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  • BN Editors 6:00 pm on 2019/06/17 Permalink
    Tags: a woman of of no importance, , best of 2019, black leopard red wolf, , , every man a hero, , furious hours, , land of the ozarks, , midnight in chernobyl, must read list, nonfiction, , , supermarket, the border, , , the lost girls of paris, the matricarch, the moment of lift, , the second mountain, , , , women rowing north   

    The Best Books of 2019… So Far 


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    The year isn’t over, but so many fantastic new books have already been published, that we would feel amiss if we didn’t stop to recognize some of our favorite reads thus far. Divided in separate lists of fiction and nonfiction, here are 30 books that have amazed and inspired us in 2019.

    Fiction

    Ask Again, Yes, by Mary Beth Keane
    Readers will immediately feel pulled into this absorbing story of two families whose lives are forever entwined. As next-door neighbors in a New York suburb, and colleagues at the police department, Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope first met in the 1970s. The two men were never exactly friends, but in the ensuing years, their children Peter and Kate have grown up together and are quite close. When a shocking act tears the neighbors apart, can either family find a way back from the depths of trauma? Will Peter and Kate’s now-forbidden relationship overcome their parents’ misgivings? Keane’s new book is tender and wise, literary fiction of the highest caliber.

    How Not to Die Alone, by Richard Roper
    Years ago, Andrew made a split-second decision to pretend he was a family man in order to secure a job. His seemingly benign lie has come back to haunt him when a new employee and mentee, Peggy, enters his life and his heart. Like the rest of Andrew’s colleagues, Peggy assumes Andrew is married with two daughters, so how can he come clean after all this time? Each moment of his career feels like a glimpse into his own future; as an administrator in the U.K.’s Death Council, Andrew is responsible for going through the belongings of people who have died alone. If Andrew doesn’t make some changes, he may very well share their fate. Don’t miss this clever, poignant read.

    Sunset Beach, by Mary Kay Andrews
    Drue Campbell’s life isn’t going the way she expected. Once a gifted athlete, an injury has ended that dream before it began. She’s jobless and unmoored, and when her estranged father shows up at her mother’s funeral, having recently married her high-school frenemy, things seem to go from bad to worse. But then she finds out she’s inherited her grandparents’ beach house, and her father offers her a job at his personal injury law firm, which she takes in desperation. Fielding phone calls isn’t very exciting—until she stumbles into a murder mystery that leads her to an old cold case involving a missing person that might be connected to her own family. Drue’s life is still not going the way she expected, but she’s certainly not bored. A sharp, fast-paced novel with a quirky, unconventional protagonist, this one is an unforgettable beach read with bite.

    The Border, by Don Winslow
    After losing everything but his career in the war against drug kingpin Adán Barrera, Art Keller finds himself at the top of the DEA, with Barrera defeated. But the war on drugs has come home in a flood of cheap heroin that’s killing Americans at a record pace. As Keller moves to block this deadly invasion, he finds himself fighting not Mexican drug cartels, but his own bosses in Washington. Politically motivated enemies are one thing, but Keller begins to suspect the shocking truth—the incoming administration is actually partnered with the very cartels he has spent his life fighting. Winslow concludes his bloody, operatic trilogy delving into the chaotic war on drugs with a suitably intense final act.

    The Confessions of Frannie Langton, by Sara Collins
    Set in the early 19th century, this story follows Frannie, a slave owned by John Langton, who is given to George Benham in London. Benham has Frannie spy on his wife, Meg, whom he suspects of scandal, but Frannie and Meg become lovers. When George and Meg are found murdered, Frannie is arrested—but claims she cannot remember the events leading up to their deaths. This breathtaking novel combines all the pleasures of a historical romance and a murder mystery, made all the more complex and tragic by Frannie’s status as a slave.

    The Unhoneymooners, by Christina Lauren
    Olive Torres has found herself at a bit of a low point. She’s just been laid off, for one, and now she has to spend her twin sister’s wedding attached to best man Ethan Thomas, who just happens to be her nemesis. Then something rather horrible but also rather wonderful happens: Everyone in the wedding party gets a bad bout of food poisoning. Ethan and Olive, however, are not afflicted, which means they get to go on the honeymoon that the bride and groom can no longer enjoy. The two form a temporary truce and head off to Maui, where they soon realize they have more in common than they’d ever imagined. This witty, heartfelt, enemies-to-lovers romance will leave you utterly charmed.

    City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert
    Gilbert serves up a frothy mixture of period piece, salacious gossip-girl drama, and coming-of-age energy as she tells the story of 19-year old Vivian Morris. Vivian, kicked out of Vassar, is sent to live with her Aunt Peg in New York City as World War II boils over across the ocean. The move suits Vivian just fine, as she finds working at her aunt’s disreputable theater, drinking and flirting in nightclubs, listening to jazz music and falling in love with an actor to be the best possible way to spend her time. As Vivian is slowly forced to face the consequences of her actions and her adventures, she also becomes aware that her privileged existence is in sharp contrast to the horrors unfolding around the world as Gilbert expertly ramps up the psychological complexity in this gorgeously told story.

    Supermarket, by Bobby Hall
    This first novel written by Bobby Hall—a.k.a., rap star Logic—is a dense, dark thriller that will keep surprising you. Flynn is a depressed young man who takes a job at a supermarket because he needs something—anything—to give him a reason to get out of bed in the morning and leave his mother’s house. At the store he journals, observing the weirdos and freaks he works with, the customers, and the adorable coworker he’s falling for. When a horrible crime is committed at the supermarket, everything changes, and Flynn begins questioning his reality. It’s no surprise this sublimely creative breakout novel became an instant bestseller.

    On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong
    This nonlinear roman à clef debut from a critically lauded poet is written as though from a son to his illiterate mother. It depicts a family history of intergenerational abuse mixed with fierce love. The letter writer, known as Little Dog, feels like an outsider in a variety of ways. As a teenager, he emigrated to America from Vietnam with the three women who make up his world: mother, grandmother, and aunt, each traumatized by the Vietnam War. As a young gay man, and the first of his family to attend college, he attempts to reconcile the violence of the past with a future that won’t hold still or accommodate narrative conclusions. In short, it’s like real life: messy, tragic, lovely, and painful all at once.

    The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides
    Six years ago, artist Alicia Berenson painted a psychologically dense work based on a Greek myth, then allegedly tied her husband, Gabriel, to a chair and shot him in the face. Alicia hasn’t spoken a word since, spending her time in a drugged daze at the Grove, a secure forensic facility in North London. Theo Faber is the wounded, gifted psychotherapist who convinces Alicia’s doctors to let him try to get her to speak. Theo’s work with the silent patient is interspersed with excerpts of Alicia’s diary leading up to the day of Gabriel’s murder. As the clues about what truly happened begin to fall into place, Theo’s personal and professional worlds blur dangerously, leading to an explosive conclusion.

    The Sentence is Death, by Anthony Horowitz
    The second novel in the addictive Daniel Hawthorne series features Hawthorne’s investigation into the murder of a famous divorce lawyer—found bludgeoned to death with a very expensive bottle of wine. But the victim wasn’t a drinker. And what’s to be made of his enigmatic last recorded words: “You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late…”? Horowitz’s famously recalcitrant detective is accompanied once again, in a brilliantly meta twist, by novelist/author Anthony Horowitz, whose inexperience in the arena of crime solving is made up for by his enthusiasm. This elegantly written series is full of shocking twists and manages to feel at once like a crime fiction classic, and a fresh, modern take on the genre.

    The Lost Girls of Paris, by Pam Jenoff
    An abandoned suitcase discovered in Grand Central Terminal in 1946 contains the photographs of twelve female spies. The owner of the suitcase has been killed and now it’s up to young war widow Grace Healy to uncover what happened to the women who were sent behind enemy lines, never to return. Grace is joined by her late husband’s best friend, Mark, as she digs for the truth about the group’s leader and its most vulnerable spy, a young mother named Marie who worked as a radio operator sending covert transmissions out of Paris. Perfect for fans of Resistance Women and Lilac Girls.

    A Bend in the Stars, by Rachel Barenbaum
    With the real-life solar eclipse of 1914 as its inspiration, this heartpounding historical drama set in WWI-era Russia depicts the Abramov siblings at the most pivotal moment of their lives. Raised by their matchmaker grandmother, physicist Vanya and surgeon Miri (who is stigmatized because she’s a woman) have grown up to become formidable game changers in their respective fields. In fact, Vanya’s work could end up proving or disproving Einstein’s theory of relativity. But amid the outbreak of war, Vanya disappears and Miri must risk her life to locate him.

    Disappearing Earth, by Julia Phillips
    In this intense, original, must-read debut, two sisters vanish from the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia, and over the course of twelve chapters (each representing a month in the year that follows), readers will come to know the female denizens of the isolated, shoreline community as they respond in very different ways to the crime. From the girls’ mother, to witnesses, detectives, and other possible victims, every character is vividly rendered, as are the locations and histories that wind around the story like vines.

    Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James
    This novel is a deeply literary work, bordering at times on the poetic in its imagery, but it is also enormously fun, with imaginative worldbuilding and a plot that is both measured and propulsive. The Black Leopard is a mercenary able to shape-shift into a jungle cat, and the Red Wolf, also called Tracker, is a hunter of lost folk, with an incredible sense of smell that enables him to hone in on his quarry from vast distances. Sometimes with Leopard and sometimes alone, Tracker works his way across Africa in search of a kidnapped boy, moving through a beautiful, densely detailed world of violence, storytelling, dark magic, giants, and inhuman entities.

    Non-Fiction

    From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home, by Tembi Locke
    In this vibrant and poignant real-life story of love, loss, and Sicilian cooking, actress Tembi Locke describes three summers she spent in Italy with her daughter, Zoela. Locke met her future husband, Sara, on a street in Florence—his traditional Sicilian family didn’t approve of the courtship with a black American who was also an actress. The two ultimately married and created a life in Los Angeles, before a devastating cancer diagnosis changed everything. Reconnecting with her husband’s family, Locke comes to find solace at the table of her mother in law, and discovers the healing power of family, community, and food. The book concludes with a large selection of the recipes that she describes, rounding out the experience of reading her moving story.

    Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster, by Adam Higginbotham
    The HBO series has provided a much-needed revival in interest in the 1986 accident in what was then Soviet Ukraine. Of course, there’s a great deal more to such a significant story then even a very well done miniseries can offer, so Higginbotham’s definitive, years-in-the-making chronicle is perfectly timed. The author spent over a decade conducting interviews and researching documents, some available for the first time, to provide a detailed accounting of not just the disaster, but of its context: of the time and place, of the carelessness and lies that made it seem almost inevitable, and of the difficult aftermath. This new accounting tells of Chernobyl through the stories of people who lived through it, making it both compelling history and a timely reminder of the costs of carelessness.

    Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing As We Age, by Mary Pipher
    A daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, caregiver, clinical psychologist, AND cultural anthropologist, Pipher is uniquely qualified to discuss the challenges and joys of aging for women in the modern world (more than two decades ago she similarly analyzed the difficulties of being a teenaged girl in the media age). Ageism becomes more prominent with each passing year, and misogyny never goes away, but Pipher also shows that older women can, and often do, turn their experiences and struggles into a reserve of wisdom and gratitude that can serve them well and lead to lasting happiness. Pipher doesn’t just offer platitudes, but real, sensible advice on things like life-centering exercises, finding friends and community, avoiding isolation, and even navigating end-of-life care in the face of loss. It’s an essential book for women stepping into old age (and those who hope to get there someday), but also for the loved ones of those women.

    Lake of the Ozarks: My Surreal Summers in a Vanishing America, by Bill Geist
    Author and recently retired CBS News correspondent Geist was popular for over three decades for his lighthearted, wonderfully corny human interest segments covering some of the weirder corners of American life. In his latest, the baby boomer looks back to his own childhood in the midcentury American midwest. Specifically, he revisits the middle-class summer vacation hot spot, Lake of the Ozarks, and the eccentric personalities who influenced Geist’s life and career. It’s a charming, often very funny, portrait of a bygone era.

    Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, by Stephanie Land with Barbara Ehrenreich
    In her already acclaimed new memoir, Land recounts the years of her early adulthood, when a summer fling became an unexpected pregnancy, derailing (for a time) her hopes of college and a journalism career. In order to provide for herself and her child, the single mother worked maid service jobs by day while attending college classes at night, all the while writing about her experiences. She recounts her story here, shining a bright light on the stigma that attends being one of the working poor—of the judgement and dismissal by employers and government aid workers, and of the impossibility of sustaining a family on a minimum wage. The book is compassionate, but also honest and unflinching about what life is like for the people who often work the hardest for bare subsistence wages.

    Howard Stern Comes Again, by Howard Stern
    At some point, the king of shock jocks became true radio royalty with a career spanning over four decades and success across multiple mediums. His first book became a hit movie, and his second was also a bestseller—but that was over 20 years ago, and much has changed in the life of Howard Stern since, from hisdeparture from terrestrial radio, to his mega-bucks deal with SiriusXM, to shakeups in his personal life. It’s clear in this memoir that he has plenty of new stories to tell about his life, his celebrity encounters, and his perspective on the ever-changing realities of the radio business.

    Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, by Casey Cep
    In the 1970s, one Reverend Willie Maxwell was accused of killing five of his family members for insurance money. After he had given the eulogy for the stepdaughter he’d allegedly murdered, he himself was shot by another relative. The same lawyer who defended the Reverend secured an acquittal for the vigilante. No one was more intrigued by the sordid story than Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, who spent years working on a never-published true crime work to rival that of her friend Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. In this fascinating new book, Casey Cep explores both the original crime and Lee’s obsessive, ultimately futile work to craft it into a powerful work of non-fiction.

    The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West, by David McCullough
    David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, returns with an in-depth study of the settlement of the Northwest Territory, telling the stories of the hardy and fearless pioneers who traveled into the unknown determined to enlarge and enrich our country with their bare hands and at risk of their very lives. The movement west began sooner than most people realize, with the first settlers—veterans of the Revolutionary War—arriving in Ohio in 1788. McCullough tells the story of the town they carved out of the wilderness through the eyes of five historical figures, who becomes characters in a story about bravery, tragedy, diplomacy, and the conquest of a wilderness that wanted nothing more than to sweep them aside.

    Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-to Guide, by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
    Kilgariff and Hardstark helm the immensely popular podcast ‛My Favorite Murder,’ and here offer a combination memoir and self-help book that crackles with their easy banter and personal chemistry. You might think self-help and true-crime—even the humorous kind of true crime the podcast trades in—would be an odd combination, but Kilgariff and Hardstark effortlessly link the two, showing how many of their own mistakes put them into vulnerable positions that wouldn’t be out of place as the introduction to an unsolved assault or murder. In the end, their message is simple and powerful: stop being polite and start advocating for yourself. That message is delivered with warmth and wit, making this a thoroughly enjoyable romp through the messy lives of two very interesting people.

    A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II, by Sonia Purnell
    “She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.” That was the message sent out by the Gestapo in 1942 regarding Baltimore socialite Virginia Hall, who had escaped to London from Vichy-controlled Paris and joined up with the spies at the Special Operations Executive. Referred to as “the limping lady” because of her prosthetic leg, she returned to France to coordinate the underground resistance effort. Her cover blown, she then escaped on foot to Spain before venturing back into France again to lead guerrilla forces in advance of the Normandy landing. Hall’s is an incredible true story, and its told like never before in this book by celebrated journalist and historian Sonia Purnell.

    Every Man a Hero: A Memoir of D-Day, the First Wave at Omaha Beach, and a World at War, by Ray Lambert and Jim DeFelice
    The number of individuals who can recount firsthand their experiences during World War II is sadly dwindling, but that doesn’t mean there are no new stories left to tell. Ninety-eight-year-old Ray Lambert was a combat medic and among the first wave of Allied soldiers to land at Omaha Beach on D-Day. Lambert grew up on a farm in Alabama during the Great Depression before he and his brother enlisted for service that took them to some of the war’s most important and harrowing battles. Timed for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing, Lambert’s memoir is a powerful addition to the library of works about the greatest and most terrible conflict in history.

    The Second Mountain, by David Brooks
    Part of what makes finding meaning and purpose so difficult is there are so many ways we can seek to do it: we might do deep personal work. We might grow a family. We might lead a city through a crisis or head up a classroom. Everything from writing a book to praying in solitude can bring meaning to our lives and the wider world. Writer and commentator David Brooks has thought deeply about how to blend these commitments into a coherent whole that feels personal and full of purpose. In The Second Mountain, he encourages readers to understand their calling in life and engage with their world. His words will resonate with everyone from graduates to grandparents, but his real aim goes beyond individual readers. He hopes to infuse our entire society with more meaning and purpose. There is a powerful image in Brooks’ description of two mountains. Those who are striving for fame, security, or validation are on a mountain they’ll never stop climbing—if they do reach the top, they’ll realize the accomplishment feels hollow. Life is really about climbing off that mountain and onto a different one, built decision by decision, the shape of a meaningful life, full of days driven less by outer markers of success and more by how we can serve others. On that second mountain, we begin a quest to focus on others through work, faith, family, and service to the community.

    The Moment of Lift, by Melinda Gates
    No one can say Melinda Gates hasn’t had an impact on the world; she’s devoted much of her life to serving in powerful ways. In The Moment of Lift, she argues that if we lift up women, we will lift the entire world, including the people most desperately in need. As she details the issues women around the world face, including everything from child marriage to harassment, it’s impossible not to feel inspired to take action. If you’re not sure where to get started, Gates offers issues that will call to those on the second mountain. She encourages readers to join the movement in her new book; part manifesto, part memoir, and part call to action. We don’t need to be perfect to begin. We don’t need to become bodhisattvas to find purpose. We need simply to reflect, focus on what matters, and when the path curves, swerve toward meaning, service, and connection.

    The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynastyby Susan Page
    Even before publication, this memoir of the former first lady made headlines for its candid observations about the current state of presidential politics, but journalist Page covers the entirety of Bush’s life, informed by extensive research, personal diaries, and interviews with family, friends, and Mrs. Bush herself during the last six months of her life. Sometimes controversial and frequently underestimated, Barbara Bush molded herself into the powerful head of a family that produced two United States presidents while navigating he rrole as a prominent woman across generations of change.

    The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777, by Rick Atkinson
    Rick Atkinson, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning works on World War II, steps further back  in time to chronicle the first two years of the American Revolution. This is the first book of what will be a trilogy covering the entirety of the war. With an incredible level of detail and benefittingfrom new research (including access to materials only recently made available), Atkinson begins with the battles at Lexington and Concord and focuses on the lives of the extraordinary individuals who play key roles in the country’s founding and the subsequent, seemingly unwinnable conflict. This isn’t a whitewashed look back: the author considers the British perspective on the war and isn’t shy about exploring the hypocrisy of the slave-owning American leaders.

    What’s the best new book you’ve read in 2019?

    The post The Best Books of 2019… So Far appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • BN Editors 2:00 pm on 2019/06/01 Permalink
    Tags: #bookyoursummer, 100 books of summer, books to read this summer, , nonfiction,   

    100 Books of Summer 


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    Steamy thrillers, delirious fantasies, peeks behind closed doors, classics you’ve been meaning to get to, and new releases everyone will be talking about: recommended by our booksellers, these are the books to read this summer.

    A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness
    When factions of supernatural creatures set their sights on a document that could give them the upper hand in a war, a reluctant witch must seek the protection of an equally reluctant vampire, her supposed mortal enemy. Witch stories have a tendency to emphasize the importance of family…but in this case, it could be her own family that wants her dead. Can true love between two warring beings prevail?

    A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan
    In Egan’s novel of linked short stories, any supporting character, no matter how small, may end up the star of their own story down the line. Her tales wind through and around the lives of these producers, parents, burnouts, suburbanites, globetrotters, madmen, and children, taking root in L.A., in Africa, in a third-world dictatorship, in past and future versions of New York. If you haven’t yet read this endlessly entertaining, guttingly great Pulitzer Prize winner, consider this your wakeup call.

    Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
    This is a mandatory pick for Hamilton fans, the book Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical is based on! Follow Hamilton from his haunting upbringing as a poor but brilliant kid in the Caribbean to his travels to America with the hope of changing the world…and the downfall he could not recover from.

    Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
    Looking for travel, wonder, excitement, and a love that spans decades and continents? Look no further than this epic tale from the never-disappointing Walter. This big-budget story begins with a missed opportunity in the Italian Riviera in 1962, and picks up again half a century later in Hollywood. Readers are taken on a joyride of a love story that will make you wish you could stay on vacation with your true love forever. With its windswept pacing, glamour-filled settings, and vivacious characters, this novel hits all the marks for prime summer reading material.

    Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
    Moriarty explores the darker side of suburban life, following the intersecting lives of three women in a well-off community whose children all attend the same preschool, and all of whom have told lies both big and little to cover up some scandalous secrets. What begins as a series of small untruths and deceptions grows beyond the scope of what they can handle, and someone ends up dead.

    Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan
    This is the story of an “ABC” (American-born Chinese) woman named Rachel who travels to China to meet her boyfriend’s family and is shocked to discover they’re not simply wealthy, they’re mind-bogglingly wealthy—among the richest families in China, and deeply hooked into a skein of gossip, position, and fashion largely invisible to the West. Rachel’s whirling adventure through the decadent and often mean-spirited world of obscene decadence is pure popcorn (and the movie adaptation follows suit).

    The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson
    Larson’s investigates the true—if absolutely bonkers and unbelievable—story of Dr. H. H. Holmes, one of the most prolific serial killers to ever exist, and tells it alongside the grand tale of the 1893 Chicago’s World’s Fair, from dream to highly unlikely smash success. Holmes built a literal “murder house” on the edges of the fair, complete with soundproofed rooms equipped with various ways to kill, including poison gas and metal-plated walls for incineration. In the meantime, the geniuses behind the World’s Fair seize victory from the jaws of defeat in pulling together their fairyland of a fairground.

