Best New Books: Week of 10/19/21

“I suspect the most we can hope for, and it’s no small hope, is that we never give up, that we never stop giving ourselves permission to try to love and receive love.” – Elizabeth Strout, Abide with Me



Act Like You Got Some Sense: And Other Things My Daughters Taught Me by  Jamie Foxx

Nonfiction / Memoir.

Jamie Foxx has won an Academy Award and a Grammy Award, laughed with sitting presidents, and partied with the biggest names in hip-hop. But he is most proud of his role as father to two very independent young women, Corinne and Anelise. Jamie might not always know what he’s doing when it comes to raising girls—especially when they talk to him about TikTok (PlikPlok?) and don’t share his enthusiasm for flashy Rolls Royces—but he does his best to show up for them every single day.

Luckily, he has a strong example to follow: his beloved late grandmother, Estelle Marie Talley. Jamie learned everything he knows about parenting from the fierce woman who raised him: As he puts it, she’s “Madea before Tyler Perry put on the pumps and the gray wig.”

In Act Like You Got Some Sense—a title inspired by Estelle—Jamie shares up close and personal stories about the tough love and old-school values he learned growing up in the small town of Terrell, Texas; his early days trying to make it in Hollywood; the joys and challenges of achieving stardom; and how each phase of his life shaped his parenting journey. Hilarious, poignant, and always brutally honest, this is Jamie Foxx like we’ve never seen him before.

Description from Goodreads.

“In this debut full of genuine reflection and heartfelt humor, actor and comedian Foxx riffs on parenting (‘You ain’t ready for it’) and the life experiences that gradually helped shape him as a father… Foxx writes in a jovial manner, with jokes flying constantly… Yet where this book truly excels is in its honesty, offering an intimate look past Jamie Foxx the famous actor to reveal a relatable figure.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“[R]eally funny… If you weren’t already a fan [of Foxx], you’ll be one after reading this heartfelt and honest book.” – CNN

“In cheerfully meandering stories, Foxx displays his comedic timing and pacing and is always entertaining, blending the folksy yet hard-edged wisdom of his adoptive grandmother with hard-won, more worldly ‘New Dad’ sensibilities… Foxx’s parenting-advice book is the equivalent of a vitamin-packed smoothie: sweet, fun, and easy to enjoy, full of slyly concealed nourishment and goodness.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | eBook


Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora by  Bryant Terry

Nonfiction / Food / Cookbook / Essays / Art.

A beautiful, rich, and groundbreaking book exploring Black foodways within America and around the world, curated by food activist and author of Vegetable Kingdom Bryant Terry.

In this stunning and deeply heartfelt tribute to Black culinary ingenuity, Bryant Terry captures the broad and divergent voices of the African Diaspora through the prism of food. With contributions from more than 100 Black cultural luminaires from around the globe, the book moves through chapters exploring parts of the Black experience, from Homeland to Migration, Spirituality to Black Future, offering delicious recipes, moving essays, and arresting artwork.

As much a joyful celebration of Black culture as a cookbook, Black Food explores the interweaving of food, experience, and community through original poetry and essays, including “Jollofing with Toni Morrison” by Sarah Ladipo Manyika, “Queer Intelligence” by Zoe Adjonyoh, “The Spiritual Ecology of Black Food” by Leah Penniman, and “Foodsteps in Motion” by Michael W. Twitty. The recipes are similarly expansive and generous, including sentimental favorites and fresh takes such as Crispy Cassava Skillet Cakes from Yewande Komolafe, Okra & Shrimp Purloo from BJ Dennis, Jerk Chicken Ramen from Suzanne Barr, Avocado and Mango Salad with Spicy Pickled Carrot and Rof Dressing from Pierre Thiam, and Sweet Potato Pie from Jenné Claiborne. Visually stunning artwork from such notables as Black Panther Party creative director Emory Douglas and artist Sarina Mantle are woven throughout, and the book includes a signature musical playlist curated by Bryant.

