Best New Books: Week of 10/11/22

“If you could be nothing, you could also be everything. Once my molecules had dispersed, I would be here forever. Free. Part of the timeless. The sky and the ocean would also be me. Molecules never die, I thought.” – Lydia Millet, A Children’s Bible

A Ballet of Lepers: A Novel and Stories by  Leonard Cohen


A Ballet of LepersBefore Leonard Cohen’s worldwide fame expanded to fourteen studio albums, Grammy awards, and late-career global tours, he yearned for literary stardom. The Canadian songwriter of iconic hits like “Hallelujah,” “Suzanne,” and “Famous Blue Raincoat” first ventured into writing in his early twenties, and in A Ballet of Lepers: A Novel and Stories, readers will discover that the magic that animated Cohen’s unforgettable body of work was present from the very beginning of his career.

The pieces in this collection, written between 1956 and 1961 and including short fiction, a radio play, and a stunning early novel, offer startling insights into Cohen’s imagination and creative process. Cohen explores themes that would permeate his later work, from shame and unworthiness to sexual desire in all its sacred and profane dimensions to longing, whether for love, family, freedom, or transcendence. The titular novel, A Ballet of Lepers–one he later remarked was “probably a better novel” than his celebrated book The Favourite Game–is a haunting examination of these elements in tandem, focusing on toxic relationships and the lengths to which one will go to maintain them, while the fifteen stories, as well as the playscript, probe the inner demons of his characters, many of whom could function as stand-ins for the author himself.

Cohen’s work is meditative and surprising, offering playful, provocative, and penetrating glimpses into the world-weary lives of his characters, and a window into the early art of a storytelling master. A Ballet of Lepers, vivid in its detail, unsparing in its gaze, reveals the great artist and visceral genius as never seen before.

“Cohen’s life and art have been dissected for years, but as this revealing volume proves, there are still new shades of him to discover.” – Esquire

“An enthralling collection of work written in the 1950s and ’60s, as complex and dark as [Cohen’s] lyrics… Cohen writes brilliantly of desire and cruelty as his desperate characters yearn for connection. This is magnificent.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] marvelous collection… Many tales are set in his native Montreal, but in their execution and interpretation of the human condition, they are universal and even familiar… The Leonard Cohen we know from his songs is here, too, in his precocious way of telling a story (especially the ones that touch on physical frailty and the indignity of aging), and, overall, in the intoxicating way his words flow across the page. Cohen was a wordsmith of the first order.”- Booklist

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Before All the World by  Moriel Rothman-Zecher

Fiction / historical fiction.

Before All the World“ikh gleyb nit az di gantze velt iz kheyshekh.”
“I do not believe that all the world is darkness.”

In the swirl of Philadelphia at the end of Prohibition, Leyb meets Charles. They are at a former speakeasy called Cricket’s, a bar that welcomes, as Charles says in his secondhand Yiddish, feygeles. Leyb is startled; fourteen years in amerike has taught him that his native tongue is not known beyond his people. And yet here is suave Charles, fingers stained with ink, an easy manner with the barkeep, a Black man from the Seventh Ward, a fellow traveler of Red Emma’s, speaking Jewish to a young man he will come to call Lion.

Lion is haunted by memories of life before, in Zatelsk, where everyone in his village, everyone except the ten non-Jews, a young poet named Gittl, and Leyb himself, was taken to the forest and killed.

And then, miraculously, Gittl is in Philadelphia, too, thanks to a poem she wrote and the intervention of a shadowy character known only as the Baroness of Philadelphia. And surrounding Gittl are malokhim, the spirits of her siblings.

Flowing and churning and seething with a glorious surge of language, carried along by questions of survival and hope and the possibility of a better world, Moriel Rothman-Zecher’s Before All the World lays bare the impossibility of escaping trauma, the necessity of believing in a better way ahead, and the power that comes from our responsibility to the future. It asks, in the voices of its angels, the most essential question: What do you intend to do before all the world?

