Best New Books: Week of 4/14/2020

“What people have the capacity to choose, they have the ability to change.” – Madeleine Albright



FICTION



Perfect Tunes by  Emily Gould ★

perfect tunesIt’s the early days of the new millennium, and Laura has arrived in New York City’s East Village with the hopes of recording her first album. A songwriter with a one-of-a-kind talent, she’s just beginning to book gigs when she falls hard for Dylan, a troubled but magnetic musician whose star is on the rise. Their time together is stormy and short-lived—Dylan dies a few months into their relationship—but will reverberate for the rest of Laura’s life.

Flash forward fourteen years: Laura’s daughter, Marie, is asking ques­tions about the father she never knew, questions that Laura does not want to answer. Laura has built a quiet life that bears little resemblance to the one she envisioned when she left Ohio all those years ago, and she’s taken pains to close the door on what was and what might have been. But Marie won’t let her, and when she attempts to track down Dylan’s family, both mother and daughter are forced to confront the heartbreak at the root of their relationship.

Funny, wise, and utterly immersive, Perfect Tunes explores the fault lines between parents and children, and asks whether dreams deferred can ever be reclaimed.

Description from Goodreads.

“Sharply observant… Gould’s portrait of a would-be artist as a young woman offers fresh, poignant insights into the challenges faced by the city’s transplanted dreamers.” – Publishers Weekly

“Gould’s strength lies in her powers of observation, her ability to wrap words around a specific time and a place in the lives of these particular women… Laura’s and Marie’s voices each stand out for their honesty and poignancy.” – BookPage

“Harried, loving scenes of Laura and Marie in their cloistered little world are some of the book’s most alive and memorable… Pair this with Chelsey Johnson’s charming mother-daughter-music novel Stray City (2018).” – Booklist

“The novel’s space is mostly reserved for characters with a self-assured coolness born of beauty, talent or charm… This coolness… is also one of the novel’s strengths. Gould doesn’t shy away from the significant imperfections in these relationships, and the novel benefits greatly from her candor.” – The Star Tribune

Available Formats:

eBook | eAudiobook


Braised Pork by  An Yu

braised porkOne morning in autumn, Jia Jia walks into the bathroom of her Beijing apartment to find her husband – with whom she had been breakfasting barely an hour before – dead in the bathtub. Next to him a piece of paper unfolds like the wings of a butterfly, and on it is an image that Jia Jia can’t forget.

Profoundly troubled by what she has seen, even while she is abruptly released from a marriage that had constrained her, Jia Jia embarks on a journey to discover the truth of the sketch. Starting at her neighbourhood bar, with its brandy and vinyl, and fuelled by anger, bewilderment, curiosity and love, Jia Jia travels deep into her past in order to arrive at her future.

Braised Pork is a cinematic, often dreamlike evocation of nocturnal Beijing and the high plains of Tibet, and an exploration of myth-making, loss, and a world beyond words, which ultimately sees a young woman find a new and deeper sense of herself.

Description from Goodreads.

“Poignant… A moving, magical parable about a young woman’s journey of self-discovery and empowerment… Enchanting.” – Shelf Awareness

“The premise itself is intriguing enough, but the real magic is in watching Jia Jia stretch her limbs as she leaves behind a rather restrictive marriage and encounters places and people she never imagined. Come for the mystery, stay for self-discovery of a liberated woman.” – Literary Hub

“A startlingly original debut… While it’s easy to see that Braised Pork borrows something of Haruki Murakami’s brand of strange melancholia, there’s a startlingly original imagination of its own at work here… A sensitive portrait of alienated young womanhood.” – The Guardian

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook


A Luminous Republic by  Andrés Barba

luminous republicSan Cristóbal was an unremarkable city—small, newly prosperous, contained by rain forest and river. But then the children arrived.

No one knew where they came from: thirty-two kids, seemingly born of the jungle, speaking an unknown language. At first they scavenged, stealing food and money and absconding to the trees. But their transgressions escalated to violence, and then the city’s own children began defecting to join them. Facing complete collapse, municipal forces embark on a hunt to find the kids before the city falls into irreparable chaos.

Narrated by the social worker who led the hunt, A Luminous Republic is a suspenseful, anguished fable that “could be read as Lord of the Flies seen from the other side, but that would rob Barba of the profound originality of his world” (Juan Gabriel Vásquez).

Description from Goodreads.

