Author: Book Store

A proliferation of animals in this newest selection of books we’re looking forward to, be they on the cover or within the pages. And it’s not just swans and fish, but dragons, too!

Ben Anticipates

Butler to the World by Oliver Bullough

 

 

The Suez Crisis of 1956 was the nadir of Britain’s twentieth century, the moment when the once-superpower was bullied into retreat. “Great Britain has lost an empire and not yet found a role,” said Dean Acherson, a former US secretary of state. Acheson’s line has entered into the canon of great quotations: but it was wrong. Britain had already found a role. The leaders of the world just hadn’t noticed it yet.

 

Butler to the World reveals how Britain came to assume its role as the center of the offshore economy. Written polemically, but studded with witty references to the butlers of popular fiction, it demonstrates how so many elements of modern Britain have been put at the service of the world’s oligarchs.

 

The Biden administration is putting corruption at the heart of its foreign policy, and that means it needs to confront Britain’s role as the foremost enabler of financial crime and ill behavior. This book lays bare how London has deliberately undercut U.S. regulations for decades, and calls into question the extent to which Britain can be considered a reliable ally.

 

Due June 14

pre-order a copy of Butler to the World on the webstore here.

 

Maker of Swans by Paraic O’Donnell

 

 

In the dead of night, shots ring out over the grounds of a sprawling English estate. The world-weary butler Eustace recognizes the gunman—his longtime employer, Mr. Crowe—and knows he must think and act quickly. Who is the man lying dead on the lawn? Who is the woman in his company? Can he clean up his master’s mess like he always has before? Or will this bring a new kind of reckoning? 

 

Mr. Crowe was once famed for his gifts—unaccountable gifts, known only to the members of a secretive order. Protected and privileged, he was courted by countesses and great men of letters. But he has long since retreated from that glittering world, living alone but for Eustace and Clara, his mysterious young ward. He has been content to live quietly, his great library gathering dust and his once magnificent gardens growing wild. He has left the past behind. Until now. 

 

Because there are rules, even for Mr. Crowe and his kind, that cannot be broken. And this single night of passion and violence will have consequences, stirring shadows from the past and threatening those he now cares for. He and the faithful Eustace will be tested as never before. So too will Clara, whose own extraordinary gifts remain hidden, even from herself. If she is to save them all, she must learn to use them quickly and unlock the secret of who she is. 

 

It is a secret beyond imagining. A secret that will change everything.

 

Due June 7

pre-order a copy of Maker of Swans on the webstore here.

 


Rupert Anticipates

Guarded by Dragons by Rick Gekoski

 

 

 

In Guarded by Dragons, Gekoski invites readers into this enchanted world as he reflects on the gems he has unearthed throughout his career. He takes us back to where his love of collecting began – perusing D.H. Lawrence first editions in a slightly suspect Birmingham carpark. What follows are dizzying encounters with literary giants as Gekoski publishes William Golding, plays ping-pong with Salman Rushdie and lunches with Graham Greene. A brilliant stroke of luck sees Sylvia Plath’s personal copy of The Great Gatsby fall into Gekoski’s lap, only for him to discover the perils of upsetting a Poet Laureate when Ted Hughes demands its return.

 

Hunting for literary treasure is not without its battles and Gekoski boldly breaks the cardinal rule never to engage in a lawsuit with someone much richer than yourself, while also guarding his bookshop from the most unlikely of thieves. The result is an unparalleled insight into an almost mythical world where priceless first editions of Ulysses can vanish, and billionaires will spend as much gold as it takes to own the manuscript of J.K. Rowling’s Tales of Beedle the Bard.

 

Engaging, funny and shrewd, Guarded by Dragons is a fascinating discussion on value and worth. At the same time, Gekoski artfully reveals how a manuscript can tell a thousand stories.

 

Due June 28

pre-order a copy of Guarded By Dragons on the webstore here.

 

Minique by Anna Maxymiw

 

 

Montréal, 1680s: Minique has a secret she can’t ever tell. She knows there are horrific consequences for girls and women who do not conform. She saw it with her own eyes when Anne, the aubergiste, was viciously marched through town and charged with crimes she didn’t commit. Besides, Minique has never had family members to tell. She remembers little of her mother, a fille du roi, who arrived in Montréal on a ship; she rarely sees her father, a coureur des bois who is often away; and she barely speaks with her Tante Marie, a stern, hard woman.

 

Years later, after a string of tragedies, Minique has abandoned the hostility of the town and its people. She has built a home for herself in the woods, outside the boundary of Montréal. But her solitary existence is interrupted when she learns that Antoine de Cadillac, an ambitious Frenchman with a violent past, is after a monopoly of the fur trade in New France. Though initially repulsed by his greed, Minique is powerfully drawn to him. Soon, their paths start to cross in unpredictable ways as Cadillac’s determination to learn more about the “witch in the wood” intensifies. They forge a reckless, passionate connection with an ever-shifting dynamic that Minique welcomes until she realizes that everything—down to the core of who she is and the secret she carries—is at stake.

 

Due June 7

pre-order a copy of Minique on the webstore here.

 


Danielle Anticipates

Voice of the Fish by Lars Horn

 

 

Lars Horn’s Voice of the Fish, the latest Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize winner, is an interwoven essay collection that explores the trans experience through themes of water, fish, and mythology, set against the backdrop of travels in Russia and a debilitating back injury that left Horn temporarily unable to speak. In Horn’s adept hands, the collection takes shape as a unified book: short vignettes about fish, reliquaries, and antiquities serve as interludes between longer essays, knitting together a sinuous, wave-like form that flows across the book.

 

Horn swims through a range of subjects, roving across marine history, theology, questions of the body and gender, sexuality, transmasculinity, and illness. From Horn’s upbringing with a mother who used them as a model in photos and art installations—memorably in a photography session in an ice bath with dead squid—to Horn’s travels before they were out as trans, these essays are linked by a desire to interrogate liminal physicalities. Horn reexamines the oft-presumed uniformity of bodily experience, breaking down the implied singularity of “the body” as cultural and scientific object. The essays instead privilege ways of seeing and being that resist binaries, ways that falter, fracture, mutate. A sui generis work of nonfiction, Voice of the Fish blends the aquatic, mystical, and physical to reach a place beyond them all.

 

Due June 7

pre-order a copy of Voice of the Fish on the webstore here.

 

Lapvona by Otessa Moshfegh

 

 

Little Marek, the abused and delusional son of the village shepherd, never knew his mother; his father told him she died in childbirth. One of life’s few consolations for Marek is his enduring bond with the blind village midwife, Ina, who suckled him when he was a baby, as she did so many of the village’s children. Ina’s gifts extend beyond childcare: she possesses a unique ability to communicate with the natural world. Her gift often brings her the transmission of sacred knowledge on levels far beyond those available to other villagers, however religious they might be. For some people, Ina’s home in the woods outside of the village is a place to fear and to avoid, a godless place. 

 
    Among their number is Father Barnabas, the town priest and lackey for the depraved lord and governor, Villiam, whose hilltop manor contains a secret embarrassment of riches. The people’s desperate need to believe that there are powers that be who have their best interests at heart is put to a cruel test by Villiam and the priest, especially in this year of record drought and famine. But when fate brings Marek into violent proximity to the lord’s family, new and occult forces upset the old order. By year’s end, the veil between blindness and sight, life and death, the natural world and the spirit world, will prove to be very thin indeed.

 

Due June 21

pre-order a copy of Lapvona on the webstore here.

 


Olivia Anticipates

Rehearsals for Living by Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

 

 

When the world entered pandemic lockdown in spring 2020, Robyn Maynard, influential author of Policing Black Lives, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, renowned artist, musician, and author of Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies, began writing each other letters—a gesture sparked by a desire for kinship and connection in a world shattering under the intersecting crises of pandemic, police killings, and climate catastrophe. These letters soon grew into a powerful exchange about where we go from here.

 

Rehearsals for Living is a captivating and visionary work—part debate, part dialogue, part lively and detailed familial correspondence between two razor-sharp writers. By articulating to each other Black and Indigenous perspectives on our unprecedented here and now, and reiterating the long-disavowed histories of slavery and colonization that have brought us to this moment, Maynard and Simpson create something new: an urgent demand for a different way forward, and a poetic call to dream up other ways of ordering earthly life.

 

Due June 14

pre-order a copy of Rehearsals for Living on the webstore here.

 

Aue by Becky Manawatu

 

 

aue

  1. (verb) to cry, howl, groan, wail, bawl.
  2. (interjection) expression of astonishment or distress.

Taukiri was born into sorrow. Aue can be heard in the sound of the sea he loves and hates, and in the music he draws out of the guitar that was his father’s. It spills out of the gang violence that killed his father and sent his mother into hiding, and the shame he feels about abandoning his eight-year-old brother to a violent home.

 

But Taukiri’s brother, Arama, is braver than he looks, and he has a friend, and his friend has a dog, and the three of them together might just be strong enough to turn back the tide of sadness.

 

This bestselling multi-award-winning novel is both raw and sublime, introducing a compelling new voice in New Zealand fiction.

 

Due June 3

pre-order a copy of Aue on the webstore here.

 


Patti Anticipates

The Puzzler by A.J Jacobs

 

 

New York in the 1900s. A young girl fascinated by rare books defies all odds and becomes the director of one of the country’s most prestigious private libraries. It belongs to the magnate J. P. Morgan,darling of the international aristocracy and one of the city’s richest men.

 

Flamboyant, brilliant, beautiful, Belle is among New York society’s most sought after intellectuals. She also hides a secret. Although she looks white, she is African American, the daughter of a famous black activist who sees her desire to hide her origins as the consummate betrayal. Torn between history’s ineluctable imperatives and the freedom to belong to the society of her choosing, Belle’s drama, which plays out in a violently racist America, is one that resonates forcefully, and illuminatingly even today.

 

The fruit of years of research and interviews, Alexandra Lapierre’s magnificent novel recounts the struggles, victories, and heartbreaks of a woman who is free, astonishingly determined, daring, and fully, exuberantly alive.

 

Due June 24

pre-order a copy of Belle Green on the webstore here.

 

Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley

 

 

One night in New York City’s Chinatown, a woman is at a work reunion dinner with former colleagues when she excuses herself to buy a pack of cigarettes. On her way back, she runs into a former boyfriend. And then another. And . . . another. Nothing is quite what it seems as the city becomes awash with ghosts of heartbreaks past.

 

What would normally pass for coincidence becomes something far stranger as the recently engaged Lola must contend not only with the viability of her current relationship but with the fact that both her best friend and her former boss, a magazine editor turned mystical guru, might have an unhealthy investment in the outcome. Memories of the past swirl and converge in ways both comic and eerie, as Lola is forced to decide if she will surrender herself to the conspiring of one very contemporary cult.

 

Is it possible to have a happy ending in an age when the past is ever at your fingertips and sanity is for sale? With her gimlet eye, Sloane Crosley spins a wry literary fantasy that is equal parts page-turner and poignant portrayal of alienation.

 

Due June 7

pre-order a copy of Cult Classic on the webstore here.

 


 

We go from the serious to the slapstick in this month’s set of books we’ve read recently and loved. 

