Best New Books: Week of 10/29/2019

“Time makes us sentimental. Perhaps, in the end, it is because of time that we suffer.” – André Aciman, Call Me by Your Name


Find Me by  André Aciman ★

find meNo novel in recent memory has spoken more movingly to contemporary readers about the nature of love than André Aciman’s haunting Call Me by Your Name. First published in 2007, it was hailed as “a love letter, an invocation… an exceptionally beautiful book” (Stacey D’Erasmo, New York Times Book Review). Nearly three quarters of a million copies have been sold, and the book became a much-loved, Academy Award–winning film starring Timothée Chalamet as the young Elio and Armie Hammer as Oliver, the graduate student with whom he falls in love.

In Find Me, Aciman shows us Elio’s father, Samuel, on a trip from Florence to Rome to visit Elio, who has become a gifted classical pianist. A chance encounter on the train with a beautiful young woman upends Sami’s plans and changes his life forever.

Elio soon moves to Paris, where he, too, has a consequential affair, while Oliver, now a New England college professor with a family, suddenly finds himself contemplating a return trip across the Atlantic.

Aciman is a master of sensibility, of the intimate details and the emotional nuances that are the substance of passion. Find Me brings us back inside the magic circle of one of our greatest contemporary romances to ask if, in fact, true love ever dies.

Description from Goodreads.

“You don’t have to have read Call Me by Your Name, Aciman’s 2007 bestselling novel turned Oscar-nominated movie, to immediately fall in love with this sexy, melancholic follow-up. It stands entirely separate, yet connected, a beautiful ode to the passage of time, to the lasting power of true love and the ache of loneliness… the revelations about who these characters have become unraveling slowly like a gorgeous piece of classical music.” – Buzzfeed

“Love in all its sublime iterations is at the heart of Aciman’s incandescent sequel to the acclaimed Call Me by Your Name… Aciman gifts readers with a beautiful 21st-century romance that reflects on the remembrance of things past and the courage to embrace the future.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“The sequel is just as maddeningly seductive as the original.” – Elle

Aciman had his work cut out for himself in crafting a sequel as contemplative and gorgeous as Call Me by Your Name, which ended in its own coda of Elio’s and Oliver’s paths crossing years and years hence. Threading that needle perfectly, Aciman continues his story, parsing its very structure in his erudite, knowing style… Aciman’s genius holds true and makes Find Me a splendid work in its own right.” – Shelf Awareness

Available Formats:

Print Book

Nothing to See Here by  Kevin Wilson ★

nothing to see hereLillian and Madison were unlikely roommates and yet inseparable friends at their elite boarding school. But then Lillian had to leave the school unexpectedly in the wake of a scandal and they’ve barely spoken since. Until now, when Lillian gets a letter from Madison pleading for her help.

Madison’s twin stepkids are moving in with her family and she wants Lillian to be their caretaker. However, there’s a catch: the twins spontaneously combust when they get agitated, flames igniting from their skin in a startling but beautiful way. Lillian is convinced Madison is pulling her leg, but it’s the truth.

Thinking of her dead-end life at home, the life that has consistently disappointed her, Lillian figures she has nothing to lose. Over the course of one humid, demanding summer, Lillian and the twins learn to trust each other—and stay cool—while also staying out of the way of Madison’s buttoned-up politician husband. Surprised by her own ingenuity yet unused to the intense feelings of protectiveness she feels for them, Lillian ultimately begins to accept that she needs these strange children as much as they need her—urgently and fiercely. Couldn’t this be the start of the amazing life she’d always hoped for?

With white-hot wit and a big, tender heart, Kevin Wilson has written his best book yet—a most unusual story of parental love.

Description from Goodreads.

“There’s hardly a sentence that feels like anything you’ve read before, that’s how fresh his voice is… Witty, confiding, breezily profane… That the supernatural elements feel so right is a testament to Wilson’s innate skill as a storyteller.” – Entertainment Weekly

“Weird, funny, but also unexpectedly moving… An affecting reflection on the blithe cruelty of the rich and what it means to be a good parent.” – Buzzfeed

“Wilson’s latest is outlandish and laugh-out-loud funny.” – Parade

“Quirky and insightful, strange and delightful.” – Popsugar

Available Formats:

Print Book


Blue Moon by  Lee Child

blue moonIn a nameless city, two ruthless rival criminal gangs, one Albanian, the other Ukrainian, are competing for control. But they hadn’t counted on Jack Reacher arriving on their patch.

