This Week's Best New Books

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You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here

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You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here

by Frances Macken

You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here

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Frances Macken's darkly complicated You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here follows three Irish girls as they aspire to escape their dead-end hometown of Glenbruff. Working-class Katie, pretty, rich girl Evelyn and hanger-on Maeve are introduced as happy 10-year-olds running free, imagining the local quarry, wet bogs and abandoned buildings as wondrous faraway habitats. They plan for bigger, better lives together elsewhere but, like all childhood friendships, this trio's loyalties ebb and flow ... [ Read More » ]

2 of 26
What Happens at Night

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What Happens at Night

by Peter Cameron

What Happens at Night

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A journey to adopt a baby in a distant, northern European city tests a married couple in What Happens at Night, a menacing, suspenseful novel by Peter Cameron (Coral Glynn), its mood occasionally lightened by grim humor in the dialogue. Their journey from the United States had been difficult even before they arrive at their gloomily grandiose hotel. The wife is life-threateningly ill, which has made it nearly impossible for them to adopt. The nearby orphanage may be her last hope for a child before ... [ Read More » ]

3 of 26
Rules for Being Dead

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Rules for Being Dead

by Kim Powers

Rules for Being Dead

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Kim Powers's haunting and spellbinding novel Rules for Being Dead reads like an intoxicating blend of the best of Shirley Jackson, Alice Sebold and Fannie Flagg. But Powers has created an original novel that is both a tender coming-of-age tale and a fascinating mystery that builds to a nail-biting climax.

Set in a small Texas town in 1966, the novel begins with the suspicious death of Creola Perkins, an unhappily married 44-year-old grade-school teacher, wife to alcoholic dreamer L.E. and mother ... [ Read More » ]

4 of 26
Lineage Most Lethal: An Ancestry Detective Mystery

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Lineage Most Lethal: An Ancestry Detective Mystery

by S.C. Perkins

Lineage Most Lethal: An Ancestry Detective Mystery

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"Well, I'll be dashed.... It's a pigpen." Uttered by wily old fox George Lancaster, these words refer to something other than a mess. A cipher, to be exact--one that forces George to disclose long-held World War II secrets to his beloved granddaughter, genealogist Lucy Lancaster. To bust a murder scheme relating to an old espionage operation, they'll have to find the key and break the code before lives are lost.

Lineage Most Lethal is the second entry in S.C. Perkins's marvelous Ancestry Detective ... [ Read More » ]

5 of 26
Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy

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Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy

by Edward Ball

Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy

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In 1998, Edward Ball won the National Book Award for Slaves in the Family, his unflinching history concerning slavery his father's ancestors perpetuated in South Carolina. He continues unraveling the tightly knotted legacy of white supremacy by studying his mother's ancestors in Louisiana: specifically, Polycarp Constant Lecorgne, "our klansman."

A fighter in the rebel army during the Civil War and in the white militias of Reconstruction, Constant is but a focal point in Ball's broader concern, ... [ Read More » ]

6 of 26
The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy's Vanishing Explorers

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The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy's Vanishing Explorers

by Emily Levesque

The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy's Vanishing Explorers

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The popular image of an astronomer is a lone figure peering into a telescope, discovering brand-new stars or trying to make contact with aliens. Emily Levesque, astronomer and "weird star enthusiast," knows the reality is a little different. In her first nonfiction book, The Last Stargazers, Levesque charts a course through the rapidly evolving field of astronomy. With humor and heart, she explains the basics of what astronomers do while relating dozens of entertaining anecdotes about her chosen ... [ Read More » ]

7 of 26
A Map to the Sun

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A Map to the Sun

by Sloane Leong

A Map to the Sun

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Vibrant art and rich storytelling combine in A Map to the Sun, Sloane Leong's deeply emotional graphic novel about five girls on a basketball team shouldering different burdens and learning to carry them together.

The summer before ninth grade, Ren and Luna meet. They spend the season together and then Luna moves away. She never calls. Then, in 10th grade, Luna transfers back, optimistic about reuniting with Ren. Except Ren's world didn't pause: her parents are separated, her dad struggles financially ... [ Read More » ]

8 of 26
Ellie's Voice: or Trööömmmpffff

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Ellie's Voice: or Trööömmmpffff

by Piret Raud, trans. by Adam Cullen

Ellie's Voice: or Trööömmmpffff

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Ellie's Voice: or Trööömmmpffff abounds with music, and not just in terms of its subject matter. If illustrations could make noise, then Piret Raud's art would sing.

Ellie, a bird who lives by the sea, laments that she alone doesn't have a voice--"Even the rain sings when it falls." When the waves wash a horn ashore (it resembles an outsize shofar--at least at first), Ellie is elated. The noise that she makes with the horn, while non-euphonious (Trööömmmpffff!), summons ... [ Read More » ]

9 of 26
Harrow the Ninth

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Harrow the Ninth

by Tamsyn Muir

Harrow the Ninth

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Harrow the Ninth has a tough act to follow in 2019's deranged, electrifyingly fun Gideon the Ninth, but the middle chapter in Tamsyn Muir's Locked Tomb Trilogy is every bit as wild and weird as its delightful predecessor. Following the events of the first book, Muir shifts focus to the necromancer Harrowhark as she joins a cohort dedicated to assisting the godlike Emperor in fighting strange cosmic entities.

