10 Books I Can’t Wait to Get My Eyes on in 2017

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”

~Rainer Maria Rilke

By Jessica S. Manuel

As if the new year isn’t exciting enough, we have 10 incredible new reads on the horizon to build anticipation all year long. These 2017 new book releases range from fascinating literary studies to scientific explorations. I will admit the one I’m looking forward to most is the “Who killed Noam Chomsky?” work of fiction that is due out in August called, The Seventh Function of Language. What are you looking forward to? Is there anything on this list that I should add to my Want-to-Read shelf?

Cognitive Literary Science by Michael Burke and Emily T. Troscianko

Cognitive Literary Science: Dialogues between Literature and Cognition by Michael BurkeThere is this undercurrent right now in the humanities that feels it needs to justify its existence. You’ll hear this taint the language in many English departments as they justify why certain courses are part of their general education requirements. In many colleges, reading departments are growing more and more obsolete. This book feels like an attempt among many to approach literature studies more scientifically. Nevertheless, I’m interested in reading more about this approach to literature.

About the Book:

This book brings together researchers with cognitive-scientific and literary backgrounds to present innovative research in all three variations on the possible interactions between literary studies and cognitive science. The tripartite structure of the volume reflects a more ambitious conception of what cognitive approaches to literature are and could be than is usually encountered, and thus aims both to map out and to advance the field. The first section corresponds to what most people think of as “cognitive poetics” or “cognitive literary studies”: the study of literature by literary scholars drawing on cognitive-scientific methods, findings, and/or debates to yield insights into literature. The second section demonstrates that literary scholars needn’t only make use of cognitive science to study literature, but can also, in a reciprocally interdisciplinary manner, use a cognitively informed perspective on literature to offer benefits back to the cognitive sciences. Finally, the third section, “literature in cognitive science”, showcases some of the ways in which literature can be a stimulating object of study and a fertile testing ground for theories and models, not only to literary scholars but also to cognitive scientists, who here engage with some key questions in cognitive literary studies with the benefit of their in-depth scientific knowledge and training.

Release date: January 2, 2017

Know This: Today’s Most Interesting and Important Scientific Ideas, Discoveries, and Developments by John Brockton

Know This: Today's Most Interesting and Important Scientific Ideas, Discoveries, and Developments by John BrockmanTechnological developments are intimately tied to the way we think, which in turn affects our use of language. This lesson was most clearly taught to me in Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. This book intrigues me because it has me curious about the many innovations that are before us and challenges me to think about how language will change as a result.

About the Book:

The latest volume in the bestselling series from Edge.org—dubbed “the world’s smartest website” by The Guardian—brings together 175 of the world’s most innovative and brilliant thinkers to discuss recent scientific breakthroughs that will shape the future.

Scientific developments radically alter our understanding of the world. Whether it’s technology, climate change, health research, or the latest revelations of neuroscience, physics, or psychology, science has, as Edge editor John Brockman says, “become a big story, if not the big story.” In that spirit, this new addition to Edge.org’s fascinating series asks a powerful and provocative question: What do you consider the most interesting and important recent scientific news? 

Contributors include: Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel JARED DIAMOND on the best way to understand complex problems; author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics CARLO ROVELLI on the mystery of black holes; Harvard psychologist STEVEN PINKER on the quantification of human progress; TED conferences curator CHRIS J. ANDERSON on the growth of the global brain; Harvard physicist LISA RANDALL on the true measure of breakthrough discoveries; Nobel Prize-winning physicist FRANK WILCZEK on why the 21st century will be shaped by our mastery of the laws of matter; music legend PETER GABRIEL on tearing down the barriers between imagination and reality; Princeton physicist FREEMAN DYSON on the surprising ability of small (and cheap) upstarts to compete with billion-dollar projects. Plus: Nobel laureate JOHN C. MATHER, Sun Microsystems co-founder BILL JOY, Skeptic magazine publisher MICHAEL SHERMER, Genome author MATT RIDLEY, Harvard geneticist GEORGE CHURCH, and many more.

