This Week's Best New Books

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The Writer's Library: The Authors You Love on the Books that Changed Their Lives

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The Writer's Library: The Authors You Love on the Books that Changed Their Lives

by Nancy Pearl, Jeff Schwager

The Writer's Library: The Authors You Love on the Books that Changed Their Lives

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Most readers will agree that a pleasure second only to reading great books is talking about them with simpatico people. Librarian and literary critic Nancy Pearl and award-winning playwright Jeff Schwager create a formidable and friendly partnership to interview 23 literary luminaries about their reading habits, favorite books, how they read while writing, and books that shaped their tastes and psyches. Hundreds of books and authors are discussed, praised and dissed, and Pearl and Schwager always ... [ Read More » ]

2 of 27
The Tsarina's Lost Treasure: Catherine the Great, a Golden Age Masterpiece, and a Legendary Shipwreck

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The Tsarina's Lost Treasure: Catherine the Great, a Golden Age Masterpiece, and a Legendary Shipwreck

by Gerald Easter, Mara Vorhees

The Tsarina's Lost Treasure: Catherine the Great, a Golden Age Masterpiece, and a Legendary Shipwreck

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The Tsarina's Lost Treasure: Catherine the Great, a Golden Age Masterpiece, and a Legendary Shipwreck is ostensibly the story of the ill-fated Vrouw Maria and its precious cargo, but Gerald Easter and Mara Vorhees use the framework of the ship's disaster to recount a saga that spans from Rembrandt to Vladimir Putin. Easter (Capital, Coercion and Post-Communist States) and Vorhees (Lonely Planet: Finland) combine their political and travel expertise in a fascinating tale.

Gerrit Dou, one of Rembrandt's ... [ Read More » ]

3 of 27
Set My Heart to Five

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Set My Heart to Five

by Simon Stephenson

Set My Heart to Five

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A bot develops emotions and a profound understanding of what it means to be human in the tear-jerking, romantic Set My Heart to Five by Simon Stephenson, author of the memoir Let Not the Waves of the Sea.

One morning in 2054 Detroit, a bot named Jared, programmed to be a dentist, comes out of rest mode with the number 1956864 displayed on his internal computer. The next day that number is reduced by 416, the exact number of teeth Jared views during a workday. Neither an attempt to reboot himself ... [ Read More » ]

4 of 27
The Nothing Man

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The Nothing Man

by Catherine Ryan Howard

The Nothing Man

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"I have to tell you, it's a harrowing read but I just can't put it down. It's riveting, it's devastating." A character says this in Catherine Ryan Howard's The Nothing Man, to describe the book within the book, which carries the same title but is written by the protagonist, Eve Black. The same could easily be said about the compulsive thriller Howard has written.

One night in 2001, when Eve was 12, an intruder slipped into her family's home and murdered everyone--her father, mother and younger sister--except ... [ Read More » ]

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A Kingdom of Tender Colors: A Memoir of Comedy, Survival, and Love

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A Kingdom of Tender Colors: A Memoir of Comedy, Survival, and Love

by Seth Greenland

A Kingdom of Tender Colors: A Memoir of Comedy, Survival, and Love

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To be clear: the screenwriter and novelist Seth Greenland (The Angry Buddhist) would have preferred not to have received a lymphoma diagnosis in 1993. But this is a guy who lives for artistic validation. In A Kingdom of Tender Colors: A Memoir of Comedy, Survival, and Love, he sheepishly admits that the worst thing about his cancer diagnosis was his fear that "I would not get to live out the creative dreams I believed that I had been put on this planet to fulfill." Hence, ... [ Read More » ]

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The Circus of Stolen Dreams

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The Circus of Stolen Dreams

by Lorelei Savaryn

The Circus of Stolen Dreams

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Welcome to Reverie, the "Land of Dreams," where you can live out any fantasy you can imagine. But in this enthralling and magical middle-grade novel, nightmares also lurk in Reverie's tents.

