This Week's Best New Books

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Wade in the Water: Poems

Wade in the Water: Poems

by Tracy K. Smith

Wade in the Water: Poems

U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith (Ordinary Light) believes poetry can "help us make sense of the contemporary moment." That moment includes her country's historical and present-day acts of injustice against refugees, former slaves, African Americans and the poor. Her fourth collection, Wade in the Water, examines that injustice (political and personal) with sharp insight and telling detail.

Smith moves deftly from the broad theme to the striking personal image: in "New Road Station," for example, ... [ Read More » ]

2 of 26
To Die but Once

To Die but Once

by Jacqueline Winspear

To Die but Once

To Die but Once, the 14th installment in Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series, is set in a tense London, as England is preparing for imminent invasion. Maisie and her loyal assistant Billy are drawn into an unusual case when a local publican, Phil Coombes, comes to Maisie with concerns about his 15-year-old son, Joe. The boy was lucky enough to get a reserved job, with no fears of military service; however, Coombes senses that something is wrong with Joe, who has been complaining of terrible ... [ Read More » ]

3 of 26
The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery

The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery

by Barbara K. Lipska

The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery

Barbara Lipska was relentlessly motivated. She fled an unstable Poland in the late 1980s for the United States, where she became an expert in the relationship between mental illness and the brain. She and her family were accomplished professionals as well as competitive athletes. And Lipska survived a brush with cancer. Despite those achievements and challenges, nothing prepared her for the harrowing eight weeks when she lost her mind.

In The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind, readers accompany Lipska ... [ Read More » ]

4 of 26
The Man Who Caught the Storm: The Life of Legendary Tornado Chaser Tim Samaras

The Man Who Caught the Storm: The Life of Legendary Tornado Chaser Tim Samaras

by Brantley Hargrove

The Man Who Caught the Storm: The Life of Legendary Tornado Chaser Tim Samaras

Tim Samaras turned his childhood obsession into a lifelong passion that he used to change the world. Captivated by The Wizard of Oz and a PBS storm-chasers special as a boy, Samaras became the greatest tornado researcher of our time. The Man Who Caught the Storm is journalist Brantley Hargrove's intimate portrait of a fascinating man whose goal was to do the undoable: map ground-level data from the heart of a supercell twister. 

Samaras, a self-taught weather forecaster and electrical engineer, ... [ Read More » ]

5 of 26
Love and Death in the Sunshine State: The Story of a Crime

Love and Death in the Sunshine State: The Story of a Crime

by Cutter Wood

Love and Death in the Sunshine State: The Story of a Crime

As Love and Death in the Sunshine State opens, Cutter Wood has just graduated from college and is on a family vacation to the island of Anna Maria, near Tampa Bay, Fla. Afterward, he returns home to wait tables, expecting never to think of the place again--until he finds out about a fire at the motel in Anna Maria where he had stayed.

A woman named Sabine Musil-Buehler, co-owner of the motel, has been missing for several weeks. Her car is recovered, with blood on its seats and a stranger behind ... [ Read More » ]

6 of 26
Lawn Boy

Lawn Boy

by Jonathan Evison

Lawn Boy

Mike Muñoz, the endearing protagonist of Lawn Boy, Jonathan Evison's fifth novel (West of HereThe Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving), is 22 and lives in a trailer on the rez in Suquamish, on Puget Sound. His chain-smoking mother works double shifts at the Tide's Inn while Mike babysits Nate, his developmentally disabled big brother, and spends his spare time reading books like The Octopus and The Jungle.

He works for a lawn service and loves his job--fresh air and ... [ Read More » ]

7 of 26
Troublemakers

Troublemakers

by Catherine Barter

Troublemakers

When Lena was three years old, her mother died suddenly. Lena's half-brother Danny, 22 years old at the time, became her legal guardian. Danny had only been dating Nick for a few months at the time of Lena's adoption, but Nick "apparently liked [her] brother enough that he didn't complain that Danny now came with a three-year-old."

Twelve years later, all of Lena's memories are of life with Danny and Nick. This isn't a bad thing--she loves them and they are the only parents she has ever known--but ... [ Read More » ]

8 of 26
Mommy's Khimar

Mommy's Khimar

by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illus. by Ebony Glenn

Mommy's Khimar

The young Muslim narrator of Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow's debut picture book delights in all the wonder of her mother's headscarves. She luxuriates in the bright, beautiful colors and styles: "Some have tassels. Some have beads. Some have sparkly things all over. And she has my favorite color... yellow!" She uncovers a sense of empowerment while wearing them: "When I wear Mommy's khimar, I am a superhero in a cape, dashing from room to room at the speed of light." And she eagerly embraces a special ... [ Read More » ]

9 of 26
Alma and How She Got Her Name

Alma and How She Got Her Name

by Juana Martinez-Neal

Alma and How She Got Her Name

For Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela, her oversized moniker is "'so long...  [i]t never fits.'" Her father knows something more: "Let me tell you the story of your name," he offers, "Then you decide if it fits."

