Best New Books: Week of 3/26/2019

The weather is getting steadily better each week, as Spring begins to make its presence known. This of course means that we can start taking our reading outdoors, and lucky for all of you there are a lot of great books coming out this week! Whether you’re looking for topical fiction or riveting suspense or maybe something to entertain the kids, you will find a fantastic book in this week’s list, so let’s get to it!



FICTION



The Other Americans by  Laila Lalami

other americansLate one spring night, as Driss Guerraoui is walking across a darkened intersection in California, he’s killed by a speeding car. The repercussions of his death bring together a diverse cast of characters: Guerraoui’s daughter Nora, a jazz composer who returns to the small town in the Mojave she thought she’d left for good; his widow, Maryam, who still pines after her life in the old country; Efraín, an undocumented witness whose fear of deportation prevents him from coming forward; Jeremy, an old friend of Nora’s and an Iraqi War veteran; Coleman, a detective who is slowly discovering her son’s secrets; Anderson, a neighbor trying to reconnect with his family; and the murdered man himself.

As the characters–deeply divided by race, religion, and class–tell their stories, connections among them emerge, even as Driss’s family confronts its secrets, a town faces its hypocrisies, and love–messy and unpredictable–is born.

Description from Goodreads.

“What a monumental challenge it is to reveal the state of America, to assert what unites and divides us — and what remarkable insight Lalami demonstrates by doing just that. Her interrogation is rigorous, and her provocations — about love’s dangerous power, the ties between resentment and privilege — resonate through to the last page.” – Entertainment Weekly

“Pulitzer Prize finalist Lalami may be our finest contemporary chronicler of immigration and its discontents. Her new novel spares no one, and it’s the kind of page-turning mystery you crave for a rainy reading weekend. The book uses different perspectives to uncover the real story behind a Moroccan immigrant’s death in a California intersection.” – Washington Post

“Lalami’s crisp, straightforward prose offers the perfect counterpoint to the complexity of her plot, which artfully interweaves past and present. Reminiscent of Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth in its depiction of the enduring effects of family secrets and betrayals, The Other Americans also addresses a multitude of other issues—immigration, prejudice, post-traumatic stress, love and murder—with what can only be described as magical finesse.” – BookPage, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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The Old Drift by  Namwali Serpell

old driftOn the banks of the Zambezi River, a few miles from the majestic Victoria Falls, there was once a colonial settlement called The Old Drift. Here begins the epic story of a small African nation, told by a mysterious swarm-like chorus that calls itself man’s greatest nemesis. The tale? A playful panorama of history, fairytale, romance and science fiction. The moral? To err is human.

In 1904, in a smoky room at the hotel across the river, an Old Drifter named Percy M. Clark, foggy with fever, makes a mistake that entangles the fates of an Italian hotelier and an African busboy. This sets off a cycle of unwitting retribution between three Zambian families (black, white, brown) as they collide and converge over the course of the century, into the present and beyond. As the generations pass, their lives – their triumphs, errors, losses and hopes – form a symphony about what it means to be human.

From a woman covered with hair and another plagued with endless tears, to forbidden love affairs and fiery political ones, to homegrown technological marvels like Afronauts, microdrones and viral vaccines – this gripping, unforgettable novel sweeps over the years and the globe, subverting expectations along the way. Exploding with colour and energy, The Old Drift is a testament to our yearning to create and cross borders, and a meditation on the slow, grand passage of time.

Description from Goodreads.

