Best Books of March 2017: Joan Didion to H.G. Wells

Every month, Signature combs through the upcoming releases across nonfiction and literary fiction to provide a look at the most exciting titles rounding the bend.

After a rollercoaster of a February that ended with Oscars-gate, we need some good literature to ground us this month. Luckily, we’ll be getting it in abundance. Never-before-seen writings from Joan Didion taken from her famous notebooks are being published (South and West); H.G. Wells’s The Rights of Man is getting a fresh coat of paint with an introduction from Ali Smith; a comprehensive and even-keeled biography of Richard Nixon will provide some historical context for the world we are living in today (Richard Nixon: A Life), and Adam Alter makes the argument that we all suffer from addiction: just take a look at that phone lighting up your pocket (Irresistible).

  • The cover of the book Bit Rot

    Bit Rot

    stories + essays

    Douglas Coupland’s debut novel, Generation X, landed loudly in 1991. Originally planned as a nonfiction handbook of sorts to guide ideas pertaining to the post-Baby Boom generation, it morphed into a novel that coined the term and defined the tone of this new generation. In his latest work, Bit Rot, the author turns his attention to the here and now, focusing his brilliant mind on notions come to be in this digital age.

    Out March 7, 2017

  • The cover of the book Celine


    A novel

    The elegant Celine works as a private eye who specializes in reuniting families as penance for her past. Drawing from his own chic mother’s life as a private eye, Peter Heller follows Celine from her apartment in Brooklyn to Yellowstone National Park in search of a photographer who went missing on the border of Montana and Wyoming.

    Out March 7, 2017

  • The cover of the book Exit West

    Exit West

    A Novel

    One of the timeliest novels of the month, Exit West brilliantly imagines what it is like for the average citizen to become the average refugee. Nadia and Saeed are just at the beginning of their love affair when their country is wracked by civil war, and their city’s streets go from familiar to dangerous. They begin to hear rumors about hidden doors that will lead to safety, and as their city becomes less and less their own, the idea of disappearing through one of those doors grows in appeal.

    Out March 7, 2017

  • The cover of the book Fallen Glory

    Fallen Glory

    It can be argued that during this time when the world’s population is vaster than ever – and growing more so by the minute – beauty and innovation in architecture has suffered against the need for efficiency and density. With that in mind, consider Fallen Glory: The Lives and Deaths of History’s Greatest Buildings, in which James Crawford sets forth the stories of twenty-one of history’s most famous buildings, covering their creation – and destruction. Here you’ll find the stories of the Tower of Babel, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, the Bastille, the Berlin Wall, and beyond.

    Out March 7, 2017

  • The cover of the book Irresistible


    The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked

    We live in an age of behavioral addiction. The best example can be found in your pocket – or left out, face up, on the dinner table, interrupting a conversation among friends or family with a single buzz or notification. But it’s not just our smartphones that are designed to be immediately gratifying. Manufacturers of video games and slot machines have perfected the art of psychological manipulation – things that on their face seem fun, but become increasingly addictive when they act as substitutes for human connection. Adam Alter’s Irresistible is a manifesto for our age, and should be required reading to both understand the new relationships between man and machine and to rewire those relationships for the common good.

    Out March 7, 2017

  • The cover of the book The Price of Illusion

    The Price of Illusion

    Joan Juliet Buck to this day is still the only American to have served as the editor of Paris Vogue. But her life encompassed worlds more than that. In her much-anticipated memoir, The Price of Illusion, Buck invites us along through her childhood among Hollywood royalty, a coming-of-age unlike any you’ve ever imagined, and a fascinating adulthood filled with glamour and drama. Buck’s retelling is at once brilliantly poetic and wise – and incredibly fun.

    Out March 7, 2017

  • The cover of the book Shoot Like a Girl

    Shoot Like a Girl

    One Woman's Dramatic Fight in Afghanistan and on the Home Front

    Remember when “like a girl” was an insult? “You run like a girl.” “You punch like a girl.” Rightfully, that’s no longer the case. In her memoir, Shoot Like a Girl, Mary Jenning Hegar offers up her story of being shot down in Afghanistan as a major in the Air National Guard and surviving – and bringing her crew and patients to safety. In spite of this and other as-awe-inspiring military accomplishments, MJ still had to fight for her place – and the place of all militarywomen – on the front lines. This is her story of this incredible journey.

    Out March 7, 2017

  • The cover of the book South and West

    South and West

    From a Notebook

    South and West is composed of two extended excerpts from two of Joan Didion’s never-before-seen notebooks. Didion has always carried a notebook with her, to jot down thoughts, take notes during interviews, draft essays, and more. Put simply, these notebooks are an absolute goldmine. The first excerpt is from a notebook she took with her while on a roadtrip in 1970 Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama with her late husband, John Gregory Dunne. The second comprises notes she took while on assignment for Rolling Stone covering the Patty Hearst trial. She never wrote the piece for Rolling Stone, but her notes for it represent the beginnings of her work on Where I Was From.

