Best New Books: Week of 9/10/2019

You may think it’s too early to start thinking about Christmas, but it’s definitely already on the minds of publishers, as they are all going to start bringing out books by their most popular authors in hopes of seeing them winding up underneath more than a few trees come December. This week sees several of the year’s most anticipated new titles being released, including Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. There are also nonfiction entries across a variety of subjects, a few YA heavy hitters, and for those looking to get into the Halloween spirit, a couple of creepy titles including the latest from Stephen King. So check out the list below, and have a happy, very extended, holiday season!



FICTION



The Testaments by  Margaret Atwood ★

testamentsWhen the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her—freedom, prison or death.

With The Testaments, the wait is over.

Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

“Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.” —Margaret Atwood

Description from Goodreads.

“A chilling invitation no Atwood fan can resist… The Testaments reminds us of the power of truth in the face of evil.” – People

“A fast, immersive narrative that’s as propulsive as it is melodramatic.” – New York Times

“A rare treat… a corker of a plot, culminating in a breathless flight to freedom.” – Slate

“The women of Gilead are more fascinating than ever.” – NPR

Available Formats:

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Akin by  Emma Donoghue

akinNoah Selvaggio is a retired chemistry professor and widower living on the Upper West Side, but born in the South of France. He is days away from his first visit back to Nice since he was a child, bringing with him a handful of puzzling photos he’s discovered from his mother’s wartime years. But he receives a call from social services: Noah is the closest available relative of an eleven-year-old great-nephew he’s never met, who urgently needs someone to look after him. Out of a feeling of obligation, Noah agrees to take Michael along on his trip.

Much has changed in this famously charming seaside mecca, still haunted by memories of the Nazi occupation. The unlikely duo, suffering from jet lag and culture shock, bicker about everything from steak frites to screen time. But Noah gradually comes to appreciate the boy’s truculent wit, and Michael’s ease with tech and sharp eye help Noah unearth troubling details about their family’s past. Both come to grasp the risks people in all eras have run for their loved ones, and find they are more akin than they knew.

Written with all the tenderness and psychological intensity that made Room an international bestseller, Akin is a funny, heart-wrenching tale of an old man and a boy, born two generations apart, who unpick their painful story and start to write a new one together.

Description from Goodreads.

“Emma Donoghue has written the perfect novel to ease the transition from beach reads to the traditionally more serious issue-driven books of fall… Akin makes for an intriguing trip to Nice for the armchair traveler who is not quite ready for the summer to end.” – Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Setting the story against the compelling backdrop of the annual Carnaval de Nice, Donoghue… shines in her careful study of this slice of WWII history in France. …builds unabashedly to a heartwarming conclusion.” – Booklist

“With her characteristic storytelling brio, Donoghue… sets up a fraught situation with multiple unresolved issues .. Donoghue keeps sentimentality to a minimum and deftly maintains a suspenseful plot… a beautiful meditation on how we preserve the past as we prepare for the future. Noah and Michael, humanly flawed and all the more likable for that, deserve their happy ending… well crafted, and absorbing.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

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Unpregnant by  Jenni Hendriks & Ted Caplan

unpregnantSeventeen-year-old Veronica Clarke never thought she would wish she’d failed a test until she finds herself holding a thick piece of plastic in her hands and staring at two solid pink lines. Even the most consistent use of condoms won’t prevent pregnancy when your boyfriend secretly pokes holes in them to keep you from going out-of-state for college.

Veronica needs an abortion, but the closest place she can legally get one is over nine hundred miles away—and Veronica doesn’t have a car. Too ashamed to ask her friends or family for help, Veronica turns to the one person she believes won’t judge her: Bailey Butler, Jefferson High’s own little black cloud of anger and snark—and Veronica’s ex-best friend. Once on the road, Veronica quickly remembers nothing with Bailey is ever simple and that means two days of stolen cars, shotguns, crazed ex-boyfriends, truck stop strippers with pro-life agendas, and a limo driver named Bob. But the pain and betrayal of their broken friendship can’t be outrun. When their fighting leads to a brutal moment of truth, Bailey abandons Veronica. Now Veronica must risk everything in order to repair the hurt she’s caused.