“In this award-winning novel, we find one of the nuclear elements of Andrés Barba’s narrative world: the investigation—incisive, sharp, unsparing—of affections, emotions and feelings…  This novel is as distressing as it is illuminating, with a strange beauty in its final epiphany.” – El País

“Barba is a master of giving a novel the right size to achieve its objectives. This is the best work I’ve read from him… It’s impossible to put this book down. It goes one step beyond William Golding’s Lord of the Flies… I whole-heartedly recommend this read.” – ABC Cultural

“…[a] lyrical, chilling novel… The civil servant’s guilt and ongoing perplexity over what happened sharpens the impact of Barba’s spare, philosophical narrative. This frightening picture of the strangeness of childhood will endure.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook


The Coyotes of Carthage by  Steven Wright

coyotes of carthageToussaint Andre Ross has one more shot. Despite being a successful African-American political consultant, his aggressive tactics have tarnished his firm’s reputation. Now his boss and mentor Mrs. Fitz, who plucked him from juvenile incarceration and shepherded his career, is exiling him to the boondocks of South Carolina with $250,000 of dark money to introduce a ballot initiative on behalf of a mining company. The goal: to manipulate the locals into voting in favor of the sale of pristine public land to the highest bidder.

Dre arrives in God-fearing, flag-waving Carthage County, an area America’s New Economy has left behind, with only Mrs. Fitz’s well-meaning yet naïve grandson Brendan on his “team.” A local is needed as a strawman to collect signatures, and Dre hires blue-collar couple, oafish Tyler Lee and his pious wife Chalene, to act as the initiative’s public face.

Under Dre’s cynical direction, a land grab is disguised as a righteous fight for faith and liberty. As lines are crossed and lives ruined, Dre’s increasingly cutthroat campaign threatens the last remnants of his own humanity and the very soul of Carthage County.

A piercing portrait of our fragile democracy and one man’s unraveling, The Coyotes of Carthage may very well be the political novel of our times.

Description from Goodreads.

“Pungent with dark humor and cynicism, Wright’s nuanced portrait shows how the campaign not only pulls apart the town but threatens to drive a wedge between Dre’s career ambitions and his humanity. This incisive satire introduces an sharp new voice.” – Publishers Weekly

“…a crackerjack debut political novel.” – USA Today

“This is an archly comic and ultimately chilling political novel on the effects of the dark money unleashed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on the American political soul as well as on the souls of individuals. Thoughtful, sharp-edged fare for the upcoming election year.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book| eBook | eAudiobook


Cars on Fire by  Mónica Ramón Ríos

cars on fireCars on Fire, Mónica Ramón Ríos’s electric, uncompromising English-language debut, unfolds through a series of female characters―the writer, the patient, the immigrant, the professor, the student―whose identities are messy and ever-shifting.

A speechwriter is employed writing for would-be dictators, but plays in a rock band as a means of protest. A failed Marxist cuts off her own head as a final poetic act. With incredible formal range, from the linear to the more free-wheeling, the real to the fantastical to the dystopic, Ríos offers striking, jarring glimpses into life as a woman and an immigrant. Set in New York City, New Jersey, and Chile’s La Zona Central, the stories in Cars on Fire offer powerful remembrances to those lost to violence, and ultimately make the case for the power of art, love, and feminine desire to subvert the oppressive forces―xenophobia, neoliberalism, social hierarchies within the academic world―that shape life in Chile and the United States.

Description from Goodreads.

“Ríos’s mesmerizing English-language debut invokes an array of writers, auto-plant workers, Marxists, immigrants, actresses, and murderers. Ríos’s themes are unwaveringly contemporary—LGBTQ and feminist issues; immigrant life; politics—but it is artistry, not dogma, that guides her prose. This is art house literature at its best: provocative, alluring, and uncompromising.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Stories set across New Jersey, New York and Chile grieve lives lost to violence and emphasize the strengths of art and feminine desire in the face of oppression.” – New York Times

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook


Man of My Time by  Dalia Sofer

man of my timeSet in Iran and New York City, Man of My Time tells the story of Hamid Mozaffarian, who is as alienated from himself as he is from the world around him. After decades of ambivalent work as an interrogator with the Iranian regime, Hamid travels on a diplomatic mission to New York, where he encounters his estranged family and retrieves the ashes of his father, whose dying wish was to be buried in Iran. Tucked in his pocket throughout the trip, the ashes propel him into a first-person excavation—full of mordant wit and bitter memory—of a lifetime of betrayal, and prompt him to trace his own evolution from a perceptive boy in love with marbles to a man who, on seeing his own reflection, is startled to encounter “a beautiful, indignant thug.” As he reconnects with his brother and others living in exile, Hamid is forced to reckon with his past, with the insidious nature of violence, and with his entrenchment in a system that for decades ensnared him.

Politically complex and emotionally compelling, Man of My Time explores variations of loss—of people, places, ideals, time, and self. This is a novel not only about family and memory but about the interdependence of captor and captive, of citizen and country, of an individual and his or her heritage. With sensitivity and strength, Dalia Sofer conjures the interior lives of the “generation that had borne and inflicted what could not be undone.”

