1 of 25
by Corinne Manning
"My family had no rules."
"There are certain rules you learn early."
Corinne Manning's nuanced debut short story collection is bookended by these two statements, both straightforward in concept but complex in execution. The first entry in We Had No Rules is a story of the same name; it follows a queer teen girl as she runs away from home to live with her older sister in 1990s New York City. She recalls a childhood in which rules seemingly didn't exist--that is, until her sister broke them ... [ Read More » ]
2 of 25
by Marion Brunet, trans. by Katherine Gregor
Summer of Reckoning is a thriller set in the hothouse of the Luberon region in the south of France, as poverty, racism and boredom boil over into terrible violence. Marion Brunet's first book to be translated into English from the French is almost cruelly efficient, hurtling the reader toward inevitable tragedy in little more than 200 pages. Brunet's novel is overheated and psychologically complex, filled with the kinds of intense, conflicting personalities that wouldn't be out of place in a Tennessee ... [ Read More » ]
3 of 25
by Richard Ford
Richard Ford's short story collection Sorry for Your Trouble offers nine emotionally resonant tales of aging, loss and existential displacement. In "Nothing to Declare," a pair of ex-lovers, estranged for decades, take a walk together through the New Orleans French Quarter. "Second Language" tells the story of an ex-husband and wife who manage to maintain a relationship after their divorce. Finally, in the longest tale, "The Run of Yourself," a man traverses the unsettled and lonely terrain of his ... [ Read More » ]
4 of 25
by Amy Jo Burns
Set on a mountain in West Virginia and populated by snake-handling preachers, moonshiners and the women who survive them, Amy Jo Burns's first novel, Shiner, is a powerful story about finding moments of light in the dark--even if that means burning everything down. Shiner is a story about stories: those we tell ourselves, those we tell others and the stories that live on after we can no longer tell them.
Teenage Wren and her mother, Ruby, are cut off from the world. Their only regular contact outside ... [ Read More » ]
5 of 25
by Kylie Logan
As contrary as it seems to reference charm and murder in the same sentence, Kylie Logan's The Secrets of Bones blends them wonderfully. The second in Logan's Jazz Ramsey series (The Scent of Murder) finds Jazz recovering from large life losses. She finds solace in her Airedale puppy, Wally, who she's training to be her next Human Remains Detection partner, and her job as administrative assistant to Sister Eileen Flannery, principal of St. Catherine's Prep Academy for Girls.
Assembly Day at ... [ Read More » ]
6 of 25
by Jazmina Barrera, trans. by Christina Macsweeney
"Even before I ever saw a lighthouse, I dreamed of one," writes Mexico City writer Jazmina Barrera in her luminous, wistful book of essays, On Lighthouses. "Obsession," she explains, "is a form of mental collecting," and Barrera's obsession leads her "to research the history of lighthouses, the stories surrounding them... it was like falling in love."
She's not alone. James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Jeanette Winterson and Robert Louis Stevenson are only a few of the writers who share her passion; Herman ... [ Read More » ]
7 of 25
by Gail Godwin
The lifelong impact of a brief friendship is the theme of Old Lovegood Girls, Gail Godwin's 16th novel. Spanning decades and moving from a traditional women's junior college in 1958 North Carolina to New York City, yet always returning to the South, the emotional interdependence of Feron Hood and Merry Jellicoe is a quiet force propelling this engaging novel.
For ill-matched roommates, their bond is surprising. Feron had been "subjected to a wider range of life's misadventures than the typical Lovegood ... [ Read More » ]
8 of 25
by Elizabeth Acevedo
NBA, Printz and Carnegie Medal-winner Elizabeth Acevedo's second novel-in-verse, Clap When You Land, is inspired by and pays tribute to "the lives lost on American Airlines flight 587," which crashed in Queens, N.Y., in 2001 on its way to the Dominican Republic. Diving deep into the lives of two teens who have lost their father in a plane crash, Acevedo (The Poet X) uses her immense skill to describe their lush, complicated inner worlds.