Description from Goodreads.

“The authors’ background in television and film shows, with scene after hilarious scene normalizing the most serious of subjects: how far women must often go to exercise control over their own bodies. Though her desire to avoid teenage parenthood propels Ronnie to act, the trip is also one of self-discovery as she reassesses what partnership really means. A stellar, timely debut.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“…entertaining and educational… Timely, hilarious, and heartfelt.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“A story that effortlessly delivers difficult topics through humor and adventure, without taking away from their serious nature. It is a must read for fans of Gaby Rodriguez’s The Pregnancy Project and Diablo Cody’s movie Juno.” – School Library Journal

Available Formats:

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Animalia by  Jean-Baptiste Del Amo

animaliaThe small village of Puy-Larroque, southwest France, 1898. Éléonore is a child living with her father, a pig farmer whose terminal illness leaves him unable to work, and her God-fearing mother, who runs both farm and family with an iron hand. Éléonore passes her childhood with little heat and no running water, sharing a small room with her cousin Marcel, who does most of the physical labor on the farm. When World War I breaks out and the village empties, Éléonore gets a taste of the changes that will transform her world as the twentieth century rolls on.

As the reader moves into the second part of the novel, which takes place in the 1980s, the untamed world of Puy-Larroque seems gone forever. Now, Éléonore has herself aged into the role of matriarch, and the family is running a large industrial pig farm, where thousands of pigs churn daily through cycles of birth, growth, and death. Moments of sublime beauty and powerful emotion mix with the thoughtless brutality waged against animals that makes the old horrors of death and disease seem like simpler times.

A dramatic and chilling tale of man and beast that recalls the naturalism of writers like Émile Zola, Animalia traverses the twentieth century as it examines man’s quest to conquer nature, critiques the legacy of modernity and the transmission of violence from one generation to the next, and questions whether we can hold out hope for redemption in this brutal world.

Description from Goodreads.

“Powerful… This is not a novel that says just try to recycle a bit more: it is a book that confronts a reader with a stark moral reckoning of the costs of eating meat. There are characters too, but the main character, here, troubled and chased through these pages, is the farm. Fans of Édouard Louis will find a thrilling fellow-traveler here.” – Literary Hub

“Del Amo’s pungent, nightmarish English-language debut describes, in a mythic, arresting style, the bleak fates of a cursed family and the pigs they rear… The florid prose has an incantatory power well suited to the festering enmity, inhumanity, and majestic squalor on display. This uncompromising vision will leave readers breathless, thrilled, and exhausted.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Stunning… Shades of Antonin Artaud’s machete let loose on Georges de La Tour’s paintings… A book people will talk about.” – Le Point

Available Formats:

Hoopla eBook


The Divers’ Game by  Jesse Ball

divers' gameThe old-fashioned struggle for fairness has finally been abandoned. It was a misguided endeavor. The world is divided into two groups, pats and quads. The pats may kill the quads as they like, and do. The quads have no recourse but to continue with their lives.

The Divers’ Game is a thinly veiled description of our society, an extreme case that demonstrates a truth: we must change or our world will collapse.

What is the effect of constant fear on a life, or on a culture? The Divers’ Game explores the consequences of violence through two festivals, and through the dramatic and excruciating examination of a woman’s final moments.

Brilliantly constructed and achingly tender, The Divers’ Game shatters the notion of common decency as the binding agent between individuals, forcing us to consider whether compassion is intrinsic to the human experience. With his signature empathy and ingenuity, Jesse Ball’s latest work solidifies his reputation as one of contemporary fiction’s most mesmerizing talents.

Description from Goodreads.