Description from Goodreads.

“Mesmerizing and unsettling… The tension between the elegance of Sofer’s language and the nihilistic unraveling of her antihero emphasizes the irony of the title, which lays bare the conceit that a person’s actions might be excused by historical context. Readers will find Sofer’s meditation on power’s ability to corrupt as relevant and disturbing as the day’s headlines.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“In her powerful second novel, Sofer portrays a man whose principles have estranged him from his loved ones… A gorgeously written character study that examines, with sensitivity and pathos, the small steps that lead a man down an unexpected and ultimately isolating path.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Sofer brings compassion, insight, and acerbic humor to her depiction of a man at once too intelligent to altogether ignore the consequences of his behavior yet helpless to withstand the turbulent momentum of history. A perceptive, humane inquiry into Iran’s history and soul.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Hoopla eAudiobook


The Big Finish by  Brooke Fossey

big finishMeet Duffy, an old curmudgeon who lives in an assisted living home.

Meet Josie, a desperate young woman who climbs through his window.

Together, they’re going to learn it’s never too late—or too early—to change your ways.

For Duffy Sinclair, life boils down to one simple thing: maintaining his residence at the idyllic Centennial Assisted Living. Without it, he’s destined for the roach-infested nursing home down the road—and after wasting the first eighty-eight years of his life, he refuses to waste away for the rest. So, he keeps his shenanigans to the bare minimum with the help of his straight-laced best friend and roommate, Carl Upton.

But when Carl’s granddaughter Josie climbs through their bedroom window with booze on her breath and a black eye, Duffy’s faced with trouble that’s sticking around and hard to hide—from Centennial’s management and Josie’s toxic boyfriend. Before he knows it, he’s running a covert operation that includes hitchhiking and barhopping.

He might as well write himself a one-way ticket to the nursing home… or the morgue. Yet Duffy’s all in. Because thanks to an unlikely friendship that becomes fast family—his life doesn’t boil down the same anymore. Not when he finally has a chance to leave a legacy.

In a funny, insightful, and life-affirming debut, Brooke Fossey delivers an unflinching look at growing old, living large, and loving big, as told by a wise-cracking man who didn’t see any of it coming.

Description from Goodreads.

“Fossey’s debut is a warm and deeply funny look at the lives of two seniors who learn it is never too late to grow old with style. Filled with rich, pitch-perfect dialogue, this is a sweet story of people finding meaning and creating family in the places they least expected.” – Booklist

“Fossey manages to depict the struggles of the elderly, whose concerns aren’t often examined in fiction, in a way that’s both respectful and entertaining. A moving, funny, and ultimately hopeful look at what makes life meaningful.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[A] delightful debut… A completely logical yet somehow unexpected ending will leave readers smiling—and looking forward to Fossey’s next effort.” – Publisher’s Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook


Lake Like a Mirror by  Ho Sok Fong

lake like a mirrorBy an author described by critics as “the most accomplished Malaysian writer, full stop,” Lake Like a Mirror is a scintillating exploration of the lives of women buffeted by powers beyond their control. Squeezing themselves between the gaps of rabid urbanization, patriarchal structures and a theocratic government, these women find their lives twisted in disturbing ways.

In precise and disquieting prose, Ho Sok Fong draws her readers into a richly atmospheric world of naked sleepwalkers in a rehabilitation center for wayward Muslims, mysterious wooden boxes, gossip in unlicensed hairdressers, hotels with amnesiac guests, and poetry classes with accidentally charged politics―a world that is peopled with the ghosts of unsaid words, unmanaged desires and uncertain statuses, surreal and utterly true.

Description from Goodreads.

“…excellent… Ho’s vivid imagination and keen eye for women’s pain, gracefully translated, are hallmarks of a deeply talented writer.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Straddling the surreal and the pointedly political, Ho reveals herself to be a writer of immense talent and range.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Fong’s critical and surreal prose will engage readers interested in soft magical realism and compelling imagery.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook



SUSPENSE



The New Husband by  D.J. Palmer

new husbandWhat makes Simon Fitch so perfect?

-He knows all her favorite foods, music, and movies.
-Her son adores him. He was there when she needed him most.
-He anticipates her every need.
-He would never betray her like her first husband.

The perfect husband. He checks all the boxes.

The question is, why?

Nina Garrity learned the hard way that her missing husband, Glen, had been leading a double life with another woman. But with Glen gone―presumably drowned while fishing on his boat―she couldn’t confront him about the affair or find closure to the life he blew apart.

Now, a year and a half later, Nina has found love again and hopes she can put her shattered world back together. Simon, a widower still grieving the death of his first wife, thinks he has found his dream girl in Nina, and his charm and affections help break through to a heart hardened by betrayal. Nina’s teenage son, Connor, embraces Simon as the father he wishes his dad could have been, while her friends see a different side to him, and they aren’t afraid to use the word obsession.

