The Public Library Association Treasure Hunt | My Favorite Galleys

Alas, I wasn’t able to provide a galley guide for the Public Library Association conference this year, but that won’t keep us from hunting for galleys, will it? Aside from the intriguing works I’ll be introducing IMG_scally1at our PLA Author Party, here are some titles I’d recommend, both from personal passion and from the conviction that they might otherwise be overlooked.

Take HarperCollins (#1837), for instance. Along with works by big-name authors like Christopher Moore and Francine Prose, I’m thrilled to see a debut book of poetry, Charlotte Boulay’s Foxes on the Trampoline. Boulay’s edgily intimate poems have appeared in places like The New Yorker and Slate and will appeal to more than just the cognoscenti. Carrie La Seur’s first novel, The Home Place, sounds as grand as its Montana setting, where the heroine returns to deal with family tragedy, and the author’s backstory adds interest. Erika Johansen is another newbie, but her ambitious fantasy, The Queen of the Tearling, promises to be a big book of the summer.

Among the exciting Minotaur titles you’ll find at the Macmillan booth (#1852), don’t overlook Jeffery Renard Allen’s richly written Song of the Shank (Graywolf), a new novel from the author of the remarkable Rails Under My Back about a 19th-century musical prodigy born a slave. Drop by the Workman booth (#1651) to pick up Gabrielle Zevin’s bookstore-based The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry—I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this book—then proceed to Norton (#838) for Tania Malik’s Three Bargains, a debut novel about fathers and sons set in India. While you’re there, sorting through the Larry McMurtry and Richard Powers titles, you owe it to yourself to pick up Alexi Zentner’s The Lobster Kings, a King Lear–inspired tale set in contemporary Maine.

With Sam Kean’s The Tale of Dueling Neurosurgeons, a history of neurosurgery that will satisfy even the most science challenged, and Susie Jane Gilman’s The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street, a debut novel from the author of Kiss My Tiara, Hachette (#949) demonstrates some range. At Grove Atlantic (#1752), Lily King’s Euphoria, a novel inspired by the life of Margaret Mead, and Malcolm Brooks’s 1950s Montana–set Painted Horses hold sway, but don’t overlook Roxane Gay’s An Untamed State—it’s a visceral tale of social and sexual conflict set in Haiti. At Perseus Books Group (#1753), Linda Przybyszewski’s The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish offers history, fashion, and nostalgia in a lovely package. Look for a signing on 3/12 at 4:30.

Works by Sue Miller and Richard North Patterson are on tap at the Random booth (#1636), but Rufi Thorpe’s The Girls from Corona Del Mar, a debut novel bout female friendship under fire, is getting strong reviews, and Monica Byrne’s The Girl in the Road is absolutely mind-blowing, even for someone like me who doesn’t read much futuristic fantasy fiction.

Among the stack of 20 titles being brought by Simon & Schuster (#1537), Cara Hoffman’s Be Safe I Love You, about a troubled female Iraq War vet, has my attention now. For the future, I’ll be looking at PEN/Hemingway award winner Brando Skyhorse’s Take This Man, a memoir about the childhood his mother invented for him, and Matthew Thomas’s big-push Irish American epic, We Are Not Ourselves.

Finally, Penguin (#1736) routinely brings a truckload of galleys, and among them are always intriguing  paperback originals that are great for libraries. The best-selling Sarah Jio’s Goodnight June is a departure whose heroine inherits a bookstore from a great-aunt who befriended Goodnight Moon‘s Margaret Wise Brown. Joel Dicker’s The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is an internationally best-selling literary thriller (it’s being published in 42 countries). And don’t miss Jennifer Scott’s The Accidental Book Club.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.


  1. Val S says:

    I wish I could attend PLA, but our budget just doesn’t allow for it. Galleys make a great giveaway basket for summer reading baskets!