Reacher is trained to notice things. He’s on a Greyhound bus, watching an elderly man sleeping in his seat, with a fat envelope of cash hanging out of his pocket. Another passenger is watching too… obviously hoping to get rich quick.

As the mugger makes his move, Reacher steps in. The old man is grateful, yet he turns down Reacher’s offer to help him home. He’s vulnerable, scared, and clearly in big, big trouble.

What hold could the gangs possibly have on the old guy? Will Reacher sit back and let bad things happen? Or can he twist the situation to everyone’s benefit?

Description from Goodreads.

“…riveting… Readers will cheer as Reacher and his allies, a resourceful waitress and two fellow ex-military guys he hooks up with, take the fight straight to the top of the criminal command chain. Child is at the top of his game in this nail-biter.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Blue Moon is Lee Child at his very best.” – The Real Book Spy

“Reacher’s plans of attack and wry observations are what fans come for and what they get here. Child touches lightly on current issues—corrupt tech entrepreneurs, economic disparity—but keeps the action flowing in this satisfying entry.” – Library Journal

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | Playaway | eBook | eAudiobook


Penny for Your Secrets by  Anna Lee Huber

penny for your secretsThe Great War may be over, but for many, there are still obstacles on the home front. Reconciling with her estranged husband makes Verity sympathetic to her friend Ada’s marital difficulties. Bourgeois-bred Ada, recently married to the Marquess of Rockham, is overwhelmed trying to navigate the ways of the aristocracy. And when Lord Rockham is discovered shot through the heart with a bullet from Ada’s revolver, Verity fears her friend has made a fatal blunder.

While striving to prove Ada’s innocence, Verity is called upon for another favor. The sister of a former Secret Service colleague has been killed in what authorities believe was a home invasion gone wrong. The victim’s war work—censoring letters sent by soldiers from the front—exposed her to sensitive, disturbing material. Verity begins to suspect these two unlikely cases may be linked. But as the connections deepen, the consequences—not just for Verity, but for Britain—grow more menacing than she could have imagined.

Description from Goodreads.

“Action-filled… Huber offers a well-researched historical and a fascinating look at the lingering aftermath of war.” – Publishers Weekly

“No sooner are Verity Kent and her dashing but troubled husband, Sidney, back from solving a mystery in Belgium (Treacherous Is the Night, 2018) than they are confronted with one at home in London… Touching details of the Kents’ struggle to overcome Sidney’s anguish add to the stellar mystery here, making this a great read for fans of the series and for all who enjoy Downton Abbey–era fiction.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Hoopla eAudiobook


Ordinary Girls: A Memoir by  Jaquira Díaz ★

ordinary girlsOrdinary Girls is a fierce, beautiful, and unflinching memoir from a wildly talented debut author. While growing up in housing projects in Puerto Rico and Miami Beach, Jaquira Díaz found herself caught between extremes: as her family split apart and her mother battled schizophrenia, she was surrounded by the love of her friends; as she longed for a family and home, she found instead a life upended by violence. From her own struggles with depression and sexual assault to Puerto Rico’s history of colonialism, every page of Ordinary Girls vibrates with music and lyricism. Díaz triumphantly maps a way out of despair toward love and hope to become her version of the girl she always wanted to be.

With a story reminiscent of Tara Westover’s Educated, Roxane Gay’s Hunger, and Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries, Jaquira Díaz delivers a memoir that reads as electrically as a novel.

Description from Goodreads.

“[Ordinary Girls] belongs on your must-read lists. Díaz is a masterful writer… Writing with refreshing honesty, she talks about despair, depression, love, and hope with such vibrancy that her vivid portrayal will stay with you long after the final page.” – O Magazine

“Díaz does not flinch with the hard-hitting details of growing up in communities that deserve our wholehearted attention. She complicates how we imagine girlhood and offers a beautiful memoir written with so much love, compassion and intelligence. This book is a necessary read at a time where the system and the media is so often working against the survival of women of color. This book burns in the memory and makes one feel all the feelings. A triumph!” – Bustle

“At once heartbreaking and throbbing with life in a rich portrait that’s anything but ordinary.” – Good Housekeeping