Three years ago, Andrea's younger brother, Francis, disappeared. Now 12, Andrea wants only to forget the pain of his disappearance. One night in the woods near her house, she stumbles across Reverie, a magical circus run by the Sandman. The circus offers exactly what she needs--a chance to forget. Inside Reverie's ... [ Read More » ]

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The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep: Voices from the Donner Party

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The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep: Voices from the Donner Party

by Allan Wolf

The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep: Voices from the Donner Party

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Through alternating voices and a deft blend of writing styles, Allan Wolf recounts the harrowing 1846 westward wagon trip of the Donner Party that left nearly half the group dead and their name mired in historical infamy.

With Hunger as a constant companion and omnipotent narrator, the story switches perspectives among ill-fated travelers. Wolf presents each voice in its own distinctive writing style--coupled verse, diary entries, prayers to God and prose. Facing an arduous trip, George Donner assembled ... [ Read More » ]

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Fly on the Wall

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Fly on the Wall

by Remy Lai

Fly on the Wall

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Duplicating the prose and graphic hybrid format of her award-winning debut, Pie in the Sky, Indonesia-born Remy Lai presents Fly on the Wall, another pitch-perfect middle-grade book about the longing to belong.

As the youngest Khoo, 12-year-old Henry is "FORBIDDEN from Doing Anything on His Own Because His Family Thinks He's a WAH-WAH-WAH Baby." Within his Perth, Australia, household of grandmother, mother, sister, he's the one who's not like the others: if he were to categorize his family as animals, ... [ Read More » ]

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If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future

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If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future

by Jill Lepore

If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future

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It seems there isn't an aspect of contemporary life that hasn't felt the impact of big data and data analytics. But familiar as those terms may be, the early days of the science behind them is likely equally obscure. Harvard historian and New Yorker journalist Jill Lepore's If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future unearths that history in a fascinating account that's both illuminating and cautionary.

Founded in 1959 and bankrupt by 1970, Simulmatics Corporation ... [ Read More » ]

10 of 27
How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World's Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs

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How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World's Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs

by Guy Raz

How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World's Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs

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How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World's Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs by the award-winning podcast host Guy Raz highlights the origin stories behind today's innovative startups and features valuable insider tips for fledgling entrepreneurs. Raz interviewed the founders of many successful businesses, including Airbnb, Headspace, Slack and Five Guys. A gifted storyteller, he shares in fascinating detail what he learned, from the development of an idea to its successful launch ... [ Read More » ]

11 of 27
A Deception at Thornecrest

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A Deception at Thornecrest

by Ashley Weaver

A Deception at Thornecrest

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Ashley Weaver invigorates the venerable village mystery with A Deception at Thornecrest, her seventh novel about British aristocrats Amory and Milo Ames. Set during 1934 in Kent, England, the tightly focused plot emphasizes its appealing, realistic characters as Weaver's affinity for details makes the story fresh.

Eight months pregnant with her first child, Amory is visited by Imogen Prescott, a stranger who arrives at Thornecrest, the Ameses' country home in the village of Allingcross. Imogen maintains ... [ Read More » ]

12 of 27
Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader's Guide to a More Tranquil Mind

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Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader's Guide to a More Tranquil Mind

by Alan Jacobs

Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader's Guide to a More Tranquil Mind

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Baylor University humanities professor Alan Jacobs's Breaking Bread with the Dead makes a gentle, yet insistent, argument for the "value of paying attention to old books that come from strange times and are written in peculiar language and frankly don't make a whole lot of sense."

Jacobs (The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction) locates what he calls our "sense of defilement"--the idea that consorting with thinkers of the past somehow makes us unclean--in two contemporary phenomena: ... [ Read More » ]

13 of 27
The Black Romantic Revolution: Abolitionist Poets at the End of Slavery

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The Black Romantic Revolution: Abolitionist Poets at the End of Slavery

by Matt Sandler

The Black Romantic Revolution: Abolitionist Poets at the End of Slavery

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This urgent study of Black abolitionist poets before and after the Civil War demonstrates, with great incisive power, not just that figures like Albery Allson Whitman, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper and more drew inspiration from European Romantics like Byron in their revolution-minded verse. It also argues that the era's Black American poets, both free and enslaved, developed a singular Romantic tradition of their own, setting a lyric poetry touched with prophecy and whirlwinds to the task of breaking ... [ Read More » ]

