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  • Sarah Skilton 4:00 pm on 2018/02/28 Permalink
    Tags: , alternate side, , auntie poldi and the sicilian lions, christina lynch, , , i'll be your blue sky, italian teacher, , john brownjohn, kristin harmel, leah stewart, mario giordano, marisa de los santos, new releases, not that i could tell, speak no evil, the italian party, the room on rue amelie, , uzodinma iweala, what you don't know about charlie outlaw   

    The Best New Fiction of March 2018 

    This month brings us several poignant family dramas and plenty of neighborhood intrigue, from a wealthy New York City enclave to a scandal-plagued Ohioan suburb. A heart-pounding thriller aboard an airplane; a TV star’s abduction; and three books set in Italy will have you staying up late turning pages and practicing your grazies and pregos! Lastly, a long-awaited second novel from Beasts of No Nation author Uzodinma Iweala promises to leave you gasping.

    Accidental Heroes, by Danielle Steel
    This thriller set in the not-so-friendly skies finds a Homeland Security agent racing against the clock to prevent tragedy aboard a flight from New York to San Francisco. Assisting him in his tense mission are a group of “everyday people” whose fates have converged. Some of them work for the airport or the airline, and some of them are strangers thrown together from across the country. None of them expected to be heroes. Now boarding: A character study wrapped around an action-packed drama.

    Alternate Side, by Anna Quindlen
    A bestselling novelist (Miller’s ValleyObject Lessons) and advice-giver (A Short Guide to a Happy LifeBeing Perfect), Quindlen centers her latest novel on an elite neighborhood in Manhattan. Nora and Charlie Nolan, and the rest of their secluded, close-knit community, are thrown into chaos when an act of violence with racial undertones forces them to take stock of who and what they really are.

    The Italian Teacher, by Tom Rachman
    As with his first, critically lauded book The Imperfectionists, Rachman’s latest takes place in Rome, this time in the 1950s art world. Charles “Pinch” Bavinsky is one of seventeen kids produced by a philandering, impossible-to-pin-down father, Bear Bavinsky, who also happens to be a genius painter. At first, Pinch yearns to follow in his father’s footsteps, or at least become his biographer. Will Pinch’s job as a language instructor in London bring him the fulfillment he hopes for, or will his complicated relationship with his father be the only legacy available to him?

    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, by Mario Giordano (translated by John Brownjohn)
    Determined to spend her twilight years drinking wine and enjoying the beauty of Sicily, 60-year-old Auntie Poldi, a former costume designer with a wide variety of wigs, quickly discovers that a relaxing retirement is not in the cards. Eager to solve the mystery of her handyman’s disappearance, she throws herself into the official search, despite her lack of investigative credentials. It doesn’t hurt that the lead detective, Vito Montana, is dashingly handsome. The first in a decidedly cozy series, Lions is filled with humor, heart, and stunning locales.

    The Room on Rue Amelie, by Kristin Harmel
    Harmel’s poignant novels always tug at the heartstrings, whether they concern the past (When We Meet Again), the present (The Life Intended), or both (The Sweetness of Forgetting). With Amelie, she whisks readers to occupied Paris in 1939, where three people’s lives converge: an American newlywed unsure if her marriage can last, a Jewish child fearful of deportation, and a British RAF pilot who has lost his mother to the Blitz and now finds himself cut off behind enemy lines.

    The Italian Party, by Christina Lynch
    A sumptuous, detail-rich debut packed with secrets, it’s part spy novel, part political thriller, part mystery, and part relationship drama. Oh, and there’s satirical humor, too! Party takes place in Siena, Italy, in 1956, where just-married “American innocents,” Scottie and Michael Messina, have arrived for Michael’s job with Ford tractors. There are many problems with this scenario: Scottie is protecting a troubling personal secret, Michael is hiding an explosive professional one; and he also wouldn’t mind being reunited with his former (male) lover while they’re in town. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

    Speak No Evil, by Uzodinma Iweala
    A stunning, powerful follow-up to Iweala’s 2005 debut Beasts of No NationSpeak takes place in an America where immigrants continue to struggle with cultural integration. A Nigerian-American senior in high school living in Washington, DC, Niru has a bright future ahead of him, including a slot at Harvard in the fall. His homosexuality is a secret he must keep from his strict Nigerian parents, whose “cure” for his “corruption” includes physical abuse and a forced visit to Nigeria, a country Niru has never considered home. His white best friend, Meredith, in an attempt to help him, makes the situation exponentially worse. Their two stories will undoubtedly stick with readers for months to come.

