This Week's Best New Books

1 of 26
The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop

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The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop

by Fannie Flagg

The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop

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Fannie Flagg's enduring Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café was published in 1987 (and made into a movie in 1992). The heartwarming novel explored the friendship between a disillusioned, middle-aged housewife and Ninny Threadgoode, an elderly woman living out her days in a nursing home. Ninny had astonishing tales to tell about a bustling railroad cafe in a small Alabama town east of Birmingham in the 1930s.

Flagg's long-awaited sequel focuses on Buddy Threadgoode, Jr., ... [ Read More » ]

2 of 26
To Hold Up the Sky

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To Hold Up the Sky

by Cixin Liu

To Hold Up the Sky

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To Hold Up the Sky by science fiction writer Cixin Liu (Supernova Era) is a stunning collection of short stories that represents Liu's writings from the early 2000s. In "The Village Teacher," a dying schoolteacher in rural China struggles to complete his final lesson as an alien race considers Earth's destruction from above. "2018-04-01" follows a man as he makes the life-altering decision to spend his life savings on an immortality procedure. Meanwhile, stand-out stories like "Contraction" and "The ... [ Read More » ]

3 of 26
That Was Now, This Is Then

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That Was Now, This Is Then

by Vijay Seshadri

That Was Now, This Is Then

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Delving deep into the American psyche, That Was Now, This Is Then by Vijay Seshadri explores the collapse of time and boundaries that accompany aging, the merging of roles of parent and child, poet and reader. The narrator is nostalgic for days gone by, relationships extinguished and shifting memories that are alternately comforting and unsettling.

India-born Seshadri is the poetry editor at the Paris Review and won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for 3 Sections. His Midwestern upbringing features ... [ Read More » ]

4 of 26
Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death, and Art

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Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death, and Art

by Rebecca Wragg Sykes

Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death, and Art

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Big discoveries about Neanderthals make the news in mainstream media and major science journals alike. In Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death, and Art, archeologist Rebecca Wragg Sykes demonstrates that more is happening in the world of Neanderthal studies than what she terms "Neander-news."

Sykes shares her considerable knowledge about current Neanderthal studies in a style that is clear enough for the lay reader but never simplistic. She looks closely at long-held beliefs about Neanderthals ... [ Read More » ]

5 of 26
All Thirteen: The Incredible Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team

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All Thirteen: The Incredible Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team

by Christina Soontornvat

All Thirteen: The Incredible Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team

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In 2018, the world held its breath while a large international team gathered in Thailand to save a boys' soccer team trapped in a cave that was filling with water. Christina Soontornvat (A Wish in the Dark) thrillingly recounts this harrowing tale in All Thirteen.

One June afternoon, after the Wild Boars soccer team finished practice, some of the boys asked Coach Ek to accompany them on a hike to Tham Luang Nang Non, a local cave. Coach Ek agreed and the spirited young athletes wandered deep into ... [ Read More » ]

6 of 26
Come On In: Fifteen Stories About Immigration and Finding Home

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Come On In: Fifteen Stories About Immigration and Finding Home

by Adi Alsaid, editor

Come On In: Fifteen Stories About Immigration and Finding Home

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For some teenagers, adding to the already heavy burden of leaving childhood behind is the complication of doing so in a new country or with parents who cleave to the old one. Come On In: Fifteen Stories About Immigration and Finding Home, edited by contributor Adi Alsaid (North of Happy), is a potent anthology of short fiction by YA writers who, as their biographical notes attest, have been there and done that.

For some of the stories' teenage protagonists, assimilation has unanticipated costs. In ... [ Read More » ]

7 of 26
Invisible Girl

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Invisible Girl

by Lisa Jewell

Invisible Girl

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Lisa Jewell's psychologically astute Invisible Girl opens with someone in a hoodie following a terrified woman--and the man stalking the woman. The hoodie wearer advances toward danger, and then the book cuts to "Before" to introduce the cast of characters.

The Fours family--child psychologist father Roan, mother Cate, and kids Georgia and Josh--is living in a temporary rental in Hampstead during renovations on the Fourses' permanent home. Across the street lives Owen, a quiet man Georgia thinks ... [ Read More » ]

8 of 26
In a Holidaze

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In a Holidaze

by Christina Lauren

In a Holidaze

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Christina Lauren, the author duo behind Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not-Dating and The Unhoneymooners, has created an entertaining romance that's a perfect cozy holiday read. In a Holidaze begins with 26-year-old Maelyn Jones, who is frustrated with everything this Christmas. The Joneses have always spent the holidays with her parents' college friends, gathering together at the Hollises' Utah cabin. Mae has had a crush on Andrew Hollis for more than a decade, but she's pretty sure he thinks of her ... [ Read More » ]

9 of 26
Fortune Favors the Dead

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Fortune Favors the Dead

by Stephen Spotswood

Fortune Favors the Dead

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Willowjean Parker (who goes by Will) ran away from home at 15 to join the circus. She's working on the side, a security job at a construction site--the kind of job women get to do now that "the men who'd usually have taken them were overseas hoping for a shot at Hitler"--when she first meets Lillian Pentecost, the famous lady detective. A few clever deductions and a little knife-throwing skill later, and she finds herself in Ms. Pentecost's employ, apprentice to the aging lady detective. Stephen ... [ Read More » ]

