This Week's Best New Books

1 of 25
The White Card: A Play

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The White Card: A Play

by Claudia Rankine

The White Card: A Play

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Claudia Rankine is, among other things, a poet best known for the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning Citizen: An American Lyric. The White Card is her first published play, a one-act drama composed of two scenes. The first is set at a dinner party hosted by Virginia and Charles, a philanthropist and art collector. The guest of honor is Charlotte, an up-and-coming black artist whom Charles wants to feature.

The play approaches the difficult reality of people who "read all the relevant ... [ Read More » ]

2 of 25
What Matters Most: The Get Your Sh*t Together Guide to Wills, Money, Insurance, and Life's "What-Ifs"

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What Matters Most: The Get Your Sh*t Together Guide to Wills, Money, Insurance, and Life's "What-Ifs"

by Chanel Reynolds

What Matters Most: The Get Your Sh*t Together Guide to Wills, Money, Insurance, and Life's "What-Ifs"

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The unthinkable happened to Chanel Reynolds in July 2009: her husband, José, 44, was struck by a van while riding his bicycle in their hometown of Seattle, Wash. It took a week for him to die--hooked up to life support. Reynolds states, "I did not choose for him to die but I had to choose to let him go."

In What Matters Most, Reynolds's first book, she shares the intimate story of her husband's accident, her struggle to make critical life-and-death decisions and how those decisions affected ... [ Read More » ]

4 of 25
A People's History of Heaven

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A People's History of Heaven

by Mathangi Subramanian

A People's History of Heaven

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In her poetic first novel for adults, A People's History of Heaven, Indian American author Mathangi Subramanian (Dear Mrs. Naidu) imagines the lives of five teen girls in a Bangalore slum on the brink of destruction.

"Heaven" takes its name from the Sanskrit words on a nearby sign, though the "ragged jigsaw of tilted tents, angry quilt of rusted roofs, maze of sagging sofas" make the ramshackle neighborhood look anything but celestial. In fact, the government has sent a demolition crew to tear ... [ Read More » ]

5 of 25
On Being 40(ish)

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On Being 40(ish)

by Lindsey Mead, editor

On Being 40(ish)

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In On Being 40(ish), 15 women muse on what being 40 years old--give or take--means in their lives. This anthology, edited by freelance writer Lindsey Mead, offers diverse viewpoints and concerns but as a whole aims to inspire. As Mead writes in her introduction, "These are not reflections on the dying of the light, but rather a full-throated celebration of what it means to be an adult woman at this moment in history."

The contents are varied, including celebrations, uncertainties and elegies. Some ... [ Read More » ]

6 of 25
The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng

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The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng

by Sophia Gholz, illus. by Kayla Harren

The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng

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Debut author Sophia Gholz tells the inspiring story of Jadav "Molai" Payeng, a boy from a "large river island" in India, whose passion for nature inspired him to rebuild his home's ecosystem.

Distraught by damage caused by floodwaters, Jadav consulted with village elders. They "explained [to him] that the only way to help animals was to create new homes for them," so they gave him 20 bamboo saplings, unknowingly setting him off on a lifelong conservation effort. He planted the seedlings, engineered ... [ Read More » ]

7 of 25
Opposite of Always

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Opposite of Always

by Justin A. Reynolds

Opposite of Always

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Jack Ellison King is, in his words, "an authority on Almost." "You name it," his first-person narration states, "I've found a way to miss my chance." It's ironic, then, that the self-proclaimed "Jack of all. King of none" is named after trailblazers Jackie Robinson and Ralph Ellison.

It's senior year and Jack is in love with his best friend, Jillian. Unfortunately, her boyfriend, Franny, is Jack's "other best friend." Jack loves them both and "would never consider doing anything to jeopardize their ... [ Read More » ]

8 of 25
Humanimal: How Homo Sapiens Became Nature's Most Paradoxical Creature

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Humanimal: How Homo Sapiens Became Nature's Most Paradoxical Creature

by Adam Rutherford

Humanimal: How Homo Sapiens Became Nature's Most Paradoxical Creature

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All living creatures--bedbugs and bonobos, yeast and yellowjackets, hedgehogs and humans--have much in common. We all descend from a single point of origin, share DNA and evolve through natural selection. But about 40,000 years ago, humans took a "Great Leap Forward" and achieved a level of sophistication not found in other animals. Humans are special, but are we unique?