    I’ll be Your Blue Sky, by Marisa de los Santos
    The compelling friendship between Cornelia Brown and her surrogate daughter Clare (first explored in the bestselling, warmhearted Love Walked In and Belong to Me) continues, alternating between the present and the past. Now a grown woman, Clare is engaged to a man whose temperament swings between charming and controlling. When an elderly acquaintance, Edith, helps Clare realize the situation’s inherent danger, Clare gets a new lease on life. The two women’s stories are further connected when Clare inherits Edith’s Delaware beach house, which served as a shelter for abused women in the 1950s.

    What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw, by Leah Stewart
    Charlie Outlaw, a TV actor overwhelmed by his recent fame, seeks refuge at a secluded island, where he’s kidnapped for ransom. Josie Lamar, the woman who dumped him, struggles with her own life in the spotlight—or, rather, out of it; the superhero she played on a cult TV show twenty years ago remains her defining role, and she’d love to move on with a new character. Despite their break-up, their love story isn’t over by a long shot, and readers will eagerly devour this showbiz-filled adventure.

    Not That I Could Tell, by Jessica Strawser
    Think Desperate Housewives meets Big Little Lies, with a dash of Where’d You Go, Bernadette thrown in for good measure. A thriller set in small-town Ohio, the mystery kicks off when Kristin, a soon-to-be-divorced mother of twins, disappears. The neighborhood moms can’t fathom what caused her to flee, and their curiosity about their friend’s secret forces them to examine their own home lives in greater detail.

    What new fiction are you excited to read in March?

    The post The Best New Fiction of March 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Miwa Messer 4:15 pm on 2018/02/22 Permalink
    Tags: , , , new releases, tara westover   

    Educated: A Memoir Author Tara Westover Shares The Books That Taught Her the Most About Writing 

    It’s no exaggeration to say that Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club set the world on fire when it was first published in 1995; a national bestseller for over a year, the darkly comic story of Mary’s East Texas childhood made memoir as we know it today, well, a thing. Then came Jeanette Walls with The Glass Castle in 2005, a powerful account of the author’s unconventional, impoverished childhood that went on to spend a total of 261 weeks atop the New York Times bestseller list. Joining those books in 2012 was Cheryl Strayed’s massive, massive hit, Wild, winner of our Discover Award.

    To this trio of indelible voices add Tara Westover and her profound, deeply inspirational debut, Educated: A Memoir, a Spring 2018 Discover Great New Writers selection. This is storytelling at its finest: emotionally honest and frank, beautifully written, driven by a narrative velocity that had the Discover selection committee readers holding their breath. Tara is unsparing—of herself, her family, and her community—as she recounts her extraordinary journey from an Idaho junkyard to a master’s program at England’s Cambridge University and doctoral program at Harvard. Tara might still be living and working with her family on an Idaho mountain had things continued as her parents—and she herself—once imagined; she only began to think of leaving after her older brother turned violent. This shockingly original story is not only a testament to the power reading has to change a person’s trajectory, but also an intensely honest and often heartbreaking story of one young woman’s decision to save her own life.

    We can’t wait for readers everywhere to meet Westover. Here, she shares her own picks for the life-changing books that taught her about writing.

    So here’s the thing: some people grow up reading all kinds of literature, so by the time they think about writing a book, they have, it seems, read a whole library. I was not one of those people. I grew up in a family where reading was very much encouraged; however, the texts to hand were most often scriptures or sermons (those weren’t the only books in the house, but they made up the bulk of what I read). After that, I read academic papers and textbooks until I was twenty-eight, which is the age when I decided to write my own book and realized that, sadly, I really hadn’t read enough of them.

