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Jay's 2018 Summer Reading List for Grown-ups

Sunday, June 17, 2018

One morning, an educator visiting Manhattan Country School  from another school asked me, “Where do you find your books?” I said, “Well, that’s kind of complicated. It happens in a bunch of ways!”

Scribbling down a title of a book that a father is reading to his daughter on the subway.  Or sitting in a corner of a bookstore until closing. Or sifting through a myriad of book reviews, websites, tweets, etc. Or a friend tells me that I have to read this book about a boy who wants to be a mermaid.

Searching for just the right book is one of the best parts of my job as librarian. I love being a “book finder.” Another is reading out loud to a group of children. It is my hope that you find some joy inside a book or two or 20 with your children this summer. Here are three summer reading lists - one for Lower School ages, one for Upper School ages, and one for grownups. I started these list 10 years ago when some parents asked for some suggestions for reading for the summer vacation. They are not required reading. One last thing, a link to an article about reading aloud to children that affected me quite deeply: https://themillions.com/2018/04/read-it-again.html


America is Not the Heart: A Novel by Elaine Castillo - When Hero De Vera arrives in America--haunted by the political upheaval in the Philippines and disowned by her parents--she's already on her third. Her uncle gives her a fresh start in the Bay Area, and he doesn't ask about her past. His younger wife knows enough about the might and secrecy of the De Vera family to keep her head down. But their daughter--the first American-born daughter in the family--can't resist asking Hero about her damaged hands. An increasingly relevant story told with startling lucidity, humor, and an uncanny ear for the intimacies and shorthand of family ritual, America Is Not the Heart is a sprawling, soulful debut about three generations of women in one family struggling to balance the promise of the American dream and the unshakeable grip of history. With exuberance, grit, and sly tenderness, here is a family saga; an origin story; a romance; a narrative of two nations and the people who leave one home to grasp at another.

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover - Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills” bag. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged metal in her father’s junkyard. Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent.

When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home. Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing one’s closest ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

The Unmade World: A Novel by Steve Yarbrough - Set against a backdrop of the current political and cultural upheaval in the US and Eastern Europe, The Unmade World is a thoughtful, scope-y literary novel with a dose of suspense that moves from Poland to California to the Hudson Valley and back to Poland. It covers a decade in the lives of an American journalist and a Polish small businessman turned petty criminal and the wrenching aftermath of an accidental, tragic encounter between these two on a snowy night in 2006 on the outskirts of Krakow. The accident costs the lives of the American journalist Richard Brennan’s wife and daughter, an event that colors the rest of his life. It also leads to a downward spiral for Bogdan Baranowsk, leaving emotional scars as he suffers the seemingly inevitable loss of his business, his home, and his wife. The Unmade World is a story of ordinary, otherwise decent people from various backgrounds and circumstances who must learn how to live with the personal grief, sense of guilt, and the emotional consequences of violence. Along the way, the novel grapples with a spectrum of cultural and political issues. It includes a murder mystery wrapped around the corruption of major college sports, the pressures on immigrants and refugees in both the US and Poland, the fallout of political change, economic upheavals and armed conflicts--including the horrific destruction of Luhansk, Ukraine in 2014. It also references the 2016 presidential campaign, cultural politics in the American university, and the demise of print journalism, etc., though never in a dogmatic or overtly partisan way.

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden: Stories by Denis Johnson - Twenty-five years after Jesus’ Son, a haunting new collection of short stories on mortality and transcendence, from National Book Award winner and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Denis Johnson. The Largesse of the Sea Maiden is the long-awaited new story collection from Denis Johnson. Written in the luminous prose that made him one of the most beloved and important writers of his generation, this collection finds Johnson in new territory, contemplating the ghosts of the past and the elusive and unexpected ways the mysteries of the universe assert themselves. Finished shortly before Johnson’s death, this collection is the last word from a writer whose work will live on for many years to come.

