This Week's Best New Books

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When the Sky Fell: Hurricane Maria and the United States in Puerto Rico

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When the Sky Fell: Hurricane Maria and the United States in Puerto Rico

by Michael Deibert

When the Sky Fell: Hurricane Maria and the United States in Puerto Rico

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When Puerto Rico fell to the United States in 1898 after the Spanish-American War, it was "an afterthought," named a territory only because of its "strategic importance." By 1996, U.S. industries began to abandon the island when they lost federal income tax exemptions that had made Puerto Rico a manufacturing haven. Unemployment skyrocketed and, by 2013, Puerto Rico was $87 billion in debt. Four years later, the government had closed more than 300 public schools.

On September 12, 2017, Hurricane ... [ Read More » ]

3 of 26
The Starlet and the Spy

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The Starlet and the Spy

by Ji-Min Lee, trans. by Chi-Young Kim

The Starlet and the Spy

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"I go to work thinking of death. Hardly anyone in Seoul is happy during the morning commute, but I'm certain I'm one of the most miserable."

At the opening of Ji-Min Lee's The Starlet and the Spy, Alice J. Kim works as a translator for the American forces a year after the armistice and ceasefire. Her life and outlook are as dour as these introductory lines: the traumas of the war have left her hopeless and joyless. When her boss tells her about an upcoming assignment, he expects she'll feel ... [ Read More » ]

4 of 26
A Song for a New Day

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A Song for a New Day

by Sarah Pinsker

A Song for a New Day

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In A Song for a New Day, novelist and musician Sarah Pinsker (Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea) imagines a future where avoiding human interaction has become the norm. After a series of high-profile bombings and mass shootings leaves thousands dead, the United States government outlaws public gatherings. Technology allows people to live in their own homes where, they believe, they'll be safe.

The narrative moves between two voices. Luce is a musician who fronted the band ... [ Read More » ]

5 of 26
The Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York

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The Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York

by Tom Roston

The Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York

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Windows on the World was a fixture in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. It occupied nearly 50,000 square feet on the 106th and 107th floors--a quarter-mile high--and it was once the top-grossing restaurant in the country. With painstaking detail, journalist Tom Roston (I Lost It at the Video Store) relied on more than 125 sources to craft a superbly drawn portrait of an esteemed restaurant that was once a sophisticated pillar of New York City, catering to elites and tourists alike.

Windows ... [ Read More » ]

7 of 26
Little Libraries, Big Heroes

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Little Libraries, Big Heroes

by Miranda Paul, illus. by John Parra

Little Libraries, Big Heroes

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"For thousands of years, people have loved stories about heroes. Mythical heroes, historical heroes, and even... ordinary heroes. Like this guy: Todd."

Todd Bol was "pretty ordinary." As a child, he found reading difficult and was often in trouble in school. His mother, a teacher and book-lover, "told him he was gifted and had something big to offer the world." Years later, when Todd's mother died, he comforted himself with memories of her, including her teaching kids how to read. This gave him an ... [ Read More » ]

9 of 26
For the Love of Music: A Conductor's Guide to the Art of Listening

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For the Love of Music: A Conductor's Guide to the Art of Listening

by John Mauceri

For the Love of Music: A Conductor's Guide to the Art of Listening

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Classical music can be a divisive genre--some people love it, others dislike it, still more are intimidated by it. But no matter what one's relationship to classical might be, this meditation on the genre by esteemed conductor John Mauceri (Maestros and Their Music) is sure to give all readers a new, or deeper, insight into what they are listening to when they listen to a piece of music.

