Best New Books: Week of 11/14/23

“I hate caring about stuff. But apparently once you start, you can’t just stop.” – Martha Wells, Rogue Protocol

The Bill Gates Problem: Reckoning with the Myth of the Good Billionaire by Tim Schwab

nonfiction / biography / politics / current events.

The Bill Gates ProblemThrough his vaunted philanthropy, Bill Gates transformed himself from a tech villain into one of the most admired people on the planet. Even as divorce proceedings and allegations of misconduct have recently tarnished his public image, the beneficence of the Gates Foundation, celebrated for spending billions to save lives around the globe, is taken as a given. But as Tim Schwab shows in this fearless investigation, Gates is still exactly who he was at Microsoft: a bully and monopolist, convinced of his own righteousness and intent on imposing his ideas, his solutions, and his leadership on everyone else. At the core, he is not a selfless philanthropist but a power broker, a clever engineer who has innovated a way to turn extreme wealth into immense political influence—and who has made us believe we should applaud his acquisition of power, not challenge it.

Piercing the blinding halo that has for too long shielded the world’s most powerful (and most secretive) charitable organization from public scrutiny, The Bill Gates Problem shows how Gates’s billions have purchased a stunning level of control over public policy, private markets, scientific research, and the news media. Whether he is pushing new educational standards in America, health reforms in India, global vaccine policy during the pandemic, or Western industrialized agriculture throughout Africa, Gates’s heady social experimentation has shown itself to be not only undemocratic, but also ineffective. In many places, Bill Gates is hurting the very people he intends to help.

No less than dark-money campaign contributions or big-business political lobbying, Bill Gates’s philanthropic empire needs to be seen as a problem of money in politics. It is a dangerous model of unconstrained power that threatens democracy and demands our attention.

“An eye-opening look at the use of tax-subsidized money by private philanthropy.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Schwab’s deep reporting offers a convincing and informative alternative to the established image of the Gates Foundation.” – Carol Haggas, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Schwab, a longtime critic of the tech billionaire, presents a searing indictment of the Gates Foundation as a labyrinthine operation that wields disproportionate political power and influence under the guise of philanthropy.” – New York Times

Blood on Their Hands: Murder, Corruption, and the Fall of the Murdaugh Dynasty by Mandy Matney & Carolyn Murnick

nonfiction / true crime.

Blood on Their HandsYears before the name Alex Murdaugh was splashed across every major media outlet in America, local South Carolina journalist Mandy Matney had an instinct that something wasn’t right in the Lowcountry. The powerful Murdaugh dynasty had dominated rural South Carolina for generations. No one dared to cross them.

When Mandy and her reporting partner Liz Farrell looked closer at a fatal boat crash involving the storied family’s teenage son Paul, they began to uncover a web of mysteries surrounding the deaths of the Murdaughs’ long-time housekeeper and a young man found slain years earlier on a backcountry road. Just as their investigations were unfolding, the brutal double murder of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh rocketed Alex Murdaugh onto the international stage.

From the newsroom to the courtroom, to the kitchen-table studio where Mandy recorded her #1 Murdaugh Murders Podcast, Blood on Their Hands is a propulsive true crime saga, an empathetic work of investigative journalism, and an excoriation of the “good old boy” systems that enabled a network of criminals.

“Matney is committed to justice in her writing, and her book is an important look at the sacrifices journalists make and the corruption they wade through in pursuit of the truth.” – Courtney Eathorne, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“…propulsive… an engrossing true crime saga and a galvanizing ode to boots-on-the-ground journalism.” – Publishers Weekly

“…well written, full of breathless accounts of secret communications from locals… True-crime fans will savor this inside look.” – Harry Charles, Library Journal

The Book of Ayn by Lexi Freiman

fiction / comedy.

The Book of AynAfter writing a satirical novel that The New York Times calls classist, Anna is shunned by the literary establishment and, in her hurt, radicalized by the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Determined to follow Rand’s theory of rational selfishness, Anna alienates herself from the scene and eventually her friends and family. Finally, in true Randian style, she abandons everyone for the boundless horizons of Los Angeles, hoping to make a TV show about her beloved muse.

Things look better in Hollywood—until the money starts running out, and with it Anna’s faith in the virtue of selfishness. When a death in the family sends her running back to New York and then spiraling at her mother’s house, Anna is offered a different kind of opportunity. A chance to kill the ego causing her pain at a mysterious commune on the island of Lesbos. The second half of Anna’s odyssey finds her exploring a very different kind of freedom – communal love, communal toilets – and a new perspective on Ayn Rand that could bring Anna back home to herself.

“A gimlet-eyed satirist of the cultural morasses and political impasses of our times” (Alexandra Kleeman), Lexi Freiman speaks in The Book of Ayn not only to a particular millennial loneliness, but also to a timeless existential predicament: the strangeness, absurdity, and hilarity of seeking meaning in the modern world.