    Educated, by Tara Westover
    This incredible memoir is heartbreaking and inspiring all at once, as Westover recounts her brutal childhood being raised by a devout Mormon and incredibly paranoid father who thought Y2K was going to end the world, refused to send his kids to school or doctors, and forced them to work under dangerous conditions at his construction business. Westover somehow escaped and went on to attend Cambridge University, suffering a breakdown when she realized how cut off from the world she’d been before earning her Ph.D. A remarkable story of spiritual and mental survival.

    A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
    Towles’ historical novel depicts the life of the Russian Count Alexander Rostov, an “unrepentant aristocrat” sent by the Bolsheviks in 1922 to live out the rest of his days in the attic storage room of the Metropol hotel. As the world outside passes him by, he adjusts to an existence devoid of the arts, leisure, and fine dining he is accustomed to. Yet in other ways his life is expanded immeasurably, as he creates an exquisite new world for himself. His relationships with the hotel staff, and a life-altering friendship with a child, breathe transcendent joy into every page.

    Helter Skelter, by Vincent Bugliosi
    This is the highest selling true crime novel of all time. It terrified a generation with the story of the Charles Manson murders, but it also does so much more. Bugliosi knows the crime intimately as he was the prosecuting attorney that brought Manson and his followers to justice. There really is no better person to tell the story. And what a story. If you think you know the story of what happened, read this book anyway. You’ll find you actually don’t know the half of it.

    Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly
    Not everyone knows the word “computer” once referred to a human being who literally computed sums by hand. And not everyone knows the names Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Christine Darden, and Gloria Champine—or at least they didn’t, until Shetterly’s book arrived, followed by the award-nominated film adaptation starring Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer. These patriotic, courageous women were instrumental in making America’s early space program a success, despite the institutional racism and prejudice of the pre-Civil Rights Jim Crow era. Their story isn’t just one of incredible achievement, it’s a lesson in how easily people can be erased from history when the system itself is flawed.

    The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
    When the Gold siblings, growing up in New York City in 1969, hear rumors that a fortune teller is in town revealing people’s death dates, they line up to have their fates revealed. Over the next fifty years, we learn how the answer to that question has informed and perhaps determined the course of their very different lives. A story about family, faith, and the power of illusion to overtake reality, The Immortalists is literary fiction of the highest caliber.

    It, by Stephen King
    It taps into the collective childhood terrors we all share, generating a literary nightmare that finally made the world face its chief threat: clowns. The sheer terror of Pennywise, a cast of memorable young characters, and a palpable sense of place have made this a horror novel that endures.

    The Last Romantics, by Tara Conklin
    In the year 2079, elderly Fiona Skinner, an accomplished poet, thinks back to the 1980s, and the breakdown of her family life following her father’s death. The youngest of four, Fiona and her siblings were forced to raise one another for two years, until their widowed mother crawled out from her debilitating depression. As an adult, Fiona filled her life with scandalous blog posts and a career at a nonprofit climate change organization, but her lasting legacy turns out to be the poem that made her famous, chronicling the story of her sisters and their concern for their brother Joe, who seems to have become the most damaged among them.

    Less, by Andrew Sean Greer
    “Minor novelist” Arthur Less is about to turn fifty, and his younger former lover Freddy is getting married. Down and out, and determined to escape the torturous nuptials—while not appearing as though he’s escaping—Less decides to accept every literary invitation he’s received for the year, no matter how ham-fisted or bizarre. His writerly itinerary, which will take him from New York City to Paris, Berlin, and Morocco, includes teaching a class, attending an award ceremony (in which high schoolers are the judges), and interviewing a more successful author. A surprise narrator (whose identity is kept secret until the end) adds poignancy and tenderness to this lovely and comedic story.

    Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
    When free-spirited artist and single mother Mia gives up her wanderlust and puts down roots in the affluent, tight-knit Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, she quickly befriends her landlord Elena’s family. Mia’s dismissal of the town’s social norms causes friction, however, and when she opposes another family’s well-meaning but controversial custody battle for a Chinese American baby, Elena turns against her, determined to dig up Mia’s closely guarded secrets.

    Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
    This book (and its sequel, Streets of Laredo) show the 19th-century West at its grittiest and most idealistic. Retired Texas Rangers Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call decide to take a break from ranching and ragging on one another to take one last adventure together: a cattle drive to Montana, where they plan to settle for good. Put mildly, there are some bumps in the road. You’ll laugh hard and cry harder, and it will all be completely worth it.

    Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro
    This famous sci-fi novel imagines what would happen if we lived in a dystopian version of the 1990s, in which an oppressed underclass exists solely as organ banks to keep other people alive longer—an underclass that doesn’t understand the truth of what they are and what they’re intended for. Three friends among them form everlasting bonds, but are subsequently severed from each other as the reality of their circumstances set in.

    Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
    The follow-up to Lee’s captivating debut, Free Food For Millionaires, depicts four generations of a Korean family, from 1910 to 1989. When teenaged Sunja becomes pregnant by her married lover, she accepts a proposal from an older boarder at her parents’ boardinghouse who kindly offers her stability as his wife in Japan. Acclimating to a new country proves challenging, and the aftereffects of the move reverberate through the lives of Sunja’s children. A finalist for the National Book Award, this is a fantastic, sprawling epic you can sink your teeth into.

    The Path Made Clear, Oprah Winfrey
    In her new book, Oprah makes clear her belief that we’re all made to perform unique miracles, drawing wisdom from the relationships she’s cultivated with thinkers, visionaries, and wise people from around the world. She asks questions that tease out the lessons others have learned and shares them with readers; Brené Brown, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Eckhart Tolle, and others offer wisdom in the book’s pages. The book is organized into ten chapters that serve as guideposts for those struggling to evolve.

    The President Is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
    Combining his personal knowledge of the presidency with Patterson’s ability to write a heart-pounding thriller, Bill Clinton spins a story about President Jonathan Lincoln Duncan, besieged by unhappy and hostile congressional committees, a determined assassin, and an apocalyptic threat only he knows about—a computer virus that could roll the clock back to the stone age overnight. Duncan sees just one way to deal with these combined threats—he walks out of the White House, leaving his security detail behind, and takes matters into his own hands.

    The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein
    Pick up Stein’s novel for a sweetly complex look at life from a four-legged perspective. Enzo, a lab mix with the soul of a man, narrates this story of love, loss, and race car driving with curiosity and passion—and only the occasional tangent about the frustrations of not having opposable thumbs.

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    One of the most brilliant, empathetic, and hilarious books of all time, this is the story of an autistic teenager with his heart set on finding the killer of his neighbor’s dog. Christopher is good at math, bad at people, and very literal. As he investigates the dog’s demise, Christopher is increasingly caught in the midst of adult drama and deceit that he struggles to comprehend. This moving and honest book will blow you away.

    The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
    Jeanette Walls grew up impoverished and neglected with two deeply dysfunctional parents—her father was an often-unemployed alcoholic with pipe dreams of building his dream house, a glass castle, and her mother was a self-described “excitement addict” more concerned with her artwork than providing food for her children. Walls’s is a story not just of rising above and breaking the cycle but also of unconditional love for her family despite their flaws.

    NOS4A2, by Joe Hill
    This is the story of Vic McQueen, a young girl with a gift—the ability to travel anywhere her mind desires using a magical bike and a mysterious moving bridge—and her decades-long battle with Charles Talent Manx, a soul-sucking vampire with an appetite for children, who travels the same highways of the mind in his sinister vintage Rolls Royce (the license plate gives the book its title). Hill crafts compelling characters and relationships, and he also writes twisted horror set pieces, from a climb up a laundry chute in a burning house to the terrifying climax in Christmasland, the otherworldly nightmare wonderland where Manx sends the souls of the children he’s kidnapped.

    Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
    In 1969, Kya Clark has come to be known as the Marsh Girl, living on her own in the wild. And when local heartthrob Chase Andrews is killed, she’s the prime suspect. Her full story is much more complex, looping back twenty years to explore her harsh upbringing, her lack of schooling, and her relationship with two local boys—the kind, intelligent Tate Walker, who teachers her to read, and the handsome, charming Chase, who teaches her to love. As her trial begins, Kya is fighting for more than just her freedom.

    Yes Please, by Amy Poehler
    Indulge your fantasy of being BFFs with smart, sassy Amy Poehler with this collection of personal stories, questionable poetry, photos, reassuring mantras, and been-there-done-that advice. Funny, honest, and wise, this is a book you’ll be giving to all your real BFFs.

    The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell
    In this bestseller Gladwell explores everything from fashion trends to smoking, digging way back to find the surprising(ly tiny) spark that can set off great innovations, massive cultural sensations, and major shifts in the way we live and perceive the world.

    The Woman in the Window, by A. Finn
    This Hitchcockian debut is told from the point of view of agoraphobic, hard-drinking child psychologist Anna Fox. Fox hasn’t left her apartment in nearly a year, spending her time playing games, chatting with other agoraphobics on the internet, and spying on her neighborhood, Rear Window style. It quickly becomes apparent the reader can’t trust anything Anna says—so when she first becomes obsessed with a family across the park, then witnesses what she’s certain is a murder in their home, it’s no surprise no one believes her. As the revelations pile up, it becomes clear Anna’s past and her mental state are just as important as what she saw.

    The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides
    Six years ago, artist Alicia Berenson painted a psychologically dense work based on a Greek myth, then allegedly tied her husband, Gabriel, to a chair and shot him in the face. Alicia hasn’t spoken a word since, spending her time in a drugged daze at the Grove, a secure forensic facility in North London. Theo Faber is the wounded, gifted psychotherapist who convinces Alicia’s doctors to let him try to get her to speak. Theo’s work with the silent patient is interspersed with excerpts of Alicia’s diary leading up to the day of Gabriel’s murder. As the clues about what truly happened begin to fall into place, Theo’s personal and professional worlds blur dangerously, leading to an explosive conclusion.

    All the Way: Football, Fame, and Redemption, by Joe Namath with Don Yaeger
    Fifty years ago, a brash young quarterback led the New York Jets to an improbable Super Bowl victory—after guaranteeing a win. “Broadway” Joe Namath cemented his legend that day, and has been a huge celebrity ever since. Namath represented a new generation of pro athletes—highly paid, politically outspoken, and socially progressive—but he was plagued by old injuries that were treated with painkillers, which Namath chased with whiskey and late-night playing alongside celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Mickey Mantle. For the first time, Namath tells his story in his own words, detailing how a talented kid from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, became the most famous athlete of his day, and the prices he has paid over the years.

    Anthony Bourdain Remembered, by CNN
    Anothony Bourdain was one of a kind, someone who made it seem easy to explore the vast world around us, someone who brought wit and intelligence to the absurdities of modern life. Everyone wanted someone like him in their lives, that smart, well-traveled person who wasn’t full of themselves but could entertain you with stories all night long. His 2018 death by suicide was a shock that left his fans stunned and saddened. This beautiful tribute captures Bourdain’s attitude of endless curiosity, openness to new experiences, and deep appreciation of other cultures and viewpoints, not to mention cuisines. For the millions of lives Bourdain touched, this is the ideal way to remember the man.