Muir has not lost her penchant for throwing readers in the deep end, and some incomprehension ... [ Read More » ]

10 of 26
The Disaster Tourist

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The Disaster Tourist

by Yun Ko-Eun, trans. by Lizzie Buehler

The Disaster Tourist

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Pristine beaches, spectacular landscapes, cultural landmarks might have been the go-to tourist destinations once upon a time, but in Yun Ko-eun's sly, compelling novel, The Disaster Tourist, scenes of death and destruction are where people really want to go.

Jungle, where Yona Ko has been working for 10-plus years, is one of these travel providers, and her professional success makes her a personal target of Team Leader Kim's sexual abuse. She's not alone, but Human Resources offers nothing more ... [ Read More » ]

11 of 26
The Death of Vivek Oji

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The Death of Vivek Oji

by Akwaeke Emezi

The Death of Vivek Oji

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Returning to adult fiction after the success of their 2019 National Book Award finalist YA novel Pet, Nigerian writer Akwaeke Emezi brings readers a deep, tender look at a family unraveling around the tragic and early loss of someone they loved but never understood. 

"They burned down the market on the day Vivek Oji died," the first chapter says in its arresting entirety. Born to Chika and Kavita, with a starfish-shaped birthmark on his foot identical to a scar his grandmother ... [ Read More » ]

12 of 26
The Buddhist on Death Row: How One Man Found Light in the Darkest Place

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The Buddhist on Death Row: How One Man Found Light in the Darkest Place

by David Sheff

The Buddhist on Death Row: How One Man Found Light in the Darkest Place

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For 30 years, Jarvis Jay Masters has been a resident of San Quentin State Prison's death row, some two decades of them in solitary confinement. As one of 700 inmates currently in that grim status, his story would not be remarkable, but for the fact that during his long imprisonment he's become an esteemed Buddhist teacher, and a confidant of the well-known writer and teacher Pema Chödrön.

In The Buddhist on Death Row: How One Man Found Light in the Darkest Place, journalist David Sheff ... [ Read More » ]

13 of 26
The Fixed Stars

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The Fixed Stars

by Molly Wizenberg

The Fixed Stars

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In another writer's hands, this could have been awkward. Molly Wizenberg's previous bestselling memoirs--A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table and Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage--are to a large extent valentines to Brandon Pettit, with whom she opened Delancey, a beloved Seattle restaurant. Wizenberg's blindsidingly beautiful new memoir, The Fixed Stars, is about how she initiated a divorce from Pettit after an incapacitating crush on a woman compelled her ... [ Read More » ]

14 of 26
Yes, I Can Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble

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Yes, I Can Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble

by Judy Gold

Yes, I Can Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble

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Censoring comedians during a time of hyper-political correctness is a serious topic, but two-time Emmy Award-winning standup comedian Judy Gold (25 Questions for a Jewish Mother) tackles the subject with insight, reason and laughs on every page. Gold offers an illuminating history of how censorship of comedians has been around for decades, and has only increased in recent years. Some censorship landmarks discussed include Lenny Bruce's on-stage arrests; Howard Stern's battles with the FCC; CBS's ... [ Read More » ]

15 of 26
White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity

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White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity

by Robert P. Jones

White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity

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What happens when religion is coopted and corrupted? How is its hierarchical status quo maintained? Robert P. Jones, CEO and founder of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), explains what's at stake with a prophetic voice backed by complex history, data analysis and personal experience (as a product of the South).

Slavery has been called America's original sin, and Jones (The End of White Christian America) lays out the whys and whens of this legacy. He begins with the current moment "between ... [ Read More » ]

16 of 26
Want

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Want

by Lynn Steger Strong

Want

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In Lynn Steger Strong's Want, a deep sense of need and desire thrums beneath perfectly concise, staccato prose that tells the story of a woman caught in the frustrations (and fury) of living a life she never imagined for herself.

Elizabeth and her husband have several degrees, two children and a mountain of debt. On the brink of declaring bankruptcy, the two cobble together jobs to try to make ends meet. But keeping up appearances is starting to push Elizabeth over the edge. She leaves work to walk ... [ Read More » ]

17 of 26
Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession

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Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession

by Sarah Weinman, editor

Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession

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In "The Ethical Dilemma of Highbrow True Crime," Alice Bolin concedes that fans of the true-crime genre (herself among them) are arguably "consuming real people's pain for fun." Where does this leave readers of Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession, in which Bolin's essay appears? With a clear conscience. The anthology transcends the genre with not just its high-grade writing but also editor Sarah Weinman's (The Real Lolita) commitment to looking beyond true crime's ... [ Read More » ]

18 of 26
The Wild Laughter

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The Wild Laughter

by Caoilinn Hughes

The Wild Laughter

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Few nations felt the sting of the global recession that began in 2007 more than Ireland, when its roaring "Celtic Tiger" economy imploded. Caoilinn Hughes (Orchid & the Wasp) sets her second novel--a taut, acerbic family drama--against the backdrop of that economic cataclysm in her native land.