“In a novel that spans the breadth of Zambia’s precolonial past to its digital future, Serpell’s unbound imagination is often a thing of beauty…It is in the familial space with its dramas of loves, betrayals, desires and dreams that [Serpell] excels. Her Zambian characters are especially brimming and compelling. In a nod to Leo Tolstoy, she eventually offers her readers a lovely kernel of an overarching theme that binds her characters across the passage of time and encapsulates her confident writing style: ‘Every family is a war but some are more civil than others.’” – Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Recalling the work of Toni Morrison and Gabriel García Márquez as a sometimes magical, sometimes horrifically real portrait of a place, Serpell’s novel goes into the future of the 2020s, when the various plot threads come together in a startling conclusion. Intricately imagined, brilliantly constructed, and staggering in its scope, this is an astonishing novel.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“It’s hard to believe this is a debut, so assured is its language, so ambitious its reach, and yet The Old Drift is indeed Namwali Serpell’s first novel, and it signifies a great new voice in fiction. Feeling at once ancient and futuristic, The Old Drift is a genre-defying riotous work that spins a startling new creation myth for the African nation of Zambia…Serpell’s voice is lucid and brilliant, and it’s one we can’t wait to read more of in years to come.” – Nylon

Available Formats:

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Sing To It by  Amy Hempel

sing to itAmy Hempel is a master of the short story. A multiple award winner, Hempel is highly regarded among writers, reviewers, and readers of contemporary fiction. This new collection, her first since her Collected Stories published more than a decade ago, is a literary event.

These fifteen exquisitely honed stories reveal Hempel at her most compassionate and spirited, as she introduces characters, lonely and adrift, searching for connection. In “A Full-Service Shelter,” a volunteer at a dog shelter tirelessly, devotedly cares for dogs on a list to be euthanized. In “Greed,” a spurned wife examines her husband’s affair with a glamorous, older married woman. And in “Cloudland,” the longest story in the collection, a woman reckons with the choice she made as a teenager to give up her newborn infant. Quietly dazzling, these stories are replete with moments of revelation and transcendence and with Hempel’s singular, startling, inimitable sentences.

Description from Goodreads.

“Gorgeously distilled, archly witty, and daringly empathetic tales…Hempel is a master miniaturist, capturing in exquisitely nuanced sentences the sensuous, cerebral, and spiritual cascade of existence, homing in on pain and humor and the wisdom each can engender.” – Booklist

“[Sing to It] offers Hempel at her best: oscillating between hilarity and pain in a way that feels utterly human.” – Time

“Short story virtuoso Hempel’s first collection since 2006 consists of 15 characteristically bold, disconcerting, knockout stories that highlight her signature style with its condensed prose, quirky narrators, and touching, disturbing, transcendent moments.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe by  Evan James

cheer up mr widdicombeThe inimitable—some might say incorrigible—Frank Widdicombe is suffering from a deep depression. Or so his wife, Carol, believes. But Carol is convinced that their new island home—Willowbrook Manor on the Puget Sound—is just the thing to cheer her husband up. And so begins a whirlwind summer as their house becomes the epicenter of multiple social dramas involving the family, their friends, and a host of new acquaintances.

The Widdicombes’ son, Christopher, is mourning a heartbreak after a year abroad in Italy. Their personal assistant, Michelle, begins a romance with preppy screenwriter Bradford, who also happens to be Frank’s tennis partner. Meanwhile, a local named Marvelous Matthews is hired to create a garden at the manor—and is elated to find Gracie Sloane, bewitching self-help author, in residence as well. When this alternately bumbling and clever cast of characters comes together, Willowbrook transforms into a circus of uncovered secrets, preposterous misunderstandings, and irrepressible passions.

Written in a singularly witty and satirical style, Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe is perfect for fans of Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, Andrew Sean Greer’s Less, and Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins.

Description from Goodreads.