“A one-of-a-kind creation.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Original, daring, experimental, moving, poignant, engaging… With shades of Tony Kushner and Cynthia Ozick… Before All the World understands how our worlds are made by words, and in the altering of the latter we may as yet redeem the former.” – The Millions

“Rich and engrossing… A powerful story, brilliantly told.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

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The Book of Boundaries: Set the Limits That Will Set You Free by  Melissa Urban

Nonfiction / Self-help.

The Book of BoundariesDo your relationships often feel one-sided or unbalanced? Are you always giving in just so things will go smoothly? Do you wish you could learn to say no—but, like, nicely? Are you depleted, overwhelmed, and tired of putting everyone else’s needs ahead of your own? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to establish some boundaries.

Since launching the mega-bestselling wellness program the Whole30, Melissa Urban has taught millions of people how to establish healthy habits and successfully navigate pushback and peer pressure. She knows firsthand that boundaries—clear limits you establish to protect your energy, time, and health—are all that stand between you and feelings of security, confidence, and freedom.

Now, in The Book of Boundaries, she shows you how boundaries are the key to better mental health, increased energy, improved productivity, and more fulfilling relationships.

In her famously direct and compassionate style, Urban offers:

• 130+ scripts with language you can use to instantly establish boundaries with bosses and co-workers, romantic partners, parents and in-laws, co-parents, friends, family, neighbors, strangers—and yourself
• actionable advice to help you communicate your needs with clarity and compassion
• tips for successfully navigating boundary guilt, pushback, pressure, and oversteps
• techniques to create healthy habits around food, drink, technology, and more

User-friendly and approachable, The Book of Boundaries will give you the tools you need to stop justifying, minimizing, and apologizing, leading you to more rewarding relationships and a life that feels bigger, healthier, and freer.

“Urban’s encouraging tone and detailed ‘scripts,’ which provide examples of what one might say in common situations to establish boundaries, make for an empathetic and pragmatic outing. This helpful manual is a boon for those unsure of how to set limits.” – Publishers Weekly

The British Cookbook: Authentic Home Cooking Recipes from England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland by  Ben Mervis

Nonfiction / cooking / History / Travel.

The British CookbookIn The British Cookbook, author and food historian Ben Mervis takes readers on a mouth-watering culinary tour across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, revealing a cuisine as diverse as the landscape from which it originates.

Part cookbook, part cultural history, this deeply researched collection of 550 authentic recipes encompasses home-cooked classics, such as Shepherd’s Pie, Welsh Rarebit, Scottish Crumpets, and Victoria Sponge; lesser-known and regional recipes, such as Bonfire Night Black Peas and Dublin Bay Prawns; dishes deeply steeped in British history, such as Haggis and Devils on Horseback; and iconic dishes with roots outside of the United Kingdom, such as Chicken Tikka Masala, Curry Goat, and Sesame Prawn Toast.

The recipes are fascinating to read and easy to follow, with lively descriptions of each dish’s origins; clear, user-friendly instructions; and helpful notes on unique ingredients and techniques. Stunning photographs of food and local scenery complete this exciting ode to British cuisine.

“A treasure trove of splendidly named delicacies… This is one of those cookbooks that works as well for reference as it does for actual cooking, though the wealth of griddle cakes, crumpets, loaves, and buns alone makes a compelling case for the latter.” – Eater

“Nothing goes to waste in this bountiful feast. Anglophiles and hungry history buffs will find much to explore.” – Publishers Weekly

Daughters of the New Year by  E.M. Tran

Fiction / Historical Fiction.

Daughters of the New YearWhat does the future hold for those born in the years of the Dragon, Tiger, and Goat?

In present day New Orleans, Xuan Trung, former beauty queen turned refugee after the Fall of Saigon, is obsessed with divining her daughters’ fates through their Vietnamese zodiac signs. But Trac, Nhi and Trieu diverge completely from their immigrant parents’ expectations. Successful lawyer Trac hides her sexuality from her family; Nhi competes as the only woman of color on a Bachelor-esque reality TV show; and Trieu, a budding writer, is determined to learn more about her familial and cultural past.