“A book that contemplates, with the gravity and grace it deserves, a world beyond the point of no return… Stunning… The book’s final section, in which a woman confronts the violence within herself, is one of the more beautiful things I’ve ever read.” – Paris Review

“Ball, a writer of exceptional and pensive imagination, adds another trenchant fable to his distinctively disquieting oeuvre. One hears the beat of Animal Farm. Writing with blood-freezing sparseness, Ball illuminates this calamitously immoral place. Distressingly mirrors aspects of our own [world].” – Booklist

“Radical… If they don’t teach Ball’s work in college by now, they should… Readers who appreciate Ball’s keen, melancholic, and often sadly satirical view of human society will likely appreciate this timely assessment of where division might take us and how it affects the generations that come after us.” – Kirkus Reviews

Available Formats:

Hoopla eAudiobook



HISTORICAL FICTION



The Starlet and the Spy by  Ji-min Lee

starlet and the spyFebruary 1954. Although the Korean War armistice was signed a year ago, most citizens of Seoul still battle to return to some semblance of normalcy. Conditions are dismal. Children beg for food, and orphanages are teeming. Alice J. Kim, a Korean translator and typist for the American forces still sanctioned in the city, yearns for the life she used to live before her country was torn apart.

Then Alice’s boss makes an announcement—the American movie star Marilyn Monroe will be visiting Korea on a four-day USO tour, and Alice has been chosen as her translator. Though intrigued, Alice has few expectations of the job—what could she and a beautiful actress at the peak of her fame possibly have to talk about? Yet the Marilyn she meets, while just as dazzling and sensual as Alice expected, is also surprisingly approachable.

As Marilyn’s visit unfolds, Alice is forced into a reckoning with her own painful past. Moving and mesmerizing, The Starlet and the Spy is a beautiful portrayal of unexpected kinship between two very different women, and of the surprising connections that can change, or even save, a life.

Description from Goodreads.

“Lee’s touching examination of the long shadow of a war cast over one woman will leave readers intensely moved.” – Publishers Weekly

“With great care and mastery of poetic language, translator Kim brings Lee’s novel to English-language readers, a large swath of whom it will speak to. Lovers of historical fiction will appreciate Lee’s attention to dates and details, while readers seeking intrigue will find plot aplenty, and it’s all tangled in a tragic romance built up to epic proportions.” – Booklist

“Unique in its setting, mid-1950s Korea newly split by communism after two devastating wars, this brief novel will be appreciated by readers who enjoy historical context and/or strong female protagonists.” – Library Journal

Available Formats:

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Gun Island by  Amitav Ghosh

gun islandBundook. Gun. A common word, but one which turns Deen Datta’s world upside down.

A dealer of rare books, Deen is used to a quiet life spent indoors, but as his once-solid beliefs begin to shift, he is forced to set out on an extraordinary journey; one that takes him from India to Los Angeles and Venice via a tangled route through the memories and experiences of those he meets along the way. There is Piya, a fellow Bengali-American who sets his journey in motion; Tipu, an entrepreneurial young man who opens Deen’s eyes to the realities of growing up in today’s world; Rafi, with his desperate attempt to help someone in need; and Cinta, an old friend who provides the missing link in the story they are all a part of. It is a journey which will upend everything he thought he knew about himself, about the Bengali legends of his childhood and about the world around him.

Gun Island is a beautifully realised novel which effortlessly spans space and time. It is the story of a world on the brink, of increasing displacement and unstoppable transition. But it is also a story of hope, of a man whose faith in the world and the future is restored by two remarkable women.

Description from Goodreads.

Gun Island deals with two of the biggest issues of the current moment: climate change and human migration. But it’s not homework. Ghosh is mindful of his task as a novelist ― to entertain. The confidence with which he shapes a good, old-fashioned diversion around these particular poles is instructive… That Ghosh is able to sustain the book’s momentum when its primary inquiry is so cerebral is no mean feat. The novel made me think of A.S. Byatt’s Possession, or Tom Stoppard’s best plays… The truth is stranger than fiction, and Gun Island is a novel for our times.” – Washington Post

“Amid the freak cyclones and oxygen-starved waters comes the story – or stories – of migration across the ages; tales of escapology, of deprivation and persecution, of impossible yearnings for a new world that bring us, inexorably, to the terrified refugees on the Mediterranean. Which is, perhaps, Ghosh’s essential point; a shaggy dog story can take a very roundabout path towards reality, but it will get there in the end. It has to, or we’re all doomed.” – The Guardian

“Ghosh seductively combines old-fashioned storytelling with keen research and a socially conscious sensibility to enthralling and piquantly enlightening affect.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

eBook


Out of Darkness, Shining Light by  Petina Gappah

out of darkness shining light“This is how we carried out of Africa the poor broken body of Bwana Daudi, the Doctor, David Livingstone, so that he could be borne across the sea and buried in his own land.”