“[A] mordant comedy of manners . . . James is a fine writer, and his narrator maintains a consistent, ironically self-serious tone, skewering contemporary mindfulness culture and the pursuits of those with time, money, or both to burn.” – Booklist

“Oh look, it’s the perfect book. Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe is a hilarious and witty joy of a novel about a family’s insanely dramatic summer at their new island home. It’s LOL levels of funny, each sentence is quote-worthy, and it’s also pretty heartwarming. The only bad news is that it goes by way too fast.” – Cosmopolitan

“An absurd and hilarious satire full of unlikely characters who are all wildly introspective, dysfunctional, and prone to New Age philosophizing.” – Library Journal

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kaddish.com by  Nathan Englander

kaddish.comLarry is an atheist in a family of orthodox Memphis Jews. When his father dies, it is his responsibility as the surviving son to recite the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, every day for eleven months. To the horror and dismay of his mother and sisters, Larry refuses–thus imperiling the fate of his father’s soul. To appease them, and in penance for failing to mourn his father correctly, he hatches an ingenious if cynical plan, hiring a stranger through a website called kaddish.com to recite the daily prayer and shepherd his father’s soul safely to rest.

This is Nathan Englander’s freshest and funniest work to date–a satire that touches, lightly and with unforgettable humor, on the conflict between religious and secular worlds, and the hypocrisies that run through both. A novel about atonement; about spiritual redemption; and about the soul-sickening temptations of the internet, which, like God, is everywhere.

Description from Goodreads.

“Englander is mischievously hilarious, nightmarish, suspenseful, inquisitive, and deliriously tender in this concentrated tale of tradition and improvisation, faith and love.” – Booklist

“[An] excellent comic dissection of Jewish-American life…This novel reads like Chaim Potok filtered through the sensibility of Mel Brooks. Englander writes cogently about Jewish-American assimilation, and, in his practiced hands, he makes Shuli’s journey, both outer and inner, a simultaneously humorous and deeply moving one.” – Publishers Weekly

“What a rare blessing to find a smart and witty novel about the unexpected ways religious commitment can fracture a life — and restore it.” – Washington Post

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White Elephant by  Julie Langsdorf

white elephantThe White Elephant looms large over the quaint suburban town of Willard Park: a gaudy, newly constructed behemoth of a home, it soars over the neighborhood, dwarfing the houses that surround it. When owner Nick Cox cuts down Allison and Ted Millers’ precious red maple—in an effort to make his unsightly property more appealing to buyers—their once serene town becomes a battleground.

While tensions between Ted and Nick escalate, other dysfunctions abound: Allison finds herself compulsively drawn to the man who is threatening to upend her quietly organized life. A lawyer with a pot habit and a serious mid-life crisis skirts his responsibilities. And in a quest for popularity, a teenage girl gets caught up in a not-so-harmless prank. Newcomers and longtime residents alike begin to clash in conflicting pursuits of the American Dream, with trees mysteriously uprooted, fires set, fingers pointed, and lines drawn.

White Elephant is an uproarious, tangled-web tale of neighbor hating neighbor (and neighbor falling head over heels for neighbor). Soon, peaceful Willard Park becomes a tinder box with nowhere to go but up in flames.

Description from Goodreads.

“Lively and entertaining…. This ambitious and intriguing work about the American suburbs is perfect for fans of Ann Patchett or Meg Wolitzer.” – Publishers Weekly

“Julie Langsdorf’s debut novel slams two conflicting ideas of the American Dream smack into each other with both wit and wisdom…. The dialogue is sharp and a mystery subplot adds a dash of suspense. Entertainment at its best, White Elephant earns a shiny, gold star.” – Shelf Awareness

“Langsdorf gleefully skewers small-town stereotypes…. But beneath the caricatures are deeper truths about belonging, community, and relationships. In this smartly satirical novel, the raging feud reveals much about the residents’ core values.” – Booklist

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Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by  Rajeev Balasubramanyam

professor chandra follows his blissProfessor Chandra is an expert at complex problems. There’s just one he can’t crack: the secret of happiness.

In the moments after the bicycle accident, Professor Chandra doesn’t see his life flash before his eyes, but his life’s work.

He’s just narrowly missed out on the Nobel Prize (again) and even though he knows he should get straight back to his pie charts, his doctor has other ideas.

All this work. All this success. All this stress. It’s killing him. He needs to take a break, start enjoying himself. In short, says his doctor (who is from California), Professor Chandra should just follow his bliss.