Nina works hard to bridge the divide that’s come between her daughter and Simon. She wants so badly to believe her life is finally getting back on track, but she’ll soon discover that the greatest danger to herself and her children are the lies people tell themselves.

Description from Goodreads.

“[T]he way the novel always answers questions with more questions makes it hard to put down. Clues are cleverly laced throughout, keeping one guessing. A well-crafted, increasingly tense page-turner.” – Kirkus Reviews

“…cleverly plotted but creepy domestic noir…” – Publishers Weekly

“With perhaps the creepiest and spookiest opening scenes in recent memory, DJ Palmer’s The New Husband is an intense and engaging thrill-ride, full of characters you can both love and love to hate!” – The Nerd Daily

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook


Summer of Reckoning by  Marion Brunet

summer of reckoningThe story takes place in the suffocating atmosphere of a social housing estate in the south of France. Sixteen-year-old Céline and her sister Jo, fifteen, dream of escaping to somewhere far from their daily routine, far from their surly, alcoholic father and uncaring mother, both struggling to make ends meet. That summer Celine falls pregnant, devastating news that reopens deep family wounds. Those of the mother Severine whose adolescence was destroyed by her early pregnancy and subsequent marriage with Manuel. Those of Manuel, grandson of Spanish immigrants, who takes refuge in alcoholism to escape the open disdain of his in-laws. Faced with Celine’s refusal to name the father, Manuel needs a guilty party and Saïd, a childhood friend of the girls and conveniently Arab, seems to fit the role perfectly. In the suffocating heat of summer Manuel embarks on a drunken mission of revenge. A dark and upsetting account of an ailing society, filled with silent and murderous rage.

Description from Goodreads.

“With raw, chilling and incisive prose, Brunet takes us into a world of sectarian convictions dominated by the hatred of the rich, the bosses, the foreigners and the ‘different’.” – L’Express

“With its intense rage, corrosive boredom and low-life scams, Brunet’s South of France is saturated with broken dreams. And the last flickers of childhood are terrifying, proving that, even under the strong sun, social barriers remain implacable.” – Paris Match

“Dramatic tension is evident from the very beginning of this fierce and dark novel, well served by terse, direct and brilliant prose. The characters are strong, seemingly right beside us, nervous, anxious, overworked, and perspiring under the southern sun.” – Le Temps

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook



HISTORICAL FICTION



Simon the Fiddler by  Paulette Jiles ★

simon the fiddlerIn March 1865, the long and bitter War between the States is winding down. Till now, twenty-three-year-old Simon Boudlin has evaded military duty thanks to his slight stature, youthful appearance, and utter lack of compunction about bending the truth. But following a barroom brawl in Victoria, Texas, Simon finds himself conscripted, however belatedly, into the Confederate Army. Luckily his talent with a fiddle gets him a comparatively easy position in a regimental band.

Weeks later, on the eve of the Confederate surrender, Simon and his bandmates are called to play for officers and their families from both sides of the conflict. There the quick-thinking, audacious fiddler can’t help but notice the lovely Doris Mary Aherne, an indentured girl from Ireland, who is governess to a Union colonel’s daughter.

After the surrender, Simon and Doris go their separate ways. He will travel around Texas seeking fame and fortune as a musician. She must accompany the colonel’s family to finish her three years of service. But Simon cannot forget the fair Irish maiden, and vows that someday he will find her again.

Incandescent in its beauty, told in Paulette Jiles’s trademark spare yet lilting style, Simon the Fiddler is a captivating, bittersweet tale of the chances a devoted man will take, and the lengths he will go to fulfill his heart’s yearning.

Description from Goodreads.

“Jiles’s limber tale satisfies with welcome splashes of comedy and romance.” – Publishers Weekly

“Imbued with the dust, grit, and grime of Galveston at the close of the Civil War, Simon the Fiddler immerses readers in the challenges of Reconstruction. Jiles brings her singular voice to the young couple’s travails, her written word as lyrical and musical as Simon’s bow raking over his strings. Loyal Jiles readers and fans of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge will adore the author’s latest masterpiece.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Vividly evocative and steeped in American folkways: more great work from a master storyteller.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Jiles has produced a classic Western adventure tale, with plenty of terse male dialogue and lush natural description… Simon and Doris (the governess) both romanticize their circumstances (as 19th-century Westerners often did) but Jiles’ detailed depictions of poverty and hazards provide a counterbalance… Jiles illustrates the cosmic dimension of music, its ability to create unity among disparate people ‘who listened to the phrases of melody that somehow fitted together as constellations fit together far away in the deeps of space, shining over the Gulf.'” – The Star Tribune

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook



ROMANCE



The Happy Ever After Playlist by  Abby Jimenez

happy ever after playlistTwo years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can’t seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a “take me home” look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker’s owner reaches out. He’s a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back.