“[A] delirious road trip through the age of selfishness… Contrarian and chaotic in the smartest way.” – Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune

“Lively, sexy, and funny, with an actual quest for meaning at its core.” – Kirkus Reviews

The Book of Ayn captures the full spectrum of what it’s like to be alive today, from profanity to profundity and back again.” – Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire

“A firecracker of a book… Irreverent and ridiculous, sarcastic and flippant, and also there’s something very real at the core, something tender, as Anna searches deeply for meaning in a culture of vapidity and reactionary politics… A bold take on political culture, virtue signaling, and the attempt to be unique and also right in a world such as ours, and it manages to do it all with humor and depth.”  – Julia Hass, Literary Hub

Broken Code: Inside Facebook and the Fight to Expose Its Harmful Secrets by Jeff Horwitz

nonfiction / business / technology / current events.

Broken CodeOnce the unrivaled titan of social media, Facebook held a singular place in culture and politics. Along with its sister platforms Instagram and WhatsApp, it was a daily destination for billions of users around the world. Inside and outside the company, Facebook extolled its products as bringing people closer together and giving them voice.

But in the wake of the 2016 election, even some of the company’s own senior executives came to consider those claims pollyannaish and simplistic. As a succession of scandals rocked Facebook, they—and the world—had to ask whether the company could control, or even understood, its own platforms.

Facebook employees set to work in pursuit of answers. They discovered problems that ran far deeper than politics. Facebook was peddling and amplifying anger, looking the other way at human trafficking, enabling drug cartels and authoritarians, allowing VIP users to break the platform’s supposedly inviolable rules. They even raised concerns about whether the product was safe for teens. Facebook was distorting behavior in ways no one inside or outside the company understood.

Enduring personal trauma and professional setbacks, employees successfully identified the root causes of Facebook’s viral harms and drew up concrete plans to address them. But the costs of fixing the platform—often measured in tenths of a percent of user engagement—were higher than Facebook’s leadership was willing to pay. With their work consistently delayed, watered down, or stifled, those who best understood Facebook’s damaging effect on users were left with a choice: to keep silent or go against their employer.

Broken Code tells the story of these employees and their explosive discoveries. Expanding on “The Facebook Files,” his blockbuster, award-winning series for The Wall Street Journal, reporter Jeff Horwitz lays out in sobering detail not just the architecture of Facebook’s failures, but what the company knew (and often disregarded) about its societal impact. In 2021, the company would rebrand itself Meta, promoting a techno-utopian wonderland. But as Broken Code shows, the problems spawned around the globe by social media can’t be resolved by strapping on a headset.

“A well-researched, disturbing study of a tech behemoth characterized by arrogance, hypocrisy, and greed.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[An] unsettling account of the social media platform’s misdeeds… Horwitz’s reporting shines, and the company’s indifference in the face of atrocity outrages… This convincingly makes the case that Facebook’s pursuit of growth at any cost has had disastrous offline consequences.” – Publishers Weekly

“Horwitz has created an essential resource for understanding Facebook employees’ whistleblowing efforts to expose harm towards its billions of users and company leadership’s willful disregard for their role in generating misinformation and disinformation and impacting elections.” – Raymond Pun, Booklist

Day by Michael Cunningham


DayApril 5, 2019: In a cozy brownstone in Brooklyn, the veneer of domestic bliss is beginning to crack. Dan and Isabel, husband and wife, are slowly drifting apart—and both, it seems, are a little bit in love with Isabel’s younger brother, Robbie. Robbie, wayward soul of the family, who still lives in the attic loft; Robbie, who, trying to get over his most recent boyfriend, is living vicariously through a glamorous avatar online; Robbie, who now has to move out of the house—and whose departure threatens to break the family apart. And then there is Nathan, age ten, taking his first uncertain steps toward independence, while his sister, Violet, five, does her best not to notice the growing rift between her parents.

April 5, 2020: As the world goes into lockdown, the cozy brownstone is starting to feel more like a prison. Violet is terrified of leaving the windows open, obsessed with keeping her family safe. Isabel and Dan communicate mostly in veiled sleights and frustrated sighs. And dear Robbie is stranded in Iceland, alone in a mountain cabin with nothing but his thoughts—and his secret Instagram life—for company.

April 5, 2021: Emerging from the worst of the crisis, the family reckons with a new, very different reality—and with what they’ve learned, what they’ve lost, and how they might go on.

“[His] best work yet… On its own, every sentence is a marvel—poetic without ever tipping into maudlin, perfectly attuned to the beauty of the quotidian—and taken together, they reveal an absolutely stunning portrait of humanity, of a time most of us are just barely beginning to sort through, but which Cunningham has managed to turn into a masterpiece.” – Jessie Gaynor, Literary Hub

“[A] quietly profound portrait of a Brooklyn family navigating love and loss… [that] handles recent history with care and nuance.” – Megan McCluskey, Time

“…Cunningham beautifully pries apart the notion of what it means to have outgrown something, to be living in the liminal space between an earlier self and a future self, to be unable ‘to reenter the orderly passage of time.'” – Hillary Kelly, Los Angeles Times

“In this stunning novel, the pandemic is never mentioned by name, yet its shattering fallout deeply molds everyone’s lives… The pandemic steamrollered over our lives and left us to pick up the pieces, but it also shed clarity on our values. Cunningham brilliantly and skillfully demonstrates how such contradictions are possible.” – Poornima Apte, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Everyday Something Has Tried to Kill Me and Has Failed: Notes from Periracial America by Kim McLarin

nonfiction / memoir / current events.

