This Week's Best New Books

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Women Who Dared: To Break All the Rules

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Women Who Dared: To Break All the Rules

by Jeremy Scott

Women Who Dared: To Break All the Rules

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"She was the best of womankind; she was the worst," says the opening line of Women Who Dared: To Break All the Rules. Jeremy Scott highlights women who were often more infamous than heroic, and who flagrantly broke rules both real and imaginary.

Scott creates a template for defiant women with his opening portrait of Victoria Woodhull. In 1872, she was the first woman to run for president of the United States, when women couldn't even vote. Charismatic and brash, unapologetically promiscuous, she ... [ Read More » ]

2 of 26
Who Killed the Fonz?

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Who Killed the Fonz?

by James Boice

Who Killed the Fonz?

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In the same vein that characters from the Archie comics were updated and transported into the noir TV series Riverdale, James Boice (The Shooting) has lifted the cast of the sitcom Happy Days and inserted them into a cozy noir mystery. Who Killed the Fonz? picks up the characters from the show, which was set from 1955 to 1965, 20 years later, in 1984. (The TV series aired from 1974 to 1984.)

Richard ("Richie") Cunningham is now in his 40s and living in Los Angeles with his wife and widowed mother. ... [ Read More » ]

3 of 26
Smoke and Ashes

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Smoke and Ashes

by Abir Mukherjee

Smoke and Ashes

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London author Abir Mukherjee returns with a third novel featuring his marvelously flawed hero, Captain Sam Wyndham of the Imperial Police Force. The year is 1921 and, scarred by his experiences in World War I, Wyndham is wallowing in Calcutta and spending his evenings in an opium-induced haze. On a particularly eventful night, the opium den he's lying in is raided by police and Wyndham stumbles into a gruesome murder scene while attempting to escape. He can't report the crime without incriminating ... [ Read More » ]

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The Secrets of Paper and Ink

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The Secrets of Paper and Ink

by Lindsay Harrel

The Secrets of Paper and Ink

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Lindsay Harrel (The Heart Between Us) entwines the stories of three women whose lives are uprooted by failed relationships in her novel The Secrets of Paper and Ink.

Ginny Rose is the struggling proprietor of Rosebud Books, located in Cornwall, England. She and her husband, Garrett, operated the bookstore together. But after five years of marriage, Garrett decides he needs a break. He sets off to London to find himself. Upon his departure, Ginny realizes he's left her and the bookstore in dire financial ... [ Read More » ]

5 of 26
The Salt Path

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The Salt Path

by Raynor Winn

The Salt Path

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Raynor Winn and Moth, her husband of 32 years, are living a nightmare at the start of Winn's memoir, The Salt Path. Having lost everything following a court battle, they huddle under the stairs of their lovingly restored farm haven, hiding from the bailiffs come to evict them. Tragically, losing their business and home isn't the worst of it. The day after the judge's decision, they finally have time to follow up on Moth's ongoing shoulder pain and learn he's terminally ill.

Peering at packing boxes, ... [ Read More » ]

6 of 26
Notes on a Shipwreck

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Notes on a Shipwreck

by Davide Enia, trans. by Antony Shugaar

Notes on a Shipwreck

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On the Italian "island of an island," Lampedusa, playwright Davide Enia explores the vast landings--and devastating shipwrecks--of refugees fleeing Libya, Syria, Somalia and other terror-filled places. He experiences landings and speaks with the migrants, as well as volunteer rescue workers, doctors, divers and others involved in the first responses. He pieces together their stories to create an affecting glimpse of this nightmarish reality that exists in the midst of the Mediterranean. As Enia explains ... [ Read More » ]

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Midnight: Three Women at the Hour of Reckoning

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Midnight: Three Women at the Hour of Reckoning

by Victoria Shorr

Midnight: Three Women at the Hour of Reckoning

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In Midnight: Three Women at the Hour of Reckoning, Victoria Shorr's (Backlands) remarkable literary voice illuminates the lives of three famous women. Jane Austen, Mary Shelley and Joan of Arc each stand at respective thresholds in these well-researched fictionalizations, their extraordinary lives given immediacy and power and even--despite what we already know--suspense.

At 27, Jane Austen is practically an old maid by her society's standards, and essentially homeless. When the younger brother ... [ Read More » ]

8 of 26
Little Boy

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Little Boy

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Little Boy

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Lawrence Ferlinghetti (A Coney Island of the Mind) holds nothing back in his exuberant autobiographical novel, Little Boy.

