Deepak Chopra, M.D.
Deepak Chopra has already made his splash on the world with books looking at religion, alternative medicine, and nutrition, but in this newest work, Chopra introduces a whole new idea to the world: meta-reality. Our minds and consciousnesses are wondrous, he argues, but constrained by so much conditioning and the daily mechanisms of life. Advocating for a heightened hyper-awareness—and using science and research to show us the benefits—Chopra sees in us the power to live more freely, more openly, and more consciously. In other words, we can be metahuman.
You might spot a few pieces you recognize in Zadie Smith’s newest book, her first collection of short stories—but though it contains a few pieces that first appeared in The New Yorker and The Paris Review, Grand Union is mostly brand new and entirely winning. With historical, contemporary, and slightly futuristic pieces, the range here is wide: stories of mothers and daughters sit alongside pieces on personal and political violence, which hang out with clever and absurd explorations of pop-culture legends. This is not a collection to miss.
The Giver of Stars
In 1930s Kentucky, Englishwoman Alice is languishing with boredom. Married life in the U.S. was supposed to be more fun than sitting alone at home all day—well, not entirely alone: her father-in-law is always around to bark at her. When an opportunity to get her hands dirty comes along, she jumps at it, joining a real-life initiative started by Eleanor Roosevelt. Alice, her new boss, Margery, and other women make up a horseback-riding library, delivering books to their rural community. Of course, Alice’s father-in-law is none too pleased and will go to great lengths to ruin Alice’s work.
Ali Wong, the comedian whose hit Netflix specials so hilariously explore the pleasures and pitfalls of matrimony and child rearing, has written her debut, a collection of letters for her daughters—and, of course, for us. In these letters, she tries to teach them everything there is to know, from lessons in sex and dating to cautionary tales about marriage and miscarriage, all with her precise brand of humor, by turn self-deprecating and brutally honest. From her childhood on the West Coast’s Bay Area to her early comedian days in NYC, she breaks boundaries, and you’ll love her for it.
Olive Kitteridge is back, and she’s as delightfully difficult as she ever was. In these interconnected stories, Olive isn’t always the center of attention, but her disgruntled charm is present in the lives of other characters. Beginning two years after the death of her husband, Olive lives another decade or so in these pages, where she tries to reckon with how she’s mothered her son—she believes absently—but also finds herself acting as a substitute parent of sorts for a teenage girl. Poignantly, Strout’s characters are fundamentally lonely, but it’s in reaching toward others that they shine.
You may know Rachel Maddow as the host of her own MSNBC show analyzing the politics of the day, but long before that, she was and remains a formidable brain with a doctorate to prove it. In her new book, Maddow examines the effects of Big Oil on global politics, using Chevron, BP, and ExxonMobil as some of the all-too-powerful conglomerates whose outsized financial power has had a hand in everything from ecological disasters to the Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. Witty and whip-smart, this book is a call for a stronger democracy.
Becky is back in England with her husband and daughter, and it’s the best time to be home in the village of Letherby, where terrible sweaters, lots of booze, and a bounty of food make Christmas at her parents’ place a joyful occasion. But when Becky’s parents decide to downsize to an overpriced apartment in a hip London neighborhood, Becky’s left with hosting duties. Plus, her musician ex is in town with his girlfriend. Whether or not you’re already tapped in to the series, this is a cozy read to get you in the Christmas spirit.
The Shape of Night
Ava Collette arrives at Brodie’s Watch, an old house in a small Maine village, and feels instantly at home. It’s a relief after what happened in Boston that caused her to flee her old life, and while the house might be spooky, it’s not without its perks. One in particular is Captain Jeremiah Brodie, who built and named the house, and who’s been dead for about a century. He’s also surprisingly charming and good in bed, especially for a ghost. Too good to be true? Yes: Ava discovers a string of dead women who rented the house before her.
In Jack Reacher’s newest adventure, he runs across a vulnerable elderly couple who, in order to pay for their daughter’s expensive medical treatment, got entangled with some dangerous loan sharks. Now they can’t pay them back, and what seems at first like a relatively simple situation becomes complicated as Reacher discovers he’s caught between two rival gangs already embroiled in a turf war. Now that Reacher is there, the gangs suspect that he’s working for someone much higher up. How will Reacher get out of this mess?
We first met Vivian in Jasmine Guillroy’s novel The Wedding Party, where her daughter, Maddie, was the center of attention. Now Guillroy turns her attention to the middle-aged Vivian, her career as a social worker, and a whirlwind romance in London. When Maddie gets a dream assignment to style a royal’s holiday looks, she takes her mom along for the ride. Only her second time out of the U.S., Vivian is charmed by the country and its people and begins a flirtation with Queen Elizabeth’s private secretary, Malcolm. But will their love survive long-distance?
Rosalyn Devar has a totally normal job as a janitor—well, normal for sci-fi, because she’s a space janitor, and for the macabre, because her job often entails cleaning up bodies after various intergalactic incidents. She used to be a bioengineer, but the job wore her down—as did her own drinking, which hasn’t exactly stopped—and working this salvage job isn’t much better. In fact, she’s on the verge of being fired. But she gets one last chance when she goes to clean up a ship whose crew is believed to be dead… only to find them alive, and alien.