    Luckily, there isn’t any magic combination of books that a person needs to read to learn how to write. There is no definitive list. Writing is like painting: every book you read gives your prose a different hue, a new color with which you can paint your words. These are the books I found most helpful in painting mine.

    Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
    Austen’s writing is elegant—every sentence seems designed with the care of an architect—but what I found most instructive about it was the pace of it, and the careful construction of the plot. All the characters are just where they need to be, doing just what they need to do, for the story to unfold. Jane must become ill so Lizzy can visit her, so she can become trapped at Netherfield long enough for Mr. Darcy to fall in love with her. Mr. Collins must visit, and during that visit he must be utterly ridiculous, augmenting the ridiculousness of Mrs. Bennet, so Mr. Darcy can display his outrageous pride and insult Lizzy when he proposes. And ultimately, Mr. Wickham must run away with Lydia so Mr. Darcy has the opportunity to put away his pride and do the thing which is most distasteful to him, in order to help Lizzie, in order to prove himself to the reader. There is a rhythm to the unfolding of these events that is so perfect as to be reminiscent of the ball at Netherfield.

    The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
    From Toni Morrison, I first began to comprehend point of view and the importance of finding the right narrator for a story. The Bluest Eye is about a young girl, Pecola, who is used sexually by her father and becomes pregnant, but while much of the novel is told in the first person, the first person is not Pecola but another girl her age, named Claudia. This allows the reader to see Pecola as peripheral, to see her brushed aside by other characters with swifter bodies and louder voices. Since that brushing aside is part of the tragedy of Pecola and what happened to her, this point of view is powerful, more powerful than if the story were told by Pecola. We get a sense of sadness, even of regret, from the narrator of Claudia, who is telling this story as an adult, that the child Claudia does not seem to feel. To her child self Pecola is a nuisance; to her adult self, Pecola is a regret. This layering of perspectives creates tension and adds a richness to the atmosphere of the story. 

    Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, by David Sedaris
    I read “Loggerheads” when I was first trying to wrap my head around the concept of the “short story,” and what I took from it was the classic principle that sometimes the best narratives are not about what they seem to be about; they are about something else. “Loggerheads” seems to be the story of some baby turtles the author and his friend Shaun found on a beach, then slowly starved to death. In the story’s structure, the turtles are in the foreground. They set the pace of the story. But the emotional punch comes not with the death of the turtles, and not with the death of Shaun’s father, but with the revelation, some eighteen years later, that Shaun’s father had drunk himself to death, and Shaun had never told the author. You could read these parallel stories any number of ways: you could make the turtles into metaphors, or take them more literally as straightforward evidence of the boys’ cruelty. However you choose to conceptualize it, the story of Shaun and the author is enhanced by situating the two together. For me, the two narratives come together powerfully on the final page, when the author goes to a library to research turtles and discovers the following: “A female might reach four hundred pounds, and, of all the eggs she lays in a lifetime, only one in a thousand will make it to adulthood. Pretty slim odds when, by ‘making it,’ you mean simply surviving.”

    The White Album, by Joan Didion
    Joan Didion taught me that I cannot write like Joan Didion. The first time I read “On Self-Respect,” Didion’s voice seemed so strong it was overpowering—it echoed in my head as if God were speaking the words. I tried for a time to write like Didion, but the results were dreadful. It wasn’t that the mimicry was wrong, although it certainly was. Actually, some of the worst sentences I wrote were those that, on a technical or grammatical level, were closest to hers. But they sounded false, like the words themselves were in disguise, somehow impersonating other words. In time I accepted the reality that, although I admired her writing very much, so much it thrilled me to read it, hers was not a voice I could imitate in my search for my own. I was looking for something else. Funnily enough, once I’d found it, I realized that more and more of Didion began creeping into my writing in ways I loved.

