This Week's Best New Books

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Wine Girl: The Obstacles, Humiliations, and Triumphs of America's Youngest Sommelier

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Wine Girl: The Obstacles, Humiliations, and Triumphs of America's Youngest Sommelier

by Victoria James

Wine Girl: The Obstacles, Humiliations, and Triumphs of America's Youngest Sommelier

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Victoria James (Drink Pink: A Celebration of Rosé) retraces the rocky road she traveled to become an award-winning wine expert who, at the age of 21, was the youngest sommelier to lead a Michelin-starred restaurant.

She divides her story into seven sections, mapping her life from age seven to 28. The prologue perfectly embodies the theme and tone of the memoir: James, a newbie sommelier at an upscale restaurant, must deliver a $650 bottle of chardonnay from Burgundy, France, to an elite, grossly ... [ Read More » ]

2 of 26
The Velvet Rope Economy: How Inequality Became Big Business

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The Velvet Rope Economy: How Inequality Became Big Business

by Nelson D. Schwartz

The Velvet Rope Economy: How Inequality Became Big Business

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New York Times business reporter Nelson D. Schwartz's deceptively breezy The Velvet Rope Economy offers an all-inclusive VIP survey of one ever-widening American gulf: the divide between the first-class, fast-pass, pay-for-comfort experiences of a wealthy elite, and the slow, soiling reality shared by us suckers in steerage.

Schwartz guides readers into the worlds of high-end cruise packages, exclusive airport terminals, luxury ballpark suites and line-jumping amusement park tickets, illuminating ... [ Read More » ]

3 of 26
This Town Sleeps

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This Town Sleeps

by Dennis E. Staples

This Town Sleeps

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In a debut that intertwines the spiritual and the cynical until both are left choking for air, Dennis E. Staples demonstrates a green but thrilling emerging talent. This Town Sleeps follows several residents of a northern Minnesota Ojibwe reservation, where tragedy has scarred the quiet town of Geshig. At 17 years old, basketball hero Kayden Kelliher is murdered, leaving behind an intricate net of characters grappling with the aftershocks of his loss years later. Among them is protagonist Marion ... [ Read More » ]

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Thin Places: Essays from in Between

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Thin Places: Essays from in Between

by Jordan Kisner

Thin Places: Essays from in Between

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In her debut collection, essayist Jordan Kisner holds up a light to American culture in a way that is curious, searching, at times wry, but also deeply illuminating.

Thin Places: Essays from in Between lives up to its title as Kisner deftly navigates the liminal spaces between cultural traditions, history and identity. The 13 essays in the book are wide-ranging in subject matter yet always grounded in the personal. Kisner expertly stitches her personal history into larger explorations of religion ... [ Read More » ]

5 of 26
Mercy House

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Mercy House

by Alena Dillon

Mercy House

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For decades, the intrepid Sister Evelyn has done anything necessary to protect the women who seek shelter at Mercy House in Brooklyn, N.Y., whether that means facing down gang leaders or defying Catholic doctrine by supporting women who choose to divorce their abusive husbands. Now, in 2010, Bishop Robert Hawkins is coming to inspect Mercy House as part of an investigation of nuns across the United States, rooting out orders that are too secular or too feminist. Evelyn and the other nuns will have ... [ Read More » ]

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The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

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The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

by Natasha Pulley

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

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In this engrossing follow-up to The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, British novelist Natasha Pulley returns to the 1880s, trading Victorian Britain for a steampunk-influenced Japan, where her heroes encounter a ghostly mystery while shaping international events. 

Synesthetic translator and pianist Thaniel initially balks when the British Foreign Office assigns him to Tokyo. The job takes on greater appeal when his lover, Mori, a watchmaker and samurai who can remember potential futures, offers ... [ Read More » ]

7 of 26
Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul's Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life

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Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul's Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life

by Tom Fitzgerald, Lorenzo Marquez

Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul's Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life

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Fitzgerald and Marquez (who blog, podcast and write as "Tom & Lorenzo") have come up with a clever way to teach a new generation about a century's worth of LGBTQ pop culture and history. They examine the enormously popular TV series RuPaul's Drag Race and reveal how each element of the show is a tribute to a historical figure or event in queer history. "RuPaul and company devised a show that serves as an actual museum of queer culture and social history," write Tom & Lorenzo.