 

Ben Recommends

In on the Joke by Shawn Levy

 

 

Today, women are ascendant in stand-up comedy, even preeminent. They make headlines, fill arenas, spawn blockbuster movies.  But before Amy Schumer slayed, Tiffany Haddish killed, and Ali Wong drew roars, the very idea of a female comedian seemed, to most of America, like a punch line. And it took a special sort of woman—indeed, a parade of them—to break and remake the mold.

 

In on the Joke is the story of a group of unforgettable women who knocked down the doors of stand-up comedy so other women could get a shot. It spans decades, from Moms Mabley’s rise in Black vaudeville between the world wars, to the roadhouse ribaldry of Belle Barth and Rusty Warren in the 1950s and ’60s, to Elaine May’s co-invention of improv comedy, to Joan Rivers’s and Phyllis Diller’s ferocious ascent to mainstream stardom. These women refused to be defined by type and tradition, facing down indifference, puzzlement, nay-saying, and unvarnished hostility. They were discouraged by agents, managers, audiences, critics, fellow performers—even their families. And yet they persevered against the tired notion that women couldn’t be funny, making space not only for themselves, but for the women who followed them.

 

Find In On the Joke in the webstore here

 

 

Hammer by Joe Mungo Reed

 

 

It’s 2013, and much of the world still reels from the global economic collapse. Yet in the auction rooms of London, artworks are selling for record-breaking prices. Seeking a place in this gilded world is Martin, a junior specialist at a prestigious auction house. Martin spends his days catering to the whims of obscenely wealthy clients and his nights drinking in grubby pubs with his demoralized roommate. However, a chance meeting with Marina, an old university friend, presents Martin with a chance to change everything.

 

Pursuing distraction from her failing marriage and from a career she doesn’t quite believe in, Marina draws Martin into her circle and that of her husband, Oleg, an art-collecting oligarch. Shaken by the death of his mother and chafing against his diminishing influence in his homeland, Oleg appears primed to change his own life—and perhaps to relinquish his priceless art collection long coveted by London’s auction houses. Martin is determined to secure the sale and transform his career. But his ambitions are threatened by factors he hasn’t reckoned with: a dangerous attraction between himself and Marina, and half-baked political plans through which Oleg aims to redeem himself and Russia but which instead imperil the safety of the oligarch and all those around him.

 

Find Hammer in the webstore here

 


Rupert Recommends

Black Ghost of Empire by Kris Manjapra

 

 

To understand why the shadow of slavery still haunts society today, we must not only look at what slavery was, but also the unfinished way it ended. One may think of “emancipation” as a finale, leading to a new age of human rights and universal freedoms. But in reality, emancipations everywhere were incomplete. In Black Ghost of Empire, acclaimed historian and professor Kris Manjapra identifies five types of emancipation—explaining them in chronological order—along with the lasting impact these transitions had on formerly enslaved groups around the Atlantic.

 

Beginning in 1770s and concluding in 1880s, different kinds of emancipation processes took place across the Atlantic world. These included the Gradual Emancipations of North America, the Revolutionary Emancipation of Haiti, the Compensated Emancipations of European overseas empires, the War Emancipation of the American South, and the Conquest Emancipations that swept across Sub-Saharan Africa. Tragically, despite a century of abolitions and emancipations, systems of social bondage persisted and reconfigured. We still live with these unfinished endings today. In practice, all the slavery emancipations that have ever taken place reenacted racial violence against Black communities, and reaffirmed commitment to white supremacy. The devil lurked in the details of the five emancipation processes, none of which required atonement for wrongs committed, or restorative justice for the people harmed.

 

Find Black Ghost of Empire in the webstore here

 

Slow Horses by Nick Herron

 

 

London, England: Slough House is where washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what’s left of their failed careers. The “slow horses,” as they’re called, have all disgraced themselves in some way to get relegated there. Maybe they botched an Op so badly they can’t be trusted anymore. Maybe they got in the way of an ambitious colleague and had the rug yanked out from under them. Maybe they just got too dependent on the bottle—not unusual in this line of work. One thing they have in common, though, is they want to be back in the action. And most of them would do anything to get there─even if it means having to collaborate with one another.

 

When a young man is abducted and his kidnappers threaten to broadcast his beheading live on the Internet, the slow horses see an opportunity to redeem themselves. But is the victim really who he appears to be?

 

Find Slow Horses in the webstore here

 


Danielle Recommends

Some of My Best Friends by Tajja Isen

 

 

In this stunning debut collection, award-winning voice actor and cultural critic Tajja Isen explores the absurdity of living in a world that has grown fluent in the language of social justice but doesn’t always follow through.
 
These nine daring essays explore the sometimes troubling and often awkward nature of that discord. Some of My Best Friends takes on subjects including the cartoon industry’s pivot away from color-blindcasting, the pursuit of diverse representation in the literary world, the law’s refusal to see inequality, and the cozy fictions of nationalism. Throughout, Isen deftly examines the quick, cosmetic fixes society makes to address systemic problems and reveals the unexpected ways they can misfire.
 
In the spirit of Zadie Smith, Cathy Park Hong and Jia Tolentino, Isen interlaces cultural criticism with her lived experience to explore the gaps between what we say and what we do, what we do and what we value, and what we value and what we demand.

 

Find Some of My Best Friends in the webstore here

 

Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors

 

 

Twenty-four-year-old British painter Cleo has escaped from England to New York and is still finding her place in the sleepless city when, a few months before her student visa ends, she meets Frank. Twenty years older and a self-made success, Frank’s life is full of all the excesses Cleo’s lacks. He offers her the chance to be happy, the freedom to paint, and the opportunity to apply for a Green Card. But their impulsive marriage irreversibly changes both their lives, and the lives of those close to them, in ways they never could’ve predicted.

 

Each compulsively readable chapter explores the lives of Cleo, Frank, and an unforgettable cast of their closest friends and family as they grow up and grow older. Whether it’s Cleo’s best friend struggling to embrace his gender queerness in the wake of Cleo’s marriage, or Frank’s financially dependent sister arranging sugar daddy dates to support herself after being cut off, or Cleo and Frank themselves as they discover the trials of marriage and mental illness, each character is as absorbing, and painfully relatable, as the last.

 

Find Cleopatra and Frankenstein in the webstore here

 


Olivia Recommends

Little Foxes Took Up Matches by Katya Kazbek

 

 

When Mitya was two years old, he swallowed his grandmother’s sewing needle. For his family, it marks the beginning of the end, the promise of certain death. For Mitya, it is a small, metal treasure that guides him from within. As he grows, his life mirrors the uncertain future of his country, which is attempting to rebuild itself after the collapse of the Soviet Union, torn between its past and the promise of modern freedom. Mitya finds himself facing a different sort of ambiguity: is he a boy, as everyone keeps telling him, or is he not quite a boy, as he often feels?

 

After suffering horrific abuse from his cousin Vovka who has returned broken from war, Mitya embarks on a journey across underground Moscow to find something better, a place to belong. His experiences are interlaced with a retelling of a foundational Russian fairytale, Koschei the Deathless, offering an element of fantasy to the brutal realities of Mitya’s everyday life.

 

Find Little Foxes Took Up Matches in the webstore here

 

Build Your House Around my Body by Violet Kupersmith

 

 

Two young women go missing decades apart. Both are fearless, both are lost. And both will have their revenge.

1986: The teenage daughter of a wealthy Vietnamese family loses her way in an abandoned rubber plantation while fleeing her angry father and is forever changed. 


2011: A young, unhappy Vietnamese American woman disappears from her new home in Saigon without a trace. 

The fates of these two women are inescapably linked, bound together by past generations, by ghosts and ancestors, by the history of possessed bodies and possessed lands. Alongside them, we meet a young boy who is sent to a boarding school for the métis children of French expatriates, just before Vietnam declares its independence from colonial rule; two Frenchmen who are trying to start a business with the Vietnam War on the horizon; and the employees of the Saigon Spirit Eradication Co., who find themselves investigating strange occurrences in a farmhouse on the edge of a forest. Each new character and timeline brings us one step closer to understanding what binds them all. 

 

Find Build Your House Around my Body in the webstore here

 


Patti Recommends

The Orphanage by Serhiy Zhadan

 

 

If every war needs its master chronicler, Ukraine has Serhiy Zhadan, one of Europe’s most promising novelists. Recalling the brutal landscape of The Road and the wartime storytelling of A Farewell to ArmsThe Orphanage is a searing novel that excavates the human collateral damage wrought by the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. When hostile soldiers invade a neighboring city, Pasha, a thirty-five-year-old Ukrainian language teacher, sets out for the orphanage where his nephew Sasha lives, now in occupied territory. Venturing into combat zones, traversing shifting borders, and forging uneasy alliances along the way, Pasha realizes where his true loyalties lie in an increasingly desperate fight to rescue Sasha and bring him home.

 
Written with a raw intensity, this is a deeply personal account of violence that will be remembered as the definitive novel of the war in Ukraine.

 

Find The Orphanage in the webstore here

 

Vigil Harbor by Julia Glass

 

 

A decade from now, in the historic town of Vigil Harbor, there is a rash of divorces among the yacht-club set, a marine biologist despairs at the state of the world, a spurned wife is bent on revenge, and the renowned architect Austin Kepner pursues a passion for building homes designed to withstand the escalating fury of relentless storms. Austin’s stepson, Brecht, has dropped out of college in New York and returned home after narrowly escaping one of the terrorist acts that, like hurricanes, have become increasingly common.

 
Then two strangers arrive: a stranded traveler with subversive charms and a widow seeking clues about a past lover with ties to Austin—a woman who may have been more than merely human. These strangers and their hidden motives come together unexpectedly in an incident that endangers lives—including Brecht’s—with dramatic repercussions for the entire town.

 

Find Vigil Harbor in the webstore here

 


 

A couple of short-story collections feature in this week’s set of anticipated books alongside the ingredients for a perfect lazy weekend: puzzles, music, and good reads!

Ben Anticipates

The Puzzler by A.J Jacobs

 

 

 

What makes puzzles—jigsaws, mazes, riddles, sudokus—so satisfying? Be it the formation of new cerebral pathways, their close link to insight and humor, or their community-building properties, they’re among the fundamental elements that make us human. Convinced that puzzles have made him a better person, A. J. Jacobs—four-time New York Times bestselling author, master of immersion journalism, and nightly crossworder—set out to determine their myriad benefits. And maybe, in the process, solve the puzzle of our very existence.

 

Well, almost.  

 

In The Puzzler, Jacobs meets the most zealous devotees, enters (sometimes with his family in tow) any puzzle competition that will have him, unpacks the history of the most popular puzzles, and aims to solve the most impossible head-scratchers, from a mutant Rubik’s Cube, to the hardest corn maze in America, to the most sadistic jigsaw. Chock-full of unforgettable adventures and original examples from around the world—including new work by Greg Pliska, one of America’s top puzzle-makers, and a hidden, super-challenging but solvable puzzle that will earn the first reader to crack it a $10,000 prize*—The Puzzler will open readers’ eyes to the power of flexible thinking and concentration. 

 

Due April 26

 

 

Embrace Fearlessly the Burning World  by Barry Lopez

 

 

An ardent steward of the land, fearless traveler, and unrivaled observer of nature and culture in all its forms, Lopez lost much of the Oregon property where he had lived for over fifty years when it was consumed by wildfire, likely caused by climate change.

