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  • Jeff Somers 5:00 pm on 2019/11/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , top picks   

    The Best Thrillers of November 2019 

    As we crash headlong into the holiday season, it’s time to start proactively planning a little You Time. The end of the year can be stressful and crowded, so making sure you take a few hours to read some good books is essential, and this month’s best thrillers offer the ideal counter-programming. With new books from James Patterson, David Baldacci, Mary Higgins Clark, and many more, you’ll have plenty of books to get you through.

    Criss Cross, by James Patterson
    James Patterson’s 27th Alex Cross thriller sets the bar high, as Cross and partner John Sampson bear witness to the execution of a killer they helped put behind bars. But then they’re called to a crime scene that’s a clearly the work of as copy-cat killer—except there’s a note telling Alex Cross that he ‛messed up big time.’ A spree of killings seeded with subtle references to Cross’ career and family ensues, the work of someone who knows everything there is to know about him As Cross desperately tries to piece the clues together, he realizes that the perpetrator has a horrifying goal in his sights—one that might cost Cross his own life.

    A Minute to Midnight, by David Baldacci
    David Baldacci’s second Atlee Pine novel follows the FBI agent back to her rural Georgia hometown, where she’s retreated from a professional setback to finally investigate the decades-old disappearance of her twin sister, Mercy. But just as she begins to dig into the deeply-buried past, a woman is found dead—murdered ritualistically and dressed in a wedding veil. A second victim follows, and Atlee finds her search for her own truth complicated by the urgent need to stop a serial killer before they strike again. But as she spreads herself thin seeking answers to two mysteries, she finds that digging up the past is dangerous, and possibly deadly.

    The Andromeda Evolution, by Daniel H. Wilson
    Robopocalypse author Daniel H. Wilson capably mimics the Crichton’s style and brings plenty of personal tech cred to this sequel, published fifty years after the classic The Andromeda Strain. Ever since that alien virus threatened humanity, Project Eternal Vigilance has monitored the world for any hint of a similar incident. When an anomaly is found in the Amazon, a team is quickly dispatched, including paraplegic astronaut Sophie Kline and roboticist James Stone, who has an intimate connection to the original encounter. They’re charged with containing the infection, but what they discover is terrifying: the Andromeda Strain has mutated and evolved, and is now something entirely different—and much deadlier.

    The Family Upstairs, by Lisa Jewell
    Twenty-five years ago, a ghastly scene greeted police at a tony London address: Three dead adults, four missing children, and one crying baby. A quarter-century later, Libby Jones has spent her life wondering about her birth parents and the truth of her life. When she finally discovers the truth of her birth parents, she learns that she’s inherited the house, worth millions. As she contemplates how her life is about to change, she has no idea that she’s not the only person who’s been waiting for this day—and that she’s about to meet the other interested parties. This exclusive Barnes and Noble edition includes a discussion guide and an essay by the author.

    Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry, by Mary Higgins Clark
    Journalist Gina Kane receives an email from a woman named Ryan who wants to talk about the ‛terrible experience’ she had working at television news network REL, she smells a story. But her source goes dark, and she learns that Ryan has died in a freak jet ski accident. At REL, corporate counsel Michael Carter has received numerous complaints from women working at the network, alleging sexual harassment and worse. He begins a campaign to buy the women off, trading settlements for their silence. As more bodies turn up, Kane and Carter engage in a chess game as one tries to cover up the story and one tries to expose it—and someone else is willing to kill to stop it cold.

    Tom Clancy: Code of Honor, by Marc Cameron
    Marc Cameron returns to the world and characters created by Tom Clancy in a story where Jack Ryan resumes center stage as President of the United States. When a brilliant computer scientist creates a game-changing artificial intelligence, he’s murdered by agents of the Chinese government who want the technology for themselves. The killing is witnessed by an old friend of Ryan’s, Father Pat West, who manages to get in touch with the president with what he knows. Ryan is concerned, but when West is abducted, Ryan’s rage knows no limits—and he sets out to demonstrate to his enemies that the most powerful man in the world is the wrong person to make into a personal enemy.

