Best New Books: Week of 6/14/22

“Racist ideas love believers, not thinkers.” – Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist

Also a Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me by  Ada Calhoun

Nonfiction / Memoir / Biography / Writing.

When Ada Calhoun stumbled upon old cassette tapes of interviews her father, celebrated art critic Peter Schjeldahl, had conducted for his never-completed biography of poet Frank O’Hara, she set out to finish the book her father had started forty years earlier.

As a lifelong O’Hara fan who grew up amid his bohemian cohort in the East Village, Calhoun thought the project would be easy, even fun, but the deeper she dove, the more she had to face not just O’Hara’s past, but also her father’s, and her own.

The result is a groundbreaking and kaleidoscopic memoir that weaves compelling literary history with a moving, honest, and tender story of a complicated father-daughter bond. Also a Poet explores what happens when we want to do better than our parents, yet fear what that might cost us; when we seek their approval, yet mistrust it.

In reckoning with her unique heritage, as well as providing new insights into the life of one of our most important poets, Calhoun offers a brave and hopeful meditation on parents and children, artistic ambition, and the complexities of what we leave behind.

Description from Goodreads.

“A beautiful book in what feels like a brand new genre.” – Literary Hub

“Quirky, insightful, and often hilarious… [Also A Poet] is not what Calhoun set out to write, but it’s revealing, emotional, and wildly compelling.” – Apple Books

“Mesmerizing… As [Calhoun] attempts to course-correct Schjeldahl’s shortcomings—which she details at length (in the book and to his face)—she crafts a masterpiece entirely her own, tapping into the ‘perpetual wonder’ that imbued O’Hara with an ‘enlightened, saintlike quality’ to radiantly explore her knotty relationship with her father, ‘the saddest part of my childhood and the greatest gift of my life.’ It’s a dazzling thing to behold.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Blood Orange Night: My Journey to the Edge of Madness by  Melissa Bond

Nonfiction / Memoir / Health.

As Melissa Bond raises her infant daughter and a special-needs one-year-old son, she suffers from unbearable insomnia, sleeping an hour or less each night. She loses her job as a journalist (a casualty of the 2008 recession), and her relationship with her husband grows distant. Her doctor casually prescribes benzodiazepines—a family of drugs that includes Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan—and increases her dosage on a regular basis.

Following her doctor’s orders, Melissa takes the pills night after night; her body begins to shut down and she collapses while holding her infant daughter. Only then does Melissa learn that her doctor—like many doctors—has over-prescribed the medication and quitting cold turkey could lead to psychosis or fatal seizures. Benzodiazepine addiction is not well studied, and few experts know how to help Melissa as she begins the months-long process of tapering off the pills without suffering debilitating, potentially deadly consequences.

Each page thrums with the heartbeat of Melissa’s struggle—how many hours has she slept? How many weeks old are her babies? How many milligrams has she taken? Her propulsive writing crescendos to a fever pitch as she fights for her health and her ability to care for her children. Lyrical and immersive, Blood Orange Night shines a light on the prescription benzodiazepine epidemic as it reaches a crisis point in this country.

Description from Goodreads.

“A harrowing memoir about a class of drugs as dangerous as opioids… Bond’s sharp critique of big pharma and the broken American health care system sounds an urgent alarm. A vivid chronicle of suffering.” – Kirkus Reviews

“…raw and captivating… Pairing her unsparing candor with the same deep compassion she finds in the physician who helped her level out, Bond’s narrative casts a burning light onto the hazards of overprescribing and the threat it poses to vulnerable people. This cautionary tale stuns.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“An engaging testament to the powers of self-advocacy and resilience written with lyrical clarity and heart. This cautionary tale will help many understand how prescription drug dependency can happen and the strength and courage required to overcome it. Highly recommended.” – Library Journal

Flying Solo by  Linda Holmes

Fiction / Romance / Mystery.

Smarting from her recently cancelled wedding and about to turn forty, Laurie Sassalyn returns to her Maine hometown of Calcasset to handle the estate of her great-aunt Dot, a spirited adventurer who lived to be ninety. Along with boxes of Polaroids and pottery, a mysterious wooden duck shows up at the bottom of a cedar chest. Laurie’s curiosity is piqued, especially after she finds a love letter to the never-married Dot that ends with the line, “And anyway, if you’re ever desperate, there are always ducks, darling.”

Laurie is told that the duck has no financial value. But after it disappears under suspicious circumstances, she feels compelled to figure out why anyone would steal a wooden duck–and why Dot kept it hidden away in the first place. Suddenly Laurie finds herself swept up in a righteous caper that has her negotiating with antiques dealers and con artists, going on after-hours dates at the local library, and reconnecting with her oldest friend and first love. Desperate to uncover her great-aunt’s secrets, Laurie must reckon with her past, her future, and ultimately embrace her own vision of flying solo.

