• The cover of the book An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

    An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

    Hank Green, brother of John Green, is basically just as famous in his role as a vlogger and online media personality. Now he’s joined his brother in the world of fiction with this amazing debut novel about aliens and social media—yes, you’re reading that correctly—and if you’re not stoked, you should be. April May is a 23-year-old bisexual graphic artist working at a startup where she’s bored out of her mind. But everything changes when she accidentally becomes the first human to make the acquaintance of an alien, which looks like a big statue in a suit of armor. Making a video with the thing—which she dubs “Carl”—and her videographer friend Andy, April rockets to fame as her video goes viral. The aliens, which have appeared all over the world, are now being called Carls by everyone, and April becomes more involved than she ever thought she would be on earth, let alone in its intergalactic affairs. (Dutton)

     
  • The cover of the book Tell Me You're Mine

    Tell Me You're Mine

    In Swedish author Norebäck’s debut novel, three women sit at the center of a disturbing psychological conundrum. Stella is a therapist with a successful practice, a husband she still gets along with, and a 13-year-old son she loves. But she also holds grief in her heart: 20 years ago, her infant daughter, Alice, disappeared from a beach, but her body was never found. Stella’s always believed Alice survived, and when Isabelle, a young woman in her early twenties, comes in for therapy, Stella’s belief is confirmed. She’s sure Isabelle is her missing daughter, Alice. But Isabelle already has a mom, Kerstin, a depressed and angry woman who’s mourning the loss of her husband. Stella breaks all the rules trying to get Alice/Isabelle back, causing turmoil in all their lives. But what does Isabelle believe? And is she Alice? (Putnam)

     
  • The cover of the book Lake Success

    Lake Success

    In Gary Shteyngart’s newest novel, a man so financially successful that most of us can’t even picture the amount of money he oversees as a hedge-fund manager ($2.4 billion—I think that’s seven zeroes, or nine?) is brought down a peg. Fleeing his wife, Seema, and their son after his son is diagnosed with autism, Barry Cohen decides to take a Greyhound across the country with a bag full of expensive watches and not so much as a single change of clothes. He does, however, make a pit stop to buy some crack. His goal is the West Coast and a college girlfriend he’s decided might be happy to see him, and with whom he can lead a more romantic and simpler life. Mad antics ensue, of course, as Barry learns how the rest of us survive in the world, and as his wife, a first-generation American, holds down the fort with their child and the rest of the life they built together. (Random House)

     
  • The cover of the book Transcription

    Transcription

    From the master writer who brought us Life After Life, Atkinson’s latest novel is full of intrigue, glorious language, and bountiful emotion. In Transcription, protagonist Juliet Armstrong is only 18 when she’s recruited to MI-5, the British intelligence service. Listening to conversations of Nazi-sympathizing citizens, Juliet’s life becomes full of a tedious store of both atrocious opinions and dull, everyday exchanges. Years later, after World War II has ended, Juliet is still working with sound waves, but now, instead of listening in on others, she’s a producer at the BBC, creating material for other people to listen to. But her past in MI-5 isn’t about to go away, and Juliet is once again under threat from her old job. Reluctantly, she must once again use her past skills to get through this newest danger. (Little, Brown and Company)

     
  • The cover of the book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

    21 Lessons for the 21st Century

    Yuval Noah Harari, who has written about the history of humanity and the concept of fate, is now bringing forth a timely book that looks into our present and near future. In a “post-truth” age, when Big Data has all of our, well, data, and as technology continues to develop at dizzying speeds, Harari asks: now what? In 21 essays, he tries to answer that question through different lenses, focusing on varying aspects of our 21st century reality, from elections influenced by foreign powers to modern-day terrorism. He looks back, too, at recent ideologies that took hold of the world, from fascism to communism and, more recently, a kind of set-in-its-ways liberalism, and critiques each in turn. Neither an optimist nor a pessimist, Harari’s realist attitude will have you ripping through these pages. (Spiegel & Grau)