    The Siberian Dilemma, by Martin Cruz Smith
    The ninth Arkady Renko book finds the investigator, who works for the Moscow Prosecutor’s office, worried about his girlfriend Tatiana Petrovna. The journalist left for an assignment in Siberia and failed to return. When Renko is ordered there himself—to supervise the prosecution of a terrorist named Aba Makhmud and ensure a long prison sentence, with a threat against his stepson if he fails—he sees an opportunity to look for Tatiana as well. When he arrives in Siberia he stumbles into a murder investigation, the victim a wealthy oligarch and a friend of the reclusive billionaire Tatiana was interviewing. Getting Tatiana—and himself—out alive while following his boss’s orders will take every ounce of Renko’s brains, but as always he’s up for the challenge.

    What thrillers are giving you chills this month?

    The post The Best Thrillers of November 2019 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 2:00 pm on 2019/11/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , current affair, , rachel maddow, , then and now, top picks   

    This Season’s Best History & Current Events Books 

    As 2019 winds down, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the past—both the events of a momentous year and the more distant history that brought us to where we are today.  The best history and current events books of this season come to us from journalists like Rachel Maddow, Gail Collins, and Ronan Farrow, and historians like Amity Shlaes and S. C. Gwynne, all of them exploring the events that have and will define our lives.

    Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth, by Rachel Maddow
    Firebrand journalist Rachel Maddow’s latest argues that the primary corrupting influence disrupting our world today—responsible for eroding democratic norms and making things worse for just about everybody—is the oil and natural gas industry. On one hand, she makes a case that the obscene amounts of money generated by these parts of the energy sector make it easy for corporate interests to pervert good governance for their own short-term interests. On the other, she takes a deep dive into the affairs of modern-day Russia, arguing that Vladimir Putin seized control of his country’s oil and gas industry and made it (and its profits) a tool of his domestic and international policies, while simultaneously running it into the ground. It’s an incendiary take on global politics that might change the way you look at the world.

    Deep State: Trump, the FBI, and the Rule of Law, by James B. Stewart
    James B. Stewart analyzes the ongoing collateral damage ensuing from the back-and-forth between the Trump administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, beginning with the simultaneous investigations of both the Trump and Clinton campaigns that dangerously politicized the work of the country’s main investigative body—a situation that only grew more fraught after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. The result of these power struggles will redefine what the term “rule of law” means in a country where the concept is foundational; Stewart makes the case that whatever the result of these conflicts, the chief loser will be American democracy.

    Great Society: A New History, by Amity Shlaes
    Amity Shlaes makes the forceful argument that decisions made fifty years ago under the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations seeking to ameliorate the suffering of the poor have now made it nearly impossible to solve the very problems they were designed to address. The book takes a contrarian view of the Johnson and Nixon administrations, arguing that they were more similar in process than is usually accepted, and that together they doomed both the ambitious agenda of the Great Society and the administration of the Vietnam War. She suggests the spending commitments of the Great Society have not only trapped multiple generations into what she terms “government dependence,” but also now made it impossible for the government to reverse course in any meaningful way to address the issue. It’s a sobering work that reminds us that, in government, there are no easy fixes.

    Hymns of the Republic: The Story of the Final Year of the American Civil War, by S. C. Gwynne
    The Civil War remains a fascinating area of study, not least because of the contrary nature of the narrative—for long stretches, the worth of each costly skirmish was inconclusive at best, as both sides spent blood and treasure in battles that had little impact on the overall course of the conflict. That all changed in 1864 when Ulysses S. Grant was placed in charge of the federal forces; within a year, the Confederacy surrendered. Gwynne takes a detailed look at this final year of the war to discover what changed, highlighting Grant’s relative ineffectiveness as a field commander, a Robert E. Lee defined more by frustration than brilliance, and a Sherman who was simultaneously a poor general and a brilliant man. There’s still more to discover about this defining American conflict.

    Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, by Ronan Farrow
    Ronan Farrow delivers a book fated to inspire future generations of journalists. While working on a related story, Farrow and his producer stumble on clues that indicate a well-known, powerful Hollywood figure is a serial sexual predator. The ensuing investigation reads like a spy thriller, as Farrow—who doesn’t lack connections and resources—faces a growing army of operatives working to derail the story and intimidate him by any means necessary. Even as Farrow is followed, surveilled, and threatened, the story remains as much about the women who sparked a global movement as it is about careful journalism.

