Many people ask how I choose the books for this column. The answer is a combination of industry experience, deep research and . . . alchemy. If I knew for sure which superb books would hit it big, I would have selected Valeria Luiselli’s novel “The Lost Children Archive” last month. So consider this list a guide, not a prescription. Your local booksellers and librarians will have their own worthy titles to recommend.
“The Wall,” by John Lanchester (March 5)
Novelist and financial journalist Lanchester (“Capital,” “Fragant Harbor”) deeply comprehends how market forces influence daily lives. His latest centers on an island nation surrounded by a government-sanctioned concrete barrier. Its purpose? To keep “The Others” out. Too soon? Or just in time?
“Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls: A Memoir,” by T Kira Madden (March 5)
What’s stranger? Being a queer, biracial teenager struggling with too much privilege and too little oversight? Or a town like Boca Raton, Fla., where racism, white-collar crime and unrealistic standards threaten that teenager’s existence? Madden, “a writer, photographer, and amateur magician,” pulls a rabbit out of her hat and turns her life into art in this gorgeous reckoning.
“Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler,” by Lynne Olson (March 5)
The audacity of Marie-Madeleine Fourcade (code name “Hedgehog”) cannot be exaggerated. Just 31 years old in 1941, she became France’s only female chef de Résistance. Her network provided more intelligence than any other — and Fourcade escaped twice after capture, once slipping naked through the bars of a cell. Is the movie underway?
“Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness,” by Gretchen Rubin (March 5)
Move over, Marie Kondo: America’s foremost guru on happiness (“The Happiness Project,” “The Four Tendencies”) is coming for your tidy principles. Rubin believes when it comes to organizing “for most of us, a rigid, one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work.” Her book may particularly spark joy for you if you’re stuck with necessary items that nevertheless don’t work for you.
“A Woman Is No Man,” by Etaf Rum (March 5)
Debut novelist Rum was born, like her protagonist Deya, in Brooklyn to Palestinian immigrants. The marriage of Deya’s parents was arranged, and the secrets of their union both constrain and free their daughter who has dreams of a college education.
“The Bird King,” by G. Willow Wilson (March 12)
2012’s “Alif the Unseen” established Wilson as a politically minded fantasy writer. “The Bird King” takes place during the reign of the last Iberian sultan, when a concubine and a mapmaker attempt to escape imminent danger from the incoming Christian Spanish rule. Their journey (accompanied by a fantastical creature) finds beauty amid the backdrop of political upheaval.
“26 Marathons: What I Learned About Faith, Identity, Running, and Life From My Marathon Career,” by Meb Keflezighi and Scott Douglas (March 19)
Keflezighi is a four-time Olympian who has won the Boston and New York marathons — so it’s fitting that his 2017 New York Marathon was not just his last, but his 26th. That’s one marathon race per marathon mile for an athlete whose wisdom and lessons aren’t just for runners.
“Horizon,” by Barry Lopez (March 19)
Lopez (“Arctic Dreams”) blends literary journalism, memoir and travelogue that’s so compelling it deserves its own genre. Here, he traverses the globe, from western Oregon to the Galapagos, Antarctica and beyond, and along the way he considers the history of human discovery, the present-day connections he makes and the realities of climate change.
“The Other Americans,” by Laila Lalami (March 26)
Pulitzer Prize finalist Lalami (“The Moor’s Account”) may be our finest contemporary chronicler of immigration and its discontents. Her new novel spares no one, and it’s the kind of page-turning mystery you crave for a rainy reading weekend. The book uses different perspectives to uncover the real story behind a Moroccan immigrant’s death in a California intersection.
“The Old Drift,” by Namwali Serpell (March 26)
For once, the PR is right: This really is “the Great Zambian Novel you didn’t know you were waiting for.” From 1904 to the near future, Serpell’s story focuses on three families as they contend with a country that keeps evolving in unexpected ways. I may not get everything right all the time, but I’m certain about this one. Read it.
Bethanne Patrick is the editor, most recently, of “The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians and Other Remarkable People.”