As the three sisters begin to encounter strange glimpses of long-buried secrets from the ancestors they never knew, the story of the Trung women unfurls to reveal the dramatic events that brought them to America. Moving backwards in time, E.M. Tran takes us into the high school classrooms of New Orleans, to Saigon beauty pageants, to twentieth century rubber plantations, traversing a century as the Trungs are both estranged and united by the ghosts of their tumultuous history.

A “haunted story of resilience and survival” (Meng Jin, Little Gods), Daughters of the New Year is an addictive, high-wire act of storytelling that illuminates an entire lineage of extraordinary women fighting to reclaim the power they’ve been stripped of for centuries.

“Extraodinary… In unraveling the tapestry from present to past, Tran delivers an astounding family archive.” – BuzzFeed

“A haunted journey through a family’s history… The way is guided by specters of Vietnamese women… as their history becomes apparent to the reader, the daughters and even the mother remain in the dark about their ancestors’ secrets and lives, making the reader feel much more keenly how much was lost through colonization, war, racism and displacement.” – Seattle Times

“Absorbing… As Tran moves further back in time, the women’s lives become more elliptical, reminiscent of fading echoes… Tran adroitly claims [her family’s] enduring stories.” – Shelf Awareness

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Dinosaurs by  Lydia Millet ★


DinosaursOver twelve novels and two collections Lydia Millet has emerged as a major American novelist, writing vividly about the ties between people and other animals and the crisis of extinction.

Her exquisite new novel, the first since A Children’s Bible (“a blistering little classic”—Ron Charles, Washington Post), tells the story of an Arizona man’s relationship with the family next door, whose house has one wall made entirely out of glass. The story delivers attraction and love, friendship and grief. But Millet also evokes the uncanny. Through close observation of human and animal life in the desert, she captures the daunting scale of human society without losing sight of the real difference one person can make in the world.

Written with humor and benevolence, Dinosaurs asks big questions. Can a person be good? Can a man be good? Compellingly told, emotionally moving, intellectually rich, Dinosaurs may be Millet’s finest novel yet.

“Tender but never sentimental, wearing its intelligence in a low-slung style, Dinosaurs is a garden of earthly delights.” – Vogue

“[A]n intriguing portrait of a lonesome man trying to do good in a grim world.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“[E]nfolds thematic and psychological depths in elegant, deceptively simply prose… Another life-affirming work from a writer who always carves her own literary path.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Millet returns with a brilliant story of survival, one subtler and more effective than the NBA-shortlisted A Children’s Bible… This wonderful and dynamic writer is at the top of her game.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

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Down and Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain by  Charles Leerhsen

Nonfiction / biography / Food.

Down and Out in ParadiseAnthony Bourdain’s death by suicide in June, 2018 shocked people around the world. Bourdain seemed to have it all: an irresistible personality, a dream job, a beautiful family, and international fame. The reality, though, was more complicated than it seemed.

Bourdain became a celebrity with his bestselling book Kitchen Confidential. He parlayed it into a series of hit television shows, including the Food Channel’s Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and CNN’s Parts Unknown. But his charisma belied a troubled spirit. Addiction and an obsession with perfection and personal integrity ruined two marriages and turned him into a boss from hell, even as millions became intrigued by the ever-curious and genuinely empathetic traveler they saw on TV. Bourdain was already running out of steam, physically and emotionally, when he fell hard for an Italian actress who could be even colder to him than he sometimes was to others, and who effectively drove a wedge between him and his young daughter.

Down and Out in Paradise is the first book to tell the true and full Bourdain story, relating the highs and lows of an extraordinary life. Leerhsen shows how Bourdain’s never-before-reported childhood traumas fueled both his creativity and the insecurities that would lead him to a place of despair.

“An unvarnished account of a turbulent life… Grittier than anything we’ve read about him before… [Leerhsen] is not here, though, to discredit or dismiss his subject. His admiration for Bourdain is nearly always apparent… [Bourdain] would have admired the author’s guts.” – New York Times

“[A] well-researched, thoughtful examination of the late Bourdain… Leerhsen’s page-turner provides a well-rounded portrait of Bourdain, acknowledging his many faults as well as his empathy, work ethic, and creativity.” – Library Journal

“Peels back the veneer of the Bourdain brand… Leerhsen shares salacious details, but with an air of respect toward his much-beloved subject… Bourdain’s life reads like a cautionary tale of a man who wished for something—and got it… The world is better for his work, but at such a devastating price.” – Booklist

Dying of Politeness: A Memoir by  Geena Davis

Nonfiction / Memoir / Movies / Television.