Through an apprenticeship with her tía, 16-year-old ... [ Read More » ]
9 of 25
by Kacen Callender
After coming out as transgender, changing his name and physically transitioning, 17-year-old Felix Love got exactly what he wished for. So why does he still feel like something isn't right? Kacen Callender's second work for young adults is an enigmatic story of self-discovery featuring a dynamic cast of queer characters who are divided by their insecurities but secretly united by their desire to be loved.
Felix is a Black, trans, queer art student desperate for his own Cinderella story. ... [ Read More » ]
10 of 25
by Dori Hillestad Butler, illus. by Kevan Atteberry
This comical and surprisingly touching collection of letters between a snooty cat and an exuberant and oblivious dog introduces young readers to the richness awaiting them in early chapter books.
Simon is a pompous--though perhaps a bit insecure--black cat. He lives with his human, Andy, and Andy's mom. Ever since Andy's parents split up, Simon has managed just fine as his boy's singular pet (if you don't count the goldfish, which he doesn't). Learning that Andy's dad has adopted a dog is a serious ... [ Read More » ]
11 of 25
by John Moe
Comedic and sobering, The Hilarious World of Depression by John Moe, host of the podcast of the same name, imparts what living with depression looks like.
Depression has tried to kill Moe (Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth) since he was 12. Tricked by an "If I Could Just mentality," he believed achieving goals would bring happiness. It didn't. Dream jobs--writing for NPR, hosting Weekend America, launching American Public Media's Wits--fueled stress, strengthening the disorder's grip on his psyche. ... [ Read More » ]
12 of 25
by Jill Watts
In 1933, as FDR's first New Deal programs sprung up across a United States in crisis, NAACP official William Pickens found the Roosevelt administration's relief efforts lacking: he saw Roosevelt's NRA--the National Recovery Act--as more akin to a "Negro Removal Act," thanks to the early New Deal's targeting of aid toward white communities and its enshrinement of discriminatory hiring practices.
This vivid, penetrating study by historian Jill Watts (Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood ... [ Read More » ]
13 of 25
by Won-Pyung Sohn, trans. by Sandy Joosun Lee
The engrossing voice and outsider's perspective from a young narrator with a brain condition will reward readers of Almond, the debut novel from Won-Pyung Sohn. Yunjae's underdeveloped amygdalae--two almond-shaped clusters of nuclei in the brain--mean that he doesn't experience emotions the same way most people do. His mother and his grandmother raise him with great care, writing down instructions for him to memorize, such as to move away if a car comes close to him and to smile back when people ... [ Read More » ]
14 of 25
by Sajni Patel
In her first novel, The Trouble with Hating You, Sajni Patel creates a rewarding romance set in an intriguing world that combines proper second-generation Indian Americans with a Texan swagger. Liya Thakkar, a successful biochemical engineer in Houston, is seen as a failure in the eyes of her traditional father because she has her own apartment, has dated a number of men and refuses to get married.
Liya resents her father's dominance and her mother's inability to do anything but obey him, so she ... [ Read More » ]
15 of 25
by Sebastian Barry
On the last page of Days Without End, Sebastian Barry's readers anticipated peace for Thomas McNulty, his beloved John Cole and their adopted Lakota daughter, Winona. Their army service and the Indian Wars were behind them. In A Thousand Moons, a sequel that's also satisfying as a stand-alone, Winona narrates their story of working fellow soldier Lige Magan's farm, with Tennyson and Rosalee, freed from enslavement.
It's the 1870s, but in Paris, Tenn., "whitemen in the main just see slaves and Indians." ... [ Read More » ]
16 of 25
by David Kamp
The scene was set: in the 1960s, it was recognized that young children of color weren't keeping up academically with their white peers, and studies were showing that the preschool years were more developmentally critical than educators had previously realized. Meanwhile, with the right enticement, toddlers were proving capable of seemingly effortless learning. As Children's Television Workshop (CTW) cofounder Joan Ganz Cooney puts it in David Kamp's enchanting Sunny Days: The Children's Television ... [ Read More » ]
17 of 25
by Wendy Lesser
Since the early 1980s, critic Wendy Lesser (The Amateur: An Independent Life of Letters) has been an avid consumer of the growing body of mystery and thriller novels set in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Scandinavian Noir: In Pursuit of a Mystery is both an enthusiastic appreciation of the genre and a pleasurable work of travel writing, in which Lesser compares her lived experience in the Scandinavian countries with the fictional world she calls "my imaginary Scandinavia."