With arresting artwork and innovative design, Black Food is a visual and spiritual feast that will satisfy any soul.

Description from Goodreads.

“It’s the kind of book that belongs both on your coffee table and in your regular kitchen rotation.” – Eater

“This broad mosaic of Black society is as powerful as it is flavorful.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Whether read straight through or browsed section by section, this meaningful book brings Black foodways into focus and will leave a lasting impact.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


Body Shocks: Extreme Tales of Body Horror edited by  Ellen Datlow

Fiction / Horror.

Bestselling editor Ellen Datlow (Lovecraft’s Monsters) delivers world-class body horror in all its gruesome, psychological, and shocking glory. Discover—if you dare—shockingly twisted tales of the human body that make The Twilight Zone seem like a children’s show. In Body Shocks, you will find twenty-nine chilling tales from storytelling masters including Carmen Maria Machado, Richard Kadrey, Seanan McGuire, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Tananarive Due, Cassandra Khaw, Christopher Fowler, and many more.

The most terrifying thing that you can possibly imagine is your own body in the hands of a monster. Or worse, in the hands of another human being.

In these 29 tales of body horror selected by World Horror Grandmaster Ellen Datlow, you’ll find the unthinkable, the shocking, and more: a couture designer preparing for an exquisitely grotesque runway show; a vengeful son seeking the parent who bred him as plasma donor; a celebrity-kink brothel that inflicts plastic surgery on sex workers; and organ-harvesting doctors who dissect a living man without anesthetic.

Description from Goodreads.

“The emergence of body horror from a gross-out trope into a thought-provoking subgenre is one of horror’s biggest trends… These tales will burrow under the skin, leaving a lasting impression like the back-to-back blows of ‘Natural Skin’ by Alyssa Wong, a psychological gut punch about the commodification of young women’s bodies and ‘The Lake’ by Tananarive Due, a tale of physical transformation that is both terrifying and freeing. Marked by a diverse table of contents and illustrations that enhance the conflicting emotions of unease and wonder that lie at the heart of the appeal of body horror, this is an anthology that readers will inhabit…” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“The stories in the latest collection edited by horror veteran Datlow run the gamut from ethereal creepiness (‘La beaute´ sans vertu,’ by Genevieve Valentine), to haunt-your-dreams gross-outs (‘Welcome to Mengele’s,’ by Simon Bestwick)… There are some absolutely stellar stories that will follow readers for days, and not a single dud to weigh down the collection… Recommend to readers who love horror stories that make their skin crawl while they read about skin literally crawling.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Hugo Award–winning editor Datlow (Edited By) brings together 29 spine-tingling tales of body horror to terrify even the most seasoned horror reader… These wholly original and truly chilling tales are not for the faint of heart.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook


The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times by  Jane Goodall Douglas Abrams with  Gail Hudson

Nonfiction / Science / Nature / Psychology / Biography.

In a world that seems so troubled, how do we hold on to hope?

Looking at the headlines—the worsening climate crisis, a global pandemic, loss of biodiversity, political upheaval—it can be hard to feel optimistic. And yet hope has never been more desperately needed.

In this urgent book, Jane Goodall, the world’s most famous living naturalist, and Douglas Abrams, the internationally bestselling co-author of The Book of Joy, explore through intimate and thought-provoking dialogue one of the most sought after and least understood elements of human nature: hope. In The Book of Hope, Jane focuses on her “Four Reasons for Hope”: The Amazing Human Intellect, The Resilience of Nature, The Power of Young People, and The Indomitable Human Spirit.

Drawing on decades of work that has helped expand our understanding of what it means to be human and what we all need to do to help build a better world, The Book of Hope touches on vital questions, including: How do we stay hopeful when everything seems hopeless? How do we cultivate hope in our children? What is the relationship between hope and action? Filled with moving and inspirational stories and photographs from Jane’s remarkable career, The Book of Hope is a deeply personal conversation with one of the most beloved figures in the world today.

