This Week's Best New Books
1 of 25
One can't help but become ensnared by Watch the Girls even before the first chapter opens. Starting with Jennifer Wolfe's dedication to her agent, "for liking it weird," followed by a John Updike quote, "Celebrity is a mask that eats into the face," Wolfe's nods to the odd are spot on, and the creepiness of the thriller is utterly engrossing.
Fifteen years after her youngest sister's disappearance, former teen star Olivia Hill (now Liv Hendricks) has distanced herself from her family, been... [ Read More » ]
2 of 25
by David Quammen
David Quammen (Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic) is a popular science writer and author of 15 previous books. In The Tangled Tree, he describes recent revolutionary discoveries about the nature of life, evolution and the human race. Gene sharing, for instance, is more complex than we previously believed. The boundaries between species are blurry, to say the least. And we are probably descended from a previously unknown category of microbial life, the archaea. "It's a... [ Read More » ]
3 of 25
by Susie Orman Schnall
In 1949 in New York City, Charlotte hopes to become an advertising girl. But her father is forcing her to drop out of college and start working in the Brooklyn family store. Her boyfriend, Sam, is pressuring her just to settle down and get married. When she hears the "Miss Subways" campaign is looking for a new face, Charlotte puts in her name on a whim. To her astonishment, she's chosen as one of the finalists, with a chance to be advertised all over the city's subway cars. She is sure that this... [ Read More » ]
4 of 25
by Alice Gregory
British sleep researcher Alice Gregory shares her extensive knowledge and passion for the science of sleep in Nodding Off. She begins with her own story: as a sleep-deprived psychiatry student at Oxford University, Gregory was deeply affected by a lecture by an American psychology professor who stressed how "slumber is essential to our waking existence" and how often the importance of sleep is underestimated.
This experience encouraged Gregory to examine closely why so little was/is known... [ Read More » ]
5 of 25
by Kent Wascom
The third in a series of four historical novels, Kent Wascom's The New Inheritors is about the building, and curdling, of love. Set mostly on the American Gulf Coast from the late 1800s to the end of the First World War, the book is a lonely meditation on how humans come together and inevitably fall apart, whether through the simple passage of time or their own hubris.
Adopted at a young age, Isaac Patterson grows up along the gulf, learning to depict nature through art as he spends most of... [ Read More » ]
6 of 25
by Luke Tredget
Luke Tredget's perceptive debut novel, Kismet, features upwardly mobile, post-college Londoners employing a wildly popular matchmaking app called Kismet to meet potential romantic partners. Anna is a journalist dissatisfied with her job at a media company. On the cusp of turning 30, it feels like a seminal moment in her life. She wonders if her live-in boyfriend, Pete, is "the one" or whether someone better matched for her is still out there. So she logs on to Kismet.
Spanning the nine eventful... [ Read More » ]
7 of 25
by Duncan Tonatiuh
Undocumented: A Worker's Fight is a timely, interactive work of art meant to catch the eye of older readers, with a pull-out, accordion-fold format that refers back to ancient Mixtec codices.
"You don't know our names but you've seen us. In this country we build houses, we harvest crops, we cook, we clean, and we raise children. Some people want to kick us out and some act like we don't exist, but we are here, compañeros."