The mechanics ... [ Read More » ]

8 of 26
The Voice that Won the Vote: How One Woman's Words Made History

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The Voice that Won the Vote: How One Woman's Words Made History

by Elisa Boxer, illus. by Vivien Mildenberger

The Voice that Won the Vote: How One Woman's Words Made History

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Journalist Elisa Boxer's quick and uplifting children's book debut tells a little-known tale from the annals of the women's suffrage movement.

"For nearly seventy-five years, [suffragists] had organized meetings... Marched in parades... Carried signs... And made speeches, demanding their right to vote." In 1920, Tennessee was the final state to vote for the proposed 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; if lawmakers voted yes, it would be the 36th state to do so and the amendment would be ratified. ... [ Read More » ]

9 of 26
We Are Water Protectors

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We Are Water Protectors

by Carole Lindstrom, illus. by Michaela Goade

We Are Water Protectors

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Flowing words by Carole Lindstrom and lush art by Michaela Goade appear in immaculate synchronicity on every page of We Are Water Protectors. A young girl, instructed by her wise Nokomis--grandmother--acts as the story's guide, creating a beckoning entry for even young children to become conscious of the plight of Mother Earth.

"Water is the first medicine," the girl repeats Nokomis's lesson. "It nourished us inside our mother's body. As it nourishes us here on Mother Earth." Despite humanity's irrefutable ... [ Read More » ]

10 of 26
Gamayun Tales I: An Anthology of Modern Russian Folktales

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Gamayun Tales I: An Anthology of Modern Russian Folktales

by Alexander Utkin

Gamayun Tales I: An Anthology of Modern Russian Folktales

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Alexander Utkin's Gamayun Tales series offers a striking combination of experimental artwork and action-packed storytelling inspired by the author's love of Slavic folklore. This volume compiles three previously published tales--The King of the Birds, The Water Spirit and Tyna of the Lake--into a single narrative concerning a merchant and his family whose lives are disrupted by a series of encounters with mythic beings. Gamayun, a half-bird, half-human purveyor of divine prophecy, acts as the tale's ... [ Read More » ]

11 of 26
In Pursuit of Disobedient Women: A Memoir of Love, Rebellion, and Family, Far Away

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In Pursuit of Disobedient Women: A Memoir of Love, Rebellion, and Family, Far Away

by Dionne Searcey

In Pursuit of Disobedient Women: A Memoir of Love, Rebellion, and Family, Far Away

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When reporter Dionne Searcey's husband suggests a move to the suburbs, she turns to her employer for an alternative plan, and the New York Times doesn't fail her. She's offered the position of West Africa bureau chief, and the paper's publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, gives her some cryptic parting words: "If you come to a bridge too far... don't take it."

Soon Searcey, her husband and their three children are in Dakar, where her absorbing memoir, In Pursuit of Disobedient Women, picks up speed and depth. ... [ Read More » ]

12 of 26
Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving

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Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving

by Celeste Headlee

Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving

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"Pushing harder isn't helping us anymore," writes journalist and speaker Celeste Headlee in the introduction to Do Nothing, an engaging text that implores readers to "stop treating [themselves] like machines" and instead, "celebrate [their] humanness at work and in idleness." Headlee provides readers a necessary lesson for the contemporary age on how the "cult of efficiency" predates modern technology. By doing so, she is able to demonstrate how better technology has merely sped up the pace of life, ... [ Read More » ]

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Blackwood

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Blackwood

by Michael Farris Smith

Blackwood

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Michael Farris Smith creates an atmosphere of hypnotic claustrophobia in the masterfully haunting Blackwood. Set up by a traumatic 1956 event, the novel immediately jumps ahead 19 years to a broken-down Cadillac in Mississippi hill country. In 1975, Red Bluff is overrun by empty storefronts and land "long since conquered by the timeless vines" that creepily engulf everything in their path, running up to the very edge of the blacktop.

