A Promised Land
What’s better in an election month than the first volume of President Barack Obama’s presidential memoirs? President Obama didn’t always hold that title, of course, and didn’t always know he would. Here, he shares the journey he took from a young man trying to figure out who he was all the way to his first steps in the Oval Office and beyond. He describes some of the most decisive moments of his first term in vivid and personal detail, and outlines his vision and hopes for a nation that he loves and believes in. A vital and hopeful read.
In this perfect pocket-sized book, Paulo Coehlo has paired up with illustrator Christoph Niemann to give readers a beautiful fable about doing what you love and embracing the current moment. In an unnamed village, Tetsuya, a former renowned archer, lives in comfortable retirement, working on his carpentry. When a stranger arrives to learn from him, a local boy joins as well. The stranger soon leaves, his skills no match for this master of bow and arrow, but the boy remains with Tetsuya and begins asking him questions. As the two talk, Tetsuya shares his hard-earned wisdom and reasons for retirement.
Megan Rapinoe is not only a two-time Women’s World Cup champion and an Olympic gold medalist. She’s also one of the relatively few out lesbian players who has been using her power and position consistently over the last few years to protest racial discrimination in sports and beyond, advocate for pay equity for women athletes, and fight for equal rights for LGBTQ people. In this candid and moving memoir, she discusses successes and failures, her beloved twin, and how she’s chosen to use her voice—and urges us to use ours, too.
Miss Benson's Beetle
Margery Benson is a single woman of a certain age in 1950, and so she is, of course, easily dismissible. In fact, she is dismissed from her poorly paying job as a Home Economics teacher and decides, to hell with it—she’s going to finally go on an adventure. Ever since she was a girl, she’s been obsessed with a potentially mythical bug—the golden beetle of New Caledonia—and she sets her sights on the French territory. She doesn’t speak French, though, so she hires someone who does—Enid Pretty, a blonde who wears pink, completely unlike her in every way. Hijinks, as they say, ensue.
Roy and Carl Opgard are brothers whose lives have drifted far apart. Roy has remained in Os, the small mountain town where their parents died in a car accident, and Carl left for Canada, becoming a wealthy entrepreneur and marrying a fellow immigrant, a beautiful woman from Barbados. When Carl shows up in Os with his wife and a plan to create a spa and hotel that would be partially owned by the townsfolk, Roy can’t quite figure out what’s brought along his brother’s noblesse oblige spirit. As the brothers circle each other and their secrets, the death toll mounts.
The Office of Historical Corrections
In Danielle Evans’s new collection, characters grapple with truth and often have to fight to have their voices heard in situations that really shouldn’t be so difficult—except they so often are for Black people in this country. In “Happily Ever After,” Lyssa’s mother dies of cancer, a disease that Black women die from more often than white women. In “Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain,” a photojournalist attends a wedding and confronts her losses and griefs. And in the closing novella, Cassie works in a federal agency that is working to correct the historical record—but what of her own?
We Gather Together
The myth behind Thanksgiving is a simple one: Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians gathered in Plymouth Colony in 1621, and that was “the first Thanksgiving.” The truth, as it usually is, is something quite different. Not only did Europeans coming to this continent celebrate feasts of thanksgiving 80 years earlier, but the indigenous peoples of the American continent had been holding ceremonies of gratitude for centuries. Journalist Denise Kiernan goes further back as well as forward, trying to bust some of our common myths about the holiday as well as explore how and why humans benefit from giving thanks at all.
The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany
Lori Nelson Spielman
Emilia and her older sister Daria used to think the family curse was bogus. But when Emilia did a family tree for school, she learned it was true: no second daughter had married in 200 years. Now an adult, Emilia works in the family bakery and is perpetually single, which is fine; her cousin Lucy, also a second daughter, is less than happy about her similar state. When Great Aunt Poppy invites the cousins to Italy, promising she’ll break the curse, they head over eagerly. But Emilia has another reason—Poppy is the only one who ever talks about Emilia’s mother…
When Kennedy Wynn was 15, she was accused of murdering her best friend, Haley. Her lawyer father was convinced that the charges would be dropped but he underestimated the criminal justice system’s need to convict and the way that money can protect even the most likely of suspects if they have enough of it. Now, Kennedy is coming home to a world where her mother has died, her twin sister has gotten sober and isn’t convinced of her innocence, and a true crime TV host is sniffing around for a good story. Will Kennedy finally remember what happened that night?
Super Fake Love Song
Sunny Dae is a nerdy Korean American teenager living in SoCal: he loves LARPing, D&D, and designing cosplay props with his buddies. His older brother, Gray, is way cooler than him, an aspiring rock star with the outfits and skills to match his ambitions. When Cirrus, a new student, arrives at school, Sunny is absolutely smitten, but when she deigns to come over and thinks that Gray’s rock ‘n’ roll-themed room is Sunny’s, things begin to get complicated. Sunny embraces the instance of mistaken identity and starts wearing Gray’s clothes and forms a fake band. The charade can’t last forever though, can it?