    No Stopping Us Now: The Adventures of Older Women in American History, by Gail Collins
    The perception of age is shifting in today’s society, especially for women, who have historically struggled against prevalent ageism. Gail Collins’s latest offers a clear look back at the contributions made by women over a certain age throughout history, from Martha Washington to Muriel Fox—fascinating tales of overcoming prejudice and other obstacles while simultaneously fighting against the idea that women have a “sell-by” date that renders them voiceless, sexless, and invisible. With deep-dive analysis broken up by briefer vignettes, Collins reveals surprising facts uncovered in her research (for example, doctors once thought sexual activity would literally kill women over the age of 50) while establishing that woman have always been more than capable of handling themselves at any age.

    Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers: The Texas Victory That Changed American History, by Brian Kilmeade
    The conflict that made Sam Houston, David Crockett, and Jim Bowie household names was a pivotal moment for both Texas and the United States. But General Houston, the hero of Texas independence and its president, is often overlooked in popular history, despite his influence on this momentous event. Kilmeade seeks to remedy that with a fast-paced account of Houston’s life and career, culminating in the Battle of San Jacinto, the Texan victory that secured its independence from Mexico and ultimately set it on the path to statehood. Kilmeade brings Houston to life as a bold, flawed hero living in the midst of incredible events and surrounded by personalities large enough to match his own.

    The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution, by Eric Foner
    Pulitzer Prize winner Eric Foner takes a deep dive into the lasting repercussions of the Civil War, most notably the so-call Reconstruction Amendments—the 13th, 14th, and 15th—and their enduring impact on our constitution and system of government. Foner notes that these amendments marked the first time equality was specifically extended to all Americans, and challenged tradition by charging the federal government with enforcement of the rule of law they established, rather than the states. Foner sees this change as ushering in a second iteration of the United States—one that floundered almost immediately, but which he sees as still viable; certainly the book is shot-through with optimism, and the belief that America still has a chance to become a country in which all citizens are truly equal.

    Three Days at the Brink: FDR’s Daring Gamble to Win World War II, by Bret Baier with Catherine Whitney
    Co-writers Bret Baier and Catharine Whitney combines a perceptive portrait of President Franklin D. Roosevelt with a thriller-esque depiction of the fateful meeting between FDR, Stalin, and Churchill in Tehran in 1943. It was at this meeting that Stalin argued for an invasion of Nazi-held Europe to ease the pressure on the Red Army, a plan that eventually culminated in the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944. Baier details how Roosevelt worked to befriend and “seduce” Stalin, then took lead on the strategy and decision-making when it came time to plan the massive undertaking. Baier isn’t uncritical of the 32nd president, suggesting several decisions in which even the charismatic and brilliant Roosevelt turned out to have been in the wrong. Writing with verve, Baier and Whitney make consequential history come alive.

    What history and current affairs books are you reading this season?

    The post This Season’s Best History & Current Events Books appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Sarah Skilton 1:00 pm on 2019/11/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , final option, gwendy's magic feather, , richard chizmar, spy, sword of kings, the age of anxiety, , top picks   

    The Best New Fiction of November 2019 

    Seven years after The Night Circus won our hearts, Erin Morgenstern returns with an equally riveting sophomore novel full of magic, lush imagery, and secret societies. The incomparable Danielle Steel is also back with a World War II spy tale, and in his debut novel, rocker Pete Townshend brings us an operatic, psychedelic meditation on creativity. If you’re not ready to leave behind the thrills and chills of Halloween, look no further than Gwendy’s Magic Feather, by Richard Chizmar (with a foreward by Stephen King).

    The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern
    In this love letter to books and the power of stories to transform and make sense of our lives, The Night Circus author introduces us to graduate student and bibliophile Zachary Rawlins, who discovers a magical underground library that’s in danger of being destroyed. Soon Zachary is following clues that relate to an incident from his childhood, somehow captured in a book he never wrote. Painted doors that lead to lost cities; masquerade parties; secret societies; and a love story to call his own await him. Morgenstern’s masterful ability to immerse readers in fantastical realms will enchant and delight.

    Spy, by Danielle Steel       
    Fans of Steel’s historical fiction (particularly Silent Honor and A Good Woman) will devour this World War II-set espionage tale about a young woman living a life of subterfuge and risk. Alexandra Wickham is a classic beauty, fluent in French and German, and born into privilege in Hampshire, England, but she refuses to remain on the sidelines while her fellow countrymen put their lives on the line. Her volunteer work as a nurse in London quickly springboards to a position as a secret agent. But can she keep her true identity hidden from everyone she’s ever cared about?