The Undressing: Poems by Li-Young Lee - Celebrated poet Li-Young Lee returns with a breathtaking new volume about the violence of desire and the peace of love. The Undressing is a tonic for spiritual anemia; it attempts to uncover things hidden since the dawn of the world. Short of achieving that end, these mysterious, unassuming poems investigate the human violence and dispossession increasingly prevalent around the world, as well as the horrors the poet grew up with as a child of refugees. Lee draws from disparate sources, including the Old Testament, the Dao De Jing, and the music of the Wu Tang Clan. While the ostensive subjects of these layered, impassioned poems are wide-ranging, their driving engine is a burning need to understand our collective human mission.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future. Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television. When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.

Teaching the Cat to Sit: A Memoir by Michelle Theall - A compelling memoir of a gay Catholic woman struggling to find balance between being a daughter and a mother raising her son with a loving partner in the face of discrimination. From the time she was born, Michelle Theall knew she was different. Coming of age in the Texas Bible Belt, a place where it was unacceptable to be gay, Theall found herself at odds with her strict Roman Catholic parents, bullied by her classmates, abandoned by her evangelical best friend whose mother spoke in tongues, and kicked out of Christian organizations that claimed to embrace her—all before she’d ever held a girl’s hand. Shame and her longing for her mother’s acceptance led her to deny her feelings and eventually run away to a remote stretch of mountains in Colorado. There, she made her home on an elk migration path facing the Continental Divide, speaking to God every day, but rarely seeing another human being. At forty-three years of age and seemingly settled in her decision to live life openly as a gay woman, Theall and her partner attempt to have their son baptized into the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in the liberal town of Boulder, Colorado. Her quest to have her son accepted into the Church leads to a battle with Sacred Heart and with her mother that leaves her questioning everything she thought she knew about the bonds of family and faith. And she realizes that in order to be a good mother, she may have to be a bad daughter. Teaching the Cat to Sit examines the modern roles of motherhood and religion and demonstrates that our infinite capacity to love has the power to shape us all.

The Leisure Seekers: A Novel by Michael Zadoorian - The Robinas have shared a wonderful life for more than sixty years. Now in their eighties, Ella suffers from cancer and John has Alzheimer's. Yearning for one last adventure, the self-proclaimed "down-on-their-luck geezers" kidnap themselves from the adult children and doctors who seem to run their lives and steal away from their home in suburban Detroit on a forbidden vacation of rediscovery. With Ella as his vigilant copilot, John steers their '78 Leisure Seeker RV along the forgotten roads of Route 66 toward Disneyland in search of a past they're having a damned hard time remembering. Yet Ella is determined to prove that, when it comes to life, you can go back for seconds—even when everyone says you can't.

One Nation Under Baseball: How the 1960s Collided with the National Pastime by John Florio - One Nation Under Baseball highlights the intersection between American society and America’s pastime during the 1960s, when the hallmarks of the sport—fairness, competition, and mythology—came under scrutiny. John Florio and Ouisie Shapiro examine the events of the era that reshaped the game: the Koufax and Drysdale million-dollar holdout, the encroachment of television on newspaper coverage, the changing perception of ballplayers from mythic figures to overgrown boys, the arrival of the everyman Mets and their free-spirited fans, and the lawsuit brought against team owners by Curt Flood. One Nation Under Baseball brings to life the seminal figures of the era—including Bob Gibson, Marvin Miller, Tom Seaver, and Dick Young—richly portraying their roles during a decade of flux and uncertainty.

Trick: A Novel by Domenico Starnone, Translated by Jhumpa Lahiri - Trick is a stylish drama about ambition, family, and old-age that goes beyond the ordinary and predictable. Imagine a duel between two men. One, Daniele Mallarico, is a successful illustrator who, in the twilight of his years, feels that his reputation and his artistic prowess are fading. The other, Mario, is Daniele's four-year-old grandson. Daniele has been living in a cold northern city for years, in virtual solitude, focusing obsessively on his work, when his daughter asks if he would come to Naples for a few days and babysit Mario while she and her husband attend a conference. Shut inside his childhood home―an apartment in the center of Naples that is filled with the ghosts of Mallarico's past―grandfather and grandson match wits as Daniele heads toward a reckoning with his own ambitions and life choices. Outside the apartment, pulses Naples, a wily, violent, and passionate city whose influence can never be shaken. Trick is a gripping, brilliantly devised drama, "an extremely playful literary composition," as Jhumpa Lahiri describes it in her introduction, by the Strega Prize-winning novelist whom many consider to be one of Italy's greatest living writers.