In Humanimal, science writer Adam Rutherford (A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived) considers the behaviors that Homo sapiens ... [ Read More » ]

9 of 25
Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir

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Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir

by Victoria Riskin

Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir

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Being the child of a famous actress has its perks. Among its downsides are fielding questions like, "Hey, is your dad an ape or something?"

Victoria Riskin is the daughter of Fay Wray (1907-2004), who famously dangled from the hand of King Kong in the 1933 classic film, and the screenwriter Robert Riskin (1897-1955), whose scripts included the 1934 screwball comedy standard-bearer It Happened One Night. That Wray and Riskin don't become a couple until 100-odd pages from the end of Fay Wray and Robert ... [ Read More » ]

10 of 25
A Deadly Divide

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A Deadly Divide

by Ausma Zehanat Khan

A Deadly Divide

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In the midst of investigating a mass shooting at a Québécois mosque, Detective Rachel Getty finds herself reflecting on something her partner, Detective Esa Khattak, once said of a previous case: "How quickly the violent ideals of ultra-nationalism led to hate, how quickly hate to blood." Though he's referring to the case central to The Unquiet Dead (the first Ausma Zehanat Khan novel to feature the detective pair), the theme is one that threads through each of the Khattak and Getty ... [ Read More » ]

11 of 25
Creation Machine

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Creation Machine

by Andrew Bannister

Creation Machine

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In an isolated mini-galaxy called the Spin, everything is artificial. As natural as its suns and planets seem, each atom was placed with purpose by ancient unknown builders. The Spin is a rough neighborhood, from the expanding high-tech Hegemony dominating the Outer Spin to the horrific little lower-tech empires that periodically plague the Inner Spin. Every once in a while, someone discovers an artifact belonging to the architects, and causes chaos.

Fleare Haas is the only daughter of Viklun Haas, ... [ Read More » ]

12 of 25
Bom Boy

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Bom Boy

by Yewande Omotoso

Bom Boy

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Through three decades, two countries and multiple points of view, a complete picture of Leke's life in the present slowly surfaces in Yewande Omotoso's debut novel. Shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Fiction Prize, Bom Boy is published in North America for the first time following the critical acclaim for her second novel, The Woman Next Door, a 2018 finalist for the International Dublin Literary Award and a nominee for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Fiction.

Leke lives between worlds: Nigerian ... [ Read More » ]

14 of 25
Solitary

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Solitary

by Albert Woodfox

Solitary

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Activist Albert Woodfox does not profess to be a saint in his memoir Solitary. He's painfully honest with his audience, detailing the path that led him to a 50-year prison sentence in Angola in the 1970s. Woodfox also unlocks the bars and ushers his readers into conditions most would consider beyond their darkest nightmares: "Coming out of slavery and convict leasing, it was as if the cruelty of Angola's history leaked into our present world. Angola was run like an antebellum slave plantation."

... [ Read More » ]

15 of 25
She He They Me: For the Sisters, Misters, and Binary Resisters

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She He They Me: For the Sisters, Misters, and Binary Resisters

by Robyn Ryle

She He They Me: For the Sisters, Misters, and Binary Resisters

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You've been born an alyha among the Mohave at the turn of the 20th century, and are neither man nor woman. Or: you're born a cisgender male in a patriarchal society. Or maybe you were born with an intersex condition. But you could also be a transgender Asian American woman who gets married, a working-class gender-expansive pansexual person or a white gay man with a disability.

How can these realities possibly be contained in a single experience? When organized into a fun, thoughtful and instructive ... [ Read More » ]

16 of 25
See You in the Piazza: New Places to Discover in Italy

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See You in the Piazza: New Places to Discover in Italy

by Frances Mayes

See You in the Piazza: New Places to Discover in Italy

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The name Frances Mayes has become synonymous with Italy. For the past 30 years, she's split her time between a home in the United States and one in Tuscany. Mayes captivated readers with her blockbusters Under the Tuscan Sun and Women in Sunlight, stories of how Italy--the culture, the landscape and the Italian way of life--has the power to change and transform people. In See You in the Piazza--part guidebook, part travelogue--Mayes's passion for Italy is further enlarged when she and her husband, ... [ Read More » ]

17 of 25
Me for You

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Me for You

by Lolly Winston

Me for You

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Rudy and Bethany have an enviable life. Married since college, they're still best friends, savoring their near-retirement years even after Rudy was laid off. Bethany still has her job; Rudy enjoys his part-time gig at Nordstrom's playing baby grand piano; and their daughter, CeCe, is successful and happily married. But one morning, Rudy awakens and romantically whispers a suggestion that they go to the beach, only to realize that Bethany isn't breathing. And just like that, Rudy is a widower.

