This Week's Best New Books

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A Walking Life: Reclaiming Our Health and Our Freedom One Step at a Time

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A Walking Life: Reclaiming Our Health and Our Freedom One Step at a Time

by Antonia Malchik

A Walking Life: Reclaiming Our Health and Our Freedom One Step at a Time

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Going for a walk, or even stepping out the door on two feet, is a fundamentally human activity. But over the last few centuries, much of humanity has gradually lost, or is losing, the access and ability to walk without impediment and without fear. In her first book, A Walking Life, journalist Antonia Malchik delves into the repercussions of a sedentary life and explores the benefits--social, political, physical and spiritual--of reclaiming walking as an essential practice. "We walk," she says, "to ... [ Read More » ]

2 of 25
Things My Son Needs to Know About the World

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Things My Son Needs to Know About the World

by Fredrik Backman

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World

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Following five successful novels--including A Man Called Ove and Us Against You--Swedish author Fredrik Backman turns to nonfiction. It should come as no surprise that this collection of essays to his young son is splendidly entertaining. As Backman generously offers a peek into the wisdom he bestows on his progeny, readers will find all the humor, profound insight and compassion that make his fiction so irresistible.

Backman claims that parents "actually haven't got a clue what we're really doing--having ... [ Read More » ]

3 of 25
Orange World and Other Stories

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Orange World and Other Stories

by Karen Russell

Orange World and Other Stories

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Karen Russell, the author of Swamplandia!, offers eight fantastical tales in Orange World and Other Stories. In "The Prospectors," two friends must survive a night at a party of denial-ridden ghosts. In "Bog Girl," a young boy falls in love with a girl he discovers buried in peat and mud in a nearby swamp. Other standouts from the collection include the post-apocalyptic, poisonous Everglades of "The Gondoliers" and the bargain a woman makes with the devil to save her family by breast-feeding a fiend ... [ Read More » ]

4 of 25
Hurricane Season

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Hurricane Season

by Nicole Melleby

Hurricane Season

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Sixth-grader Fig knows a lot about artist Vincent van Gogh now that she's studying his life in art class. Fig isn't interested in art but she enrolled because "art and music, the whole language her dad spoke and played and hummed, made very little sense to her." Fig's dad was once a famous pianist and composer; she believes that learning more about his "language" will help her connect with him. Now, though, he lives in extremes: buzzing with frantic energy, trying to create his art, or barely able ... [ Read More » ]

5 of 25
Crossing on Time: Steam Engines, Fast Ships, and a Journey to the New World

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Crossing on Time: Steam Engines, Fast Ships, and a Journey to the New World

by David Macaulay

Crossing on Time: Steam Engines, Fast Ships, and a Journey to the New World

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The Way Things Work Now author David Macaulay takes readers on a transatlantic voyage in this homage to designer William Francis Gibbs's Blue Riband-winning steamship, the SS United States.

As a child, Macaulay emigrated to the United States with his family. Macaulay, his mother and his siblings journeyed to their new home on the ocean liner Gibbs spent 30 years imagining, researching and refining. Crossing on Time tells the story of both the ship's evolution and the Macaulay family's move. Accompanied ... [ Read More » ]

6 of 25
If She Wakes

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If She Wakes

by Michael Koryta

If She Wakes

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Tara Beckley, a senior at Maine's Hammel College, has one simple assignment: drive a visiting professor to a conference dinner. But Professor Oltamu insists on stopping along the way for them to step out and for him to take her picture. Before they can get back in the car, a van rams into them, killing Oltamu and flinging Tara into the cold river.

She wakes in a hospital room with her sister, Shannon, telling her mom and Mom's boyfriend that they should never give up on her. Who and what is Shannon ... [ Read More » ]

7 of 25
Hybrida

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Hybrida

by Tina Chang

Hybrida

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Tina Chang is the poet laureate of Brooklyn and, based on the content of her collection Hybrida, the title is well-deserved. This is a searing, often devastating book of poems that centers on her mixed race child, Roman, and her alarm over his well-being as black men and women are regularly killed by the police: "I envision, now, my son rising, arms above him,/ like hosanna out of a car." Yet Chang is never content to create a hundred stanzas out of a single idea. The book is a weaving of a hundred ... [ Read More » ]

8 of 25
How to Forget: A Daughter's Memoir

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How to Forget: A Daughter's Memoir

by Kate Mulgrew

How to Forget: A Daughter's Memoir

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Actress Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek Voyager, Orange Is the New Black) follows up her candid and thoughtful 2015 memoir, Born with Teeth, with an equally forthright and emotionally raw tale of caring for her parents at the end of their lives.