So begins Petina Gappah’s powerful novel of exploration and adventure in nineteenth-century Africa—the captivating story of the loyal men and women who carried explorer and missionary Dr. Livingstone’s body, his papers and maps, fifteen hundred miles across the continent of Africa, so his remains could be returned home to England and his work preserved there. Narrated by Halima, the doctor’s sharp-tongued cook, and Jacob Wainwright, a rigidly pious freed slave, this is a story that encompasses all of the hypocrisy of slavery and colonization—the hypocrisy at the core of the human heart—while celebrating resilience, loyalty, and love.

Description from Goodreads.

“A rich, vivid, and addictive book filled with memorably drawn characters. This is a humane, riveting, epic novel that spotlights marginalized historical voices.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Gappah decolonizes the legend of Dr. Livingstone by turning the tale inside out, giving voice to those who are overlooked in the official narratives. The result is an indictment of the legacy of slavery and colonialism that is also an engrossing adventure story.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Riveting… a deeply layered exploration of courage, sorrow, and resilience, culminating in a revelatory quest and an entrancing vision.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

eBook | eAudiobook



HORROR



The Institute by Stephen King ★

instituteIn the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”

In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.

As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of ItThe Institute is Stephen King’s gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.

Description from Goodreads.

“King wows with the most gut-wrenching tale of kids triumphing over evil since It… Tapping into the minds of the young characters, King creates a sense of menace and intimacy that will have readers spellbound… Not a word is wasted in this meticulously crafted novel, which once again proves why King is the king of horror.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“You don’t need to be a horror fan to read The Institute — or to have The Institute take over your life, since this is generally what happens with King’s novels… His storytelling transcends genre.” – Newsday

“Shocking suspense and hallmark thrills… The Institute offers a thrilling reading experience and rousing tribute to the resilience of children and the unending fight against evil.” – BookPage

Available Formats:

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YOUNG ADULT FICTION



Frankly in Love by  David Yoon ★

frankly in loveHigh school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.

Description from Goodreads.

“Yoon’s stellar debut expertly and authentically tackles racism, privilege, and characters who are trying to navigate their Korean-American identity.” – BuzzFeed

“Completely unique. Frank is a wonderfully self-aware protagonist with a compelling voice… [A] beautifully written exploration of family, identity, and self-discovery.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Touching on issues of race, identity, and first love, Frankly in Love is the charming, funny, romantic young adult crossover novel that both adults and teens will enjoy in equal measure.” – PopSugar

“David Yoon packs all manner of ethnic, class, and family dynamics into the funny, profane and poignant pages of Frankly in Love.” – Wall Street Journal

Available Formats:

Print Book


His Hideous Heart: 13 of Edgar Allen Poe’s Most Unsettling Tales Reimagined edited by Dahlia Adler

his hideous heartThirteen of YA’s most celebrated names reimagine Edgar Allan Poe’s most surprising, unsettling, and popular tales for a new generation.

Edgar Allan Poe may be a hundred and fifty years beyond this world, but the themes of his beloved works have much in common with modern young adult fiction. Whether the stories are familiar to readers or discovered for the first time, readers will revel in Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales, and how they’ve been brought to life in 13 unique and unforgettable ways.

Contributors include Kendare Blake (reimagining “Metzengerstein”), Rin Chupeco (“The Murders in the Rue Morgue”), Lamar Giles (“The Oval Portrait”), Tessa Gratton (“Annabel Lee”), Tiffany D. Jackson (“The Cask of Amontillado”), Stephanie Kuehn (“The Tell-Tale Heart”), Emily Lloyd-Jones (“The Purloined Letter”), Hillary Monahan (“The Masque of the Red Death”), Marieke Nijkamp (“Hop-Frog”), Caleb Roehrig (“The Pit and the Pendulum”), and Fran Wilde (“The Fall of the House of Usher”).

Description from Goodreads.