Well, Sloan’s not about to give up her dog without a fight. But what if this Jason guy really loves Tucker? As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can’t deny a connection. Jason is hot and nice and funny. There’s no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: With his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?

Description from Goodreads.

“Jimenez combines sentimentality, sexiness, and humor in this remarkable rom-com about finding the courage to take a second chance on love… Sparking wit and vulnerable characters bring this story to life. Jimenez tackles deep emotions without ever losing sight of fun.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Emotional and exceptionally swoon-worthy. You won’t be able to stop grinning and gushing as you read this masterpiece.” – SheReads.com

“A perfect blend of smart, heart-wrenching, and fun.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook



NONFICTION



What Is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life by  Mark Doty ★

Doty final.inddMark Doty has always felt haunted by Walt Whitman’s bold, new American voice, and by his equally radical claims about body and soul and what it means to be a self. In What Is the Grass, Doty—a poet, a lover of men, a New Yorker, and an American—keeps company with Whitman and his mutable, landmark work, Leaves of Grass, tracing the resonances between his own experience and the legendary poet’s life and work.

What is it, then, between us? Whitman asks. Doty’s answer is to explore spaces tied to Whitman’s life and spaces where he finds the poet’s ghost, meditating on desire, love, and the mysterious wellsprings of the poet’s enduring work. How does a voice survive death? What Is the Grass is a conversation across time and space, a study of the astonishment one poet finds in the accomplishment of another, and an attempt to grasp Whitman’s deeply hopeful vision of humanity.

Description from Goodreads.

What Is the Grass may be the definitive book on Whitman’s life, afterlife and poetry. But it’s [in] the moments in Doty’s own life… that the book truly glistens.” – Los Angeles Times

“An incisive, personal meditation.” – New York Times Book Review

“A masterful example [of the hybrid memoir]―weaving a close reading of Whitman’s life and writings into Doty’s own ruminations on art, queerness, humanism, and the American experience.” – Buzzfeed

“[Doty] reveals a profound understanding of Whitman’s life and poetry… Throughout, the author exudes an exuberance about life and words that rivals that of his subject… A captivating paean to Whitman combined with unblinking self-examination.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

eBook


This Is Big: How the Founder of Weight Watchers Changed the World (And Me) by  Marisa Meltzer ★

this is bigMarisa Meltzer began her first diet at the age of five. Growing up an indoors-loving child in Northern California, she learned from an early age that weight was the one part of her life she could neither change nor even really understand.

Fast forward nearly four decades. Marisa, a contributor to the New Yorker and the New York Times, comes across an obituary for Jean Nidetch, the Queens, New York housewife who founded Weight Watchers in 1963. Weaving Jean’s incredible story as weight loss maven and pathbreaking entrepreneur with her own journey through Weight Watchers, Marisa chronicles the deep parallels, and enduring frustrations, in each woman’s decades-long efforts to lose weight and keep it off. The result is funny, unexpected, and unforgettable: a testament to how transformation goes far beyond a number on the scale.

Description from Goodreads.

“This heartfelt, incisive book layers the story of Weight Watchers founder Jean Nidetch with the author’s own lifelong journey through various fad diets. What emerges is a surprising portrait of a remarkable but little-known life in business, as well as a thoughtful critique of America’s obsession with thinness.” – Esquire

“[This] brilliant book tells the story of thinness obsession through the lives of two women-Jean Nidetch, the founder of Weight Watchers, and Meltzer herself.” – Glamour

“Journalist Marisa Meltzer interweaves her personal dieting history with a compelling biography of Jean Nidetch, the woman who founded Weight Watchers. As the author chronicles her own journey through the popular program, she describes how Nidetch-despite getting and staying thin-struggled at home and at work. In the end, Meltzer learns and grows in unexpected ways.” – Real Simple

“If you’ve ever been critical of diets, diet companies, and diet culture in the past, you’re going to love what Meltzer has to offer here.” – Bustle

Available Formats:

eBook | eAudiobook


Hell and Other Destinations: A 21st-Century Memoir by  Madeleine Albright

hell and other destinationsIn 2001, when Madeleine Albright was leaving office as America’s first female secretary of state, interviewers asked her how she wished to be remembered. “I don’t want to be remembered,” she answered. “I am still here and have much more I intend to do. As difficult as it might seem, I want every stage of my life to be more exciting than the last.”

In that time of transition, the former Secretary considered the possibilities: she could write, teach, travel, give speeches, start a business, fight for democracy, help to empower women, campaign for favored political candidates, spend more time with her grandchildren. Instead of choosing one or two, she decided to do it all. For nearly twenty years, Albright has been in constant motion, navigating half a dozen professions, clashing with presidents and prime ministers, learning every day. Since leaving the State Department, she has blazed her own trail—and given voice to millions who yearn for respect, regardless of gender, background, or age.

