Around the bookstore

New books to look forward to in 2024.


Watching the Christmas decorations come down on Main Street in Edgartown caused a sigh to slip out; it always seems they come down a week too soon — but that’s me, someone who’d like to keep Christmas going a while longer. However, as it seemed everyone else on Main Street was stripping away Christmas, we did too.

In the quiet and almost perpetual twilight of the stormy weather that began this year, we begin to prep for “the season,” which will be here before we know it. But at this exact moment we seem an eternity away from the summer hustle, giving us (me, at least) a chance to breathe, think, plan, and to do a bit of reading while checking out what’s coming up — for both me and the bookstore.

I finished up “Last Call at the Hotel Imperial,” a look at four reporters, three men, one woman, who shaped America’s view of what was happening in Europe during the lead-up to WWII, an interesting story with fascinating parallels to today, and winner of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award.

At the end of last year, “Oath and Honor” by Liz Cheney and “Enough” by Cassidy Hutchinson surprised their publishers with the enormous demand for the books. Both went into multiple extra printings.

There are some books from 2023 to catch up on before you start scooping up 2024 titles. If you’re looking for a fascinating historical fiction read, come in and grab Zadie Smith’s “The Fraud,” based on a true event — a commoner from Australia claiming to be the rightful heir of an English aristocrat.

Looking for a cozy read with echoes of Chekov? Get on the Ann Patchett train with her latest, “Tom Lake.” You can hear the wind whisper through “The Cherry Orchard,” the 19th century Russian’s masterpiece.

Looking for a good chill down the spine? Don’t leave behind Stephen King’s “Holly.” Two professors keep a cage in their basement — that image is enough to make me shiver about what’s going to be on the pages.

It sometimes seems that good book years come every other year. Last year had some wonders, so I began to look toward 2024 with a bit of skepticism, though it seems this year will also be ripe with some great content.

I am not sure what the demand will be this year for political books, as we careen into an election cycle like none other. But I’m sure there’ll be no shortage. First one out of the gate is “Swamp Monsters: Trump vs. DeSantis. The Greatest Show on Earth (Or at Least in Florida).” The title tells you all you need to know about the contents, I think.

Political books will come lobbing out all year, popping like artillery shells, hoping to strike success and a blow at someone or another.

In the midst of political mayhem, I am going to be looking for some lighthearted diversion, so am looking forward to “Everyone on This Train Is a Suspect” by Benjamin Stevenson (author of “Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone.”) As a train rumbles from Darwin to Adelaide, filled with mystery authors, agents, and fans, a murder takes place. Mystery writers should be able to solve a murder, but then they should also know how to murder.

Fascinated by the Aztecs and their conquest by the Spanish, I am looking forward to “You Dreamed of Empires,” a telling of the meeting between Cortés and Moctezuma, a story reviewers have called “dreamlike,” perhaps evoking the work of Gabriel García Márquez (“One Hundred Years of Solitude,” “Love in the Time of Cholera”).

There is “The Showman” to look forward to, the story of the invasion of Ukraine and the making of Zelenskyy, who sometimes appears to be the Churchill of our time. “The Storm We Made,” set in Malaysia, both before and during WWII, underscores the painful choices made in times of hope and trouble.

The 2024 list goes on, a miracle of words pouring forth, flooding toward us, giving us opportunities to run away to fun escapes and to confront the realities of our time, to sweep us up into love stories and to let us retrospect on wars over but still studied.

In the classic film “All About Eve,” Margo Channing, the character played by Bette Davis, turns to her friends and says, “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” 2024 has all the makings of a “bumpy night,” so let books take you away, make you laugh, offer solace, hope, and insight. There is a lot to choose from …

Mathew Tombers is manager of Edgartown Books, and an advocate for all things literary.