Juan was born in a small village in Mexico where the... [ Read More » ]
8 of 25
by Lesa Cline-Ransome
After 11-year-old Langston's mother died, he and his father packed up their few belongings and headed north, hoping, as his daddy said, for a "chance for something better." Langston's new home in post-World War II Chicago's "Black Belt" is nothing like his old home in rural Alabama, and Langston's junior high is filled with kids who call him "country boy" and laugh at the overalls and "run-over" shoes he wears. But, like it or not, Chicago is home now. Langston aches for his mama and feels that he... [ Read More » ]
9 of 25
by Paula Chase
With So Done, Paula Chase (Flipping the Script) perfectly captures the challenges black girls face as they tentatively begin their transition to becoming young women. It's the final weeks of summer, and an unspeakable incident hovers over best friends Tai and Mila. Their neighborhood, the Cove, is a community populated mainly by black and brown people, where the social order among young people is strict and money is always tight. The threat of drugs and violence is present but not overwhelming, more... [ Read More » ]
10 of 25
by Megan Abbott
Two ambitious post-doc scientists share a deadly secret in Edgar Award-winning crime writer Megan Abbott's Give Me Your Hand. That secret breeds more secrets while Kit Owens and Diane Fleming vie for professional kudos as investigators under the renowned Dr. Lena Severin. During high school, Kit and Diane shared difficult family home lives but were fierce academic and athletic competitors. Although they followed divergent paths to undergraduate scholarships, Ph.D.s and prestigious lab assignments,... [ Read More » ]
11 of 25
by Jay Schiffman
On a distant future Earth, a nation called the Federacy keeps its citizenship closely guarded. This high-tech, low-freedom polity uses Judges to decree who is worthy of living in the Federacy and who will be cast to its dangerous, war-torn borders. Maxomillion Cone is the Federacy's highest-ranking Judge, a former soldier who carries out his grim duties despite longing for a quiet life, and harboring hatred for the men in his government who made that life impossible by essentially lobotomizing his... [ Read More » ]
12 of 25
by Marie Viljoen
Wild foods have become popular in the high end of the food world; locally found wild ingredients appear in many farmers markets, chef's menus and cookbooks. Marie Viljoen is a garden designer, forager and cook raised in South Africa and living in Brooklyn, N.Y. In Forage, Harvest, Feast, she offers more than 400 recipes that center on the wild foods of the northeastern U.S. and use culinary approaches from all over the world. It is primarily a cookbook, but also offers brief histories of the uses... [ Read More » ]
13 of 25
by Earl Swift
Located off the coast of Virginia in Chesapeake Bay, Tangier is a tiny island, home to fewer than 1,000 residents, most of whom make their living by catching the delicious blue crab that makes this part of the ocean its home. For Chesapeake Requiem, journalist Earl Swift spent a year living with the islanders. He expertly combines their personal stories with the long history of the region and a comprehensive analysis of the life cycle of the blue crab. He provides readers with an entertaining and... [ Read More » ]
14 of 25
by Thomas Page McBee
Thomas Page McBee (Man Alive) continues writing about modern masculinity in Amateur. After a brush with an aggressive man on the street, McBee begins training as an amateur boxer. His sights set on a charity fight several months away, he's driven by a desire to hone his skills in protecting himself, but more so by a burning question about why violence is so entwined with masculinity. Sociology professor Michael Kimmel suggests to him, "Men tend to fight when they feel humiliated.... You don't fight... [ Read More » ]
15 of 25
by Rich Larson
Rich Larson began writing short stories in 2011 and quickly established himself as a prolific wunderkind of speculative fiction. Larson's full-length debut, The Annex, is an ambitious and energetic coming-of-age thriller in which a group of orphans fight to survive in a town devastated by alien invaders.
The aliens have turned adults into catatonic zombies. They also imprison children in warehouses to serve as hosts for parasitic "keys" that, when fully mature, will open a dimensional door... [ Read More » ]
16 of 25
The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America's Law Enforcement
by Matthew Horace, Ron Harris
Matthew Horace, security expert and news commentator, has worked at almost every level of law enforcement. He is, at his core, "just a cop." But he's also "male black," police shorthand for African American, always viewed as threats, armed with an inescapable weapon--"the very skin we're in."
Horace and former Los Angeles Times editor Ron Harris interviewed law enforcement professionals, elected officials, community advocates and survivors of police violence of every race, gender and political... [ Read More » ]
17 of 25
by Anne Tyler
Anne Tyler's Clock Dance traces the formative events in the life of generous Willa Drake. From watching her tempestuous mother intimidate her pushover father to picking a bully-husband of her own, Willa's life has always been defined by the underlying power dynamics of intimate relationships. After her husband dies in a road rage accident, Willa marries another bossy man, Peter. When she receives a call begging her to take care of her son's ex-girlfriend and her daughter, Willa can't help but agree.... [ Read More » ]
18 of 25
by Joel Berger
If global warming continues to raise earth's temperatures and disrupt its natural systems, how will the animals living in the planet's most remote regions adapt to the changes? That's the question at the heart of Joel Berger's fascinating Extreme Conservation: Life at the Edges of the World. The conservation biologist travels to remote and frozen landscapes to collect as much data on the animals and their changing environments as conditions allow.