When her father is diagnosed with stage-four cancer that has spread from his lungs to brain stem, liver and kidneys, Mulgrew's return visit to her home state of Iowa is extended indefinitely. Six years earlier, her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and ... [ Read More » ]

9 of 25
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

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Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

by Casey Cep

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

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The residents of rural Coosa County, Ala., could be forgiven for being leery of Reverend Willie Maxwell. After all, five people close to him, including two wives, died mysteriously--leaving life insurance policies in Maxwell's name. In her first book, Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, journalist Casey Cep explores both the strange case of Maxwell's life and death, and how famous Alabama native Harper Lee came out of seclusion and shook off her demons to try to chronicle ... [ Read More » ]

10 of 25
The Favorite Daughter

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The Favorite Daughter

by Kaira Rouda

The Favorite Daughter

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Jane is rising from the ashes following a year of medicated mourning for her brilliant daughter, Mary. Her husband has become distant and absent; her remaining daughter, Betsy, the "average" one, is combative and angry. Jane is determined to regain her image as a perfect O.C. wife.

As Jane narrates her "coming out" plan in the days before Betsy's graduation and a celebration of life in Mary's honor, it becomes apparent the details of Jane's "complicated grief" diagnosis have been meticulously researched, ... [ Read More » ]

11 of 25
Empty Words

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Empty Words

by Mario Levrero, trans. by Annie McDermott

Empty Words

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Uruguayan novelist Mario Levrero's Empty Words, his first to be translated into English, documents the quest of a writer who decides to improve his handwriting in order to conquer his personal problems. This plan goes awry, yet what emerges is charming, hilarious and often insightful. Much like Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes, Empty Words is a book about writing itself and the frustrations of the creative process. Even when the narrator tries to focus on the task at hand, he inadvertently begins ... [ Read More » ]

12 of 25
A Craftsman's Legacy: Why Working with Our Hands Gives Us Meaning

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A Craftsman's Legacy: Why Working with Our Hands Gives Us Meaning

by Eric Gorges, Jon Sternfeld

A Craftsman's Legacy: Why Working with Our Hands Gives Us Meaning

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Eric Gorges describes the  television show he hosts, A Craftsman's Legacy, as "a celebration [of crafts], but it's also a demonstration, a lesson." In his book of the same name, co-written with author Jon Sternfeld (A Stone of Hope), that celebration and demonstration moves from the screen to the page, as Gorges documents the many lessons he's learned from various crafts and craftsmen (and women) across the country.

Each chapter of A Craftsman's Legacy is based on topics like focus, respect, ... [ Read More » ]

13 of 25
Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, and Assassins

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Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, and Assassins

by Annie Jacobsen

Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, and Assassins

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The president of the United States has three options when dealing with threats to American interests abroad: diplomacy, war or covert action. Tertia Optio, meaning third option, is the motto of the Central Intelligence Agency's Special Activities Division (SAD). For more than half a century, this branch of the CIA has conducted assassinations, paramilitary missions and other clandestine operations around the world.

Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, ... [ Read More » ]

14 of 25
The Rise of the Ultra Runners: A Journey to the Edge of Human Endurance

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The Rise of the Ultra Runners: A Journey to the Edge of Human Endurance

by Adharanand Finn

The Rise of the Ultra Runners: A Journey to the Edge of Human Endurance

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Ultra running (running a race of any distance greater than a marathon) has boomed in recent years. Experts estimate a 1,000% increase in the number of ultra races held around the world each year and, according to ULTRA magazine, the number of ultra finishers in the U.K. jumped from 595 in 2000 to 18,611 in 2017. But why, wondered self-identified "runner-geek" Adharanand Finn (Running with the Kenyans), would anyone want to run that far, that hard and for that long? That's what he sets out to answer ... [ Read More » ]

16 of 25
Lanny

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Lanny

by Max Porter

Lanny

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Following his first novel, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, Max Porter again takes his reader into a weird and magical world with Lanny. Similarly short, lyric and mysterious, this touching story is partner but not sequel.