    The post Educated: A Memoir Author Tara Westover Shares The Books That Taught Her the Most About Writing appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Sarah Skilton 9:00 am on 2017/09/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , fresh complaint: stories, , hiddensee: a tale of the once and future nutcracker, , , manhattan beach, mark helprin, new releases, paris in the present tense, rules of magic, , the stolen marriage, Tom Hanks, uncommon type: some stories, , winter solstice   

    October’s Best New Fiction 

    If you’re in the mood for spooky witches this fall, Alice Hoffman’s Rules of Magic—a prequel to Practical Magic—delivers chills, thrills, and sibling strife. October also brings mystical retellings of the Nutcracker and Cinderella; two historicals set in North Carolina; and Jennifer Egan’s first novel since A Visit From the Goon Squad won the PulitzerRounding out the list are two short story collections. The first is by Jeffrey (Middlesex) Eugenides, and the second introduces us to a little-known, up-and-comer by the name of Tom Hanks.

    Uncommon Type: Some Stories, by Tom Hanks
    Whichever role you most associate with Hanks—boy who wishes himself Big; perpetually annoyed women’s softball coach; partner to Hooch—cast it aside and prepare for a new one: short story author. With 17 tales to choose from, one of which concerns showbiz life, and all of which involve typewriters (the actor’s a fan), this collection of character-driven and nostalgic stories will charm Hank’s acting fans and avid readers alike. Whet your appetite with Hanks’ 2014 piece from the New Yorker.

    Fairytale, by Danielle Steel
    If fairytale updates and mash-ups are your jam, add this to your stack, ASAP: a modern retelling of Cinderella, set in a Napa Valley winery called Chateau Joy. Tragic Parental Deaths? Check. Evil, mesmerizing stepparent (in this case a Parisian countess)? Check. Handsome prince and fairy godmother? Absolutely. Add a Harvest Ball, plenty of Steel’s trademark romance, and a dash of magic and you’ll never want to leave Chateau Joy behind. Within the story’s Cinderella roots, Steel brings her own unexpected twists to a classic story. 

    Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker, by Gregory Maguire
    The author of the bestselling book and Broadway smash Wicked invites you to take a fresh look at the Nutcracker in this “double origin” story of the famous wooden toy and its creator, Drosselmeier. Who is Klara’s mysterious godfather, born a German peasant and seemingly fated to provide her with the sensational trinket? And what dark enchantment did he experience in his youth? Combining myths and historical legends, and written in the style of a Brothers Grimm tale, Hiddensee promises to delight and intrigue.

    Winter Solstice, by Elin Hilderbrand
    The fourth in her heart-and-hearth-warming “Winter” series, which are always set in Nantucket at Christmas, Solstice treats us to a reunion with the eggnog-guzzling Quinn family (patriarch Kelley, who owns the Winter Street Inn, and his four grown children). Each of them need help with romantic, business, or military entanglements. This year, heavy issues rise to the surface, from PTSD to hospice care and late-in-life regret. But with patience, love, and the bonds of family, the Quinns will pull each other through the tough times in this touching story.

    Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan
    After winning the Pulitzer Prize for A Visit From the Good Squad (2010), Egan’s highly anticipated follow-up appears to be less experimental than her previous works, but just as moving. Set in New York City during the Depression and World War II, Manhattan Beach follows the struggles of Anna Kerrigan, first as an adolescent accompanying her father on a desperate job-seeking mission, and later at 19, after her father has disappeared and Anna is charged with supporting her sister and mother by working at the Brooklyn Naval Yard as its sole female diver. A chance encounter with her father’s mobster boss begins to shed light on the truth about Anna’s dad. You may want to have tissues on hand for this detail-rich, feminist historical, which has already been long-listed for the National Book Award.

    Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman
    In this illuminating, entertaining prequel to Hoffman’s bestselling Practical Magic (also a 1998 film starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock), readers will learn what it was like for witchy sisters Franny and Bridget (Jet) Owens to grow up in 1950s/1960s New York City with a frustratingly strict mother (understandable, given the family curse: any man who falls in love with an Owens woman will meet a gruesome end). In Rules, we meet a charming younger brother, Vincent, who also grows up ignoring Mom’s warnings, with far-reaching consequences. Will any of the rules-averse siblings figure out a way to outwit their fates? If you loved the adolescent longings and heartaches of Hoffman’s poignant, private school-set River King, you’ll especially appreciate this coming-of-age tale.