Opening the family photo album, Daddy explains how Alma got each of her names: Sofia for her "books, poetry, jasmine flowers"-loving grandmother; Esperanza for her great-grandmother who hoped to travel the world; José for her artist grandfather; Pura for her great-aunt ... [ Read More » ]

10 of 26
The Italian Teacher

The Italian Teacher

by Tom Rachman

The Italian Teacher

Canadian-English author Tom Rachman (The Rise and Fall of Great Powers) writes narratives that crisscross the globe. The Italian Teacher is a bittersweet novel that brings to mind Rachman's fellow Canadian Robertson Davies. It begins in 1950s Rome, then hops back and forth across the Atlantic as it follows the life of a man on the edge of greatness.

Charles "Pinch" Bavinsky grows up in Rome as the son of Bear Bavinsky, a prominent American avant-garde painter in the early 20th century, and Natalie, ... [ Read More » ]

11 of 26
Blackfish City

Blackfish City

by Sam J. Miller

Blackfish City

Blackfish City is Sam J. Miller's adult science fiction follow-up to his debut young adult novel, The Art of Starving, and establishes a dystopian world that stands apart in a crowded field. Miller's take on climate change-fueled dystopia has some superficial similarities to the work of Kim Stanley Robinson and Paolo Bacigalupi: rising sea levels are just one of a number of threats unleashed by global warming, and humanity hastens its own collapse through wars, religious fundamentalism ... [ Read More » ]

12 of 26
Berenice Abbott: A Life in Photography

Berenice Abbott: A Life in Photography

by Julia Van Haaften

Berenice Abbott: A Life in Photography

Best known for her stark photographs of New York City and striking portraits of her notable contemporaries, Berenice Abbott was also a versatile science photographer, author, photo gear tinkerer with several patents, teacher at the New School of Social Research, archivist of Eugène Atget's prints and negatives, and pioneer feminist. Born in Ohio in 1898, her 93 years spanned nearly all of the 20th century. Van Haaften's authoritative Berenice Abbott reveals the personal and professional struggles ... [ Read More » ]

13 of 26
American by Day

American by Day

by Derek B. Miller

American by Day

We called Derek B. Miller's first novel, Norwegian by Night, "moving yet never sentimental, intricate yet effortless." His second novel, The Girl in Green, "crackles with heart, charm and dark honesty." In his third, American by Day, Miller revisits a character from Norwegian, Sigrid Ødegård, with his now-expected originality and humanity.

Sigrid, an Oslo chief police inspector, travels to upstate New York to search for her brother, Marcus. He disappeared after the death of his lover ... [ Read More » ]

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Voices from the Rust Belt

Voices from the Rust Belt

by Anne Trubek, editor

Voices from the Rust Belt

The borders of the U.S. Rust Belt are not defined, writes author and editor Anne Trubek (The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting), but "anywhere an economy was previously based on manufacturing and has since been losing population can be part of the gang." Her new anthology, Voices from the Rust Belt, aims to scrape some popular stereotypes off these places.

Trubek is founder and editor of Belt Publishing, and many of these 24 essays have appeared in Belt magazine and in Belt's city-themed ... [ Read More » ]

15 of 26
The Temptation of Forgiveness

The Temptation of Forgiveness

by Donna Leon

The Temptation of Forgiveness

The Temptation of Forgiveness, the 27th novel in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series, is another compelling look at life in modern Venice. After more than 20 years on the Venetian police force, Brunetti is inured to all forms of graft and corruption, but this time even he will be surprised.

Professoressa Crosera, a university colleague of Brunetti's wife, Paola, comes to tell him that she suspects her son is doing drugs. The commissario is at a loss. Crosera refuses to tell him who she suspects ... [ Read More » ]

16 of 26
Stray City

Stray City

by Chelsey Johnson

Stray City

Andrea Morales, self-described member of the "Lesbian Mafia," is having an illicit affair. With a straight man. This simple construct provides the jumping-off point of Chelsey Johnson's Stray City, which explores the many ways friendship, love and sex intersect--and the many ways they do not.

Stray City is not built on a fast-moving plot: Andrea (Andy, to her friends) starts her affair with Ryan. She continues her affair with Ryan. She keeps the affair a secret. She questions what the affair means ... [ Read More » ]

17 of 26
Stone Mad

Stone Mad

by Elizabeth Bear

Stone Mad

Elizabeth Bear brings back her intrepid duo of female adventurers in Stone Mad, a steampunk western that features Karen Memory and her partner and love, Priya. In this installment, the couple are having a celebratory dinner out in the dining hall of the Rain City Riverside hotel, when they overhear two spiritualists at a nearby table. That is unusual, but not as odd as when a table begins to levitate and, stranger still, Karen and Priya's table flips over on its own. Karen knows she has to find out ... [ Read More » ]

