What to Read in 2024 with Booklist Reader

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Program Description:

If you are struggling to find that next great read, this episode of PBS Books sits down with Booklist Reader experts to explore some of the not to miss books of 2024!  The American Library Association’s Booklist Reader is a library patron–facing magazine featuring diverse readers’ advisory recommendations for readers of all ages. During this program, the editors describe their top choices in various genres–adult, audio, graphic novels, young adult, and youth of all ages.

Learn more about this amazing publication and the most anticipated books for 2024. Booklist Reader aspires to extend and expand library services in America and around the world, raising awareness about diverse books. Since 1905, Booklist has been publishing pre-publication book reviews or reviews of books before they’re available for purchase, as well as reader advisory materials, author interviews, special collections for library workers and reviews on special content. In this program, you can learn from all of their extraordinary expertise.

What to Read in 2024


The Backyard Bird Chronicles Book Cover

The Backyard Bird Chronicles by Amy Tan

Tracking the natural beauty that surrounds us, The Backyard Bird Chronicles maps the passage of time through daily entries, thoughtful questions, and beautiful original sketches. With boundless charm and wit, author Amy Tan charts her foray into birding and the natural wonders of the world.

The Black Box Book Cover

The Black Box: Writing the Race by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

A magnificent, foundational reckoning with how Black Americans have used the written word to define and redefine themselves, in resistance to the lies of racism and often in heated disagreement with each other, over the course of the country’s history.

There's Always This Year Book Cover

There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension by Hanif Abdurraqib

A Growing up in Columbus, Ohio, in the 1990s, Hanif Abdurraqib witnessed a golden era of basketball, one in which legends like LeBron James were forged and countless others weren’t. His lifelong love of the game leads Abdurraqib into a lyrical, historical, and emotionally rich exploration of what it means to make it, who we think deserves success, the tension between excellence and expectation, and the very notion of role models, all of which he expertly weaves together with intimate, personal storytelling.

Burma Sahib

Burma Sahib by Paul Theroux

From the acclaimed author of THE MOSQUITO COAST and THE BAD ANGEL BROTHERS comes a riveting new novel exploring one of English literature’s most beloved and controversial figures—George Orwell—and the early years as an officer in colonial Burma that transformed him from Eric Blair, the British Raj policeman, into Orwell the anticolonial writer.

Fourteen Days Book Cover

Fourteen Days Ed. by Margaret Atwood and Douglas Preston

Set in a Lower East Side tenement in the early days of the COVID-19 lockdowns, Fourteen Days is an irresistibly propulsive collaborative novel from the Authors Guild, with an unusual twist: each character in this diverse, eccentric cast of New York neighbors has been secretly written by a different, major literary voice—from Margaret Atwood and Celeste Ng to Tommy Orange and John Grisham.

The Great Divide by Cristina Henríquez

An epic novel of the construction of the Panama Canal, casting light on the unsung people who lived, loved, and labored there, by Cristina Henríquez, acclaimed author of THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS.

This Could Be Us Book Cover

This Could Be Us by Kennedy Ryan

Soledad Barnes has her life all planned out. Because, of course, she does. She plans everything. She designs everything. She fixes everything. She’s a domestic goddess who’s never met a party she couldn’t host or a charge she couldn’t lead. The one with all the answers and the perfect vinaigrette for that summer salad. But none of her varied talents can save her when catastrophe strikes, and the life she built with the man who was supposed to be her forever, goes poof in a cloud of betrayal and disillusion.

Sweetness in the Skin Book Cover

Sweetness in the Skin by Ishi Robinson

A winning debut novel about a young teenage girl in Jamaica determined to bake her way out of her dysfunctional family and into the opportunity of a lifetime.

River Mumma by Zalika Reid-Benta

Issa Rae’s INSECURE with a magical realist spin: RIVER MUMMA is an exhilarating contemporary fantasy novel about a young Black woman who navigates her quarter-life-crisis while embarking on a mythical quest through the streets of Toronto.

The Kamogawa Food Detectives Book Cover

The Kamogawa Food Detectives by Hisashi Kashiwai

Down a quiet backstreet in Kyoto exists a very special restaurant. Run by Koishi Kamogawa and her father Nagare, the Kamogawa Diner serves up deliciously extravagant meals. But that’s not the main reason customers stop by . . .The father-daughter duo are ‘food detectives’. Through ingenious investigations, they are able to recreate dishes from a person’s treasured memories – dishes that may well hold the keys to their forgotten past and future happiness. The restaurant of lost recipes provides a link to vanished moments, creating a present full of possibility.

When Grumpy Met Sunshine by Charlotte Stein

A steamy, opposites-attract romance with undeniable chemistry between a grumpy retired footballer and his fabulous and very sunshine-y ghostwriter.