    Fresh Complaint: Stories, by Jeffrey Eugenides
    The first short story collection from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Middlesex, Fresh Complaint depicts several relationships prior to implosion, including that of a young Indian-American woman who plans to ditch her arranged marriage; a poet-turned-criminal; and a friendship affected by dementia. Fans of The Marriage Plot will enjoy spending time with lovelorn Mitchell Grammaticus as he travels to Thailand in the story “Air Mail,” and there’s also a check-in with Dr. Luce of Middlesex fame, who throws himself into the study of intersex conditions after losing a patient to suicide. Written between the years of 1980-2017, this collection showcases Eugenides’ incredible ability to empathize with and write about people from atypical backgrounds.

    The Last Ballad, by Wiley Cash
    Juggling a 70-hour, night-shift work week at a textile mill (for which she’s paid crushingly low wages), marital abandonment, and four children who need feeding, Ella May Wiggins finds herself in the middle of a union dispute in 1929 North Carolina. The idea of a living wage, equal pay for equal work, and a 5-day work week sounds like a fantasy to her and her friends. Rather than give a speech, Ella May composes a song during a rally, a way to give voice to herself and the other workers. She and her cohorts are branded communists, but their devotion to creating a world worth living in for their children is especially prescient today, and the fact that it’s based on a true story is inspiring.

    The Stolen Marriage, by Diane Chamberlain
    Bestseller Chamberlain’s latest concerns an aspiring nurse trapped in a marriage-of-convenience in a small North Carolina town where she is disliked and mistrusted. It’s 1943, and Tess’s life just took a hard left: Impregnated by a man not her fiancée, she casts off her dream of a medical career alongside her true love and moves away with Henry, the baby’s father, who is uninterested in Tess’s potential. It soon becomes clear Henry is hiding things from Tess. With the polio epidemic in full swing, Tess gets a chance to use her nursing skills at last, but the home front remains as unsettling and mysterious as ever in this suspense-filled, World War II-era tale.

    Paris in the Present Tense, by Mark Helprin
    74-year-old Jules Lacour, a teacher at the Sorbonne reeling from his wife’s death and inaccurately believing himself a failure, thinks it’s about time he left behind the earthly plane as well. But his leukemia-ridden baby grandson needs him to find the money for treatment, and he hasn’t yet made peace with the tragic, seminal events in his life, including the deaths of his family members in the Holocaust. Perhaps there is yet time to play the cello, fall in love again, and save the day, if he’s willing to take a few risks. Paris looks to be invigorating and haunting read.

    What new fiction are you excited to read this month?

    The post October’s Best New Fiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jenny Shank 7:00 pm on 2017/09/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , new releases   

    10 Can’t-Miss Fiction Reads for Fall 

    Beach reads are fun, but when the air turns crisp, many of us look forward to the rush of literary fiction hitting bookstores. Here are ten books to savor as the days grow shorter.

    My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent (August 29)
    This literary debut by a young writer who grew up on the Mendocino coast is an intense psychodrama about a sturdy, isolated 14-year-old girl named Turtle with an abusive father. The survival and shooting skills her father taught her, however, come in handy when she takes to the wilderness to try to escape him. Tallent leavens difficult-to-read scenes of abuse with lush descriptions of nature and comic interludes with Turtle’s newfound teenage friends.

    Black Jesus and Other Superheroes, by Venita Blackburn (September 1)
    If you’re the kind of reader who wants to pick up something completely different, take this indie short story collection for a spin. Black Jesus and Other Superheroes, winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, is Venita Blackburn’s promising debut. Blackburn’s prose dazzles in these tales that include stories of everyday people who find themselves with superhuman abilities.

    Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward (September 5)
    Those blown away by Ward’s unforgettable, National Book Award–winning novel of Hurricane Katrina, Salvage the Bones, are eagerly anticipating Sing, Unburied, Sing. It tells the story of the members of a Mississippi family with an incarcerated father, who are haunted by ghosts of the past.

    Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng (September 12)
    Believe the advance hype about this engrossing novel by Ng, whose debut, Everything I Never Told You, became a bestseller in 2014. When a free-spirited artist moves to Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland where the lawns and children are perfect, she threatens to disrupt the town’s carefully ordered existence. Ng’s storytelling voice will win you over immediately and keep you hooked through the fiery end.