Dying of PolitenessFrom two-time Academy Award winner and screen icon Geena Davis, the surprising tale of her journey to badassery–from her epically polite childhood to roles that loaned her the strength to become a powerhouse in Hollywood.

At three years old, Geena Davis announced she was going to be in movies. Now, with a slew of iconic roles and awards under her belt, she has surpassed her childhood dream–but the path to finding yourself never did run smoothly. In this simultaneously hilarious and candid memoir, Davis regales us with tales of a career playing everything from an amnesiac assassin to the parent of a rodent, her eccentric childhood, her relationships, and helping lead the way to gender parity in Hollywood–all while learning to be a little more badass, one role at a time. Dying of Politeness is a touching account of one woman’s journey to fight for herself, and ultimately fighting for women all around the globe.

“[A] great single-day read that’s hard to put down, the story of a life that’s warm, real, and not plastic… Davis writes with authenticity—like someone readers would like to know… For admirers of Davis, film, or anyone who believes women deserve an equal voice in their industry. In particular, her take on the appeal of Thelma and Louise is spot on.” – Library Journal

“Academy Award winner Davis makes an engaging literary debut with a candid, appealing memoir recounting her evolution from self-effacing young woman to feisty activist… An entertaining and ebullient memoir.” – Kirkus Reviews

“With saucy self-deprecation, robust glee, and touch of goofiness, Davis recounts behind-the-scenes anecdotes from her award-winning film and TV career with a dishiness that only thinly veils the underlying message of empowerment and commitment that enabled her own journey to women’s advocacy for gender equality and opportunity off- and on screen… Davis’ memoir will be hot, given its dual draw of Hollywood tales and urgently needed gender-rights advocacy.” – Booklist

A Horse at Night: On Writing by  Amina Cain

Nonfiction / Writing.

A Horse at Night“Without planning it, I wrote a diary of sorts. Lightly. A diary of fiction. Or is that not what this is?”

A series of essayistic inquiries come together to form a sustained meditation on writers and their works, on the spaces of reading and writing fiction, and how these spaces take shape inside a life. Driven by primary questions of authenticity and freedom in the shadow of ecological and social collapse, A Horse at Night: On Writing moves associatively through a personal canon of authors—including Marguerite Duras, Elena Ferrante, Renee Gladman, and Virginia Woolf—and topics as timely and various as female friendships, zazen meditation, neighborhood coyotes, landscape painting, book titles, and the politics of excess. Amina Cain’s first nonfiction book is an individual reckoning with the contemporary moment and a quietly brilliant contribution to the lineage of Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own or William H. Gass’s On Being Blue, books that are virtuosic arguments for—and beautiful demonstrations of—the essential unity of writing and life.

“Cain offers a spare, graceful meditation on her rich, idiosyncratic reading and her practice of writing.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Readers will relish following Cain’s winding prose and carefully considered conclusions. Fans of her work—and of literary criticism more generally—won’t want to miss this.” – Publishers Weekly

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If I Were the Ocean, I’d Carry You Home: Stories by  Pete Hsu


If I Were the Ocean, I'd Carry You HomeFull of warmth, terror, and underhanded humor, If I Were the Ocean, I’d Carry You Home, Pete Hsu’s debut story collection, captures the essence of surviving in a life set adrift. Children and young people navigate a world where the presence of violence and death rear themselves in everyday places: Vegas casinos, birthday parties, church services, and sunny days at the beach. Each story is a meditation on living in a world not made for us–the pervasive fear, the adaptations, the unexpected longings. A gripping and energetic debut, Hsu’s writing beats with the naked rhythms of an unsettled human heart.

