After a week of decompression following the madness that is Best-of season—wading through galleys, frantically  reading books, heatedly discussing with my reviewers, making lists, culling lists, etc.—it’s time to look ahead to 2015. Since we review books a few months before publication date, I can say with confidence that the first few months of the new year are packed with outstanding reading material to while away the doldrums of January and February.

Sarah MangusoRoger Rosenblatt, David O. Stewart, Barry Strauss and Alan Lightman all have new books publishing in the first couple months of 2015, and all received positive reviews in this magazine. In addition, here are five more nonfiction books I’m particularly excited to read:

  • Johann Hari, Chasing the Scream. In this “compassionate and humane” book, as our reviewer wrote, the author is “a sharp judge of character” who examines the many failures of the war on drugs.
  • Erik Larson, Dead Wake. It’s Erik Larson; need I say more? Here, the consummate storyteller tackles the mysteries surrounding the sinking of the Lusitania 100 years ago.
  • Paterniti cover. Helen Macdonald, H Is for Hawk. I love books that explore the interactions of humans and the environment, and this one looks to be top-notch. As Kirkus said, “Whether you call this a personal story or nature writing, it’s poignant, thoughtful and moving—and likely to become a classic in either genre.”
  • Michael Paterniti, Love and Other Ways of Dying. Paterniti’s previous book, The Telling Room, was one of my favorite nonfiction books of the past few years, and this collection of essays, which we called “[r]eal-world storytelling of the highest order,” certainly won’t disappoint.
  • David Shields and Caleb Powell, I Think You’re Totally Wrong. In a conversation with Powell, critic and writing teacher Shields, the author of the transcendent genre-buster Reality Hunger, discusses writing, fatherhood, mortality and women, among other topics, in a “stimulating intellectual interaction with lots of heart.” —E.L.

Eric Liebetrau is the nonfiction and managing editor at Kirkus Reviews.