Graphic Novels

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Book 2 by Emil Ferris

Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late ’60s Chicago, MY FAVORITE THING IS MONSTERS BOOK TWO is the eagerly awaited conclusion to the most acclaimed graphic novels of the past decade. Presented as the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes as she tries to solve the murder of her beloved and enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold.

Zodiac a Graphic Memoir by Ai Weiwei and Elettra Stamboulis, Art by Gianluca Constantini

In this beautifully illustrated and deeply philosophical graphic memoir, legendary artist Ai Weiwei explores the connection between artistic expression and intellectual freedom through the lens of the Chinese zodiac.

Lunar New Year Love Story by Gene Luen Yang, Art by LeUyen Pham

Graphic novel superstars Gene Luen Yang and LeUyen Pham join forces in this heartwarming rom-com about fate, family, and falling in love.


Meet Me on Mercer Street Book Cover

Meet Me on Mercer Street by Booki Vivat

Aspiring artist Kacie spends most of her time on Mercer Street with her best friend, Nisha, people-watching and doodling whatever is happening in their neighborhood. But when she comes back from a summer away, the local corner store is boarded up, the adults in town are all on edge, and Nisha is nowhere to be found! Everything is changing, and Kacie’s not sure what to do about it. Especially without Nisha to help her.

Max in the House of Spies Book Cover

Max in the House of Spies by Adam Gidwitz

The first book in a duology, Max in the House of Spies is a thought-provoking World War II story as only acclaimed storyteller Adam Gidwitz can tell it—fast-paced and hilarious, with a dash of magic and a lot of heart.

Cosmic Collisions - Asteriod vs Comet Book Cover

Cosmic Collisions: Asteroid vs. Comet by Dr. Marc J Kuchner and illustrated by Matt Schu

What happens when two massive hunks of hurtling space debris slam into each other? Welcome to round one in the Cosmic Collisions series—an exciting children’s debut from an expert astrophysicist.

The Book That Almost Rhymed by Omar Abed, illustrated by Hatem Aly

Every great adventure needs a hero—or two! This playful take on storytelling and equity proves that two tellers can make a rhyming tale twice as nice.

Wild Places Book Cover

Wild Places: The Life of Naturalist David Attenborough by Hayley Rocco, illustrated by John Rocco

An inspiring and accessible picture book biography of the beloved naturalist, broadcaster, and documentarian David Attenborough—stunningly illustrated by a Caldecott Honoree.

Young Adult

The Bad Ones by Melissa Albert

After her estranged best friend goes missing and she herself starts losing time, Nora digs into a creepy local legend.

Sky’s End by Marc J. Greyson

Plummet into a kill-or-be-killed competition where a scrappy underdog hell-bent on revenge must claw his way to the top in this thrilling YA fantasy debut. Exiled to live as a Low, sixteen-year-old Conrad refuses to become heir to his murderous uncle. But Meritocracy is a harsh and unforgiving rule on the floating island of Holmstead, and when his ailing mother is killed by monstrous gorgantauns, Conrad cuts a deal to save the only family he has left. To rescue his sister from his uncle’s clutches, Conrad must enter the Selection of the Twelve Trades.

So Let Them Burn by Kamilah Cole

In the aftermath of a war, two magical sisters contend with divine magic and dragon-riding invaders in this Jamaican-inspired fantasy.

This Day Changes Everything Book Cover

This Day Changes Everything by Edward Underhill

In 24 hours, two queer teenagers go from strangers to friends to maybe more as they embark on a scavenger hunt around NYC.

The Girl The Ring & The Baseball Bat Book Cover

The Girl, the Ring, & the Baseball Bat by Camille Gomera-Tavarez

Three New Jersey teens obtain magical items that will purportedly solve all their problems in this entrancing magical-realism novel by Camille Gomera-Tavarez.

My Throat an Open Grave by Tori Bovalino

Leah Jones has no hope for a future outside of Winston, Pennsylvania. She’s on the verge of dropping out of high school, barely balancing her job at the gas station with her duty to care for her baby brother, Owen. But when Owen is taken by the Lord of the Wood, Leah must face the dangers of the wood to write a song that will win Owen back—and the truth of how her life went so very wrong.

Shut Up, This Is Serious by Carolina Ixta

An unforgettable YA debut about two Latina teens growing up in East Oakland as they discover that the world is brimming with messy complexities, perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo and Erika L. Sánchez.

Escaping Mr. Rochester Book Cover

Escaping Mr. Rochester by L.L. McKinney

This captivating take on JANE EYRE gives Bertha more attention as she and Jane plot to flee Thornfield Hall and the oppressive Mr. Rochester.