“[A] wonderful debut collection… Each story has a level of anxiety, yet Hsu never overworks it. Characters’ complexity and realistic dialogue add to the emotionality and genuineness of each story in this winning collection.” – Booklist

“Hsu’s stories expose the irresistible urge to search for hope within a depraved world.” – Alta

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Little Eve by  Catriona Ward

Fiction / Horror / Mystery / Historical Fiction.

Little Eve“A great day is upon us. He is coming. The world will be washed away.”

On the wind-battered isle of Altnaharra, off the wildest coast of Scotland, a clan prepares to bring about the end of the world and its imminent rebirth.

The Adder is coming and one of their number will inherit its powers. They all want the honor, but young Eve is willing to do anything for the distinction.

A reckoning beyond Eve’s imagination begins when Chief Inspector Black arrives to investigate a brutal murder and their sacred ceremony goes terribly wrong.

And soon all the secrets of Altnaharra will be uncovered.

“Told in dual timelines, Little Eve is a deliciously spooky book, with prose like whispers on the wind. This one is for fans of cult stories (like me) and the gothic (also me), with dynamic characters and intense pseudo-religious psychology.” –

“Ward’s skillful weaving of horror and mystery forms a dense, rich tapestry… The play of imagery is as engrossing as the plot twists, making this a rewarding outing from any angle. Horror fans won’t want to miss this.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Ward is back with a proven winner… disquieting, atmospheric… impossible to look away.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Mistakes Were Made by  Meryl Wilsner

Fiction / Romance.

Mistakes Were MadeWhen Cassie Klein goes to an off-campus bar to escape her school’s Family Weekend, she isn’t looking for a hookup—it just happens. Buying a drink for a stranger turns into what should be an uncomplicated, amazing one-night stand. But then the next morning rolls around and her friend drags her along to meet her mom—the hot, older woman Cassie slept with.

Erin Bennett came to Family Weekend to get closer to her daughter, not have a one-night stand with a college senior. In her defense, she hadn’t known Cassie was a student when they’d met. To make things worse, Erin’s daughter brings Cassie to breakfast the next morning. And despite Erin’s better judgement—how could sleeping with your daughter’s friend be anything but bad?—she and Cassie get along in the day just as well as they did last night.

What should have been a one-time fling quickly proves impossible to ignore, and soon Cassie and Erin are sneaking around. Worst of all, they start to realize they have something real. But is being honest about the love between them worth the cost?

“A witty and surprisingly sweet age-gap romcom.” – Chatelaine

“[A] hilarious, high-heat rom-com… by coupling raunchy humor and genuine connection,
Wilsner’s sophomore outing offers plenty to love.” – Publishers Weekly

“It can be hard to figure out what books are worth spending your time and money on when there are so many recommendations and only so many hours in a day. I am writing this article to try to convince you that Mistakes Were Made by Meryl Wilsner is one of those books you need to add to your list.” – Her Campus

The Other Side of Night by  Adam Hamdy

Fiction / Mystery / Suspense.

The Other Side of NightThe Other Side of Night begins with a man named David Asha writing about his biggest regret: his sudden separation from his son, Elliot. In his grief, David tells a story.

Next, we step into the life of Harriet Kealty, a police officer trying to clear her name after a lapse of judgment. She discovers a curious inscription in a secondhand book—a plea: Help me, he’s trying to kill me. Who wrote this note? Who is “he”?

This note leads Harri to David Asha, who was last seen stepping off a cliff. Police suspect he couldn’t cope after his wife’s sudden death. Still, why would this man jump and leave behind his young son? Quickly, Harri’s attention zeroes in on a person she knows all too well.

Ben Elmys: once the love of her life. A surrogate father to Elliot Asha and trusted friend to the Ashas.

Ben may also be a murderer.

“This novel takes you on a twisty ride, never lets up and drops [an] ending you will never see coming… one of the best books of the year!” – Red Carpet Crash

“[A] stellar thriller… Intelligently plotted and powerfully told, Hamdy’s deviously twisty tale of fate and coincidence, love and courage, and profoundly tough choices will shock, stir, and haunt readers long after the final page. Hamdy has upped his game with this one.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Hamdy blends a police procedural with a relationship story in this engaging mix of grit and romance… Block Theory comes to crime fiction. Too twisty for some, perhaps, but just right for others.” – Booklist

Illuminations: Stories by  Alan Moore

Fiction / Fantasy / Science Fiction.