Rico is 17 and, quite frankly, exhausted. She’s a high school senior, has an afternoon job as a cashier at a gas station, and has to take care of her little brother while her mom works long hours—and they’re still barely scraping by. When Rico discovers she’s sold a winning lottery ticket to a woman who hasn’t come to claim her winnings, she decides to enlist the help of Zan, an ultra-rich and cute classmate. While Zan and Rico share some commonalities, their daily lives are wildly different. Can love blossom anyway?
Vanity Fair's Women on Women
Radhika Jones and David Friend
Vanity Fair has long featured profiles of complex icons, ranging from Emily Post to Gloria Steinem to Lady Gaga, and in this collection edited by its current editor-in-chief, you’ll find a riveting assortment of writing by and about women. With sections titled “Comedians,” “White House,” “Renegades,” “Musicians,” “The House of Windsor,” and “In Their Own Words,” you know some of what you’ll get, including pieces as recent as Monica Lewinsky on the scandal that changed her life and as important as Tina Turner discussing her abuse. Excellent cultural and feminist fodder.
Most of us think of Thomas Edison as the inventor of the incandescent light bulb, but we don’t necessarily remember that he invented everything around it to make it work (the dynamo, switches, wires, etc.), let alone that he also invented the phonograph and countless other technologies that helped lead us to our current technological age. In this new and definitive biography by master of the genre Edmund Morris—who died earlier this year—we see not only the inventive genius of Edison but also how he worked with and inspired others.
Bill Bryson has already proven to be an expert distiller of information—after all, he managed to write A Short History of Nearly Everything. In his newest, Bryson reintroduces us to the one thing all living humans have in common: the body. No matter how our bodies diverge outwardly or inwardly, they all share a certain set of elemental components (59 of them, to be precise!), circuitry, and ways of keeping themselves alive. He doesn’t sugarcoat, though: Bryson is well aware that material concerns of the world—i.e. how much money we have—affect how well we can care for ourselves.
The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off!
Feminist activist and journalist Gloria Steinem, legendary for many of her quippy yet meaningful turns of phrases—including ”A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”—has collected her best bon mots into a volume for our pleasure. Sometimes you just need a little pick-me-up of rage to remember why we need to keep fighting the patriarchy, and other times you need to remember the fight is worthwhile. Whatever your need of the day, you’ll find something to keep you marching here.
America Is Immigrants
A collaboration between author Sara Novic, who grew up in an immigrant family, and illustrator Alison Kolesar, an immigrant from Scotland, this book celebrates some of the most influential immigrants to leave their indelible mark on our nation. From “all-American” products like Nathan’s Famous hot dogs and Levi’s jeans (which, in fact, hailed from Poland and Germany respectively) to national musical treasures like Yo-Yo Ma (born in France to Chinese parents) and Rihanna (who grew up in Barbados), the mini-biographies and full-color illustrations remind us of the fundamentally American nature of immigration.
In John Grisham’s newest thriller, a young Black man, Quincy Miller, was put behind bars for murdering a lawyer who once represented him. But Quincy didn’t do it, no matter what the jury believed, and for years he’s been trying to get someone to take another look at the case. Finally, Guardians Ministry, an Innocence Project-like nonprofit that fights for the wrongfully convicted, takes up Quincy’s case. Cullen Post, the Episcopal minister and lawyer who founded Guardians, has no idea what he’s getting into—a lot of power rests behind making sure the real killers stay free.
Singer-songwriter, rocker, feminist, and sexually liberated icon Liz Phair has written her first book, and we’re so here for it. The horror stories herein aren’t necessarily about blood and monsters—or maybe they are, but not exactly how you think. Phair shares significant moments in her life and examines the horrifying nature of our own humanity, whether its aching loneliness or its strange moments of attempted (and often failed) connection. Ironically, she knows, it’s the fact that we all share a measure of existential despair—the knowledge that we’ll all die—that allows us to find one another’s humanity.
Control isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be, as Kate Morgan learns over one harried summer. Raising her kids alone for years after her husband died, she sees the success of her children and can’t help feeling proud. Of course, how many parents know their grown children’s darkest secrets, and vice versa? Over the chaotic summer, Kate will come to discover not only buried secrets, but she’ll also have to see her children breaking away to forge riskier paths—their own. Amidst the mess, Kate has to face her own hidden desires and fears.
Happy Spookytober, readers! Start out the month right with some of our favorite new book releases. Thinking of going scary? Go for Liz Phair’s new memoir, Horror Stories, full of the terror of being human, or Danielle Steel’s newest family drama about discovering your kids’ real selves. Feel like something more tender? Try sharing time with Olive Kitteridge, who’s back in Elizabeth Strout’s new novel. Want some wit? Zadie Smith’s first short story collection and Ali Wong’s hilarious memoir will tide you over. There’s plenty more where all that came from! Check it out.