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Everything Is Spiritual

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Everything Is Spiritual

by Rob Bell

Everything Is Spiritual

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Rob Bell has always had questions. Big questions. His early career as a pastor and author allowed him to explore some of those questions publicly, until his explorations started to make some of his readers (and church members) uncomfortable. After the release of his 2011 book, Love Wins, in which he questioned the typical conservative Christian views of heaven and hell, Bell became a polarizing figure in the evangelical circles he had previously inhabited. Since then, he's released five more books ... [ Read More » ]

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White Hot Light: Twenty-Five Years in Emergency Medicine

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White Hot Light: Twenty-Five Years in Emergency Medicine

by Frank Huyler

White Hot Light: Twenty-Five Years in Emergency Medicine

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"When they brought him in, he was almost alive.... He tried to save the boy.... So he acted, right then, without waiting for anything or anyone.... There was beauty in his ruthlessness.... Flesh parts to a scalpel effortlessly, like the wave of a hand." Frank Huyler has practiced emergency medicine in Albuquerque, N.Mex., for more than two decades (The Blood of Strangers). As he shows in White Hot Light, Huyler is also a poet, his prose as smooth and cutting as the aforementioned scalpel.

A selection ... [ Read More » ]

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The Violence Inside Us: A Brief History of an Ongoing American Tragedy

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The Violence Inside Us: A Brief History of an Ongoing American Tragedy

by Chris Murphy

The Violence Inside Us: A Brief History of an Ongoing American Tragedy

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Chris Murphy is able to identify precisely the date his life changed forever. It was December 14, 2012, the day 20 six- and seven-year-old children and six adults were slaughtered by gunfire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a town in the congressional district he served, and was soon to represent as Connecticut's junior senator.

The Violence Inside Us: A Brief History of an Ongoing American Tragedy is the passionate and often deeply moving story of Murphy's personal transformation. ... [ Read More » ]

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little scratch

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little scratch

by Rebecca Watson

little scratch

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The debut work of experimental fiction by freelance writer Rebecca Watson, little scratch, is not an easy read. In fact, some might consider moving from one page to the next an outright chore. What awaits readers is a jumble of phrases and intersecting sentences that are neither poems nor paragraphs. Yet once audiences recognize the cadence of the narrator's traumatized thoughts, they might realize this novel is one of the most captivating books of the year.

The plot itself is nothing extraordinary: ... [ Read More » ]

18 of 27
This Old Dog

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This Old Dog

by Martha Brockenbrough, illus. by Gabriel Alborozo

This Old Dog

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An old dog makes a new friend in Martha Brockenbrough (Unpresidented; Love, Santa) and Gabriel Alborozo's adorable, heart-tugging dog-and-his-girl picture book.

The old dog's "bones are sore but his heart is strong," readers learn as the goofily grinning protagonist's tail wags in a bristled blur. Shaggy, long-eared and gray with oversized white polka dots, the venerable canine laments his accelerated pace of life "since the girl was born": his walks are now too quick for him to "hear the leaves" ... [ Read More » ]

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Never Look Back

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Never Look Back

by Lilliam Rivera

Never Look Back

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What if fighting your personal demons meant fighting an actual demon? Lilliam Rivera's Never Look Back is a heart-stopping modern-day retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, taking on mental health struggles and cultural identity while also depicting first love and the power of trust.

Summer in the Bronx explodes into myth-level trials for Afro-Latinx 17-year-olds Pheus and Eury, a recent transplant from Puerto Rico. Pheus is a singer and occasional romantic player; Eury is a troubled ... [ Read More » ]

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Ink & Sigil

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Ink & Sigil

by Kevin Hearne

Ink & Sigil

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Kevin Hearne (A Plague of Giants; Scourged) introduces an unlikely hero, who practices a different brand of magic in this complex, crudely funny spin-off of his popular Iron Druid Chronicles.