IlluminationsIn his first-ever short story collection, which spans forty years of work, Alan Moore presents a series of wildly different and equally unforgettable characters who discover–and in some cases even make and unmake–the various uncharted parts of existence.

In “A Hypothetical Lizard,” two concubines in a brothel of fantastical specialists fall in love with tragic ramifications. In “Not Even Legend,” a paranormal study group is infiltrated by one of the otherworldly beings they seek to investigate. In “Illuminations,” a nostalgic older man decides to visit a seaside resort from his youth and finds the past all too close at hand. And in the monumental novella “What We Can Know About Thunderman,” which charts the surreal and Kafkaesque history of the comics industry’s major players over the last seventy-five years, Moore reveals the dark, beating heart of the superhero business.

From ghosts and otherworldly creatures to theoretical Boltzmann brains fashioning the universe at the big bang, Illuminations is exactly that–a series of bright, startling tales from a contemporary legend that reveal the full power of imagination and magic.

“[A] fascinating collection…” – Gatecrashers

“Legendary graphic novelist Moore further burnishes his reputation in his first prose collection, which features nine career-spanning tales. The stand-out short novel ‘What We Can Know About Thunderman’ is a scathing take on the American comic book industry and its impact on popular culture and politics… [his] subversive talent is equally on display in the shorter tales… The superhero genre’s loss is fantastic fiction’s gain.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Moore’s dark humor and expert twists are on full display in these fictions. Fans of dark fantasy and dark humor will enjoy this collection from one of fantasy’s greats.” – Booklist

Rice Is Life: Recipes and Stories Celebrating the World’s Most Essential Grain by  Caryl Levine &  Ken Lee

nonfiction / cooking.

Rice Is LifeRice is so much more than just a pantry staple. It’s the foundation of cuisines across the world, a grain that sustains half the world’s people, and the start of a delicious meal at home.

In Rice Is Life, rice visionaries and founders of Lotus Foods, Caryl Levine and Ken Lee, share 65 recipes that showcase the grain in easy-to-cook meals from around the world. From Arroz Con Pollo to Hainanese-Inspired Chicken and Rice, to Ramen “Carbonara” and Soba Noodles with Green Tea Broth and Smoked Salmon, this cookbook captures the diversity of flavors and helps transform simple, gluten-free pantry staples into flavorful and nourishing dishes.

Along the way, it offers essays on rice culture and sustainable rice agriculture, showing how rice plays a part in uplifting people across the globe. With its bright and colorful interior, Rice Is Life finds the joy and freshness in the everyday beauty of rice not just as a pantry staple, but a staple of life.

Rice is central to global cooking: As the staple food for more than half the world’s population, rice is ubiquitous and is the foundation of so many cultures, including Japan, Korea, China, India, the Persian Empire, Italy, Finland, West Africa, the Caribbean, Thailand, Vietnam, the American South, and many more.

Naturally gluten-free: Rice and rice noodle–based recipes are naturally gluten free. This makes this pantry staple a core component in the diet of people with celiac disease, are sensitive to gluten, or are trying to incorporate less gluten into their diet for other reasons. This cookbook helps home cooks prepare rice with confidence and explore all its glorious possibilities.

“[A] wonderful single subject cookbook celebrating the rich history and present of rice.” – Edible Inland Northwest

“[The] deep rice expertise will go a long way in helping home cooks go around the world at the table.” – Publishers Weekly

“This cookbook is an excellent choice for anyone who likes rice… The recipes are easy-to-follow and written in the traditional form so that both beginning and advanced cooks will have no problem preparing them.” – Bella Online

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The Runaway Restaurant: Stories by  Tessa Yang

Fiction / Science Fiction.