Lolly ... [ Read More » ]

18 of 25
Mars: Stories

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Mars: Stories

by Asja Bakić, trans. by Jennifer Zoble

Mars: Stories

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Bosnian writer Asja Bakić revels in the surreal. The plots and settings of the stories collected in Mars might get labeled as science fiction or dystopian, but the works themselves feel weightless, unmoored to any real convention as they probe dark corners of the human psyche. There are clones, trips to distant planets, even zombies, but far more memorable are the moments charged with meaning that so often end Bakić's stories, where a look, a touch or a word can upend the world.

The best ... [ Read More » ]

19 of 25
Two Men and a Car: Franklin Roosevelt, Al Capone, and a Cadillac V-8

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Two Men and a Car: Franklin Roosevelt, Al Capone, and a Cadillac V-8

by Michael Garland

Two Men and a Car: Franklin Roosevelt, Al Capone, and a Cadillac V-8

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Legend claims that in 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt rode to the Capitol Building to deliver his "Day of Infamy" speech in Al Capone's bulletproof Cadillac--"ten years after the gangster climbed out of this automobile for the last time, one of America's greatest presidents climbed in." Using this yarn as the basis of his beguiling picture book, Michael Garland (Birds Make Nests; Fish Had a Wish) tells parallel stories, comparing the life of beloved U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt to that of notorious ... [ Read More » ]

20 of 25
Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer

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Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer

by Emily Arnold McCully

Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer

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Two centuries before computers became ubiquitous, a brilliant young British woman named Ada Lovelace imagined an "engine" that could process information much like today's computers do. The life of this forward-thinking scientist is brought to light for young readers in Emily Arnold McCully's fascinating biography Dreaming in Code.

Dreaming in Code progresses chronologically from Lovelace's birth in late 1815 (to a domineering mother and poet Lord Byron, the "titled, handsome, reckless, and irresistible" ... [ Read More » ]

21 of 25
A Good Kind of Trouble

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A Good Kind of Trouble

by Lisa Moore Ramée

A Good Kind of Trouble

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Lisa Moore Ramée's debut middle-grade novel, A Good Kind of Trouble, features junior high school student Shayla Willows, a black girl figuring out shifting friendships, social justice issues and a newly found love for running track.

Shayla and her two best friends, Isabella, a Puerto Rican artist, and Julia, a Japanese-American basketball player, call themselves the United Nations--they've been friends "since forever" and inseparable "super best friends since third grade." But junior high ... [ Read More » ]

22 of 25
Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others

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Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others

by Barbara Brown Taylor

Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others

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As an Episcopal priest, Barbara Brown Taylor (Leaving Church) spent years delving into the nuances of Western Protestantism. But after parting from parish ministry, she found herself ever more curious about--even envious of--certain elements of other faiths. She began teaching Religion 101 to undergraduates at Piedmont College in rural Georgia, which gave her the chance to explore along with her students. It was permission to learn the basic tenets of five major world religions, as well as to walk ... [ Read More » ]

24 of 25
A Desert Harvest

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A Desert Harvest

by Bruce Berger

A Desert Harvest

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Bruce Berger (Facing the Music) grew up in suburban Chicago, but the desert of the American Southwest is the place he calls home. In his gorgeous essay collection, A Desert Harvest, Berger paints a portrait of a place that's much stranger and more beautiful than most popular presentations would suggest. "Despite cartoons," he writes in "The Mysterious Brotherhood," the desert isn't riddled with "melodramatic bones." Instead it offers "quieter revelations of the vegetable world." He goes on to describe ... [ Read More » ]

25 of 25
Call Me Evie

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Call Me Evie

by J.P. Pomare

Call Me Evie

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From the title of J.P. Pomare's first novel, Call Me Evie, readers can guess Evie isn't the real name of the 17-year-old protagonist. But Pomare makes it hard to ascertain exactly what's going on with her, with her loss of memory and limited view of the world.

She's involved in something traumatic that happened recently in her hometown of Melbourne, but she can't remember it. A man she calls her uncle Jim has taken her to New Zealand and mostly locked her up in a house, away from the Internet and ... [ Read More » ]

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