“Presenting 13 reinterpretations of Poe’s works alongside the originals, this enticing anthology offers an accessible, multifaceted reading experience for fans old and new… A refreshing assortment of diverse voices and contemporary themes ensures there’s something for everyone in this delightful compilation.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“In Adler’s inclusive anthology, 13 YA authors honor Edgar Allan Poe’s pioneering work in mystery, horror, and science fiction with retellings that emphasize diverse characters, settings, and genres… Poe fans new and old will find stories to appreciate here.” – Booklist

“Thirteen authors reshape short stories by Edgar Allan Poe in a collection that practically pulses with curricular potential. Both well-known works and lesser-known stories are reimagined here, and the retellings echo the suspense, wit, and undeniable sadness that move through the original pieces. Poe’s original short stories are all provided in the second half of the book, and any fan of the writer will appreciate these modern takes on the morbid and macabre.” – The Bulletin

Available Formats:

Print Book



NONFICTION



Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know by  Malcolm Gladwell

talking to strangersIn July 2015, a young black woman named Sandra Bland was pulled over for a minor traffic violation in rural Texas. Minutes later she was arrested and jailed. Three days later, she committed suicide in her cell. What went wrong? Talking to Strangers is all about what happens when we encounter people we don’t know, why it often goes awry, and what it says about us.

How do we make sense of the unfamiliar? Why are we so bad at judging someone, reading a face, or detecting a lie? Why do we so often fail to “get” other people?

Through a series of puzzles, encounters and misunderstandings, from little-known stories to infamous legal cases, Gladwell takes us on a journey through the unexpected. You will read about the spy who spent years undetected at the highest levels of the Pentagon, the man who saw through the fraudster Bernie Madoff, the suicide of the poet Sylvia Plath and the false conviction of Amanda Knox. You will discover that strangers are never simple.

No one shows us who we are like Malcolm Gladwell. Here he sets out to understand why we act the way we do, and how we all might know a little more about those we don’t.

Description from Goodreads.

“Gladwell brilliantly argues that we should stop assuming, realize no one’s transparent and understand that behavior is tied to unseen circumstances. Powerful advice on truly getting to know others.” – People

“The latest intellectually stimulating book from the acclaimed author. Every few years, journalist Gladwell assembles serious scientific research on oddball yet relevant subjects and then writes a bestseller. Readers expecting another everything-you-think-you-know-is-wrong page-turner will not be disappointed… Another Gladwell tour de force.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Chock-full of gripping anecdotes from the recent and forgotten past. He uses these riveting stories to offer up bite-size observations about how we engage with strangers. The stranger is not easy; she is never as transparent as we believe. Gladwell’s case studies are thrilling.” – Booklist

Available Formats:

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The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir by  Samantha Power

education of an idealistPulitzer Prize winner Samantha Power, widely known as a relentless advocate for promoting human rights, has been heralded by President Barack Obama as one of America’s “foremost thinkers on foreign policy.”

In her memoir, Power offers an urgent response to the question “What can one person do?”—and a call for a clearer eye, a kinder heart, and a more open and civil hand in our politics and daily lives. The Education of an Idealist traces Power’s distinctly American journey from immigrant to war correspondent to presidential Cabinet official. In 2005, her critiques of US foreign policy caught the eye of newly elected senator Barack Obama, who invited her to work with him on Capitol Hill and then on his presidential campaign. After Obama was elected president, Power went from being an activist outsider to a government insider, navigating the halls of power while trying to put her ideals into practice. She served for four years as Obama’s human rights adviser, and in 2013, he named her US Ambassador to the United Nations, the youngest American to assume the role.

A Pulitzer Prize–winning writer, Power transports us from her childhood in Dublin to the streets of war-torn Bosnia to the White House Situation Room and the world of high-stakes diplomacy. Humorous and deeply honest, The Education of an Idealist lays bare the searing battles and defining moments of her life and shows how she juggled the demands of a 24/7 national security job with the challenge of raising two young children. Along the way, she illuminates the intricacies of politics and geopolitics, reminding us how the United States can lead in the world, and why we each have the opportunity to advance the cause of human dignity. Power’s memoir is an unforgettable account of the power of idealism—and of one person’s fierce determination to make a difference.