Description from Goodreads.

“A refreshing reminder that there’s no one-size-fits-all mold for a relationship, and that fulfillment can be achieved many ways.” – Washington Post

“Holmes blends humor, emotional depth, and small-town charm in this delightful story about the bonds of family and friendship, showing how even the most independent people need someone to lean on. Readers will love spending time with Laurie and her friends.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Charming, often hilarious… A delight from start to finish. Holmes has clearly done her research into how public librarians spend their time, and she also asks serious questions about how to make hard choices and live one’s life.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

The Girls in Queens by  Christine Kandic Torres


Best friends growing up along Clement Moore Avenue in Queens, Brisma and Kelly will do anything for each other. They keep each other’s secrets, from their mother’s hidden heartbreaks to warding off the unwanted advances of creepy neighbors. Their exclusive world shifts when they begin high school and Brisma falls deeply in love with Brian, the local baseball legend. Always the wallflower to the vibrant and alluring Kelly, Brisma is secretly thrilled to be chosen by the popular athlete, to finally have someone that belongs to her alone. But as she, Brian, and Kelly fall into the roles that have been set before them, they ignite a bonfire of unrealized hopes and dreams, smoldering embers that finally find some oxygen to burn.

Years later, Brisma and Kelly haven’t spoken to Brian, ever since a backyard party that went wrong, but their beloved Los Mets are on a historic run for the playoffs and the three friends–no longer children–are reunited. Brisma finds herself once again drawn to her first love. But when Brian is accused of sexual assault, the two friends must make a choice. At first, both rush to support and defend him. But while Kelly remains Brian’s staunch defender, Brisma begins to have doubts as old memories of their relationship surface. As Brisma and Kelly face off in a battle for what they each believe they are owed, these two lifelong friends must decide if their shared past is enough to sustain their future.

Told in alternating timelines, The Girls in Queens is a novel for and of our time–a skillful exploration of the furious loyalty of young women, the complications of sexual abuse allegations within communities of color, and the danger of forgetting that sometimes monsters hide in plain sight.

Description from Goodreads.

“…incisive and keenly observed… Torres hits every note perfectly.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

The Hotel Nantucket by  Elin Hilderbrand


After a tragic fire in 1922 that killed 19-year-old chambermaid, Grace Hadley, The Hotel Nantucket descended from a gilded age gem to a mediocre budget-friendly lodge to inevitably an abandoned eyesore — until it’s purchased and renovated top to bottom by London billionaire, Xavier Darling. Xavier hires Nantucket sweetheart Lizbet Keaton as his general manager, and Lizbet, in turn, pulls together a charismatic, if inexperienced, staff who share the vision of turning the fate of the hotel around. They face challenges in getting along with one another (and with the guests), in overcoming the hotel’s bad reputation, and in surviving the (mostly) harmless shenanigans of Grace Hadley herself — who won’t stop haunting the hotel until her murder is acknowledged.

Filled with the emotional tension and multiple points of view that characterize Elin’s books (The Blue Bistro, Golden Girl) as well as an added touch of historical reality, Hotel Nantucket offers something for everyone in this summer drama for the ages.

Description from Goodreads.

“Bring on the fresh-baked gougères and the hydrangea-blue cashmere throws: A classic fictional setting—the grand hotel—gets the Hilderbrand treatment. The beloved beach novelist’s 28th book is another tour de force… Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.” – Kirkus Reviews

The Hotel Nantucket has lots to love: great food, juicy gossip, secrets and scandals, and that special something that Hilderbrand delivers novel after novel. This will quench your thirst.” – Amazon

Horse by  Geraldine Brooks ★

fiction / Historical Fiction.

Kentucky, 1850. An enslaved groom named Jarret and a bay foal forge a bond of understanding that will carry the horse to record-setting victories across the South. When the nation erupts in civil war, an itinerant young artist who has made his name on paintings of the racehorse takes up arms for the Union. On a perilous night, he reunites with the stallion and his groom, very far from the glamor of any racetrack.

New York City, 1954. Martha Jackson, a gallery owner celebrated for taking risks on edgy contemporary painters, becomes obsessed with a nineteenth-century equestrian oil painting of mysterious provenance.

Washington, DC, 2019. Jess, a Smithsonian scientist from Australia, and Theo, a Nigerian-American art historian, find themselves unexpectedly connected through their shared interest in the horse–one studying the stallion’s bones for clues to his power and endurance, the other uncovering the lost history of the unsung Black horsemen who were critical to his racing success.

Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, Horse is a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and our unfinished reckoning with racism.

Description from Goodreads.