Notes from a Public Typewriter by Michael Gustafson - A collection of confessional, hilarious, heartbreaking notes written anonymously on a public typewriter for fans of PostSecret and Other People's Love Letters. When Michael Gustafson and his wife Hilary opened Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they put out a typewriter for anyone to use. They had no idea what to expect. Would people ask metaphysical questions? Write mean things? Pour their souls onto the page? Yes, no, and did they ever. Every day, people of all ages sit down at the public typewriter. Children perch atop grandparents' knees, both sets of hands hovering above the metal keys: I LOVE YOU. Others walk in alone on Friday nights and confess their hopes: I will find someone someday. And some leave funny asides for the next person who sits down: I dislike people, misanthropes, irony, and ellipses ... and lists too. In NOTES FROM A PUBLIC TYPEWRITER Michael and designer Oliver Uberti have combined their favorite notes with essays and photos to create an ode to community and the written word that will surprise, delight, and inspire.

Tangerine: A Novel by Christine Mangan - The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country. But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind. Tangerine is a sharp dagger of a book—a debut so tightly wound, so replete with exotic imagery and charm, so full of precise details and extraordinary craftsmanship, it will leave you absolutely breathless.

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi - Some Americans cling desperately to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first Black president spelled the doom of racism. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America--more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, if we have any hope of grappling with this stark reality, we must first understand how racist ideas were developed, disseminated, and enshrined in American society. In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists. From Puritan minister Cotton Mather to Thomas Jefferson, from fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to brilliant scholar W.E.B. Du Bois to legendary anti-prison activist Angela Davis, Kendi shows how and why some of our leading proslavery and pro-civil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America. Contrary to popular conceptions, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Instead, they were devised and honed by some of the most brilliant minds of each era. These intellectuals used their brilliance to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation's racial disparities in everything from wealth to health. And while racist ideas are easily produced and easily consumed, they can also be discredited. In shedding much-needed light on the murky history of racist ideas, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose them--and in the process, gives us reason to hope.

The Ensemble: A Novel by Aja Gabel - The addictive novel about four young friends navigating the cutthroat world of classical music and their complex relationships with each other, as ambition, passion, and love intertwine over the course of their lives. Jana. Brit. Daniel. Henry. They would never have been friends if they hadn't needed each other. They would never have found each other except for the art, which drew them together. They would never have become family without their love for the music, for each other. Brit is the second violinist, a beautiful and quiet orphan; on the viola is Henry, a prodigy who's always had it easy; the cellist is Daniel, the oldest and an angry skeptic who sleeps around; and on first violin is Jana, their flinty, resilient leader. Together, they are the Van Ness Quartet. After the group's youthful, rocky start, they experience devastating failure and wild success, heartbreak and marriage, triumph and loss, betrayal and enduring loyalty. They are always tied to each other - by career, by the intensity of their art, by the secrets they carry, by choosing each other over and over again. Following these four unforgettable characters, Aja Gabel's debut novel gives a riveting look into the high-stakes, cutthroat world of musicians, and of lives made in concert. The story of Brit and Henry and Daniel and Jana, The Ensemble is a heart-skipping portrait of ambition, friendship, and the tenderness of youth.

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More by Janet Mock - In her profound and courageous New York Times bestseller, Janet Mock establishes herself as a resounding and inspirational voice for the transgender community—and anyone fighting to define themselves on their own terms. With unflinching honesty and moving prose, Janet Mock relays her experiences of growing up young, multiracial, poor, and trans in America, offering readers accessible language while imparting vital insight about the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of a marginalized and misunderstood population. Though undoubtedly an account of one woman’s quest for self at all costs, Redefining Realness is a powerful vision of possibility and self-realization, pushing us all toward greater acceptance of one another—and of ourselves—showing as never before how to be unapologetic and real.