Description from Goodreads.

“In this gripping and revelatory memoir, Power chronicles, with vibrant precision and stunning candor, her best and worst moments navigating the obstacle courses within the White House and the UN, daunting global crises, and personal struggles. She is utterly compelling in her eye-witness accounts of violence and political standoffs and shrewdly witty in her tales about balancing diplomacy and motherhood.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“[Power] stresses the necessity of caring, acting, and not giving up when seeking to change people’s lives. Power’s vibrant prose, exuberant storytelling, and deep insights into human nature make for a page-turning memoir.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Lively… and strikingly personal… [Power] writes vividly and lucidly here about her turn in the international spotlight.” – Vogue

Available Formats:

Print BookeBook


Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America by  James Poniewozik

audience of oneTelevision has entertained America, television has ensorcelled America, and with the election of Donald J. Trump, television has conquered America. In Audience of OneNew York Times chief television critic James Poniewozik traces the history of TV and mass media from the Reagan era to today, explaining how a volcanic, camera-hogging antihero merged with America’s most powerful medium to become our forty-fifth president.

In the tradition of Neil Postman’s masterpiece Amusing Ourselves to DeathAudience of One shows how American media have shaped American society and politics, by interweaving two crucial stories. The first story follows the evolution of television from the three-network era of the 20th century, which joined millions of Americans in a shared monoculture, into today’s zillion-channel, Internet-atomized universe, which sliced and diced them into fractious, alienated subcultures. The second story is a cultural critique of Donald Trump, the chameleonic celebrity who courted fame, achieved a mind-meld with the media beast, and rode it to ultimate power.

Braiding together these disparate threads, Poniewozik combines a cultural history of modern America with a revelatory portrait of the most public American who has ever lived. Reaching back to the 1940s, when Trump and commercial television were born, Poniewozik illustrates how Donald became “a character that wrote itself, a brand mascot that jumped off the cereal box and entered the world, a simulacrum that replaced the thing it represented.” Viscerally attuned to the media, Trump shape-shifted into a boastful tabloid playboy in the 1980s; a self-parodic sitcom fixture in the 1990s; a reality-TV “You’re Fired” machine in the 2000s; and finally, the biggest role of his career, a Fox News–obsessed, Twitter-mad, culture-warring demagogue in the White House.

Poniewozik deconstructs the chaotic Age of Trump as the 24-hour TV production that it is, decoding an era when politics has become pop culture, and vice versa. Trenchant and often slyly hilarious, Audience of One is a penetrating and sobering review of the raucous, raging, farcical reality show—performed for the benefit of an insomniac, cable-news-junkie “audience of one”—that we all came to live in, whether we liked it or not.

Description from Goodreads.

“The smartest, most original, most unexpectedly definitive account of the rise of Trump and Trumpism we’ve had so far. It’s also the best book yet written about the bride-of-Frankenstein mating of American politics and American pop culture, a wedding practically nobody saw coming until Trump provided the shotgun… [An] uncommonly rich and stimulating book.” – Bookforum

“This is both a fascinating look at the ways television has changed and shaped the U.S., and a compelling lens through which to look at how we got to November 8, 2016.” – Booklist

“In his stellar debut, Poniewozik demonstrates how Trump, over a period of four decades, ‘achieved symbiosis’ with the TV medium… His telling analyses of Trump’s appearances on The ApprenticeFox & Friends, and The Howard Stern Show will come as revelations to readers unfamiliar with those programs… The author chronicles Trump’s actions against a deeply insightful history of vast changes in the media and popular culture during the period… This intelligent eye-opener belongs on the small shelf of valuable books that help explain how Trump created his base.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Hoopla eAudiobook


The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by  Garrett M. Graff

only plane in the skyOver the past eighteen years, monumental literature has been published about 9/11, from Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower, which traced the rise of al-Qaeda, to The 9/11 Commission Report, the government’s definitive factual retrospective of the attacks. But one perspective has been missing up to this point—a 360-degree account of the day told through the voices of the people who experienced it.