“[You] won’t be able to contain yourself while reading this elegant story about three generations of people inspired by the story of America’s greatest racehorse… This is a novel about love, anger, passion, and justice—unbridled and bursting.” – Literary Hub

“This is historical fiction at its finest, connecting threads of the past with the present to illuminate that essentially human something… Calling all horse girls: This is the story of the most important racehorse you’ve never heard of, but it’s also so much more than that.” – Good Housekeeping

“Brooks is such a sharp pleasure to read… her research is meticulous, but she wears it lightly. And she writes supple, vigorous prose… she sees a universal condition that transcends the boundary lines of time and place… in short, she operates one of the best time machines around.” – Garden & Gun

“A testament to the intelligence and humanity of animals, a stinging rebuke of racist and abusive humans, and a study of how the past gets recorded, remembered, and remade… anyone who ever grew up loving horses, anyone who dearly loves an animal, will find a cornucopia of riches in this novel.” – Boston Globe

How to Raise an Antiracist by  Ibram X. Kendi

Nonfiction / Parenting.

The tragedies and reckonings around racism that have rocked the country have created a specific crisis for parents and other caregivers: How do we talk to our children about it? How do we raise our children to avoid repeating our racist history and the ongoing errors of the present? While we do the work of dismantling racist behaviors in ourselves and the world around us, how do we raise our children to be antiracists?

After he wrote the National Book Award–winning Stamped from the Beginning, readers asked Ibram Kendi, “How can I be antiracist?” After he wrote the bestsellers How to Be an Antiracist and Antiracist Baby, readers began asking a different question: “How do I raise an antiracist child?” This is a question Dr. Kendi had been asking himself ever since he became a teacher—but the question became more personal and urgent when he found out his partner, Sadiqa, was pregnant. Like many parents, he didn’t know how to answer the question—and wasn’t sure he wanted to. He didn’t want to educate his child on antiracism; he wanted to shield her from the toxicity of racism altogether.

But research and experience changed his mind: He realized that antiracism has to be taught and modeled as early as possible—not just to armor them against the racism that is still indoctrinated and normalized in our children’s world, but to remind parents and caregivers to build a more just future for us all.

Following the model of his bestselling How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi combines vital scholarship with a compelling personal narrative of his own journey as a parent to create a work whose advice is grounded in research and relatable real-world experience. The chapters follow the stages of child development and don’t just help parents to raise antiracists, but also to create an antiracist world for them to grow and thrive in.

Description from Goodreads.

“Kendi’s latest… combines his personal experience as a parent with his scholarly expertise in showing how racism affects every step of a child’s life… Like all his books, this one is accessible to everyone regardless of race or class.”- Los Angeles Times

“A readable and approachable guide… Because of its scope, nearly all readers will come away from Kendi’s message more aware and having found a point of resonance in their own lives. Best-selling Kendi is an antiracism trailblazer and parents, educators, and everyone else who cares for children will seek his guidance.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“…thought-provoking… Kendi writes with the cadence of a pastor delivering a sermon. He cranks up the speed and power of his words, and then pulls back slowly into a personal story about his daughter, or an unexpected connection between two thoughts. He doesn’t mince words, but he’s not judgmental—he too struggles to be antiracist, and you read this as if on a shared journey. Kendi also clearly explains the controversy of critical race theory, a buzzy-phrase that’s not truly understood by most people. A poignant read for all parents, or for people who want to examine the way they were raised.” – Amazon

Hurricane Girl by  Marcy Dermansky ★

Fiction / Comedy.

Allison Brody is thirty-two and newly arrived on the East Coast after just managing to flee her movie producer boyfriend. She has some money, saved up from years of writing and waitressing, and so she spends it, buying a small house on the beach. But then a Category 3 hurricane makes landfall and scatters her home up and down the shore, leaving Allison adrift.

Should she go home from the bar with the strange cameraman and stay in his guest room? Is that a glass vase he smashed on her skull? Can she wipe the blood from her eyes, get in her car, and drive to her mother’s? Does she really love the brain surgeon who saved her, or is she just using him for his swimming pool? And is it possible to ever truly heal without seeking some measure of revenge?

A gripping, provocative novel that walks a knife’s edge between comedy and horror, Hurricane Girl is the work of a singular talent, a novelist unafraid to explore the intersection of love, sex, violence, and freedom–while celebrating the true joy that can be found in a great swim and a good turkey sandwich.

Description from Goodreads.