Like many of his countrymen, farmer Manus Black falls for the lure of a can't-miss investment in apartments in Spain and Bulgaria, only to lose all when the real estate market collapses. Overnight he's ... [ Read More » ]

19 of 26
Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms

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Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms

by Victoria Law, Maya Schenwar

Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms

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"The book you hold in your hands requires your full attention," writes Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow) in the foreword to Prison by Any Other Name by journalists Victoria Law and Maya Schenwar. Truer words have never been spoken. Law and Schenwar make an impassioned case for how popular prison reforms are actually expanding, not shrinking, the state of mass incarceration in the United States--research that is as important as it is timely.

The United States remains "the most incarcerated nation," ... [ Read More » ]

20 of 26
Or What You Will

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Or What You Will

by Jo Walton

Or What You Will

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Jo Walton's Or What You Will is a clever and curious book that uses stories to ponder the nature of storytelling. Sylvia, author of 30 books over a 40-year career, is working on a new novel set in the same location as some of her earlier works: Thalia, a Florence-like city in a Renaissance-resembling time. But this novel is getting away from her, slowly filling with stories of her own life, the muse that lives inside her head interjecting himself into her writing more frequently. As Sylvia writes, ... [ Read More » ]

21 of 26
The Nesting Dolls

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The Nesting Dolls

by Alina Adams

The Nesting Dolls

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Just follow the rules and everything will be all right. That's what Daria Gordon tells her two young daughters--and herself--when her family is snatched from their home in 1930s Odessa, Ukraine, and taken to a Siberian work camp. But conditions at the camp are appalling, and Daria is forced to make impossible choices to survive. Daria's granddaughter, Natasha, a brilliant mathematician, has always heard a similar refrain: work hard and you will be rewarded. But when she's denied a place at university ... [ Read More » ]

22 of 26
This Is My America

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This Is My America

by Kim Johnson

This Is My America

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This debut YA novel is an incisive condemnation of the racist criminal justice system, mass incarceration and capital punishment.

Seven years ago, Black teen Tracy Beaumont's father was unjustly convicted of murder and is now on death row. Recently, Innocence X (an organization modeled after Bryan Stevenson's Equal Justice Initiative) finally agreed to take on her father's case. But when her scholar athlete brother, Jamal, is accused of murdering the white girl he was secretly dating, he goes on ... [ Read More » ]

23 of 26
Gridiron: Stories from 100 Years of the National Football League

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Gridiron: Stories from 100 Years of the National Football League

by Fred Bowen, illus. by James E. Ransome

Gridiron: Stories from 100 Years of the National Football League

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Seasoned sportswriter Fred Bowen (Speed Demon) celebrates the National Football League's (NFL) centennial anniversary with a rousing look at the organization from its rag-tag start in Canton, Ohio, to its current status as "the most popular sports league in the United States." Through the ups and downs, wins and losses, Bowen deftly chronicles the evolution of an institution that changed the face of U.S. sports.

Bowen breaks the book down into quarters, to mirror a football game. The first quarter ... [ Read More » ]

24 of 26
City of Secrets

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City of Secrets

by Victoria Ying

City of Secrets

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Secrets will out in thrilling ways as a wary orphan and an adventure-prone heiress face deadly peril in this action-packed first authored graphic novel from Victoria Ying (Diana: Princess of the Amazons). 

Built in layers like a wedding cake, the Grand Capital City of Oskars needs a way to keep communication flowing through its levels. Madame Alexander oversees a staff of young women who connect calls at the Switchboard Operating Facility, a building with six stories of lever-and-gear-operated ... [ Read More » ]

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The Aunt Who Wouldn't Die

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The Aunt Who Wouldn't Die

by Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, trans. by Arunava Sinha

The Aunt Who Wouldn't Die

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As spare as it might initially seem, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay's wickedly entertaining novel, The Aunt Who Wouldn't Die, manages smoothly to illuminate gender inequity, cultural biases, socioeconomic disparity and familial dysfunction through a three-generational ghost story.

At 18, Somlata is wed to her 32-year-old husband, the "blissfully unemployed" youngest of an aristocratic family in serious decline. In the crumbling, sprawling household, Somlata discovers the newly dead Pishima, the family's ... [ Read More » ]

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Afterland

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Afterland

by Lauren Beukes

Afterland

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"You can't imagine how much the world can change in six months." Oh, but yes we can! With remarkable prescience, Lauren Beukes's Afterland takes on an "unprecedented global pandemic" with chilling results--and surprising comic relief threaded throughout. Six years after the success of Broken Monsters, the South African author sets another disturbing novel in the U.S., creating an epic odyssey of a mother's determination to save her tween son. Their worst threat to safety, alas, ... [ Read More » ]

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