While discussing the experiences that shaped her discoveries and beliefs, Jane tells the story of how she became a messenger of hope, from living through World War II to her years in Gombe to realizing she had to leave the forest to travel the world in her role as an advocate for environmental justice. And for the first time, she shares her profound revelations about her next, and perhaps final, adventure.

The second book in the Global Icons Series—which launched with the instant classic The Book of Joy with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu—The Book of Hope is a rare and intimate look not only at the nature of hope but also into the heart and mind of a woman who revolutionized how we view the world around us and has spent a lifetime fighting for our future.

There is still hope, and this book will help guide us to it.

Description from Goodreads.

“A lifetime of experience and wisdom combines with much-needed optimism in this guide to the climate crisis and what we can do about it.” – The Guardian

“[Goodall’s] infectious optimism and stirring call to action make this necessary reading for those concerned about the planet’s future… [Her] rousing testament will resonate widely.” – Publisher’s Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Vibrant with wry humor, scientific fact, grassroots advances, compassion, and spiritual depth, this compelling and enlightening dialogue of hope amplifies Goodall’s mantra: ‘Together we can. Together we will.'” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


The Days of Afrekete by  Asali Solomon ★

Fiction.

Liselle Belmont is having a dinner party.

It seems a strange occasion—her husband, Winn, has lost his bid for the state legislature—but what better way to thank key supporters than a feast? Liselle was never sure about her husband becoming a politician, never sure about the limelight, never sure about the life of fundraising and stump speeches. Then an FBI agent calls to warn her that Winn might be facing corruption charges. An avalanche of questions tumbles around her: Is it possible he’s guilty? Who are they to each other; who have they become? How much of herself has she lost—and was it worth it? And just this minute, how will she make it through this dinner party?

Across town, Selena Octave is making her way through the same day, the same way she always does—one foot in front of the other, keeping quiet and focused, trying not to see the terrors all around her. Homelessness, starving children, the very living horrors of history that made America possible: these and other thoughts have made it difficult for her to live an easy life. The only time she was ever really happy was with Liselle, back in college. But they’ve lost touch, so much so that when they ran into each other at a drugstore just after Obama was elected president, they barely spoke. But as the day wears on, memories of Liselle begin to shift Selena’s path.

Inspired by Mrs. Dalloway and Sula, as well as Audre Lorde’s Zami, Asali Solomon’s The Days of Afrekete is a deft, expertly layered, naturally funny, and deeply human examination of two women coming back to themselves at midlife. It is a watchful celebration of our choices and where they take us, the people who change us, and how we can reimagine ourselves even when our lives seem set.

Description from Goodreads.

“Tense, affecting, and slyly funny.” – Philadelphia Inquirer

“Outstanding… Incredibly intimate and yet expansive.” – Bookforum

“Illuminating… Solomon brings wit and incisive commentary to this pristine take on two characters’ fascinating and painful lives.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“A taut study of doubleness and marital ruin that kept me up all night. Solomon is precise and tender, even as she deals with lurid, human sins and the terror of critical mass―that it is inevitable, and that despite our need to travel backward, it cannot be undone.” – The Guardian

Available Formats:

Print Book


Far Sector by  N.K. Jemisin Jamal Campbell

Fiction / Graphic Novel / Science Fiction / Mystery.

The first murder in 500 years. Twenty billion suspects. One hope.

The City Enduring, a booming metropolis at the edge of the universe, hasn’t experienced a violent crime in generations. The Emotion Exploit has erased its citizens’ full range of feelings, allowing three resident races to overlook their turbulent history and coexist peacefully—until now.