Everyday Something Has Tried to Kill Me and Has Failed“…come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.”
―from Lucille Clifton, “won’t you celebrate with me.”

“What does periracial mean? It’s a word I made up while casting about for a way to capture both the chronic nature of structural injustice and inequity of America and my own weariness. A way to label life under that particular tooth in the zipper of interlocking systems of oppression bell hooks called “imperialist white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy.” (What a lot to resist. No wonder we’re so tired!) To capture the endless cycle of progress and backlash which has shaped my one small life here in America during the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. To counter the idea―now largely abandoned but innocently believed for most of my adult life by white Americans on both ends of the political spectrum― that America has ever been post-racial. To suggest that I suspect, at this sad rate, we never will be.”―Kim McLarin, on the meaning of Periracial

With accumulated wisdom and sharp-eyed clarity, Everyday Something Has Tried to Kill Me And Has Failed addresses the joys and hardships of being an older Black woman in contemporary, “periracial” America. Award-winning author Kim McLarin utilizes deeply personal experiences to illuminate the pain and power of aging, Blackness and feminism, in the process capturing the endless cycle of progress and backlash that has long shaped race and gender.

“Genuine, unrestrained musings, both political and personal, on life as a Black woman in contemporary America… A highly rewarding, commiserating nod as well as an astute rallying cry.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“While McLarin does not mince words about her thoughts on the state of being Black in this nation, she becomes more introspective on topics such as aging, hair, and motorcycles. It is in these essays that readers are able to delve deeper into her persona. The essay about her dog shows McLarin at her rawest as she recounts her pet’s last days.” – Anjelica Rufus-Barnes, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

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Flight of the WASP: The Rise, Fall and Future of America’s Original Ruling Class by Michael Gross

nonfiction / history / sociology.

Flight of the WASPFor decades, writers from Cleveland Amory to Joseph Alsop to the editors of Politico have proclaimed the diminishment of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, who for generations were the dominant socio-cultural-political force in America. While the WASP elite has, in the last half century, indeed drifted from American centrality to the periphery, its relevance and impact remain, as Michael Gross reveals in his compelling chronicle.

From Colonial America’s founding settlements through the Gilded Age to the present day, Gross traces the complex legacy of American WASPs—their profound accomplishments and egregious failures—through the lives of fifteen influential individuals and their very privileged, sometimes intermarried families. As the Bradford, Randolph, Morris, Biddle, Sanford, Peabody and Whitney clans progress, prosper and periodically stumble, defining aspects in the four-century sweep of American history emerge: our wide, oft-contentious religious diversity; the deep scars of slavery, genocide, and intolerance; the creation and sometime mis-use of astonishing economic and political power; an enduring belief in the future; an instinct to offset inequity with philanthropy; an equal capacity for irresponsible, sometimes wanton, behavior.

“American society was supposed to be different,” writes Gross, “but for most of our history we have had a patriciate, an aristocracy, a hereditary oligarchic upper class, who initiated the American national experiment.” In previous acclaimed books such as 740 Park and Rogues’ Gallery, Gross has explored elite culture in microcosm; expanding the canvas, Flight of the WASP chronicles it across four centuries and fifteen generations in an ambitious and consequential contribution to American history.

“…immersive and nuanced… Striking an expert balance between the big picture and intimate thumbnails, this is an enlightening study of American culture.” – Publishers Weekly

“[A] thoughtful deep dive into the history of the country and who has wielded power here [that] is kept lively thanks to Gross’s ability to spin yarns that make even the Pilgrims feel exciting.” – Town & Country

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Gator Country: Deception, Danger, and Alligators in the Everglades by Rebecca Renner

nonfiction / true crime / nature.

Gator CountryTo catch a Florida Man, you have to become one, and that’s what Officer Jeff Babauta did. As his ponytailed, whiskey-soaked alter ego, he established Sunshine Alligator Farm. His goal? Infiltrate the shady world of illegal poachers in the Florida Everglades in order to protect the natural world.

A head-spinning adventure soon unfolds. Jeff deals with glow-in-the-dark alligators and high-speed airboat rides, but quickly learns that not all poachers are villains. They’re simply people trying to survive, fighting against the poverty and greed holding them down. Jeff wants to solve the mystery of alligator poachers, and in doing so he must venture deeper into a strange ecosystem where right is wrong, and justice comes at the cost of those who’ve welcomed him into their world.

