• The cover of the book A Spark of Light

    A Spark of Light

    Jodi Picoult is a longtime master of digging deep into the emotional lives of women and mining for rich material that we keenly feel. In her newest book, she turns to the difficult and still-controversial issue of abortion. The Center is the last clinic in Mississippi to provide abortive services—alongside the many other services women’s clinics provide. A gunman has barged in and is holding everyone hostage, including the daughter of the hostage negotiator, who arrives to try to talk him down. Picoult tells the story in reverse, beginning from the end of the conflict and moving back in time to show us the reasons each person is at the clinic that day. From the only doctor providing abortions that morning to the anti-abortion activist trying to spy on The Center for salacious material to the hostage negotiator’s daughter who’s just trying to get some birth control pills, these characters each react to the situation differently, but over the course of the crisis, a deeper understanding of each occurs. (Ballantine)

     
  • The cover of the book There Will Be No Miracles Here

    There Will Be No Miracles Here

    Casey Gerald wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He grew up in the poorer part of Dallas, Texas, part of a religious family that was convinced, along with many others, that the world was going to end with the year 2000. But when the millennium came and went, and religion turned out not to keep the promises Gerald thought it would, he turned elsewhere. Playing varsity football got him a scholarship to Yale, and as he began to move in circles that seemed impossible to his working-class boyhood, he learned to keep doubting and questioning his surroundings. On the one hand, his story is classic rags to riches: after Yale, he went to study business at Harvard, worked on Wall Street, helped out in Washington, D.C., and rubbed elbows with those blessed by circumstance and those punished by it. On the other hand, this memoir is a nuanced one, where circumstance and fate play a role, but where systemic pressures do too, causing Gerald to question the very things that have counted as his successes. (Riverhead)

     
  • The cover of the book Good and Mad

    Good and Mad

    “Just calm down!” If you’re a woman, you’ve likely heard a version of this. “Just smile, why don’t you?” You’ve probably heard that, too. If you’re bursting at the gills with anger or have had your rage shut down before (and who among us hasn’t?), you’ll want to pick up this book. Rebecca Traister tracks the way women’s anger has been stifled throughout history, and how it’s especially been used to label women crazy instead of authoritative. Looking at the difference in how women and men’s anger has been portrayed, discussed, and scrutinized, Traister shows how rage has long been seen as indecorous for women, a view that contributed to keeping them out of the political sphere. But this isn’t a man-hating screed—it’s a smart, well-researched, incredibly written, and truly relevant book for our time, a time in which women are speaking out, in anger, trying to be heard. (Simon and Schuster)

     
  • The cover of the book The Proposal

    The Proposal

    Nikole is having a great time with her actor boyfriend—until, that is, he decides to propose only five months into their relationship. Worse than that, he does it publicly: at a baseball game, on the Jumbotron. When Nik says no, the crowd begins to turn against her, and charmingly handsome Carlos and his sister come to her rescue and help her out of the stadium. Since Nik is newly single and Carlos is cute… well, you know what happens. But what began as a rebound becomes so much more, which goes against the casual framework the pair put on their hookups. As time goes on and Nik’s social media gets ugly as her nixed proposal goes viral, Carlos has to deal with family issues and illness. For a hookup, they need to handle some serious things happening in one another’s lives. Maybe it’s not a hookup after all? (Berkley)

     
  • The cover of the book Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    In an increasingly right-wing Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become a lionized figure whose death is morbidly discussed in hushed whispers as folks dread and fear it. Jane Sherron De Hart, however, celebrates and expounds on Justice Ginsburg’s life in this book, the first full and comprehensive biography of the 107th Justice. De Hart shows how RBG’s early experiences affected her later feminism and quest for justice and equality, how being discriminated against as both a woman and a Jew showed her what fights were yet to be won, and how living through World War II solidified her dedication to the United States and its ability to become a better, more inclusive Union. Discover the traits of a hardworking, dedicated, incredibly intelligent, and articulate person that shaped her into the Justice we know and love. (Knopf)

     
  • The cover of the book One Day in December

    One Day in December

    Is true love real? You never know until you know, and for Laurie, that day comes one winter in London, as she sees the man she knows, for a fact, is The One. But she doesn’t know his name, age, anything about him, really. Until about a year later when she sees him again—on her best friend Sarah’s arm. His name is Jack, and he’s Sarah’s new boyfriend. He feels something for Laurie too, that much is clear, but Laurie puts her friendship with Sarah first and begins trying to convince herself that she needn’t have Jack in order to be happy. As time marches on and the friendship between Sarah and Laurie remains tight, it gets harder for Jack to be around Laurie, which makes him act like an ass—but Sarah is perfect for him on paper, so how can he convince himself to leave? Will friendship or true love prevail? Maybe both? Read this sweet, loving, and loyalty-filled debut, and discover for yourself. (Broadway)