     
  • The cover of the book Time's Convert

    Time's Convert

    Fans of Deborah Harkness’s All Souls trilogy should flock to this newest volume, which pays homage to Anne Rice’s vampire mythos while putting a spin on it that’s all Harkness’s own. In present-day Paris, a woman named Phoebe is about to become a vampire so she can live forever with her beloved Marcus. But for the ritual to work, Phoebe and Marcus need to stay apart for three months while Phoebe learns how to handle her newfound power. In the meantime, Marcus must come to terms with his own past, and recalls the start of his immortality during the Revolutionary War. With familial tensions sparking from both memories of his human birth family and the appearance of his vampire daddy Matthew, Marcus is in for an emotional journey, while Phoebe too must contend with her new unlife. (Viking)

     
  • The cover of the book Washington Black

    Washington Black

    In this inventive and exciting antebellum novel, a 12-year-old black boy held as a slave on the sugar cane plantations of the Caribbean experiences a startling escape. George Washington Black, called Wash, isn’t even a teenager yet when he’s sold to his owner’s brother. Christopher Wilde, his new master, is nothing like Wash expects—for one thing, he’s an abolitionist, and for another, he has no interest in sugar, but instead has a scientific curiosity and humanist beliefs. When Wash witnesses a death that Christopher knows Wash will be blamed and hanged for, the two escape the Caribbean in a hot air balloon and head to America, where they continue to encounter some of the better side of humanity in a scientist who works with the Underground Railroad. But Wash decides to keep following Christopher all the way to the frozen Arctic, and the adventure goes on from there. A gripping, adventurous tale of identity and humanity. (Knopf)

     
  • The cover of the book When the Lights Go Out

    When the Lights Go Out

    When Jessie’s mother dies of cancer, Jessie’s role as a caretaker is suddenly over. Unable to live in the house where she cared for her mother, Jessie decides to move. She takes another step toward trying to start a normal, adult life and applies to the local community college. But when her social security number turns out to belong to someone who died almost two decades ago, things begin to go wrong: Jessie has a hard time finding a place to rent, and not having a social security card, a driver’s license, or any form of ID means she’s living in a nebulous area of bureaucratic nonexistence. It doesn’t help that Jessie’s insomnia is only getting worse, and as days pass and she doesn’t sleep, she begins to hallucinate—or at least, it sure feels like it. How long can Jessie go without sleep? And who is she, really? If her mother had the answers, they’ve gone with her to the grave. (Park Row)

     
  • The cover of the book The Real Lolita

    The Real Lolita

    Vladimir Nabokov always claimed that his novel Lolita had no relation to any real-life events, but journalist Sarah Weinman begs to differ. In a mix of true crime and literary history, this book explores the real 1948 abduction of a prepubescent girl, Sally Horner, by a mechanic who claimed for a year that she was his daughter. Visiting the places Sally lived and the people who once knew her and her abductor Frank La Salle, Weinman breathes life into this decades-old crime. She also tries to find evidence that Nabokov knew and followed the crime closely, unearthing the true story that his provocative, often disturbing book was based on. A fascinating, gripping read that brings us the best of true-crime obsession. (Ecco)

     
  • The cover of the book Sea Prayer

    Sea Prayer

    In this book for both children and adults, Khaled Hosseini’s narrative is illustrated by Dan Williams’s watercolors, which help convey the mood of this emotional remembrance. Sea Prayer is a letter from a father to his son the night before they’re set to make a dangerous escape from war-ravaged Syria. The father remembers Homs as it was before the civil war, lovingly painting a picture with his words of a time before the son was born. Now, the city is different, barely an echo of what it was, and the loss is unbearable. The father ends his letter with a prayer for a safe journey, a terrible irony as the book is being released in time for the three-year anniversary of the death of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Kurdish Syrian boy who drowned at sea and washed up on a Turkish shore. The proceeds from this book will go to the UN Refugee Agency. (Riverhead)