Gator Country is the twisting true story of the impossible choices individuals must make to stay afloat in this world. Through its wholly unique blend of reporting, nature writing, and personal narrative, this book transports readers to vibrant and dangerous Florida landscapes and offers intimate portraits of those who call the region home. Broad in scope and vivid in detail, Gator Country is a fast paced tale of the risks people will take to survive in one of the world’s most beautiful yet formidable landscapes and the undercover investigation that threatens to topple the whole scheme.

“[A] fascinating debut… Renner teases out the moral ambiguities with a grace and rigor reminiscent of Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief. Beautifully evoking the ‘sawgrass plains and wild strands of jungle’ of its author’s home state, this tale of power, politics, and tradition is a triumph.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Renner’s passion for her home state, compassion for those less fortunate, and gift of storytelling make this book difficult to put down. Enlightening and full of suspense.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Readers of this book are in for an adventure… Renner’s writing skills shine in this story. Audiences of all types will appreciate this easy-to-read narrative as well as Renner’s knowledge of the area, her academic ability, her candor, and her insights into human nature.” – Steve Dixon, Library Journal

Ghosts of Honolulu: A Japanese Spy, a Japanese American Spy Hunter, and the Untold Story of Pearl Harbor by Mark Harmon & Leon Carroll, Jr.

nonfiction / history / biography.

Ghosts of HonoluluHawaii, 1941. War clouds with Japan are gathering and the islands of Hawaii have become battlegrounds of spies, intelligence agents, and military officials – with the island’s residents caught between them. Toiling in the shadows are Douglas Wada, the only Japanese American agent in naval intelligence, and Takeo Yoshikawa, a Japanese spy sent to Pearl Harbor to gather information on the U.S. fleet.

Douglas Wada’s experiences in his native Honolulu include posing undercover as a newspaper reporter, translating wiretaps on the Japanese Consulate, and interrogating America’s first captured POW of World War II, a submarine officer found on the beach. Takeo Yoshikawa is a Japanese spy operating as a junior diplomat with the consulate who is collecting vital information that goes straight to Admiral Yamamoto. Their dueling stories anchor Ghosts of Honolulu‘s gripping depiction of the world-changing cat and mouse games played between Japanese and US military intelligence agents (and a mercenary Nazi) in Hawaii before the outbreak of the second world war.

Also caught in the upheaval are Honolulu’s innocent residents – including Douglas Wada’s father – who endure the war’s anti-Japanese fervor and a cadre of intelligence professionals who must prevent Hawaii from adopting the same destructive mass internments as California.

Scrutinizing long-buried historical documents, NCIS star Mark Harmon and co-author Leon Carroll, a former NCIS Special Agent, have brought forth a true-life NCIS story of deception, discovery, and danger. Ghosts of Honolulu depicts the incredible high stakes game of naval intelligence and the need to define what is real and what only appears to be real.

“[A] fast-paced debut… The authors strikingly paint WWII-era Hawaii as a spy-vs.-spy battleground, detailing Wada’s covert cat-and-mouse games with the Japanese consulate. Espionage buffs will savor this vibrant account of a dogged WWII investigator.” – Publishers Weekly

“The NCIS star teamed up with the show ‘s technical advisor — and former NCIS special agent — to write a story straight out of the police procedural… riveting…” – People

The Great Gimmelmans by Lee Matthew Goldberg

fiction / historical fiction / comedy / suspense.

The Great GimmelmansMiddle child Aaron Gimmelman watches as his family goes from a mild-mannered reform Jewish clan to having over a million dollars of stolen money stuffed in their RV’s cabinets while being pursued by the FBI and loan sharks. But it wasn’t always like that. His father Barry made a killing as a stockbroker, his mother Judith loved her collection of expensive hats, his older sister Steph was obsessed with pop stars, and little sister Jenny loved her stuffed possum, Seymour.

After losing all their money in the Crash of 1987, the family starts stealing from convenience stores, but when they hit a bank, they realize the talent they possess. The money starts rolling in and brings the family closer together, whereas back at home, no one had any time for bonding due to their busy schedules. But Barry’s desire for more, more, more will take its toll on the Gimmelmans, and Aaron is forced into an impossible choice: turn against his father, or let his family fall apart.

From Jersey, down to an Orthodox Jewish community in Florida where they hide out, and up to California, The Great Gimmelmans goes on a madcap ride through the 1980s. Filled with greed and love and the meaning of religion and tradition until the walls of the RV and the feds start closing in on the family, this thrilling literary tale mixes Michael Chabon and the Coen Brothers with equal parts humor and pathos.

“An engaging dark comedy about the dangers of family ties.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Lee Matthew Goldberg has crafted an uproarious send-off of American capitalism in its greediest decade, and created a lovable bunch of outlaws to boot.” – Molly Odintz, CrimeReads

“Think the Corleones are the ultimate crime family? Meet the Gimmelmans, whose exhilarating crime spree fuels this rip-roaring romp through the late 1980s… Goldberg delivers just as many laughs as tender moments, and 80s aficionados will adore how carefully crafted The Gimmelmans’ world is.” – Tyler Denning, Best Thrillers

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The Little Liar by Mitch Albom

fiction / historical fiction.