The vehicle's occupants--man, woman and boy--are confronted by ... [ Read More » ]

14 of 26
Undercover Bromance

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Undercover Bromance

by Lyssa Kay Adams

Undercover Bromance

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The Bromance Book Club, the first in this edgy rom-com series, focused on Thea Scott's marital woes with her husband, Gavin--a professional baseball player who led a book club where accomplished Nashville men covertly discuss romance novels. In the second installment, Thea's headstrong, sarcastic sister, Olivia "Liv" Papandreas, takes the lead.  

Distrustful of men, single Liv works as a pastry chef at an upscale restaurant owned by celebrity chef Royce Preston. Liv's world is turned upside ... [ Read More » ]

15 of 26
Tyll

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Tyll

by Daniel Kehlmann, trans. by Ross Benjamin

Tyll

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Tyll is a fresh reimagining of the impish German folk character of the same name, updated by Daniel Kehlmann and translated from the German by Ross Benjamin. The story of Tyll Ulenspiegel (aka Till Eulenspiegel) has been known since the 1300s. This version takes place during the Thirty Years' War, the 17th-century religious conflict in central Europe, and demonstrates how folklore continues to remain relevant over time.

Tyll grows up in a poor German village where life is full of superstition and ... [ Read More » ]

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Shadow on the Mountain: A Yazidi Memoir of Terror, Resistance and Hope

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Shadow on the Mountain: A Yazidi Memoir of Terror, Resistance and Hope

by Shaker Jeffrey, Katharine Holstein

Shadow on the Mountain: A Yazidi Memoir of Terror, Resistance and Hope

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Shadow on the Mountain is a gripping memoir of hopeful resilience in the face of unimaginable horror and heartbreak. For many centuries, the Yazidi people have practiced a pacifist monotheistic faith distinct from the Abrahamic religions. They have been persecuted many times over their history, primarily by Muslims who mistakenly brand them as devil worshipers. Indigenous to Iraq, Syria and Turkey, most reside in northern Iraq, around Mount Sinjar. In August 2014, ISIS launched genocidal attacks ... [ Read More » ]

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Screening Reality: How Documentary Filmmakers Reimagined America

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Screening Reality: How Documentary Filmmakers Reimagined America

by Jon Wilkman

Screening Reality: How Documentary Filmmakers Reimagined America

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Many people bemoan living in a "post-truth" age, nostalgic for a world before social media when facts were indisputable. But as documentarian Jon Wilkman meticulously reveals in Screening Reality, the question of fact vs. fiction is as old as the earliest "actualities" from the 19th century.

At the end of World War I, America's Answer thrilled patriotic audiences with gripping images of life on the front lines; by World War II, screened reality was given the "Hollywood touch." In between the wars, ... [ Read More » ]

18 of 26
The Oracle Code

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The Oracle Code

by Marieke Nijkamp, illus. by Manuel Preitano

The Oracle Code

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Author Marieke Nijkamp and illustrator Manuel Preitano develop an origin story for DC hero Oracle (Barbara Gordon) in this atmospheric graphic novel.

Late one night in Gotham City, the impetuous Babs Gordon, daughter of the police commissioner and a brilliant coder, is hit by a stray bullet and left paralyzed from the waist down. Her father sends her to the Arkham Center for Independence for rehabilitation, but Babs struggles to warm up to the staff's attempts at helping her recover. Not particularly ... [ Read More » ]

19 of 26
The Only Black Girls in Town

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The Only Black Girls in Town

by Brandy Colbert

The Only Black Girls in Town

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Stonewall Book Award-winning author Brandy Colbert (Little & Lion) tactfully covers friendship, race and identity in her middle-grade debut, The Only Black Girls in Town.