    Backlash, by Brad Thor
    The eighteenth Scot Harvath novel puts the legendary operative in the most desperate position of his life. Harvath is a dangerous man: a former Navy SEAL who graduated from a brief stint in the Secret Service to leading the top secret Apex Project, charged with defending his country by any means necessary. Over the course of seventeen books he’s proved he’s loyal, he’s a patriot…and he’s a bad man to cross. When he’s the lone survivor of an attack in which his plane crashes behind enemy lines, with no support or equipment, Harvath must find a way to survive using just his brains and his experience as he claws his way to revenge on those who would dare attack everything he loves. A tense thriller that hits the ground running and never lets up, this is a white-knuckle adventure that will please longtime Harvath fans and introduce new readers to one of the best thriller characters in the business.

    The Big Kahuna, by Janet Evanovich and Peter Evanovich
    The sixth book following the adventures of conman and liar Nick Fox and by-the-book FBI agent Kate O’Hare is as frothy and fun as the previous five. Our mismatched partners continue to squabble as they take on the cases no one else at the FBI will touch; this time it’s the disappearance of a Silicon Valley billionaire referred to as the Big Kahuna. Fox finds that the Kahuna’s wife and business partner want his body found so they can declare him dead and take over his empire, so she and Nick head to Hawaii to go undercover and get close to the billionaire’s burnout son by pretending to be an equally burnt out hippie couple. Playing house with Nick Fox is both irritating and tempting, and the sparks fly in more ways than one as they get to the bottom of the mystery of the missing Big Kahuna.

    The Border, by Don Winslow
    Don Winslow concludes his bloody, operatic trilogy delving into the chaotic war on drugs with a suitably intense final act. After losing everything but his career in the war against drug kingpin Adán Barrera, Art Keller finds himself at the top of the DEA, with Barrera defeated. But the war on drugs has come home in a flood of cheap heroin that’s killing Americans at a record pace. As Keller moves to block this deadly invasion, he finds himself fighting not Mexican drug cartels, but his own bosses in Washington. Politically motivated enemies are one thing, but Keller begins to suspect the unbelievable truth—the incoming administration is actually partnered with the very cartels he has spent his life fighting.

    Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
    As Noah emerges from the shadow of his predecessor Jon Stewart, his brand of clever, emotionally grounded humor is gaining fans. In this hilarious, deeply moving, and fascinating memoir, it’s easy to see why. Born to a black African mother and a white Swedish father under apartheid in South Africa, Noah was an illegal child, his birth violating a 1927 law forbidding interracial marriage. Noah lived through a remarkable time period as apartheid ended and real change came to South Africa—yet racial tensions and divisions remained. Noah balances the powerfully tragic stories of his youth with side-splitting anecdotes from his life, including stories about his prom and the differences between what he terms “white church” and “black church.” If you’re already a fan of Noah’s comedy, this book will endear him to you even more. If you’re not, this book will make you one.

    Breakthrough: The Miraculous True Story of a Mother’s Faith and Her Child’s Resurrection, by Joyce Smith with Ginger Kolbaba
    The remarkable story of John Smith, who fell through the ice one frigid morning when he was fourteen and lay dead for more than an hour before miraculously reviving, is already one of the most buzzed-about film adaptations of the year. His mother, Joyce, tells the story of how she took her grief and shock and reached out in her faith to God, begging him to save her son—and how John’s heart began to beat, and how a little more than two weeks after being clinically dead for an hour, he walked out of the hospital perfectly healthy. Whatever you believe, this is an incredible story of love, faith, and a community that rallied around a young man who defied mortal odds and confounded medical experts, and it’s a book that will leave you with just a little bit more faith.

    The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777, by Rick Atkinson
    Rick Atkinson delivers the first of three books covering the Revolutionary War in astonishing detail. This initial volume takes readers through the first twenty-one months of the conflict, beginning with Lexington and Concord in 1775 and leaving off in the winter of 1777. Along the way, Atkinson dives deep into the personalities on both sides of the battlefield, including men who defined the fighting, like Henry Knox and George Washington, and men who defined the struggle for hearts and minds around the world, like Benjamin Franklin. The result is one of the most detailed and comprehensive studies of the early stages of a war that seemed doomed to be a short and futile one for the Americans, but instead birthed a nation.

    Connections in Death, by J.D. Robb
    Robb—aka, Nora Roberts—delivers the forty-eighth In Death adventure, once again exploring the near-future of 2061 New York. NYPD Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her philanthropist husband, Roarke, are building a school and shelter in Hell’s Kitchen for the city’s most vulnerable, and Roarke is planning to put his money where his mouth is by hiring Rochelle Pickering to be head therapist at the treatment facility. Rochelle has a troubled brother, Lyle, who has been in prison and dealt with a lifetime of substance abuse issues. When Lyle turns up dead of an overdose in their shared apartment, Eve suspects foul play, and her investigation brings her into the dark underbelly of the city as she struggles to prove Lyle deserved their trust, and his second chance.

    Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town: An Official Stranger Things Novel, by Adam Christopher
    The universe of Netflix’s hit series continues to expand with this tense, engrossing novel that focuses on Police Chief Jim Hopper. It’s Christmas time in 1984, and Hopper wants a quiet holiday at home with his adopted daughter, Eleven. But Eleven wants Jim to tell her about his past—specifically what happened in New York in 1977. Reluctantly, Hopper tells the tale, starting with him as a recently returned Vietnam vet with a young daughter and a loving wife, working a beat as an NYPD detective. Investigating a series of brutal murders, Hopper is stunned when federal agents seize all of his files and warn him off the case—a warning Hopper can’t possibly obey. Instead he goes undercover in the world of violent street gangs, getting closer to the truth—but when the great blackout hits, plunging the city into darkness and chaos, Hopper finds himself all alone and facing something worse than he ever imagined.

    Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope, by Mark Manson
    The author of the smash hit The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck turns his caustic and brilliant gaze from the individual to the larger world, seeking an answer to the question of why the world seems to be filled with doom and disaster despite technological advances and measurable improvements to most people’s everyday lives. Using his trademark tough-love approach, Manson employs humor and science, statistics and expert opinion to analyze why we’re all so miserable and anxious despite being wealthier, healthier, and provably safer than our ancestors. If you’re looking for a book that will challenge your malaise and prompt you to take a fresh look at every aspect of your life, this is that book.

    A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin
    Before HBO’s Game of Thrones became a pop culture phenomenon, the series it’s based on was already legendary. George R.R. Martin began the storied (and still unspooling) epic A Song of Ice and Fire with 1996’s A Game of Thrones. Even all these years later, it’s an incredibly potent read; a bloody story of royal succession drawn from real history and set in a world with an incredibly rich history, it inverts one genre trope after another, devastating readers with its cascade of shocking twists. If you want to follow the plight of the Stark family—the lords of the Northern kingdom of a tenuously unified continent about to break apart in civil war—from the beginning, start here. Even if you’ve seen the TV show, the books are more than worth the effort. You’ll plow through their five thousand pages in no time, as you learn new details about Daenerys’ journey from political bargaining chip to fearsome dragon queen and celebrate Jon Snow’s rise from a shunned bastard to the Seven Kingdoms’ most powerful military commander.

    Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate
    In this poignant story based on true events, attorney Avery Stafford returns home to small-town South Carolina to hold her prominent father’s hand as he goes through cancer treatments. Though she’s being groomed for a political career, Avery sets aside those ambitions when an elderly woman in a nursing home eludes to the shocking truth about Avery’s heretofore unknown mother. It turns out Avery’s history includes a scandal at an orphanage that stole poor children and adopted them out to rich families. As the tragedies of the past inform the present, Avery must take a harsh new look at everything she thought she knew about family, heritage, and justice.

    Cari Mora, by Thomas Harris
    One of the most anticipated books of the year, from the man who created Hannibal Lector and The Silence of the Lambs, Cari Mora is set in the decadent Miami Beach waterfront (where, incidentally, Harris resides much of the year). The story centers on the sadistic cat-and-mouse game between the titular heroine and Hans-Peter Schneider, a ruthlessly evil man hellbent on locating twenty-five million dollars in cartel gold that allegedly lies beneath the mansion of which Cari Mora is a housekeeper. Expect chills, thrills, and psychological warfare from a master of suspense. We may not have heard from Harris in thirteen years, but Cari Mora looks to be more than worth the wait.

    The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
    The Testaments, Atwood’s sequel to her groundbreaking 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale, arrives in September and promises to answer all the questions readers (and viewers of Hulu’s adaptation) continue to grapple with. Whether you’re brand-new to the Republic of Gilead—the dystopian society formerly known as the USA in which women have been stripped of autonomy—or you know your way around, why not return to the book that started it all? Prepare to feel fired up as Offred attempts to escape her horrifying new circumstances.

    Huntress, by Kate Quinn
    As with her breakout smash, The Alice Network, Quinn’s latest takes place just post-WWII and involves a search for a missing person. This time, the person being sought is a notorious Nazi war criminal, a woman known only as the Huntress, who may or may not be hiding out in Boston. British journalist Ian Graham, American soldier Tony, and Russian pilot Nina Markova (who belonged to the so-called Night Witches, a band of all-female fighter pilots) team up in search of justice.

    Island of Sea Women, by Lisa See
    Book club favorite See hits another one out of the park with this illuminating story about the Haenyeo female divers of Jeju Island. In 1930s and ’40s Jeju, the men of this real-life Korean village stay home with the kids while the women engage in high-risk, physically demanding work to provide for their families. Among the all-female diving collective are best friends Mi-ja and Young-sook, one of whom is being groomed to become the chief Haenyeo. The girls’ tight bond is tested by wartime occupation and tragedy, and readers will find the characters and the matriarchal society they live in utterly engrossing.

    Lost and Wanted, by Nell Freudenberger
    Physicist and single mother Helen Clapp is a respected professor at MIT, an expert in astrophysics, and an author of several books. There’s something missing in her life, however, and what that might be comes clear when she begins receiving messages from her vivacious Harvard roommate, Charlie, with whom she’d lost touch. That’s not the curious part, though. The curious part is that the messages don’t arrive until after Charlie has been dead for two days. Is there an explanation for the phenomena Helen experiences? Or are the vagaries of friendship and the realities of grief more complex than science allows?

    Lost Roses, by Martha Hall Kelly
    In Lilac Girls, readers met Caroline Ferriday, a real-life heroine of World War II. Roses reveals what Caroline’s mother was up to a generation earlier. The year is 1914, and socialite Eliza Ferriday is delighted to have the chance to visit St. Petersburg with her friend Sofya Streshnayva serving as tour guide. Did we mention Sofya is related to the Romanovs, and will soon be forced to flee to Paris? Back home in New York, Eliza does her best to assist other Russian families escaping the revolution, but when Sofya abruptly ceases contact, Eliza worries for her friend’s life in this compelling drama based on true events.