The Little LiarEleven-year-old Nico Krispis never told a lie. When the Nazi’s invade his home in Salonika, Greece, the trustworthy boy is discovered by a German officer, who offers him a chance to save his family. All Nico has to do is convince his fellow Jewish residents to board trains heading to “new homes” where they are promised jobs and safety. Unaware that this is all a cruel ruse, the innocent boy goes to the station platform every day and reassures the passengers that the journey is safe. But when the final train is at the station, Nico sees his family being loaded into a large boxcar crowded with other neighbors. Only after it is too late does Nico discover that he helped send the people he loved—and all the others—to their doom at Auschwitz.

Nico never tells the truth again.

In The Little Liar, his first novel set during the Holocaust, Mitch Albom interweaves the stories of Nico, his brother Sebastian, and their schoolmate Fanni, who miraculously survive the death camps and spend years searching for Nico, who has become a pathological liar, and the Nazi officer who radically changed their lives. As the decades pass, Albom reveals the consequences of what they said, did, and endured.

A moving parable that explores honesty, survival, revenge and devotion, The Little Liar is Mitch Albom at his very best. Narrated by the voice of Truth itself, it is a timeless story about the harm we inflict with our deceits, and the power of love to ultimately redeem us.

“Albom imparts his signature spellbinding touch to historical fiction… Moving beyond the horrors of war, seemingly insignificant events have far-reaching consequences, leading to a stunning finale for these unforgettable characters. Truth be told, this is Albom at his enthralling best, sure to delight his many fans.” – Karen Clements, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“…riveting… a weighty examination of the Nazis’ lies and their lingering consequences.” – Publishers Weekly

“Author Albom’s passion shows through on every page in this well-crafted novel. A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

The Lost Cause by Cory Doctorow

fiction / science fiction.

The Lost CauseIt’s thirty years from now. We’re making progress, mitigating climate change, slowly but surely. But what about all the angry old people who can’t let go?

For young Americans a generation from now, climate change isn’t controversial. It’s just an overwhelming fact of life. And so are the great efforts to contain and mitigate it. Entire cities are being moved inland from the rising seas. Vast clean-energy projects are springing up everywhere. Disaster relief, the mitigation of floods and superstorms, has become a skill for which tens of millions of people are trained every year. The effort is global. It employs everyone who wants to work. Even when national politics oscillates back to right-wing leaders, the momentum is too great; these vast programs cannot be stopped in their tracks.

But there are still those Americans, mostly elderly, who cling to their red baseball caps, their grievances, their huge vehicles, their anger. To their “alternative” news sources that reassure them that their resentment is right and pure and that “climate change” is just a giant scam.

And they’re your grandfather, your uncle, your great-aunt. And they’re not going anywhere. And they’re armed to the teeth.

The Lost Cause asks: What do we do about people who cling to the belief that their own children are the enemy? When, in fact, they’re often the elders that we love?

“Doctorow tells a thought-provoking story, with a message of hope in a near-future that looks increasingly bleak.” – Marlene Harris, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Doctorow plausibly imagines a near future in which catastrophic climate change has made multiple coastal cities around the world uninhabitable… Doctorow does a solid job of imagining how acting both locally and globally in the face of environmental catastrophe can make a difference.” – Publishers Weekly

“[A] compelling read. I groaned when Brooks and Company lost a fight, and grinned when they overcame one of the many, many obstacles in their way. They may be fighting the long defeat but they are glorious in that fight. But part of the premise of the story is that neither side truly wants to let the world burn, they just have diametrically opposed beliefs about the way to prevent that burning or if preventing that burning is even possible.” – Marlene Harris, Reading Reality

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Milton Friedman: The Last Conservative by Jennifer Burns

nonfiction / biography / history / economics.

Milton FriedmanMilton Friedman was, alongside John Maynard Keynes, the most influential economist of the twentieth century. His work was instrumental in the turn toward free markets that defined the 1980s, and his full-throated defenses of capitalism and freedom resonated with audiences around the world. It’s no wonder the last decades of the twentieth century have been called “the Age of Friedman”—or that analysts have sought to hold him responsible for both the rising prosperity and the social ills of recent times.

In Milton Friedman, the first full biography to employ archival sources, the historian Jennifer Burns tells Friedman’s extraordinary story with the nuance it deserves. She provides lucid and lively context for his groundbreaking work on everything from why dentists earn less than doctors, to the vital importance of the money supply, to inflation and the limits of government planning and stimulus. She traces Friedman’s longstanding collaborations with women, including the economist Anna Schwartz, as well as his complex relationships with powerful figures such as Fed Chair Arthur Burns and Treasury Secretary George Shultz, and his direct interventions in policymaking at the highest levels. Most of all, Burns explores Friedman’s key role in creating a new economic vision and a modern American conservatism. The result is a revelatory biography of America’s first neoliberal—and perhaps its last great conservative.