Twelve-year-old Alberta is a California surfer girl who has a pretty good life with her two dads in a quiet, mostly white beach town. Though she is comfortable in her own skin, "part of being Alberta is being black. And I don't blend in here in Ewing Beach." When a new girl, Edie, and her mother move in across the street, Alberta ... [ Read More » ]

20 of 26
The Jetsetters

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The Jetsetters

by Amanda Eyre Ward

The Jetsetters

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When 71-year-old Charlotte Perkins wins a 10-day Mediterranean cruise, she dreams of an unforgettable vacation with her adult children, all together again. What she doesn't acknowledge is the three generations of family dysfunction that would travel with them. In Amanda Eyre Ward's warmhearted novel The Jetsetters, the Perkins family secrets reveal themselves even before they set sail.

Long-time widow Charlotte lives contentedly in her Savannah condo, soothing loneliness with walks, wine and steamy ... [ Read More » ]

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Indelicacy

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Indelicacy

by Amina Cain

Indelicacy

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Vitória, a museum cleaner, dreams of a different life in Amina Cain's first novel, Indelicacy. Set in an indistinct Victorian era, Vitória's candid revelations about her inner life make this a compelling and carefully drawn character study. When not working, she's writing, inspired by the museum's paintings. She marries a rich man in order to stop working and write regularly. Her husband thinks he's rescued her, but she proves a willful partner. "Why had I chosen him?" she wonders. ... [ Read More » ]

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The Honey-Don't List

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The Honey-Don't List

by Christina Lauren

The Honey-Don't List

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Christina Lauren's The Honey-Don't List is a delightful contemporary romantic comedy following two relationships, one imploding rather spectacularly and the other forming amid the wreckage. In the 10 years that Carey has worked for them, Rusty and Melissa Tripp have gone from co-owners of a furniture store to wildly popular home-improvement reality TV show hosts. They're America's most beloved couple and are about to embark on a tour for their marriage self-help book, but behind the scenes, they're ... [ Read More » ]

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A Citizen's Guide to Beating Donald Trump

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A Citizen's Guide to Beating Donald Trump

by David Plouffe

A Citizen's Guide to Beating Donald Trump

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In his introduction to A Citizen's Guide to Beating Donald Trump, David Plouffe, who was Barack Obama's campaign manager, writes, "The year 2016 will scar us for as long as we breathe the same air that Trump befouls with his every word." Why mince words, David Plouffe? Tell us how you really feel!

A Citizen's Guide to Beating Donald Trump forges ahead in this engagingly exercised vein. Plouffe offers a crash course in the American electoral system; supplies an invaluable chapter on battleground states; ... [ Read More » ]

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Abandoned: America's Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection

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Abandoned: America's Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection

by Anne Kim

Abandoned: America's Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection

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Drawing on extensive research and firsthand interviews with young adults across the United States, Abandoned offers a comprehensive look into the problems of disconnection in rising generations and "aims to bring [the] emerging discipline of youth policy into the mainstream." A journalist and lawyer with a public policy focus, Anne Kim succeeds in this aim; while the content of Abandoned is academic in nature, it is never dry, and the combination of data and anecdotes will appeal to policy wonks ... [ Read More » ]

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142 Ostriches

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142 Ostriches

by April Dávila

142 Ostriches

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April Dávila's first novel is wise, moving and beautifully rendered. She sets 142 Ostriches on Wishbone Ranch, an ostrich farm in Sombra, a remote California town entrenched in the Mojave Desert.

The heroine, 24-year-old Tallulah Jones, is ready to fly the coop to take a Forest Service job in Montana when her Grandma Helen dies in a mysterious car crash. She is the person who rescued 13-year-old Tallulah from her irresponsible, alcoholic mother in Oakland, Calif., and brought her to live on ... [ Read More » ]

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A Wish in the Dark

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A Wish in the Dark

by Christina Soontornvat

A Wish in the Dark

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A boy born a prisoner and reborn to the world through compassion, a lion-hearted girl obsessed with reclaiming her family's honor, and an oppressed lower class ready to take a stand converge in a magical city of light in a Thai-inspired fantasy. In this tween-friendly variation on Victor Hugo's classic novel Les Misérables, Thai-American author Christina Soontornvat (Diary of an Ice Princess series) opens a gateway to a glorious world swirling with wishes and secrets under thousands of magical
... [ Read More » ]

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