Release date: February 7, 2017

A Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates

A Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol OatesCan you believe a book about abortion is one of the most anticipated novels of 2017? I admire the courage of Joyce Carol Oates in writing about this highly-debated topic just like I admire the courage of my students every time they choose this topic for their activism projects. This is one of those issues that is so close to the heart that it sometimes feels impossible to view it from someone else’s perspective. I’m interested to see how Oates portrays each character and their families and even more interested in how readers will respond to it.

About the Book:

In this striking, enormously affecting novel, Joyce Carol Oates tells the story of two very different and yet intimately linked American families. Luther Dunphy is an ardent Evangelical who envisions himself as acting out God’s will when he assassinates an abortion provider in his small Ohio town while Augustus Voorhees, the idealistic doctor who is killed, leaves behind a wife and children scarred and embittered by grief.

In her moving, insightful portrait, Joyce Carol Oates fully inhabits the perspectives of two interwoven families whose destinies are defined by their warring convictions and squarely-but with great empathy-confronts an intractable, abiding rift in American society.

A Book of American Martyrs is a stunning, timely depiction of an issue hotly debated on a national stage but which makes itself felt most lastingly in communities torn apart by violence and hatred.

Release date: February 7, 2017

Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less and Achieve More than You Ever Imagined by Scott Soneshein

Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less -and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined by Scott SonensheinThis concept follows many of the minimalist approaches that are the current zeitgeist in business and entrepreneurship right now. I am thinking specifically of The One Thing by Gary Keller and Deep Work by Cal Newport, among others. In my composition course, I teach a unit on the rhetoric of technology and encourage students to discuss whether or not it is in their economic interest to learn to think deeply. You’d be surprised by the conclusions they draw and the arguments they make. I look forward to reading Stretch to see what new conclusions might be added to the table.

About the Book:

A groundbreaking approach to succeeding in business and life, using the science of resourcefulness.

We often think the key to success and satisfaction is to get more: more money, time, and possessions; bigger budgets, job titles, and teams; and additional resources for our professional and personal goals. It turns out we’re wrong.

Using captivating stories to illustrate research in psychology and management, Rice University professor Scott Sonenshein examines why some people and organizations succeed with so little, while others fail with so much.

People and organizations approach resources in two different ways: “chasing” and “stretching.” When chasing, we exhaust ourselves in the pursuit of more. When stretching, we embrace the resources we already have. This frees us to find creative and productive ways to solve problems, innovate, and engage our work and lives more fully.

Stretch shows why everyone—from executives to entrepreneurs, professionals to parents, athletes to artists—performs better with constraints; why seeking too many resources undermines our work and well-being; and why even those with a lot benefit from making the most out of a little.

Drawing from examples in business, education, sports, medicine, and history, Scott Sonenshein advocates a powerful framework of resourcefulness that allows anybody to work and live better.

Release date: February 7, 2017

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

Men Without Women by Haruki MurakamiOf course I’m looking forward to a new collection of short stories by Haruki Murakami. A handful of these stories are available elsewhere, but the common thread that weaves them together is fascinating to me. In an interview about the short story, Scheherezade, Murakami explains his attraction to the title of this collection, obviously giving credit to Hemingway who has a collection by the same title. Here is the exchange:

Interviewer: Scheherazade” was included in a collection of stories you recently published in Japan, titled “Men Without Women,” all of which involve men who are without—or who lose—women. What inspired you to write this series?

Murakami: What I wish to convey in this collection is, in a word, isolation, and what it means emotionally. “Men Without Women” is a concrete example of that. The title grabbed me first (of course, Hemingway’s short-story collection of the same title figured in), and the stories followed. Each story came from the vibrations produced by the title. Why “Men Without Women”? I don’t know. Somehow or other, that title put down roots in my mind, in the same way that a wind-blown seed settles and grows in some field.

About the Book:

Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, woven together to tell stories that speak to us all.

Marked by the same wry humor that has defined his entire body of work, in this collection Murakami has crafted another contemporary classic.