Ferlinghetti, who turns 100 on Sunday, March 24, is famous for his poetry and for founding City Lights Books in San Francisco. He hails from the Beat Generation, which shows in his unpunctuated, stream-of-consciousness style. Little Boy starts out as simply a memoir. The author traces his upbringing with his French aunt and, later, with a foster family in upscale Bronxville, ... [ Read More » ]

9 of 26
The Weight of the Stars

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The Weight of the Stars

by K. Ancrum

The Weight of the Stars

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Ryann Bird is known for both "compulsively rescuing people from themselves" and fighting anyone who pisses her off. Ryann is intuitive, with a talent for opening people up; her friends include her selectively mute younger brother (she's his legal guardian) and an eclectic mix of teens who don't necessarily fit anywhere else. When a new student, Alexandria, arrives, a teacher enlists Ryann to engage her.

Alexandria is a minor celebrity: 20 years ago, a privatized space company called SCOUT sent a ... [ Read More » ]

10 of 26
Internment

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Internment

by Samira Ahmed

Internment

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In Internment, Samira Ahmed (Love, Hate and Other Filters) paints a chilling vision of a not-too-distant-future dystopian United States.

Ever since the president was elected, there have been changes: the Muslim ban, a Muslim registry, book burnings and, finally, the authorization of the Exclusion Laws. Layla's father, a professor and poet, sticks to his belief that Taqqiya (concealing one's religion) should only be used during a time of duress; not believing they are in a life-threatening situation, ... [ Read More » ]

11 of 26
Crescendo

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Crescendo

by Paola Quintavalle, illus. by Alessandro Sanna

Crescendo

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Crescendo takes the reader through human gestation, beginning at the fifth week of pregnancy and extending through the 40th. Each week is honored in a two-page spread featuring Paola Quintavalle's spare, carefully chosen text and a facing illustration. Taken together, every four weeks of snippets read like a freestanding poem. For Month 6: "You are learning to cry/ Your eyes conserve the color of the night sky/ You cannot see, but you sense the light/ As you turn and tip and tip and turn." This is ... [ Read More » ]

13 of 26
Connections in Death

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Connections in Death

by J.D. Robb

Connections in Death

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Connections in Death, the 48th full-length novel by Nora Roberts (Shelter in Place, Year One) writing as J.D. Robb, is a gripping addition to this futuristic murder mystery series. The year is 2061, and ever since murder cop Lieutenant Eve Dallas married reformed thief and self-made richest man in the world Roarke, she's had an increasingly difficult time keeping her work life and her personal life separate. So she shouldn't have been surprised at one more set of worlds colliding: one of Roarke's ... [ Read More » ]

14 of 26
Run Away

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Run Away

by Harlan Coben

Run Away

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How do you know you're reading a Harlan Coben novel? The opening sentence makes it almost impossible to put down. Here's the opener for Run Away: "Simon sat on a park bench in Central Park--in Strawberry Fields, to be precise--and felt his heart shatter."

Is Simon a victim of a crime? Has he just been shot? No. Worse. He's watching a drug-addicted vagrant singing and playing Beatles songs (badly) for tips. And the busker is his daughter, Paige.

Simon hasn't seen Paige in six months. He and his doctor
... [ Read More » ]

15 of 26
The White Card: A Play

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The White Card: A Play

by Claudia Rankine

The White Card: A Play

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Claudia Rankine is, among other things, a poet best known for the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning Citizen: An American Lyric. The White Card is her first published play, a one-act drama composed of two scenes. The first is set at a dinner party hosted by Virginia and Charles, a philanthropist and art collector. The guest of honor is Charlotte, an up-and-coming black artist whom Charles wants to feature.

The play approaches the difficult reality of people who "read all the relevant ... [ Read More » ]

16 of 26
What Matters Most: The Get Your Sh*t Together Guide to Wills, Money, Insurance, and Life's "What-Ifs"

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What Matters Most: The Get Your Sh*t Together Guide to Wills, Money, Insurance, and Life's "What-Ifs"

by Chanel Reynolds

What Matters Most: The Get Your Sh*t Together Guide to Wills, Money, Insurance, and Life's "What-Ifs"

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The unthinkable happened to Chanel Reynolds in July 2009: her husband, José, 44, was struck by a van while riding his bicycle in their hometown of Seattle, Wash. It took a week for him to die--hooked up to life support. Reynolds states, "I did not choose for him to die but I had to choose to let him go."

In What Matters Most, Reynolds's first book, she shares the intimate story of her husband's accident, her struggle to make critical life-and-death decisions and how those decisions affected ... [ Read More » ]

18 of 26
A People's History of Heaven

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A People's History of Heaven

by Mathangi Subramanian

A People's History of Heaven

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In her poetic first novel for adults, A People's History of Heaven, Indian American author Mathangi Subramanian (Dear Mrs. Naidu) imagines the lives of five teen girls in a Bangalore slum on the brink of destruction.

