This Week's Best New Books
1 of 25
Witchmark, C.L. Polk's debut, introduces a magically infused world reminiscent of early 20th-century England, with gas-lit rooms, cloaks and carriages.
Dr. Miles Singer has created a life for himself mostly devoid of magic. Having fled his powerful family as a young man, he joined the Aeland army, went to war against the Laneeri, and now works in a veterans' hospital. But in a world where most witches are sent to asylums, supposedly for their own safety, Miles must be careful about how--and... [ Read More » ]
2 of 25
by Robin DiAngelo
Antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo writes that white fragility--the defensive reactions of white people when they are challenged racially--is "triggered by discomfort and anxiety, it is born of superiority and entitlement." She dissects the phrase and its cultural implications to try to explain why it's so hard for many white people to talk about racism.
Carefully breaking down many of what she considers myths created by whites--such as claims of color-blindness, meritocracy and the belief... [ Read More » ]
3 of 25
by Joe Mungo Reed
The narrator of Joe Mungo Reed's We Begin Our Ascent is Solomon, a professional cyclist 12 days into the Tour de France. By the time he is introduced, Solomon and his teammates are well acclimated to the rhythm of the race, their performance manically monitored by Rafael, their directeur sportif. Racing is Solomon's life; he thinks people must see him as part man, part bicycle. It is only because of his wife, Liz, and their baby boy that Solomon can imagine a life beyond racing.
Reed swiftly... [ Read More » ]
4 of 25
by Helen Thomson
Science journalist Helen Thomson's first book, Unthinkable: An Extraordinary Journey Through the World's Strangest Brains, draws inspiration from the late Oliver Sacks in its empathetic portraits of people whose brains shed light on neuroscientific thought. Thomson seeks to revive the classical case study in all of its humanistic detail, forgoing bloodless objectivity for quirky explorations of the subjects' personalities. Thomson introduces the reader to Bob, whose memories never seem to fade; Rubén,... [ Read More » ]
5 of 25
by Elin Hilderbrand
In The Perfect Couple, Elin Hilderbrand (Winter Storms) dishes up a mysterious and superbly crafted whodunit, wrapping it around a story of domestic bliss gone awry.
As is her trademark, Hilderbrand sets her novel in Nantucket--assembling a large cast of characters who gather on the island for the sultry July wedding of 20-somethings Celeste Otis and Benjamin Winbury. Celeste is a shy, down-to-earth, middle-class zoologist whose parents have what she considers the perfect marriage. Her caring... [ Read More » ]
6 of 25
by Porter Fox
It takes a lot more than the vague "from sea to shining sea" description to establish one of the world's longest national borders. As Maine native Porter Fox (Deep) learns in his journey along the Canada/United States border, it took nearly 150 years to lay monument markers along the western 49th parallel boundary line. In the east, however, much of the border roams through lakes, rivers, bays and canals--Fox's travel by kayak or freighter could just as easily put him in one country as the other.... [ Read More » ]
7 of 25
by Susan Crandall
Susan Crandall weaves a compelling, heartbreaking saga and a sensitive portrait of mental illness in her 12th novel, The Myth of Perpetual Summer. In the wake of family tragedy, Tallulah James left her Mississippi hometown at age 17, determined never to look back. But when her baby brother Walden is accused of murder nine years later, Tallulah leaves her carefully constructed life in San Francisco to see if she can help him. Her journey back home unleashes a flood of memories, and as she tries to... [ Read More » ]
8 of 25
by Kim Liggett
Three months ago, Grant Franklin Tavish V caused a fatal car accident and he has been "choking under the weight of it all" ever since. His senator father insists upon making the situation disappear, but Grant's guilt makes him want somehow to right his wrongs. The high school senior embarks on a solo cave excursion--it's a male tradition in his family, but he has no intention of returning. When a spontaneous collapse traps him and four other teens underground, though, he agrees to help them get out.... [ Read More » ]
