The words of the wise are like goads and like nails driven in — from the composers of collections, given from a certain shepherd. And more than these, my son, beware: of making many books there is no end, and much chatter is weariness of the flesh.Qohelet (Ecclesiastes) 12:11-12 (trans. by Robert Alter)
Every year, BookExpo showcases books slated for release in the fall and beyond, drumming up buzz among independent booksellers, librarians, and the like. The books listed below, both recent and forthcoming, looked to be of greatest interest to readers of serious nonfiction.
A few observations from the show:
- In my humble opinion, some of the best academic work across the board continues to be published by Princeton University Press, followed closely by Yale and Harvard. Nebraska and Minnesota remain interesting smaller presses.
- Other academic presses, being focused on niche audiences or on monographs that sell at high prices to academic libraries, seem to have lost their ability to appeal to cross-over audiences. Chicago and California, mired in academic fads and fancies, seem to be shadows of their former glorious selves.
- Among commercial publishers, W. W. Norton stood out at the show as standing by high-quality content while taking some risks on lesser-known but deserving authors and their books.
Language and Literature
Peter Martin, The Dictionary Wars: The Fight over the English Language (Princeton, May)
Ilana Pardes, The Song of Songs: A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books, Princeton, August)
Peter Mack, Reading Old Books: Writing with Traditions (Princeton, September)
Michael Schmidt, Gilgamesh: The Life of a Poem (Princeton, September)
A. E. Stallings, translator, The Battle Between the Frogs and the Mice: A Tiny Homeric Epic (Paul Dry Books, October)
Christian Wiman, editor, Joy: 100 Poems (paperback release, Yale, November)—I missed this when it was published in 2017.
Biography and Memoir
Andrew Gant, Johann Sebastian Bach (SPCK, October 2018)—I missed this when it was published last year.
Carlos Eire, The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila: A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books, Princeton, June)—His history Reformations is magisterial.
Thomas Chatterton Williams, Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race (W. W. Norton, October)
John Took, Dante (Princeton, January 2020)
T. H. Breen, The Will of the People: The Revolutionary Birth of America (Princeton, September)
George Weigel, The Irony of Modern Catholic History (Basic Books, September)
David Sorkin, Jewish Emancipation: A History Across Five Centuries (Princeton, September)
Roel Sterckx, Ways of Heaven: An Introduction to Chinese Thought (Basic Books, September)
Martin Goodman, Josephus’s The Jewish War: A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books, Princeton, October)
Martin Goodman, A History of Judaism (paperback release, Princeton, October)—highly recommended!
Pekka Hamalainen, Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power (Yale, October)
* Tom Holland, Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World (Basic Books, October)
David D. Hall, The Puritans: A Transatlantic History (Princeton, November)
Alec Ryrie, Unbelievers: An Emotional History of Doubt (Harvard, November)—Ryrie will also publish The Reformation in England: A Very Brief History (SPCK, August).
Joel Baden, The Book of Exodus: A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books, Princeton, April)
Phillip Cary, The Meaning of Protestant Theology: Luther, Augustine, and the Gospel That Gives Us Christ (Baker Academic, June)
John Collins, What Are Biblical Values?: What the Bible Says on Key Ethical Issues (Yale, August)
Iain Duguid, The Whole Armor of God: How Christ’s Victory Strengthens Us for Spiritual Warfare (Crossway, August)
Paula Frederiksen, When Christians Were Jews: The First Generation (paperback release, Yale, August)—This book didn’t receive enough attention.
Edward L. Greenstein, Job: A New Translation (Yale, August)—I’ll bite, but it’s claim that “no English translation has come close to conveying the proper sense of the original” is difficult to believe, with Robert Alter’s, X’s, and Cline’s translations all on the market for years now.
Michael LeFebvre, The Liturgy of Creation: Understanding Calendars in the Old Testament Context (IVP Academic, August)
David Bentley Hart, That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation (Yale, September)
David Bentley Hart, The New Testament: A Translation (paperback release, Yale, October)—I’ll be curious to see if there are any differences from the first printing.
J. Ryan Lister and Anthony Benedetto, Emblems of the Infinite King: Entering the Knowledge of the Living God (Crossway, October)—illustrated book for kids ages 8-14, warrants comparison with The Bible Project books
Jack Miles, Religion as We Know It: An Origin Story (W. W. Norton, November)
Greg Forster, Economics: A Student’s Guide (Crossway, August)—A Christian perspective on (more or less) mainline economics
Lawrence Glickman, Free Enterprise: An American History (Yale, August)—A Cornell historian’s view
Deirdre McCloskey, Why Liberalism Works: How True Liberal Values Produce Freer, More Equal, Prosperous World for All (Yale, October)
Thomas Philippon, The Great Reversal: How America Gave Up on Free Markets (Harvard, October)
Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, Good Economics, Bad Economics: Six Ways We Get the World Wrong and How to Set It Right (PublicAffairs, November)