Why we'll have fun between the covers this year
From history and fiction to celebrity memoir, a new chapter in the world of books is upon us. Hannah Stephenson previews the page-turners we'll be reaching for in 2015
Readers are in for a rich harvest of books this year, from established authors and newcomers alike, as well as a flurry of new titles which coincide with the many anniversaries of 2015.
The 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, the 200th year since the Battle of Waterloo, the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli and the sinking of the Lusitania will all be covered, along with other major anniversaries, including the 150th birthday of Alice In Wonderland.
In fiction, there will be new titles from well-known bestselling authors, including Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling), Kate Atkinson and SJ Watson, whose debut Before I Go To Sleep was made into a film starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth, and who is following it up with Second Life (Doubleday, February).
Irvine Welsh fans will welcome his latest book, A Decent Ride (Vintage, April), billed to be "his filthiest and funniest book yet", while Kazuo Ishiguro, who wrote The Remains Of The Day, publishes his first novel in a decade, The Buried Giant (Faber, March), about lost memories, love, revenge and war.
Chris White, fiction buyer for Waterstones, says: "Erotica will get a boost again this year, because the film of Fifty Shades Of Grey is coming out, but I don't think it will go back to what it was a few years ago."
He says one of the big genres for Waterstones is likely to be cosy, traditional crime.
"The British Library has republished a whole stream of lost crime classics - Agatha Christie-type stuff by authors we've forgotten.
"One that is doing particularly well at the moment is Mystery In White by J Jefferson Farjeon, which is currently our bestselling paperback, and I imagine this will inspire publishers to look for more of this kind of thing, from both old and new authors. Editors will be looking more for crime written by contemporary authors in that vein, a slightly gentler, more mystery-orientated crime, rather than a slasher.
"We've got the new Ishiguro coming in March, which is one of the books we are most excited about for this year, as well as the new Kate Atkinson, A God In Ruins (Transworld, May), which is the follow-up to Life After Life.
"The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton has been one of the biggest hardbacks in 2014, and we expect it to continue to be one of the biggest paperbacks of 2015."
Debut novelists likely to gain a lot of coverage include Emma Hooper, whose novel Etta And Otto And Russell And James (Fig Tree, January) sees an 82-year-old woman set off on an unlikely pilgrimage, leaving her husband behind with his memories.
"Another book I've read recently is Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy (Chatto & Windus, April), which is a kind of Great Gatsby taken to a contemporary London setting, where the Gatsby is a Russian oligarch who has made his money through dubious means."
HarperCollins has great hopes for debut novelist Andrea Bennett's Galina Petrovna's Three Legged Dog Story (The Borough Press, February), where spirited septuagenarians overcome innumerable obstacles to save their beloved mutt from a heartless exterminator, in a land where bureaucracy reigns above all else.
For celebrity-hungry readers, there will be memoirs from Mary Portas (Shop Girl - Doubleday, February), Pam St Clement (The End Of An Earring - Headline, February) and Calum Best (Second Best - Bantam Press, March), plus a biography about the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen by Andrew Wilson (Simon & Schuster, February).
"There will be quite a few books surrounding anniversaries, particularly Waterloo, but the one I really like is Dead Wake by Erik Larson (Crown, March), about the sinking of the Lusitania - it's a gripping account," says Caroline Sanderson, associate editor of trade magazine The Bookseller.
"There are quite a few books coming out pegged to the Magna Carta and what it means as far as the way systems are organised in society, as well as biographies about King John and why he was so terrible."
Ones to watch include Magna Carta And Us by eminent historian David Starkey (Hodder & Stoughton, April) and King John: Treachery, Tyranny And The Road To Magna Carta by historian and broadcaster Marc Morris (Hutchinson, March).
The suffragettes will be a popular theme in 2015, coinciding with the release of the film Suffragette, starring Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep, who plays Emmeline Pankhurst.
"There's a book by Radio 4's Anita Anand called Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary (Bloomsbury, January), which is a fascinating biography of an Indian princess who became a suffragette."
While there are always new books being published about the Second World War, the one which is likely to create the biggest buzz is Antony Beevor's Ardennes 1944 (Viking, May).
"My favourite is from Geoffrey Wellum, who was a pilot in the Battle of Britain. He wrote First Light more than 10 years ago and he has written another one, Twilight Of The Few (Hodder & Stoughton, June), an elegy for the men who died in June and July of 1940," says Sanderson.
Russia is also going to be a big subject, as President Vladimir Putin comes under further scrutiny, she predicts. Notable is Red Notice by Bill Browder (Bantam, February), an American who founded a hedge fund in Moscow and uncovered a conspiracy by the Russian authorities to steal taxes supposed to be paid to the state. The forthcoming general election will be pre-empted by a flurry of books, and readers should look out for Green Party MP Caroline Lucas' book called Honourable Friends? (Portobello, March), exposing the secret workings of Westminster.