“There’s a certain ferocity throughout the entirety of Ordinary Girls. For some of the book, it’s humming like a hardworking engine—concealed under the hood, always present—but then there are moments when it combusts, bursting from the page in such a way that you, as a reader, have to pause and take a breath. Ordinary Girls is an electrifying, deftly-paced debut.” – Salon

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook | Hoopla eAudiobook

Classic Krakauer: Essays on Wilderness and Risk by  Jon Krakauer

classic krakauerThe gripping articles collected in Classic Krakauer–originally published in periodicals such as The New YorkerOutside, and Smithsonian–show why he is considered a standard-bearer of modern journalism. Spanning an extraordinary range of subjects and locations, these articles take us from a horrifying avalanche on Mount Everest to a volcano poised to obliterate a big chunk of greater Seattle at any moment; from a wilderness teen-therapy program run by apparent sadists to an otherworldly cave in New Mexico, studied by NASA to better understand Mars; from the notebook of one Fred Beckey, who catalogued the greatest unclimbed mountaineering routes on the planet, to the last days of legendary surfer Mark Foo. Rigorously researched and vividly written, marked by an unerring instinct for storytelling and scoop, the pieces in Classic Krakauer are unified by the author’s ambivalent love affair with unruly landscapes and his relentless search for truth.

Description from Goodreads.

“At once astute and descriptive, the author combines journalistic research with engrossing storytelling. The topics in this paperback compendium are obscure, but once discovered, terribly engrossing.” – Associated Press

“For fans, a nostalgic stop in a celebrated oeuvre. For newcomers, a welcome introduction to a veteran of the form.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Krakauer, whose writing has often depicted intrepid endeavors, revisits his early journalistic career and initial forays into his chosen subject with this outstanding collection… All of these fascinating stories of bravery, brashness, and hubris succeed in illuminating those who, no matter the consequence, go head-on into the risks of the wild.” – Pulishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook

Hymns of the Republic: The Story of the Final Year of the American Civil War by  S.C. Gwynne

hymns of the republicThe fourth and final year of the Civil War offers one of that era’s most compelling narratives, defining the nation and one of history’s great turning points. Now, S.C. Gwynne’s Hymns of the Republic addresses the time Ulysses S. Grant arrives to take command of all Union armies in March 1864 to the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox a year later. Gwynne breathes new life into the epic battle between Lee and Grant; the advent of 180,000 black soldiers in the Union army; William Tecumseh Sherman’s March to the Sea; the rise of Clara Barton; the election of 1864 (which Lincoln nearly lost); the wild and violent guerrilla war in Missouri; and the dramatic final events of the war, including the surrender at Appomattox and the murder of Abraham Lincoln.

Hymns of the Republic offers angles and insights on the war that will surprise many readers. Robert E. Lee, known as a great general and southern hero, is presented here as a man dealing with frustration, failure, and loss. Ulysses S. Grant is known for his prowess as a field commander, but in the final year of the war he largely fails at that. His most amazing accomplishments actually began the moment he stopped fighting. William Tecumseh Sherman, Gwynne argues, was a lousy general, but probably the single most brilliant man in the war. We also meet a different Clara Barton, one of the greatest and most compelling characters, who redefined the idea of medical care in wartime. And proper attention is paid to the role played by large numbers of black union soldiers—most of them former slaves. They changed the war and forced the South to come up with a plan to use its own black soldiers.

Popular history at its best, from Pulitzer Prize finalist S.C. Gwynne, Hymns of the Republic reveals the creation that arose from destruction in this thrilling read.

Description from Goodreads.

“Gwynne excels in tightly focused storytelling… [t]his is a must-read for Civil War enthusiasts.” —Publishers Weekly

“Engrossing… A riveting Civil War history giving politics and combat equal attention.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[Creating] suspense in recounting familiar events marks real talent in a historian; covering in detail events of the Civil War’s final year and giving his readers a real sense of wonder, even thrill. In vivid, bloody prose, [Gwynne] lays out the landscapes of the war’s culminating battles, not sparing the reader the gut punch of inhuman horror such slaughter creates.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book

Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers edited by  Natalie Eve Garrett

eat joyThis collection of intimate essays by some of America’s most well-regarded writers explores how food can help us cope in dark times―whether it be the loss of a parent, the loneliness of moving to a new country, the heartache of an unexpected breakup, or the fear of coming out. Luscious, full-color illustrations by Meryl Rowin are woven throughout, and accompanying each story is a recipe from the writer’s own kitchen.