He doesn’t know it yet, but Professor Chandra is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime.

Description from Goodreads.

“This brilliant and eloquent novel . . . is a sort of Zen satire in which tolerance and understanding mingle with hilarious criticisms of contemporary mores. . . . A wonderful read.” – The Mail on Sunday

“Balasubramanyam sets Chandra on a journey through his hardest feelings, working through the anger and emotional ineptitude that too often conceal his infinite love for his family. At first, Chandra’s children take even his self-blame for selfishness, but subtle changes in his introspection make for a big outward shift. With humor and emotional agility, Balasubramanyam writes a feel-good story that leaves room for feeling bad.” – Booklist

“Rajeev Balasubramanyam wields considerable humor, the perfect antidote to our polarized and exhausting present, while crafting a tender and thoughtful tale. This is an absolute gem of a book.” – Shelf Awareness

Available Formats:

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SUSPENSE



My Lovely Wife by  Samantha Downing

my lovely wifeOur love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.

We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

Description from Goodreads.

“Side effects of reading this include sleepless nights, and awkward looks from strangers on the subway due to your horrified expression.” – Cosmopolitan

“Will shock even the savviest suspense readers.” – Real Simple

“Mark our words: My Lovely Wife will be one of the most shocking and suspenseful thrillers you’ll read all year.” – Hello Giggles

“You might want to read this one during the daytime.” – Woman’s Day

Available Formats:

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The Perfect Girlfriend by  Karen Hamilton

perfect girlfriendJuliette loves Nate.

She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.

The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.

She is the perfect girlfriend. And she’ll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…

Description from Goodreads.

“…[a] warped and twisted tale of obsession… gripping… offer[s] a really fascinating insight into the mind of a calculating and devious sociopath. … The Perfect Girlfriend is a fresh take on the psychological thriller and will leave you wondering if you ever really know what goes on inside the head of another person. You will close the last page hoping that you never encounter someone like Juliette in your life. Ever.” – The Independent

“Hamilton subtly unveils the reasons for Juliette’s obsession, creating moments where the reader feels a surge of sympathy for this original and plucky, yet delusional, protagonist. This page-turner is by turns funny, creepy, surprising, scary, and exhilarating.” – Publishers Weekly

“Buckle your seatbelts, you’re in for a very bumpy ride…”  – Sunday Mirror

Available Formats:

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Crown Jewel by  Christopher Reich

crown jewelMonte Carlo’s most lavish casinos have become the targets of an efficient, brutal, and highly successful group of criminal gamblers; a casino dealer has been beaten to death; a German heiress’s son has been kidnapped. Who better to connect the crimes, and foil the brilliant plot, than Simon Riske, freelance industrial spy? Riske – part Bond, and part Reacher – knows the area well: it’s where as a young man he himself was a thrill-seeking thief, robbing armored trucks through daring car chases, until he was double-crossed, served his time, and graduated as an investment genius from the Sorbonne.

Now Riske is a man who solves problems, the bigger and the “riskier” the better. From the baccarat tables of the finest casinos to the yachts in the marina, to the private jet company that somehow ties these criminal enterprises together, Simon Riske will do what he does best: get in over his head, throw himself into danger, and find some way to out-think and out-maneuver villains of every stripe.

One of the most enjoyable, clever, and entertaining new series to come along in years, this sequel to The Take gives readers what they desire most: a hero we can root for, locales we wish were in, and a plot that never lets up.

Description from Goodreads.

