The 250 selections that I have made of books to be published between January 2016 and May 2016 are a reminder of the strength of American publishing. It is doing well its job of publishing noteworthy books.
My selections have been made by browsing through publishers’ spring catalogs. I estimates that I looked through at least 200 seasonal catalogues and considered 8,880 titles. Once sent to buyers in book stores around the country, these catalogs are now electronically available on ‘Edelweiss; Above the Tree Line’, without which I could never have accomplished this huge task.
My selections for this season are arranged under the following categories:
Politics. Economics. ♦ American Studies. ♦ American History. ♦ Twentieth-Century Conflicts. ♦ European History. Asian. ♦ Ireland, A Centenary. ♦ Cities. Places. ♦ Art. Architecture. Photography. ♦ Performing Arts. ♦ Nature. ♦ Science. Medicine. ♦ Religion. ♦ Florida. Regional.
Most of the titles selected are intended for the general reader. They are books that I would like to read (assuming infinite time). In the interest of balance, I have included titles with alternative views. I plead guilty, however, to a left bias. Perhaps to a fault, I read books by authors with whom I would tend to agree.
Many categories are not covered in my selection. My list is all non-fiction. But there are, as well, non-fiction categories that I don’t include: self-help and inspirational titles, parenting, life-style, food preparation, house decorating, others. Most memoirs I skip; I consider them to be ‘fictional’ in character, often of their troubled lives, and not included. Biographies, however, are included and are scattered amongst several categories. I tend not to include books that cost more than $45.00 (hardbacks) and $25.00 (paper). I have included paper editions of some books that were previously published in hardback.
I am dubious of books that have a title like “Something is Wrong and How to Fix It.” Their claim to know how to fix things seems presumptuous. The “something wrong” seems to have been formulated to warrant the author’s particular prescription.
Passions of mine include South Asia (my academic field, once upon a time), European history, American studies, and the World Wars. The centenary of U.S. entry into the Great War is approaching; there are interesting titles dealing with the war and its aftermath. World War II ended seventy years ago. I find both wars fascinating, though not particularly, military history.
I much admire the university presses. This season Yale University Press and Oxford University Press were the two that published the most titles on my New Books list. Princeton University Press, University of Chicago Press, Harvard University Press, New York University Press, and University of Kansas Press, had interesting lists. And of course, there are good titles from the University of Florida Press. Sadly hardbacks from university presses are expensive, so I have included those titles when published in paper editions, usually within a year or so after the initial hardback edition.
Random House continues to publish many good titles under various imprints. Hachette had a good list this year. But the “conglomerates” publish proportionally fewer of the kind of titles that I find interesting. Medium & small presses: Bloomsbury Press out of New York, London, Sydney, and New Delhi was the most impressive this season. W.W. Norton and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, two medium-sized houses, should be mentioned. They straddle the trade-textbook line – as did Goerings Book Store. There are titles from many, many small presses but few with more than two or three titles included in my list.
Hats off to the Alachua County Library District. It is amazing how many of my list of New and Recent Books it has. I frequently have to wait my turn, so they are being read by its patrons.