Rookie Green Lantern Sojourner “Jo” Mullein is still adjusting to her assignment to protect this strange world when a brutal murder rattles its social order, threatening to undo centu ies of controversial progress . As the populace rises up against the legacy of the Emotion Exploit and leaders grapple for power under threat of a new war, Jo must rely on her unique instincts—as a Green Lantern and the only human in this sector—to solve the crime and guide the City Enduring toward a more promising future.

Hugo Award-winning author N.K. Jemisin joins bestselling Naomi artist Jamal Campbell in the Eisner Award-nominated sci-fi murder mystery Far Sector, collecting all 12 issues, concept art and character designs, and an introduction by Gerard Way.

Description from Amazon.

“…novel, divergent, and free… I truly don’t think I’ve ever read a comic quite like Far Sector…” – Comics Bookcase

“[O]ne of the best series in print over the last two years.” – AIPT

“[Far Sector] puts a fresh and original spin on a familiar franchise…” – IGN

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook


Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol by  Mallory O’Meara

Nonfiction / History.

Strawberry daiquiris. Skinny martinis. Vodka sodas with lime. These are the cocktails that come in sleek-stemmed glasses, bright colors and fruity flavors—these are the Girly Drinks.

From the earliest days of civilization, alcohol has been at the center of social rituals and cultures worldwide. But when exactly did drinking become a gendered act? And why have bars long been considered “places for men” when, without women, they might not even exist?

With whip-smart insight and boundless curiosity, Girly Drinks unveils an entire untold history of the female distillers, drinkers and brewers who have played a vital role in the creation and consumption of alcohol, from ancient Sumerian beer goddess Ninkasi to iconic 1920s bartender Ada Coleman. Filling a crucial gap in culinary history, O’Meara dismantles the long-standing patriarchal traditions at the heart of these very drinking cultures, in the hope that readers everywhere can look to each celebrated woman in this book—and proudly have what she’s having.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] thorough, and thoroughly entertaining, history… Elegantly woven into each cheeky chapter is rigorous historical context… O’Meara glides easily from the 17th-century pulquerias of Mexico to the feminine ‘fern bars’ of the 1970s, making sure to not to forget the queen of girly drinks: the Cosmopolitan. Provoking both thought and laughter, this serves as bracing refreshment from a master textual mixologist.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Feminist and very funny… O’Meara deftly blends in equal measures of social history, gossip, and solid research, and adds enjoyable footnotes… women have discovered, invented, advanced, championed, and celebrated alcohol. Ladies? This calls for a drink.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Hoopla eAudiobook


The Hidden Child by  Louise Fein

Fiction / Historical Fiction.

Eleanor Hamilton is happily married and mother to a beautiful four-year-old girl, Mabel. Her wealthy husband, Edward, a celebrated war hero, is a leading light in the burgeoning Eugenics movement—the very ideas that will soon be embraced by Hitler—and is increasingly important in designing education policy for Great Britain.

But when Edward and Eleanor’s otherwise perfectly healthy daughter develops debilitating epileptic seizures, their world fractures. Mabel’s shameful illness must be hidden or Edward’s life’s work will be in jeopardy and the family’s honor will be shattered.

When Eleanor discovers Edward has been keeping secrets, she calls into question everything she believed about genetic inferiority, and her previous unshakeable faith in her husband disintegrates. Alarmed, distressed, and no longer able to bear the family’s burden, she takes matters into her own hands.

Description from Goodreads.

“Fein fashions an affecting historical novel by weaving together themes of eugenics, epilepsy, PTSD, and the crash of 1929… A good choice for readers who enjoy 20th-century historical fiction, Fein’s novel is well researched… The classism and racism fundamental to eugenics come through clearly, as do the heartbreaking consequences of a child’s serious illness.” – Library Journal

Available Formats:

eBook


Hunting by Stars by  Cherie Dimaline

Fiction / Young Adult / Science Fiction.