“Dermansky weaves a tale that is absurdly funny and cheering.” – Newsday

“The novel surprises us by blending visceral horror with laugh-out-loud humor. This unnerving stylistic collision is sustained throughout, as the concussed and bleeding protagonist manages to drive herself to her mother’s house in New Jersey, trying to feel grateful despite the hole in her head. ‘She still had her health,’ she thinks. ‘That was what people liked to say…’ Dermansky plays masterfully with perspective… The results are hilarious. Dermansky’s offbeat humor and spare prose make Allison’s mind a thrilling and wholly unusual place to be… A wickedly entertaining read from first to last.” – New York Times

“Just a little comedy about the loss of all worldly possessions, near-deadly assault, brain surgery, and violent revenge… Small comic gems sparkle in their deadpan settings on every page… The only bad thing about this book is that you will likely finish it in one sitting.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

I’d Like to Play Alone, Please by  Tom Segura

Nonfiction / Comedy / Memoir.

Tom Segura is known for his twisted takes and irreverent comedic voice. But after a few years of crazy tours and churning out podcasts weekly, all while parenting two young children, he desperately needs a second to himself. It’s not that he hates his friends and family — he’s not a monster — he’s just beat, which is why his son’s (ruthless) first full sentence, “I’d like to play alone, please,” has since become his mantra.

In this collection of stories, Tom combines his signature curmudgeonly humor with a revealing look at some of the ridiculous situations that shaped him and the ludicrous characters who always seem to seek him out. The stories feature hilarious anecdotes about Tom’s time on the road, including some surreal encounters with celebrities at airports; his unfiltered South American family; the trials and tribulations of parenting young children with bizarrely morbid interests; and, perhaps most memorably, experiences with his dad who, like any good Baby Boomer father, loves to talk about his bowel movements and share graphic Vietnam stories at inappropriate moments. All of this is enough to make anyone want some peace and quiet.

I’d Like to Play Alone, Please will have readers laughing out loud and nodding in agreement with Segura’s message: in a world where everyone is increasingly insane, sometimes you just need to be alone.

Description from Goodreads.

“Segura’s candor is undeniably entertaining. Fans will find this a riot.” – Publishers Weekly

Jackie & Me by  Louis Bayard

Fiction / Historical Fiction.

In the spring of 1951, debutante Jacqueline Bouvier, working as the Inquiring Photographer for the Washington Times-Herald, meets Jack Kennedy, a charming Congressman from a notorious and powerful family, at a party in Washington, DC. Young, rebellious, eager to break free from her mother, Jackie is drawn to the elusive young politician, and soon she and Jack are bantering over secret dinner dates and short work phone calls. Jack, busy with House duties during the week and Senate campaigning on the weekend (as well as his other now-well-known extracurricular activities) convinces his best friend and fixer, Lem Billings, to court Jackie on his behalf. Only gradually does Jackie begin to realize that she is being groomed to be the perfect political wife, whether Jack is interested in settling down or not.

Taking place mostly during the spring and summer before Jack and Jackie’s wedding, and narrated by an older Lem as he looks back at his own relationship with the Kennedys and his role in this complicated marriage, Jackie & Me is a searching story about a young woman of a certain class with narrow options, two people who loved each other, and two people who realized too late that they devoted their lives to Jack at their own expense.

Sharply written, steeped in the era and with witty appearances by members of the extended Kennedy clan, this is Jackie as never before seen, in a story about love, sacrifice, friendship, and betrayal.

Description from Goodreads.

“Absolutely irresistible.” – People

“Narrator Lem is reminiscent of The Great Gatsby’s Nick Carraway… Jackie, she’s pure delight… Romance with bite: the perfect escapism for today’s anxious times.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“[Bayard] brings a poignant empathy, persuasive intimacy, and nuanced imagination to his interpretation of a relatively unexamined chapter in Kennedy lore.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Kids in America: A Gen X Reckoning by  Liz Prato

Nonfiction / Sociology / Memoir.

Generation X was born between the legions of Baby Boomers and Millennials, and was all but written off as cynical, sarcastic slackers. Yet, Gen X’s impact on culture and society is undeniable. In her revealing and provocative essay collection, Kids in America, Liz Prato reveals a generation deeply affected by terrorism, racial inequality, rape culture, and mental illness in an era when none of these issues were openly discussed. Examined through the lens of her high school and family, Prato reveals a small, forgotten cohort shaped as much by Sixteen Candles and Beverly Hills, 90210, as it was by the Rodney King riots and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Prato is unflinching in asking hard questions of her peers about what behavior was then acceptable or overlooked, and how we reconcile those sins today. Kids in America illuminates a generation that is often cited, but rarely examined beyond the gloss of nostalgia.

Description from Goodreads.

“Liz Prato writes with clear vision about the generation that followed the baby boomers, the generation that today moves into the spaces created by that older generation. This book is a long-overdue examination and reconciliation of the people and the era.” – Powell’s Books

Kids in America invites the reader to remember, reminisce, and reflect on the America that created the first latchkey kids. A vivid and delightful collection of essays on a generation that is often forgotten but continues to slightly judge you all the same. Read this book.” – Minerva Rising

The Lunar Housewife by  Caroline Woods

Fiction / Historical Fiction / Suspense.