Hell and Other Destinations reveals this remarkable figure at her bluntest, funniest, most intimate, and most serious. It is the tale of our times anchored in lessons for all time, narrated by an extraordinary woman with a matchless zest for life.

Description from Goodreads.

“Former secretary of state Albright weaves geopolitics with her own life story in this intelligent and personable memoir… She proves to be a capacious storyteller, willing to share personal disappointments, such as the dissolution of her marriage, as well as professional accomplishments. This appealing memoir will charm readers interested in contemporary politics and women’s issues.” – Publishers Weekly

“This passionately told account of Albright’s ‘afterlife’ will inspire readers to become involved in the issues meaningful to them. Recommended for all interested in politics, leadership, and women’s studies.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Dishy, as policy-wonkish memoirs go, and a pleasure for readers interested in the art of negotiation.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


Everyone Can Bake: Simple Recipes to Master and Mix by  Dominique Ansel

everyone can bakeDominique Ansel is the creator of beautiful, innovative, and delicious desserts, from the Frozen S’More to the Cronut®, the croissant-doughnut hybrid that took the world by storm. He has been called the world’s best pastry chef. But this wasn’t always the case.

Raised in a large, working-class family in rural France, Ansel could not afford college and instead began work as a baker’s apprentice at age sixteen. There, he learned the basics—how to make tender chocolate cakes, silky custards, buttery shortbread, and more.

Ansel shares these essential, go-to recipes for the first time. With easy-to-follow instructions and kitchen tips, home cooks can master the building-blocks of desserts. These crucial components can be mixed in a variety of ways, and Ansel will show you how: his vanilla tart shell can be rolled out and stamped into cookies; shaped and filled with lemon curd; or even crumbled into a topping for ice cream.

This cookbook will inspire beginners and experienced home cooks alike to bake as imaginatively as Ansel himself.

Description from Goodreads.

“As you flip through these chapters, you’ll gain the confidence to mix and match these recipes to create something completely unique.” – Bake From Scratch

“Full of robust flavors and creative combinations… A solid and satisfying ‘next steps’ cookbook.” – Booklist

“A delightful and inspiring cookbook that guides bakers of all levels through the mix-and-match mentality of experienced pastry chefs. Highly recommended for established fans of Ansel and creative recipe construction.” – Library Journal

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram by  Sarah Frier

no filterSince its creation in 2010, Instagram’s fun and simple interface has captured our collective imagination, swiftly becoming a way of life. In No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram, technology reporter Sarah Frier explains how Instagram’s founders married art and technology to overcome skeptics and to hook the public on visual storytelling. At first, Instagram initially attracted artisans, but then the platform exploded in popularity among the masses, creating an entire industry of digital influencers that’s now worth tens of billions of dollars.

Eighteen months after Instagram’s launch and explosive growth, the founders—Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger—made the gut-wrenching decision to sell the company to Facebook. For most companies, that would be the end of the story; but for Instagram, it was only the beginning. Instagram borrowed some lessons from Facebook and rejected others, until eventually its success stirred tension with Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, just as Facebook became embroiled in a string of public crises. Frier unearths the details that led to the cofounders’ departure, bringing to light dramatic moments unknown to the public until now.

At its heart, No Filter draws on unprecedented exclusive access—from the founders of Instagram, as well as employees, executives, and competitors; hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio; Anna Wintour of Vogue; Kris Jenner of the Kardashian-Jenner empire; and a plethora of influencers, from fashionistas with millions of followers to owners of famous dogs worldwide—to show how Instagram has fundamentally changed the way we communicate, shop, eat, and travel. The book brings readers inside users’ strategies to craft their personal image and fame, explaining how the company’s product decisions have affected the structure of our society. From teenagers to the pope, No Filter tells the captivating story of how Instagram not only created a new industry but also changed our lives.

Description from Goodreads.

“The story of the supercharged rise and inevitable distortion of one of the world’s most wide-ranging and influential social media platforms. An eminently readable cautionary tale about technology that once again questions what—or who—the product really is.” – Kirkus Review

“…a compelling tale of jealousy.” – Financial Times

“Instagram’s rise to global dominance is told with eye-opening anecdotes.” – The Times

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Synthesizing Gravity: Selected Prose by  Kay Ryan

sythesizing gravitySynthesizing Gravity gathers for the first time a thirty-year selection of Kay Ryan’s probings into aesthetics, poetics, and the mind in pursuit of art.