10 of 26
Face to Face: The Photographs of Camilla McGrath

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Face to Face: The Photographs of Camilla McGrath

by Andrea Di Robilant

Face to Face: The Photographs of Camilla McGrath

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It's hard to say what's a stranger sight: notoriously peevish writer Fran Lebowitz smiling at model Jerry Hall's baby shower or B-list actress Eva Gabor sharing a laugh with journalist Mike Wallace and art world titan Robert Rauschenberg. Fortunately, Camilla McGrath (1925-2007) was there to capture these and other marvelously odd groupings. She kept photo albums from 1948 to 1999 but never exhibited her work; finally, several hundred pictures are on view in Andrea Di Robilant's Face to Face: ... [ Read More » ]

11 of 26
The Cookbook Club: A Novel of Food and Friendship

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The Cookbook Club: A Novel of Food and Friendship

by Beth Harbison

The Cookbook Club: A Novel of Food and Friendship

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Over the course of 13 novels, author Beth Harbison (Every Time You Go Away; Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger) has demonstrated that she knows what makes women tick--and what ticks them off. In The Cookbook Club, her 14th book, she dishes up an ensemble cast of richly drawn characters: three women, strangers from the Washington, D.C., area, who are each in the throes of a personal conflict and romantic dilemma.

When solid and sensible Margo throws out her philandering husband, she discovers ... [ Read More » ]

12 of 26
African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song

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African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song

by Kevin Young, editor

African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song

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With 670 poems arranged into eight sections and a scholarly yet accessible introduction by editor Kevin Young (Brown: Poems; Book of Hours)--a National Book Award finalist (Blue Laws), the poetry editor of the New Yorker and newly named director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture--African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song is one impressive collection.

The "successive eras can give a sense of the steady march and percussive drum circle of poetry," ... [ Read More » ]

13 of 26
Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick

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Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick

by David Wong

Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick

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The future is simultaneously familiar and utterly ridiculous in Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick, the second Zoey Ashe thriller from David Wong, after Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits. As the story opens, Zoey is addressing a hostage crisis in one of the many businesses of various degrees of shadiness that she inherited from her extremely shady father. She and the team--whom she also inherited, and thinks of as the Suits--appear to resolve the situation, only to discover later that it isn't ... [ Read More » ]

14 of 26
Where the Wild Ladies Are

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Where the Wild Ladies Are

by Aoko Matsuda, trans. by Polly Barton

Where the Wild Ladies Are

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In the sharply written linked stories of Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda, contemporary takes on Japanese folktales lift a veil from a world where the living and the dead work side by side. Strikingly feminist slants on otherworldly creatures figure strongly. A woman who was told all her life that she was "just a girl" discovers one day that she might be a fox. A woman responding to a breakup through a regimen of hair removal is paid a visit by a deceased aunt who urges her to cultivate ... [ Read More » ]

15 of 26
What Tech Calls Thinking: An Inquiry into the Intellectual Bedrock of Silicon Valley

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What Tech Calls Thinking: An Inquiry into the Intellectual Bedrock of Silicon Valley

by Adrian Daub

What Tech Calls Thinking: An Inquiry into the Intellectual Bedrock of Silicon Valley

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Silicon Valley and its take on technological improvements and problem-solving have so shaped contemporary life that its moguls are often uncritically held up as maverick geniuses who have broken past norms to build a new world. But, as Adrian Daub, professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford University, deftly explicates in What Tech Calls Thinking: An Inquiry into the Intellectual Bedrock of Silicon Valley, the so-called genius of leading tech thinkers may be less about inherent ... [ Read More » ]

16 of 26
We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe

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We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe

by Merrill Markoe

We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe

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A book full of an author's poignant childhood diary entries sounds like a vanity project; blessedly, We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe is not that. The multiple Emmy Award-winning comedy writer has augmented some of her youthful jottings with drawings and snappy, bewildered and trenchant present-day observations, and the result is a marvelously oddball coming-of-age memoir with laughs and a talking hippo.

The entries begin in 1958, the year Markoe's parents moved the family, ... [ Read More » ]

17 of 26
Three Little Truths

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Three Little Truths

by Eithne Shortall

Three Little Truths

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Irish author Eithne Shortall (Grace After Henry) has created a delightfully gossipy, suspenseful little world in Three Little Truths. Perfect for fans of Desperate Housewives or Liane Moriarty's novels, Three Little Truths explores the varied secrets that even the friendliest neighbors may be hiding.

The story is set in Dublin, where the closely terraced houses mean that everyone knows everyone else's business. Pine Road seems like an ideal place to raise a family, but three women, all new to the ... [ Read More » ]

18 of 26
They Never Learn

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They Never Learn

by Layne Fargo

They Never Learn

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With They Never Learn, Layne Fargo earns high marks for a cerebral plot about female rage that centers on a college professor who thoughtfully plans to--without hesitation--murder men she believes deserve to die.