New York City, 1953: Louise Leithauser’s star is on the rise. She’s filed some of the best pieces at her boyfriend Joe’s brand new literary magazine, Downtown (albeit under a male pseudonym), her relationship still makes her weak at the knees, and the science fiction romance she’s writing on the side, The Lunar Housewife, is going swimmingly. But when she overhears Joe and his business partner fighting about listening devices and death threats, Louise can’t help but investigate, and she quickly finds herself wading into dangerous waters.

As Louise pieces together rumors, hunches, and clues, the picture begins to come together–Downtown‘s strings are being pulled by someone powerful, and that someone doesn’t want artists or writers criticizing Uncle Sam. Meanwhile, opportunities are falling in Louise’s lap that she’d have to be crazy to refuse, including an interview with America’s most famous living author, Ernest Hemingway. Can Louise stand by and let doors keep opening for her, while the establishment sells out and censors her fellow writers? As her suspicions and paranoia mount, Louise’s own novel The Lunar Housewife changes shape, colored by her newfound knowledge. And when Louise is forced to consider her future sooner than she planned, she needs to decide whether she can trust Joe for the rest of her life.

Peppered with cameos from real life luminaries such as Truman Capote and James Baldwin, and full of period detail and nail-biting tension, Caroline Woods channels 1950s New York glamour as Louise’s investigation brings her face to face with shocking secrets, brutal sexism, and life or death consequences. Deeply researched and propulsive, The Lunar Housewife is a historical thriller rich with meaning for modern readers.

Description from Goodreads.

“Sly and delightful… the book is the equivalent of a flinty, modern dame holding her own in a room full of condescending men.” – New York Times

“An elegant novel of political and cultural suspense… the Cold War intrigue it conjures is gripping, and Louise’s dilemmas and adventures will hold sympathetic readers in thrall.” – Wall Street Journal

“Both the suspense and the tongue-in-cheek, Hitchcockian tone propel events forward. The fact that the plot is inspired by ‘the true story of the CIA’s use of American arts and letters as propaganda during the Cold War,’ as Woods explains in her author’s note, makes the book even more fascinating.” – Historical Novel Society

The Maker of Swans by  Paraic O’Donnell

Fiction / Fantasy / Historical Fiction.

It is no small matter, after all, to create something—to make it so only by setting down the words. We forget the magnitude, sometimes, of that miracle.

In the dead of night, shots ring out over the grounds of a sprawling English estate. The world-weary butler Eustace recognizes the gunman—his longtime employer, Mr. Crowe—and knows he must think and act quickly. Who is the man lying dead on the lawn? Who is the woman in his company? Can he clean up his master’s mess like he always has before? Or will this bring a new kind of reckoning?

Mr. Crowe was once famed for his gifts—unaccountable gifts, known only to the members of a secretive order. Protected and privileged, he was courted by countesses and great men of letters. But he has long since retreated from that glittering world, living alone but for Eustace and Clara, his mysterious young ward. He has been content to live quietly, his great library gathering dust and his once magnificent gardens growing wild. He has left the past behind. Until now.

Because there are rules, even for Mr. Crowe and his kind, that cannot be broken. And this single night of passion and violence will have consequences, stirring shadows from the past and threatening those he now cares for. He and the faithful Eustace will be tested as never before. So too will Clara, whose own extraordinary gifts remain hidden, even from herself. If she is to save them all, she must learn to use them quickly and unlock the secret of who she is.

It is a secret beyond imagining. A secret that will change everything.

Description from Goodreads.

“A darkly gorgeous novel of intrigue and secrets… The Maker of Swans asserts the alchemical power of language. O’Donnell’s prose is lyric, almost Nabokovian in its ability to encompass the cerebral and the sensual at once.” – New York Times

“Remarkable… O’Donnell mesmerizes with another stylish, atmospheric tale.” – CrimeReads

“Utterly beautiful… An enthralling dance over the line between literary fiction and magical fantasy.” – BookPage

Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall by  Alexandra Lange

Nonfiction / History / Business.

Few places have been as nostalgized, or as maligned, as malls. Since their birth in the 1950s, they have loomed large as temples of commerce, the agora of the suburbs. In their prime, they proved a powerful draw for creative thinkers such as Joan Didion, Ray Bradbury, and George Romero, who understood the mall’s appeal as both critics and consumers. Yet today, amid the aftershocks of financial crises and a global pandemic, as well as the rise of online retail, the dystopian husk of an abandoned shopping center has become one of our era’s defining images. Conventional wisdom holds that the mall is dead. But what was the mall, really? And have rumors of its demise been greatly exaggerated?