Ready Player Two
By the middle of this century, humanity spends most of its time jacked into OASIS, a huge virtual world that gives us everything that reality cannot. In Ready Player One, the creator of OASIS, James Halliday, died and left behind a contest that would determine his successor. Teenager Wade Watts won it, but now, looking through Halliday’s vaults, he finds he’s not quite done yet. There’s another prize to be won, a mysterious technological advancement to discover, and a rival who is willing to put real as well as virtual lives at risk to get to Halliday’s secret before Wade.
All That Glitters
Nicole Martin, Coco to her friends, is a child of privilege: her parents are wealthy, she’s about to graduate from Columbia University, she spends summers in the Hamptons, and is about to start a summer job at a magazine. But the stable, safe world she’s inhabited crumbles when her parents are killed while on vacation in France, and Coco, now heir to their vast wealth, has to figure out how to navigate it and her own life. Relocating to London, she begins a series of relationships with semi-trustworthy men. But Coco’s biggest challenge is learning to trust her own instincts.
If your Seasonal Affective Disorder is kicking in, or if you’re just worried about how to weather the pandemic during the winter months, Katherine May’s Wintering might be just the thing. May reflects on a particular winter when both she and her husband fell ill and the unpredictable nature of what was to come seemed overwhelming. She began to observe the rhythms of nature in winter, its hibernating and sleeping species, its quiet, and turned to myths and stories that evoked magic and regeneration in the season. May embraced her own need to rest and slow down—and so can we.
In the late 22nd century, most of Earth is uninhabitable, and one of the areas that still is, Nigeria, has recently been through a brutal war. Ify, 19 and formerly of Earth, is living, as she’s always wanted, in the Space Colonies, where she’s about to become a doctor overseeing incoming refugees. Back on Earth, Uzo, a humanoid synthetic machine, helps aid workers preserve memories of the recent war, which the government is trying to erase all traces of. When Ify is sent back to Nigeria to find answers to a plague of comas, her and Uzo’s paths collide.
People Who Love to Eat Are Always the Best People
Julia Child, beloved cook, writer, and personality may have died in 2004, but her wisdom, cookbooks, and effect on American eating and drinking are still with us. In this beautiful slim volume of aphorisms and encouragements, Child’s words echo her adventurous spirit, her love of eating well, and her refusal to participate in diet culture (“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook,” she reminds us). People Who Love to Eat Are Always the Best People is the perfect addition to your pantry or holiday gift for the foodies in your life.
How to Raise an Elephant
Alexander McCall Smith
In Alexander McCall Smith’s 21st entry in his beloved No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Precious Ramotswe is approached by a distant cousin, Blessing Mompati, who’s in need of help. Blessing has a friend who has been unable to get Botswanan citizenship and thus cannot get healthcare, but he needs a hip replacement, and for that, he needs money. Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe’s new neighbors keep arguing loudly, and if that weren’t enough, one of her husband’s employees has been saddled with a baby elephant he doesn’t know how to take care of. Patient and diligent, Mma Ramotswe will resolve all.
All I Want for Christmas
Teenager Bailey Briggs loves everything about Christmas: the holiday music playing in all the shops, the beautiful snow and all the winter fun a person can have with it, the delicious seasonal cookies, and even how she gets to make her bookstore job a bit more festive by wearing light-up reindeer antlers. But this year, she’s determined to start another Christmas tradition: she wants to finally kiss someone under the mistletoe. But who will it be? Jacob Marley, athlete and known player? Or the lovely Charlie with his English accent? A fun, young adult play on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.
Be My Guest
Food is not only our source of physical energy, it is also a way we gain emotional nourishment. Food provides us ways of caring for one another and welcoming others into our homes and other sacred spheres. In this lovely exploration of the relationships between food and community, Priya Basil shares her experiences with her Sikh parents and the Indian food she grew up with in London as well as her time living in Kenya, India, and Germany. Across cultures and spaces and thinkers of all backgrounds, there are ways for us to be hosts and guests, nourishing one another.
Fifteen miles west of the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation lies Oak Flat, a sacred site to the Apaches, where an ancient burial ground sits and where ceremonies are performed. Oak Flat is also the site of copper ore, discovered nearby in 1995, and in 2005, a law passed that put this land in the hands of a private company planning to mine it. Since then, Apache people have been fighting to retain this land and protect it. Gorgeously illustrated, this book follows an Apache activist and her family, a mining family, and the sordid history of colonial theft.
The Glorious American Essay
In the first of three volumes, Phillip Lopate has collected 100 essays from as far back as the 18th century and up to our contemporary times. From Frederick Douglass to Zadie Smith, from Fanny Fern to Jamaica Kincaid, from Henry David Thoreau to Rachel Carson, Lopate has chosen writers discussing a vast array of topics—including race, queerness, and disability—for this seminal volume of the essayistic form. Say what you will about the United States (and some of the writers in this book certainly will), but it has witnessed a marvelous plurality of imaginative and talented essayists.
In this chaotic month of November, we want to share some of our favorite reads to help you escape, stay grounded, self-soothe, or anything else you need. From books about the meaning of thanks and our human need for community and food, to romances that will cocoon you in cozy winter wonderlands to inspirational and hopeful memoirs, we’ve got something for every mood and need. We also have fables, thrillers, and mysteries to keep you thinking deeply about other people and places, and adventurous romps if laughter is your best self-care! Read on and love each other, friends.