Glaswegian sexagenarian Aloysius "Al" MacBharrais, one of the human world's five sigil agents, uses magical symbols drawn in potion-like inks to enforce a treaty that keeps the Fae out of the human world. He also lives under a curse: the sound of his voice leads the hearer to despise him intensely. Al's life ... [ Read More » ]

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The Death of Comrade President

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The Death of Comrade President

by Alain Mabanckou, trans. by Helen Stevenson

The Death of Comrade President

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A nation faces political upheaval--and a boy who just wants to find his missing dog must make sense of it all--in Congo-born, Man Booker International Prize finalist Alain Mabanckou's cycle chronicling life in his home country's port city Pointe-Noire. Centered on the 1977 assassination of Marien Ngouabi, the Republic of Congo's Communist leader, The Death of Comrade President finds 13-year-old Michel still caught up with everyday concerns in a time of frightening uncertainty, even as he learns that ... [ Read More » ]

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Dead Girls

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Dead Girls

by Selva Almada, trans. by Annie McDermott

Dead Girls

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"As a girl, I sensed that there wasn't really anywhere I was safe," Selva Almada (The Wind That Lays Waste) reveals in the chilling author's note about growing up in a provincial Argentinian town. By eight, Almada had already experienced verbal sexual abuse, accosted by a bicycling boy while walking. "Violence was normalised.... If you were raped, it was always your fault." Three gruesome murders loomed as she matured in the 1980s. Three decades later, she spent three years researching, then three ... [ Read More » ]

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The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett

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The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett

by Annie Lyons

The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett

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U.K. author Annie Lyons's stories often veer toward the sunny side of life, depicting how human connections can become an equalizing force to ease loneliness and personal conflict. In The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett, she dips into darker territory, focusing on a world-weary 85-year-old Brit who wants to end her life on her own terms.

With no husband or children--"old and tired and alone," her body "winding down like an old clock"--Eudora contacts an organization in Switzerland willing to help ... [ Read More » ]

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The Book of Hidden Wonders

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The Book of Hidden Wonders

by Polly Crosby

The Book of Hidden Wonders

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As Polly Crosby's enchanting debut, The Book of Hidden Wonders, opens, eight-year-old Romilly and her father arrive at an ancient Suffolk farmhouse surrounded by a slimy moat, far from Romilly's memories of their life in London. Why are they now isolated here? Where is Mum? How will they live? As she narrates the next nine years, Romilly's coming-of-age at Braër is magical, terrifying and mysterious.

Dad immerses himself in painting, and soon publishes a book illustrated with detailed pictures ... [ Read More » ]

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Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture

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Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture

by Sudhir Hazareesingh

Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture

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Sudhir Hazareesingh, author of In the Shadow of the General, acknowledges early on in his balanced biography of Toussaint Louverture that there have been many competing interpretations of Louverture's life and career since his death in 1803. As ideologies shifted and new historical approaches came into style, the revolutionary leader and founding father of Haiti has been criticized from the left and the right for his authoritarianism, racial politics and much more. Black Spartacus seeks to resurrect ... [ Read More » ]

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The Awkward Black Man

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The Awkward Black Man

by Walter Mosley

The Awkward Black Man

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In Walter Mosley's short story "Haunted," a publisher has sent a rejection letter to a dead man, about whom he complains, "He wrote all that genre stuff and tried to pretend it was literary." It's impossible to read this line as anything other than Mosley's wink at the reader: being seen as less than true artists is the bane of good writers known primarily for their genre fiction. If Mosley, best known for his beloved Easy Rawlins crime novels, feels undervalued, The Awkward Black ... [ Read More » ]

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Piranesi

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Piranesi

by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi

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British author Susanna Clarke won a World Fantasy Award and legions of fans with her debut novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, a classic in its own time. Now, in her first novel in almost 16 years, Clarke introduces readers to a dreamlike new world and the charming, curious soul who lives in it and loves it. A bold blend of mystery-thriller and speculative fiction, this literary fantasia inspired by the etchings of 18th-century Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi explores the resilience ... [ Read More » ]

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