    Machines Like Me, by Ian McEwan
    Set in an alt-history Margaret Thatcher–era England, McEwan’s latest depicts a love triangle between slacker narrator Charlie, his upstairs neighbor and girlfriend Miranda, and Charlie’s new acquisition: Adam, an Alan Turing–created synthetic human. Charlie and Miranda design Adam’s characteristics beyond his factory pre-sets and the result is an Adam who is nearly indistinguishable from an actual person. The android quickly develops feelings for Miranda, writing her a staggering amount of haiku. This promises to be a thought-provoking tale about what it means to be human, set in a very different version of the 1980s.

    Malta Exchange, by Steve Berry
    The fourteenth book in the tantalizing, globetrotting Cotton Malone series, about an elite former Justice Department operative and occasional treasure hunter, showcases Berry’s meticulous attention to detail. Malone is in Italy, searching for some long-lost letters between Winston Churchill and Benito Mussolini that have attracted the wrong sort of attention. Suddenly, Malone’s caught between the Knights of Malta and their determination to interfere with the election of a new pope. From ancient sects to present-day intrigue, this mixture of fact and fiction brings history alive (Constantine the Great!) in a fast-paced thrill ride.

    The Mister, by E.L. James
    In her first novel since the success of the Fifty Shades of Grey series, E.L. James introduces readers to Maxim Trevelyan, a wealthy playboy with a history of eschewing responsibility or commitment. That all changes when Alessia Demachi, a young Albanian woman on the run from human traffickers, becomes the new “daily” (daily housekeeper) at the estate Maxim has recently inherited and doesn’t know what to do with. Alessia seems immune to Maxim’s model good looks (he moonlights as one), but her exquisite talent at playing piano and her mysterious, haunted ways have Maxim changing his behavior from rogue to protector in a bid to earn her trust and her heart.

    Normal People, by Sally Rooney
    The Conversations with Friends author is back with another brilliant, award-winning novel centered on an intense push-pull relationship between two young people who love and harm each other in equal measure. In small-town Ireland, Connell is a popular soccer star in high school who unexpectedly (and secretly) grows close to isolated and socially awkward Marianne, whose wealthy family employs Connell’s mother as their housecleaner. As university students at Trinity College in Dublin, however, their power dynamic reverses; now it’s Marianne who effortlessly traverses the social scene and Connell who comes up short. Are they meant to be together, meant to push one another away, or meant to render each other perennially off-kilter as their standing in the world evolves?

    One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez
    Magical realism, thy name is Marquez, and Solitude is regarded as the Nobel Prize–winning author’s most powerful achievement. This summer, why not visit or revisit the mythical town of Macondo and the Buendia family? Patriarch Jose Arcadia builds a fantastical postcolonial city in the middle of a Colombian swamp, but his own madness foretells the town’s eventual fate. Trace the generations as the town rises and falls, endures years-long tropical storms and its own residents’ destructive behavior, all written in Marquez’s surreal, transfixing, and beautiful prose.

    Sunset Beach, by Mary Kay Andrews
    Family drama and a cold-case mystery make for a wonderful combination in Andrews’ latest beach read. Upon inheriting her grandparents’ beachfront property, Drue Campbell moves home to St. Petersburg, Florida, and throws herself into the task of fixing up the little bungalow. Less delightful for Drue is her new job working for her estranged father, a personal injury lawyer who married Drue’s old middle school nemesis, Wendy. After a body is discovered at a neighboring resort, and the mystery appears connected to Drue’s former policeman dad, Drue launches her own investigation.

    The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
    The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, The Departed, Peaky Blinders, Goodfellas, and countless other mafia-centered projects wouldn’t exist without The Godfather and its unforgettable portrayal of the Corleone crime family. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Puzo’s novel, and the reissue includes a new introduction by Francis Ford Coppola, director of the Oscar-winning, highly quotable film adaptation and its sequels. The infamous, warring gangsters of New York via Sicily may have secured their place in the global zeitgeist, but the characters are never caricatures, and their corrupt attempts at forging an American dream play out as an intimate family drama you can’t refuse.

    The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love Jay Gatsby (a financial climber who will never truly belong among the Jazz Age’s wealthiest socialites no matter how hard he tries) and those who’ve not yet read Fitzgerald’s seminal work. Both categories of people would benefit from giving the book a read this summer. You can finish it in an afternoon and quote it that evening with a highball in hand. Daisy Buchanan’s voice is “full of money,” and if you want a new discussion point beyond Redford vs. DiCaprio, why not try to figure out which of Daisy’s best lines (“that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool”) originated in the mind of Zelda Fitzgerald, the author’s wife?

    Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
    Ellison’s brilliant and biting first novel, the National Book Award winner for fiction in 1953, is narrated by a fortysomething unnamed black man looking back on the youthful experiences that brought him to his current hideout. Expelled from an HBCU after fighting in a disturbing “battle royale” for the right to attend, he moves to New York and becomes indoctrinated into a dubious organization known as “the Brotherhood” in Harlem. As he struggles against the overt, explicit, and casual racism of the 1930s, he comes to view himself as invisible in the world, due to the refusal of others to see him. A vital work in the American literary canon.

    The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    A potent story about friendship and the lengths we go to earn the regard of others, no matter the cost, Kite Runner begins in 1970s Afghanistan, a time and place beset by internal and external conflicts. Wealthy young Amir deliberately abandons his servant and best friend, Hassan, when Hassan most needs him, and his cowardly act—undertaken in part to please his difficult father—haunts Amir for years afterward. Is it possible for Amir to find redemption?

    The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
    If you read and loved last year’s Circe (we sure did!), about the vengeful daughter of Helios who was banished by Zeus after turning her ex’s new love into a sea monster, you’ve got to get your hands on Miller’s debut. Though it’s a dazzling retelling of Homer’s Iliad, familiarity with the source material or the Trojan War isn’t required. In some ways, it’s better if your knowledge of Greek mythology is hazy, because you can allow yourself to get fully swept away by the saga of the man prophesied to become an unparalleled warrior. Love, friendship, acres of action, and fully fleshed out characters will have you turning pages with delight.

    Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
    It’s not often an uproarious comedy kicks off with the literal birth of the Antichrist in a London hospital, but that’s the strange genius of this collaborative novel. With the Rapture coming fast, a rag-tag collection of rebellious angels, demons, and terrestrial creatures (including a hellhound turned actual dog) work to avert The End for their own (usually fairly selfish) reasons. This hilarious book is often described as the spiritual successor to Douglas Adams, and it certainly is another complex story filled with inventive detail that doesn’t forget to be hilarious. Ideal for any post-apocalyptic world in which you suspect finding a good cup of coffee will be difficult, especially when a war in heaven is to blame.

    Howard Stern Comes Again, by Howard Stern
    It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a quarter-century since Stern published his last memoir, Miss America. Everything’s changed since then, of course; the country has shifted in terms of politics, culture, and how people consume talk media like Stern’s (the word ‛podcast’ wasn’t even a thing back in 1995). One thing that hasn’t changed is Stern’s sharp wit and incisive commentary. It’s hard to believe this still needs to be said, but if you think Stern is foul-mouthed ‛shock jock’ with nothing but adolescent humor to offer, you’ve clearly never listened to him (or read his books), because he’s easily one of the best interviewers in the business, his conversations often take erudite and fascinating turns, and he is, frankly, hilarious. And yes, occasionally juvenile—but that’s also part of the charm. Stern offers his view of his transition from old-school radio to satellite and an insider’s view of his experiences interviewing everyone from Madonna to Jimmy Kimmel.

    I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, by Michelle McNamara
    Michelle McNamara passed away in 2016 at the age of 46, but left behind a powerful legacy in the form of this book, now available in paperback. It’s the result of her years-long investigation into the serial rapist and murderer she dubbed the Golden State Killer, who, thanks in part to McNamara’s efforts o draw additional attention to the cold case, was finally captured in 2018. When she began tracing the crimes in 2011, DNA testing had already linked more than 50 sexual assaults and murders dating back to the mid-1970s to a single man.. The attacks stopped after a decade, and the killer disappeared—but McNamara, with the help of others who gathered at her website, tracked him tirelessly through the available evidence. After her unexpected passing, her team continued the work, finishing this remarkable book, which skillfully combines true-crime details with a novelist’s flare for storytelling.

    Let Love Have the Last Word, by Common
    Common has won Grammy Awards and Academy Awards, sold millions of albums and carved out a serious acting career, and he’s done so without a hint of controversy or scandal, a rare achievement in this day and age. Here he offers an uplifting and practical message for everyone: put simply, the title says it all—he argues that how you love is just as important as who and what you love. Covering topics as deeply personal as his relationship with his daughter to those as deeply spiritual as his relationship with God, Common uses his own experience and philosophy as a guide to navigating a world increasing torn in half by political and cultural divisions, and as a challenge to everyone to do better and to be better.

    Life Will be the Death of Me, by Chelsea Handler
    In what will be a familiar narrative to many, Handler recounts how the 2016 election jolted her out of a privileged bubble and forced her to re-examine her life. Embarking on a journey of self-improvement, she sought self-sufficiency, self-improvement, and an opening to ideas and politics she had never considered deeply before. With brutal honesty, Handler finds humor in her own limitations and failures while charting an inspiring effort to deal with modern life without insulating yourself from the harsh realities that lurk everywhere. The end result is a laugh-out-loud funny rumination that’s equal parts memoir and darkly funny commentary, a must-read for fans of either.

    Neon Prey, by John Sandford
    When Howell Paine fails to pay back the money he owes loan shark Roger Smith, Smith sends violent thug Clayton Deese to punish him. But Paine fights back with an unexpected ferocity, and Deese is jammed up on racketeering charges. When Deese escapes his ankle bracelet and investigators discover partially-eaten bodies buried in his backyard, Lucas Davenport takes an interest and begins tracking the killer and the brutal gang he travels with as they journey across the country, pulling jobs to fuel their gambling and drug use. Worried that Deese is an unstable source of dire secrets that could ruin him, Smith decides he has to go, setting up a tense three-way game of cat-and-mouse Davenport fans are sure to love.

    Never Tell, by Lisa Gardner
    Gardner’s 10th D.D. Warren thriller opens with Warren and other police breaking down the door to Evelyn Carter’s house, where they find the pregnant teacher standing over her dead husband, gun in hand. Warren remembers Evelyn from a case 16 years before, in which she accidentally shot and killed her own father, and decides it can’t be a coincidence. But when the killing gets some publicity, trusted informant Flora Dane contacts Warren to tell her that Evelyn’s husband was an associate of her kidnapper. As the investigation pivots into the possible connections between the two men, the complications pile up, as Gardner explores how well we can truly know anyone—even our closest loved ones.

    The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West, by David McCullough
    David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, returns with an in-depth study of the settlement of the Northwest Territory, telling the stories of the hardy and fearless pioneers who traveled into the unknown determined to enlarge and enrich our country with their bare hands and at risk of their very lives. The movement west began sooner than most people realize, with the first settlers—veterans of the Revolutionary War—arriving in Ohio in 1788. McCullough tells the story of the town they carved out of the wilderness through the eyes of five historical figures, who becomes characters in a story about bravery, tragedy, diplomacy, and the conquest of a wilderness that wanted nothing more than to sweep them aside.