 

Fortunately, some of his papers survived, including five never-before published pieces that are gathered here, along with essays written in the final years of his life; these essays appear now for the first time in book form.  

 

Written in his signature observant and vivid prose, these essays offer an autobiography in pieces that a reader can assemble while journeying with Lopez along his many roads. They unspool memories at once personal and political, including tender, sometimes painful stories from Lopez’s childhood in New York City and California; reports from the field as he accompanies scientists on expeditions to study animals; travels to Antarctica and some of the most remote places on earth; and to life in his own backyard, adjacent to a wild, racing river. He reflects on those who taught him: the Indigenous elders and scientific mentors who sharpened his eye for the natural world–an eye that, as the reader comes to see, missed nothing. And with striking poignancy and searing candor, he confronts the challenges of his last years as he contends with the knowledge of his mortality, as well as with the dangers the Earth—and all of its people–are facing.

 

Due May 24

 


 

Rupert Anticipates

The Wordhord by Hana Videen

 

 

Old English is the language you think you know until you actually hear or see it. Unlike Shakespearean English or even Chaucer’s Middle English, Old English—the language of Beowulf—defies comprehension by untrained modern readers. Used throughout much of Britain more than a thousand years ago, it is rich with words that haven’t changed (like word), others that are unrecognizable (such as neorxnawang, or paradise), and some that are mystifying even in translation (gafol-fisc, or tax-fish). In this delightful book, Hana Videen gathers a glorious trove of these gems and uses them to illuminate the lives of the earliest English speakers. We discover a world where choking on a bit of bread might prove your guilt, where fiend-ship was as likely as friendship, and where you might grow up to be a laughter-smith.

 

The Wordhord takes readers on a journey through Old English words and customs related to practical daily activities (eating, drinking, learning, working); relationships and entertainment; health and the body, mind, and soul; the natural world (animals, plants, and weather); locations and travel (the source of some of the most evocative words in Old English); mortality, religion, and fate; and the imagination and storytelling. 

 

Due May 10

 

 

The Colony by Audrey Magee

 

 

It is the summer of 1979. An English painter travels to a small island off the west coast of Ireland. Mr. Lloyd takes the last leg by curragh, though boats with engines are available and he doesn’t much like the sea. But he wants the authentic experience, to be changed by this place, to let its quiet and light fill him, give him room to create.

 

He doesn’t know that a Frenchman follows close behind. Masson has visited the island for many years, studying their language. He is fiercely protective of their isolation; it is essential to exploring his theories of language preservation and identity.

 

But the people who live on this rock—three miles long and half a mile wide—have their own views on what is being recorded, what is being taken, and what ought to be given in return. Over the summer, each of them— from great-grandmother Bean Uí Fhloinn, to widowed Mairéad, to fifteen-year-old James, who is determined to avoid the life of a fisherman—will wrestle with their own values and desires. Meanwhile, all over Ireland, violence is erupting. And there is blame enough to go around.

 

Due May 10

 

 


 

Danielle Anticipates

This Woman’s Work by Kim Gordon

 

 

In this radical departure from the historic narrative of music and music writing being written by men, for men, This Woman’s Work challenges the male dominance and sexism that have been hard-coded in the canons of music, literature, and film and has forced women to fight pigeon-holing or being side-lined by carving out their own space. Women have to speak up, to shout louder to tell their story—like the auteurs and ground-breakers featured in this collection, including: Anne Enright on Laurie Anderson; Megan Jasper on her ground-breaking work with Sub Pop; Margo Jefferson on Bud Powell and Ella Fitzgerald; and Fatima Bhutto on music and dictatorship.

 

This Woman’s Work also features writing on the experimentalists, women who blended music and activism, the genre-breakers, the vocal auteurs; stories of lost homelands and friends; of propaganda and dictatorships, the women of folk and country, the racialized tropes of jazz, the music of Trap and Carriacou; of mixtapes and violin lessons.

 

Due May 3

 

 

Companion Piece by Ali Smith

 

 

Here we are in extraordinary times.  

 

Is this history?   

 

What happens when we cease to trust governments, the media, each other? What have we lost?   What stays with us?  What does it take to unlock our future?  

 

Following her astonishing quartet of Seasonal novels, Ali Smith again lights a way for us through the nightmarish now, in a vital celebration of companionship in all its forms.   Every hello, like every voice, holds its story ready, waiting.

 

Due May 3

 

 


 

Olivia Anticipates

Trust by Hernan Diaz

 

 

Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the brilliant daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the very top of a world of seemingly endless wealth. But the secrets around their affluence and grandeur excites gossip. Rumours about Benjamin’s financial maneuvers and Helen’s reclusiveness start to spread—all as a decade of excess and speculation draws to an end. At what cost have they acquired their immense fortune?   This is the mystery at the center of a successful 1938 novel entitled Bonds, which all of New York seems to have read. But it isn’t the only version.   

 

Hernan Diaz’s Trust brilliantly puts the story of these characters into conversation with other accounts—and in tension with the life and perspective of a young woman bent on disentangling fact from fiction. The result is a novel that becomes more exhilarating and profound with each new layer and revelation. 

 

Due May 3

 

 

God Isn’t Here Today by Francine Cunningham

 

 

The stories in Francine Cunningham’s debut collection God Isn’t Here Today ricochet between form and genre, taking readers on a dark, irreverent, yet poignant journey led by a unique and powerful new voice.

 

Driven by desperation into moments of transformation, Cunningham’s characters are presented with moments of choice—some for the better and some for the worse. A young man goes to God’s office downtown for advice; a woman discovers she is the last human on Earth; an ice cream vendor is driven insane by his truck’s song; an ageing stripper uses undergarments to enact her escape plan; an incubus tires of his professional grind; and a young woman inherits a power that has survived genocide, but comes with a burden of its own.

 

Even as they flirt with the fantastic, Cunningham’s stories unfold with the innate elegance of a spring fern, reminding us of the inherent dualities in human nature—and that redemption can arise where we least expect it.

 

Due May 10

 


 

Patti Anticipates

Grey Bees by Andrey Kurkov

 

 

 

Little Starhorodivka, a village of three streets, lies in Ukraine’s Grey Zone, the no-man’s-land between loyalist and separatist forces. Thanks to the lukewarm war of sporadic violence and constant propaganda that has been dragging on for years, only two residents remain: retired safety inspector turned beekeeper Sergey Sergeyich and Pashka, a rival from his schooldays. With little food and no electricity, under constant threat of bombardment, Sergeyich’s one remaining pleasure is his bees.

 

As spring approaches, he knows he must take them far from the Grey Zone so they can collect their pollen in peace. This simple mission on their behalf introduces him to combatants and civilians on both sides of the battle lines: loyalists, separatists, Russian occupiers and Crimean Tatars.

 

Wherever he goes, Sergeyich’s childlike simplicity and strong moral compass disarm everyone he meets. But could these qualities be manipulated to serve an unworthy cause, spelling disaster for him, his bees and his country?

 

Due April 29

 

 

Homesickness by Colin Barrett

 

 

Colin Barrett brings together eight character-driven stories, each showcasing his inimitably observant eye and darkly funny style.      

 

A quiet night in a local pub is shattered by the arrival of a sword-wielding fugitive; a funeral party teeters on the edge of this world and the next, as ghosts simply won’t lay in wake; a shooting sees a veteran policewoman confront the banality of her own existence; and an aspiring writer grapples with his father’s cancer diagnosis and in his despair wreaks havoc on his mentor’s life.

 

Due May 3

 


 

We have our own special collection with this newest set of recommendations. History is a big key to our recent reads, both in our non-fiction and our fiction. It seems you simply can’t escape it.

 

Ben Recommends

Last Call at the Hotel Imperial by Deborah Cohen

 

 

In the aftermath of World War I, as fledgling democracies emerged from the ruins of defeated empires and strongmen grabbed power across Europe, millions of Americans, desperate to wall themselves off from the chaos, adopted an “America First” stance. But a group of hard-hitting foreign correspondents envisioned a different role for the United States in the world: They warned their readers that tyranny abroad posed a threat even to America, and urged their fellow citizens to see their own fate as tied to global struggles.   

 

As young reporters covering revolutions and coup attempts in the 1920s, John Gunther, H.R. Knickerbocker, Vincent Sheean, and Dorothy Thompson became friends—and sometimes rivals. By the 1930s, they were interviewing Mussolini, Gandhi, Nehru, and Hitler; sharing cigars with Churchill; and chatting with FDR. They started their careers by reporting the story, but by the outbreak of World War II, they were the story, garnering audiences in the millions. Breaking with the objectivity that was then the mainstay of American reporting, they devised a new kind of journalism, both intimate and subjective. Their work raised urgent questions: When should reporters take sides? Was it possible to cover would-be authoritarians without boosting their fame?  

 

But the fault lines that ran through crumbling nations caused rifts in their own lives as well, threatening marriages, friendships, and careers.

 

 

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk

 

 

Liesl Weiss long ago learned to be content working behind the scenes in the distinguished rare books department of a large university, managing details and working behind the scenes to make the head of the department look good. But when her boss has a stroke and she’s left to run things, she discovers that the library’s most prized manuscript is missing.

 

Liesl tries to sound the alarm and inform the police about the missing priceless book, but is told repeatedly to keep quiet, to keep the doors open and the donors happy. But then a librarian unexpectedly stops showing up to work. Liesl must investigate both disappearances, unspooling her colleagues’ pasts like the threads of a rare book binding as it becomesclear that someone in the department must be responsible for the theft.

 

What Liesl discovers about the dusty manuscripts she has worked among for so long-and about the people who care for and revere them-shakes the very foundation on which she has built her life.

 

 


 

Rupert Recommends

Power and Thrones by Dan Jones

 

 

Dan Jones’s epic new history tells nothing less than the story of how the world we know today came to be built. It is a thousand-year adventure that moves from the ruins of the once-mighty city of Rome, sacked by barbarians in AD 410, to the first contacts between the old and new worlds in the sixteenth century. It shows how, from a state of crisis and collapse, the West was rebuilt and came to dominate the entire globe. The book identifies three key themes that underpinned the success of the West: commerce, conquest and Christianity.

 

Across 16 chapters, blending Dan Jones’s trademark gripping narrative style with authoritative analysis, Powers and Thrones shows how, at each stage in this story, successive western powers thrived by attracting – or stealing – the most valuable resources, ideas and people from the rest of the world. It casts new light on iconic locations – Rome, Paris, Venice, Constantinople – and it features some of history’s most famous and notorious men and women.

 

South to America by Imani Perry

 

 

We all think we know the South. Even those who have never lived there can rattle off a list of signifiers: the Civil War, Gone with the Wind, the Ku Klux Klan, plantations, football, Jim Crow, slavery. But the idiosyncrasies, dispositions, and habits of the region are stranger and more complex than much of the country tends to acknowledge. In South to America, Imani Perry shows that the meaning of American is inextricably linked with the South, and that our understanding of its history and culture is the key to understanding the nation as a whole.

 

This is the story of a Black woman and native Alabaman returning to the region she has always called home and considering it with fresh eyes. Her journey is full of detours, deep dives, and surprising encounters with places and people. She renders Southerners from all walks of life with sensitivity and honesty, sharing her thoughts about a troubling history and the ritual humiliations and joys that characterize so much of Southern life.