#Crime Time Audiobook Cover

#CrimeTime by Jeneva Rose and Drew Pyne; Read by Samantha Desz, Piper Goodeve, Kevin R. Free, Gary Tiedemann, Chris Andrew Ciulla, Phil Thron, Nancy Linari,, Abelardo Campuzano, Jennifer Damiano, Peter Berkrot and P.J. Ochlan

The first audio original from Jeneva Rose, the author of blockbuster bestseller THE PERFECT MARRIAGE, #CRIMETIME is a full-cast mystery written with her husband, Drew Pyne, perfect for fans of Only Murders in the Building and Finley Donovan Is Killing It.

The Lost Van Gogh by Jonathan Santlofer; Read by Edoardo Ballerini

For years, there have been whispers that, before his death, Van Gogh completed a final self-portrait. Curators and art historians have savored this rumor, hoping it could illuminate some of the troubled artist’s many secrets, but even they have to concede that the missing painting is likely lost forever. But when Luke Perrone, artist and great-grandson of the man who stole the Mona Lisa, and Alexis Verde, daughter of a notorious art thief, discover what may be the missing portrait, they are drawn into a most epic art puzzles.

West Heart Kill Audiobook Cover

West Heart Kill by Dann McDorman; Read by Robert Petkoff

A unique and irresistible murder mystery set at a remote hunting lodge where everyone is a suspect, including the erratic detective on the scene—a remarkable debut that gleefully upends the rules of the genre.

The Wonderful World of James Herriot Audiobook Cover

The Wonderful World of James Herriot: A Charming Collection of Classis Stories by James Herriot; Read by Anna Madeley

The perfect listen for fans of All Creatures Great and Small, this is a charming collection of classic stories from James Herriot’s much-loved books, with insights into his life and work from his children Rosie and Jim.

The Distance Between Us Audiobook Cover

The Distance Between Us: Young Readers Edition by Reyna Grande; Read by Alejandra Reynoso

Award-winning author Reyna Grande shares her personal experience of crossing borders and cultures in this middle grade adaptation of her memoir.

Coretta: The Autobiography of Mrs. Coretta Scott King by Coretta Scott King; Read by January LaVoy

Adapted from her adult memoir, this is the autobiography of Coretta Scott King—wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., founder of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (the King Center), and twentieth-century American civil and human rights activist. This audiobook features sound design and special effects to enhance your enjoyment of Coretta: The Autobiography of Mrs. Coretta Scott King. Listen out for the sounds or protest, change, and a life well lived.

Featured Guests

Donna Seaman - Headshot

Donna Seaman, Editor, Adult Books, keeps busy assigning books to our fantastic freelance reviewers, consulting with colleagues, editing, reading, writing, or planning coverage for future issues of Booklist. Donna heads to museums whenever possible, and was thrilled to be able to combine her ardor for literature and art in IDENTITY UNKNOWN: REDISCOVERING SEVEN AMERICAN WOMEN ARTISTS (2017). Donna is also a very grateful and proud recipient of RUSA/ALA’s Louis Shores Award for excellence in book reviewing.

George Kendall - Headshot

George Kendall began as Booklist Editor & Publisher in 2019 and since March 2023 is also serving as the American Library Association’s Interim Director of Publishing & Media. George received his MA in Literary Studies from the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He has worked in publishing for most of his career, but was once a professional musician and will sometimes, though very rarely, dust off his French horn and play a few notes.

Susan Macguire - Headshot

Susan Maguire, Senior Editor, Collection Management and Library Outreach, worked for a decade in public libraries before joining Booklist. She loves reading and talking about reading and talking to librarians about talking about reading.

Sarah Hunter, Editor of the Books for Youth and Graphic Novel sections, came to Booklist following her work with Open Books, a literacy nonprofit in Chicago, after receiving an MA in English from the University of Chicago, and she’s traded critical theory and post-modern literature for picture book illustration and comics (surprisingly not as unrelated as you might think). In addition to the many hours she spends reading, writing, and editing for every issue, she is proud to manage Booklist’s annual Guide to Graphic Novels in Libraries supplement.

Heather Booth - Headshot

Heather Booth, Audio Editor, has been at Booklist since 2018, a librarian since 2002, and has been listening to audiobooks since they came on records that were tucked into paper pockets in her picture books. She is always up for listening to a quirky family story, a twisty mystery, or that book so well crafted it takes your breath away. Heather in on a quest to bake a perfect macaron and enjoys spending time with family, her dogs, and nature.

Maggie Reagan, Senior Editor, Books for Youth, Booklist and Book Links, holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from Denison University and attended the NYU Summer Publishing Institute. During lockdown, she accidentally acquired several cats who are very enthusiastic about Zoom meetings. Ask her about her favorite ABBA song if you are starved for conversation.

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