Release date: May 9, 2017

Novel Politics: Democratic Imaginations in Nineteenth Century Fiction by Isobel Armstrong

Novel Politics: Democratic Imaginations in Nineteenth-Century Fiction by Isobel ArmstrongI had to get past the academic jargon in the book description to realize this book follows one of the themes that I am interested in this year. Many of the books on my to be read list deal with the ways play and creativity affect thinking and language in individuals and culture. This book explores the play that emerges in the 19th Century novel. Like most academic books, it’s super expensive so definitely check your local university library for it if you’re interested.

About the Book:

Novel Politics aims to change the current consensus of thinking about the nineteenth-century novel. This assumes that the novel is structured by bourgeois ideology and morality, so that its default position is conservative and hegemonic. Such critique comes alike from Marxists, readers of nineteenth-century liberalism, and critics making claims for the working-class novel, and systematically under-reads democratic imaginations and social questioning in novels of the period.

To undo such readings means evolving a new praxis of critical writing. Rather than addressing the explicitly political and deeply limited accounts of the machinery of franchise and ballot in texts, it is important to create a poetics of the novel that opens up its radical aspects. This can be done partly by taking a new look at some classic nineteenth-century political texts (Mill, De Tocqueville, Hegel), but centrally by exploring four claims: the novel is an open Inquiry (compare philosophical Inquiries of the Enlightenment contemporary with the novel’s genesis), a lived interrogation, not a pre-formed political document; radical thinking requires radical formal experiment, creating generic and ideological disruption simultaneously and putting the so-called realist novel and its values under pressure; the poetics of social and phenomenological space reveals an analysis of the dispossessed subject, not the bildung of success or overcoming; the presence of the aesthetic and art works in the novel is a constant source of social questioning.

Among texts discussed, six novels of illegitimacy, from Jane Austen to Scott to George Eliot and George Moore, stand out because illegitimacy, with its challenge to social norms, is a test case for the novelist, and a growing point of the democratic imagination.

Release date: January 5, 2017

The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet

The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent BinetI’m about to go full-nerd on you; I am super excited about this book. I studied all of these “characters” of French theory in college and grad school and to think about them all wrapped up in a murder mystery blows my mind. If this is the kind of book you could nerd out with, let me know. There are probably only a handful of us in existence.

About the Book:

Paris, 1980. The literary critic Roland Barthes dies―struck by a laundry van―after lunch with the presidential candidate François Mitterand. The world of letters mourns a tragic accident. But what if it wasn’t an accident at all? What if Barthes was . . . murdered?

In The Seventh Function of Language, Laurent Binet spins a madcap secret history of the French intelligentsia, starring such luminaries as Jacques Derrida, Umberto Eco, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and Julia Kristeva―as well as the hapless police detective Jacques Bayard, whose new case will plunge him into the depths of literary theory (starting with the French version of Roland Barthes for Dummies). Soon Bayard finds himself in search of a lost manuscript by the linguist Roman Jakobson on the mysterious “seventh function of language.”

A brilliantly erudite comedy that recalls Flaubert’s Parrot and The Name of the Rose―with more than a dash of The Da Vinci CodeThe Seventh Function of Language takes us from the cafés of Saint-Germain to the corridors of Cornell University, and into the duels and orgies of the Logos Club, a secret philosophical society that dates to the Roman Empire. Binet has written both a send-up and a wildly exuberant celebration of the French intellectual tradition.

Release date: August 1, 2017

The Familiar Volume IV: Hades by Mark Z. Danielewski

The Familiar Volume 4 by Mark Z. DanielewskiI am actually looking to devour The Familiar Volumes I-IV this year. They are each just over 800 pages, but the experimental writing style of Danielewski promises a fun experience. I loved the House of Leaves. The allusions to Borges and Derrida were comical and the book made me laugh out loud. I expect nothing less of this series.

About the Book:

When a viral video puts twelve-year-old Xanther under a spotlight of scrutiny at school, her little white cat—still slumbering, still unnamed—offers the only escape, though it comes at a price. Not even Xanther’s parents can deny the strange currents now shuddering around their eldest, touching off inexplicable happenings. Entities troubling the dreams of the twins seem to have singled out Freya. Despite invitations to a gala at The Met, Anwar fears the solution to their financial difficulties might expose more than just his family to dangerous consequences. Something greater is at hand, something terrible is at stake. And all the while, faces unfamiliar to the Ibrahims draw closer and closer: Jingjing, in Singapore, clutching charms, boards a plane for Los Angeles; Cas and Bobby, with visions of Xanther in Mefisto’s Orb, must elude attacks from the sky. Strangers collide . . . though will those intersections lead to alliances or war? And does the dance at the center of Volume 4 augur the liberation of our better angels or the release of a creature set to feast on the wings of hope?