Now, in The Only Plane in the Sky, award-winning journalist and bestselling historian Garrett Graff tells the story of the day as it was lived—in the words of those who lived it. Drawing on never-before-published transcripts, recently declassified documents, original interviews, and oral histories from nearly five hundred government officials, first responders, witnesses, survivors, friends, and family members, Graff paints the most vivid and human portrait of the September 11 attacks yet.

Beginning in the predawn hours of airports in the Northeast, we meet the ticket agents who unknowingly usher terrorists onto their flights, and the flight attendants inside the hijacked planes. In New York City, first responders confront a scene of unimaginable horror at the Twin Towers. From a secret bunker underneath the White House, officials watch for incoming planes on radar. Aboard the small number of unarmed fighter jets in the air, pilots make a pact to fly into a hijacked airliner if necessary to bring it down. In the skies above Pennsylvania, civilians aboard United Flight 93 make the ultimate sacrifice in their place. Then, as the day moves forward and flights are grounded nationwide, Air Force One circles the country alone, its passengers isolated and afraid.

More than simply a collection of eyewitness testimonies, The Only Plane in the Sky is the historic narrative of how ordinary people grappled with extraordinary events in real time: the father and son working in the North Tower, caught on different ends of the impact zone; the firefighter searching for his wife who works at the World Trade Center; the operator of in-flight telephone calls who promises to share a passenger’s last words with his family; the beloved FDNY chaplain who bravely performs last rites for the dying, losing his own life when the Towers collapse; and the generals at the Pentagon who break down and weep when they are barred from rushing into the burning building to try to rescue their colleagues.

At once a powerful tribute to the courage of everyday Americans and an essential addition to the literature of 9/11, The Only Plane in the Sky weaves together the unforgettable personal experiences of the men and women who found themselves caught at the center of an unprecedented human drama. The result is a unique, profound, and searing exploration of humanity on a day that changed the course of history, and all of our lives.

Description from Goodreads.

“Over 64 fine-sliced chapters, Mr. Graff… gives us ‘the stories of those who lived through and experienced 9/11—where they were, what they remember, and how their lives changed.’ The result is remarkable, and Mr. Graff’s curation of these accounts—drawn from hundreds of his own interviews and from the reporting of other journalists and historians—is a priceless civic gift…  The book is refreshingly free from editorializing, ideology and ululation. It gives us instead poignant, often distressing, vignettes and impressions of the day and its aftermath. On page after page, a reader will encounter words that startle, or make him angry, or heartbroken, or queasy.” – Wall Street Journal

“Harrowing and powerful… This vivid, moving work is painful to read but honors both those who died and those who survived that awful day.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Graff excels at re-creating the anxiety and terror of that day… Readers who emerge dry-eyed from the text should check their pulses: Something is wrong with their hearts.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

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Country Music: An Illustrated History by  Dayton Duncan & Ken Burns

country musicThis gorgeously illustrated and hugely entertaining history begins where country music itself emerged: the American South, where people sang to themselves and to their families at home and in church, and where they danced to fiddle tunes on Saturday nights. With the birth of radio in the 1920s, the songs moved from small towns, mountain hollers, and the wide-open West to become the music of an entire nation–a diverse range of sounds and styles from honky tonk to gospel to bluegrass to rockabilly, leading up through the decades to the music’s massive commercial success today.

But above all, Country Music is the story of the musicians. Here is Hank Williams’s tragic honky tonk life, Dolly Parton rising to fame from a dirt-poor childhood, and Loretta Lynn turning her experiences into songs that spoke to women everywhere. Here too are interviews with the genre’s biggest stars, including the likes of Merle Haggard to Garth Brooks to Rosanne Cash. Rife with rare photographs and endlessly fascinating anecdotes, the stories in this sweeping yet intimate history will captivate longtime country fans and introduce new listeners to an extraordinary body of music that lies at the very center of the American experience.

Description from Goodreads.