 

 


 

Danielle Recommends

In Love by Amy Bloom

 

 

Amy Bloom and her husband Brian’s world was changed forever when an MRI confirmed the truth they could no longer ignore. Bloom reflects back on the loving marriage they shared, and then the sudden cascade of things going wrong: Brian’s decision to retire, his withdrawal from friends.

 

Suddenly, it seemed there was a glass wall between them, and they weren’t able to talk as they always had. Finally confronted with the diagnosis and the daily frustrations and realities of Alzheimer’s, Brian became determined to die on his feet, not live on his knees. Together they find their difficult way to Dignitas, an organization based in Switzerland that empowers a person to end their own life with dignity and peace.  

 

Eyes of the Rigel by Roy Jacobsen

 

 

The war is over, and Ingrid Barrøy leaves the island that shares her name to search for the father of her daughter. Alexander, the Russian POW who survived the sinking of the Rigel, has attempted to cross the mountains to Sweden, and now Ingrid follows, carrying their child in her arms, the girl’s dark eyes and a handwritten note her only mementoes of their relationship. Along the way she will encounter partisans and collaborators, refugees and deserters, sinners and servants in a country still bearing the scars of occupation—and before her journey’s end, she’ll be forced to ask herself how well she really knows the man she’s risking everything to find.

 

 


 

Olivia Recommends

Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

 

 

Daiyu never wanted to be like the tragic heroine for whom she was named, revered for her beauty and cursed with heartbreak. But when she is kidnapped and smuggled across an ocean from China to America, Daiyu must relinquish the home and future she imagined for herself. Over the years that follow, she is forced to keep reinventing herself to survive.

 

From a calligraphy school, to a San Francisco brothel, to a shop tucked into the Idaho mountains, we follow Daiyu on a desperate quest to outrun the tragedy that chases her. As anti-Chinese sentiment sweeps across the country in a wave of unimaginable violence, Daiyu must draw on each of the selves she has been—including the ones she most wants to leave behind—in order to finally claim her own name and story.

 

A Dream of a Woman by Casey Plett

 

 

Centering transgender women seeking stable, adult lives, A Dream of a Woman finds quiet truths in prairie high-rises and New York warehouses, in freezing Canadian winters and drizzly Oregon days.

 

In “Hazel and Christopher,” two childhood friends reconnect as adults after one of them has transitioned. In “Perfect Places,” a woman grapples with undesirability as she navigates fetish play with a man. In “Couldn’t Hear You Talk Anymore,” the narrator reflects on her tumultuous life and what might have been as she recalls tender moments with another trans woman.

 

An ethereal meditation on partnership, sex, addiction, romance, groundedness, and love, the stories in A Dream of a Woman buzz with quiet intensity and the intimate complexities of being human.

 

 


 

Patti Recommends

Borderland by Anne Reid

 

 

Borderland tells the story of Ukraine. A thousand years ago it was the center of the first great Slav civilization, Kievan Rus. In 1240, the Mongols invaded from the east, and for the next seven centureies, Ukraine was split between warring neighbors: Lithuanians, Poles, Russians, Austrians, and Tatars. Again and again, borderland turned into battlefield: during the Cossack risings of the seventeenth century, Russia’s wars with Sweden in the eighteenth, the Civil War of 1918-1920, and under Nazi occupation.

 

Ukraine finally won independence in 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Bigger than France and a populous as Britain, it has the potential to become one of the most powerful states in Europe. In this finely written and penetrating book, Anna Reid combines research and her own experiences to chart Ukraine’s tragic past. Talking to peasants and politicians, rabbis and racketeers, dissidents and paramilitaries, survivors of Stalin’s famine and of Nazi labor camps, she reveals the layers of myth and propaganda that wrap this divided land. From the Polish churches of Lviv to the coal mines of the Russian-speaking Donbass, from the Galician shtetlech to the Tatar shantytowns of Crimea, the book explores Ukraine’s struggle to build itself a national identity, and identity that faces up to a bloody past, and embraces all the peoples within its borders.

 

 

Remote Sympathy by Catherine Chidgey

 

 

Moving away from their lovely apartment in Munich isn’t nearly as wrenching an experience for Frau Greta Hahn as she had feared. Their new home is even lovelier than the one they left behind, and best of all—right on their doorstep—are some of the finest craftsmen from all over Europe. Frau Hahn and the other officers’ wives living in this small community can order anything they desire, whether new curtains made from the finest French fabrics, or furniture designed to the most exacting specifications. Life here in Buchenwald would appear to be idyllic.

 

Lying just beyond the forest that surrounds them—so close and yet so remote—is the looming presence of a work camp. Frau Hahn’s husband, SS Sturmbannführer Dietrich Hahn, is to take up a powerful new position as the camp’s administrator.  As the prison population begins to rise, the job becomes ever more consuming. Corruption is rife at every level, the supplies are inadequate, and the sewerage system is under increasing strain.

 

When Frau Hahn is forced into an unlikely and poignant alliance with one of Buchenwald’s prisoners, Dr. Lenard Weber, her naïve ignorance about what is going on so nearby is challenged. A decade earlier, Dr. Weber had invented a machine: the Sympathetic Vitaliser. At the time he believed that its subtle resonances might cure cancer. But does it really work? One way or another, it might yet save a life.

 

 


 

Two very different types of houses in this week’s upcoming books, plus a couple of story collections, and a look at writers and historians. An eclectic mix, to say the least.

Ben Anticipates

The Crichel Boys by Simon Fenwick

 

 

In 1945, Eddy Sackville-West, Desmond Shawe-Taylor and Eardley Knollys – writers for the New Statesman and a National Trust administrator – purchased Long Crichel House, an old rectory with no electricity and an inadequate water supply. In this improbable place, the last English literary salon began.

 

Quieter and less formal than the famed London literary salons, Long Crichel became an idiosyncratic experiment in communal living. Sackville-West, Shawe-Taylor and Knollys – later joined by the literary critic Raymond Mortimer – became members of one another’s surrogate families and their companionship became a stimulus for writing, for them and their guests. Long Crichel’s visitors’ book reveals a Who’s Who of the arts in post-war Britain – Nancy Mitford, Benjamin Britten, Laurie Lee, Cyril Connolly, Somerset Maugham, E.M. Forster, Cecil Beaton, Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson – who were attracted by the good food, generous quantities of drink and excellent conversation. For Frances Partridge and James Lees-Milne, two of the twentieth century’s finest diarists, Long Crichel became a second home and their lives became bound up with the house.

 

Yet there was to be more to the story of the house than what critics variously referred to as a group of ‘hyphenated gentlemen-aesthetes’ and a ‘prose factory’. In later years the house and its inhabitants were to weather the aftershocks of the Crichel Down Affair, the Wolfenden Report and the AIDS crisis. The story of Long Crichel is also part of the development of the National Trust and other conservation movements.

 

Due April 26

 

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

 

 

In this captivating tale of imagination and ambition, a seemingly disparate array of people come into contact with a time traveller who must resist the pull to change the past and the future. The cast includes a British exile on the West coast of Canada in the early 1900s; the author of a bestselling novel about a fictional pandemic who embarks on a galaxy-spanning book tour during the outbreak of an actual pandemic; a resident of a moon colony almost 300 years in the future; and a lonely girl who films an old-growth forest and experiences a disruption in the recording. Blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, Emily St. John Mandel’s dazzling story follows these engrossing characters across space and time as their lives ultimately intersect.

 

Due April 5

 


 

Rupert Anticipates

Making History by Richard Cohen

 

 

There are many stories we can spin about previous ages, but which accounts get told? And by whom? Is there even such a thing as “objective” history? In this lively and thought-provoking book, Richard Cohen reveals how professional historians and other equally significant witnesses, such as the writers of the Bible, novelists, and political propagandists, influence what becomes the accepted record. Cohen argues, for example, that some historians are practitioners of “Bad History” and twist reality to glorify themselves or their country.

 

Making History investigates the published works and private utterances of our greatest chroniclers to discover the agendas that informed their—and our—views of the world. From the origins of history writing, when such an activity itself seemed revolutionary, through to television and the digital age, Cohen brings captivating figures to vivid light, from Thucydides and Tacitus to Voltaire and Gibbon, Winston Churchill and Henry Louis Gates. Rich in complex truths and surprising anecdotes, the result is a revealing exploration of both the aims and art of history-making, one that will lead us to rethink how we learn about our past and about ourselves.

 

Due April 19

M: Son of the Century by Antonio Scurati

 

 

It is 1919, and the Great War that has ravaged Europe is over. In Italy, the people are exhausted. Tired of the political class. Tired of vague promises, inept moderates, and the agonizing machinations of a democracy that has failed ordinary citizens.

 

While elite leaders have sat idly by, achieving nothing, one outsider—the director of a small opposition newspaper and a tireless political agitator—is electrifying the masses, promising hope for a demoralized nation hungry for change.

 

A former socialist leader ousted by his own party, he is a drifter who knows what it is to feel lost. His voice speaks for the misfits and the outcasts; he is a protector of those who are forgotten.

 

He is Benito Mussolini. And soon Italy—and the world—will be forever remade.

 

Due April 5

 


Danielle Anticipates

The Trayvon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander

 

 

In the midst of civil unrest in the summer of 2020 and following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, Elizabeth Alexander-one of the great literary voices of our time-turned a mother’s eye to her sons’ and students’ generation and wrote a celebrated and moving reflection on the challenges facing young Black America. Originally published in the New Yorker, the essay incisively and lovingly observed the experiences, attitudes, and cultural expressions of what she referred to as the Trayvon Generation, who even as children could not be shielded from the brutality that has affected the lives of so many Black people.

 

The Trayvon Generation expands the viral essay that spoke so resonantly to the persistence of race as an ongoing issue at the center of the American experience. Alexander looks both to our past and our future with profound insight, brilliant analysis, and mighty heart, interweaving her voice with groundbreaking works of art by some of our most extraordinary artists. At this crucial time in American history when we reckon with who we are as a nation and how we move forward, Alexander’s lyrical prose gives us perspective informed by historical understanding, her lifelong devotion to education, and an intimate grasp of the visioning power of art.

 

Due April 5

 

The Dolphin House by Audrey Schulman

 

 

It is 1965, and Cora, a young, hearing impaired woman, buys a one-way ticket to the island of St. Thomas, where she discovers four dolphins held in captivity as part of an experiment led by the obsessive Dr. Blum. Drawn by a strong connection to the dolphins, Cora falls in with the scientists and discovers her need to protect the animals.

 

Recognizing Cora’s knack for communication, Blum uses her for what will turn into one of the most fascinating experiments in modern science: an attempt to teach the dolphins human language by creating a home in which she and a dolphin can live together.

 

As the experiment progresses, Cora forges a remarkable bond with the creatures, until her hard-won knowledge clashes with the male-dominated world of science. As a terrible scandal threatens to engulf the experiment, Cora’s fight to save the dolphins becomes a battle to save herself.

 

Due April 15

 


Olivia Anticipates

All the Shining People by Kathy Friedman

 

 

All the Shining People explores migration, diaspora, and belonging within Toronto’s Jewish South African community, as individuals come to terms with the oppressive hierarchies that separate, and the connections that bind. Seeking a place to belong, the book’s characters — including a life-drawing model searching the streets for her lover; a woman confronting secrets from her past in the new South Africa; and a man grappling with the legacy of his father, a former political prisoner — crave authentic relationships that replicate the lost feeling of home.