"Heaven" takes its name from the Sanskrit words on a nearby sign, though the "ragged jigsaw of tilted tents, angry quilt of rusted roofs, maze of sagging sofas" make the ramshackle neighborhood look anything but celestial. In fact, the government has sent a demolition crew to tear ... [ Read More » ]

19 of 26
On Being 40(ish)

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On Being 40(ish)

by Lindsey Mead, editor

On Being 40(ish)

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In On Being 40(ish), 15 women muse on what being 40 years old--give or take--means in their lives. This anthology, edited by freelance writer Lindsey Mead, offers diverse viewpoints and concerns but as a whole aims to inspire. As Mead writes in her introduction, "These are not reflections on the dying of the light, but rather a full-throated celebration of what it means to be an adult woman at this moment in history."

The contents are varied, including celebrations, uncertainties and elegies. Some ... [ Read More » ]

20 of 26
The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng

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The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng

by Sophia Gholz, illus. by Kayla Harren

The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng

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Debut author Sophia Gholz tells the inspiring story of Jadav "Molai" Payeng, a boy from a "large river island" in India, whose passion for nature inspired him to rebuild his home's ecosystem.

Distraught by damage caused by floodwaters, Jadav consulted with village elders. They "explained [to him] that the only way to help animals was to create new homes for them," so they gave him 20 bamboo saplings, unknowingly setting him off on a lifelong conservation effort. He planted the seedlings, engineered ... [ Read More » ]

21 of 26
Opposite of Always

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Opposite of Always

by Justin A. Reynolds

Opposite of Always

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Jack Ellison King is, in his words, "an authority on Almost." "You name it," his first-person narration states, "I've found a way to miss my chance." It's ironic, then, that the self-proclaimed "Jack of all. King of none" is named after trailblazers Jackie Robinson and Ralph Ellison.

It's senior year and Jack is in love with his best friend, Jillian. Unfortunately, her boyfriend, Franny, is Jack's "other best friend." Jack loves them both and "would never consider doing anything to jeopardize their ... [ Read More » ]

22 of 26
Humanimal: How Homo Sapiens Became Nature's Most Paradoxical Creature

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Humanimal: How Homo Sapiens Became Nature's Most Paradoxical Creature

by Adam Rutherford

Humanimal: How Homo Sapiens Became Nature's Most Paradoxical Creature

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All living creatures--bedbugs and bonobos, yeast and yellowjackets, hedgehogs and humans--have much in common. We all descend from a single point of origin, share DNA and evolve through natural selection. But about 40,000 years ago, humans took a "Great Leap Forward" and achieved a level of sophistication not found in other animals. Humans are special, but are we unique?

In Humanimal, science writer Adam Rutherford (A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived) considers the behaviors that Homo sapiens ... [ Read More » ]

23 of 26
Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir

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Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir

by Victoria Riskin

Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir

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Being the child of a famous actress has its perks. Among its downsides are fielding questions like, "Hey, is your dad an ape or something?"

Victoria Riskin is the daughter of Fay Wray (1907-2004), who famously dangled from the hand of King Kong in the 1933 classic film, and the screenwriter Robert Riskin (1897-1955), whose scripts included the 1934 screwball comedy standard-bearer It Happened One Night. That Wray and Riskin don't become a couple until 100-odd pages from the end of Fay Wray and Robert ... [ Read More » ]

24 of 26
A Deadly Divide

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A Deadly Divide

by Ausma Zehanat Khan

A Deadly Divide

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In the midst of investigating a mass shooting at a Québécois mosque, Detective Rachel Getty finds herself reflecting on something her partner, Detective Esa Khattak, once said of a previous case: "How quickly the violent ideals of ultra-nationalism led to hate, how quickly hate to blood." Though he's referring to the case central to The Unquiet Dead (the first Ausma Zehanat Khan novel to feature the detective pair), the theme is one that threads through each of the Khattak and Getty ... [ Read More » ]

25 of 26
Creation Machine

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Creation Machine

by Andrew Bannister

Creation Machine

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In an isolated mini-galaxy called the Spin, everything is artificial. As natural as its suns and planets seem, each atom was placed with purpose by ancient unknown builders. The Spin is a rough neighborhood, from the expanding high-tech Hegemony dominating the Outer Spin to the horrific little lower-tech empires that periodically plague the Inner Spin. Every once in a while, someone discovers an artifact belonging to the architects, and causes chaos.

Fleare Haas is the only daughter of Viklun Haas, ... [ Read More » ]

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Bom Boy

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Bom Boy

by Yewande Omotoso

Bom Boy

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Through three decades, two countries and multiple points of view, a complete picture of Leke's life in the present slowly surfaces in Yewande Omotoso's debut novel. Shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Fiction Prize, Bom Boy is published in North America for the first time following the critical acclaim for her second novel, The Woman Next Door, a 2018 finalist for the International Dublin Literary Award and a nominee for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Fiction.

Leke lives between worlds: Nigerian ... [ Read More » ]

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