“A stylish international thriller . . . Reich’s solid tradecraft and nonstop action are humanized by the hint of a relationship of the heart.” – Booklist

“[An] entertaining sequel . . . Reich infuses his narrative with numerous plot threads that seem separate but end up satisfyingly intersecting for a suspenseful ending. Readers will want to see a lot more of Riske.” – Publishers Weekly

“Simon Riske returns for another car-studded adventure. . . . Monaco, fast cars, rich women, bad Bosnians–what more is there?” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

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Blood Oath by  Linda Fairstein

blood oathAssistant DA Alexandra Cooper of the Manhattan Sex Crimes Unit is finally back at work following a leave of absence, and not a moment too soon. With more women feeling empowered to name their abusers, Alex is eager to return to the courtroom to do what she does best. But even she can’t anticipate the complexity of her first case when she meets Lucy, a young woman who testified years earlier at a landmark federal trial…and now reveals that she was sexually assaulted by a prominent official during that time.

Yet Lucy’s isn’t the only secret Alex must uncover, with rumors swirling about one colleague’s abusive conduct behind closed doors and another’s violent, mysterious collapse. As the seemingly disparate cases of her client, adversary, and friend start to intertwine, Alex, along with NYPD detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace, finds herself in uncharted territory within Manhattan’s Rockefeller University, a premier research institute, hospital, and cornerstone of higher learning. But not even the greatest minds in the city can help her when unearthed secrets begin to collide in dangerous ways…and unless she can uncover the truth, the life-saving facility just may become her grave.

Description from Goodreads.

“[The] broadest, most ambitious tale yet in the sterling Alexandra Cooper series….This is a masterpiece of form and function, featuring prescient societal commentary wrapped in the fabric of a thriller.” – Providence Journal

“A fastpaced battle of wits leading to a hair-raising climax…fans will get what they came for here. Fairstein is an A-lister.” – Booklist

“[W]ell written and deftly plotted..After taking 2018 off, Linda Fairstein quickly recaptures her spot among the very best in the genre, touching on a number of timely issues in Blood Oath, one of her best thrillers to date.” – The Real Book Spy

Available Formats:

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MYSTERY



The American Agent by  Jacqueline Winspear

american agentWhen Catherine Saxon, an American correspondent reporting on the war in Europe, is found murdered in her London digs, news of her death is concealed by British authorities. Serving as a linchpin between Scotland Yard and the Secret Service, Robert MacFarlane pays a visit to Maisie Dobbs, seeking her help. He is accompanied by an agent from the US Department of Justice—Mark Scott, the American who helped Maisie escape Hitler’s Munich in 1938. MacFarlane asks Maisie to work with Scott to uncover the truth about Saxon’s death.

As the Germans unleash the full terror of their blitzkrieg upon the British Isles, raining death and destruction from the skies, Maisie must balance the demands of solving this dangerous case with her need to protect Anna, the young evacuee she has grown to love and wants to adopt. Entangled in an investigation linked to the power of wartime propaganda and American political intrigue being played out in Britain, Maisie will face losing her dearest friend—and the possibility that she might be falling in love again.

Description from Goodreads.

“Advances Maisie’s inspiring activities, highlights the bravery of an embattled people during the Second World War, and intimates that lessons from that period have yet to be learned.” – Kirkus Reviews

 “Excellent…. In Winspear’s capable hands, Maisie has evolved into a deeply sympathetic character. Readers will eagerly await her next outing.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Winspear captures the juxtaposition of the utter chaos and eerie normalcy of the Blitz with cinematic style… The looming questions of whether she will be able to balance motherhood with her dangerous career is brilliantly relevant both to the era Winspear writes about and the current era… The American Agent will satisfy fans and newcomers alike.” – BookPage

Available Formats:

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NONFICTION



Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by  Jennifer L. Eberhardt, PhD

biasedFrom one of the world’s leading experts on unconscious racial bias, a personal examination of one of the central controversies and culturally powerful issues of our time, and its influence on contemporary race relations and criminal justice.

We do not have to be racist to be biased. With a perspective that is both scientific, investigative, and also informed by personal experience, Eberhardt offers a reasoned look into the effects of implicit racial bias, ranging from the subtle to the dramatic. Racial bias can lead to disparities in education, employment, housing, and the criminal justice system–and then those very disparities further reinforce the problem. In Biased, Eberhardt reveals how even when we are not aware of bias and genuinely wish to treat all people equally, ingrained stereotypes can infect our visual perception, attention, memory, and behavior.

