Riverhead Reader program FAQ

HELLO FROM RIVERHEAD! 👋

This is the dedicated Riverhead Reader Program FAQ for titles published by the Riverhead Books imprint under Penguin Random House US.

Stay in Touch

Sign me up for news from Riverhead Books.
Optionally check the box to also:

By clicking Sign Up, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to Penguin Random House's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use and understand that Penguin Random House collects certain categories of personal information for the purposes listed in that policy, discloses, sells, or shares certain personal information and retains personal information in accordance with the policy. You can opt-out of the sale or sharing of personal information anytime.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

What is the Riverhead Reader Program? 

Great question! Every month we give away galleys (and occasionally finished copies) of forthcoming hot titles from Riverhead to readers who request them through our Survey Form. 

 How can I participate in your monthly offerings? 

Complete our monthly request form here.

  • This form is updated with new title offerings every month.

  • You can request as many titles as you would like. Please note, by completing the form, you are not guaranteed a copy, as we have limited quantities for each title and recipients are picked randomly. 

  • We recommend checking this page each month as new books become available. 

I got an email about receiving a copy! What now?

Yay! If you read and love the book feel free to join the conversation online but there is no requirement to do so.  

I am interested in a particular title/author but I do not see it listed as available.

If a title is not listed it means we are not offering copies at this time. We invite you to follow us to learn more about additional opportunities to win copies of our books: 

Questions? Comments? 

Write to us via email at helloriverhead@penguinrandomhouse.com

BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR REQUEST:

The below books are available for request. If a book is not listed below, it is unavailable for request at this time. Please submit your inquiry via the Request Form

Please complete this form by 6/2/2024.

The next offering of new titles will launch on 6/3/2024.

Bringing Ben Home by Barbara Bradley Hagerty

Bringing Ben Home by Barbara Bradley Hagerty

On sale August 6th

How states are making their legal systems more equitable, seen through the story of a Black man falsely imprisoned for thirty years for murder.

In 1987, Ben Spencer, a twenty-two-year-old Black man from Dallas, was convicted of murdering white businessman Jeffrey Young—a crime he didn’t commit. From the day of his arrest, Spencer insisted that it was “an awful mistake.” The Texas legal system didn’t see it that way. It allowed shoddy police work, paid witnesses, and prosecutorial misconduct to convict Spencer of murder, and it ignored later efforts to correct this error. The state’s bureaucratic intransigence caused Spencer to spend more than half his life in prison.

Eventually independent investigators, new witness testimony, the foreman of the jury that convicted him, and a new Dallas DA convinced a Texas judge that Spencer had nothing to do with the killing, and in 2021 he was released from prison.

As Spencer’s fight to clear himself demonstrates, our legal systems are broken: expedience is more important than the truth. That is starting to change as states across the country implement new efforts to reduce wrongful convictions, and one of the states leading the way is Texas.

Award-winning journalist Barbara Bradley Hagerty has spent years digging into this issue, and she has immersed herself in Spencer’s case. She has combed police files and court records, interviewed dozens of witnesses, and had extensive conversations with Spencer, and in Bringing Ben Home she threads together two narratives: how an innocent Black man got caught up in and couldn’t escape a legal system that refused to admit its mistakes; and what Texas and other states are doing to address wrongful convictions to make the legal process more equitable for everyone.

By turns fascinating and enraging, personal and provocative, Bringing Ben Home is the powerful story of one innocent man who refused to admit that he was guilty of murder, and how his plight became part of a paradigm shift in how the legal system thinks about innocence as it institutes new methods to overturn wrongful convictions to better protect people like Ben Spencer.

Feh by Shalom Auslander

Feh by Shalom Auslander

On sale July 23rd

From the acclaimed author of Foreskin’s Lament, a memoir of the author’s attempt to escape the biblical story he’d been raised on and his struggle to construct a new story for himself and his family

Shalom Auslander was raised like a veal in a dysfunctional family in the Orthodox community of Monsey, New York: the son of an alcoholic father; a guilt-wielding mother; and a violent, overbearing God. Now, as he reaches middle age, Auslander begins to suspect that what plagues him is something worse, something he can't so easily escape: a story. The story. One indelibly implanted in him at an early age, a story that told him he is fallen, broken, shameful, disgusting, a story we have all been told for thousands of years, and continue to be told by the religious and secular alike, a story called "Feh."

Yiddish for "Yuck."

Feh follows Auslander's midlife journey to rewrite that story, a journey that involves Phillip Seymour Hoffman, a Pulitzer-winning poet, Job, Arthur Schopenhauer, GHB, Wolf Blitzer, Yuval Noah Harari and a pastor named Steve in a now-defunct church in Los Angeles.

Can he move from Feh to merely meh? Can he even dream of moving beyond that?