    Redemption, by David Baldacci
    Amos Decker, the Memory Man with the perfect recall, returns in more ways than one in Baldacci’s latest as he heads back to his hometown of Burlington, Ohio, with FBI partner Alex Jamison along for the ride. There, Decker meets Meryl Hawkins, the first person he ever arrested. Hawkins was convicted of murder and has spent years in jail, emerging ravaged by time and illness. Even as he’s dying, Hawkins insists to Decker that he didn’t commit those crimes, and Decker is shaken by the possibility that he made a youthful mistake that sent an innocent man to jail. Digging into the case, Decker discovers a connection to another crime—one that hasn’t been committed yet, and which he might be able to put a stop to if he can solve the puzzle in time.

    Run Away, by Harlan Coben
    Coben is the modern master of the plot twist, and is in rare form with this latest. Simon Greene seems to have a perfect life: a wealthy, married man with a beautiful daughter. What the world doesn’t know is that his daughter, Paige, has fallen into drugs—in fact, he hasn’t seen her in six months. When he happens to see her begging in the park, he confronts the man he suspects is holding her against her will, Aaron Corval. When Corval turns up dead a short while later, Simon and Paige are the prime suspects—and a breathless race to get to the bottom of the killing is launched. You might think you know where this story is going, but it’s Coben—you most certainly do not.

    Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations, by William H. McRaven
    There are people in this world who have earned the right to have their advice listened to without question, and Admiral McRaven is one of those people. McRaven entered the collective consciousness with his viral commencement speech-turned-inspirational book, Make Your Bed. But McRaven is more than a man in uniform dispensing wisdom—he’s a true-life hero, a man who has spent his whole existence serving his country in some of the most dangerous places in the world. McRaven’s life story reads like an improbable thriller as he recounts his childhood, his career as a Navy SEAL and later as commander of America’s Special Operations Forces, not to mention his involvement in events like the rescue of Captain Phillips, the execution of Osama bin Laden, and the capture of Saddam Hussein.

    Silent Night, by Danielle Steel
    Paige and Whitney Watts are sisters who lived in the spotlight as children, the daughters of a famous Hollywood icon. As adults they’ve followed different paths: Paige seeks to recapture that fame with her talented, sitcom-starring daughter, Emily, while Whitney has shunned fame to become a dedicated psychiatrist who lives according to her own rules. When a tragedy leaves Emily motherless and shattered, unable to speak or remember, Whitney drops everything to save her niece, pulling in every professional resource she has to help the young girl. But in the end it might not be Emily who benefits the most from the experience—it might be the people around her, including her loving aunt as Steel surprises once again.

    Someone Knows, by Lisa Scottoline
    Scottoline’s newest begins in 1999, when Allie Garvey meets Sasha Barrow, David Hybrinski, Julian Browne, and Kyle Gallagher and forms an unlikely circle of friends. One afternoon a drunken dare leaves one of them dead, and the rest holding the secret of what happened that day. No one suspects anything more than an accident, but for two decades Allie suffers from the guilt she feels about what happened. When one of others commits suicide on the anniversary of that terrible day, Allie returns home to confront the other conspirators—an act that leads to the realization that Allie doesn’t know all the facts about that day, and doesn’t remember everything exactly as it was.

    Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-to Guide, by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
    Kilgariff and Hardstark helm the immensely popular podcast ‛My Favorite Murder,’ and here offer a combination memoir and self-help book that crackles with their easy banter and personal chemistry. You might think self-help and true-crime—even the humorous kind of true crime the podcast trades in—would be an odd combination, but Kilgariff and Hardstark effortlessly link the two, showing how many of their own mistakes put them into vulnerable positions that wouldn’t be out of place as the introduction to an unsolved assault or murder. In the end, their message is simple and powerful: stop being polite and start advocating for yourself. That message is delivered with warmth and wit, making this a thoroughly enjoyable romp through the messy lives of two very interesting people.

    Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis, by Jared Diamond
    Jared Diamond, another Pulitzer-winner best known for Guns, Germs and Steel, returns with a unique and fascinating look at history through the lens of psychology, applying trauma treatment protocols to entire nations in order to explain sudden policy shifts and course corrections, from Chile’s wild political swings in the 20th century, to Japan’s opening to the West in the 19th century, to the persistence of the institution of slavery in the U.S., to the Winter War between the U.S.S.R. and Finland. Diamond argues that nations either take an honest look at themselves after disaster… or they don’t, and that willingness or unwillingness to acknowledge hard truths is the determining factor in what happens next.

    We Must Be Brave, by Frances Liardet
    Liardet offers up a contemplation on grief and loss through history’s lens, telling the story of lonely and childless Ellen Parr, living with her husband Selwyn in a small English village in 1940. When a busload of bombing refugees arrives, Ellen meets young Pamela, a little girl all alone in the world. Ellen takes Pamela in and treats her as her own, and for three years knows the utmost happiness—until Pamela’s family tracks her down and Ellen loses everything. But our stories go on, and Ellen deals with her grief for decades, making her way forward—until she meets another woman, one who reminds her of Pamela, and she once again finds something like joy. It’s deeply moving and wonderfully told, so be sure to bring tissues.

    Queen Bee, by Dorothea Benton Frank
    Longtime fans will be excited to see that this new book is set on Sullivan’s Island, where beekeeper Holly McKnee Kensen lives a quiet life. Holly is tormented by her mother, whose demanding hypochondria is suffocating and maddening. Holly’s sister fled as quickly as she could, and Holly has found a bit of refuge in the lives of a widower named Archie next door and his two young children. When her sister storms back into her life—and into the lives of Archie and his kids. As her mother ramps up her insanity, her sister brings the chaos of her failed marriage and desperate need for action to the peaceful little island, Holly starts talking to her bees and everyone begins moving towards resolutions that are heartwarming, revelatory, and deeply satisfying.

    All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin
    This emotionally complex story centers on a social media controversy that spirals out of control. Nina is a former middle-class girl who married rich, confident Kirk and moved to Nashville. Their son, Finch, is headed for Princeton, and life seems perfect, even as Nina begins to question her husband’s character and her own choices. Tom is a single dad raising spirited Lyla, who gets a scholarship to the exclusive Windsor Academy. When a photo of Lyla at a party, unconscious and vulnerable, hits the internet, the whole town is thrown into an uproar—especially since it seems like Finch is the one who took the photo. Giffin has a gift for making other people’s problems very real and very compelling. While all your stress drains away on the beach, nothing beats reading about other people’s stress—so bring the popcorn and your sunglasses and start turning those pages.

    The Mother-in-Law, by Sally Hepworth
    This tense thriller will appeal to anyone who’s ever had a less-than-friendly relationship with the in-laws. When Lucy marries Ollie, everything is perfect—except for her relationship with his mother Diana. A beloved member of the community, Diana is faultlessly polite and outwardly kind, but Lucy knows the woman doesn’t like her. When Diana appears to kill herself, leaving a note behind stating that she doesn’t want to live through the breast cancer she’s been diagnosed with, everyone is shocked. But what’s more shocking is the autopsy that finds no cancer whatsoever—but plenty of evidence that Diana was murdered. The revelation of changes to her will mean everyone in the family suddenly has a motive, and as the truth comes out, one thing is certain: the family will never be the same.

    Coming in June

    Unsolved, by James Patterson and David Ellis (June 3)
    Patterson and Ellis delivery the sequel to Invisible, which introduced the obsessive, genius FBI researcher Emily Dockery. Emily sees things others miss, and has made a reputation for herself as someone who sees crimes and connections that are hidden from everyone else. And now she’s seeing a string of murders across the country—murders that appear to be accidents, and which seem to have no connections to each other whatsoever. Whoever’s orchestrating them seems to know everything Dockery plans and is always one step ahead of her. Her ex-fiancee and reluctant partner, Special Agent Harrison ‛Books’ Bookman, suspects treason within the Bureau—and it might be Dockery herself, as far as he’s concerned. As Emily puts all of her considerable investigative powers into seeing the connections she’s missing, she’s unaware that she’s been watched carefully by someone who’s studying her every move and waiting for the perfect moment to launch an attack.

    The Outsider, by Stephen King (June 4)
    King’s fiftieth novel tells the story of small town Detective Ralph Anderson, who in the opening scenes arrests a popular little league coach named Terry Maitland for the horrifying murder of an eleven-year old boy. The evidence seems to prove the culprit is guilty beyond any doubt—but then, incontrovertible evidence arises that also seems to prove Maitland’s innocence. What starts as a mystery slow-burns into a classic King horror joint, spun up with some seriously surreal violence. It’s a wonderful fusion of King’s ’80s aesthetic with his more recent police procedural phase.

    On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong (June 4)
    This nonlinear roman à clef debut from a critically lauded poet is written as though from a son to his illiterate mother and depicts a family history of intergenerational abuse mixed with fierce love. The letter writer, known as Little Dog, feels like an outsider in a variety of ways. As a teenager, he emigrated to America from Vietnam with the three women who make up his world: mother, grandmother, and aunt, each traumatized by the Vietnam War. As a young gay man, and the first of his family to attend college, he attempts to reconcile the violence of the past with a future that won’t hold still or accommodate narrative conclusions. In short, it’s like real life: messy, tragic, lovely, and painful all at once.

    City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert (June 4)
    After her warmhearted book of artistic advice, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Gilbert returns to the loving arms of fiction with a look at the New York theatre world of the 1940s. Our octogenarian narrator, Vivian Morris, recounts the era that meant the most to her with gusto, good humor, and occasional regret. Kicked out of Vassar at 19, young Vivian moves in with her Aunt Peg in Manhattan, joining the eccentric family of misfits that make up the Lily Playhouse in midtown. Full of showgirls, first experiences, wartime heartache, true love, and hard-won acceptance, Girls looks to be a triumphant and moving story about finding one’s true self.

    Calypso, by David Sedaris (June 4)
    If you’re sharing a beach house this summer, this book is ideal for you: in it Sedaris collects a whopping twenty-one essays, all centered on the beach house that serves as a central gathering place for his family. With his usual self-deprecation and sharp wit, Sedaris chronicles the arguments, discussions, and adventures he gets into both with and without his family, and continues to fearlessly explore his mother’s death and his sister’s suicide as well as issues including whether or not Jesus was attractive. Laugh-out-loud funny in places and incredibly moving in others, Sedaris continues to prove he’s one of our greatest living essayists with this fantastic collection.

    Mrs. Everything, by Jennifer Weiner (June 11)
    Older sister Josette (Jo) and younger sister Elisabeth (Bethie) Kaufman grew up in Detroit in the 1950s, but that’s only the beginning this story, which spans the totality of their lives, interspersed with the growth of feminism during the past sixty years. Through adolescence, college, travel, marriage and motherhood (or not), through a great many changes and upheavals happening all around them, the siblings strive to find their place in a world that often doesn’t know what to do with women—especially women who question their roles in society. Though Jo and Bethie are specific in their experiences and viewpoints, they are also stand-ins for all women—their struggles are eminently relatable, and Weiner’s writing is exquisite.