In her acclaimed The Design of Childhood, Alexandra Lange uncovered the histories of toys, classrooms, and playgrounds. She now turns her sharp eye to another subject we only think we know. She chronicles postwar architects’ and merchants’ invention of the mall, revealing how the design of these marketplaces played an integral role in their cultural ascent. In Lange’s perceptive account, the mall becomes newly strange and rich with contradiction: Malls are environments of both freedom and exclusion–of consumerism, but also of community. Meet Me by the Fountain is a highly entertaining and evocative promenade through the mall’s story of rise, fall, and ongoing reinvention, for readers of any generation.

Description from Goodreads.

“A thought-provoking cultural history… Lucid and well-researched, this is an insightful study of an overlooked and undervalued architectural form.” – Publishers Weekly

“A deeply researched history of the American shopping mall… Lange concludes by examining the possibility that the mall might be reborn as something more than simply a shopping space by incorporating offices, hotels, and even educational centers… The mall is dead-but it may yet live again, as Lange’s instructive book capably shows.” – Kirkus Reviews

“This thorough, culturally aware history will surprise and inspire audiences who may feel they already know the story of the shopping megaplex… Despite malls’ sometimes problematic past, Lange envisions an inspiring, community-oriented repurposing of these monuments to consumerism… her hope and optimism for more diverse and sustainable mall uses will inspire readers to see these behemoth structures as a vital and versatile resource for the future.” – Shelf Awareness

The Men by  Sandra Newman


Deep in the California woods on an evening in late August, Jane Pearson is camping with her husband Leo and their five-year-old son Benjamin. As dusk sets in, she drifts softly to sleep in a hammock strung outside the tent where Leo and Benjamin are preparing for bed. At that moment, every single person with a Y chromosome vanishes around the world, disappearing from operating theaters mid-surgery, from behind the wheels of cars, from arguments and acts of love. Children, adults, even fetuses are gone in an instant. Leo and Benjamin are gone. No one knows why, how, or where.

After the Disappearance, Jane forces herself to enter a world she barely recognizes, one where women must create new ways of living while coping with devastating grief. As people come together to rebuild depopulated industries and distribute scarce resources, Jane focuses on reuniting with an old college girlfriend, Evangelyne Moreau, leader of the Commensalist Party of America, a rising political force in this new world. Meanwhile, strange video footage called “The Men” is being broadcast online showing images of the vanished men marching through barren, otherworldly landscapes. Is this just a hoax, or could it hold the key to the Disappearance?

From the author of The Heavens, The Men is a gripping, beautiful, and disquieting novel of feminist utopias and impossible sacrifices that interrogates the dream of a perfect society and the conflict between individual desire and the good of the community.

Description from Goodreads.

“A smashing feminist utopia (or dystopia)… Newman provides powerful insights on the limits of sacrifice. As all the characters converge, the author introduces startling explanations for the mass disappearance. This is a stunner.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

The Men, like Newman’s previous novel The Heavens, teases us with the idea of utopia. What would we sacrifice to get there? Is it possible for human frailty to create a perfect world? It’s a morally hard-edged and grippingly weird fiction. There’s a gesture to the feminist sci-fi of Joanna Russ’s The Female Man but also to the abysmal imagination of that old lunatic H.P. Lovecraft. And Newman can write a beautiful sentence, the kind that unfolds itself into a small revelation… A gripping, haunting novel.” – Spectator

“To create a work of fiction with such a stark premise runs the risk of confronting the reader with a task of reimagining that is hard to see beyond. But although it’s true that The Men never allows us to forget its dramatic first principle, numerous other strands and themes emerge: the long aftermath of trauma and coercive control; various manifestations of charisma and complicity; the insidious, dehumanizing effects of a society in thrall to screen representations of reality… It is in the exploration of these areas, the hinterland beyond the shock headline, that The Men really intrigues and disturbs.” – The Guardian

A Mirror Mended by  Alix E. Harrow

Fiction / Fantasy.

Zinnia Gray, professional fairy-tale fixer and lapsed Sleeping Beauty, is over rescuing snoring princesses. Once you’ve rescued a dozen damsels and burned fifty spindles, once you’ve gotten drunk with twenty good fairies and made out with one too many members of the royal family, you start to wish some of these girls would just get a grip and try solving their own narrative issues.

Just when Zinnia’s beginning to think she can’t handle one more princess, she glances into a mirror and sees another face looking back at her: the shockingly gorgeous face of evil, asking for her help. Because there’s more than one person trapped in a story they didn’t choose. Snow White’s Evil Queen has found out how her story ends, and she’s desperate for a better ending. She wants Zinnia to help her before it’s too late for everyone. Will Zinnia accept the Queen’s poisonous request and save them both from the hot-iron shoes that wait for them, or will she try another path?

Description from Goodreads.