Fargo's highly entertaining standalone novel takes a similar tack as her incisive 2019 debut, Temper--women taking revenge on men who've gotten away with bad behavior. For Gorman University English professor Scarlett Clark, that retaliation takes the form of murders she disguises as suicides ... [ Read More » ]

19 of 26
Snapped

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Snapped

by Alexa Martin

Snapped

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In Snapped, Alexa Martin (Intercepted; Blitzed) continues to write with amusing flair about professional football players finding love. Her novels can all stand alone, but as each wife or girlfriend becomes part of the Lady Mustangs who support their players, the cast of quirky, hilarious side characters just keeps growing.

Elliot Reed, who is biracial, is thrilled to have gotten her dream job. She's the communications manager for the Denver Mustangs, her father's favorite football team. Elliot is ... [ Read More » ]

20 of 26
Plain Bad Heroines

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Plain Bad Heroines

by Emily M. Danforth, illus. by Sara Lautman

Plain Bad Heroines

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In her adult horror debut, Emily M. Danforth (The Miseducation of Cameron Post) offers an indulgent greenhouse of grotesqueries shadowed by gothic elements and pepped up with metafiction and mystery, illustrated with deliciously unsettling black-and-white line drawings by cartoonist Sara Lautman.

In 1902, at Brookhants School for Girls in Rhode Island, student Clara Broward falls into a vast subterranean nest of eastern yellow jackets while fleeing from her cousin and toward her sweetheart Flo Hartshorn. ... [ Read More » ]

21 of 26
The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel

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The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel

by Sheela Chari

The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel

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Based on the Peabody Award-winning middle-grade podcast series of the same name, The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel uses a dynamic multi-platform approach to tell the story of a too-smart-for-his-own-good 11-year-old who suspects a nefarious connection between missing kids and a charismatic billionaire inventor named Oliver Pruitt.

In the opinion of South Asian American Mars Patel, Oliver Pruitt is one of the only grownups who "gets" kids. The podcaster at times even seems to speak directly ... [ Read More » ]

22 of 26
On Account of the Gum

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On Account of the Gum

by Adam Rex

On Account of the Gum

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Talk about a story with a big buildup. In On Account of the Gum, Adam Rex's divine comedy of errors, a kid who falls asleep chewing a bubble-tastic blob awakens to a rude surprise: "That's the gum. Right there. That you got in your hair."

The kid's family members have a go with the scissors, only to lose them in the sticky pink morass. No problem: the kid's family consults the Internet, which yields advice on how to get scissors and gum out of hair. Unfortunately--and who could have seen this coming?--the ... [ Read More » ]

23 of 26
I Am a Capybara

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I Am a Capybara

by Michela Fabbri

I Am a Capybara

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I Am a Capybara is debut author Michaela Fabbri's fun and fanciful portrait of one particularly self-aware capybara, who sees life as a series of small delights--including the joys of dressing like a whale!

This charming story begins with an explanation of what a capybara is not: "not a mouse... not a beaver... not a bear, nor a marmot." But, apparently, a capybara is the biggest rodent in the world. And the capybara narrating this particular story is a thoughtful soul, a lover of poetry and the ... [ Read More » ]

24 of 26
The Call Me Ishmael Phone Book: An Interactive Guide to Life-Changing Books

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The Call Me Ishmael Phone Book: An Interactive Guide to Life-Changing Books

by Stephanie Kent, Logan Smalley

The Call Me Ishmael Phone Book: An Interactive Guide to Life-Changing Books

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The Call Me Ishmael Project began with an impassioned conversation between book lovers Stephanie Kent and Logan Smalley in a pub. Arguing over the best opening lines in literature, they finally agreed to compromise on Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. Moments later, they noticed the pun in the phrase. What would happen, they wondered, if readers could call Ishmael and leave a voice message? Several hours later, they had a working phone number with a message that challenged readers to tell "Ishmael" a ... [ Read More » ]

25 of 26
Attack Surface

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Attack Surface

by Cory Doctorow

Attack Surface

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"Yes, it was good opsec," the hacker narrator/hero of Cory Doctrow's alarming digital-security thriller Attack Surface muses about a colleague's hand-soldered, key-encrypted USB sticks, before offering this caveat a couple lines later: "But it was such boy-spy-adventure-novel stuff."

Doctorow's latest, a smart standalone set in the near-future world of his earlier books Little Brother and Homeland, aspires to liberate the globetrotting tech potboiler from the genre's longstanding boyishness. Attack ... [ Read More » ]

26 of 26
All Because You Matter

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All Because You Matter

by Tami Charles, illus. by Bryan Collier

All Because You Matter

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Tami Charles, author of picture books Freedom Soup (illus. by Jacqueline Alcántara) and Fearless Mary (illus. by Clair Almon), collaborates on her third picture book, All Because You Matter, with Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner and four-time Caldecott Honoree Bryan Collier. A story that identifies the importance of our ancestors as well as our present and future selves, All Because You Matter tackles topics such as bullying, racial profiling and the discovery of one's identity.
... [ Read More » ]

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