Despite the title, For the Love of Music isn't really a how-to, and instead peels back the decades and the histories ... [ Read More » ]

10 of 26
Father's Day

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Father's Day

by Matthew Zapruder

Father's Day

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In Matthew Zapruder's fifth collection of poetry, the themes of fatherhood and uncertainty for the future loom large. Father's Day is not a drastic departure from Zapruder's previous books. It features concise poems that often stem from an unexpectedly poignant--or, in some cases, bleak--moment he's encountered in everyday life. At the center of this volume is Zapruder's son, who appears in various poems as a human about to be born, an infant capable of renewing hope and a young child on the autism ... [ Read More » ]

11 of 26
Dark Skies: A Practical Guide to Astrotourism

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Dark Skies: A Practical Guide to Astrotourism

by Valerie Stimac

Dark Skies: A Practical Guide to Astrotourism

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Most of Lonely Planet's guides cover the ground beneath us: hotels and restaurants, landmarks, museums, day trips and everything in between. Many of these destinations suffer from a common plight--light pollution. In his introduction to Dark Skies: A Practical Guide to Astrotourism by Valerie Stimac and Lonely Planet, Phil Plait (aka the Bad Astronomer) cites a study claiming that 80% of the planet is afflicted by light pollution, including 99% of the United States. This means most people can see ... [ Read More » ]

12 of 26
Cold Storage

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Cold Storage

by David Koepp

Cold Storage

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After 16 "kills" (nuclear/bioweapons programs neutralized), Defense Nuclear Agency team Roberto Diaz and Trini Romano think they've seen it all. Then, in 1987, they encounter Cordyceps novus, a fungus more pernicious, adaptive and threatening than anything they've ever seen. The government destroys all but a small sample, which it buries safely in cold storage in the Atchison mines, "sealed inside a biotube three hundred feet underground in a sub-basement that didn't officially exist."

Thirty years ... [ Read More » ]

13 of 26
Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death

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Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death

by Caitlin Doughty

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death

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Caitlin Doughty wrote Smoke Gets in Your Eyes to share what she's learned about the mortuary business and, more importantly, about death, with adult readers. Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death is a delightful follow-up and expansion on that project, aimed at younger readers but absolutely for adults as well. Doughty's continuing experience in the business (from crematory operator to mortuary owner, with a degree in mortuary science) means ... [ Read More » ]

14 of 26
The Ten Thousand Doors of January

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January

by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January expands on one of fantasy literature's most common tropes--magical doors into other worlds--to tell a strikingly original coming-of-age story set in the early 1900s. Alix E. Harrow's debut novel follows January Scaller, a ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke and a curiosity among curiosities. Mr. Locke collects exotic objects from around the world and stores them in his mansion. January's father flits in and out of her life, always sent away by Mr. Locke to find more far-flung ... [ Read More » ]

15 of 26
The Siege of Troy

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The Siege of Troy

by Theodor Kallifatides, trans. by Marlaine Delargy

The Siege of Troy

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Under German occupation, a Greek village has no teacher for its children, until one day a woman appears.

Everything about this teacher is mysterious; the fragments of information that her students piece together fail to explain who she is. She speaks fluent German, she takes long solitary walks at night to visit a friend in a nearby village, she spends time with a handsome German fighter pilot. But these facts lose their importance when Miss and her students take shelter from British bombers in a ... [ Read More » ]

17 of 26
Small in the City

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Small in the City

by Sydney Smith

Small in the City

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At first, there's no reason to suspect that the narrator isn't addressing the reader: "I know what it's like to be small in the city" corresponds with an image of a behatted, bundled-up and backpack-toting child crossing a skyscraper-flanked avenue. But after several pages of what sound like his calls for sympathy ("People don't see you and loud sounds can scare you"), it becomes clear that the boy isn't being self-referential: "But I know you. You'll be all right." What's going on here? As the boy ... [ Read More » ]

19 of 26
Frankly in Love

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Frankly in Love

by David Yoon

Frankly in Love

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High school senior Frank Li is the "silent hyphen" in Korean-American: an entity that bridges two cultures without ever taking a full step toward either one, a "Limbo," as he calls it. "I'm not Korean enough," he thinks, but "not white enough to be fully American." He's expected to study hard, go to a top college and marry a nice Korean girl (unlike his sister, who was disowned when she married a black man). Instead, he falls for an "American" (i.e., white) classmate. To appease his parents and satisfy ... [ Read More » ]

20 of 26
Hope Farm

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Hope Farm

by Peggy Frew

Hope Farm

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Australian author Peggy Frew won the 2010 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for her debut novel, House of Sticks, a deeply affecting story about a young woman becoming a mother. With her second novel, Hope Farm, Frew writes from the perspective of a child. This beautifully written story is set in 1985, the year that 13-year-old Silver experiences a series of events that destroy her relationship with her mother.