Years ago, when plagues and natural disasters killed millions of people, much of the world stopped dreaming. Without dreams, people are haunted, sick, mad, unable to rebuild. The government soon finds that the Indigenous people of North America have retained their dreams, an ability rumored to be housed in the very marrow of their bones. Soon, residential schools pop up—or are re-opened—across the land to bring in the dreamers and harvest their dreams.

Seventeen-year-old French lost his family to these schools and has spent the years since heading north with his new found family: a group of other dreamers, who, like him, are trying to build and thrive as a community. But then French wakes up in a pitch-black room, locked in and alone for the first time in years, and he knows immediately where he is—and what it will take to escape.

Meanwhile, out in the world, his found family searches for him and dodges new dangers—school Recruiters, a blood cult, even the land itself. When their paths finally collide, French must decide how far he is willing to go—and how many loved ones is he willing to betray—in order to survive. This engrossing, action-packed, deftly-drawn novel expands on the world of Cherie Dimaline’s award-winning The Marrow Thieves, and it will haunt readers long after they’ve turned the final page.

Description from Goodreads.

“…startling… a breathtaking dystopian novel about prejudice and persistence.” – Foreword Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] lush, devastating, and hope-filled novel… The action never lets up and is inextricably intertwined with the personal and community histories of the diverse characters who band together from various nations. Dimaline paints a nightmarish world that is too easy to imagine; it will haunt readers long after they turn the final page.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Dimaline has created vivid characters who propel a suspenseful and atmospheric story that boldly brings past, and ongoing, darkness to light.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook


The Judge’s List by  John Grisham

Fiction / Mystery / Suspense.

In The Whistler, Lacy Stoltz investigated a corrupt judge who was taking millions in bribes from a crime syndicate. She put the criminals away, but only after being attacked and nearly killed. Three years later, and approaching forty, she is tired of her work for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct and ready for a change.

Then she meets a mysterious woman who is so frightened she uses a number of aliases. Jeri Crosby’s father was murdered twenty years earlier in a case that remains unsolved and that has grown stone cold. But Jeri has a suspect whom she has become obsessed with and has stalked for two decades. Along the way, she has discovered other victims.

Suspicions are easy enough, but proof seems impossible. The man is brilliant, patient, and always one step ahead of law enforcement. He is the most cunning of all serial killers. He knows forensics, police procedure, and most important: he knows the law.

He is a judge, in Florida—under Lacy’s jurisdiction.

He has a list, with the names of his victims and targets, all unsuspecting people unlucky enough to have crossed his path and wronged him in some way. How can Lacy pursue him, without becoming the next name on his list?

Description from Goodreads.

“A vigorous thriller… A shiny bauble of mayhem sure to please Grisham’s many fans.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | eBook | eAudiobook


The Last Checkmate by  Gabriella Saab

Fiction / Historical Fiction / Suspense.

Maria is many things: daughter, avid chess player, and member of the Polish underground resistance in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. Captured by the Gestapo she is imprisoned in Auschwitz, while her family is sent to their deaths. Realizing her ability to play chess, the sadistic camp deputy, Fritzsch, intends to use her as a chess opponent to entertain the camp guards. However, once he tires of utilizing her skills, he has every intention of killing her. Befriended by a Catholic priest, Maria attempts to overcome her grief and see the value in survival. Literally playing for her life through four grueling years, her strategy is simple: Live. Fight. Survive. By cleverly provoking Fritzsch’s volatile nature in front of his superiors, Maria intends to orchestrate his downfall. Only then will she have a chance to evade the fate awaiting her and see him brought to justice.

As she carries out her plan and the war nears its end, she discovers Fritzsch has survived. And so Maria, vowing still to avenge the murder of her family, challenges her former nemesis to one final game, certain to end in life or death, in failure or justice. If Maria can bear to face Fritzsch—and her past—one last time.

Description from Goodreads.