A Lucky Man: Stories by Jamel Brinkley - In the nine expansive, searching stories of A Lucky Man, fathers and sons attempt to salvage relationships with friends and family members and confront mistakes made in the past. An imaginative young boy from the Bronx goes swimming with his group from day camp at a backyard pool in the suburbs, and faces the effects of power and privilege in ways he can barely grasp. A teen intent on proving himself a man through the all-night revel of J’Ouvert can’t help but look out for his impressionable younger brother. A pair of college boys on the prowl follow two girls home from a party and have to own the uncomfortable truth of their desires. And at a capoeira conference, two brothers grapple with how to tell the story of their family, caught in the dance of their painful, fractured history. Jamel Brinkley’s stories, in a debut that announces the arrival of a significant new voice, reflect the tenderness and vulnerability of black men and boys whose hopes sometimes betray them, especially in a world shaped by race, gender, and class―where luck may be the greatest fiction of all.

The Life of Images: Selected Prose by Charles Simic - In addition to being one of America’s most famous and commended poets, Charles Simic is a prolific and talented essayist. The Life of Images brings together his best prose written over twenty-five years. A blend of the thoughtful, comic, and tragic, the essays in The Life of Images explore subjects ranging from poetry to philosophy, photography, politics, and art, to Simic’s childhood in a war-torn country. Culled from five collections, these works demonstrate the qualities that make Simic’s poetry so original yet accessible. Whether he is pondering the relationship between history and the individual, or recalling growing up in Belgrade and New York City, Simic shares his distinctive take on the world and offers an intimate look into the life and mind of an immigrant.

Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown by Lauren Hilgers - The deeply reported story of one indelible family transplanted from rural China to New York City, forging a life between two worlds. In 2014, in a snow-covered house in Flushing, Queens, a village revolutionary from Southern China considered his options. Zhuang Liehong was the son of a fisherman, the former owner of a small teashop, and the spark that had sent his village into an uproar—pitting residents against a corrupt local government. Under the alias Patriot Number One, he had stoked a series of pro-democracy protests, hoping to change his home for the better. Instead, sensing an impending crackdown, Zhuang and his wife, Little Yan, left their infant son with relatives and traveled to America. With few contacts and only a shaky grasp of English, they had to start from scratch. In Patriot Number One, Hilgers follows this dauntless family through a world hidden in plain sight: a byzantine network of employment agencies and language schools, of underground asylum brokers and illegal dormitories that Flushing’s Chinese community relies on for survival. As the irrepressibly opinionated Zhuang and the more pragmatic Little Yan pursue legal status and struggle to reunite with their son, we also meet others piecing together a new life in Flushing. Tang, a democracy activist who was caught up in the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, is still dedicated to his cause after more than a decade in exile. Karen, a college graduate whose mother imagined a bold American life for her, works part-time in a nail salon as she attends vocational school, and refuses to look backward. With a novelist’s eye for character and detail, Hilgers captures the joys and indignities of building a life in a new country—and the stubborn allure of the American dream.

The Cold Cold Ground: A Novel by Adrian McKinty - Spring 1981. Northern Ireland. Belfast on the verge of outright civil war. The Thatcher government has flooded the area with soldiers, but nightly there are riots, bombings, and sectarian attacks. In the midst of the chaos, Sean Duffy, a young, witty, Catholic detective in the almost entirely Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary, is trying to track down a serial killer who is targeting gay men. As a Catholic policeman, Duffy is suspected by both sides and there are layers of complications. For one thing, homosexuality is illegal in Northern Ireland in 1981. Then he discovers that one of the victims was involved in the IRA, but was last seen discussing business with someone from the Protestant UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force). Fast-paced, evocative, and brutal, this book is a brilliant depiction of Belfast at the height of the Troubles and a cop caught in the crossfire.