Lev Grossman explains how he survived on “sweet, sour, spicy, salty, unabashedly gluey” General Tso’s tofu after his divorce. Carmen Maria Machado describes learning to care for herself during her confusing young adulthood, beginning with nearly setting her kitchen on fire. Claire Messud tries to understand how her mother gave up dreams of being a lawyer to make “a dressed salad of tiny shrimp and avocado, followed by prune-stuffed pork tenderloin, served with buttered egg noodles” for her family. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie remembers a childhood friend―who later died as a soldier in Nigeria―with a pot of fragrant jollof rice. What makes each tale so moving is not only the deeply personal revelations from celebrated writers, but also the compassion and healing behind the story: the taste of hope.

Description from Goodreads.

“Readers get the sense that Garrett really tapped into something with her query. Taken separately or all together, these essays depicting food as love, medicine, relief, and communion, as a sacrifice and a gift, are profound and genuinely moving.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Magnificent illustrations add spirit to recipes and heartfelt narratives. Plan to buy two copies―one for you and one for your best foodie friend.” – Taste of Home

“The stories show how food can connect us to others and provide comfort, even after death or separation, years or distance. It took me a long time to read this one because I simply didn’t want it to end.” – Book Riot

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook

The In-Betweens: The Spiritualists, Mediums, and Legends of Camp Etna by  Mira Ptacin

in-betweensThey believed they would live forever. So begins Mira Ptacin’s haunting account of the women of Camp Etna—an otherworldly community in the woods of Maine that has, since 1876, played host to generations of Spiritualists and mediums dedicated to preserving the links between the mortal realm and the afterlife. Beginning her narrative in 1848 with two sisters who claimed they could speak to the dead, Ptacin reveals how Spiritualism first blossomed into a national practice during the Civil War, yet continues—even thrives—to this very day. Immersing herself in this community and its practices—from ghost hunting to releasing trapped spirits to water witching— Ptacin sheds new light on our ongoing struggle with faith, uncertainty, and mortality. Blending memoir, ethnography, and investigative reportage, The In-Betweens offers a vital portrait of Camp Etna and its enduring hold on a modern culture that remains as starved for a deeper sense of connection and otherworldliness as ever.

Description from Goodreads.

“The Maine-based author immersed herself in the community, and her reportage reflects equal amounts of diligent journalism and wide-eyed fascination… Both thrilling and unsettling… In appropriately affable and accessible prose, the author describes what separates spiritualists from more common American religious traditions… An eye-opening, consistently fascinating, and engrossing profile of the modern spiritualist movement.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A fascinating look at the history and cultural influence of Camp Etna, the 143-year-old Spiritualist community in Maine… Ptacin, who is receptive to the spiritual experiences and stories of the community, delivers her narrative evenhandedly and with genuine curiosity. This is an eye-opening and informative peek into a little-known but influential community.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Hoopla eAudiobook

The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe by  Angela Kelly

other side of the coinWhen Angela Kelly and The Queen are together, laughter echoes through the corridors of Buckingham Palace.

Angela has worked with The Queen and walked the corridors of the Royal Household for twenty-five years, initially as Her Majesty’s Senior Dresser and then latterly as Her Majesty’s Personal Advisor, Curator, Wardrobe and In-house Designer. As the first person in history to hold this title, she shares a uniquely close working relationship with The Queen.

In The Other Side of the Coin, The Queen has personally given Angela her blessing to share their extraordinary bond with the world. Whether it’s preparing for a formal occasion or brightening Her Majesty’s day with a playful joke, Angela’s priority is to serve and support. Sharing never-before-seen photographs – many from Angela’s own private collection – and charming anecdotes of their time spent together, this revealing book provides memorable insights into what it’s like to work closely with The Queen, to curate her wardrobe and to discover a true and lasting connection along the way.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] must-have for anyone interested in the British monarch, or the fashions she wears.” – Town & Country

“…unprecedented in its candour about one of the world’s most elusive women – served up by her most trusted servant.” – The Telegraph

Available Formats:

Hoopla eAudiobook

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