    Final Option, by Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison
    Juan Cabrillo, leader of “The Corporation” and captain of the Oregon—a disgusting clunker of a steamer that’s secretly the most high-tech ship in the world—is back for a 14th adventure. Sent to extract two American spies who’ve been exposed in Brazil, Cabrillo finds himself scrambling to avoid a trap. Worse, someone has duplicated the formerly one-of-a-kind Oregon in a bid to beat Cabrillo. He’s never faced such a formidable opponent, nor had more to lose if he and his crew fail in their mission.

    The Age of Anxiety, by Pete Townshend
    The Who’s lead guitarist and songwriter (who once owned a bookstore!) has written a novella, an autobiography, and a short story collection in the past, but this month he debuts something entirely new: an “operatic rock novel” ten years in the making. A sprawling, at times hallucinatory meditation on what it means to be creative (and the fine line between brilliance and madness), the book pulls back the curtain on certain aspects of the music industry while following two generations of a London family and the artistic—sometimes broken, sometimes damaged, always fascinating—people who surround them.

    Gwendy’s Magic Feather, by Richard Chizmar
    In Gwendy’s Button Box, Chizmar teamed up with Stephen King for a novella set in the iconic fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine. Now Chizmar is flying solo for this full-length sequel that finds Gwendy (the once-hapless girl entrusted with the nightmarish button box) all grown up into an accomplished, happily married woman with political aspirations. Gwendy returns to her hometown when two girls go missing in a storm. Perhaps she’s meant to use the contraption to help aid in the search—or perhaps the contraption is using her.

    Sword of Kings, by Bernard Cornwell
    If you miss A Game of Thrones, why not dive into this bloody, battle-heavy, medieval history of England? In the twelfth book of the series (which inspired the Netflix show The Last Kingdom), 10th-century monarch King Edward sees power slipping from his grasp. He’ll need to rely on Uhtred of Bebbanburg—our narrator—to secure a proper heir by killing the heir’s main two rivals. Reluctant though he is to leave Northumbria (remind you of a certain Stark?) Uhtred is bound by oath and reluctantly up to the task, his sword “Serpent-Breath” by his side.

    The post The Best New Fiction of November 2019 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 2:00 pm on 2019/10/31 Permalink
    Tags: a christmas gathering: a novel, , , , , guilty not guilty, invitation only murder, , , , , lucy stone series, , murder she wrote: a time for murder, , , nothing more dangerous, , robert b. parker's angel eyes, the old success, top picks, twisted twenty-six   

    November’s Best New Mysteries of 2019 

    Armchair detectives know that a good gumshoe is always on the case and never rests, except maaaybe during a tryptophan-filled Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Reheat a slice of pumpkin pie and unwind by the fire with one of these clever page-turners this month.

    Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum Series #26), by Janet Evanovich
    Wedding bells are ringing for Stephanie’s beloved Grandma Mazur, who is excited to be tying the knot with local gangster Jimmy Rosolli (whether Stephanie is also excited about this is up for debate). Unfortunately for all involved, Jimmy kicks the bucket from a heart attack only 45 minutes after the wedding ceremony. Now it’s up to Stephanie to protect her beloved grandmother from some nogoodniks who are convinced that Jimmy left his widow a set of very important keys. This delectable series is full of lovable characters, hilarious hijinks, and some very enjoyable mysteries to boot.

    Robert B. Parker’s Angel Eyes, by Ace Atkins
    Everyone’s favorite Boston PI heads to Tinseltown to track down a missing person in Robert B. Parker’s beloved long-running series that has been placed in the very capable hands of Ace Atkins. Boston local Gabby Leggett headed to Hollywood to become an actress, and managed to find fame and fortune—before promptly disappearing. Her mother hires Spenser to find her, and when he lands in L.A. he hooks up with his protégé, Zebulon Sixkill. Before too long things have gone south; the Armenian mob is on their trail, and a huge movie studio boss who seems to know something won’t give them the time of day. Reinforcements in the form of Chollo and Bobby Horse come to Spenser’s rescue, but is it too late?

    The Old Success (Richard Jury Series #25), by Martha Grimes
    In the twenty-fifth installment of this atmospheric series, Scotland Yard detective Richard Jury is called upon to solve three very different murders in three different counties across England. Working with the Devon-Cornwall police’s Brian Macalvie, Jury confronts the deaths of a French tourist found on an inlet, an estate owner murdered at home, and a third victim discovered in an Exeter cathedral. Fans of Martha Grimes’ police procedurals are in for a treat—her trademark wit and eccentric characters are here in spades—and new readers who enjoy this one would do well to begin at the beginning of her famed Richard Jury series.