 

With its focus on family, culture, and identity, All the Shining People captures the experiences of immigrants and outsiders with honesty, subtlety, and deep sympathy.

 

Due April 5

 

The Broken Places by Frances Peck

 

 

Vancouver. A day like any other. Kyle, a successful cosmetic surgeon, is punishing himself with a sprint up a mountain. Charlotte, wife of a tech tycoon, is combing the farm belt for local cheese and a sense of purpose. Back in the city their families go about their business: landscaping, negotiating deals, skipping school. It’s a day like any other—until suddenly it’s not.

 

When the earthquake hits, the city erupts in chaos and fear. Kyle’s and Charlotte’s families, along with two passersby, are thrown together in an oceanfront mansion. The conflicts that beset these wildly different people expose the fault lines beneath their relationships, as they question everything in an effort to survive and reunite with their loved ones stranded outside the city.

 

Due April 1

 


Patti Anticipates

The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

 

 

The Candy House opens with the staggeringly brilliant Bix Bouton, whose company, Mandala, is so successful that he is “one of those tech demi-gods with whom we’re all on a first name basis.” Bix is 40, with four kids, restless, desperate for a new idea, when he stumbles into a conversation group, mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or “externalizing” memory. It’s 2010. Within a decade, Bix’s new technology, “Own Your Unconscious”—that allows you access to every memory you’ve ever had, and to share every memory in exchange for access to the memories of others—has seduced multitudes. But not everyone.

 

In spellbinding interlocking narratives, Egan spins out the consequences of Own Your Unconscious through the lives of multiple characters whose paths intersect over several decades. Intellectually dazzling, The Candy House is also extraordinarily moving, a testament to the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for real connection, love, family, privacy and redemption. In the world of Egan’s spectacular imagination, there are “counters” who track and exploit desires and there are “eluders,” those who understand the price of taking a bite of the Candy House. Egan introduces these characters in an astonishing array of narrative styles—from omniscient to first person plural to a duet of voices, an epistolary chapter and a chapter of tweets.

 

Due April 5

 

Animal Person by Alexander MacLeod

 

 

Startling, suspenseful, deeply humane yet alert to the undertow of our darker instincts, the eight stories in Animal Person illuminate what it means to exist in the perilous space between desire and action, and to have your faith in what you hold true buckle and give way.

 

A petty argument between two sisters is interrupted by an unexpected visitor. Adjoining motel rooms connect a family on the brink of a new life with a criminal whose legacy will haunt them for years to come. A connoisseur of other people’s secrets is undone by what he finds in a piece of lost luggage. In the wake of a tragic accident, a young man must contend with what is owed to the living and to the dead. And in the O. Henry Award-winning story “Lagomorph,” a man’s relationship with his family’s long-lived pet rabbit opens up to become a profound exploration of how a marriage fractures.

 

 Muscular and tender, beautifully crafted, and alive with an elemental power, these stories explore the struggle for meaning and connection in an age when many of us feel cut off from so much, not least ourselves.

 

Due April 5

Our most recent selection of books we’ve enjoyed is what you might call a hodgepodge. But, the general theme seems to be finding one’s place be it on a map, in a book, or in the world.

Ben Recommends

Free by Lea Ypi

 

 

For precocious 11-year-old Lea Ypi, Albania’s Soviet-style socialism held the promise of a preordained future, a guarantee of security among enthusiastic comrades. That is, until she found herself clinging to a stone statue of Joseph Stalin, newly beheaded by student protests.

 

Communism had failed to deliver the promised utopia. One’s “biography”—class status and other associations long in the past—put strict boundaries around one’s individual future. When Lea’s parents spoke of relatives going to “university” or “graduating,” they were speaking of grave secrets Lea struggled to unveil. And when the early ’90s saw Albania and other Balkan countries exuberantly begin a transition to the “free market,” Western ideals of freedom delivered chaos: a dystopia of pyramid schemes, organized crime, and sex trafficking.

 

With her elegant, intellectual, French-speaking grandmother; her radical-chic father; and her staunchly anti-socialist, Thatcherite mother to guide her through these disorienting times, Lea had a political education of the most colorful sort—here recounted with outstanding literary talent.

 

Otherlands by Thomas Halliday

 

 

 

The past is past, but it does leave clues, and Thomas Halliday has used cutting-edge science to decipher them more completely than ever before. In Otherlands, Halliday makes sixteen fossil sites burst to life on the page. This book is an exploration of the Earth as it used to exist, the changes that have occurred during its history, and the ways that life has found to adapt-or not. It takes us from the savannahs of Pliocene Kenya to watch a python chase a group of australopithecines into an acacia tree; to a cliff overlooking the salt pans of the empty basin of what will be the Mediterranean Sea just as water from the Miocene Atlantic Ocean spills in; into the tropical forests of Eocene Antarctica; and under the shallow pools of Ediacaran Australia, where we glimpse the first microbial life.

 

Otherlands also offers us a vast perspective on the current state of the planet. The thought that something as vast as the Great Barrier Reef, for example, with all its vibrant diversity, might one day soon be gone sounds improbable. But the fossil record shows us that this sort of wholesale change is not only possible but has repeatedly happened throughout Earth history. Even as he operates on this broad canvas, Halliday brings us up close to the intricate relationships that defined these lost worlds. In novelistic prose that belies the breadth of his research, he illustrates how ecosystems are formed; how species die out and are replaced; and how species migrate, adapt, and collaborate.

 


Rupert Recommends

Index, A History of the by Dennis Duncan

 

 

Most of us give little thought to the back of the book—it’s just where you go to look things up. But as Dennis Duncan reveals in this delightful and witty history, hiding in plain sight is an unlikely realm of ambition and obsession, sparring and politicking, pleasure and play. In the pages of the index, we might find Butchers, to be avoided, or Cows that sh-te Fire, or even catch Calvin in his chamber with a Nonne. Here, for the first time, is the secret world of the index: an unsung but extraordinary everyday tool, with an illustrious but little-known past.

 

Charting its curious path from the monasteries and universities of thirteenth-century Europe to Silicon Valley in the twenty-first, Duncan uncovers how it has saved heretics from the stake, kept politicians from high office, and made us all into the readers we are today. We follow it through German print shops and Enlightenment coffee houses, novelists’ living rooms and university laboratories, encountering emperors and popes, philosophers and prime ministers, poets, librarians and—of course—indexers along the way.

 

The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

 

 

Nell Young’s whole life and greatest passion is cartography. Her father, Dr. Daniel Young, is a legend in the field and Nell’s personal hero. But she hasn’t seen or spoken to him ever since he cruelly fired her and destroyed her reputation after an argument over an old, cheap gas station highway map.

 

But when Dr. Young is found dead in his office at the New York Public Library, with the very same seemingly worthless map hidden in his desk, Nell can’t resist investigating. To her surprise, she soon discovers that the map is incredibly valuable and exceedingly rare. In fact, she may now have the only copy left in existence . . . because a mysterious collector has been hunting down and destroying every last one—along with anyone who gets in the way.

 

But why?

 

To answer that question, Nell embarks on a dangerous journey to reveal a dark family secret and discovers the true power that lies in maps . . .

 


Danielle Recommends

Checkout 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett

 

 

In a working-class town in a county west of London, a schoolgirl scribbles stories in the back pages of her exercise book, intoxicated by the first sparks of her imagination.

 

As she grows, everything and everyone she encounters become fuel for a burning talent. The large Russian man in the ancient maroon car who careens around the grocery store where she works as a checkout clerk, and slips her a copy of Beyond Good and Evil. The growing heaps of other books in which she loses–and finds–herself. Even the derailing of a friendship, in a devastating violation. The thrill of learning to conjure characters and scenarios in her head is matched by the exhilaration of forging her own way in the world, the two kinds of ingenuity kindling to a brilliant conflagration

 

 

When we Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut

 

 

When We Cease to Understand the World is a book about the complicated links between scientific and mathematical discovery, madness, and destruction. Fritz Haber, Alexander Grothendieck, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrodinger: these are some of luminaries into whose troubled lives Labatut’s book thrusts the reader, showing us how they grappled with the most profound questions of existence.   They have strokes of unparalleled genius, alienate friends and lovers, descend into isolation and insanity.

 

Some of their discoveries reshape human life to the better; others pave the way to chaos and unimaginable suffering. The lines are never clear. At a breakneck pace and with a wealth of disturbing detail, Benjamin Labatut uses the imaginative resources of fiction to tell the stories of scientists and mathematicians who expanded our notions of the possible.

 


Olivia Recommends

Don’t Cry for Me by Daniel Black

 

 

As Jacob lies dying, he begins to write a letter to his only son, Isaac. They have not met or spoken in many years, and there are things that Isaac must know. Stories about his ancestral legacy in rural Arkansas that extend back to slavery. Secrets from Jacob’s tumultuous relationship with Isaac’s mother and the shame he carries from the dissolution of their family. Tragedies that informed Jacob’s role as a father and his reaction to Isaac’s being gay.

 

But most of all, Jacob must share with Isaac the unspoken truths that reside in his heart. He must give voice to the trauma that Isaac has inherited. And he must create a space for the two to find peace.

 

The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa

 

 

Bookish high school student Rintaro Natsuki is about to close the secondhand bookstore he inherited from his beloved bookworm grandfather. Then, a talking cat appears with an unusual request. The feline asks for—or rather, demands—the teenager’s help in saving books with him. The world is full of lonely books left unread and unloved, and the cat and Rintaro must liberate them from their neglectful owners.

 

Their mission sends this odd couple on an amazing journey, where they enter different mazes to set books free. Through their travels, the cat and Rintaro meet a man who leaves his books to perish on a bookshelf, an unwitting book torturer who cuts the pages of books into snippets to help people speed read, and a publishing drone who only wants to create bestsellers. Their adventures culminate in one final, unforgettable challenge—the last maze that awaits leads Rintaro down a realm only the bravest dare enter . . .

 


Patti Recommends

The Hummingbird by Sandro Veronesi

 

 

Marco Carrera is “the hummingbird,” a man with an almost supernatural ability to remain still amid the chaos of an ever-changing world. Though his life is rife with emotional challenges—suffering the death of his sister and the absence of his brother; caring for his elderly parents; raising his granddaughter when her mother, Marco’s own child, is no longer capable; loving an enigmatic woman—Marco carries on with a noble stoicism that belies an intensity for living. As the years pass and the arc of his life bends, Marco finds himself filled with joy for the future as the baton passes from him to the next generation.

 

A beautiful and compelling journey through time told in myriad narrative styles, The Hummingbird is a story of suffering, happiness, loss, love, and hope—of a man who embodies the quiet heroism that defines daily life for countless ordinary folk. A thrilling novel about the need to look to the future with hope and live with intensity to the very end, Sandro Veronesi’s masterpiece—eminently readable, rich in insight, and filled with interesting twists and revelations—is a portrait of human existence, the vicissitudes and vagaries that propel and ultimately define us

 

The High House by Jessie Greengrass

 

 

Perched on a sloping hill, set away from a small town by the sea, the High House has a tide pool and a mill, a vegetable garden, and, most importantly, a barn full of supplies. Caro, Pauly, Sally, and Grandy are safe, so far, from the rising water that threatens to destroy the town and that has, perhaps, already destroyed everything else. But for how long?