The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives by Viet Thanh Nguyen -  Today the world faces an enormous refugee crisis—22.5 million people fleeing persecution and conflict from Myanmar to Syria, closer to the flight of Jewish and other Europeans during World War II than anything the world has seen in this generation. Yet in the United States, United Kingdom, and other countries with the means to welcome refugees, anti-immigration politics and fear seem poised to shut the door. Even for readers seeking to help, the sheer scale of the problem renders the experience of refugees hard to comprehend. Viet Nguyen, called “one of our great chroniclers of displacement” (Joyce Carol Oates,The New Yorker), brings together writers originally from Mexico, Bosnia, Iran, Afghanistan, Soviet Ukraine, Hungary, Chile, Ethiopia, and others to make their stories heard. They are formidable in their own right—MacArthur Genius grant recipients, National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalists, filmmakers, speakers, lawyers, professors, and New Yorker contributors—and they are all refugees, many as children arriving in London and Toronto, Oklahoma and Minnesota, South Africa and Germany. Their 17 contributions are as diverse as their own lives have been, and yet hold just as many themes in common. Reyna Grande questions the line between “official” refugee and “illegal” immigrant, chronicling the disintegration of the family forced to leave her behind; Fatima Bhutto visits Alejandro Iñárritu’s virtual reality border crossing installation “Flesh and Sand”; Aleksandar Hemon recounts a gay Bosnian’s answer to his question, “How did you get here?”; Thi Bui offers two uniquely striking graphic panels; David Bezmozgis writes about uncovering new details about his past and attending a hearing for a new refugee; and Hmong writer Kao Kalia Yang recalls the courage of children in a camp in Thailand. These essays reveal moments of uncertainty, resilience in the face of trauma, and a reimagining of identity, forming a compelling look at what it means to be forced to leave home and find a place of refuge. The Displaced is also a commitment: ABRAMS will donate 10 percent of the cover price of this book, a minimum of $25,000 annually, to the International Rescue Committee, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing humanitarian aid, relief, and resettlement to refugees and other victims of oppression or violent conflict.

Providence: A Novel by Caroline Kepnes - Best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe share a bond so intense that it borders on the mystical. But before Jon can declare his love for his soul mate, he is kidnapped, his plans for a normal life permanently dashed. Four years later, Chloe has finally given up hope of ever seeing Jon again. Then, a few months before graduation, Jon reappears. But he is different now: bigger, stronger, and with no memory of the time he was gone. Jon wants to pick up where he and Chloe left off . . . until the horrifying instant he realizes that he possesses strange powers that pose a grave threat to everyone he cares for. Afraid of hurting Chloe, Jon runs away, embarking on a journey for answers. Meanwhile, in Providence, Rhode Island, healthy college students and townies with no connection to one another are suddenly, inexplicably dropping dead. A troubled detective prone to unexplainable hunches, Charles “Eggs” DeBenedictus suspects there’s a serial killer at work. But when he starts asking questions, Eggs is plunged into a whodunit worthy of his most outlandish obsessions. In this dazzling new novel—and with an intense, mesmerizing voice—Caroline Kepnes makes keen and powerful observations about human connection and how love and identity can dangerously blur together.

A Twenty Minute Silence Followed by Applause by Shawn Wen - As a fledgling radio producer, Shawn Wen became fascinated by the one subject who seemed impossible to put on air: French mime Marcel Marceau, the internationally acclaimed “artist of silence.” At the height of his fame, Marceau was synonymous with Bip, the red-lipped, white-faced mute in a sailor suit who conjured scenes, stories, and sweeping emotion through the gestures of his body alone. Influenced by Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp, credited with inspiring Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk, Marceau attempted in his performances to “reveal the fundamental essences of humanity.” Beyond Bip, Marceau was a Jewish Holocaust survivor and member of the French resistance; a bombastic iconoclast; a collector of failed marriages, masks, antique knives and doting fans; an impassioned workaholic who performed into his eighties and died deeply in debt soon after leaving the stage. In precise, jewel-like scenes and vignettes, A Twenty Minute Silence Followed by Applause pays homage to the singular genius of a mostly-forgotten art form. Drawing on interviews, archival research, and meticulously observed performances, Wen translates the gestural language of mime into a lyric written portrait by turns whimsical, melancholic, and haunting.

The House of Broken Angels: A Novel by Luis  In his final days, beloved and ailing patriarch Miguel Angel de La Cruz, affectionately called Big Angel, has summoned his entire clan for one last legendary birthday party. But as the party approaches, his mother, nearly one hundred, dies herself, leading to a farewell doubleheader in a single weekend. Among the guests is Big Angel's half brother, known as Little Angel, who must reckon with the truth that although he shares a father with his siblings, he has not, as a half gringo, shared a life. Across two bittersweet days in their San Diego neighborhood, the revelers mingle among the palm trees and cacti, celebrating the lives of Big Angel and his mother, and recounting the many inspiring tales that have passed into family lore, the acts both ordinary and heroic that brought these citizens to a fraught and sublime country and allowed them to flourish in the land they have come to call home.