     
  • The cover of the book Ultraviolet

    Ultraviolet

    In this lyrical novel, Suzanne Matson examines three generations of women as they attempt to come into their own but are often stymied by society and circumstance. We begin with Elsie, married to a Mennonite missionary and living in India where she’s raising her children. When they return to the U.S., Elsie’s teenage daughter Kathryn feels caught between two worlds—the India where she grew up, and the America she’s always been told she belongs to. After Elsie dies, Kathryn’s education is cut short by her controlling father, but she finds solace and independence in waitressing and dating a string of soldiers, until eventually she marries a man who isn’t as far off from her own father as she might wish. As the years go by and Kathryn’s own daughter manages to make it in academia, we see the development of these women’s strength over time, as the world allows them the freedom to break free of their constraints. (Catapult)

     
  • The cover of the book On the Other Side of Freedom

    On the Other Side of Freedom

    One of the biggest misconceptions about present-day activist movements is that while they’re protesting against, they’re not discussing what they’re for. Don’t be fooled—that’s a narrative meant to keep us all asleep. In DeRay McKesson’s first book, he discusses the early days of the Black Lives Matter movement and his time protesting in the streets in Ferguson, a move about which he asks: “What else could we do?” Indeed, the feeling of inevitable action that calls to such dedicated activists speaks to their hopeful nature, and McKesson here discusses both the great success of BLM in bringing people together and provides concrete explanations about how things can, and should, get better. Fierce and fiercely hopeful, this is a book that won’t leave you comfortable, but will inspire you to take action. (Viking)

     

     
  • The cover of the book The Glass Ocean

    The Glass Ocean

    In this historically set thriller, two women aboard very different parts of the famed ship RMS Lusitania may be part of its eventual demise in 1915. In the present day, writer Sarah Blake is struggling to find a bestselling subject for a book. Despite her mother’s request, Sarah opens the old chest that belonged to her great-grandfather, who died when the Lusitania sank. The items inside lead Sarah on a hunt for more info, and she heads to London to track down the great-grandson of another man who was aboard ship and might have more material for her to use. Alternating with Sarah’s present-day search are the stories of the two women on board, one a wealthy wife whose business-magnate husband is being oddly standoffish, and the other a con-artist working with her sister to pull off one last, great heist before retiring. As the three women in their separate timelines and places grow closer to the truth of what’s happening aboard ship, tensions rise, thrillingly so. (William Morrow)

     
  • The cover of the book Waiting for Eden

    Waiting for Eden

    In a burn unit, a soldier named Eden awaits death in a nearly catatonic state. His wife, Mary, visits him, but leaves their daughter at home, afraid of exposing her to this father who may never wake up, whom she will then remember in this state rather than as the vibrant man Mary will be able to tell her about one day. The narrator is Eden’s friend and fellow soldier, killed in the same attack in Iraq that left Eden for not-quite-dead. Before they were deployed abroad, the narrator experienced a growing attraction for Mary, which he kept hidden from Eden. Now, he watches over Eden just as Mary does, occupying a space outside of time or human understanding, his ghostly figure able to peer into Eden’s mind and memory. This is a haunting novel that explores the ramifications—physical and psychological—of war on both soldiers and their families. (Knopf)

     
  • The cover of the book I Should Have Honor

    I Should Have Honor

    Khalida Brohi was lucky, and she knew it. Her parents, married in an arranged marriage when her mother was nine and her father 13, had betrothed Brohi before she was even born, but unlike their own union, they wanted Brohi to grow up before she was to marry the older man she was promised to. And so Brohi got an education other girls in her rural community did not, and planned on becoming a doctor. When she was 16, though, her life trajectory changed: her cousin ran away with a man, bringing dishonor on her tribe and family, and for that, Brohi’s uncle killed her cousin in the tradition of “honor killing.” Brohi was shocked and enraged, and it was then that she began to focus on women’s education and the importance of changing the minds of men whose power relies on continued brutality and violence toward women. An inspiring and thoughtful figure whose life hasn’t been easy, Brohi brings us a clear-eyed and impassioned memoir about her journey. (Random House)