“Saab’s capable debut features a revenge plot set amidst the horrors of the Holocaust… Readers who love WWII fiction with strong female leads should check this out.” – Publishers Weekly

“…intense… you won’t want to put it down…” – Red Carpet Crash

“…harrowing… While the subject matter is disturbing, Maria is a touching protagonist. Emotional accounts of the friends Maria meets in Auschwitz and moving descriptions of the chess games she continually plays—against both friends and enemies—bring elements of hope and individuality to this tale.” – Library Journal

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


A Line to Kill by  Anthony Horowitz

Fiction / Mystery.

When Ex-Detective Inspector Daniel Hawthorne and his sidekick, author Anthony Horowitz, are invited to an exclusive literary festival on Alderney, an idyllic island off the south coast of England, they don’t expect to find themselves in the middle of a murder investigation—or to be trapped with a cold-blooded killer in a remote place with a murky, haunted past.

Arriving on Alderney, Hawthorne and Horowitz soon meet the festival’s other guests—an eccentric gathering that includes a bestselling children’s author, a French poet, a TV chef turned cookbook author, a blind psychic, and a war historian—along with a group of ornery locals embroiled in an escalating feud over a disruptive power line.

When a local grandee is found dead under mysterious circumstances, Hawthorne and Horowitz become embroiled in the case. The island is locked down, no one is allowed on or off, and it soon becomes horribly clear that a murderer lurks in their midst. But who?

Both a brilliant satire on the world of books and writers and an immensely enjoyable locked-room mystery, A Line to Kill is a triumph—a riddle of a story full of brilliant misdirection, beautifully set-out clues, and diabolically clever denouements.

Description from Goodreads.

“An effortless blend of humor and fair play… the often prickly relationship between the Watson-like Horowitz and the Holmes-like Hawthorne complements the intricate detective work worthy of a classic golden age whodunit.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Horowitz is a master of misdirection, and his brilliant self-portrayal, wittily self-deprecating, carries the reader through a jolly satire on the publishing world.” – Booklist

“The most conventional of Horowitz’s mysteries to date still reads like a golden-age whodunit on steroids.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Print Book | Large Print Book | Audiobook | Playaway | eBook | eAudiobook


Monster in the Middle by  Tiphanie Yanique ★

Fiction.

When Fly and Stela meet in 21st Century New York City, it seems like fate. He’s a Black American musician from a mixed-religious background who knows all about heartbreak. She’s a Catholic science teacher from the Caribbean, looking for lasting love. But are they meant to be? The answer goes back decades–all the way to their parents’ earliest loves.

Vibrant and emotionally riveting, Monster in the Middle moves across decades, from the U.S. to the Virgin Islands to Ghana and back again, to show how one couple’s romance is intrinsically influenced by the family lore and love stories that preceded their own pairing. What challenges and traumas must this new couple inherit, what hopes and ambitions will keep them moving forward? Exploring desire and identity, religion and class, passion and obligation, the novel posits that in order to answer the question “who are we meant to be with?” we must first understand who we are and how we came to be.

Description from Goodreads.

“The story of one couple is magnified and layered through the histories of the generations of lovers that preceded them. Spanning decades and geographies, this novel reveals on every page how love can persevere and take shape over time and space.” – Boston Globe

“Themes of race, religion, class, and education appear throughout this ambitious novel, but its abiding focus is on the intimate, and the way broader social forces can impinge upon it… Reality assumes a surreal tinge, and the fluidity of narration, across time, space, and character, imparts an epic register to the intimate encounter between Stela and Fly.” – Harper’s

“Each of Fly and Stela’s stories could stand on their own, but when the two finally meet, it’s simply perfection. The novel brings us through 2020 — and the ending left me truly speechless. So can you all read it so we can discuss? (Seriously, read this.)” – Hey Alma

“Soft and intricate with no detail wasted. Readers are lured into the themes of self-discovery, acceptance, and trauma, with an ending well worth the investment.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

Print Book | Large Print Book | eBook


Nothing But Blackened Teeth by  Cassandra Khaw

Fiction / Horror.

