It’s a new chapter, so what’s in store for Oxfordshire readers in 2015? Jaine Blackman takes a look

Readers are in for a rich harvest of books and events this year and a flurry of new titles to coincide with the many anniversaries of 2015, including the 150th birthday of Oxford author Lewis Caroll’s Alice In Wonderland. The 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, 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.

In fiction, there will be new titles from 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).

The line-up for the Oxford Literary Festival has been announced with more than 500 authors and speakers expected to gather for the event from March 21-29.

Brooker Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro (Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go) introduces his much-anticipated first new novel in a decade, The Buried Giant, in a special preview event for the festival at Oxford Town Hall on March 12.

Irvine Welsh fans will welcome his latest book, A Decent Ride (Vintage, April), billed to be his filthiest and funniest book yet, while 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.”

The Oxford Times:

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], 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). “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.

The Oxford Times:

“There are 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 on 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 [who visits the Oxford Literary Festival on March 26] called Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary [Bloomsbury, January], which is a fascinating biography of an Indian princess who became a suffragette,” says Sanderson.

While there are always new books being published about World War Two, the one likely to create the biggest buzz is Antony Beevor’s Ardennes 1944 (Viking, May).

The General Election will be pre-empted by a flurry of books, and readers should look out for Green party MP Caroline Lucas’s book called Honourable Friends? (Portobello, March). In it Lucas, who unsuccessfully contested Oxford East in 1992 and is now MP for Brighton, exposes the secret workings of Westminster.

Blackwell’s in Oxford has organised a two-week festival in honour of visionary poet William Blake (inspiredbyblake.co.uk) beginning on January 18.

Other events this year include Chipping Norton Literary Festival, April 23-26 (chiplitfest.com); The Blenheim Palace Literary Festival, Sep 24-27 (blenheimpalaceliterary festival.com) and the Henley Literary Festival, Sep 28-Oct 4 (henleyliteraryfestival.co.uk).