Many of the best new books this month ask readers to think about consequences. How can a decision one individual makes alter the course of several lives? In James McBride’s latest novel, a single act of violence sends shockwaves through a tight-knit Brooklyn community. In Kevin Nguyen’s debut, two overworked and under-appreciated employees at a tech company must deal with the ramifications of an impulsive invasion of privacy. Nonfiction titles, like former National Security Advisor John Bolton‘s embattled new memoir, also bring forward questions of how we deal with choices made by people in power — and how those choices impact our future. Here, the 11 new books you should read in March.
We Ride Upon Sticks, Quan Barry (March 3)
Though the 1989 Massachusetts high school field hockey season hasn’t started in earnest, the Danvers Falcons are concerned. The team can’t seem to win a game at summer training camp, which makes their goal of reaching the state finals in a few months seem less than realistic. But their luck starts to turn around after members of the squad begin signing their names in what might be a magical notebook, one that features Emilio Estevez’s face on the cover. The bizarre premise of Quan Barry’s novel evolves into a fresh coming-of-age story as she explores the team’s desperation to win — and their growing experimentation with witchcraft.
Buy Now: We Ride Upon Sticks
The Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich (March 3)
The latest from National Book Award winner Louise Erdrich again delves into her Chippewa heritage, but this time takes inspiration from her grandfather’s work as a night watchman in the 1950s. The novel follows the titular character as he works to protect his tribe against Congress’ new “emancipation” bill, which threatens their rights to their land. Though it is set decades ago, the story resonates today as Erdrich dissects a native community forced to deal with the ramifications of the government’s actions.
Buy Now: The Night Watchman
Anna K: A Love Story, Jenny Lee (March 3)
At the center of this innovative retelling of Leo Tolstoy’s classic Anna Karenina is Anna K, a 17-year-old Korean-American socialite. After a chance encounter leaves her charmed by a boy who is infamous for hopping around boarding schools, Anna K wrestles with whether to pursue the relationship (and dump her current, seemingly perfect boyfriend in the process). The debut YA novel from television writer and producer Jenny Lee illustrates the push and pull of first love — and was optioned for TV more than a year before its publication.
Buy Now: Anna K
Deacon King Kong, James McBride (March 3)
In his first novel since his 2013 National Book Award winner The Good Lord Bird, James McBride analyzes the impact of a surprising act of violence on a south Brooklyn neighborhood in 1969. The incident in question — the shooting of a local drug dealer by a church deacon — shakes up a diverse group of characters, from the black and Latinx residents who witnessed the crime to members of the deacon’s church. Flipping between several of their voices, Deacon King Kong seeks to understand not only why the violence occurred, but also how it is connected to the deep, multicultural history of this slice of New York City.
Buy Now: Deacon King Kong
The Mirror & the Light, Hilary Mantel (March 10)
The highly anticipated (and long-awaited) third and final installment of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy captures 16th-century English lawyer Thomas Cromwell’s final years before he meets a brutal end. Picking up after Anne Boleyn’s execution, The Mirror & the Light concludes the acclaimed series, which has sold millions of copies and made Mantel the first woman to win the Booker Prize twice. Like the two novels that came before it, this one promises to take an unflinching look at the relationship between power, wealth and politics.
Buy Now: The Mirror & the Light
New Waves, Kevin Nguyen (March 10)
Frustrated by how they are treated at their tech startup, Margo, a black programmer, and Lucas, an Asian customer service representative, pair up to steal their company’s user data. Shortly after, the duo take jobs together at another startup — but soon Margo unexpectedly dies in a car crash. The debut novel from journalist Kevin Nguyen follows Lucas as he carries the burden of their shared secret, which leads him to discover more about Margo’s personal life online. As Nguyen describes his protagonist’s struggles with grief and guilt, the author points to frightening realities concerning how information on the internet stays safe — or doesn’t.
Buy Now: New Waves
Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir, Rebecca Solnit (March 10)
Activist and essayist Rebecca Solnit has long captured the discomforts and difficulties of modern womanhood. Now, the author who helped identify the “mansplaining” phenomenon is tracing her coming-of-age in 1980s San Francisco. There, she lived with little money and the looming threats of gender-based violence and harassment. But Solnit also discovered the power of art and community, and in describing those years, she details how she found her voice as an advocate for herself and those around her.
Buy Now: Recollections of My Nonexistence
Enter the Aardvark, Jessica Anthony (March 24)
What does taxidermy have to do with the current state of American politics? A lot, apparently, or so Jessica Anthony guides readers to believe in her inventive and darkly funny novel examining how and why a young Republican congressman finds a stuffed aardvark strangely placed on his doorstep. The premise is peculiar, but as Anthony connects characters from today with those from 19th-century England, she offers an original and unsettling lens through which to view male power as it has evolved over time.
Buy Now: Enter the Aardvark
The City We Became, N. K. Jemisin (March 24)
The latest fantasy — and the first book in a new trilogy — from award-winning author N. K. Jemisin reimagines a world where human avatars must protect cities against evil. Five characters, each named after a New York City borough, must learn how to work together to save the city. As the avatars showcase their different personalities, Jemisin’s initially unfamiliar world grows closer to our own — one contending with racism, violence and gentrification.
Buy Now: The City We Became
The Glass Hotel, Emily St. John Mandel (March 24)
When Vincent meets her husband for the first time, she’s a bartender at the grand and isolated hotel he owns on Vancouver Island. That same night, the hotel lobby’s glass wall is defaced with an ominous message: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” In unveiling the meaning of the threat and how it came it be, National Book Award finalist Emily St. John Mandel moves between a cast of characters linked to the evening and its aftermath. Like her 2014 novel Station Eleven, The Glass Hotel inspects how quickly life can change after tragedy, this time by way of devastating fraud.
Buy Now: The Glass Hotel
Wow, No Thank You., Samantha Irby (March 31)
Comedian Samantha Irby’s new collection of essays continue to display her talent at picking apart the absurdities that accompany 21st-century life. Whether she’s writing about living with her wife in a small midwestern town or her relationship with her body, Irby isn’t afraid to get candid and share her own insecurities. In doing so, she crafts smart takes on popular social trends, poking fun at how they are changing the way we think and live.
Buy Now: Wow, No Thank You.
Update, March 3
This article originally included The Room Where It Happened by John Bolton. On March 3, the publisher announced the book will now be published in May.
Correction, Feb. 29
The original version of this story misstated the origins of the word “mansplaining.” Rebecca Solnit did not coin the term, she helped identify the phenomenon.