A Heian-era mansion stands abandoned, its foundations resting on the bones of a bride and its walls packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her company.

It’s the perfect wedding venue for a group of thrill-seeking friends.

But a night of food, drinks, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare. For lurking in the shadows is the ghost bride with a black smile and a hungry heart.

And she gets lonely down there in the dirt.

Description from Goodreads.

“Engrossing and methodically paced… Recommend to those who love tales of haunted houses with menacing and dangerous histories that reach out from beyond the grave to entrap the living, such as Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic or David Mitchell’s Slade House.” – Library Journal

“If Guillermo del Toro directed The Ring, it might play out something like this engaging thriller. Japanese mythological creatures come to life in this dynamic, unique tale that will satisfy horror readers eager for fresh blood.” – Booklist

“A feast for the senses. Deeply enriching, twisted, and deliciously dark… a definite must-read.” – The NERD Daily

Available Formats:

eBook | eAudiobook


Oh William! by  Elizabeth Strout ★

Fiction.

Through her “careful words and reverberating silences” (The New York Times), Elizabeth Strout has long captured readers’ hearts with her spare, exquisite insights on family, relationships, and loss. And never has her “perfect attunement to the human condition” (Hilary Mantel) been so evident as in these pages, as Strout’s iconic heroine Lucy Barton, of My Name Is Lucy Barton, recounts her complex, tender relationship with William, her first husband–and longtime, on-again-off-again friend and confidant. Recalling their college years, through the birth of their daughters, the painful dissolution of their marriage, and the lives they built with other people, Strout weaves a portrait, stunning in its subtlety, of a decades-long partnership.

A masterful exploration of human empathy, Oh William! captures the joy and pain of watching children grow up and start families of their own; of discovering family secrets, late in life, that rearrange everything we think we know about those closest to us; and the way people live and love, despite the variety of obstacles we face in doing so. And at the heart of this story is the unforgettable, indomitable voice of Lucy Barton, who once again offers a profound, lasting reflection on the very nature of existence. This is the way of life, Lucy says. The many things we do not know until it is too late.

Description from Goodreads.

“It is, like every Strout novel, completely delightful.” – Entertainment Weekly

“Loneliness and betrayal, themes to which the Pulitzer Prize–winning Strout has returned throughout her career, are ever present in this illuminating character-driven saga… Strout’s characters teem with angst and emotion, all of which [she] handles with a mastery of restraint and often in spare, true sentences… It’s not for nothing that Strout has been compared to Hemingway. In some ways, she betters him.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Strout’s habitual themes of loneliness and the impossibility of ever truly knowing another person are ubiquitous in this deeply sad tale, which takes its title from Lucy’s head-shaking acknowledgment that her ex will never change, cannot change the remoteness at the core of his personality. Another skillful, pensive exploration of Strout’s fundamental credo: ‘We are all mysteries.'” – Kirkus Reviews

“…entrancing… Anyone who has attempted a long-term marriage or amicable divorce will appreciate Strout’s skillful pen, as she illustrates the deep loneliness that can occur even when you’re sitting side by side with the person you once loved most in the world… [T]his is no fairy tale. And there are no happy endings — only breathtaking insights about life, and how childhood trauma informs the people we choose to love, and those we choose to leave. Heartbreaking and human, Oh William! is Elizabeth Strout at her best.” – Avenue

Available Formats:

Print Book | Audiobook | Playaway | eBook | eAudiobook


Orwell’s Roses by  Rebecca Solnit

Nonfiction / Essays / Politics / Nature.

“In the year 1936 a writer planted roses.” So begins Rebecca Solnit’s new book, a reflection on George Orwell’s passionate gardening and the way that his involvement with plants, particularly flowers, and the natural world illuminates his other commitments as a writer and antifascist, and the intertwined politics of nature and power.