Eberhardt’s extensive work as a consultant to law enforcement, as well as a researcher with unprecedented access to data including footage from police officers’ body-worn cameras, informs every aspect of her book and makes it much more than a work of social psychology. Her research occurs not just in the laboratory but in police departments, courtrooms, prisons, boardrooms, and on the street. Interviews are interwoven with memories and stories from Eberhardt’s own life and family. She offers practical suggestions for reform, and takes the reader behind the scenes to police departments implementing her suggestions. Refusing to shy away from the tragic consequences of prejudice, Eberhardt addresses how racial bias is not the fault of nor restricted to a few “bad apples” in police departments or other institutions. We can see evidence of bias at all levels of society in media, education, and business practices. In Biased, Eberhardt reminds us that racial bias is a human problem–one all people can play a role in solving.

Description from Goodreads.

“Compelling and provocative, this is a game-changing book about how unconscious racial bias impacts our society and what each of us can do about it.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“An immensely informative and insightful analysis of race-based stereotypes. [Eberhardt] also offers practical suggestions for managing mechanisms of prejudice that ‘are rooted in the structures of our brains.’” – Psychology Today

Available Formats:

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No Happy Endings: A Memoir by  Nora McInerny

no happy endingsThe author of It’s Okay to Laugh and host of the popular podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking—interviews that are “a gift to be able to listen [to]” (New York Times)—returns with more hilarious meditations on her messy, wonderful, bittersweet, and unconventional life.

Life has a million different ways to kick you right in the chops. We lose love, lose jobs, lose our sense of self. For Nora McInerny, it was losing her husband, her father, and her unborn second child in one catastrophic year.

But in the wake of loss, we get to assemble something new from whatever is left behind. Some circles call finding happiness after loss “Chapter 2”—the continuation of something else. Today, Nora is remarried and mothers four children aged 16 months to 16 years. While her new circumstances bring her extraordinary joy, they are also tinged with sadness over the loved ones she’s lost.

Life has made Nora a reluctant expert in hard conversations. On her wildly popular podcast, she talks about painful experiences we inevitably face, and exposes the absurdity of the question “how are you?” that people often ask when we’re coping with the aftermath of emotional catastrophe. She knows intimately that when your life falls apart, there’s a mad rush to be okay—to find a silver lining, to get to the happy ending. In this, her second memoir, Nora offers a tragicomic exploration of the tension between finding happiness and holding space for the unhappy experiences that have shaped us.

No Happy Endings is a book for people living life after life has fallen apart. It’s a book for people who know that they’re moving forward, not moving on. It’s a book for people who know life isn’t always happy, but it isn’t the end: there will be unimaginable joy and incomprehensible tragedy. As Nora reminds us, there will be no happy endings—but there will be new beginnings.

Description from Goodreads.

No Happy Endings is the book for anyone who’s fallen down and is trying to pick themselves back up again. An emotionally honest and thoughtful read.” – Popsugar

“McInerny delivers a highly emotional—but not overly somber—story that will appeal to anyone who has suffered a significant loss and is seeking a path toward life’s next chapter. Reflective and tender writing on finding new meanings and a different life after heartbreaking loss.” – Kirkus Reviews

“It’s a comforting read for those who have experienced losses, and an inspiring one for anyone looking to appreciate and see life from an exceptional angle. McInerny’s voice is disarming and her language is sincere.” – Minneapolis Star Tribune

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What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays by  Damon Young

what doesn't kill you makes you blackerFor Damon Young, existing while Black is an extreme sport. The act of possessing black skin while searching for space to breathe in America is enough to induce a ceaseless state of angst where questions such as “How should I react here, as a professional black person?” and “Will this white person’s potato salad kill me?” are forever relevant.

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker chronicles Young’s efforts to survive while battling and making sense of the various neuroses his country has given him.