Told from Silver's adult point-of-view, the story is set on Hope Farm, a hippie commune ... [ Read More » ]

21 of 26
Great Cities Through Travelers' Eyes

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Great Cities Through Travelers' Eyes

by Peter Furtado

Great Cities Through Travelers' Eyes

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In Great Cities Through Travelers' Eyes, Peter Furtado, historian and former editor of History Today magazine, has compiled an armchair travelers' delight. Building on the idea that cities are the most enduring of all historical artifacts, he presents travelers' accounts of 38 cities around the world, from Alexandria in Egypt to Washington, D.C.

Furtado outlines his selection criteria clearly for the reader. All the cities still exist: no romantic musings on the ruins of Persepolis or Machu Picchu ... [ Read More » ]

22 of 26
Diamond Doris: The True Story of the World's Most Notorious Jewel Thief

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Diamond Doris: The True Story of the World's Most Notorious Jewel Thief

by Doris Payne, Zelda Lockhart

Diamond Doris: The True Story of the World's Most Notorious Jewel Thief

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At age 88, Doris Payne (assisted by Zelda Lockhart) looks back at her six decades as an international jewel thief. Diamond Doris is the first time Payne has revealed all aspects of her remarkable life, including the techniques she used to walk out of world-famous jewelry stores with rings worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. She and her five siblings were raised in a poor, segregated coal mining town in West Virginia by her boorish black father and doting Native American mother. Early on, Payne ... [ Read More » ]

23 of 26
Bitter English

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Bitter English

by Ahmad Almallah

Bitter English

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How are we formed by language? How do we form the world through language? How are our concepts of who we belong to, and where we might belong, formed? These are some of the questions at the heart of Bitter English, Ahmad Almallah's first collection of poetry--perhaps better thought of as an "autobiography in verse."

Almallah explores the themes of family, home and identity in fluid language. The free verse of the poems allows for a deeper exploration of the construction of culture. The titular poem ... [ Read More » ]

24 of 26
Axiomatic

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Axiomatic

by Maria Tumarkin

Axiomatic

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When Australian literary legend Helen Garner says, "No one can write like Maria Tumarkin," one sits up and pays attention. Cultural historian Tumarkin teaches creative writing at the University of Melbourne while writing novels and essays. Axiomatic testifies to Tumarkin's captivation by and insight into sociology; these five extended essays explore themes that stir intriguing communal reaction and response.

In "Time Heals All Wounds," several youth suicides rock a school community. Students grieve ... [ Read More » ]

25 of 26
All the Powers of Earth: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln Vol. III, 1856-1860

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All the Powers of Earth: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln Vol. III, 1856-1860

by Sidney Blumenthal

All the Powers of Earth: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln Vol. III, 1856-1860

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... [ Read More » ]

26 of 26
Out of Darkness, Shining Light

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Out of Darkness, Shining Light

by Petina Gappah

Out of Darkness, Shining Light

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Zimbabwean writer Petina Gappah (The Book of Memory) takes  readers on an epic adventure through the wilds of 19th-century Africa in her novel Out of Darkness, Shining Light. Following the men and women who deliver the body of Scottish explorer Dr. David Livingstone 1,500 miles from Zambia to Zanzibar, the plot evolves through the narration of two members of the group: Livingstone's cook and a Christian freed slave, both individuals who have faded into the obscurity of history. Gappah returns ... [ Read More » ]

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