The story of the de La Cruzes is the quintessential American story. This indelible portrait of a complex family reminds us of what it means to be the first generation and to live two lives across one border. It takes us into a world we have not known, while reflecting back the hopes and dreams of our own families. Teeming with brilliance and humor, authentic at every turn, The House of Broken Angels is Luis Alberto Urrea at his best, and cements his reputation as a storyteller of the first rank.

Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon - This groundbreaking dual biography brings to life a pioneering English feminist and the daughter she never knew. Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley have each been the subject of numerous biographies, yet no one has ever examined their lives in one book—until now. In Romantic Outlaws, Charlotte Gordon reunites the trailblazing author who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and the Romantic visionary who gave the world Frankenstein—two courageous women who should have shared their lives, but instead shared a powerful literary and feminist legacy. In 1797, less than two weeks after giving birth to her second daughter, Mary Wollstonecraft died, and a remarkable life spent pushing against the boundaries of society’s expectations for women came to an end. But another was just beginning. Wollstonecraft’s daughter Mary was to follow a similarly audacious path. Both women had passionate relationships with several men, bore children out of wedlock, and chose to live in exile outside their native country. Each in her own time fought against the injustices women faced and wrote books that changed literary history. The private lives of both Marys were nothing less than the stuff of great Romantic drama, providing fabulous material for Charlotte Gordon, an accomplished historian and a gifted storyteller. Taking readers on a vivid journey across revolutionary France and Victorian England, she seamlessly interweaves the lives of her two protagonists in alternating chapters, creating a book that reads like a richly textured historical novel. Gordon also paints unforgettable portraits of the men in their lives, including the mercurial genius Percy Shelley, the unbridled libertine Lord Byron, and the brilliant radical William Godwin.

There There: A Novel by Tommy Orange - There There is a relentlessly paced multigenerational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. It tells the story of twelve characters, each of who have private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life back together after his uncle’s death and has come to work at the powwow to honor his uncle’s memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil, who has taught himself traditional Indian dance through YouTube videos and has come to the powwow to dance in public for the very first time. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and unspeakable loss. Here is a voice we have never heard—a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with stunning urgency and force. Tommy Orange writes of the plight of the urban Native American, the Native American in the city, in a stunning novel that grapples with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and profound spirituality, and with a plague of addiction, abuse, and suicide. An unforgettable debut, destined to become required reading in schools and universities across the country.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill - Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country. Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.” Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.

How to Eat a Peach: Menus, Stories and Places by Diana Henry - When Diana Henry was sixteen she started a menu notebook (an exercise book carefully covered in wrapping paper). Planning a menu is still her favorite part of cooking. Menus can create very different moods; they can take you places, from an afternoon at the seaside in Brittany to a sultry evening eating mezze in Istanbul. They also have to work as a meal that flows and as a group of dishes that the cook can manage without becoming totally stressed. The 24 menus and 100 recipes in this book reflect places Diana loves, and dishes that are real favorites. The menus are introduced with personal essays in Diana's now well-known voice- about places or journeys or particular times and explain the choice of dishes. Each menu is a story in itself, but the recipes can also stand alone.
The title of the book refers to how Italians end a meal in the summer, when it's too hot to cook. The host or hostess just puts a bowl of peaches on the table and offers glasses of chilled moscato (or even Marsala). Guests then slice their peach into the glass, before eating the slices and drinking the wine. That says something very important about eating - simplicity and generosity and sometimes not cooking are what it's about. 