    Tom Clancy: Enemy Contact, by Mike Maden (June 11)
    Jack Ryan Jr. continues to honor his father’s legacy in this tense, nail-biting political thriller. Someone’s selling out the CIA, auctioning its deepest secrets to the highest bidder and destabilizing the entire intelligence system of the Western world. After barely surviving a mission in Poland, Jack Jr. is called to the bedside of a friend who is dying of cancer, and asked for one final favor: scatter his ashes on a specific hillside in Chile. Jack agrees, thinking this is a small service he can perform for a friend—but he’s almost immediately contacted by a former army ranger and warned not to go through with it—or even when he’s tracked and knocked unconscious by thugs. This sets off a chain of events that leaves Jack isolated and in grave danger—and within hailing distance of discovering the identity of the CIA’s mole, if he can come out of it alive.

    Summer of ’69, by Elin Hilderbrand (June 18)
    You’ll be forgiven if you didn’t know this was Hilderbrand’s first historical; in her expert hands, the titular summer comes to life in vivid colors. The story centers on thirteen-year-old Jessie, who spends her summer vacation at grandma’s house in Nantucket. With her three older siblings forging their own paths, unwilling or unable to join Jessie at the annual getaway, the teen feels out of sorts, and that feeling only increases as the country around her undergoes massive change, all set against the backdrop of Civil Rights protests, space travel, and political scandals.

    A Dangerous Man, by Robert Crais (June 18)
    The eighteenth Joe Pike novel finds Pike heading to the bank to take care of some business, with the help of teller Isabel Roland. Afterward he returns to his truck, and Isabel emerges shortly afterward—meaning Pike is on hand to witness her abduction by a pair of thugs. The ensuing chase results in the arrest of the kidnappers and rescue of Isabel, and that’s when things get complicated: the pair get out on bail and are promptly murdered, and Isabel disappears. With long-time friend Elvis Cole, Pike begins an investigation leading to a maze of money, corporate whistleblowing, witness protection, and a family history with more twists than they can count. As they work the case, Pike struggles to figure out the central question: is Isabel a victim, or the bad guy?

    The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo (June 25)
    A remarkably rich debut set in the Chicago suburbs from the 1970s to present-day, Fun chronicles the lives of the four adult Sorenson sisters (widowed Wendy, “perfect” Violet, neurotic Liza, and secretive Grace) and their parents, David and Marilyn, whose seemingly perfect marriage is perceived by their daughters as impossible to live up to (and they may be right). By the time you finish this unputdownable family saga, you’ll believe you’re a member of the Sorensons’ Illinois clan.

     

     

     

    Coming in July

    Hope Rides Again, by Andrew Shaffer (July 9)
    If you slept on the first Obama-Biden mystery (you heard us), Hope Never Dies, you missed out on one of the most enjoyable novels of recent years. The conceit is both simple and breathtaking—what if former president Barack Obama and former vice president Joe ‛Amtrak’ Biden teamed up to solve mysteries in their retirement?—and Shaffer handles that conceit with skill, delivering a solid mystery story without concealing his affection and respect for his two characters. In Hope Rides Again, Joe Biden takes a meeting in Chicago with a wealthy donor, set up by Obama, as he revs up his run for president. When Obama’s phone is stolen, the duo leap into action, tracking the thief, whose found shot dead. When the police seem disinterested in pursuing the investigation, Biden and Obama go up against Mayor Rahm Emanuel and get their hands very, very dirty as they pursue the truth.

    Under Currents, by Nora Roberts (July 9)
    In a beautiful house in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the Bigelow family looks picture-perfect. The father’s a surgeon, his wife is the ideal spouse, and their children Zane and Britt are smart, attractive kids obviously headed for great things in life. Except Zane knows this is all a lie. His father is dangerously unhinged, and flies into violent rages at the slightest provocation, and his mother does nothing to stop him—or protect her children. Zane takes on the role of protector for his younger sister, and goes along with the facade of family perfection in order to survive, counting down the days until he can declare his independence. And then one night the facade cracks, and in one evening everything changes. As Zane looks back on those terrible years, he finds strength and courage in the knowledge that light can triumph over darkness. And he’s going to need that strength and courage when a crisis comes to his own family.

    The New Girl, by Daniel Silva (July 16)
    In his latest caper, expert spy novelist Silva sends his beloved art restorer and chief of Israeli intelligence Gabriel Allon to investigate the suspicious disappearance of a private school student in Switzerland. The girl’s identity is not what it seems, and her kidnapping may be the spark that sets fire to a secret war, forcing it to the surface. As if that weren’t enough reasons to get excited, in an author announcement Silva revealed that Allon will be joined by quite a few familiar faces from the past.

    The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead (July 16)
    Fresh off his Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award wins for The Underground Railroad, Whitehead returns with a novel about two philosophically opposed black students at notorious reform school the Nickel Academy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s. Though the school claims to turn delinquents into “honorable and honest men,” via “physical, intellectual and moral training,” in truth it’s an appalling place, full of corruption and abuse of every type. Elwood Curtis tries to emulate his hero, Dr. King, during the hellish interment, as a means of keeping his own humanity close, but his friend Turner is more cynical about the world. The boys’ disparate survival techniques culminate in a plan that will impact the rest of their lives.

    Window on the Bay, by Debbie Macomber (July 16)
    Macomber explores the many ways that life gets in the way in this lush, soapy story centered on nurse Jenna Boltz. After a painful divorce two decades before, Jenna put her plans—including a dream of visiting Paris shared by her best friend, Maureen—on hold to raise her two daughters and build a life for her family. Now that the kids are grown, Jenna uncertain what her next chapter will be, either in the romance department or the dreams department. Maureen sees this as a chance to finally make their Paris trip come true, but when Jenna’s mother breaks a hip life throws her a curveball in the form of a handsome doctor. Just as Jenna warms up to the idea of a new man in her life, a bit of shocking news turns everything around again, Macomber continues to be the master of making ordinary life seem extraordinary.

    The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited!, by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and Carey Pietsch (July 16)
    Based on uber-popular podcast the Adventure Zone, this follow-up to Here There Be Gerblins returns to a hilarious and gloriously nerdy universe combininh a deep love for role-playing tabeltop games like Dungeons & Dragons with a raucous sense of humor. The story once again follows elf wizard Taako, human warrior Magnus, and dwarf cleric Merle on an adventure they’re not quite qualified to tackle, run by a sarcastic Dungeon Master who likes to make things as sticky as possible for our “hero-adjacent” adventurers as they encounter a child detective who’s definitely smarter than they are, a grumpy wizard, a professional wrestler (of course), and…meat monsters. Whether you regularly roll a twenty-sided die for saving throws or not, anyone who loves fantasy tropes and fun will get a kick out of this smart, snarky, and extremely self-aware romp.

    One Good Deed, by David Baldacci (July 23)
    Racing against time to solve a murder before he’s convicted of it and sent back to the prison he just left, Aloysius Archer is in over his head. It’s 1949, and World War II veteran Archer has arrived in Poca City to sit tight until his parole is served. But within a single day, he’s got more trouble than he knows what to do with, including debt collection, a possible femme fatale, and the aforementioned murder that may drag Archer down if he lets it. This looks to be a fun and fast historical thriller full of lush period detail.

    Thrawn: Treason, by Timothy Zahn (July 23)
    Zahn’s third entry in the Star Wars expanded universe series about Grand Admiral Thrawn continues to explore both the universe of a galaxy far, far away and the depths of the character. Thrawn has long been one of the best antiheroes in science fiction, period, and Zahn’s series one of the best in the Star Wars tapestry. Thrawn has proved his loyalty to Emperor Palpatine and the Empire, but the new threats aren’t external—they’re coming from inside the Emperor’s inner circle. Director Krennic is moving forward with the Death Star project, and Thrawn knows that with the ability to destroy entire planets at a whim, the emperor will have much less need of a tactical genius. At the same time, Thrawn is called back to his homeworld, which faces disaster and needs his help—and for the first time Thrawn allegiance to the Empire is stressed almost to the breaking point.

    Coming in August

    The Inn, by James Patterson and Candice Fox (August 5)
    Aussie author Candice Fox usually joins forces with James Patterson for their Oz-set Detective Harriet Blue series, but this time, the duo sets the action in a quiet town outside Boston. Former Beantown homicide detective and widow Billy Robinson runs the beloved Gloucester Inn, a long-term rental full of unconventional guests who have slowly become a family. The arrival of cocksure, violent criminal Mitchell Cline threatens the peace, forcing the denizens of the Inn to take a stand before everything they hold dear is destroyed.

    The Turn of the Key, by Ruth Ware (August 6)
    Over the course of four explosive novels—In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game, and The Death of Mrs. Westaway—Ware has established herself as one of the best mystery writers working today, a streak that remains unbroken with her fifth novel. Rowan Caine comes across a dream job, working as a nanny in a posh home in the Scottish highlands that’s outfitted as a ‛smart’ home. The family is wealthy and adorable, and Rowan can’t believe her luck. Yet she’s narrating the story from prison, where’s she’s awaiting trial for the murder of a child. As she recounts the bizarre and disturbing story, Rowan is trying to solve her own mystery, to piece together the chaotic events—the long absences of the parents, the increasingly disturbing malfunction of the home’s technology, and the bizarre turn of behavior in the two small girls she was hired to care for. All Rowan knows for sure is, she isn’t guilty.

    Tidelands, by Phillipa Gregory (August 20)
    A master of English historical fiction, usually featuring the fraught lives of noblewomen in the Tudor period (The Other Boleyn Girl and many more), Gregory turns her focus on a non-royal this time. Destitute Alinor lives in the coastal, secluded Tidelands, married to an abuser and struggling to survive amid the turmoil of civil war. On Midsummer’s Eve of 1648, she stands in the graveyard waiting for a ghost to assist her in escaping her husband. When her lamentations beneath the full moon seem to have paid off, the other villagers turn against her, convinced that even if she’s not a witch, her differences (ambition, sudden wealth) mark her as something to be stamped out.

    What’s on your summer reading list?

    The post 100 Books of Summer appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Heidi Fiedler 2:00 pm on 2019/05/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , , nonfiction, , ,   

    10 Ways to Fight Burnout and the Patriarchy at the Same Time 


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    If you’ve ever worried you’re not doing enough while yet feeling stretched way too thin all at the same time, you are a human. If you’ve ever felt those contradictory symptoms of burnout and also felt forbidden to acknowledge it, you’re probably a woman. What makes Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle such a standout is the way the authors clearly identify the underlying cause of burnout. Our capitalist, patriarchal society is hard on everyone, especially women who are expected to give, give, give, never asking for a break or acknowledgement, all while wearing a smile and remaining calm in the face of impossible standards. (Just typing that sentence was dispiriting and exhausting!) The issue is worse for women of color and other minorities who live with a whole other set of impossible expectations and rules, along with being judged as women. The good news is that when we fight burnout, we fight the patriarchy. It goes beyond the idea that self care is radical and revolutionary. It’s a mindset shift that changes the way we see ourselves and the world. And perhaps one day it will change the way the world sees us. Below are 10 ways to get started.

