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What big books will you be reading in 2024?

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What big books will you be reading in 2024?

With elections looming and the forthcoming 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, 2024 is set to be a big year for politics and history in the world of books.

“With politics, there will be a lot of books which are examining the state of things at the moment,” says Caroline Sanderson, associate editor of trade publication The Bookseller.

Notable political autobiographies include British MP Nadhim Zahawi’s The Boy From Baghdad (HarperCollins, March 14th), charting his journey from boyhood in Baghdad to British, she predicts.

In other genres, celebrity memoirs featuring everyone from RuPaul to George the Poet, Jill Halfpenny, Earl Spencer and Tom Selleck will hit book shops, while new offerings from big name novelists including David Nicholls, Alex Michaelides, Marian Keyes, David Baldacci and Peter James should be flying off the shelves.

Here are just some of the titles which may be creating a buzz in 2024.

Romance

Top choice: You Are Here by David Nicholls (April 23rd)

“For fiction, this is our biggest title at the moment, and very much along the same lines as his bestseller One Day,” says Bea Carvalho, Waterstones’ head of books.

It’s a love story which develops on the Coast to Coast footpath in the north of England, in which two single people who are introduced by mutual friends find themselves together on the most epic of walks.

Ones to watch: Irish author Colm Tóibín, with Long Island, his long-awaited sequel to Brooklyn (Picador, May 23rd); TikTok star and bestselling novelist Emily Henry’s joyful new novel, Funny Story (Viking, April 25th), about a pair of opposites with the wrong things in common.

Thriller

Top choice: The Fury by Alex Michaelides (Michael Joseph, February 1st)

The bestselling author of The Silent Patient brings readers a locked room-style mystery set on a Greek island, featuring an unreliable narrator and a tale full of twists and turns. It’s out in February, but Waterstones is predicting it’s also going to be a real staple of summer reading.

Ones to watch: All The Colours Of The Dark by Chris Whitaker (Orion, July 16th), which is part missing persons mystery, serial killer thriller – and part powerful love story; Anthony Horowitz’s new novel, Close To Death (Century, April 11th), which sees an unpopular resident shot dead with a crossbow, while all his neighbours have the motive to kill him.

Historical

Top choice for fiction: Clear by Carys Davies (Granta, March 7th)

Set against the rugged backdrop of Shetland, this short, powerful, historical novel set in 1843 during the final stages of the Scottish Clearances, sees a minister dispatched to a remote Scottish island to “clear” the last remaining inhabitant, who has no intention of leaving. It’s an unforgettable tale of resilience, change, and hope, from the award-winning writer.

Top choice for non-fiction: Empireworld by Sathnam Sanghera (Viking, January 25th)

Following on from his bestselling Empireland, the award-winning author and journalist extends his examination of British imperial legacies beyond Britain. Travelling the globe to trace its international legacies – from Barbados and Mauritius to India and Nigeria and beyond – he demonstrates how deeply British imperialism is baked into our world.

D-Day anniversary

Top choice: Sword Beach by Stephen Fisher (Bantam, May 23rd)

This book from the marine historian focuses on the untold stories of D-Day’s forgotten battle, providing fresh insight into one of the least well-known of the D-Day landings. Often overshadowed by the more famous American landing at Omaha, Fisher now shines a light on the capture of Sword Beach, which was crucial in securing the Normandy Landings, he says.

Fantasy

Top choice: House Of Flame And Shadow by Sarah J Maas (Bloomsbury, January 30th)

This is the third book in the Crescent City series, which has been described as “Game Of Thrones meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, from the New York Times bestselling author. “She’s a leading voice in the genre, our sales of that series are absolutely extraordinary and pre orders are enormous,” says Carvalho.

One to watch: Jasper Fforde’s Red Side Story (Hodder & Stoughton, February 6th) is set in a world where your social status depends on which colours you can see.

Politics

Top choice: Head North by Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram (Trapeze, February 22nd)

For the first time, the Mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region, Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram, speak out about their experiences of modern British politics, and the fight for Northern voices to be heard. They offer a new vision for Britain which centres a Northern perspective and reimagines our country beyond the Westminster bubble.

Ones to watch: Keir Starmer: The Biography by Tom Baldwin (William Collins, February 15th), taken from more than 100 hours of interviews with the man himself; Another England by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas (Hutchinson Heinemann, April 18th) aims to offer a progressive vision of what Englishness is.

Debut

Top choice: The Cautious Traveller’s Guide To The Wastelands by Sarah Brooks (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, June 20th)

This intriguing fictional tale tells the story of a curious cast of characters on board the Great Trans-Siberian Express in the 19th century as they cross the Wastelands, a vast terrain that lies between Russia and China. The Great Trans-Siberian Express, an impenetrable train built to carry precious cargo across continents, now also transports anyone willing to cross the irresistible Wastelands. It is thought to be completely safe… except something happened on the last journey.

Ones to watch: The Kellerby Code by screenwriter Jonny Sweet (Faber & Faber, March 21st), a manor house mystery and part-spin on the classic golden age thrillers with a mixture of crime and comedy and a nod to P.G. Wodehouse; The Fellowship Of Puzzlemakers by Samuel Burr (Orion, May 9th), an uplifting and joyful debut about a bright young man finding his place in the world.

Real life

Top choice: Knife by Salman Rushdie (Jonathan Cape, April 16th)

The bestselling author details for the first time the dramatic, traumatic events of August 12, 2022, when he was stabbed multiple times as he was about to give a public lecture in New York. He uses the power of words to make sense of the unthinkable, in a gripping, personal and life-affirming meditation on life, loss, love, art – and finding the strength to stand up again.

Maurice And Maralyn by Sophie Elmhirst (Chatto & Windus, February 29th)

Recommended by both Carvalho and Sanderson, this is a true story written by journalist Sophie Elmhirst, about a couple who in the Eighties set sail around the world until their beloved boat was struck by a whale and they were cast adrift in the Pacific Ocean, battling to survive on a tiny life raft. This is the story of their 117 days at sea, when their love was really put to the test.

Ones to watch: To celebrate his 80th birthday, veteran explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes showcases his greatest adventures in Around The World In 80 Years (Hodder & Stoughton, March 7th); A Thousand Threads by Neneh Cherry (Fern Press) sees the Swedish singer-songwriter and pop icon of the Eighties and Nineties delve into her story, artistic collaboration, family and love; and Track Record by George the Poet (Hodder & Stoughton, April 25th) follows the story from one of our most unique voices, as he explores the forces that restrict black creativity and interrogates the history of colonialism, delving into the music scene and films from his childhood.