9 of 25
by Lila Quintero Weaver
When sixth-grader Lu Olivera discovers an unexpected passion for running, she also finds a potential friend in fellow speedster Belinda Gresham. Unfortunately, 1970s Red Grove, Ala., is not an easy place for this friendship. Although public schools have officially become integrated, Lu, an immigrant from Argentina, and Belinda, a black girl, are not supposed to "mix," according to the culture of the community. School may be desegregated, but their classroom reflects the reality of the racial status:... [ Read More » ]
10 of 25
by Carrie Fountain
Ever since Syd showed up in Miranda's third grade class in Las Cruces, N. Mex., the two girls have been best friends. They became even closer the summer before high school, when Syd's mother left rehab and "hightailed it to Colorado." Miranda could relate, as her own mom had taken off seven years earlier. Syd and Miranda performed a symbolic ritual of "honor and blood," swearing "to never stray from the other, and to never go after [their] mothers." Then, in the middle of senior year, Syd vanishes.... [ Read More » ]
11 of 25
by Lydia Millet
"Too often the future was somewhere else, a land where you might find yourself one day," thinks the protagonist in the opener to Lydia Millet's wise and darkly comic story collection Fight No More. The real estate agent comes to this realization moments after the near-death of a client--he had tried to drown himself in the pool of a house she was showing him and his friends. "Easy to tell yourself the future could be staved off and nothing had to change: the present would stretch in a band of gold... [ Read More » ]
12 of 25
Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Detective Writer
by Margalit Fox
On December 21, 1908, Marion Gilchrist, an elderly, wealthy spinster, was murdered in her flat in Glasgow. The police were immediately on the case, which featured a missing diamond brooch and the eyewitness account of Nellie Lambie, Gilchrist's maid. Within days, the police identified Oscar Slater as the culprit. Slater--"gambler, foreigner, Jew"--was convicted despite shifting eyewitness testimony and dubious evidence, and sentenced to life at Peterhead, Scotland's most notorious prison. It took... [ Read More » ]
13 of 25
by Terrance Hayes
Terrance Hayes (How to Be Drawn) has reached a new level in his work as he delivers 70 sonnets that reflect what it means to be a black American. It's important to note that these poems were composed during President Trump's first 200 days in office and encapsulate not only historical moments of adversity toward black people, but also the present-day dialogue of Black Lives Matter.
Hayes writes, "Are you not the color of this country's current threat/ Advisory? ...Are you not a flame of hollow... [ Read More » ]
14 of 25
by Jacqueline Carey
Fantasy genre superstar Jacqueline Carey (Kushiel's Dart; Miranda and Caliban) returns with a stunning standalone adventure that sweeps from desert to ocean in a world where the stars walk among mortals as gods.
Born at the same time as the Sun-Blessed Princess Zariya of Zarkhoum, Khai has trained since birth to become her shadow, a protector who will share a soul-deep connection with the girl. Raised in the Fortress of the Winds by a warrior sect, Khai faces potentially fatal initiation rituals... [ Read More » ]
15 of 25
by Archie Bongiovanni, Tristan Jimerson, illus. by Archie Bongiovanni
The coauthors of A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns are friends. Archie Bongiovanni identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns; Tristan Jimerson (he/him) knew them before they came out as nonbinary, so Bongiovanni asked him to help communicate with a mainstream population who might have trouble with the concept. Bongiovanni and Jimerson make a jolly, jokey team in this graphic how-to manual, with Bongiovanni's illustrations, but despite their often playful tone, they take this... [ Read More » ]
16 of 25
by Scott Bradlee
What do you get when you mix vintage jazz with hip-hop? What happens when you mash up ragtime with '90s pop? In Outside the Jukebox: How I Turned My Vintage Music Obsession into My Dream Gig, Scott Bradlee explains how he turned his ability to expand musical boundaries into an international musical sensation.