“…it’s hard to imagine a more readable, extensively researched portrait…” – Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune

“One of the most brilliant biographies of Friedman to date. For both general readers and economics scholars.” – Claude Ury, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“To call this book merely a biography of Milton Friedman (1912-2006) is a disservice. It would be difficult to imagine a more comprehensive portrait of the influences, hard economics, and personal struggles and triumphs that shaped his life… The author is evenhanded throughout and unafraid to critique… A masterful profile of a most consequential American.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

My Effin’ Life by Geddy Lee

nonfiction / memoir / music.

My Effin' LifeGeddy Lee is one of rock and roll’s most respected bassists. For nearly five decades, his playing and work as co-writer, vocalist and keyboardist has been an essential part of the success story of Canadian progressive rock trio Rush. Here for the first time is his account of life inside and outside the band.

Long before Rush accumulated more consecutive gold and platinum records than any rock band after the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, before the seven Grammy nominations or the countless electrifying live performances across the globe, Geddy Lee was Gershon Eliezer Weinrib, after his grandfather was murdered in the Holocaust.

As he recounts the transformation, Lee looks back on his family, in particular his loving parents and their horrific experiences as teenagers during World War II.

He talks candidly about his childhood and the pursuit of music that led him to drop out of high school.

He tracks the history of Rush which, after early struggles, exploded into one of the most beloved bands of all time.

He shares intimate stories of his lifelong friendships with bandmates Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart—deeply mourning Peart’s recent passing—and reveals his obsessions in music and beyond.

This rich brew of honesty, humor, and loss makes for a uniquely poignant memoir.

My Effin’ Life is an engrossing tale of a ‘classic underachiever’ who became a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame vocalist, bassist, and keyboard player. It’s a great read for anyone interested in the brilliant prog-rock trio or the music scene from the 1970s onward. Lee’s writing is a lot like his band’s songs — deep, gloriously nerdy, sometimes wandering and wonderfully thoughtful.” – Mark Kennedy, AP

The New Naturals by Gabriel Bump


The New NaturalsAn abandoned restaurant on a hill off the highway in Western Massachusetts doesn’t look like much. But to Rio, a young Black woman bereft after the loss of her newborn child, this hill becomes more than a safe haven—it becomes a place to start over. She convinces her husband to help her construct a society underground, somewhere safe, somewhere everyone can feel loved, wanted, and accepted, where the children learn actual history, where everyone has an equal shot.

She locates a Benefactor and soon their utopia begins to take shape. Two unhoused men hear about it and immediately begin their journey by bus from Chicago to get there. A young and disillusioned journalist stumbles upon it and wants in. And a former soccer player, having lost his footing in society, is persuaded to check it out too. But no matter how much these people all yearn for meaning and a sanctuary from the existential dread of life above the surface, what happens if this new society can’t actually work? What then?

From one of the most exciting new literary voices out there, The New Naturals is fresh and deeply perceptive, capturing the absurdity of life in the 21st century, for readers of Paul Beatty’s The Sellout and Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House. In this remarkable feat of imagination, Bump shows us that, ultimately, it is our love for and connection to each other that will save us.

“[A] wry and astonishing sophomore novel… Brisk dialogue and flashes of mordant humor pay off, and Bump cannily grapples with such issues as gentrification, microaggressions, and environmental racism. This is a scalding study in human nature.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“…exciting… From the first pages, the novel is fast-paced, and conversations feel occasionally manic, with characters talking over one another in frenetic streams of consciousness. But it’s the urgency of the prose that propels the narrative forward, keeping you engaged and invested.” – Sarah Stiefvater, PureWow

“[A] surprisingly tender story about grief and hope packaged within a rollicking series of darkly funny, quixotic journeys… A tragicomic portrait of the longing people share for a better world, The New Naturals is a thought-provoking and head-spinning sophomore novel by Gabriel Bump.” – Alice Martin, Shelf Awareness

Plot Twist by Erin La Rosa

fiction / romance.

Plot TwistShe’s written off more than she can chew…

Romance author Sophie Lyon’s ironic secret just went viral: she’s never been in love—and it’s ruining her reputation. With a manuscript deadline looming, Sophie makes an ambitious plan to overcome her writer’s block: reunite with her exes (including her last girlfriend Carla, the one person she could have loved) to learn why she’s never fallen in love, and document it all for her millions of new online followers.

Luckily, Sophie’s reclusive landlord, Dash Montrose—a former teen heartthrob—has social media all figured out and is willing to help. What he doesn’t mention is that he’s an anonymous online crafter, a hobby that helps him maintain his sobriety. No one knows about his complicated relationship with alcohol, and with a family that’s Hollywood royalty, Dash has to steer clear of scandal.