A bracing collection of critical prose, book reviews, and her private previously unpublished soundings of poems and poets– including Robert Frost, Stevie Smith, Marianne Moore, William Bronk, and Emily Dickinson– Synthesizing Gravity bristles with Ryan’s crisp wit, her keen off-kilter insights, and her appetite and appreciation for the genuine. Among essays like “Radiantly Indefensible,” “Notes on the Danger of Notebooks,” and “The Abrasion of Loneliness,” are piquant pieces on the virtues of emptiness, forgetfulness, and other under-loved concepts. Edited and with an introduction by Christian Wiman, this generous collection of Ryan’s distinctive thinking gives us a surprising look into the mind of an American master.

Description from Goodreads.

“Reading Ryan’s writing will charge and recharge the mind. This is the first collection of nonfiction from Ryan, a national treasure… [and] a wonderful entry point to her work.” – San Francisco Chronicle

“Brilliant… For poetry enthusiasts and skeptics alike, this will be an inviting portal into the mind of one of America’s greatest living writers.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“An eminent American poet turns to prose to illuminate her craft and her life… You will come away from [Kay Ryan’s] refreshing Synthesizing Gravity: Selected Prose―her first collection of nonfiction―with a deeper appreciation of poetry’s worth.” – Shelf Awareness

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Mosquito Supper Club: Cajun Recipes from a Disappearing Bayou by  Melissa M. Martin

mosquito supper clubEvery hour of the day, Louisiana loses a football field’s worth of land to the Gulf. And so before her hometown disappears entirely, chef Melissa Martin wants to document the recipes, ingredients, and customs of the Cajun people. Cocoderie, Louisiana, may soon no longer be listed on maps, but the incredible traditions of the region should remain. In the same way Zora Neale Hurston documented and shared oral histories of the South before its keepers passed on, Martin will tell the stories of her people. She has organized the book into 12 chapters highlighting the key ingredients of this cuisine—from shrimp and oysters to poultry and sugarcane—and the recipe and customs that surround each. The 100 recipes are for accessible home-cooked meals that readers can make on a weeknight or for a celebration—with stories to be savored along with the food. Each chapter is punctuated with an essay explaining the context for the ingredient, whether it’s picking and putting up blackberries each February to shrimping every August or celebrating Fat Tuesday with a king cake. This is a cookbook, but the underlying messages of heeding environmental warnings and highlighting the Cajun woman’s authority in the kitchen showcase the book’s compelling media hooks. Martin also documents the region’s traditions, from the Blessing of the Boats at the beginning of every fishing season to Mardi Gras and the many dozens of ways to make a Cajun gumbo.

Description from Goodreads.

“A celebration of contemporary New Orleans, a timeless glossary of Cajun cookery, and a careful, practical guide to gathering seasonal ingredients and preparing dishes from duck gumbo to pecan pie… Since Martin’s restaurant is essentially a home kitchen, her recipes are easily adapted to the home cook.” – Eater

Mosquito Supper Club… is here to try to prevent the region’s Cajun cooking from slowly disappearing. Martin’s as much of a teacher as she is a cook; there’s barely a recipe in here that doesn’t have an extra paragraph of information on ingredient sourcing, prepping, and serving.” – Epicurious

“Martin shares the history, traditions, and customs surrounding Cajun cuisine and offers a tantalizing slew of classic dishes… Writing in elegant prose, Martin is less concerned with the still-life plating of entrées than she is with painting the landscape of her upbringing.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

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Miss Aluminum: A Memoir by  Susanna Moore

miss aluminumIn 1963 after the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Susanna Moore leaves her home in Hawai’i with no money, no belongings, and no prospects to live with her Irish grandmother in Philadelphia. She soon receives four trunks of expensive clothes from a concerned family friend, allowing her to assume the first of many disguises she will need to find her sometimes perilous, always valorous way.

Her journey takes her from New York to Los Angeles where she becomes a model and meets Joan Didion and Audrey Hepburn. She works as a script reader for Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson, and is given a screen test by Mike Nichols. But beneath Miss Aluminum‘s glittering fairytale surface lies the story of a girl’s insatiable hunger to learn and her anguished determination to understand the circumstances of her mother’s death. Moore gives us a sardonic, often humorous portrait of Hollywood in the seventies, and of a young woman’s hard-won arrival at selfhood.

Description from Goodreads.

Miss Aluminum, an unvarnished new memoir by Susanna Moore, confirms many intimations from her for her acclaimed novels ― My Old SweetheartThe Whiteness of BonesIn the Cut ― that hers is, and has been, an unconventional existence guided by the stars. Writing with unflinching candor, Moore, now in her 70s, tells stories both harrowing and heartening of the circumstances and serendipitous rendezvous in her teens and 20s that would shape her adult life… Her honesty is both timely and courageous.” – Avenue

“A tantalizing tale, told in a seductive and provocative voice.” – Booklist

“A captivating portrait of a woman in search of herself.” – Kirkus Reviews

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Heaven by  Emerson Whitney

heavenIn the first few pages of Heaven, Emerson Whitney writes: “Really, I can’t explain myself without making a mess.” What follows is that mess—electrifying, gorgeous.

