Scintillating as guessing game may be about the author of Primary Colors, there are only so many weeks one can devote to this activity. (Obvious suspect: Jane Austen.) After that it’s time to make some room on your bookshelves, because the publishing industry is about to roll out thousands of new titles in the next few months. Daunted? Don’t be. The key is to warm up, stretch, read, then cool down.
In March, you may want to limber up with a trio of books written by people who sincerely want to tell you (and sell you) what they learned from their own bad behavior. Harvard grad Peter Alson spills Confessions of an Ivy League Bookie, the story of his run at playing the odds to get rich. (The lesson he learns: Crime=aggravation.) Sydney Biddle Barrows continues to promote her past life as the so-called Mayflower Madam with a book of sex tips called Just Between Us Girls. And busted British banker Nick Leeson, who should be in a cozy jail cell in Singapore right about now, has a few tips on how not to succeed in business in Rogue Trader, the subtitle of which — How I Brought Down Barings Bank and Shook the Financial World — pretty much says it all. Whether or not the peccadilloes of these three measure up to the darker doings in Joseph P. Kennedy’s life is yours to decide after you read Ronald Kessler’s The Sins of the Father.
For fiction in March, try The Last Integrationist, Jake Lamar’s well-timed novel about a black politician making a run for the vice presidency; In the Presence of the Enemy, from the excellent American mystery novelist Elizabeth George; and The Dark Room, a psychological thriller from Minette Walters. And by all means don’t miss The End of Alice, by the talented A.M. Homes, a fascinating piece of work set inside the head of a violent sex offender.
Meanwhile, if you’re a betting type like Mr. Alson, put bestsellerdom money on a biography of the murdered singer Selena by Joe Nick Patoski, called Selena: Como La Flor.
Thus primed, you’re ready for a run of good and/or big-name fiction in April. On top of our list: Love, Again, Doris Lessing’s first novel in seven years; Elizabeth Berg’s The Pull of the Moon, from the author of the women-are-sisters novel Talk Before Sleep; Moonlight Becomes You, from Mary Higgins Clark; and Spring Collection, from Judith Krantz (‘nuf sed). And for highly literate laughs, try The Rants, a collection of monologues by the exceptionally smart and verbal stand-up comic Dennis Miller.
This brings us to May, and the prelims to the summer reading season. Obvious beach blanket buddies include Knee Deep in Paradise, the autobiography of TV’s Grace Under Fire star, comedian Brett Butler; Danielle Steel’s 37th best-selling novel, Malice; Jay McInerney’s The Last of the Savages; Martin Cruz Smith’s Rose; the 60th-anniversary edition of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, along with her newly discovered novel, Lost Laysen; John Grisham’s latest, The Runaway Jury; and Philip Norman’s Everyone’s Gone to the Moon, a novel that just so happens to be a roman à clef about big-shot New Yorker editor Tina Brown and her husband, big-shot Random House publisher Harold Evans.