“Master documentarian Burns and his stellar, longtime writer collaborator Duncan have produced another large, handsome, avidly researched volume bursting with vivid anecdotes and rare archival photographs… This dynamic and monumental history captures the spirit, resonance, variety, and power of country music as a balm for hard times, catalyst for good times, and vibrant expression of life’s obdurate complexities. While the Country Music documentary series offers sound and motion, the book offers a still, at-your-own-pace immersion that enriches the video experience and stands steady on its own.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“This voluminous and hugely entertaining introduction to country music coincides with the release of the eponymous PBS series, by producer and writer Duncan (Out West) and producer and filmmaker Burns (The Civil War)… The narrative—supported by concert photos and images of album jackets and various memorabilia—moves at a quick clip as the authors highlight the lives and music of such influential musicians as Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Hank Williams… Duncan’s and Burns’s lavishly illustrated and cinematic narrative will stand as the definitive history of the genre.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“A lucid, jam-packed, richly illustrated companion to the Ken Burns documentary series… Country music is America’s music—which is to say, music from every culture and ethnicity. An essential guide.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

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The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes Us or Breaks Us by  Paul Tough

years that matter mostDoes college still work? Is the system designed just to protect the privileged and leave everyone else behind? Or can a college education today provide real opportunity to young Americans seeking to improve their station in life?

The Years That Matter Most tells the stories of students trying to find their way, with hope, joy, and frustration, through the application process and into college. Drawing on new research, the book reveals how the landscape of higher education has shifted in recent decades and exposes the hidden truths of how the system works and whom it works for. And it introduces us to the people who really make higher education go: admissions directors trying to balance the class and balance the budget, College Board officials scrambling to defend the SAT in the face of mounting evidence that it favors the wealthy, researchers working to unlock the mysteries of the college-student brain, and educators trying to transform potential dropouts into successful graduates.

With insight, humor, and passion, Paul Tough takes readers on a journey from Ivy League seminar rooms to community college welding shops, from giant public flagship universities to tiny experimental storefront colleges. Whether you are facing your own decision about college or simply care about the American promise of social mobility, The Years That Matter Most will change the way you think—not just about higher education, but about the nation itself.

Description from Goodreads.

“Drawing on broad reading and visits to campuses across the country, Tough’s work offers an indictment of American society and political structures and persuasively argues that universities must fulfill the American commitment to equality of opportunity.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Tough clearly shows that college placement remains mostly about wealth at the expense of a collective educational environment. A good choice for aspiring college students and their parents.” – Kirkus Reviews 

“In this fascinating study, education journalist Tough argues persuasively that access to an elite college education, which in the U.S. is popularly believed to be a meritocratically distributed social equalizer, is in fact distributed in ways that reinforce existing economic divisions… His analyses of data are sound, his portraits of students and teachers sympathetic, his argument neatly structured, and his topic one with wide appeal. This well-written and persuasive book is likely to make a splash.” – Publishers Weekly 

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The Anarchy: The East India Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire by  William Dalrymple

anarchyIn August 1765, the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and set up, in his place, a government run by English traders who collected taxes through means of a private army.

The creation of this new government marked the moment that the East India Company ceased to be a conventional company and became something much more unusual: an international corporation transformed into an aggressive colonial power. Over the course of the next 47 years, the company’s reach grew until almost all of India south of Delhi was effectively ruled from a boardroom in the city of London.

The Anarchy tells one of history’s most remarkable stories: how the Mughal Empire-which dominated world trade and manufacturing and possessed almost unlimited resources-fell apart and was replaced by a multinational corporation based thousands of miles overseas, and answerable to shareholders, most of whom had never even seen India and had no idea about the country whose wealth was providing their dividends. Using previously untapped sources, Dalrymple tells the story of the East India Company as it has never been told before and provides a portrait of the devastating results from the abuse of corporate power.

Description from Goodreads.

“[An] expert account of the rise of the first great multinational corporation.” – Kirkus Reviews

“There are villains aplenty, most notoriously Clive. Others emerge with more credit, such as Warren Hastings, for whom Dalrymple clearly has sympathy. Of course, the history of this corporate behemoth has strong resonances in our own time, a point which Dalrymple is keen to emphasise. Its career offers a clear warning about the potential for the abuse of corporate power.” – Evening Standard

“This riveting account of how a piratical corporation subjugated India resonates with today’s global capitalism.” – Financial Times

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