“Readers who love stories that twist narratives into knots will fall for Harrow’s fractured fairy tale.” – Library Journal

“A lively, engaging fairy-tale retelling perfect for devouring in a single sitting.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Zinnia is a wonderfully unique figure in the long tradition of bibliofantasy: a reluctant heroine whose superpower doesn’t derive from spindles or mirrors, but from skillfully deconstructing the very stories she’s in.” – Locus

One’s Company by  Ashley Hutson


Bonnie Lincoln just wants to be left alone. To come home from work, shut out the ghosts of some devastating losses, and unwind in front of the nostalgic, golden glow of her favorite TV show, Three’s Company.

When Bonnie wins the lottery, a more grandiose vision—to completely shuck off her own troublesome identity—takes shape. She plans a drastic move to an isolated mountain retreat where she can re-create the iconic apartment set of Three’s Company and slip into the lives of its main characters: no-nonsense Janet Wood, pleasantly airheaded Chrissy Snow, and confident Jack Tripper. While her best friend, Krystal, tries to drag her back to her old life, Bonnie is determined to transcend pain, trauma, and the baggage of her past by immersing herself in the ultimate binge-watch.

Description from Goodreads.

“This novel hooked me from the very first line… Hutson’s prose is both simple and captivating, containing nuggets of wisdom that peek into the complexity of humanity.” – BuzzFeed

“[An] affecting and ingenious debut… This darkly clever work dramatizes the necessity and fragility of illusions, showing how they can crumble when broadcast to the world. Hutson is off to a brilliant start.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“[Ashley] Hutson is far too smart… to turn Bonnie into an easy case study on the effects of trauma… Hutson’s prose, too, is as cleareyed and convincing as the novel’s premise is farcical… Looks at trauma, wealth, and infatuation through a startlingly original lens.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Rough Draft: A Memoir by  Katy Tur

Nonfiction / Memoir / Television / Journalism.

“Television journalism is the worst job on the planet like motherhood is the worst job on the planet. It’s messy and often absurdly unpleasant and you’re constantly being judged by strangers and, yes, there are other wonderful ways to lead your life. But I can’t think of a richer way to spend mine.”

Before Katy Tur was an anchor on MSNBC, a bestselling author, and the wife of CBS This Morning’s Tony Dokoupil (a.k.a. “the guy with the good hair”), she was just another young journalist reporting on hurricanes and holdups. Katy’s passion for news began as a toddler when she would ride in her parents’ helicopter as they reported on forest fires, Madonna’s wedding, and, of course, O.J. Simpson.

In Rough Draft, Tur reveals a life lived in TV news, from her beginnings as the daughter of groundbreaking helicopter journalists in Los Angeles, to being a storm chaser, to upstart Trump campaign reporter “Little Katy,” to national news anchor, and now, a mother of two. She opens up for the first time about her complicated relationship with her parents and she brings us behind the desk and behind the scenes to reveal what it was like to guide millions through the craziest era in news America has ever seen.

Tur writes about unique and often funny milestones (the semi-glow of bestseller acclaim, the art of the teleprompter) and relatable rites of passage (impostor syndrome, a difficult maternity leave, a husband who insists on feeding the baby beans). She also reflects on the business of broadcast news, and her role in it during a time of massive chaos, disinformation, and extremism.

More than a book about the news, Rough Draft is about rising to the moment, embracing the unexpected, and learning to write your own story.

Description from Goodreads.

“Introspective and bitingly funny… a thrilling ride.” – Publisher’s Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Raw… deeply personal… Memoir readers will be captivated by Tur’s story.” – Library Journal

“[Tur’s] family story is thoroughly involving.” – Booklist

The Twilight World by  Werner Herzog ★

fiction / Historical fiction.

In 1997, Werner Herzog was in Tokyo to direct an opera. His hosts asked him, Whom would you like to meet? He replied instantly: Hiroo Onoda. Onoda was a former solider famous for having quixotically defended an island in the Philippines for decades after World War II, unaware the fighting was over. Herzog and Onoda developed an instant rapport and would meet many times, talking for hours and together unraveling the story of Onoda’s long war.

At the end of 1944, on Lubang Island in the Philippines, with Japanese troops about to withdraw, Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda was given orders by his superior officer: Hold the island until the Imperial army’s return. You are to defend its territory by guerrilla tactics, at all costs… There is only one rule. You are forbidden to die by your own hand. In the event of your capture by the enemy, you are to give them all the misleading information you can. So began Onoda’s long campaign, during which he became fluent in the hidden language of the jungle. Soon weeks turned into months, months into years, and years into decades–until eventually time itself seemed to melt away. All the while Onoda continued to fight his fictitious war, at once surreal and tragic, at first with other soldiers, and then, finally, alone, a character in a novel of his own making.