It’s a condition that’s sometimes stretched to absurd limits, provoking the angst that made him question if he was any good at the “being straight” thing, as if his sexual orientation was something he could practice and get better at, like a crossover dribble move or knitting; creating the farce where, as a teen, he wished for a white person to call him a racial slur just so he could fight him and have a great story about it; and generating the surreality of watching gentrification transform his Pittsburgh neighborhood from predominantly Black to “Portlandia . . . but with Pierogies.”  

And, at its most devastating, it provides him reason to believe that his mother would be alive today if she were white.

From one of our most respected cultural observers, What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker is a hilarious and honest debut that is both a celebration of the idiosyncrasies and distinctions of Blackness and a critique of white supremacy and how we define masculinity.

Description from Goodreads.

“Brave, incisive and witty. . . an essential American voice . . . Young is . . . the American writer who could bridge our racial divide . . . Sometimes as profanely magnificent as a Richard Pryor routine, but just as often droll in the vein of David Sedaris.” – Pittsburgh Quarterly

“A passionate, wryly bittersweet tribute to black life…sharply observed…A must read.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Darkly hilarious . . . Young’s charm and wit make these essays a pleasure to read; his candid approach makes them memorable.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

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Once a Wolf: The Science Behind Our Dogs’ Astonishing Genetic Evolution by  Bryan Sykes

once a wolfHow did wolves evolve into dogs? When did this happen, and what role did humans play?

Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes used the full array of modern technology to explore the canine genetic journey that likely began when a human child decided to adopt a wolf cub thousands of years ago. In the process, he discovered that only a handful of genes have created the huge range of shapes, sizes, and colors in modern dogs.

Providing scientific insight into these adaptive stages, Sykes focuses attention on our own species, and how our own evolution from (perhaps equally aggressive) primates was enhanced by this most unlikely ally. Whether examining our obsession with canine purity, or delving into the prehistoric past to answer the most fundamental question of all, “Why do we love our dog so much?,” Once a Wolf is an engaging work no dog lover or ancestry aficionado should be without.

Description from Goodreads.

“Reading this is like having your own personal geneticist explain complex research papers in a way that is both comprehensible and fascinating. Heavily peppered with references to scientific papers that have documented the research on dog genetics, this also serves as a wealth of further reading material. Rich in accessible analogies that deftly explain complex scientific concepts, this is a must-read for anybody who has wondered about the origins of humans’ best friend.” – Library Journal

“Rich with details about how humans have studied and shaped dog evolution…. Sykes also has a gift for rendering complex concepts, such as mitochondrial DNA or genetic microsatellites, accessible to lay readers.” – Publishers Weekly

“In prose both scientific and poetic, geneticist and author Sykes, self-described as “not a dog person” but curious about the parallel evolution of dog and human, takes us through the archaeological, paleontological, behavioral, and genetic evidence pinpointing the transformation of wolf to dog. . . Woven throughout are possible answers to why humans are so in love with their dogs, making for a warmly engaging popular-science read.” – Booklist

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CHILDREN’S



Friendroid by  M.M. Vaughan

friendroidEric Young is an android, but he doesn’t know. He does know that he’s just moved to Ashland, so it’s important to make the right kind of friends—the kind that would be interested in skateboarding and the new Slick sneakers his Uncle Martin sends him.

Danny Lazio doesn’t have any friends, but he doesn’t care. Even if his classmates don’t accept him, he still has Land X, the online role play game that he’s actually really good at. But then Eric takes an interest in Land X, and suddenly Danny thinks he might have found a real friend…if he can figure out the mystery behind Eric’s sudden disappearances and strange lifestyle.

It becomes harder to ignore the weird events that happen only around Eric. But uncovering the secret behind Eric’s identity is an act that might cost them both as powerful forces soon move in around them.

This heartfelt story about friendship and what it means to be human is sure to tug at your soul—or your soul-chip if you’re like Eric.

