18 books to read in 2014

Updated 9:26 AM ET, Fri January 3, 2014
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Sue Monk Kidd, the author of runaway best-seller "The Secret Life of Bees," is already well on her way to notching another hit. Oprah Winfrey has selected Kidd's latest novel, "The Invention of Wings," for her latest Book Club 2.0 pick. Inspired by the story of abolitionist and suffragist Sarah Grimke, Kidd imagines a backstory for Grimke as a young woman, depicting the complicated relationship that develops between the future leader and her enslaved housemaid. (January 7) Viking Adult
After chronicling the tragedy of being a child soldier with his 2007 memoir "A Long Way Gone," Ishmael Beah has turned to fiction. With "Radiance of Tomorrow," the best-selling author focuses on the aftermath of civil war through the perspective of two best friends who struggle to help their community pick up the pieces. (January 7) Sarah Crichton Books
Chang- rae Lee, who has already racked up honors with prior novels "The Surrendered" and "Native Speaker," imagines a desolate future in "On Such a Full Sea." In this novel's version of America's future, society is severely structured by class, and laborers -- descendants of Chinese brought over years earlier -- work to supply the elite class with quality produce and fish. One laborer, Fan, dares to leave this settlement for the unwatched wilds of the Open Counties and the elite enclaves beyond when the man she loves vanishes. (January 7) Riverhead
Masterful writer E.L. Doctorow is back with a new novel that shows off his skills. In "Andrew's Brain," readers get an intimate look at the inner workings of a man named Andrew, who through a conversation with an unidentified person, grippingly reveals his story. (January 14) Random House
Laura Lippman is a doyenne of the mystery, and we're considering her latest, "After I'm Gone," a little Valentine's Day present to her fans. The book covers decades as it unspools one man's mysterious disappearance -- and how it has affected the lives of his wife, his three daughters and his mistress. (February 11) William Morrow
This year, Lorrie Moore is returning to the short story. The acclaimed author of "Birds of America" proves with just eight stories -- tales that encompass post-divorce dating, raising teens and the heavy illness of a friend -- why she's such a master of the form. (February 25) Knopf
The world has taken notice of the power of youth movements across the globe, and with "Rebel Music" author Hisham Aidi is focusing on Muslim youth. With reporting from music festivals and concerts, this relevant exploration zeroes in on the connection between music, art, identity and politics. (March 4) Pantheon
"Before I Fall" and "Delirium" author Lauren Oliver is back this spring with another addictive young adult novel, "Panic." In a small town called Carp, graduating seniors like to play a high stakes game called Panic that can bring about an even higher reward. (March 4) HarperCollins
Helen Oyeyemi is incredibly deft at spinning a yarn, as we saw with 2012's fantastic "Mr. Fox." With "Boy, Snow, Bird," Oyeyemi again plays with fantasy by dipping into the familiar story of "Snow White" and turning it inside out. Her version focuses on a woman named Boy Novak who happens to marry a widow with a stepdaughter named Snow Whitman. When Boy has her own daughter, Bird, the wicked stepmother in her starts to rear its head. You see, with the birth of Boy's dark-skinned daughter, it's revealed that the Whitmans are light-skinned African-Americans passing for white. (March 6) Riverhead
"Admission" author Jean Hanff Korelitz might have another Hollywood film on her hands with her latest novel. Korelitz, whose book about a college admissions counselor whose world is turned upside down when she meets a gifted boy who might be the son she gave up was turned into a movie starring Tina Fey, has once again weaved a tale focused on the intellectual elite. This time, however, there's a touch of thrills: The therapist at the heart of the story is living an ordinary life -- until the day her missing husband and a suspicious death create a domino effect of unwanted revelations. (March 18) Grand Central Publishing
If Teju Cole hasn't already won your heart with his award-winning debut, "Open City," this might be the novel to do it. With "Every Day Is for the Thief," Cole provides a mash-up of fiction, photographic art and travel writing that's already captivated Nigerian audiences. (March 25) Random House
In "Falling Out of Time," David Grossman tackles the difficult topics of grief and bereavement, beginning with the pain of a parent losing a child. Part play, part novel, Grossman's latest follows an unnamed man as he searches for his dead son accompanied by other townsfolk seeking to lay to rest their own loss. (March 25) Knopf
You've probably watched Chuck Todd expound on politics while sipping your morning coffee, but this time the NBC News correspondent is committing his White House knowledge to the page. In "The Stranger," Todd argues that the very thing that helped President Obama reach the Oval Office -- his position as a Washington outsider -- eventually became an evident weakness throughout his presidency. (April 22) Little, Brown and Company
Even if you couldn't care less about weddings -- and hate anything with pink and/or confections on its cover -- you still shouldn't sniff at prolific writer Jen Doll's book about wedding experiences and how they shape and re-shape definitions of love and commitment. If the topic doesn't grab you, Doll's wit likely will. (May 1) Riverhead
Yes, you're reading that correctly: Michael Cunningham does have a new novel arriving this spring. The award-winning author of "The Hours" and "By Nightfall" has now set his sights on a story of two brothers, one having lost love and the other knowingly about to lose it. How each brother chooses to deal with it -- one, with religion, the other with drugs -- will probably stir plenty of book clubs this summer. (May 6) Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Colson Whitehead is best known for his fiction, but any of his Twitter followers can tell you that this writer's amazingly wry sense of humor is even better in real life. We can't wait to see how he applies it in this satiric deep-dive into the World Series of Poker. (May 6) Doubleday
Joshua Ferris is the latest author to lay out his fictional observation on the way we live now with this spring's "To Rise Again at a Decent Hour." When Paul O'Rourke -- a "Luddite" with an iPhone addiction -- discovers that he's being impersonated online, it's not exactly his privacy that he's worried about. No, in Ferris' take on the modern world, he hits at the heart of the bifurcation between our digital and analog selves with the question: What if the fake Paul cropping up across Facebook and Twitter is better than the real thing?(May 6) Little, Brown and Company
You've probably heard Damien Echols' story about serving almost 18 years on death row until his release in 2011. Now, along with his wife, Lorri Davis, Echols is revealing how they met, found love and wed, all while he was still locked up. (June 17) Blue Rider Press