Sparked by her unexpected encounter with the surviving roses he planted in 1936, Solnit’s account of this understudied aspect of Orwell’s life explores his writing and his actions—from going deep into the coal mines of England, fighting in the Spanish Civil War, critiquing Stalin when much of the international left still supported him (and then critiquing that left), to his analysis of the relationship between lies and authoritarianism. Through Solnit’s celebrated ability to draw unexpected connections, readers encounter the photographer Tina Modotti’s roses and her Stalinism, Stalin’s obsession with forcing lemons to grow in impossibly cold conditions, Orwell’s slave-owning ancestors in Jamaica, Jamaica Kincaid’s critique of colonialism and imperialism in the flower garden, and the brutal rose industry in Colombia that supplies the American market. The book draws to a close with a rereading of Nineteen Eighty-Four that completes her portrait of a more hopeful Orwell, as well as a reflection on pleasure, beauty, and joy as acts of resistance.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] brand-new piece of nonfiction from celebrated author and journalist Rebecca Solnit that reconsiders George Orwell’s legacy once and for all… [she] examines Orwell’s lifelong fascination with gardening from all possible directions… The task that Solnit has set for herself in this book is mighty, but she’s more than up to it as a writer and a thinker; nobody who reads it will ever think of Nineteen Eighty-Four in quite the same way.” – Vogue

“Elegant… muses on Orwell with all Rebecca Solnit’s luminous intelligence and trademark optimism. If ‘Orwellian’ has become synonymous with darkness and oppression, she opens up his life affirming love of gardening, of wild nature and life’s physical pleasure, his antidote to the grim puritanism of ideologues.” – The Guardian

“Rebecca Solnit’s new book, Orwell’s Roses, is less a biography of the great novelist’s political theories and journalistic peregrinations than a pure celebration of the rich natural world found within Orwell’s writing… In the spare, elegant prose we’ve learned to expect from Solnit, she details the myriad ways Orwell managed to find beauty in even the ugliest of places. Likewise, she pushes readers to treasure the small moments of grace to be found in the natural world, even now, in the face of climate catastrophes and global unrest.” – Los Angeles Review of Books

Available Formats:

Print Book | eBook


Unprotected: A Memoir by  Billy Porter

Nonfiction / Memoir.

It’s easy to be yourself when who and what you are is in vogue. But growing up Black and gay in America has never been easy. Before Billy Porter was slaying red carpets and giving an iconic Emmy-winning performance in the celebrated TV show Pose; before he was the groundbreaking Tony and Grammy Award-winning star of Broadway’s Kinky Boots; and before he was an acclaimed recording artist, actor, playwright, director, and all-around legend, Porter was a young boy in Pittsburgh who was seen as different, who didn’t fit in. At five years old, Porter was sent to therapy to “fix” his effeminacy. He was endlessly bullied at school, sexually abused by his stepfather, and criticized at his church. Porter came of age in a world where simply being himself was a constant struggle.

Billy Porter’s Unprotected is the life story of a singular artist and survivor in his own words. It is the story of a boy whose talent and courage opened doors for him, but only a crack. It is the story of a teenager discovering himself, learning his voice and his craft amidst deep trauma. And it is the story of a young man whose unbreakable determination led him through countless hard times to where he is now; a proud icon who refuses to back down or hide. Porter is a multitalented, multifaceted treasure at the top of his game, and Unprotected is a resonant, inspirational story of trauma and healing, shot through with his singular voice.

Description from Goodreads.

“Haunting and inspirational, this is both a powerful indictment of the lasting harms of bigotry and an immensely moving account of moving forward.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] raw journey into joy and pain… In short, Porter did what he does best with Unprotected: Slay.” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“In Unprotected, Porter’s voice on the page aptly matches his go-for-broke vocal instrument. He holds little back, never shying from raw emotionality, but avoiding histrionics… This is not just a memoir, saints; this is a testimony… Porter is reaching for a loftier objective than just delivering a happily ever after.” – New York Times

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