 

Caro and her younger half-brother, Pauly, arrive at the High House after her father and stepmother fall victim to a faraway climate disaster—but not before they call and urge Caro to leave London. In their new home, a converted summer house cared for by Grandy and his granddaughter, Sally, the two pairs learn to live together. Yet there are limits to their safety, limits to the supplies, limits to what Grandy—the former village caretaker, a man who knows how to do everything—can teach them as his health fails.

 


 

Everything from the Queen solving crimes to Prime Ministers getting lost in this set of books we’re looking forward to in the coming month.

Ben Anticipates

After the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport

 

 

Paris has always been a city of cultural excellence, fine wine and food, and the latest fashions. But it has also been a place of refuge for those fleeing persecution, never more so than before and after the Russian Revolution and the fall of the Romanov dynasty. For years, Russian aristocrats had enjoyed all that Belle Époque Paris had to offer, spending lavishly when they visited. It was a place of artistic experimentation, such as Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. But the brutality of the Bolshevik takeover forced Russians of all types to flee their homeland, sometimes leaving with only the clothes on their backs.

 

Arriving in Paris, former princes could be seen driving taxicabs, while their wives who could sew worked for the fashion houses, their unique Russian style serving as inspiration for designers like Coco Chanel. Talented intellectuals, artists, poets, philosophers, and writers struggled in exile, eking out a living at menial jobs. Some, like Bunin, Chagall and Stravinsky, encountered great success in the same Paris that welcomed Americans like Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Political activists sought to overthrow the Bolshevik regime from afar, while double agents from both sides plotted espionage and assassination. Others became trapped in a cycle of poverty and their all-consuming homesickness for Russia, the homeland they had been forced to abandon.

 

This is their story.

 

Due March 8

 

All the Queen’s Men by SJ Bennett

 

 

At Buckingham Palace, the autumn of 2016 presages uncertain times. The Queen must deal with the fallout from the Brexit referendum, a new female prime minister, and a tumultuous election in the United States—yet these prove to be the least of her worries when a staff member is found dead beside the palace swimming pool. Is it truly the result of a tragic accident, as the police think, or is something more sinister going on?

 

Meanwhile, her assistant private secretary, Rozie Oshodi, is on the trail of a favorite painting that once hung outside the Queen’s bedroom and appears to have been misappropriated by the Royal Navy. And a series of disturbing anonymous letters have begun circulating in the palace. The Queen’s courtiers think they have it all ‘under control’, but Her Majesty is not so sure. After all, though the staff and public may not be aware, she is the keenest sleuth among them. Sometimes, it takes a Queen’s eye to see connections where no one else can.

 

Due March 1

 


 

Rupert Anticipates

The Lost Prime Ministers by Michael Hill

 

 

After John A. Macdonald’s death, four Tory prime ministers — each remarkable but all little known — rose to power and fell in just five years.

From 1891 to 1896, between John A. Macdonald’s and Wilfrid Laurier’s tenures, four lesser-known men took on the mantle of leadership. Tory prime ministers John Abbott, John Thompson, Mackenzie Bowell, and Charles Tupper headed the government of Canada in rapid succession. Each came to the job with qualifications and limitations, and each left after unexpectedly short terms. Yet these reluctant prime ministers are an important part of our political legacy. Their roles were much more than caretakers between the administrations of two great leaders. Personal tragedy, terrible health issues, backstabbing, and political manipulation all led to their eventual downfalls. The Lost Prime Ministers is the dramatic saga of these overlooked Canadian leaders.

 

Due February 22

 

Glory by Noviolet Bulawayo

 

 

Glory centres around the unexpected fall of Old Horse, a long-serving, tyrannical leader of the fictional country of Jidada, and the drama that follows for a rumbustious nation of animals on the precarious path to freedom.

 

Inspired by the unexpected fall by coup, in November 2017, of Robert Mugabe—Zimbabwe’s president of nearly four decades—Bulawayo’s bold, vividly imagined novel shows a country imploding, narrated by a chorus of animal voices who unveil the ruthlessness and cold strategy required to uphold the illusion of absolute power, and the imagination and bullet-proof fortitude to overthrow it completely.

 

 At the centre of this tumult is Destiny, who has returned to Jidada from exile to bear witness to revolution and brings into focus the unofficial history and the potential legacy of the remarkable women who have quietly pulled the strings in this country

 

Due March 8

 


 

Danielle Anticipates

Sandy Hook by Elizabeth Williamson

 

 

On December 14, 2012, 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., including 20 children barely older than toddlers, were shot and killed. It felt like a line in the sand, on gun violence and safety. Instead, nine years on, Sandy Hook has become a foundational story, and a symbol: of how malevolent, profit-motivated actors use the internet to terrorize the vulnerable, even the families of murdered children, and how conspiracy has gained traction in our world.   In the wake of the tragedy, parents of the young victims have been accosted on the street. They are harassed online. They are stalked and forced out of the towns they live in. Someone shot a rifle into the home of one parent.

 

But the conspiracy has asked the victims and survivors themselves to defend that the event even occurred. At the center of conspiracy theorists’ crusade is Alex Jones’s InfoWars, where hoaxers air noxious theories and raise money. Egged on by Jones, emboldened by online anonymity, his followers’ questions grew into suspicion, suspicion into demands for proof, unanswered demands into rage, with a through line straight to January 6.

 

Due March 8

 

The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka

 

 

The swimmers are unknown to one another except through their private routines (slow lane, medium lane, fast lane) and the solace each takes in their morning or afternoon laps. But when a crack appears at the bottom of the pool, they are cast out into an unforgiving world without comfort or relief.

 

One of these swimmers is Alice, who is slowly losing her memory. For Alice, the pool was a final stand against the darkness of her encroaching dementia. Without the fellowship of other swimmers and the routine of her daily laps she is plunged into dislocation and chaos, swept into memories of her childhood and the Japanese American incarceration camp in which she spent the war. Alice’s estranged daughter, reentering her mother’s life too late, witnesses her stark and devastating decline.

 

Due February 22

 


 

Olivia Anticipates

Daughters of the Deer  by Danielle Daniel

 

 

1657. Marie, a gifted healer of the Deer Clan, does not want to marry the green-eyed soldier from France who has asked for her hand. But her people are threatened by disease and starvation and need help against the Iroquois and their English allies if they are to survive. When her chief begs her to accept the white man’s proposal, she cannot refuse him, and sheds her deerskin tunic for a borrowed blue wedding dress to become Pierre’s bride.

 

1675. Jeanne, Marie’s oldest child, is seventeen, neither white nor Algonquin, caught between worlds. Caught by her own desires, too. Her heart belongs to a girl named Josephine, but soon her father will have to find her a husband or be forced to pay a hefty fine to the French crown. Among her mother’s people, Jeanne would have been considered blessed, her two-spirited nature a sign of special wisdom. To the settlers of New France, and even to her own father, Jeanne is unnatural, sinful—a woman to be shunned, beaten, and much worse.

 

Due March 8

 

Stray Dogs by Rawi Hage

 

 

In Montreal, a photographer’s unexpected encounter with actress Sophia Loren leads to a life-altering revelation about his dead mother. In Beirut, a disillusioned geologist eagerly awaits the destruction that will come with an impending tsunami. In Tokyo, a Jordanian academic delivering a lecture at a conference receives haunting news from the Persian Gulf. And in Berlin, a Lebanese writer forms a fragile, fateful bond with his voluble German neighbours.

 

The irresistible characters in Stray Dogs lead radically different lives, but all are restless travelers, moving between states—nation-states and states of mind—seeking connection, escaping the past and following delicate threads of truth, only to experience the sometimes shocking, sometimes amusing and often random ways our fragile modern identities are constructed, destroyed, and reborn.

 

Due March 1

 


 

Patti Anticipates

The Fell by Sarah Moss

 

 

At dusk on a November evening, a woman slips through her garden gate and turns up the hill. Kate is in the middle of a two-week mandatory quarantine period, a true lockdown, but she can’t take it anymore—the closeness of the air in her small house, the confinement. And anyway, the moor will be deserted at this time. Nobody need ever know she’s stepped out.

 

Kate planned only a quick walk—a stretch of the legs, a breath of fresh air—on paths she knows too well. But somehow she falls. Injured, unable to move, she sees that her short, furtive stroll will become a mountain rescue operation, maybe even a missing person case.

 

Due March 1

 

Groundskeeping by Lee Cole

 

 

In the run-up to the 2016 election, Owen Callahan, an aspiring writer, moves back to Kentucky to live with his Trump-supporting uncle and grandfather. Eager to clean up his act after wasting time and potential in his early twenties, he takes a job as a groundskeeper at a small local college, in exchange for which he is permitted to take a writing course.

 

Here he meets Alma Hazdic, a writer in residence who seems to have everything that Owen lacks—a prestigious position, an Ivy League education, success as a writer. They begin a secret relationship, and as they grow closer, Alma—who comes from a liberal family of Bosnian immigrants—struggles to understand Owen’s fraught relationship with family and home.

 

Due March 1

 


 

As we plod our way through these grey winter days, it seems each of us here at the store have turned to fiction for solace. But, where some of us have been reading about sunnier climes, Danielle has instead opted to double down on the colder side of things.

 

Ben Recommends

The Final Case by David Guterson

 

 

A girl dies one late, rainy night a few feet from the back door of her home. The girl, Abeba, was born in Ethiopia. Her adoptive parents, Delvin and Betsy Harvey—conservative, white fundamentalist Christians—are charged with her murder.

Royal, a Seattle criminal attorney in the last days of his long career, takes Betsy Harvey’s case. An octogenarian without a driver’s license, he leans on his son—the novel’s narrator—as he prepares for trial.

So begins The Final Case, a bracing, astute, and deeply affecting examination of justice and injustice—and familial love. David Guterson’s first courtroom drama since Snow Falling on Cedars, it is his most compelling and heartfelt novel to date.

 

The Matchmaker by Paul Vidich

 

 

Berlin, 1989.  Protests across East Germany threaten the Iron Curtain and Communism is the ill man of Europe.

Anne Simpson, an American who works as a translator at the Joint Operations Refugee Committee, thinks she is in a normal marriage with a charming East German. But then her husband disappears, and the CIA and Western German intelligence arrive at her door.

Nothing about her marriage is as it seems. She had been targeted by the Matchmaker—a high level East German counterintelligence officer—who runs a network of Stasi agents. These agents are his “Romeos” who marry vulnerable women in West Berlin to provide them with cover as they report back to the Matchmaker. Anne has been married to a spy, and now he has disappeared, and is presumably dead.

The CIA are desperate to find the Matchmaker because of his close ties to the KGB.  They believe he can establish the truth about a high-ranking Soviet defector. They need Anne because she’s the only person who has seen his face – from a photograph that her husband mistakenly left out in his office – and she is the CIA’s best chance to identify him before the Matchmaker escapes to Moscow. Time is running out as the Berlin Wall falls and chaos engulfs East Germany.

 


Rupert Recommends

The Library by Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen

 

 

Famed across the known world, jealously guarded by private collectors, built up over centuries, destroyed in a single day, ornamented with gold leaf and frescoes, or filled with bean bags and children’s drawings—the history of the library is rich, varied, and stuffed full of incident.