    A Christmas Gathering: A Novel, by Anne Perry
    Lady Vespasia is not exactly thrilled to be spending Christmas with her new husband, Victor Narraway, at a gathering at their friends’ country home—she’d much rather be spending a relaxing holiday with him at home. Particularly since for Victor, who used to be the head of the London Special Branch, it appears to be a working vacation. One of the guests, the beautiful young Iris Watson-Watt, has been tasked with passing on sensitive information to Victor that should aid him in unmasking a British traitor. Years ago, in a similar situation, Victor was unable to protect another similar messenger, a young Frenchwoman, which resulted in her murder. That failure has haunted him to this day. Can he prevent history from repeating itself? And is Christmas going to be ruined for Vespasia either way? A gathering of fascinating characters at a beautiful locale plus a nailbiting plot is the perfect recipe for a cracking good holiday mystery.

    Nothing More Dangerous, by Allen Eskens
    In this powerful coming of age story threaded with mystery and intrigue, white high school freshman Boady Sanden is the new kid in his small town high school in Jessup, Missouri. Boady is having a rough time of it until the Elgins, an African-American family, move in next door. He and Thomas Elgin become friends, but their friendship comes with a price as it brings simmering racial and class tensions to the surface in their small town. Adding fuel to the fire is the suspicious disappearance of Lida Poe, a black woman who worked as a bookkeeper at a local factory and who is believed to have absconded with a hundred thousand dollars. As her story plays out, Boady learns just how tightly it is interwoven with his own in this moving, unforgettable novel by a master of the genre.

    Guilty Not Guilty, by Felix Francis
    Judge Bill Russell’s worst nightmare has come to pass: his lovely wife Amelia has been murdered, found dead in their home. Worse still, Bill becomes a prime suspect in her murder, and the cloud of suspicion surrounding him has cost him his job, and is on the verge of costing him his home and his friends. Bill knows he’s innocent, but can he clear his name by finding the guilty party—before they find him? This heart-pounding mystery features a protagonist you’ll root for and a bevy of never-saw-it-coming twists and turns.

    Murder She Wrote: A Time for Murder (Murder, She Wrote Series #50), by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
    The fiftieth entry in this beloved series, and the fourth entry by Jon Land, goes back in time to when Jessica was a young high school teacher who had yet to solve a mystery. Her first-ever case lands in her lap when the school’s principal dies mysteriously, and Jessica finds herself compelled to investigate. Meanwhile, in the present day, Jessica’s excited to attend a retirement party for a colleague at the high school—but the festivities are marred when the colleague also ends up dead. Convinced that the present case is linked to the past, Jessica has to catch this killer before it’s too late. Fifty books strong, this terrific series remains fresh and lively, and fans will relish this glimpse into Jessica’s origins as a sleuth.

    Invitation Only Murder (Lucy Stone Series #26), by Leslie Meier
    Lucy books a trip to a private Maine island owned by oddball billionaire Scott Newman in an effort to get some rest and relaxation (and some much-needed time away from her family in Tinker’s Cove). Newman is an intense environmentalist, and a trip to his exclusive property means giving up most modern conveniences, such as cell reception (and electricity!). When a young woman is found dead at the bottom of a cliff, Lucy finds herself investigating a murder while stuck on a remote, secluded—and suspect packed—island with extremely limited resources.

    What mysteries are you digging into this month?

    The post November’s Best New Mysteries of 2019 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 2:00 pm on 2019/10/30 Permalink
    Tags: , , edward snowden, , life itself, , permanent record, , , top picks   

    The Best Biographies & Memoirs of the Season 

    It has been an amazing season for new biographies and memoirs, packed with illuminating and entertaining deep dives into fascinating figures of the past and present. These are our picks for the best of the season, all available now.

    Know My Name, by Chanel Miller
    Within four days of its release, the victim impact statement of a woman only known as Emily Doe had been seen by over eleven million people before being read on the floor of Congress, ultimately inspiring changes to California law. The reaction to her statement, which described her sexual assault by Stanford student Brock Turner, was global. The fact that Turner received only six months in a county jail for his crime shocked and outraged many, but also sparked a movement, as Emily Doe’s statement inspiring others to come forward. Having revealed her real name this summer, Chanel Miller tells her horrific and heartrending story, but also offers a sense of the hope that her decision to speak the truth will do something to help change the systems that so often fail victims. It’s a powerful message for our times.