In The Twilight World, Herzog immortalizes and imagines Onoda’s years of absurd yet epic struggle in an inimitable, hypnotic style–part documentary, part poem, and part dream–that will be instantly recognizable to fans of his films. The result is a novel completely unto itself, a sort of modern-day Robinson Crusoe tale: a glowing, dancing meditation on the purpose and meaning we give our lives.

Description from Goodreads.

“Fans of Herzog’s films—filled with obsessive characters, quixotic journeys, and the natural world as antagonist—will by captivated by his first novel… Part Aguirre, The Wrath of God, part Apocalypse Now, and part fever dream, Herzog’s The Twilight World casts a spell that asks us to consider who we are and what we’re fighting for.” – Elle

“[A] stunning tale of obsession unto madness by a master of that narrow but fruitful genre… Herzog fans will hope for a film to come. Meanwhile, this evocation of loyalty to a lost cause serves beautifully.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Through spare language and minimal detail that recall Herzog’s screenwriting technique, together with great leaps through time, the novel spans the full 29 years of Onoda’s remarkable story while keeping the focus on him… A brief but powerful and noteworthy addition to the résumé of a master storyteller; fans of Herzog’s films will see the filmmaker’s cinematic fingerprints all over this absurdist, if absorbing, story.” – Library Journal

Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation by  Linda Villarosa

Nonfiction / Health / Current Events.

In 2018, Linda Villarosa’s New York Times Magazine article on maternal and infant mortality among black mothers and babies in America caused an awakening. Hundreds of studies had previously established a link between racial discrimination and the health of Black Americans, with little progress toward solutions. But Villarosa’s article exposing that a Black woman with a college education is as likely to die or nearly die in childbirth as a white woman with an eighth grade education made racial disparities in health care impossible to ignore.

Now, in Under the Skin, Linda Villarosa lays bare the forces in the American health-care system and in American society that cause Black people to “live sicker and die quicker” compared to their white counterparts. Today’s medical texts and instruments still carry fallacious slavery-era assumptions that Black bodies are fundamentally different from white bodies. Study after study of medical settings show worse treatment and outcomes for Black patients. Black people live in dirtier, more polluted communities due to environmental racism and neglect from all levels of government. And, most powerfully, Villarosa describes the new understanding that coping with the daily scourge of racism ages Black people prematurely. Anchored by unforgettable human stories and offering incontrovertible proof, Under the Skin is dramatic, tragic, and necessary reading.

Description from Goodreads.

“Perhaps one of the most important and thought-provoking publications of the year… a stunning exposé of why Black people in our society ‘live sicker and die quicker’—an eye-opening game changer.” – Oprah Daily

Under the Skin is an eye-opening and necessary text that will fundamentally change the way you look at healthcare in the US.” – BuzzFeed

“A stunning look at the racial disparities in health outcomes for Black and white Americans… Skillfully interweaving historical and medical facts with empathetic profiles of people who have been affected by HIV/AIDS, Covid-19, and other health crises enabled by structural racism, Villarosa delivers a passionate call for equality in the American medical system. The result is an urgent and utterly convincing must-read.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

We Carry Their Bones: The Search for Justice at the Dozier School for Boys by  Erin Kimmerle

Nonfiction / History / True Crime.

The Arthur G. Dozier Boys School was a well-guarded secret in Florida for over a century, until reports of cruelty, abuse, and “mysterious” deaths shut the institution down in 2011. Established in 1900, the juvenile reform school accepted children as young as six years of age for crimes as harmless as truancy or trespassing. The boys sent there, many of whom were Black, were subject to brutal abuse, routinely hired out to local farmers by the school’s management as indentured labor, and died either at the school or attempting to escape its brutal conditions.

In the wake of the school’s shutdown, Erin Kimmerle, a leading forensic anthropologist, stepped in to locate the school’s graveyard to determine the number of graves and who was buried there, thus beginning the process of reuniting the boys with their families through forensic and DNA testing. The school’s poorly kept accounting suggested some thirty-one boys were buried in unmarked graves in a remote field on the school’s property. The real number was at least twice that. Kimmerle’s work did not go unnoticed; residents and local law enforcement threatened and harassed her team in their eagerness to control the truth she was uncovering–one she continues to investigate to this day.

We Carry Their Bones is a detailed account of Jim Crow America and an indictment of the reform school system as we know it. It’s also a fascinating dive into the science of forensic anthropology and an important retelling of the extraordinary efforts taken to bring these lost children home to their families–an endeavor that created a political firestorm and a dramatic reckoning with racism and shame in the legacy of America.

Description from Goodreads.

“Gripping… Kimmerle speaks eloquently to official crimes that have yet to be fully accounted for, giving a closely observed account of forensic investigation along the way. A horrific story of true crime, unjust punishment, and the quest for justice for the victims of a cruel state.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW


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