As Sophie and Dash grow closer, they discover a heat between them that rivals Dash’s pottery kiln. But Sophie needs to figure out who she is outside her relationships, and Dash isn’t sure he’s stable enough for the commitment she deserves. So Sophie suggests what any good romance author would: a friends-with-benefits arrangement. Surely a strictly casual relationship won’t cause any trouble…

“[A] witty and sexy novel that doesn’t shy away from serious topics like substance addiction.” – Nicole Williams, Library Journal

“This book takes on some very serious topics, which are lightened by Sophie’s zany antics, and will appeal to fans of Christina Lauren and Tessa Bailey.” – Pamela Gardner, Booklist

“An engaging novel that seamlessly weaves together an exploration of love, the challenges of sobriety, and robust sex.” – Kirkus Reviews

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The Sisterhood: How a Network of Black Women Writers Changed American Culture by Courtney Thorsson

nonfiction / history / biography / writing.

The SisterhoodOne Sunday afternoon in February 1977, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Ntozake Shange, and several other Black women writers met at June Jordan’s Brooklyn apartment to eat gumbo, drink champagne, and talk about their work. Calling themselves “The Sisterhood,” the group—which also came to include Audre Lorde, Paule Marshall, Margo Jefferson, and others—would get together once a month over the next two years, creating a vital space for Black women to discuss literature and liberation.

The Sisterhood tells the story of how this remarkable community transformed American writing and cultural institutions. Drawing on original interviews with Sisterhood members as well as correspondence, meeting minutes, and readings of their works, Courtney Thorsson explores the group’s everyday collaboration and profound legacy. The Sisterhood advocated for Black women writers at trad

e publishers and magazines such as Random House, Ms., and Essence, and eventually in academic departments as well—often in the face of sexist, racist, and homophobic backlash. Thorsson traces the personal, professional, and political ties that brought the group together as well as the reasons for its dissolution. She considers the popular and critical success of Sisterhood members in the 1980s, the uneasy absorption of Black feminism into the academy, and how younger writers built on the foundations the group laid. Highlighting the organizing, networking, and community building that nurtured Black women’s writing, this book demonstrates that The Sisterhood offers an enduring model for Black feminist collaboration.

“A fascinating, empowering look at how Black women writers collaborated to move their own needle in the publishing industry and academia.” – Jill Cox-Cordova, Library Journal

“A well-documented contribution to Black literary history.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[A] vivid group portrait… illuminates a formative period for some of the most enduring writers of the 1980s while offering a ‘model for collective action to change cultural institutions.’ It’s a scintillating snapshot of a significant moment in American literature.” – Publishers Weekly

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So Late in the Day: Stories of Women and Men by Claire Keegan


So Late in the DayCelebrated for her powerful short fiction, considered “among the form’s most masterful practitioners” (New York Times), Claire Keegan now gifts us three exquisite stories, newly revised and expanded, together forming a brilliant examination of gender dynamics and an arc from Keegan’s earliest to her most recent work.

In “So Late in the Day,” Cathal faces a long weekend as his mind agitates over a woman with whom he could have spent his life, had he behaved differently; in “The Long and Painful Death,” a writer’s arrival at the seaside home of Heinrich Böll for a residency is disrupted by an academic who imposes his presence and opinions; and in “Antarctica,” a married woman travels out of town to see what it’s like to sleep with another man and ends up in the grip of a possessive stranger.

Each story probes the dynamics that corrupt what could be between women and men: a lack of generosity, the weight of expectation, the looming threat of violence. Potent, charged, and breathtakingly insightful, these three essential tales will linger with readers long after the book is closed.

“[An] exquisite collection… Written over a span of 20 years, these pristine stories demonstrate the author’s genius for economy. Keegan says in a paragraph what other writers take entire novels to reveal.” – Publishers Weekly

“A mini-masterpiece… There is nothing demonstrative about this prose, which is not spare but restrained, strategically discharging touches of eloquence only when needed, and not through a profusion of descriptive detail, but through choice adjectives and verbs that just stray from the literal… Keegan stands almost without rival.” – Doug Battersby, Irish Times

“[Keegan] is a superb stylist: every well-structured paragraph contains multitudes… Incredibly engrossing… She constructs her stories from a skeleton of inferences that rise, gloriously, to form complex urges, crimes, desires, rebellions and, crucially, universal truths. Each brief work is worth the wait: Keegan is something special.” – Lucy Atkins, The Times

“[A] master class in precisely crafted short fiction… Keegan’s trenchant observations explode like bombshells, bringing menace and retribution to tales of romance delayed, denied, and even deadly.” – Carol Haggas, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

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System Collapse by Martha Wells

fiction / science fiction.

System CollapseAm I making it worse? I think I’m making it worse.

Following the events in Network Effect, the Barish-Estranza corporation has sent rescue ships to a newly-colonized planet in peril, as well as additional SecUnits. But if there’s an ethical corporation out there, Murderbot has yet to find it, and if Barish-Estranza can’t have the planet, they’re sure as hell not leaving without something. If that something just happens to be an entire colony of humans, well, a free workforce is a decent runner-up prize.

