pitzer (Wiley, Sept.). At long last: a bead on Iraq's WMD?
The Fall of Baghdad, by Jon Lee Anderson (Penguin, Oct.). The endgame, the toppling, the occupation.
Holy War on the Home Front: The Secret Islamic Terror Network in the United States, by Harvey Kushner with Bart Davis (Sentinel, Nov.). It's only gotten worse, according to this seasoned counselor.
Masters of Chaos: The Secret History of the Special Forces, by Linda Robinson (PublicAffairs, Oct.). From Vietnam to Homeland Security, our elite troops in action.
The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict Between Iran and America, by Kenneth Pollack (Random House, Nov.). By the author of The Threatening Storm, which made the case for invading Iraq.
War and the American Presidency, by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. (Norton, Sept.). On the dangers of preventive wars.
The Wastrels of Defense: How Congress Sabotages U.S. Security, by Winslow T. Wheeler (Naval Institute, Oct.). How money is diverted from the U.S. war chest to pork and personal agendas.
America in the World
America Alone: Our Country's Future as a Lone Warrior, by Mark Steyn (Regnery, Oct.). The West as a coalition is over, says Steyn. The world is either with us or against us.
Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism, by Cornel West (Penguin, Sept.). Our failures abroad flow from our hypocrisies at home.
The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, by Jeremy Rifkin (Tarcher, Sept.). The European model is better suited to our time.
Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West, by Timothy Garton Ash (Random, Nov.). We need to work together: a historian describes the future.
Home Alone America: The Hidden Toll of Day Care, Wonder Drugs, and Other Parent Substitutes, by Mary Eberstadt (Sentinel, Nov.). Is anyone parenting anymore?
What We've Lost, by Graydon Carter (FSG, Sept.). The editor of Vanity Fair calls Bush's agenda too radical.
You Have the Power, by Howard Dean (S&S, Sept.). The former presidential candidate imagines a more muscular Democratic Party.
Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, by John Ferling (Oxford, Sept.). The race that shaped the nation.
Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, by Kevin Boyle (Holt, Sept.). An accomplished black doctor, a terrible shooting . . . and Clarence Darrow.
Deceiving the Deceivers: Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, and Guy Burgess, by S.J. Hamrick (Yale, Oct.). The British knew all along that Soviet spies were among them.
Dragons of Expectation: Reality and Delusion in the Course of History, by Robert Conquest (Norton, Dec.). A master scholar decries the false nostrums of academe.
Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918, by Joseph E. Persico (Random, Nov.). The last day of World War I.
Israel on the Appomattox: A Southern Experiment in Black Freedom from the 1790s Through the Civil War, by Melvin Patrick Ely (Knopf, Sept.). America's first fully integrated community.
Liberty and Freedom, by David Hackett Fischer (Oxford, Oct.). A cultural history of two founding principles.
Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love, and Death in Renaissance Italy, by Sarah Bradford (Viking, Nov.). The shrewd, beautiful noblewoman in her roiling and ruthless time.
Making Friends With Hitler: Lord Londonderry, the Nazis, and the Road to War, by Ian Kershaw (Penguin, Nov.). A British aristocrat backed the wrong horse -- but there's more to the story.
The Mystery of Olga Chekhova, by Antony Beevor (Viking, Sept.). She was Chekhov's niece and Hitler's favorite actress.
Slavery and the Making of America, by James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton (Oxford, Oct.). A companion to the PBS series.
The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty, by Kitty Kelley (Doubleday, Sept.). The queen of unauthorized biography takes on the leader of the land.
His Excellency: George Washington, by Joseph J. Ellis (Knopf, Oct.). Our all-too-human first president.
John James Audubon: The Making of an American by Richard Rhodes (Knopf, Oct.). The master illustrator, from immigrant to pioneer.
Let Me Tell You a Story, by Red Auerbach and John Feinstein (Little, Brown, Oct.). A basketball legend teams up with a famed sportswriter.
The Life of Graham Greene, Vol. III, by Norman Sherry (Viking, Oct.). Oct. 2 will mark the centenary of this remarkable literary figure.
The World's Banker, by Sebastian Mallaby (Penguin, Oct.). James Wolfensohn and his global empire of 10,000 financiers.