Lanny's mum and dad have moved to a village not far from London, "fewer than fifty redbrick cottages, a pub, a church." Lanny's dad commutes into the city while his mum works on writing her murder thriller. Lanny goes to school and plays in the woods, singing, fairy-like ... [ Read More » ]

17 of 25
Ladysitting: My Year with Nana at the End of Her Century

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Ladysitting: My Year with Nana at the End of Her Century

by Lorene Cary

Ladysitting: My Year with Nana at the End of Her Century

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Lorene Cary (If Sons, Then Heirs) shares a heartfelt, multifaceted story of caring for her "Nana Jackson," her paternal grandmother, during the end of her life. Nana, who lived to be 101 years old, was complex. An African American who could "pass for white," Nana was strong, independent, affluent and elegant. She drove fancy cars, went to museums and concerts, doted on Cary and generously established a scholarship fund for black students. Nana could also be tough; she demeaned her husband and was ... [ Read More » ]

18 of 25
Lion and Mouse

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Lion and Mouse

by Jairo Buitrago, trans. by Eliza Amado, illus. by Rafael Yockteng

Lion and Mouse

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Jairo Buitrago's (Walk with Me) retelling of the classic fable "The Lion and the Mouse" is likely to have early readers giggling with glee. Buitrago injects a playful air into this story about an improbable friendship between a mouse and the lion who resists eating him, describing the mouse as "a busybody" who the lion thinks is "too small and ugly" to have a girlfriend. The mouse, venturing "uninvited" into the lion's house to steal some food, is "well mannered" and makes sure to wipe "his feet ... [ Read More » ]

19 of 25
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me

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Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me

by Mariko Tamaki, illus. by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me

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Laura Dean has broken up with Freddy Riley three times. This time, Freddy walked in on Laura kissing another girl at a dance. Her friends Eric, Buddy and Doodle comfort Freddy outside the school, where she decides to chug a bottle of liquor (" 'Where did you get Schnapps?' 'Oh my God. I can smell it from here.' "). Couple Eric and Buddy head home, leaving Doodle to take care of the very drunk Freddy. Life proceeds miserably for a bit until Laura shows up at Freddy's doorstep and the two ... [ Read More » ]

21 of 25
When Aidan Became a Brother

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When Aidan Became a Brother

by Kyle Lukoff, illus. by Kaylani Juanita

When Aidan Became a Brother

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"When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl." But his name, his room, his clothes just didn't fit. Aidan realized "he was really another kind of boy": Aidan is transgender. With the help of other families with transgender children, Aidan's family figured things out. Now his parents have announced they are having another child, making Aidan a soon-to-be big brother. As the baby's arrival approaches, he expresses his fears: "I don't want them to feel like I did when I was little, but what ... [ Read More » ]

22 of 25
The Den

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The Den

by Abi Maxwell

The Den

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Abi Maxwell's (Lake People) second novel, The Den, features cleverly interwoven stories about two pairs of sisters on the same land 150 years apart.

In modern-day New England, sisters Henrietta and Jane, ages 15 and 12, live in an old farmhouse on the outskirts of a small town. Jane is distressed when Henrietta starts to distance herself from her family after meeting a boy from town, and she follows the young couple, hoping to get close to her sister again. One night, Henrietta disappears without ... [ Read More » ]

23 of 25
The Charmer in Chaps

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The Charmer in Chaps

by Julia London

The Charmer in Chaps

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Ella Kendall returns to her hometown of Three Rivers, Tex., a little better off than she started. After being raised in the foster care system, she's been taking and cherishing what she can get: her old, beat-up car, the rundown house she inherited and the memory of a stolen kiss from Luca Prince in high school. The Princes are a dynasty in Cimarron County--rich, famous and a staple of the community. Ella has no idea why Luca kissed her that night, or why he's decided to notice her when she moves ... [ Read More » ]

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The Bride Test

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The Bride Test

by Helen Hoang

The Bride Test

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Khai Diep is certain he has a stone heart, one that can't feel love or sadness. During his cousin Andy's funeral, Khai remains dry-eyed. It doesn't bother him too much, though. Isn't it a good thing grief can't touch him? Who wants to wail like his aunties? Besides, he likes being alone with his routines, not dealing with messy emotions.

But his mother has other ideas. She knows Khai processes emotions and social cues differently because he has autism. She goes to Vietnam to choose him a bride and ... [ Read More » ]

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At Home with Muhammad Ali: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Forgiveness

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At Home with Muhammad Ali: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Forgiveness

by Hana Ali

At Home with Muhammad Ali: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Forgiveness

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There may be no more recognizable person than three-time World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali, "The People's Champion." Ali's persona is highlighted by his feats in the ring, quick wit, religious conversion and stance against the Vietnam War. Many books have been written about Ali, including three by his second-youngest daughter, Hana (Ali on Ali). In At Home with Muhammad Ali, Hana Ali changes focus and shares an intimate look at Ali's private moments with his family and what it was like ... [ Read More » ]

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