The Runaway RestaurantA young woman falls in love with a biohacked model, a woman with gadgets implanted in various parts of her body. A mother searches for her missing daughter by taking on a hitchhiker in the hopes of finding a restaurant rumored to be a destination for runaways. A man suddenly starts dreaming the dreams of his girlfriend, but is she dreaming his? After a pandemic wipes out modern civilization, a group of survivors must decide whether to merge with the Mother Earthlings, a clan determined to repopulate the Earth.

A book for lovers of Doris Lessing and Emily St. John Mandel, Tessa Yang’s The Runaway Restaurant marks the arrival of a wry and haunting new voice in speculative literary fiction.

“This collection of 14 short stories with a wide range of subjects and rich, descriptive language brings characters and new worlds to life for readers… a well-written, and diverse collection of stories, all told from the points of view of women, with a common thread of dysfunctional, everyday people throughout. The collection evokes a sense of mystery, almost an unfinished air, as if the stories continue, just not for the readers.” – Booklist

“Yang debuts with a promising speculative collection largely focused on the isolation of young and marginalized women… Readers will be delighted by Yang’s creative examination of her characters’ psyches.” – Publishers Weekly

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The Visible Unseen: Essays by  Andrea Chapela; translated by  Kelsi Vanada

nonfiction / science / philosophy.

The Visible UnseenAndrea Chapela, one of Granta’s Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists of 2021, breaks down literary and scientific conventions in this prize-winning collection of experimental essays exploring the properties and poetics of glass, mirrors, and light as a means of understanding the self.

In powerful, formally inventive essays, The Visible Unseen disrupts the purported cultural divide between arts and science. As both a chemist and an award-winning author, Chapela zeros in on the literary metaphors buried in the facts and figures of her scientific observations. Through questioning scientific conundrums that lie beyond the limits of human perception, she winds up putting herself under the microscope as well.

While considering the technical definition of glass as a liquid or a solid, Chapela stumbles upon a framework for understanding the in-between-ness of her own life. Turning her focus toward mirrors, she finds metaphors for our cultural obsessions with self-image in the physics and chemistry of reflection. And as she compiles a history of the scientific study of light, she comes to her final conclusion: that the purpose of description—be it scientific or literary—can never be to define reality, only to confirm our perception of it. Lyrical, introspective, and methodical, The Visible Unseen constructs a startling new perspective from which to examine ourselves and the ways we create meaning.

“[An] impressive nonfiction debut… Philosophical meditations graced by radiant prose.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

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Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions by  Temple Grandin

Nonfiction / Science / Psychology / Education.

Visual ThinkingA quarter of a century after her memoir, Thinking in Pictures, forever changed how the world understood autism, Temple Grandin–the “anthropologist on Mars,” as Oliver Sacks dubbed her–transforms our awareness of the different ways our brains are wired. Do you have a keen sense of direction, a love of puzzles, the ability to assemble furniture without crying? You are likely a visual thinker.

With her genius for demystifying science, Grandin draws on cutting-edge research to take us inside visual thinking. Visual thinkers constitute a far greater proportion of the population than previously believed, she reveals, and a more varied one, from the photo-realistic object visualizers like Grandin herself, with their intuitive knack for design and problem solving, to the abstract, mathematically inclined “visual spatial” thinkers who excel in pattern recognition and systemic thinking. She also makes us understand how a world increasingly geared to the verbal tends to sideline visual thinkers, screening them out at school and passing over them in the workplace. Rather than continuing to waste their singular gifts, driving a collective loss in productivity and innovation, Grandin proposes new approaches to educating, parenting, employing, and collaborating with visual thinkers. As this important book helps us see, in a highly competitive world we need every mind on board.

“…illuminating… a resonant testament to thinking one’s own way.” – Publishers Weekly

“An exploration of the richness of neurodiversity… the author argues persuasively for the need to encourage visual and spatial thinkers who can make crucial contributions to engineering, problem-solving, inventing, and creating… A thoughtful examination of how minds work.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[An] appealing assessment of the ways we perceive and process information… Grandin covers lots of ground here, including lessons about grit, perseverance, collaboration, public safety, and problem-solving… There is much to like about and learn from Grandin’s thoughtful book.” – Booklist


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