Release date: February 7, 2017

Borges and Kafka: Sons and Writers by Sarah Roger

Borges and Kafka: Sons and Writers by Sarah RogerI’m reading even more Borges and Kafka this year as I research the ideas and thinkers that influenced Murakami. This book actually explores their relationship to one another and their fathers, which intrigues me. Once again, it’s an academic text, so save yourself $95 and look for it at the university library.

About the Book:

Sarah Roger investigates Jorge Luis Borges’s development as an author in light of Franz Kafka’s influence, and in consideration of Borges’s relationship with his father, Jorge Guillermo Borges (Borges pere, a failed author). Borges believed that much of Kafka’s writing derived from his personal experiences, particularly his relationship with his father. This book looks at how reading Kafka helped Borges mediate and make productive use of his own relationship with his father, and it offers a thorough analysis of Borges pere‘s writing, which is supplemented by an appendix that reprints Borges pere‘s poetry for the first time.

Borges and Kafka also provides extensive analysis of Kafka’s presence in Borges’s critical writing, his translations, and the stories that he modelled on Kafka. Particular attention is paid to the concepts that Borges identified as Kafka’s obsessions: subordination, infinity, and hierarchical relationships, which Borges referred to as the “patria potestad.” Roger’s analysis is accompanied by an annotated bibliography documenting every mention of Kafka in Borges’s writing and a list of every Kafka text Borges read. Kafka’s influence is especially evident in the stories where Borges was openly imitating Kafka–“La loteria en Babilonia” (1941), “La biblioteca de Babel” (1941), and “El Congreso” (1971)–but it features throughout Ficciones. Reading Borges’s writing in light of his interest in Kafka demonstrates his focus not just on the individual’s subordinate place in an infinite hierarchy but also on the repercussions these circumstances had for a struggling author like Borges, who was seeking to define himself through his writing.

Release date: March 6, 2017

Teaching Naked Techniques by Jose Bowen

Teaching Naked Techniques by Jose BowenJose Bowen’s earlier work, Teaching Naked, was all about preserving the classroom experience for a dynamic exchange of ideas. Many of the assignments that require technology are not bad, but they can be just as effective when done at home instead of taking up precious classroom minutes. I was largely persuaded by his argument, even though having an answer for how you incorporate technology in the classroom is one of the first questions a college level hiring committee will ask job candidates. I look forward to the practical how-to nature of this book.

About the Book:

Teaching Naked Techniques (TNT) is a practical guide of proven quick ideas for improving classes and essential information for designing anything from one lesson or a group of lessons to an entire course. TNT is both a design guide and a ‘sourcebook’ of ideas: a great companion to the award-winning Teaching Naked book.

Teaching Naked Techniques helps higher education faculty design more effective and engaging classrooms. The book focuses on each step of class preparation from the entry point and first encounter with content to the classroom ‘surprise.’ There is a chapter on each step in the cycle with an abundance of discipline-specific examples, plus the latest research on cognition and technology, quick lists of ideas, and additional resources.

By rethinking the how, when, and why of technology, faculty are able to create exponentially more opportunities for practical student engagement. Student-centered, activity-driven, and proven again and again, these techniques can revolutionize your classroom.

Teaching Naked flips the classroom by placing the student’s first contact with the material outside of class. This places the burden of learning on the learner, ensures student preparation, and frees up class time for active engagement with the material for more effective learning and retention. Teaching Naked Techniques is the practical guide for bringing better learning to your classroom.

Release date: January 24, 2017


10 Books I Can't Wait to Get My Eyes on in 2017 | 2017 New Book Releases

Last years picks:

10 Books I Can’t Wait to Get My Eyes on in 2016