18 of 26
No Way Home: A Memoir of Life on the Run

No Way Home: A Memoir of Life on the Run

by Tyler Wetherall

No Way Home: A Memoir of Life on the Run

Tyler Wetherall is spending her 12th birthday in St. Lucia with her older sister and fugitive father when the phone call comes: Scotland Yard has tracked him to his not-so-secret location, and the girls need to flee to their mother in London immediately. In No Way Home, editor and creative writing instructor Wetherall artfully shares her life in pieces--from early days living as something resembling a family unit to her adolescent years filled with secrecy and surveillance while separated from her ... [ Read More » ]

19 of 26
Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory

Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory

by Michelle Hamilton, Deena Kastor

Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory

Since she was a child, Deena Kastor loved to run. Naturally talented, she won many races as a junior athlete by simply running harder and faster than the competition. But in college, plagued by injuries and her own persistent negativity, Kastor struggled with burnout. After graduation, she moved to Colorado to train with legendary coach Joe Vigil. To her surprise, Vigil emphasized training the mind even more than the body. Kastor details her journey toward mental toughness and a stellar career in ... [ Read More » ]

20 of 26
The Funeral

The Funeral

by Matt James

The Funeral

When her great-uncle Frank dies, Norma prepares to attend the funeral with her parents. She practices her sad face in the mirror even though she is actually feeling "pretty happy." After all, she gets to skip school and she'll see her favorite--"FAVORITE"--cousin Ray. During the long church service, Norma entertains herself by watching the dust motes dancing in the light of the stained-glass windows. Ray climbs and fidgets and stares at the hairy ear of the man next to him. When they are finally ... [ Read More » ]

21 of 26
Ghost Boys

Ghost Boys

by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Ghost Boys

Twelve-year-old Jerome was always "the good kid": whenever possible, he "skated by. Kept [his] head low." But now that he's dead, he's famous. Jerome was shot just a few blocks from home while playing with a toy gun. Officer Moore arrived on the scene, didn't announce himself, didn't tell Jerome to put down the gun or raise his hands. He shot Jerome before the cruiser even stopped and didn't render aid or call for help as Jerome died.

By many accounts, Moore "is a good cop." His daughter Sarah--who's ... [ Read More » ]

22 of 26
Gibraltar: The Greatest Siege in British History

Gibraltar: The Greatest Siege in British History

by Lesley Adkins, Roy Adkins

Gibraltar: The Greatest Siege in British History

Gibraltar, the small territory on the coast of Spain, has been in British hands for hundreds of years, and remains a source of tension between the two nations. Gibraltar, by historians Roy and Lesley Adkins, traces the history of that strain, focusing on the years 1779 to 1783, when the forces of Spain and France laid siege to the British garrison stationed there. One of the longest in modern history, the siege is a story of courage and ingenuity, on both sides of the war. 

Using dispatches, ... [ Read More » ]

23 of 26
Every Note Played

Every Note Played

by Lisa Genova

Every Note Played

Lisa Genova, novelist and neuroscientist, has a gift for telling accessible stories about complex maladies and their victims. Still Alice explored early-onset Alzheimer's; in Left Neglected, a high-achieving woman suffers a brain injury. In Every Note Played, celebrated classical pianist Richard denies his diagnosis of ALS, until he sits at his Steinway and "the keys want to be caressed, the relationship ready and available to him, but he can't respond, and this is suddenly the cruelest moment of ... [ Read More » ]

24 of 26
Bizarre Romance

Bizarre Romance

by Audrey Niffenegger, Eddie Campbell

Bizarre Romance

Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler's Wife) once said that her book The Three Incestuous Sisters is a "novel in pictures" rather than a graphic novel. The 13 stories contained in Bizarre Romance are just that--oddly whimsical, mildly titillating and sometimes poignant tales in pictures. Co-authored and illustrated by Niffenegger's husband, Eddie Campbell (From Hell), the collection considers the wonders and horrors, banality and mystery of love and relationships in all their manifestations--romance, ... [ Read More » ]

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Alternate Sides

Alternate Sides

by Anna Quindlen

Alternate Sides

Nora Nolan loves New York and can't imagine living anywhere else. For her husband, Charlie, however, the city is "not his natural habitat," so when he scores a long-desired permanent parking space on their dead-end street, she indulges his crowing. Anna Quindlen's 10th novel, Alternate Sides, builds from this quotidian victory into a fast-paced novel of family dynamics, societal inequities and, eventually, choosing what matters most to make a satisfying life.

Nora and Charlie have an enviable city ... [ Read More » ]

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Moon

Moon

by Alison Oliver

Moon

"Every day, Moon walked home from school and thought about the day. There was always a lot to do. Moon always did it all. But she wondered what it would be like not to. What would it feel like to be free?"

The young girl, with her periwinkle purple skin and long, black hair tied into braids, is seen passing a graffitied wall. Purple flowers climb the gray wall and a purple wolf on a pink poster looks directly out of the page at the reader. Moon is oblivious to the art, so focused on what she has
... [ Read More » ]

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