    Out March 7, 2017

  • The cover of the book The Spark and the Grind

    The Spark and the Grind

    Ignite the Power of Disciplined Creativity

    When Erik Wahl’s corporate career came to a sudden end, he pursued a long-hidden passion of his: painting photorealistic portraits. But he didn’t let his talent and excitement carry him to where he is now—he worked hard at honing and refining that talent to turn it into a true craft. He took a spark, and ground it out. In The Spark and the Grind, he teaches readers how they can do the same in their own lives, in myriad situations.

    Out March 7, 2017

  • The cover of the book The Rules Do Not Apply

    The Rules Do Not Apply

    A Memoir

    Ariel Levy had it all at the age of thirty-eight – and she got it all exactly how she’d wanted to. The New Yorker staff writer had found love, career success, and the future of family via an unconventional path. When it all unexpectedly – and devastatingly – falls apart, Levy is shaken to her core. The Rules Do Not Apply takes us well beyond her experiences, setting forth the story of a woman who marched to the beat of her own drum no matter where the rhythm took her.

    Out March 14, 2017

  • The cover of the book Captain Fantastic

    Captain Fantastic

    Elton John's Stellar Trip Through the '70s

    Acclaimed music journalist Tom Doyle, author of Man on the Run about Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles life in the 1970s, is back with another kaleidoscopic tour of that weird decade, this time through the colorful and complicated life of Elton John. Few musicians define the seventies quite like John, who shot to stardom with classics like “Your Song” and “Rocket Man,” and whose flamboyant stage performances belied a shy man struggling with drugs, fame, and his own sexuality. The book is worth a read for the interview access alone.

    Out March 21, 2017

  • The cover of the book The Rights of Man

    The Rights of Man

    With a beautiful introduction from none other than Ali Smith, and its first ever publication in the United States, H.G. Wells’s 1940 manifesto about the common good of mankind is certainly a balm for today’s hyper-polarized climate. Then combine volatile global politics and a refugee crisis to the admixture and you’ve got yourself a must-read book of 2017. Wells wrote The Rights of Man in part after seeing how ineffectual the League of Nations was in preventing warfare after WWI. He called for a new, progressive understanding of how humans live together, and it’s now considered one of the urtexts leading to the creation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    Out March 21, 2017

  • The cover of the book Democrazy


    A True Story of Weird Politics, Money, Madness, and Finger Food

    In the vein of This Town, the raucous inside-the-beltway exposé on the sycophantic underbelly of D.C. politics, Democrazy is the story of GOP congressman Trey Radel and his brief but brilliant time in office. Radel resigned in 2014 amid a media firestorm following a sting that saw him arrested for buying cocaine. Now Radel reflects on his past lives: as a TV news reporter and radio host, a one-time congressman from Florida, and most importantly the spiller of dirty Congressional secrets, ones that slowly eroded his optimism in our political process.

    Out March 28, 2017

  • The cover of the book Mustache Shenanigans

    Mustache Shenanigans

    Making Super Troopers and Other Adventures in Comedy

    Jay Chandrasekhar is the director and star of the cult film ‘Super Troopers,’ and is also best known for his work in the sketch comedy group Broken Lizard. In Mustache Shenanigans, he tells the behind-the-scenes stories of the formation of Black Lizard, the making of ‘Super Troopers’ and its ascent to cult film status, along with the making of ‘Super Troopers 2,’ which is currently being filmed. Fans of Chandrasekhar will get an intimate look at the beloved director and comedian, and newcomers will take a peek into the success story of an Indian American boy growing up in the suburbs of Chicago and forging his own path to fame.

    Out March 28, 2017

  • The cover of the book Richard Nixon

    Richard Nixon

    The Life

    You may know him as “Tricky Dick,” the man who opened China, the mind behind both the EPA and Watergate, the arbiter of The Vietnam War’s end, or simply Richard Nixon. But to those who didn’t live through his five years in office from 1969 – 1974 (and even to those who did), John A. Farrell’s authoritative biography of our 37th President adds nuance and perspective and great detail to Nixon’s presidency. Whether or not you agree with those who have drawn parallels between the new Trump administration and that of Nixon’s, you’ll want to read this even-keeled book to ground your own conclusions.

    Out March 28, 2017

  • The cover of the book The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

    The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

    A Novel

    One Story co-founder and editor-in-chief Hannah Tinti has returned with the novel The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley nearly ten years after her debut novel, The Good Thief. This much-anticipated – and big-on-delivery – follow-up is everything you’d want from a perfect novel: all-consuming, inventive, wholly original, and beautifully writ. The journey she’ll take you on with Samuel Hawley and his daughter Loo will have you turning pages frantically – and all the while hoping the book will never end.

    Out March 28, 2017