In sections that ... [ Read More » ]
18 of 25
by Molly Ball
Most biographies covering a subject up to age 79 will be fairly complete. When that subject is Nancy Pelosi, a second volume might be necessary. Of course, for Democrats reading first-time author Molly Ball's Pelosi, an absorbing, unabashedly wonky portrait of the Speaker through her 2019 announcement that the House would begin impeachment hearings against the president, the book ends at just the right spot.
The daughter of a Democratic congressman turned mayor of Baltimore, Pelosi married straight ... [ Read More » ]
19 of 25
by Mark Polanzak
Vintage travel brochure headlines separate the tales in Mark Polanzak's wildly imaginative story collection, The OK End of Funny Town. Sections like "Travel to Fantastic Places!" and "Witness Magical Things!" deliver, as promised, 19 weird and wonderful stories that are as captivating as they are discomfiting. Readers "Meet Fabulous Strangers!" in the opening story, "Giant." Townspeople are delighted when a giant moves into their village. "It wasn't an emergency to anyone. It was awe-striking," ... [ Read More » ]
20 of 25
by Beth Turley
Navigating new situations is hard. Starting high school? Really hard. Also hard: being the younger sibling of a brand-new high schooler who doesn't want to hang out anymore. Such is the bummer facing 12-year-old Cassi Chord, who narrates Beth Turley's finespun middle-grade novel The Last Tree Town.
When Cassi begins seventh grade, she finds herself in a Math Olympics class with a boy named Aaron Kale, who has just moved to Mapleton. His father has been relocating them from town to town, each named ... [ Read More » ]
21 of 25
by Christina Uss
In her sophomore middle-grade novel, Christina Uss uses vivid language and unforgettable characters to tell an uplifting, hopeful story about a traffic-obsessed, motion sickness-prone boy.
For years, 11-year-old Rick Rusek has studied Los Angeles's traffic problems and crafted ways to fix them. He hopes his "Snarl Solutions" will improve traffic flow enough that his parents' catering business won't have to close. Knowing he needs help, Rick joins his neighbor's Girl Scout troop, which is creating ... [ Read More » ]
22 of 25
by Amy Meyerson
Amy Meyerson's intriguing second novel, The Imperfects, begins with an unnamed, pregnant young woman receiving a secret gift in 1918 Vienna. In present-day Philadelphia, a Holocaust survivor named Helen dies, bequeathing her house to her daughter, Deborah, and her remaining estate to her grandchildren, Ashley, Jake and Beck. Beck also inherits a brooch with a large yellow stone, seemingly a piece of costume jewelry Helen favored.
When Beck gets it appraised, she's startled to learn the yellow stone ... [ Read More » ]
23 of 25
by Jeni McFarland
For Jeni McFarland, who survived childhood sexual assault, talking about her trauma "was like a dam burst," she reveals in an interview with her publisher. "It was so cathartic writing about it that I couldn't stop." That horrific survival, further aggravated by being one of few residents of color in her Midwest farming town, inspires her debut novel, The House of Deep Water, in which McFarland populates River Bend, Mich., with a standout cast, including three reluctant returnees.
Linda arrives after ... [ Read More » ]
24 of 25
by Laura Lam
Seeking a better future for humanity, five astronauts encounter danger and deception on the treacherous journey to a new planet in Laura Lam's feminist science-fiction thriller Goldilocks.
The future of Earth is bleak: sea levels have risen, women's rights are being steadily repealed and climate refugees are dying around the world. With the discovery of Cavendish, an Earth-like planet 10 and a half light years away, comes a chance for humanity to start anew. After being abruptly replaced by an all-male ... [ Read More » ]
25 of 25
by Tom Gauld
Can science be funny? Looking at the pages of Eisner Award-winning humorist and cartoonist Tom Gauld's Department of Mind-Blowing Theories, the answer is a resounding yes. The book collects 150 one-panel cartoons originally drawn for his weekly strip in New Scientist.
Though originally created for an internationally recognized science and technology publication, Gauld's comics do not talk down to readers; in a word, they are meme-able. He draws in a minimalist style that communicates situational ... [ Read More » ]