Auslander's recounting of his attempt to exorcize the story he was raised with—before he implants it onto his children and/or possibly poisons the relationship of the one woman who loves him—isn’t sacred. It is more-than-occasionally profane. And like all his work, it is also relentlessly funny, subversively heartfelt and fearlessly provocative.

Life as No One Knows It by Sara Imari Walker

Life as No One Knows It by Sara Imari Walker

On sale August 6th

An intriguing new scientific theory that explains what life is and how it emerges.

What is life? This is among the most difficult open problems in science, right up there with the nature of consciousness and the existence of matter. All the definitions we have fall short. None help us understand how life originates or the full range of possibilities for what life on other planets might look like.

In Life as No One Knows It, physicist and astrobiologist Sara Imari Walker argues that solving the origin of life requires radical new thinking and an experimentally testable theory for what life is. This is an urgent issue for efforts to make life from scratch in laboratories here on Earth and missions searching for life on other planets.

Walker proposes a new paradigm for understanding what physics encompasses and what we recognize as life. She invites us into a world of maverick scientists working without a map, seeking not just answers but better ways to formulate the biggest questions we have about the universe. The book culminates with the bold proposal of a new theory for identifying and classifying life, one that applies not just to biological life on Earth but to any instance of life in the universe. Rigorous, accessible, and vital, Life as No One Knows It celebrates the mystery of life and the explanatory power of physics.

This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

Paperback

#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER

“The pages brim with tenderness and an appreciation for what we had and who we were. I could not have loved it more."—Ann Patchett

“One of the most moving and intelligent time travel novels I have ever read. Nostalgic, wise, funny, and filled with love."—Gabrielle Zevin

“The kind of book that will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you call the people you love. Exceptional."—Emily Henry

What if you could take a vacation to your past?

        With her celebrated humor, insight, and heart, beloved New York Times bestseller Emma Straub offers her own twist on traditional time travel tropes and a different kind of love story.

On the eve of her fortieth birthday, Alice’s life isn’t terrible. She likes her job, even if it isn’t exactly the one she expected. She’s happy with her apartment, her romantic status, and her independence, and she adores her lifelong best friend. But her father is ailing, and it feels to her as if something is missing. When she wakes up the next morning, she finds herself back in 1996, reliving her sixteenth birthday. But it isn’t just her adolescent body that shocks her, or seeing her high school crush—it’s her dad, the vital, charming, forty-something version of her father with whom she is reunited. Now armed with a new perspective on her own life and his, some past events take on new meaning. Is there anything that she would change if she could?

The Color of Water by James McBride

The Color of Water by James McBride

Paperback

From the bestselling author of Deacon King Kong and the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird: The modern classic that spent more than two years on The New York Times bestseller list and that Oprah.com calls one of the best memoirs of a generation. 

Who is Ruth McBride Jordan? A self-declared "light-skinned" woman evasive about her ethnicity, yet steadfast in her love for her twelve black children. James McBride, journalist, musician, and son, explores his mother's past, as well as his own upbringing and heritage, in a poignant and powerful debut, The Color Of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother.

The son of a black minister and a woman who would not admit she was white, James McBride grew up in "orchestrated chaos" with his eleven siblings in the poor, all-black projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. "Mommy," a fiercely protective woman with "dark eyes full of pep and fire," herded her brood to Manhattan's free cultural events, sent them off on buses to the best (and mainly Jewish) schools, demanded good grades, and commanded respect. As a young man, McBride saw his mother as a source of embarrassment, worry, and confusion—and reached thirty before he began to discover the truth about her early life and long-buried pain.

In The Color of Water, McBride retraces his mother's footsteps and, through her searing and spirited voice, recreates her remarkable story. The daughter of a failed itinerant Orthodox rabbi, she was born Rachel Shilsky (actually Ruchel Dwara Zylska) in Poland on April 1, 1921. Fleeing pogroms, her family emigrated to America and ultimately settled in Suffolk, Virginia, a small town where anti-Semitism and racial tensions ran high. With candor and immediacy, Ruth describes her parents' loveless marriage; her fragile, handicapped mother; her cruel, sexually-abusive father; and the rest of the family and life she abandoned.

At seventeen, after fleeing Virginia and settling in New York City, Ruth married a black minister and founded the all- black New Brown Memorial Baptist Church in her Red Hook living room. "God is the color of water," Ruth McBride taught her children, firmly convinced that life's blessings and life's values transcend race. Twice widowed, and continually confronting overwhelming adversity and racism, Ruth's determination, drive and discipline saw her dozen children through college—and most through graduate school. At age 65, she herself received a degree in social work from Temple University.

Interspersed throughout his mother's compelling narrative, McBride shares candid recollections of his own experiences as a mixed-race child of poverty, his flirtations with drugs and violence, and his eventual self- realization and professional success. The Color of Water touches readers of all colors as a vivid portrait of growing up, a haunting meditation on race and identity, and a lyrical valentine to a mother from her son.

Back to top