Gods of Tin: The Flying Years, by James Salter (Shoemaker & Hoard, Oct.). His days as a fighter pilot in Korea.
Magical Thinking, by Augusten Burroughs (St. Martin's, Oct.). Personal stories by the author of Running with Scissors.
My Life with Pablo Neruda, by Matilde Urrutia (Stanford, Oct.). The poet's lover, muse, wife and widow tells it from her perspective.
Running with the Bulls: My Years with the Hemingways, by Valerie Hemingway (Ballantine, Oct.). From Papa's daughter-in-law and personal secretary.
The Story of a Life, by Aharon Appelfeld (Schocken, Oct.). Vignettes from the author of Badenheim 1939.
A Tale of Love and Darkness, by Amos Oz (Harcourt, Oct.). The Israeli novelist's account of growing up in war-torn Jerusalem.
Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger, by Nigel Slater (Gotham, Oct.). A food writer savors his childhood.
The Arts and Entertainment
All in the Dances: A Brief Life of George Balanchine, by Terry Teachout (Harcourt, Nov.); and George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker, by Robert Gottlieb (HarperCollins, Nov.). A two-step for the master.
Cary Grant, by Marc Eliot (Harmony, Sept.). The very fetching Archibald Leach, from boy to superstar.
Disneywar: The Battle for the Magic Kingdom, by James B. Stewart (S&S, Nov.). Scrapping for control of the entertainment empire.
The Inner Voice, by Renee Fleming (Viking, Nov.). A soprano's heart-throat-mind connection.
The King & I, by Herbert Breslin and Anne Midgette (Doubleday, Oct.). Pavarotti's manager isn't going to take it any more.
Margot Fonteyn, by Meredith Daneman (Viking, Oct.). The genius of a ballerina.
Weather Bird: Jazz at the Dawn of Its Second Century, by Gary Giddins (Oxford, Nov.). A collection by the leading jazz critic.
Culture, Race, Religion
The Artificial White Man, by Stanley Crouch (Basic, Oct.). Who's the real deal? And how black is black enough?
Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA, by Tim Junkin (Algonquin, Sept.). For another man's brutal crime, Kirk Bloodsworth was going to die.
Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America, by James Webb (Broadway, Oct.). The Counsels of Cormac: The Ancient Irish Guide to Leadership, translated by Thomas Cleary (Doubleday, Sept.). The Last of the Celts, by Marcus Tanner (Yale, Oct.). Oh, glorious isles!
An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World, by Pankaj Mishra (FSG, Oct.). Just as the Buddha set out to find life's true meaning, Mishra sets out to find the Buddha.
Exuberance, by Kay Redfield Jamison (Knopf, Sept.). The celebrated psychiatrist on how a passion for life can fuel achievement.
Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future, by Ben J. Wattenberg (Ivan Dee, Oct.). How will birth dearth affect an economy fueled by growth?
Green River, Running Red, by Ann Rule (Free, Oct.). The 21-year career of a serial murderer.
When Jesus Came to Harvard: Making Moral Choices Today, by Harvey Cox (Houghton, Dec.). Jesus didn't just hand out answers; he taught us to think.
Why Some Like It Hot, by Gary Paul Nabhan (Island, Sept.). Your genes are hardwired to love jalapenos or, perhaps, hardwired to hate them.
Science and the Environment
The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, by Richard Dawkins (Houghton, Oct.). Back in time to the first bacterium.
Bicycle: The History, by David V. Herlihy (Yale, Nov.). Two wheels against the world.
Life at the Zoo: Behind the Scenes with the Animal Doctors, by Phillip T. Robinson (Columbia, Oct.). The pleasures and perils of running a modern zoo.
On the Wing: To the Edge of the Earth with the Peregrine Falcon, by Alan Tennant (Knopf, Sept.). A rattletrap Cessna chases the stately bird, from Texas to the Caribbean.
Vaccine A: The Covert Pentagon Experiment That's Killing American Soldiers, by Gary Matsumoto (Basic, Sept.). How thousands of U.S. and British troops were unwitting guinea pigs to immunization research. *
Marie Arana is the editor of Book World. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.