     
  • The cover of the book All You Can Ever Know

    All You Can Ever Know

    Nicole Chung’s first memoir is a soulful and searching account of identity, both as constructed by ourselves over time and as taught by those who reared us. Adopted soon after birth by white parents, Korean-born Chung was always told that her birth parents were trying to give her a better life. But raised by white parents in a largely white community, Chung felt separated, othered in a way her adoptive parents couldn’t relate to. As an adult, she managed to find out who her birth parents were, but it wasn’t until she was pregnant herself that she decided to move forward with trying to establish contact, despite her adoptive parents’ possible discomfort. I won’t spoil what she learned, nor the journey to get there, but suffice to say that Chung’s story cuts to the heart of the complicated ways we love, let go, and find one another. (Catapult)

     
  • The cover of the book The Kennedy Debutante

    The Kennedy Debutante

    You may know there were quite a few Kennedys, and this remarkable story is about one member of that tight-knit and headstrong clan who’s usually forgotten. Kathleen Kennedy, nicknamed Kick, moves to London in 1938 with her father, the newest American ambassador, who’s trying to prevent the war between England and Germany. While there, Kick parties hard and falls in love with the future Duke of Devonshire, but his prominent Protestant family and her equally prominent Catholic one would surely refuse to allow them to marry. No matter, since Kick must return to the U.S. with her dad when the war breaks out. But Kick manages to find her way back to England through a journalism job and work with the Red Cross. Billy still loves her, but now the two must figure out whether they’ll forsake their family duties in order to marry or whether they’ll shoulder burdens they never asked for, but that mean more than ever in turbulent times. (Berkley)

     
  • The cover of the book The White Darkness

    The White Darkness

    Ernest Shackleton was a polar explorer of the 19th century, obsessed with conquering arctic landscapes. He tried to cross Antarctica on foot but never managed it, always doubling back in order to save his men. One of these men was an ancestor of Henry Worsley, a British special forces officer obsessed with Shackleton’s doomed ventures. In 2008, Worsley decided to do what his hero could not. Even better, he found two other descendants of men under Shackleton’s command to go with him. The three descendants, as if destined to retrace their ancestors’ steps, managed to cross Antarctica despite the frigid weather, the bleak and empty landscape, and the hidden pitfalls. But it wasn’t enough. In 2013, Worsley set out again, at age 55, to see if he could cross Antarctica alone. David Grann tells his story in vivid detail, with photographs taken both in the 19th and 21st centuries. An unbelievable story of obsession, fortitude, and courage. (Doubleday)

     
  • The cover of the book Unsheltered

    Unsheltered

    All happy families are alike, Tolstoy taught us, and each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. In her newest book, Barbara Kingsolver shows us that perhaps our difficulties can bring our narratives together, despite how different they appear to be. In one house in Vineland, New Jersey, two families go through a trying time. The contemporary family’s story is shown through Willa Knox, an editor whose magazine folded and whose husband’s tenure track job disappeared when the college shuttered its doors unexpectedly. Lucky enough to inherit a house, they move in with their grown daughter and the addition of their son and his newborn baby. In the 19th century, a very different family struggles in the former utopian transcendentalist town, as Thatcher Greenwood, a professor like Willa’s husband, becomes enchanted with new research by Charles Darwin, but is forbidden to teach the inflammatory new material. The house is the thing that ties them together—but so do frustration, exhaustion, and ultimately, various kinds of love. (Harper)

     
  • The cover of the book Killing Commendatore

    Killing Commendatore

    Longtime fans of Murakami will surely appreciate his newest (and extremely strange) novel. If you’re new to Murakami and love magical realism and a sense of dislocation, this is a perfect place to start. An artist in his 30s is at loose ends when his wife leaves him, and he retreats to the isolated home of another artist to try to paint there. But he isn’t destined to get through his grief and confusion with ease—instead, he’s confronted with a strange girl around the same age as his sister was when she died; a two-foot-tall old man with a sword, the commendatore of the title, who is a physical manifestation of an Idea; a big pit behind the house; an otherworldly space where Double Metaphors haunt him; and other strange apparitions. Let yourself go along for the ride when you read this—meaning will piece itself together slowly, like a work of art that appears blotchy close-up and magnificent when you step away and can see its whole. (Knopf)

     
  • The cover of the book Almost Everything

    Almost Everything

    Hope is hard to come by these days. Whether it’s on the global scale, the national scale, or even the personal one, many of us know the pain that is daily living. The media doesn’t help, as feel-good stories don’t tend to get the clicks that outraged headlines do. Anne Lamott, the irreverent memoirist and believer in God, a woman full of wonderful and human contradictions, pulls no punches in describing the difficulties of various aspects of her life here. But through it all, she finds those nuggets of hope, those tiny moments of joy, the things that make life worth living, and shares how she arrived at them. Most of all, she reminds us that this too shall pass—the pain you’re feeling now will change and evolve—and that sometimes, joy is its own kind of resistance to the bleakness around us. (Riverhead)