In The Library, historians Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen introduce us to the antiquarians and philanthropists who shaped the world’s great collections, trace the rise and fall of literary tastes, and reveal the high crimes and misdemeanors committed in pursuit of rare manuscripts. In doing so, they reveal that while collections themselves are fragile, often falling into ruin within a few decades, the idea of the library has been remarkably resilient as each generation makes—and remakes—the institution anew.

 

Bibliolepsy by Gina Apostol

 

 

Gina Apostol’s debut novel, available for the first time in the US, tells of a young woman caught between a lifelong desire to escape into books and a real-world revolution.

It is the mid-eighties, two decades into the kleptocratic, brutal rule of Ferdinand Marcos. The Philippine economy is in deep recession, civil unrest is growing by the day. But Primi Peregrino has her own priorities: tracking down books and pursuing romantic connections with their authors.

For Primi, the nascent revolution means that writers are gathering more often, and with greater urgency, so that every poetry reading she attends presents a veritable “Justice League” of authors for her to choose among. As the Marcos dictatorship stands poised to topple, Primi remains true to her fantasy: that she, “a vagabond from history, a runaway from time,” can be saved by sex, love, and books.

 


Danielle Recommends

Very Cold People by Sarah Manguso

 

 

For Ruthie, the frozen, snow-padded town of Waitsfield, Massachusetts, is all she has ever known. But this is no picturesque New England. Once “home of the bean and the cod, where Lowells speak only to Cabots, and Cabots speak only to God,” by the tail-end of the twentieth century it is an unforgiving place, awash with secrets.

Very Cold People tells Ruthie’s story through her eyes: from the shame handed down through her immigrant forebears and indomitable mother, to the violences endured by her high school friends, each suffering a fate worse than the last. For Ruthie, Waitsfield is a place to be survived–and a girl like her would be lucky to get out alive.

In her eagerly anticipated debut novel, Sarah Manguso has produced – with her characteristic precision – a masterwork on how very cold places make for very cold people: an ungilded portrait of girlhood at the crossroads of history and social class, and a pitiless look at an all-American whiteness.

 

Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au

 

 

A mother and daughter travel from abroad to meet in Tokyo: they walk along the canals through the autumn evenings, escape the typhoon rains, share meals in small cafes and restaurants, and visit galleries to see some of the city’s most radical modern art. All the while, they talk: about the weather, horoscopes, clothes, and objects, about family, distance, and memory. But uncertainties abound. Who is really speaking here—is it only the daughter? And what is the real reason behind this elliptical, perhaps even spectral journey?

At once a careful reckoning and an elegy, Cold Enough for Snow questions whether any of us speak a common language, which dimensions can contain love, and what claim we have to truly know another’s inner world.

 


Olivia Recommends

Violeta by Isabel Allende

 

 

Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family of five boisterous sons. From the start, her life will be marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth.

Through her father’s prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses all and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling . . .

She tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, times of both poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. Her life will be shaped by some of the most important events of history:  the fight for women’s rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and ultimately, not one, but two pandemics.

 

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

 

 

It’s 2017, and Olga and her brother, Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo, are boldfaced names in their hometown of New York. Prieto is a popular congressman representing their gentrifying Latinx neighborhood in Brooklyn, while Olga is the tony wedding planner for Manhattan’s power brokers.

Despite their alluring public lives, behind closed doors things are far less rosy. Sure, Olga can orchestrate the love stories of the 1 percent but she can’t seem to find her own. . . until she meets Matteo, who forces her to confront the effects of long-held family secrets.

Olga and Prieto’s mother, Blanca, a Young Lord turned radical, abandoned her children to advance a militant political cause, leaving them to be raised by their grandmother. Now, with the winds of hurricane season, Blanca has come barreling back into their lives.

 


Patti Recommends

Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson

 

 

In a first-class lounge at JFK airport, our narrator listens as Jeff Cook, a former classmate he only vaguely remembers, shares the uncanny story of his adult life—a life that changed course years before, the moment he resuscitated a drowning man.

Jeff reveals that after that traumatic, galvanizing morning on the beach, he was compelled to learn more about the man whose life he had saved, convinced that their fates were now entwined. But are we agents of our fate—or are we its pawns? Upon discovering that the man is renowned art dealer Francis Arsenault, Jeff begins to surreptitiously visit his Beverly Hills gallery. Although Francis does not seem to recognize him as the man who saved his life, he nevertheless casts his legendary eye on Jeff and sees something worthy. He takes the younger man under his wing, initiating him into his world, where knowledge, taste, and access are currency; a world where value is constantly shifting and calling into question what is real, and what matters. The paths of the two men come together and diverge in dizzying ways until the novel’s staggering ending.

 

Other People’s Clothes by Calla Henkel

 

 

Zoe is grieving for her high school best friend, murdered months before in her hometown in Florida. Hailey is rich, obsessed with the exploits of Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears and wants to be a Warholian legend.

Together they rent a once-magnificent apartment from eccentric crime writer Beatrice Becks. With little to fill their time, they spend their nights twisting through Berlin’s club scene and their days hungover.

Soon inexplicable things start happening in the apartment and the two friends suspect they are being watched by Beatrice. Convinced that their landlord is using their lives as inspiration for her next thriller novel, they decide to beat her at her own game. The girls start hosting wild parties in the flat and quickly gain notoriety, with everyone clamouring for an invite to ‘Beatrice’s.’ But ultimately they find themselves unable to control the narrative and it spirals into much darker territory . . .

 


 

We’re lucky these days because there are new books coming out year-round. The 50’s, 60’s, and 2030’s all feature in the book’s we’re looking forward to in the next month.

Ben Anticipates

The Fifties by James R. Gaines

 

 

In a fascinating and beautifully written series of character portraits, The Fifties invokes the accidental radicals—people motivated not by politics but by their own most intimate conflicts—who sparked movements for change in their time and our own.

 

Among many others, we meet the legal pathfinder Pauli Murray, who was tortured by both her mixed-race heritage and her “in between” sexuality. Through years of hard work and self-examination, she turned her demons into historic victories. Ruth Bader Ginsberg credited her for the argument that made sex discrimination illegal, but that was only one of her gifts to 21st-century feminism. We meet Harry Hay, who dreamed of a national gay-rights movement as early as the mid-1940s, a time when the US, Soviet Union, and Nazi Germany viewed gay people as subversives and mentally ill. And in perhaps the book’s unlikeliest pairing, we hear the prophetic voices of Silent Spring’s Rachel Carson and MIT’s preeminent mathematician, Norbert Wiener, who from their very different perspectives—she in the living world, he in the theoretical one—converged on the then-heretical idea that our mastery over the natural world carried the potential for disaster. Their legacy is the environmental movement.

Due. Feb 8

 

Heiresses by Laura Thompson

 

 

Heiresses: surely they are among the luckiest women on earth. Are they not to be envied, with their private jets and Chanel wardrobes and endless funds? Yet all too often those gilded lives have been beset with trauma and despair. Before the 20th century a wife’s inheritance was the property of her husband, making her vulnerable to kidnap, forced marriages, even confinement in an asylum. And in modern times, heiresses fell victim to fortune-hunters who squandered their millions.

 

Heiresses tells the stories of these million dollar babies: Mary Davies, who inherited London’s most valuable real estate, and was bartered from the age of twelve; Consuelo Vanderbilt, the original American “Dollar Heiress”, forced into a loveless marriage; Barbara Hutton, the Woolworth heiress who married seven times and died almost penniless; and Patty Hearst, heiress to a newspaper fortune who was arrested for terrorism. However, there are also stories of independence and achievement: Angela Burdett-Coutts, who became one of the greatest philanthropists of Victorian England; Nancy Cunard, who lived off her mother’s fortune and became a pioneer of the civil rights movement; and Daisy Fellowes, elegant linchpin of interwar high society and noted fashion editor.

Due Feb. 15

 


 

Rupert Anticipates

George III by Andrew Roberts

 

 

George III, Britain’s longest-reigning king, has gone down in history as ‘the cruellest tyrant of this age’ (Thomas Paine, eighteenth century), ‘a sovereign who inflicted more profound and enduring injuries upon this country than any other modern English king’ (W.E.H. Lecky, nineteenth century),  and as the pompous monarch of the musical Hamilton (twenty-first century).

 

Andrew Roberts’s magnificent new biography takes entirely the opposite view. It portrays George as intelligent, benevolent, scrupulously devoted to the constitution of his country and navigating the turbulence of eighteenth-century politics with a strong sense of honour and duty. He was a devoted husband and family man, a great patron of the arts and sciences, keen to advance Britain’s agricultural capacity (‘Farmer George’) and determined that her horizons should be global. He could be stubborn and self-righteous, but he was also brave, brushing aside numerous assassination attempts, galvanising his ministers and generals at moments of crisis and stoical in the face of his descent – five times during his life – into a horrifying loss of mind.

Due Jan. 25

 

Defenestrate by Renée Branum

 

 

Marta and her twin brother Nick have always been haunted and fascinated by an ancestral legend that holds that members of their family are doomed to various types of falls. And when their own family collapses in the wake of a revelation and a resulting devastating fight with their Catholic mother, the twins move to Prague, the city in which their “falling curse” began. There, Marta and Nick try to forge a new life for themselves. But their ties to the past and each other prove difficult to disentangle, and when they ultimately return to their midwestern home and Nick falls from a balcony himself, Marta is forced to confront the truths they’ve hidden from each other and themselves.

 

Ingeniously and unforgettably narrated by Marta as she reflects on all the ways there are to fall–from defenestration in nineteenth century Prague to the pratfalls of her childhood idol Buster Keaton, from falling in love to falling midflight from an airplane–Defenestrate is a deeply original, gorgeous novel about the power of stories and the strange, malleable bonds that hold families together.

Due Jan. 25

 


 

Danielle Anticipates

Cost of Living by Emily Maloney

 

 

When we fall ill, our lives are itemized on a spreadsheet. A thousand dollars for a broken leg, a few hundred for a nasty cut while cooking dinner. Then there are the greater costs for even greater misfortunes. The car accidents, breast cancers, blood diseases, and dark depressions.

 

When Emily Maloney was nineteen she tried to kill herself. An act that would not only cost a great deal personally, but also financially, sending her down a dark spiral of misdiagnoses, years spent in and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices, and tens of thousands owed in medical debt. To work to pay off this crippling burden, Emily becomes an emergency room technician. Doing the grunt work in a hospital, and taking care of patients at their most vulnerable moments, chronicling these interactions in searingly beautiful, surprising ways.

Due Feb. 8

 

Tides by Sara Freeman

 

 

After a sudden, devastating loss, Mara flees her family and ends up adrift in a wealthy seaside town with a dead cellphone and barely any money. Mired in her grief, Mara detaches from the outside world and spends her days of self-imposed exile scrounging for food and swimming in the night ocean. In her state of emotional extremis, the sea at the town’s edge is rendered bleak, luminous, implacable.   As her money runs out and tourist season comes to a close, Mara finds a job at the local wine store. There, she meets Simon, the shop’s soft-spoken, lonely owner.

 

Confronted with the possibility of connection with Simon and the slow return of her desires and appetites, the reasons for her flight begin to emerge.   Reminiscent of works by Rachel Cusk, Jenny Offill, and Sheila Heti, Tides is a spare, visceral debut novel about the nature of selfhood, intimacy, and the private narratives that shape our lives. A shattering and unforgettable debut.