In clear and accessible prose, Berger (The... [ Read More » ]
19 of 25
by Alice LaPlante
Someone is abducting and murdering girls from Half Moon Bay, a small town south of San Francisco. While resident Jane O'Malley, who works at a plant nursery, insists that she's no murderer, she admits to the accusing mother of one of the girls, "I do odd things sometimes." (For one, Jane calls random strangers on the phone and then hangs up, just to make what she thinks of as a human connection.) Doing odd things comes with the bereaved-parent territory: in Berkeley the previous year, a reckless... [ Read More » ]
20 of 25
by Nicole Jacquelyn
When Staff Sergeant Henry Harris is killed in action, his grieving family is shocked to discover he left behind a daughter, Etta. And they are especially appalled to learn that he had walked away from the girl, leaving her to be raised by her mother, Morgan. Henry's brother, Trevor, can't believe that the kind boy he knew growing up turned out to be a deadbeat dad, but he's determined to make it up to Morgan and Etta.
When he meets them, he is blown away by how much sweet little Etta looks... [ Read More » ]
21 of 25
by Fatimah Asghar
The word "partition" occurs over and over in Fatimah Asghar's book of poetry, If They Come for Us. The idea of being riven, of families, identities and even bodies broken into parts, populates the world of her poems. But these smaller, sometimes quieter partitions are ripples from a larger, cataclysmic one: the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Asghar's poems probe her own identity, tracing its history while at the same time creating a ground for her present and future.
22 of 25
by Sarah Lynne Reul
When a little girl named Allie breaks her blue crayon, she is "furious, fuming, frustrated, and so, SO, SOOO ANGRY!" So angry, in fact, that she turns into a stomping, smashing furry red monster. Her big brother works to help her calm down, giving her a pillow to punch, a toy to squeeze and suggestions to take deep breaths and count backward. As she successfully applies each tactic, gradually reducing her rage, she sheds the brightly colored fur skins that represent her feelings. By the time "the... [ Read More » ]
23 of 25
by William Alexander, illus. by Kelly Murphy
Rosa Diaz is a ghost appeasement specialist, just like her mom. The two live in a "cozy basement apartment underneath the Ingot Public Library," where their official job is to deal with books that are "too haunted." But ever since the "huge circle of copper" placed around Ingot by its founder, Bartholomew Theosophras Barron, was broken, Rosa and her new friend, Jasper Chevalier, spend a lot of time traveling around town, quieting ghosts and restless spirits.
The previously "library-schooled"... [ Read More » ]
24 of 25
by Julia Boyd
After spending several months touring the Third Reich in 1936, W.E.B Du Bois wrote: "It is extremely difficult to express any opinion about Germany today which is true in all respects without numerous modifications and explanations." With World War II and the Holocaust in hindsight, Du Bois's comments seem soft. How could an intelligent academic, himself a persecuted minority, divorce the German economic progress that impressed him from the horror of Hitler's regime? That Du Bois had mixed opinions,... [ Read More » ]
25 of 25
by Delia Owens
Nonfiction author and wildlife scientist Delia Owens (Secrets of the Savanna, Cry of the Kalahari) makes her fictional debut with Where the Crawdads Sing, a compelling, original story of a girl who grows up alone in the marshes of the North Carolina coast. In 1952, Kya is just six years old when her mother leaves the family without a word. One by one, Kya's siblings soon move on, until it's down to just her and her father. Disappearing for weeks at a time, the hard-drinking man eventually abandons... [ Read More » ]