    1. Resist the message that women need to “be nice, be strong, be polite” all the time and never have any feelings, by finding healthy ways to process your feelings. Exercise is the fastest way. (Picture yourself smashing the patriarchy for maximum effect.) Meditation, talking with friends, laughing, and cuddling with someone you trust also work. There’s power in being able to move fluidly between feeling unsafe or stressed, and then feeling calm again.
    2. Plan ahead. Anticipate problems, write lists, schedule, budget, anticipate, and execute. (You’re probably already doing this.) Now use those skills to manage the stress that comes from living with overwhelming and unrealistic expectations. Actually schedule time to process your feelings. (Go do it now!) It will help you be strong enough to keep going.
    3. Reframe challenges as being moments when you might grow and learn. It can help both in the moment and looking back. The idea is to redefine success on your own terms. Don’t let the man tell you whether you’re winning or not. Depending on your circumstances, this might be easier said than done. But the science says it truly works.
    4. Know you’re doing a hard thing makes it easier to keep going. It’s hard if everyone keeps telling you it’s no big deal. So at least give yourself the gift of acknowledging the rules are mindbendingly contradictory and expectations are impossibly high.
    5. Set specific, personal goals that are measurable, in your control, enjoyable, and you can achieve quickly. It helps you remember your own definition of success and ignore the expectations that can never be met.
    6. Recognize the moment when you swing between feeling like your goals are unattainable and being frustrated by the system. Then name it. The Nagoski sisters call it “foop.” It’s a silly word for those tricky thoughts like “I’m sure I can save this relationship, I just need to try harder. But no, it’s hopeless, they’ll never change, I’m not good enough at feelings to help them be a better person, but ugh, it’s not my job to change them! But ugh, I should change me!” (Can the Nagoskis see inside our heads???)
    7. Make the struggle meaningful by connecting it to something larger, whether that’s your legacy, spiritual calling, or connection to others. Finding your purpose or whatever it is that makes you feel like you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing is energizing and empowering. At the very least, it can be sustaining in the face of oppression.
    8. Fight helplessness by doing something—whatever you can. Scream. Walk. Dance. Turn your pain into art. Organize your bookshelves. Just prove to yourself that you are competent and capable.
    9. Reject the billion-dollar industry that constantly encourages us to diet in order to shrink ourselves, and to otherwise doubt our bodies. Just don’t. You are beautiful. Right. This. Very. Second.
    10. Connect with people who get you and the issues you face. That might mean a very loving husband, a true friend, or the Nagoski sisters. Their book is a welcoming place after a long day, and reading it feels like the perfect antidote to burnout and centuries of accumulated injustice.

    Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle is on B&N bookshelves now.

    The post 10 Ways to Fight Burnout and the Patriarchy at the Same Time appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Heidi Fiedler 2:00 pm on 2019/05/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , , nonfiction, , ,   

    10 Ways to Fight Burnout and the Patriarchy at the Same Time 


    Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 7 in /homepages/23/d339537987/htdocs/do/wp-content/themes/p2/inc/mentions.php on line 77

    If you’ve ever worried you’re not doing enough while yet feeling stretched way too thin all at the same time, you are a human. If you’ve ever felt those contradictory symptoms of burnout and also felt forbidden to acknowledge it, you’re probably a woman. What makes Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle such a standout is the way the authors clearly identify the underlying cause of burnout. Our capitalist, patriarchal society is hard on everyone, especially women who are expected to give, give, give, never asking for a break or acknowledgement, all while wearing a smile and remaining calm in the face of impossible standards. (Just typing that sentence was dispiriting and exhausting!) The issue is worse for women of color and other minorities who live with a whole other set of impossible expectations and rules, along with being judged as women. The good news is that when we fight burnout, we fight the patriarchy. It goes beyond the idea that self care is radical and revolutionary. It’s a mindset shift that changes the way we see ourselves and the world. And perhaps one day it will change the way the world sees us. Below are 10 ways to get started.

    1. Resist the message that women need to “be nice, be strong, be polite” all the time and never have any feelings, by finding healthy ways to process your feelings. Exercise is the fastest way. (Picture yourself smashing the patriarchy for maximum effect.) Meditation, talking with friends, laughing, and cuddling with someone you trust also work. There’s power in being able to move fluidly between feeling unsafe or stressed, and then feeling calm again.
    2. Plan ahead. Anticipate problems, write lists, schedule, budget, anticipate, and execute. (You’re probably already doing this.) Now use those skills to manage the stress that comes from living with overwhelming and unrealistic expectations. Actually schedule time to process your feelings. (Go do it now!) It will help you be strong enough to keep going.
    3. Reframe challenges as being moments when you might grow and learn. It can help both in the moment and looking back. The idea is to redefine success on your own terms. Don’t let the man tell you whether you’re winning or not. Depending on your circumstances, this might be easier said than done. But the science says it truly works.
    4. Know you’re doing a hard thing makes it easier to keep going. It’s hard if everyone keeps telling you it’s no big deal. So at least give yourself the gift of acknowledging the rules are mindbendingly contradictory and expectations are impossibly high.
    5. Set specific, personal goals that are measurable, in your control, enjoyable, and you can achieve quickly. It helps you remember your own definition of success and ignore the expectations that can never be met.
    6. Recognize the moment when you swing between feeling like your goals are unattainable and being frustrated by the system. Then name it. The Nagoski sisters call it “foop.” It’s a silly word for those tricky thoughts like “I’m sure I can save this relationship, I just need to try harder. But no, it’s hopeless, they’ll never change, I’m not good enough at feelings to help them be a better person, but ugh, it’s not my job to change them! But ugh, I should change me!” (Can the Nagoskis see inside our heads???)
    7. Make the struggle meaningful by connecting it to something larger, whether that’s your legacy, spiritual calling, or connection to others. Finding your purpose or whatever it is that makes you feel like you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing is energizing and empowering. At the very least, it can be sustaining in the face of oppression.
    8. Fight helplessness by doing something—whatever you can. Scream. Walk. Dance. Turn your pain into art. Organize your bookshelves. Just prove to yourself that you are competent and capable.
    9. Reject the billion-dollar industry that constantly encourages us to diet in order to shrink ourselves, and to otherwise doubt our bodies. Just don’t. You are beautiful. Right. This. Very. Second.
    10. Connect with people who get you and the issues you face. That might mean a very loving husband, a true friend, or the Nagoski sisters. Their book is a welcoming place after a long day, and reading it feels like the perfect antidote to burnout and centuries of accumulated injustice.

    Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle is on B&N bookshelves now.

    The post 10 Ways to Fight Burnout and the Patriarchy at the Same Time appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Heidi Fiedler 3:00 pm on 2019/04/22 Permalink
    Tags: , , , nonfiction, ,   

    3 New Books to Help You Find Meaning and Purpose 


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    What makes your days meaningful? What drives you? What are the gifts you and only you have to share with the world? In short, why are you here? Finding your why can make it easier to be creative, parent mindfully, lead at work, and generally survive the ups and downs of being human.

    In seeking these answers, we don’t have to go it alone. New books from luminaries Oprah, Melinda Gates, and David Brooks are helping me on my own quest to understand how I can make my life not just feel meaningful but mean something to others, even in the midst of political angst, illness, and all the trials of the day to day.

    Because it’s true that every one of us is here for a reason. And whether or not we understand the role we’re meant to play, we can trust it’s not just about our own personal success. We may be here to help someone struggling through tragedy. Or we may be here to create a piece of art that saves someone’s life or simply helps them feel connected and seen.

    Believing every one of us has a specific purpose is a powerful motivator, inspiring us to see our lives as narrative arcs. In her new book, The Path Made Clear, Oprah makes a strong case for seeing your own journey through this lens. She truly believes we’re all made to perform unique miracles, an idea that clears away the mundane clutter of our daily lives and demands more of us.

    If you’re like me, the idea of performing miracles is also little intimidating—but it doesn’t have to be. Oprah draws wisdom from the relationships she’s cultivated with thinkers, visionaries, and wise people from around the world. She asks questions that tease out the lessons others have learned and shares them with those of us who might be living more humble lives. In the pages of Path, Brené Brown, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Eckhart Tolle, and others offer wisdom gleaned from their own journeys. The book is organized into ten chapters that serve as guideposts for those who are struggling to evolve. And a valuable discussion of detours helps readers know they’re growing—even when life is messy or the way forward is unclear. That’s just the kind of every day miracle Oprah performs.

    Part of what makes finding meaning and purpose so difficult is there are so many ways we can seek to do it. We might do deep personal work. We might grow a family. We might lead a city through a crisis or head up a classroom. Everything from writing a book to praying in solitude can bring meaning to our lives and the wider world. Writer and commentator David Brooks has thought deeply about how to blend these commitments into a coherent whole that feels personal and full of purpose. In his new book, The Second Mountain, he encourages readers to understand their calling in life and engage with their world. His words will resonate with everyone from graduates to grandparents, but his real aim goes beyond individual readers. He hopes to infuse our entire society with more meaning and purpose.

    The book left me with a powerful image in Brooks’ description of two mountains. Those who are striving for fame, security, or validation are on a mountain they’ll never stop climbing—or if they do reach the top, they’ll realize the accomplishment feels hollow and unsatisfying. Life is really about climbing off that mountain and onto a different one, where, decision by decision, we build meaningful lives. Our days are driven less by outer markers of success and more by how we can serve others. On that second mountain, we begin a quest to focus on others through work, faith, family, and service to the community.

    There’s something so reassuring about focusing less on proving ourselves and more on what good we can do in the world. It takes the pressure off in the same way that it can be easier to socialize while hosting an event than to mingle as one of its guests. Being of service naturally gives our lives meaning.

    No one can say Melinda Gates hasn’t had an impact on the world; she’s devoted much of her life to serving in powerful ways. In The Moment of Lift, she argues that if we lift up women, we will lift the entire world, including the people most desperately in need. As she details the issues women around the world face, including everything from child marriage to harassment, it’s impossible not to feel inspired to take action. If you’re not sure where to get started, Gates offers issues that will call to those on the second mountain.  She encourages readers to join the movement in her new book, part manifesto, part memoir, and part call to action. We don’t need to be perfect to begin. We don’t need to become bodhisattvas to find purpose. We need simply to reflect, focus on what matters, and when the path curves, swerve toward meaning, service, and connection.

    Seeing this little stack of books on my bedside table reminds me to let go of the mundane and envision my goals for the next day in a deeper way. Some days I journal chapter by chapter. Other days, I dig more deeply into a specific author’s ideas. But wherever I am in the process, I feel reassured by their wise words. And I like knowing someone out there is thinking about making this world a more meaningful place, just like I am.

    The post 3 New Books to Help You Find Meaning and Purpose appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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