The made-up stories of the next five months are passionate, often international, sometimes (or are they?) occult. The short novel and short story are coming on strong again.

Biography, autobiography, and history loom large, as always, among nonfiction titles. Butterflies and the Bible make an appearance, too. Plenty to keep a reader busy, from here to the summer solstice and beyond.

- By John Timpane and Michael D. Schaffer,
Inquirer staff writers

Butterflies, the Bible, passionate fiction - the books of spring


The River Swimmer: Novellas by Jim Harrison (Grove, $25, Jan. 8). The short novel always suited this poet-novelist (Legends of the Fall) best. Here are two of them, each (in very different ways) about a farm boy searching for himself. The title novella is magical.

Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders (Random House, $26, Jan. 8). Could 2013 be the year everyone discovers this original, startling writer? Some are saying he's the best. These stories might help you decide.

A Deeper Love Inside by Sister Souljah (Emily Bestler/Atria, $30, Jan. 29). A follow-on to Souljah's The Coldest Winter Ever, this follows Porsche Santiaga, Winter's sister, through juvenile detention, family sundering, and personal doubt.

Insane City by Dave Barry (Penguin, $27, Jan. 29). His first adult novel in more than a decade, set in the South Florida Barry knows and satirizes so well. The PR blurbs are calling it "dark." No, it's not! It's darn funny. Darn funny. There's even an orangutan named Trevor.

The Cat Did Not Die by Inger Frimansson (Pleasure Boat Studio/Caravel, $18, February). Swedish noirist Frimansson uncorks a very scary, bloody mystery, as noir as Nordic gets.

Ten White Geese by Gerbrand Bakker (Penguin, $15, Feb. 26). This wonderful writer is, yes, a Dutch gardener. His 2010 smash The Twin was a dark-horse award-winner and best-seller in Europe. This one is similarly quiet, puzzling, and moving.

The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates (Scribner, $28, March 25). A big, wild novel set in Princeton at the turn of the 20th century. You've got disappearing daughters, a real president (Grover Cleveland), and vampire dreams.

Something to Remember You By by Gene Wilder (St. Martin, $20, April 9). Did you know this funnyman writes novels? He's good! This WWII romance reads like one of the best movie scripts of the 1940s.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead/Penguin, $29, May 21). A multigenerational family story, ranging from Kabul to Greece to Paris to San Francisco, by the author of The Kite Runner.

The King of Cuba by Christina García (Scribner, $25, May 21). A despot in Cuba vs. an old exile who wants revenge on him. Bitter and sweet as Cuban coffee, written by a woman who is a poet of the Cuba/U.S. divide.


My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor (Alfred A. Knopf, $28, Jan. 16). The first Hispanic justice of the U.S. Supreme Court recounts her life story, from Bronx housing project to high court, coping along the way with the death of her father when she was 9 and with juvenile diabetes.

A New New Testament: A Bible for the 21st Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts by Hal Taussig (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $32, March 5). Taussig, a Philadelphia minister and Bible scholar, supplements the traditional New Testament books with early Christian documents discovered over the last 100 years.

Karl Marx: A 19th-Century Life by Jonathan Sperber (Liveright/W.W. Norton, $35, March 11). Historian Sperber looks at the controversial philosopher in the light of his own time, the 19th century, and finds him more closely aligned with the French Revolution than with the Russian.

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou (Random House, $22, April 2). The poet and novelist, known for her autobiographical writings, turns this time to the years she spent rebuilding her relationship with her mother, who, when she and her husband split, sent 3-year-old Maya and her 5-year-old brother off to live with their paternal grandmother.

Butterfly People: An American Encounter With the Beauty of the World by William R. Leach (Pantheon Books, $30, April 9). Historian Leach is a butterfly lover, and he's written here about 19th-century America's growing awareness of the world's beauty as manifested by the fluttering insects.

July 1914: Countdown to War by Sean McMeekin (Basic Books, $30, April 9). Think World War I began because of outrage over the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914? Not according to McMeekin, who writes that the archduke's death was actually met with massive indifference until the machinations of a small group of conniving leaders turned it into a cause for war.

Flip: The Inside Story of TV's First Black Superstar by Kevin Cook (Viking, $27, April 22). Hard to remember now just how big a star Flip Wilson once was, but in the early 1970s he had all of America laughing, and The Flip Wilson Show was one of the most popular programs on TV.

Country Girl: A Memoir by Edna O'Brien (Little, Brown, $28, April 30). Acclaimed Irish writer O'Brien once swore she would never write a memoir, but in her 78th year she changed her mind. She recalls how she incurred the displeasure of the Catholic Church, her mother, and, seemingly, all of Ireland for the sexual frankness of her first book, Country Girls, but persevered with her art.

The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (Liberation Trilogy) by Rick Atkinson (Henry Holt, $38, May 14). Atkinson, who has won Pulitzer Prizes for both journalism and history, completes his World War II trilogy, ranging across the ranks from supreme commander to buck private in recounting the final phase of the war in Europe.

Ready for a Brand New Beat: Why the 1964 Motown Hit "Dancing in the Street" Changed America Forever by Mark Kurlansky (Riverhead Books, $28, July 11). Released during a summer when the civil rights, antiwar, and free-speech movements were all gaining momentum, the dance tune from Martha and the Vandellas became something it had never been intended to be: an anthem of change.