    The Ninth Hour, by Alice McDermott (September 19)
    McDermott fans will love this story set in an Irish Catholic neighborhood in Brooklyn in the early 1900s, where the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor call the shots. As the book opens, a young, newly pregnant woman’s husband kills himself. Sister St. Saviour swoops in to save the day, offering the woman a job working in the convent’s laundry. As her daughter grows up among the bleaches and detergents, McDermott explores the nature of sin, redemption, and good works with her tender, funny, and honest approach.

    Five-Carat Soul, by James McBride (September 26)
    National Book Award winner McBride is back with a riveting, timely collection of stories. Expect the unexpected from this contemporary master of voice as he shows off his range by incorporating characters including Abraham Lincoln, teen funk band members, and a boxer who resembles Muhammad Ali fighting the devil to spare five souls from damnation.

    Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan (October 3)
    Early reviews of Jennifer Egan’s follow up to her NBCC and Pulitzer Prize winner A Visit From the Goon Squad suggest prize judges might have a new Egan novel to laud. Drawing on years of research into the lives of women who worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Egan has crafted a compelling mystery saga about a character named Anna Kerrigan, who becomes the first female civilian diver at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during World War II.

    Fresh Complaint, by Jeffrey Eugenides (October 3)
    Fresh Complaint is Eugenides’ first collection of short stories, which just might win over new fans to the genre. Fans of his novels will want to check out the collection for the stories “Air Mail,” which features a character from The Marriage Plot, and “The Oracular Vulva,” which delves into material related to Middlesex.

    Her Body and Other Parties, by Carmen Maria Machado (October 3)
    For a season this packed with new books by prize-winners and bestsellers, this debut story collection is getting an incredible amount of buzz. Across eight innovative tales, Machado muses on the female body, stretching the boundaries of imagination as she does so.

    Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich (November 14)
    Erdrich often ventures into the past for fictional material, but this time she journeys two months into America’s future, when evolution is beginning to reverse, resulting in six-foot dragonflies. The borders with Mexico and Canada are sealed, and all pregnant women must report to birthing centers, including Erdrich’s young Ojibwe protagonist, Cedar Hawk Songmaker.

    The post 10 Can’t-Miss Fiction Reads for Fall appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Dave K. 7:00 pm on 2017/09/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , new releases   

    The Best New Vinyl to Spin This September 

    September is turning into one of our best months for vinyl yet! We’ve got one of the best Jimi Hendrix retrospectives coming in this month, along with new Foo Fighters and Van Morrison albums, plus records from Jack Johnson, the National, Steve Martin, Beyoncé, and Gregg Allman’s final album, plus the soundtrack to box office smash Wonder Woman. Be sure to check them out, and keep your eye on Barnes and Noble’s Vinyl Store for more great records every month.

    All the Light Above It Too, by Jack Johnson
    Jack Johnson’s newest album pairs his mellow, soft rock style with sharp, often political lyrics inspired by surfing, camping, and the documentary Smog of the Sea. The album’s lead single, “My Mind Is For Sale,” was specifically inspired by (and is overtly critical of) Donald Trump’s public statements concerning pollution and global warming, and “Fragments” is about ocean pollution and environmental responsibility. Johnson promotes stewardship of the environment in both his creative and personal lives, but this album never gets preachy, and Johnson never drops his laid-back vocal style. In fact, he sounds downright relaxed on “Sunsets For Somebody Else.”

    Concrete and Gold, by Foo Fighters
    Foo Fighters are officially nine studio albums deep with the release of Concrete and Gold, the band’s first album since their hiatus following Dave Grohl’s 2015 leg injury. Originally planning to take a year off from music to heal his leg, Grohl started writing songs for this album after six months of physical therapy, eventually collaborating with pop producer Greg Kurstin. Because of this, and their decision to record at EastWest Studios, this album has a lot of pop music cameos; Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman, Inara George, the Kills’ Alison Mosshart, and Paul McCartney (who drums on one track) all appear on this fantastic return to form by the Foo Fighters.