In arresting prose, Whitney writes of moving through homes around the country, of transness, and, at the book’s root, of their complex and often difficult relationship with their mother: their first window into understanding womanness and all that’s bound up in it. Whitney streaks this through with queer and gender theory, standing audaciously in the face of uncertainty, to ask: “if the ‘feminine’ thus far has only existed as a defective version of a masculine idea, then maybe there’s something living, like between the gap in the sidewalk, that is actual femininity, accessible to all.” Whitney stands in the gap, writes in the gap.

Heaven functions much like a hand-dipped candle, lowered patiently into theory and memory—a caught manta rays hanging aloft a dock, a mother checking her teeth in the mirror above the stove—that, taken together, thicken into an astounding, expansive examination of what makes us up. For fans of Eileen Myles or Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, Whitney’s Heaven introduces an important new public intellectual.

Description from Goodreads.

“Melodic and engagingly written, Heaven will enrapture anyone who loves reading for beauty and intellectual challenge at once.” – Literary Hub

“Provocative, emotional, infinitely faceted… a reminder that messiness is at the heart of all beautiful things.” – Refinery29

“(U)tterly hypnotic… a gorgeous book that feels like a painting.” – Seattle Times

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Laugh Lines: My Life Helping Funny People Be Funnier by  Alan Zweibel

laugh linesAlan Zweibel started his comedy career selling jokes for seven dollars apiece to the last of the Borscht Belt standups. Then one night, despite bombing on stage, he caught the attention of Lorne Michaels and became one of the first writers at Saturday Night Live, where he penned classic material for Gilda Radner, John Belushi, and all of the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players. From SNL, he went on to have a hand in a series of landmark shows—from It’s Garry Shandling’s Show to Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Throughout the pages of Laugh Lines Zweibel weaves together his own stories and interviews with his friends and contemporaries, including Richard Lewis, Eric Idle, Bob Saget, Mike Birbiglia, Sarah Silverman, Judd Apatow, Dave Barry, Carl Reiner, and more. The book also features a charming foreword from his friend of forty-five years Billy Crystal, with whom he co-wrote and co-produced the upcoming film Here Today that stars Crystal and Tiffany Haddish. Laugh Lines is a warmhearted cultural memoir of American comedy.

Description from Amazon.

“This zippy memoir by comedians’ comedian Zweibel offers laughs on nearly every page… On the more serious side, Zweibel delivers a heartfelt depiction of Shandling’s vast talent and often overlooked sense of humanity. Comics and comedy fans alike will delight in this hilarious and self-deprecating memoir.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“An amiable, big-lug, heart-of-gold sort of book… A pleasant, amusing tale of a life in jokes, suitable for budding comedians and students of the form.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[T]he next best thing to cornering the author—an Emmy, Tony, and Thurber Prize–winning writer—and forcing him to spill about every comedy legend for whom he’s written.” – Vanity Fair

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Why We Swim by  Bonnie Tsui

why we swimWe swim in freezing Arctic waters and piranha-infested rivers to test our limits. We swim for pleasure, for exercise, for healing. But humans, unlike other animals that are drawn to water, are not natural-born swimmers. We must be taught. Our evolutionary ancestors learned for survival; now, in the twenty-first century, swimming is one of the most popular activities in the world.

Why We Swim is propelled by stories of Olympic champions, a Baghdad swim club that meets in Saddam Hussein’s palace pool, modern-day Japanese samurai swimmers, and even an Icelandic fisherman who improbably survives a wintry six-hour swim after a shipwreck. New York Times contributor Bonnie Tsui, a swimmer herself, dives into the deep, from the San Francisco Bay to the South China Sea, investigating what about water—despite its dangers—seduces us and why we come back to it again and again.

Description from Goodreads.

“…succeeds brilliantly… In theory, Tsui’s globe- and topic-hopping structure could make the book seem scattered. But the breadth of her reporting and grace of her writing make the elements of Why We Swim move harmoniously as one… deepens from informative and entertaining to transcendent and moving… There’s a poignancy to the fact that Why We Swim arrives just as COVID-19 has made so many bodies of water, from public swimming pools to beaches, off limits. But you can read it to remember just how good a swim can feel on a hot summer day and dream about when that day will come.” – San Francisco Chronicle

“…[an] eclectic, well-crafted survey… Readers will enjoy getting to know the people and the facts presented in this fascinating book.” – Publishers Weekly

“Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of ‘an unflinching giving-over to an element’ and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually)… An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.” – Kirkus Reviews

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