Santa may be gone (thanks for the tube socks!), but I have plenty of remaining literary wishes for 2019:
- Concise science books for nonscientists: Because the war on science has rarely been stronger, we need more books for those who—like me—believe wholeheartedly in scientific pursuits but aren’t ready for a 500-page book on quantum mechanics or microbiology. Think Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, The Sixth Extinction, etc.
- More books from historically marginalized perspectives: Despite the current administration’s conviction that the default “normal” is white, straight, and Christian, the U.S., as a whole, is far different in its sociological and cultural makeup—and a much better place because of it. Consequently, we need more books from historically marginalized perspectives to counter misinformation and provide much-needed education on diversity and intersectionality. My colleagues on the children’s and YA side, Vicky Smith and Laura Simeon, are pioneering with the groundbreaking Kirkus Collections program. Let’s follow their lead into the new year.
- Any book from a New Yorker contributor: Lawrence Wright, Jill Lepore, Atul Gawande, David Remnick, Roz Chast, Elif Batuman, Hilton Als, Steve Coll, Ronan Farrow, Dana Goodyear, Adam Gopnik…I could go on for pages. I’m not sure I’ve read a mediocre book from any regular contributor to the New Yorker. If you can write for them, it seems you are capable of writing an acclaimed book.
- More sports books like Dave Zirin’s Jim Brown: I’m a huge sports fan, but I shy away from many sports-related books because they’re too superficial or dry in their recounting of scores, stats, etc. Zirin’s biography included a significant sociological and political element that deepened the narrative immensely. Granted, Jim Brown’s life is a subject that invites further investigation off the field, but sports biographers could take some cues from Zirin’s portrait.
Eric Liebetrau is the nonfiction and managing editor.