    Wonder Woman Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
    Wonder Woman wasn’t just a commercial and critical success, it shattered records for films directed by women and renewed fans’ enthusiasm for the DC cinematic universe. Obviously, a film this impressive needs a soundtrack to match, and Wonder Woman has got the goods. Composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams—who also worked on several projects for Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions—the soundtrack keeps to the moody, melodic, and broad gestures of other recent DC films (especially Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), but doesn’t rest on those laurels. The proud, majestic “No Man’s Land” and “Hell Hath No Fury” are already fan favorites, as is Sia and Labyrinth’s “To Be Human.”

    Roll with the Punches, by Van Morrison
    Van Morrison’s newest album, which features retired professional wrestler Billy Two Rivers on the cover, is largely a collection of the singer-songwriter’s favorite soul and blues classics. Morrison curated the tracklist down to songs he enjoys performing live, and the effort shows: there’s an undeniable passion in particular in his version of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home to Me” and Bo Diddley’s “I Can Tell” and “Ride on Josephine.” He does a great job with Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Automobile Blues,” too, showing particular skill with that era of blues. In addition to these standards, the album features five new original compositions.

    Sleep Well Beast, by the National
    This album is the National’s seventh studio effort, and they’re slowly introducing electronic elements to their rootsy, Americana-tinged indie pop sound. If you’re worried those changes might make their music colder and more obtuse, don’t be; there’s still plenty of emotion and clever songwriting on this album. “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness,” chosen as the album’s lead single, is a tense, piano-driven song with a surprisingly gnarly guitar solo, while “Carin at the Liquor Store” is influenced by Leonard Cohen in the best possible way. The same can be said for “Guilty Party,” which will very likely be the post-breakup anthem of 2017.

    The Long-Awaited Album, by Steve Martin
    Legendary comedian/actor/playwright Steve Martin has many interests, and playing the banjo is one of them. Martin has released a few bluegrass music albums over the years, but he’s never sounded better than on this record, where he’s backed by the Steep Canyon Rangers. As one would expect, Martin is a clever, tongue-in-cheek lyricist—“Caroline” is all the proof you need of that—but he’s a very talented banjo picker as well, and the Rangers provide vocal harmonies and lush instrumentation that complement, rather than crowd, his abilities. The curiously titled “Office Supplies” is another standout track that shows off how well Martin and the Rangers work together.

    Southern Blood, by Gregg Allman
    Sadly, Gregg Allman’s eighth studio album was his last one, as the legendary country rocker passed away from liver cancer in May 2017. The album became a very personal one for Allman, and is a collection of songs written by his friends, who includes Bob Dylan’s “Going Going Gone” and the Grateful Dead’s “Black Muddy River,” as well as blues standards like Willie Dixon’s “I Love the Life I Live” and Jackson Browne’s “Song for Adam,” which features a cameo by Browne himself. Allman’s trademark honey-sweet guitar tone and homespun vocals lend an unexpected optimism to this album. Rather than sing about death, Allman is, in his own way, explaining his life as it reaches the end.

    Lemonade, by Beyoncé
    Lemonade took the pop world, and specifically the internet, by storm when it was released in April 2016. It has the rare distinction of being both a concept album and a visual album, given that it was accompanied by an hour-long film on HBO. Unsurprisingly, it’s up for Album of the Year, based on both the strength of singles like “Freedom,” “All Night,” and the Grammy-nominated “Formation,” and because of its obvious ambition. With Lemonade, Beyoncé showed the world she’s more than just a mega-successful pop culture star who makes radio-friendly R&B music. She’s also making deeper, more genuine art.

    Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix
    There are a lot of Jimi Hendrix compilations out there, which is to be expected for one of the most influential guitarists of all time. What makes Experience Hendrix unique is that it looks beyond 1968, including unfinished tracks that reveal the R&B/soul-oriented direction Hendrix was going in before his death. But don’t worry, it also has more popular, and still timeless, songs like “Foxy Lady,” “All Along the Watchtower,” “Hey Joe,” and his unkempt rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Really though, the Cry of Love-era tracks are the standouts here, and not just because they’re more obscure; they prove Hendrix was A talented and creatively limber musician who was just getting started.

    The post The Best New Vinyl to Spin This September appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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