Bradlee scorned music lessons when he was young. He did, however, enjoy "putting music where it didn't belong," and, as a teenage Wal-Mart employee, organized a rogue performance in the... [ Read More » ]
17 of 25
by Onnesha Roychoudhuri
Onnesha Roychoudhuri is a journalist, activist and first-generation Indian American who learned Spanish in part because people keep mistaking her for a Latina. In her first book, The Marginalized Majority, she encourages everyone who feels attacked or dismissed by the current U.S. government to look around, recognize each other and take heart. "What if, instead of viewing this as a country divided, we view it as a country in a political moment when we do not have the leadership the majority... [ Read More » ]
18 of 25
by Hannah Witton
Take a big breath, parents. Doing It is going to be your teens' guidebook on sex. Because when author Hannah Witton says "Let's Talk About Sex," she means consent, virginity, sexting, porn, masturbation, "LGBTQ+," sex ed, contraception, healthy relationships, sex shaming, body image, STIs, sexual pleasure and a whole lot more than what previous generations have been taught. She's covering the kind of information that teens want to know, and she's sharing it in the way a wise, well-informed, hilarious... [ Read More » ]
19 of 25
by Jeff Mack
Jeff Mack, author of gems including Look! and Ah Ha!, has largely made his mark with picture books of few words and many laughs. For two new books, Mack expands his vocabulary and creates more elaborately absurd scenarios to suit a slightly older readership.
In Mr. Monkey Bakes a Cake, the monkey-chef decides to enter his freshly baked banana cake in a cake show. The hard part: getting the cake across town without being trampled by a speed-demon bicyclist ("DING! DING!"), keeping the cake... [ Read More » ]
20 of 25
by Rebecca Makkai
After her beloved brother, Nico, dies of AIDS in 1985, Fiona Marcus copes with her grief by becoming closer to his many friends in Chicago. Shell-shocked by the rapid progression of a new and mysterious virus that changes vibrant, young gay men into ghosts, the friends live in fear of their future while remembering those they loved.
Among Fiona's friends is Yale Tishman, a fund-raiser for Northwestern University's Brigg art gallery. Yale is on the verge of acquiring several rare and... [ Read More » ]
21 of 25
by You-Jeong Jeong, trans. by Chi-Young Kim
The Good Son, South Korean thriller author You-Jeong Jeong's first novel to be translated into English, by Chi-Young Kim, begins with a young man named Yu-jin waking up in his bed, soaked in blood, with no clear memory of what happened the night before. He has only faint recollections of a girl with a crimson umbrella walking in the rain and his mother calling his name. When he goes downstairs, he finds his mother on the floor with her throat slit, and back in his room, he discovers his late father's... [ Read More » ]
22 of 25
by Edward J. Delaney
Edward J. Delaney's Follow the Sun opens with a funeral for a missing man, "reduced to objects. In lieu of a body, just left-behind things." Quinn Boyle had been "in hand-to-hand combat with Peace" since he was a kid; a lobsterman from the age of 17, "mud-footed in obligations he could not shed." Following years of addiction and a stint in prison, Quinn was clean and free, yet imprisoned by his history, responsibilities and the "daily grip of his work." One day, Quinn and his lone crewman, a longtime... [ Read More » ]
23 of 25
by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, trans. by Margaret Jull Costa, Robin Patterson
A progenitor of modern Latin American literature, Brazilian author Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis was a prolific short story writer as well as a novelist and poet. Translated into English by Margaret Jull Costa and Robin Patterson, The Collected Stories of Machado de Assis is funny, bewitching and a clear influence on the great South American writers to follow.
Combining seven books of short stories, which date from 1870 to 1906, The Collected Stories range from flights of fancy to piercing... [ Read More » ]
24 of 25
by David Sedaris
To read David Sedaris is to laugh, and hard. The humorist has long entertained fans with absurd stories containing too much information about his large family, which includes five siblings.
Calypso, his latest collection of essays, some previously published, is a direct hit to the funny bone, but it's perhaps also his saddest book yet. The second story, "Now We Are Five," details his sister Tiffany's suicide and the emotional fallout on the family. Death, and the expectation of it, becomes... [ Read More » ]
25 of 25
by Hana Schank, Elizabeth Wallace
Hana Schank and Elizabeth Wallace are the first to admit that their interviewees--"forty-three women, all of whom were in the same sorority at Northwestern between 1989 and 1993"--are hardly representative of the general population of women. (The interviewees also happen to be Schank and Wallace's former classmates.) But these subjects, whom the authors recently grilled about their professional paths since graduation, do provide answers to a question of general feminist concern: Why don't the careers... [ Read More » ]