But there’s something wrong with Murderbot; it isn’t running within normal operational parameters. ART’s crew and the humans from Preservation are doing everything they can to protect the colonists, but with Barish-Estranza’s SecUnit-heavy persuasion teams, they’re going to have to hope Murderbot figures out what’s wrong with itself, and fast!

Yeah, this plan is… not going to work.

“Murderbot is back with emotions and [redacted], in a way fans will love.” – Kay West, West Words Book Reviews

“…Wells continues to build this universe. It’s a compelling setting, both in the conflicts that arise from the culture of the Corporation Rim and the deep history Wells has established… The characters and the world building remain engrossing and rewarding.” – John Keogh, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“I’m a bit of a Murderbot purist — All Systems Red made me reevaluate who I am, and that’s a tough act to follow. Here comes System Collapse hitting my trauma and making me Feel. Rude. Martha Wells taps in to the hardest parts of learning to be a person.” – Meg Wasmer, Indie Next

“Wells is on form with the series’ trademark black humour, razor-sharp tension, Murderbot’s all-too-relatable interpersonal interactions, action, and high stakes.” – Liz Bourke, Locus

Tired of Winning: Donald Trump and the End of the Grand Old Party by Jonathan Karl

nonfiction / politics.

Tired of WinningPacked with new reporting, Tired of Winning: Donald Trump and the End of the Grand Old Party tracks Trump’s improbable journey from disgraced and defeated former president to the dominant force, yet again, in the Republican Party.

From his exile in Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump has become more extreme, vengeful, and divorced from reality than he was on January 6, 2021. His meddling damaged the GOP’s electoral prospects for a third consecutive election in 2022. His legal troubles are mounting. Yet he’s re-emerged as the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Jonathan Karl has known Donald Trump since his days as a New York Post reporter in the 1990s, and he covered every day of Trump’s administration as ABC News’s chief White House correspondent. No one is in a better position to detail the former president’s quest for retribution and provide a glimpse at what the GOP would be signing up for if it once again chooses him as its standard bearer.

In 1964, Ronald Reagan told Americans it was “a time for choosing.” Sixty years later, Republicans have their own choice to make: Are they tired of winning?

Tired of Winning is worth reading. It is well-paced, meticulously sourced and amply footnoted.” – Lloyd Green, The Guardian

UFO: The Inside Story of the US Government’s Search for Alien Life Here – And Out There by Garrett M. Graff

nonfiction / history / science.

UFOFor as long as we have looked to the skies, the question of whether life on Earth is the only life to exist has been at the core of the human experience, driving scientific debate and discovery, shaping spiritual belief, and prompting existential thought across borders and generations. And yet, the idea of extraterrestrial intelligence has been largely seen as a joke, banished to the realm of fantasy and conspiracy. Now, for the first time, the full story of our national obsession with UFOs—and the covert, decades-long search by scientists, the United States military, and the CIA for proof of alien life—is told by bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize finalist Garrett M. Graff in a deeply reported and researched history.

It begins in 1947, when two headline-making sightings of strange flying objects—the first near Mount Rainier, Washington, involving a pilot named Kenneth Arnold, and the second a ranch on the outskirts of a New Mexico town called Roswell—prompt the US Air Force’s newly formed Department of Defense to create a series of secret programs to determine how unidentified phenomena may pose a threat to national security. Over the next half-century, as the atomic age gives way to the space race and the Cold War, the search continues, bringing together an unexpected group of astronomers, military officials, civilian contactees, and true believers who bring us closer, then further, then closer again, to answering one of our most enduring questions: What exactly is out there?

Drawing from original archival research, declassified documents, and interviews with senior intelligence and military officials, Graff brings every moment of this extraordinary quest to life, transporting readers from secret military meetings and congressional hearings, where the validity of the search is debated, to the cluttered offices of UFOlogists and hoaxers determined to see the truth revealed, remote observatories where astronomers monitor the stars, and even the halls of the White House, where staffers and presidents alike eagerly await answers. Filled with twists and turns, and populated by an unforgettable cast of characters, UFO is a thrilling story of science, national security, the secrets of space, and the enduring mysteries of the universe.

“An entertaining tour through the world of flying saucers, aliens, and weird science.” – Kirkus Reviews

“From the truth behind a veteran WWII pilot’s fatal crash in Kentucky in 1948 to the secret U.S. effort to build a flying saucer, Jimmy Carter’s and Ronald Reagan’s UFO encounters, the origins of the ‘Men in Black,’ and the mystique of Area 51, Graff has crafted an intriguing and insightful history of our search for answers.” – Bridget Thoreson, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] probing report… The UFO history is loads of fun, and Graff’s agnosticism has the potential to appeal to skeptics and believers alike. It’s a fascinating dive down the rabbit hole.” – Publishers Weekly


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