     
  • The cover of the book Friday Black

    Friday Black

    This debut collection of stories by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is remarkable in its honesty regarding the horrendous fantasy-life many white people in American still lead, while also critiquing the systems that allow for it. In these imaginative stories, you’ll find a theme park where white people are encouraged to “problem-solve,” i.e. enact brutal violence on people of color; a story about the Purge-like elements of holiday shopping coming to life; and the trial of a white man who slaughtered five black children with a chainsaw and maintains he did so in self-defense. At first glance, you may think these tales are over the top, but look again: their expansion of real-life events, their critique of where we might be going, and their needling love for the characters harmed prove these stories are written by a visionary intent on showing us the less-than-moral mirror we’re reflected in. A book to both enjoy and make you pause uncomfortably, it’s well-worth the read. (Mariner)

     
  • The cover of the book Dare to Lead

    Dare to Lead

    What is a daring leader? Does a daring leader need to be someone strict, passively efficient, machinelike? In a business culture that moves toward mechanization, as robots take over certain elements of the workplace, Brené Brown argues that we shouldn’t, as humans, be trying to become more like the machines replacing us. Instead, Brown insists, we must focus on the things that make us human: empathy, emotional and intellectual connection, and the courage to try new things. Brown spent the past seven years studying and working with leaders from around the world and from companies at all different sizes and levels of global success, and she learned some key skills she believes are achievable, teachable, learnable, and that can make any of us lead—if only we dare. (Random House)

     
  • The cover of the book What If This Were Enough?

    What If This Were Enough?

    The question essayist Heather Havrilesky asks in the title of her new collection is, on its face, a simple one. What if, instead of continuing to seek out the newest shiny object or the next expensive yoga retreat or the best doughnut in the city—what if we could acknowledge that what we have, our present moment, our sense of selves, is enough? The culture we live in is set up to tell us it isn’t. Everyone is selling something, whether on social media, the billboards along the highway, the commercials on TV. And more insidiously, the narratives we find in popular culture continue to sell us false realities and possibilities that are fantastical and divorced from real life but which bill themselves as reflections of it. It isn’t escapism at this point, but another kind of salesmanship. Havrilesky suggests another way: an acceptance, or at least an attempt, to say that we’re enough. A moving idea, and never schmaltzy in the hands of the hilarious Havrilesky. (Doubleday)

     
  • The cover of the book Love Is Blind

    Love Is Blind

    In the late 19th century, when one of nine living siblings discovers he can escape his oppressive Scottish home by using his perfect pitch to get a job, he does so. This is Brodie Moncur, a Scot who takes himself to London, where he begins working at a piano company as a tuner, a job that leads him to Paris and the company’s new location. When Brodie suggests giving a piano to a famous player as a publicity stunt, the plan works—a little too well, as it turns out, and Brodie ends up becoming famous John Kilbarron’s personal piano tuner as Kilbarron takes his entourage to Russia. It’s a perfect new life that Brodie could never have envisioned, except for one flaw: Lika, Kilbarron’s Russian girlfriend, who Brodie finds himself desperately falling for. When the two start an affair, things get even more complicated, especially as Lika keeps a host of secrets, and her involvement with Kilbarron is not as simple as it seems. As Brodie vies for her love while tuning her boyfriend’s piano, tensions rise… but you’ll have to read for yourself to find out the secrets Lika and Kilbarron are keeping. (Knopf)

     
  • The cover of the book Little

    Little

    If you’ve ever been to one of the famous Madame Tussauds wax museums, you may have felt the oddness of the art, the eeriness of the decor, the strange idea that people become 3-D objects. Edward Carey’s newest book brings all that eeriness to its origins in little Marie, orphaned and apprenticed to her mother’s last employer, who opens a wax museum in Paris. As Marie becomes an expert at the art, she witnesses the bubbling roil of the days before and after the French Revolution and becomes enmeshed with the royal family—until, that is, the royal family becomes bodiless models for the wax heads Marie and her boss carve in their likenesses. Full of wonderful descriptions of both objects and people that recall Dickensian drama and the eeriness of Poe, this book’s story is vivid and fascinating, and its heroine, so wily in moving from one sphere to another, is as riveting as the odd creations she brings to life. (Riverhead)

     
  • The cover of the book Family Trust

    Family Trust

    When the patriarch of the Huang family is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, concern turns toward the fortune he’s always claimed to have—and who will get it when he dies. His second wife, more than a couple decades his junior, might be waiting for it. His ex-wife, finally on the rebound after nearly 10 years of the single life, is concerned about this, as well as for the kids, Fred and Kate. Fred, making over a quarter million dollars a year, is nevertheless dissatisfied, his job predictable and his choices within it limited—until a former schoolmate reaches out and invites him to a prestigious get-together that could change his fortunes. Meanwhile, Kate becomes the one who must navigate them all, from caring for her father to being the mother of two children, as well as serving as the breadwinner of the family while her husband is definitely, finally going to make it as an entrepreneur this time. A gripping, complex book that examines class, identity, the American dream, and the traps we set for ourselves in success. (William Morrow)