Every Other Weekend by Zulema Renee Summerfield - The year is 1988, and America is full of broken homes. EVERY OTHER WEEKEND drops us into the sun-scorched suburbs of southern California, amid Bret Michaels mania and Cold War hysteria, with Nenny, a wildly precocious, nervous nelly of an eight-year-old, as our guide to the newly rearranged life she finds herself leading after her parents split. Nenny and her mother and two brothers have just moved in with her new stepfather and his two kids. Her old life replaced by this new configuration, Nenny's natural anxieties intensify, and both real and imagined dangers entwine: earthquakes and home invasions, ghosts of her stepfather's days in Vietnam, Gorbachev knocking down the door of her third grade class and recruiting them all into the Red Army. Knock-kneed and a little stormy-eyed, she is far too small for the thoughts that haunt her, yet her fears are not entirely unfounded. Indeed, tragedy does come, but it comes at her sideways, in a way she never had imagined. With an irresistible voice, Summerfield has managed to tap the very truth of what it is to have been a child of her generation, bottle it, and serve it up in devastating, hilarious, heartfelt doses. EVERY OTHER WEEKEND beautifully and unsettlingly captures the terrible wisdom that children often possess, as well as the surprising ways in which families fracture and reform.

The Boys of Dunbar: A Story of Love, Hope and Basketball by Alenjandro Danois - The inspiring true story of a remarkable coach whose superb undefeated high-school basketball team in 1980s Baltimore produced four NBA players and gave hope to a desperate neighborhood and city. As the crack epidemic swept across inner-city America in the early 1980s, the streets of Baltimore were crime ridden. For poor kids from the housing projects, the future looked bleak. But basketball could provide the quickest ticket out, an opportunity to earn a college scholarship and perhaps even play in the NBA. Dunbar High School had one of the most successful basketball programs in the country; in the early 1980s, the Dunbar Poets were arguably the best high school team of all time. Four starting players—Muggsy Bogues, Reggie Williams, David Wingate, and Reggie Lewis—would eventually play in the NBA, an unheard-of success rate. In The Boys of Dunbar, Alejandro Danois revisits the 1981-1982 season with the Poets as the team conquered all its opponents. But more than that, he takes us into the lives of these kids, and especially of Coach Bob Wade, a former NFL player from the same neighborhood who knew that the basketball court, and the lessons his players would learn there, held the key to the future.

This is the Place: Women Writing about Home by Margot Kahn - A thought-provoking collection of personal essays about home. What makes a home? What do equality, safety, and politics have to do with it? And why is it so important to us to feel like we belong? In this collection, 30 women writers explore the theme in personal essays about neighbors, marriage, kids, sentimental objects, homelessness, domestic violence, solitude, immigration, gentrification, geography, and more. Contributors--including Amanda Petrusich, Naomi Jackson, Jane Wong, and Jennifer Finney Boylan--lend a diverse range of voices to this subject that remains at the core of our national conversations. Engaging, insightful, and full of hope, This is the Place will make you laugh, cry, and think hard about home, wherever you may find it.

The Truth about Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife by Lucy Cooke - Humans have gone to the Moon and discovered the Higgs boson, but when it comes to understanding animals, we've still got a long way to go. Whether we're seeing a viral video of romping baby pandas or a picture of penguins "holding hands," it's hard for us not to project our own values--innocence, fidelity, temperance, hard work--onto animals. So you've probably never considered if moose get drunk, penguins cheat on their mates, or worker ants lay about. They do--and that's just for starters. In The Truth About Animals, Lucy Cooke takes us on a worldwide journey to meet everyone from a Colombian hippo castrator to a Chinese panda porn peddler, all to lie bare the secret--and often hilarious--habits of the animal kingdom. Charming and at times downright weird, this modern bestiary is perfect for anyone who has ever suspected that virtue might be unnatural.

Cloudbursts: Collected and New Stories by Thomas McGuane - From one of our most acclaimed writers, a sumptuous gathering of his singular work in the short form--forty-five stories, including seven entirely new pieces appearing for the first time in book form. For more than four decades, Thomas McGuane has been heralded as an unrivaled master of the short story. Now the arc of that achievement appears in one definitive volume. Set in the seedy corners of Key West, the remote shore towns of the Bahamas, and McGuane's hallmark Big Sky country, with its vast and unforgiving landscape, these are stories of people on the fringes of society, whose twisted pasts meddle with their chances for companionship. Moving from the hilarious to the tragic and back again, McGuane writes about familial dysfunction, emotional failure, and American loneliness, celebrating the human ability to persist through life's absurdities.

An American Marriage: A Novel by Tayari Jones - Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.