     
  • The cover of the book The Shape of the Ruins

    The Shape of the Ruins

    In a time when conspiracy theories and truth are shared side-by-side on both social and mainstream media, Juan Gabriel Vasquez’s The Shape of the Ruins is deeply relevant. A man by the author’s same name is the narrator of this novel, in which he becomes obsessed with trying to find the similarities between a variety of political assassinations. Starting out as a skeptic, Vasquez is quickly embroiled in the history of the 1914 assassination of Colombia’s senator Rafael Uribe Uribe, which leads him to a lawyer who wrote about the plot against Uribe, and though mocked, seemed to have a substantial and not-implausible theory. When is there an actual plot, and when is the plot a way for us to better understand the reality of something random and senseless? Who decides what is truth and what is conspiracy? Relevant questions today as ever before, this Vasquez novel is perfect for our time. (Riverhead)

     
  • The cover of the book Eliza Hamilton

    Eliza Hamilton

    Narratives dedicated to Eliza Hamilton have been hot since her star rose due to the incredible (and tear-inducing, every single time) song that closes Hamilton, the record-breaking musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda. But Eliza was worthy of a biography long before, and we’re grateful that it’s here. Eliza Hamilton, nee Schuyler, was a worthy partner for founding father Alexander, and author Tilar J. Mazzeo closely examines their relationship. She also argues against the infamous affair Alexander is said to have had, seeing in Eliza’s patterns around the time a clear indication that the affair was a ruse to distract from the larger issue of Alexander’s possible involvement in financial fraud. Using this as her centerpiece, Mazzeo draws Eliza’s life as a narrative full of philanthropy, kindness, and dedication. (Gallery)

     
  • The cover of the book Hippie

    Hippie

    In the 1960s, a Brazilian man named Paulo (yes, loosely based on the author himself) decides to embark on an adventure that will take him to the heart of the hippie movement, as he journeys through the era that’s remained famous in our cultural memory. In Amsterdam, Paulo meets Karla, and the two of them set off together on a long sojourn to Nepal. Along the way, they meet a host of other adventurers and travelers who share their stories with Paulo and Karla. There are drugs aplenty in this psychedelic time, lots of nudity and free love, and, of course, a search for a deeper truth amidst a rapidly changing world shadowed by the threat of mutually assured destruction. It’s a nostalgic and powerful novel, especially as Paulo and Karla’s relationship becomes tragically complex. (Knopf)

     
  • The cover of the book The Tattooist of Auschwitz

    The Tattooist of Auschwitz

    Based on a real man, Heather Morris’s novel explores the harrowing territory of the Jews who survived their time in concentration camps by doing the bidding of their Nazi overlords and harming other Jews in the process. Lale Sokolov is a young Slovakian Jewish man sent to Auschwitz, where he becomes the tattooer, setting in ink the numbers by which the detainees are now known, thus stripping them of their names and identities. When Gita, a new arrival, is ushered in to get tattooed, Lale falls for her, and eventually, she finds herself feeling mutually for him. Lale, meanwhile, uses his relatively privileged position in the camp to acquire food and delicacies for Gita and others. After the end of the war, though they’ve both survived, they must deal with their trauma, a difficult and gut-wrenching task. (Harper Paperbacks)

     
  • The cover of the book Farsighted

    Farsighted

    Most of us are familiar with the anxiety that comes with making a big decision. Whether that’s when to cut the cord on a relationship or whether it’s the right time to start a business, there are no hard and fast rules for making up our minds. Imagine being a politician and needing to make even bigger decisions that affect millions of people—would you know how to do it? Most of us don’t, and we work with our gut-feelings, but Johnson believes this is exactly the wrong approach. Instead, we need time to weigh our options and consider the alternatives, and in this book he draws on interviews with and narratives of novelists, politicians, behavioral psychologists, and neuroscientists to examine the tools the best decision-makers use to forge their way forward. (Riverhead)