Description from Goodreads.

“A timely parable for this generation of digital natives.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Vaughan presents another noteworthy [sci-fi] middle-grade offering peppered with mystery.” – Booklist

“Unrelentingly funny sci-fi story.” – Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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Sweety by  Andrea Zuill

sweetySweety is awkward, even for a naked mole rat. She has protruding front teeth, thick glasses, and some very unusual hobbies, including interpretive dance and fungus identification. She’s intense and passionate–and her peers don’t always get her. But surely there are other mushroom lovers out there?

As Sweety sets out to find them, she comes to realize–with a little help from her cool Aunt Ruth– that being Sweety is actually pretty awesome. With heart and humor and a whole lot of charm, Andrea Zuill delivers a story about learning to embrace everything that makes you you–and that’s something many kids are going to relate to.

Description from Goodreads.

“Zuill takes a common theme—finding the courage to be yourself—and makes it funny, heartwarming, and inspiring.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“…effectively employs empathy, honesty, and an elegant ink line to persuade readers that everyone can find their people.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book


Felipe and Claudette by  Mark Teague

felipe and claudetteFelipe and Claudette are the only animals left at the pet shelter. Who would ever adopt pets like them?

Each adoption day, all of the pets at Mrs. Barrett’s adoption shelter are sure to look their best. And each adoption day, all of the pets are adopted, except for two — Felipe (a grumpy cat) and Claudette (a rambunctious dog). Felipe is always grumbling. He is sure they are not being adopted because of Claudette. Claudette is messy and noisy and always has food on her nose and mud on her fur. They will never find a forever home when Claudette is always making such a bad impression. 

But then, one of the two friends is adopted and taken to a new home. When they are apart, Felipe is no longer quite so talkative. And Claudette doesn’t bark or chew or play in circles. Could Felipe and Claudette actually miss each other? 

The latest picture book from the bestselling author-illustrator Mark Teague, this funny story teaches kids that sometimes friends are right beside you the whole time — and home is closer than you think.

Description from Goodreads.

“Teague’s exuberant illustrations capture the joy of a young dog demolishing a stuffed toy and the aloof posture of a cat rolling his eyes. This amusing and animal-centric story about pet adoption will carry the day at storytime and any small group setting.” – School Library Journal

“The personality of the pets shine through with the colorful illustrations, and children will be drawn to the antics of Claudette and the unlikely friendship of a cat and a dog. This would be a good selection for independent reading or for reading aloud.” – School Library Connection

Available Formats:

Print Book


Bark in the Park!: Poems for Dog Lovers by  Avery Corman; illustrated by  Hyewon Yum

bark in the parkGo on a walk to the park with all different kinds of dogs and their owners in this funny and charming poetry picture book.

Enjoy Avery Corman’s canine poetry for an Afghan hound, basset hound, beagle, bloodhound, Daschshund, boxer, greyhound, and more as they stroll with their owners to the park.

Pug
Is the Pug cute? 
Or is the Pug ugh?
Mostly, people love
The little Pug’s mug

Hyewon Yum captures the unique characteristics of the owner and his pet as she beautifully illustrates the humorous walk from each dog’s home to the park and back.

Description from Goodreads.

“Short, spritely poems accompany the 38 varieties of dog showcased in this witty and fact-filled book… The illustrations, which use heavy ink outlines with watercolors and washes of color, are engaging and filled with comic details. Corman incorporates appropriate warnings about interacting with certain breeds and brings everything to a heartwarming conclusion.” – Booklist

“Corman’s poems, which are sassy, well-written, and rhythmically enchanting, are on target for each breed of dog and just the right length to entertain and amuse the reader. Yum’s lively mixed-media illustrations elevate this book’s storyline to a whole new level. While there are many poetry books about dogs available, this one stands out as a picture book that will be read cover to cover as children find themselves engaged by what is going on throughout the pages.” – School Library Connection

Available Formats:

Print Book

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