You know how, when you’re extremely hungry, you look at your friend on the playground and you dream of their head turning into a turkey drumstick or a milkshake? We’ve lately been preparing for Orion’s first ever Flowers Week (coming soon!), and in the haze of this, nothing isn’t botanical. So it wasn’t a huge surprise when our attempt to list the books we’re most looking forward to this year turned into: Who wore it better, 2023’s most anticipated books or some flowers?
I should note that the exercise hit a hard stop when we saw the blurbs for C Pam Zhang’s new book, but no cover design. The majority of this list comes out in the first half of this year, so if we still have flowers on the brain in July, we’ll follow it with part two.
Also, there are so many amazing books coming out this year whose covers simply didn’t have a flower doppelganger. So, with apologies to Camille Dungy, Kelly Link, and Zadie Smith, here’s our list.
The Climate Book
Following her collection of speeches No One Is too Small to Make a Difference, Thunberg turns her attention to those in a position to advise and, occasionally, to implement change. This massive anthology gathers thoughts, wisdom, concerns, and solutions from over a hundred climate experts, along with observations from Thunberg on how we might find our way to survival.
To be released on 2/14/23 by Penguin
The Written World and the Unwritten World: Essays
Italo Calvino, Tr. Ann Goldstein
From beyond the grave comes another collection of Calvino essays — this one pulling from introductions, speeches, and other lovely discoveries from the margins of his career.
Released on 1/17/23 from Mariner Books Classics
Fieldwork: A Forager’s Memoir
Jesse Ball, who’s always saying stuff like this, says that reading Fieldwork is like “using bolt cutters to break into the dark barn of memory.”
A superstar Chicago chef hangs up her… cloche (?) and turns to foraging. Having left her Michelin-star restaurant Elizabeth, Regan headed for the woods, an experience she documents in this memoir of family, gender, and mushrooms.
Released on 1/24/23 by Agate
Old Babes in the Wood
A new collection of short stories from an author whose bio refers to her past lives as “a cartoonist, illustrator, librettist, playwright and puppeteer.”
To be released on 3/7/23 by Doubleday
“If the literary gods mixed together Haruki Murakami and Ralph Ellison, the result would be Victor LaValle,” says Anthony Doerr, who’s got the whole family tree worked out.
All I needed to know about this is that the main character has a steamer trunk which, when opened, causes the people around her to disappear. (Squint hard enough at the lemon and you’ll see it.)
To be released on 3/21/23 by One World
Mira Jacob calls it “a wild blessing of a debut.”
Here is our protagonist: working at a mall aquarium, drinking something called a sharktini (gin and Mountain Dew), and confiding, as we all do, in a giant Pacific octopus called Dolores.
To be released on 3/28/23 by Vintage
The Great Reclamation
The best art is invariably wondered about, rather than described, so it’s promising to see blurbs like this one, from Elizabeth McCracken: “How does Rachel Heng write about the imaginary and the historical in a way that they are both equally believable and moving and strange?”
A Singaporean teen discovers his magic power: he can sense an entire geography of invisible moving islands.
To be released on 3/28/23 by Random House
Look at the Lights, My Love
Annie Ernaux, Tr. Alison L. Strayer
In the wake of her Nobel Prize, Ernaux goes shopping. Observing life at a big-box superstore outside of Paris, she sees an entire microcosm of modern humanity: greed, pleasure, tragedy, compassion, and survival.
To be released on 4/4/23 by Yale University Press
The New Yorker called him “the weird Thoreau.”
A reissue of Jeff VanderMeer’s first novel, introduced by Charles Yu and packaged with five short stories appearing together for the first time.
To be released on 4/11/23 by MCD
The Last Animal
Samantha Hunt once wrote that in her work, Ausubel “cracks open the very idea of a book and fills its shell with a thing glimmering, thrilling, and new.”
Two sisters are forced to spend the summer with their scientist mother in Siberia, where they accidentally unearth the preserved body of a baby mammoth.
To be released on 4/18/23 by Riverhead