Due Jan. 18

 


 

Olivia Anticipates

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

 

 

In 2030, a grieving archeologist arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue the work of his recently deceased daughter at the Batagaika Crater, where researchers are studying long-buried secrets now revealed in melting permafrost, including the perfectly preserved remains of a girl who appears to have died of an ancient virus.

 

Once unleashed, the Arctic plague will reshape life on Earth for generations to come, quickly traversing the globe, forcing humanity to devise a myriad of moving and inventive ways to embrace possibility in the face of tragedy. In a theme park designed for terminally ill children, a cynical employee falls in love with a mother desperate to hold on to her infected son. A heartbroken scientist searching for a cure finds a second chance at fatherhood when one of his test subjects—a pig—develops the capacity for human speech. A widowed painter and her teenaged granddaughter embark on a cosmic quest to locate a new home planet.

Due Jan. 18

 

Pure Colour by Sheila Heti

 

 

Here we are, just living in the first draft of creation, which was made by some great artist, who is now getting ready to tear it apart.

In this first draft, a woman named Mira leaves home for school. There, she meets Annie, whose tremendous power opens Mira’s chest like a portal—to what, she doesn’t know. When Mira is older, her beloved father dies, and she enters the strange and dizzying dimension that true loss opens up.

 

Pure Colour tells the story of a life, from beginning to end. It is a galaxy of a novel: explosive, celestially bright, huge, and streaked with beauty. It is a contemporary bible, an atlas of feeling, and a shape-shifting epic. Sheila Heti is a philosopher of modern experience, and she has reimagined what a book can hold.

Due Feb. 15

 


 

Patti Anticipates

When We Lost Our Heads by Heather O’Neill

 

 

Marie Antoine is the charismatic, spoiled daughter of a sugar baron. At age twelve, with her pile of blond curls and unparalleled sense of whimsy, she’s the leader of all the children in the Golden Mile, the affluent strip of nineteenth-century Montreal where powerful families live. Until one day in 1873, when Sadie Arnett, dark-haired, sly and brilliant, moves to the neighbourhood.

 

Marie and Sadie are immediately inseparable. United by their passion and intensity, they attract and repel each other in ways that set them both on fire. Marie, with her bubbly charm, sees all the pleasure of the world, whereas Sadie’s obsession with darkness is all-consuming. Soon, their childlike games take on the thrill of danger and then become deadly.

 

Each woman will play an unexpected role in the events that upend their city—the only question is whether they will find each other once more.

Due Feb. 1

 

Free Love by Tessa Hadley

 

 

1967. While London comes alive with the new youth revolution, the suburban Fischer family seems to belong to an older world of conventional stability: pretty, dutiful homemaker Phyllis is married to Roger, a devoted father with a career in the Foreign Office. Their children are Colette, a bookish teenager, and Hugh, the golden boy. But when the twenty-something son of an old friend pays the Fischers a visit one hot summer evening, and kisses Phyllis in the dark garden after dinner, something in her catches fire.

 

Newly awake to the world, Phyllis makes a choice that defies all expectations of her as a wife and a mother. Nothing in these ordinary lives is so ordinary after all, it turns out, as the family’s upheaval mirrors the dramatic transformation of the society around them. With scalpel-sharp insight, Tessa Hadley explores her characters’ inner worlds, laying bare their fears and longings.

 

Daring and sensual, Free Love is an enthralling, irresistible exploration of romantic love, sexual freedom and living out the truest and most meaningful version of our lives.

Due Feb. 1

 


 

Even though our holidays might have felt way too short, we got in some reading over the break in time for the first set of staff recommendations of the year! Ranging from classics to hot off the press, time itself is a subject in this week’s picks.

 

Ben Recommends

The World for Sale by Javier Blas and Jack Farchy

 

 

The modern world is built on commodities – from the oil that fuels our cars to the metals that power our smartphones. We rarely stop to consider where they have come from. But we should.

In The World for Sale, two leading journalists lift the lid on one of the least scrutinised corners of the world economy: the workings of the billionaire commodity traders who buy, hoard and sell the earth’s resources.

It is the story of how a handful of swashbuckling businessmen became indispensable cogs in global markets: enabling an enormous expansion in international trade, and connecting resource-rich countries – no matter how corrupt or war-torn – with the world’s financial centres.

 

The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier

 

 

In their own way, they were all living double lives when they boarded the plane: Blake, a respectable family man who works as a contract killer. Slimboy, a Nigerian pop star who uses his womanizing image to hide that he’s gay. Joanna, a Black American lawyer pressured to play the good old boys’ game to succeed with her Big Pharma client. Victor Miesel, a critically acclaimed yet largely obscure writer suddenly on the precipice of global fame.

About to start their descent to JFK, they hit a shockingly violent patch of turbulence, emerging on the other side to a reality both perfectly familiar and utterly strange. As it charts the fallout of this logic-defying event, The Anomaly takes us on a journey from Lagos and Mumbai to the White House and a top-secret hangar.

 


 

Rupert Recommends

The Sinner and the Saint by Kevin Birmingham

 

 

The Sinner and the Saint is the deeply researched and immersive tale of how Dostoevsky came to write this great murder story—and why it changed the world. As a young man, Dostoevsky was a celebrated writer, but his involvement with the radical politics of his day condemned him to a long Siberian exile. There, he spent years studying the criminals that were his companions. Upon his return to St. Petersburg in the 1860s, he fought his way through gambling addiction, debilitating debt, epilepsy, the deaths of those closest to him, and literary banishment to craft an enduring classic.

The germ of Crime and Punishment came from the sensational story of Pierre François Lacenaire, a notorious murderer who charmed and outraged Paris in the 1830s. Lacenaire was a glamorous egoist who embodied the instincts that lie beneath nihilism, a western-influenced philosophy inspiring a new generation of Russian revolutionaries. Dostoevsky began creating a Russian incarnation of Lacenaire, a character who could demonstrate the errors of radical politics and ideas.

His name would be Raskolnikov.

 

Crossings by Alex Landragin

 

 

On the brink of the Nazi occupation of Paris, a German-Jewish bookbinder stumbles across a manuscript called Crossings. It has three narratives, each as unlikely as the next. And the narratives can be read one of two ways: either straight through or according to an alternate chapter sequence.

The first story in Crossings is a never-before-seen ghost story by the poet Charles Baudelaire, penned for an illiterate girl. Next is a noir romance about an exiled man, modeled on Walter Benjamin, whose recurring nightmares are cured when he falls in love with a storyteller who draws him into a dangerous intrigue of rare manuscripts, police corruption, and literary societies. Finally, there are the fantastical memoirs of a woman-turned-monarch whose singular life has spanned seven generations.

With each new chapter, the stunning connections between these seemingly disparate people grow clearer and more extraordinary.

 


 

Danielle Recommends

The Right to Sex by Amia Srinivasan

 

 

How should we talk about sex? Since #MeToo many have fixed on consent as the key framework for achieving sexual justice. Yet consent is a blunt tool. To grasp sex in all its complexityits deep ambivalences, its relationship to gender, class, race and powerwe need to move beyond yes and no, wanted and unwanted.

We do not know the future of sex—but perhaps we could imagine it. Amia Srinivasan’s traces the meaning of sex in our world, animated by the hope of a different world. She reaches back into an older feminist tradition that was unafraid to think of sex as a political phenomenon. She discusses a range of fraught relationships—between discrimination and preference, pornography and freedom, rape and racial injustice, punishment and accountability, students and teachers, pleasure and power, capitalism and liberation.

 

To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara

 

 

In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him—and solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearances.

These three sections are joined in an enthralling and ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can’t exist.

What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness.

 


 

Olivia Recommends

About Time by David Rooney

 

 

For thousands of years, people of all cultures have made and used clocks, from the city sundials of ancient Rome to the medieval water clocks of imperial China, hourglasses fomenting revolution in the Middle Ages, the Stock Exchange clock of Amsterdam in 1611, Enlightenment observatories in India, and the high-precision clocks circling the Earth on a fleet of GPS satellites that have been launched since 1978. Clocks have helped us navigate the world and build empires, and have even taken us to the brink of destruction. Elites have used them to wield power, make money, govern citizens, and control lives—and sometimes the people have used them to fight back.

Through the stories of twelve clocks, About Time brings pivotal moments from the past vividly to life. Historian and lifelong clock enthusiast David Rooney takes us from the unveiling of al-Jazari’s castle clock in 1206, in present-day Turkey; to the Cape of Good Hope observatory at the southern tip of Africa, where nineteenth-century British government astronomers moved the gears of empire with a time ball and a gun; to the burial of a plutonium clock now sealed beneath a public park in Osaka, where it will keep time for 5,000 years.

 

Persuasion by Jane Austen

 

 

Written at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Persuasion is a tale of love, heartache and the determination of one woman as she strives to reignite a lost love.

Anne Elliot is persuaded by her friends and family to reject a marriage proposal from Captain Wentworth because he lacks in fortune and rank. More than seven years later, when he returns home from the Navy, Anne realises she still has strong feelings for him, but Wentworth only appears to have eyes for a friend of Anne’s.

Moving, tender, but intrinsically ‘Austen’ in style, with it’s satirical portrayal of the vanity of society in eighteenth-century England, Persuasion celebrates enduring love and hope.

 


 

Patti Recommends

Joan is Okay by Weike Wang

 

 

Joan is a thirtysomething ICU physician at a busy New York City hospital. She’s a workaholic with little interest in having friends, let alone lovers, and her medical colleagues misread her dedication to work as ambition. The daughter of Chinese parents who immigrated to America to secure the American dream, Joan sometimes looks up and wonders where her true roots lie: at the hospital, where her white coat makes her feel needed, or with her family, who try to shape her life by their own social and cultural expectations.

After Joan and her brother, Fang, were grown, their parents moved back to China, hoping to live out the balance of their years in their homeland. But when Joan’s father suddenly dies, her mother returns for a visit to America, determined to connect with her daughter while staying at Fang’s sprawling Greenwich estate. The hospital, and life on the Upper West Side, provide Joan some cover–until things shift yet again. First an outspoken man moves into the apartment next door and tries to draw Joan out of her comfort zone, and into the lives of their neighbors. Then, the hospital’s new HR “wellness initiative” requires Joan to take a mandatory leave of absence, to foster a better work/life balance.

On the cusp of the Chinese New Year and for lack of better options, Joan decamps to Fang’s to regain her equilibrium–until the day she must return to the city to face a crisis larger than anything she’s encountered before.

Due January 18

 

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

 

 

The Fairway Players, a local theatre group, is in the midst of rehearsals when tragedy strikes the family of director Martin Hayward and his wife Helen, the play’s star. Their young granddaughter has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and with an experimental treatment costing a tremendous sum, their fellow castmates rally to raise the money to give her a chance at survival.

But not everybody is convinced of the experimental treatment’s efficacy—nor of the good intentions of those involved. As tension grows within the community, things come to a shocking head at the explosive dress rehearsal. The next day, a dead body is found, and soon, an arrest is made. In the run-up to the trial, two young lawyers sift through the material—emails, messages, letters—with a growing suspicion that a killer may be hiding in plain sight. The evidence is all there, between the lines, waiting to be uncovered.

Due January 25