    Me, by Elton John
    It’s  hard to believe Sir Elton has never produced an autobiography until now. With a career that spans more than a half century, the one-time Reginald Dwight has plenty of stories to tell—some relating to the excesses and pitfalls that have plagued so many rockers, many others having to do with his run-ins with some of the most significant figures of our time, including Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth. The suburban kid from Pinner grew up to be one of the most shocking and outrageous figures in glam rock, and soared to the heights of respectability as an icon, and also a father. This is the story of a living legend, told in his own words.

    Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years, by Julie Andrews with Emma Walton Hamilton
    Her first memoir, Home, chronicled Julie Andrews’ difficult childhood and emergence as a singer and stage performer, while this follow-up discusses her Hollywood career from its earliest days and offers insights into her biggest successes in her own words. Co-writing with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, Andrews not only dives into the stories behind roles in films like Mary PoppinsThe Sound of Music, and Victor/Victoria, but deals with her own transition into worldwide superstardom, and the effect it had on her marriages and children. For an accounting of Andrews’ earlier years, you’ll want to read Home Work alongside her previous book Home: A Memoir of my Early Years.

    Edison, by Edmund Morris
    He was once a defining figure in America’s own self-mythology, but there was certainly much more to prolific inventor Thomas Edison than the lightbulb. With seven years of of research and access to millions of documents, many of them unavailable until now, Edmund Morris confronts Edison in full: the whirlwind of inventor and capitalist whose technology touched every aspect of American life, as well as the autocratic leader and neglectful husband. Morris’ approach is to look for the human beneath the myth; he even spends some time exploring Edison’s notorious, but overstated, competition with Nikola Tesla. Most, if you’ll pardon the pun, enlightening.

    The Beautiful Ones, by Prince
    Another equally significant, but very different musical visionary has a new memoir out this month, this one a bit more poignant. The autobiography begun prior to Prince’s death in 2016 is the first-person account of a Minnesota kid who created some of the most visionary pop and funk ever recorded, cultivating a mystique very different from what his upbringing would have suggested. Prince’s own recollections of his childhood and early growth as an artist make up the first part of the book, while writing and candid photographs fill in the major events from the rest of his storied career. Finally, the Artist’s own handwritten treatment for “Purple Rain” is included in its entirety. Though sadly truncated, this is an essential portrait of The Artist: Prince sought to retell his own story as a mythic and funky adventure, and succeeded. (We’ve curated a soundtrack to accompany your reading here.)

    Permanent Record, by Edward Snowden
    One of the most controversial and, ultimately, consequential figures of our time, Edward Snowden’s life and career speaks to all the ways in which we’re not fully prepared for the surveillance age. In 2013, CIA contractor Snowden leaked word of an NSA surveillance program that he’d helped to build—a program to collect data on every cell phone call, text, and email in a way that would impact almost everyone on the planet. It was one of the most consequential acts of whistleblowing in American history. He’s seen as a hero by some, and a traitor by others, and now, six years later, the exile—complex, revered, vilified—tells his side of the story.

    Acid for the Children, by Flea with Patti Smith
    Red Hot Chili Peppers co-founder and bassist Michael Balzary is a rock icon, but he’s also an actor and a philanthropist with an impressive set of credentials for an Australian kid who weathered a turbulent, sometimes violent upbringing that saw him bouncing from Melbourne, to New York, to Los Angeles before he’d even exited his teens. He idolized classic-era jazz musicians before a high school encounter with Anthony Kiedis set him on a path to rock superstardom. His witty and unpredictable memoir brings to life the LA of the ’70s and ’80s, offering a revealing portrait of a raucous life.

    Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Familyby Mitch Albom
    Returning to nonfiction for the first time this decade, the always inspiring Mitch Albom tells the story of the daughter, Chika, adopted by the author and his wife Janine, and the improbable and sometimes tragic circumstances that brought them all together. Born during the 2010 earthquake that ravaged Haiti and orphaned shortly thereafter when her mother died due to complications of childbirth, Chika was brought to the Port Au Prince orphanage run by Albom, where they found each other. Though in many ways a story forged out of heartbreak, Albom’s book is ultimately a celebration of the ways in which families come together in good times and bad, and the enduring bonds that survive everything life can throw at us.

    Whose story inspires you?

    The post The Best Biographies & Memoirs of the Season appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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