New Books! 3/31/15

 

HARDCOVER FICTION

 

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

After disgracing themselves at a high society New Year’s Eve party in Philadelphia in 1944, Madeline Hyde and her husband, Ellis, are cut off financially by his father, a former army colonel who is already ashamed of his son’s inability to serve in the war. When Ellis and his best friend, Hank, decide that the only way to regain the Colonel’s favor is to succeed where the Colonel very publicly failed—by hunting down the famous Loch Ness monster—Maddie reluctantly follows them across the Atlantic, leaving her sheltered world behind.
As she embraces a fuller sense of who she might be, Maddie becomes aware not only of the dark forces around her, but of life’s beauty and surprising possibilities.

 

 

The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter

Deep in the woods of northern England, somewhere between a dilapidated estate and an abandoned Victorian asylum, fifteen-year-old Jane Standen lived through a nightmare.  She was babysitting a sweet young girl named Lily, and in one fleeting moment, lost her. The little girl was never found, leaving her family and Jane devastated.
Twenty years later, Jane is an archivist at a small London museum that is about to close for lack of funding. As a final research project–an endeavor inspired in part by her painful past–Jane surveys the archives for information related to another missing person: a woman who disappeared over one hundred years ago in the same woods where Lily was lost. As Jane pieces moments in history together, a portrait of a fascinating group of people starts to unfurl. Inexplicably tied to the mysterious disappearance of long ago, Jane finds tender details of their lives at the country estate and in the asylum that are linked to her own heartbroken world, and their story from all those years ago may now help Jane find a way to move on.
In riveting, beautiful prose, The World Before Us explores the powerful notion that history is a closely connected part of us–kept alive by the resonance of our daily choices–reminding us of the possibility that we are less alone than we might think.

 

The Patriot Threat by Steve Berry

Cotton Malone, once a member of an elite intelligence division within the Justice Department known as the Magellan Billet, is now retired and owns an old bookshop in Denmark. But when his former-boss, Stephanie Nelle, asks him to track a rogue North Korean who may have acquired some top secret Treasury Department files–the kind that could bring the United States to its knees–Malone is vaulted into a harrowing twenty-four hour chase that begins on the canals in Venice and ends in the remote highlands of Croatia.
With appearances by Franklin Roosevelt, Andrew Mellon, a curious painting that still hangs in the National Gallery of Art, and some eye-opening revelations from the $1 bill, this riveting, non-stop adventure is trademark Steve Berry–90% historical fact, 10% exciting speculation–a provocative thriller posing a dangerous question: What if the Federal income tax is illegal?

 

The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle

Event 4/06/15

Set in contemporary Northern California, The Harder They Come explores the volatile connections between three damaged people–an aging ex-Marine and Vietnam veteran, his psychologically unstable son, and the son’s paranoid, much-older lover–as they careen toward an explosive confrontation.
As T.C. Boyle explores a father’s legacy of violence and his powerlessness in relating to his equally violent son, he offers unparalleled insights into the American psyche. Inspired by a true story, The Harder They Come is a devastating and indelible novel from a modern master.

 

Girl Underwater by Claire Kells

Nineteen-year-old Avery Delacorte loves the water. Growing up in Brookline, Massachusetts, she took swim lessons at her community pool and captained the local team; in high school, she raced across bays and sprawling North American lakes. Now a sophomore on her university’s nationally ranked team, she struggles under the weight of new expectations but life is otherwise pretty good. Perfect, really.
That all changes when Avery’s red-eye home for Thanksgiving makes a ditch landing in a mountain lake in the Colorado Rockies. She is one of only five survivors, which includes three little boys and Colin Shea, who happens to be her teammate. Colin is also the only person in Avery’s college life who challenged her to swim her own events, to be her own person—something she refused to do. Instead she’s avoided him since the first day of freshman year. But now, faced with sub-zero temperatures, minimal supplies, and the dangers of a forbidding nowhere, Avery and Colin must rely on each other in ways they never could’ve imagined.
In the wilderness, the concept of survival is clear-cut. Simple. In the real world, it’s anything but.

 

The Architects Apprentice by Elif Shafak

In her latest novel, Turkey’s preeminent female writer spins an epic tale spanning nearly a century in the life of the Ottoman Empire. In 1540, twelve-year-old Jahan arrives in Istanbul. As an animal tamer in the sultan’s menagerie, he looks after the exceptionally smart elephant Chota and
befriends (and falls for) the sultan’s beautiful daughter, Princess Mihrimah. A palace education leads Jahan to Mimar Sinan, the empire’s chief architect, who takes Jahan under his wing as they construct (with Chota’s help) some of the most magnificent buildings in history. Yet even as they
build Sinan’s triumphant masterpieces—the incredible Suleymaniye and Selimiye mosques—dangerous undercurrents begin to emerge, with jealousy erupting among
Sinan’s four apprentices.
A memorable story of artistic freedom, creativity, and the clash between science and fundamentalism, Shafak’s intricate novel brims with vibrant characters, intriguing adventure, and the lavish backdrop of the Ottoman court, where love and loyalty are no match for raw power.

HARDCOVER NONFICTION

Do the Kind Thing: Think Boundlessly, Work Purposefully, Live Passionately by Daniel Lubetsky

When Daniel Lubetzky started KIND Healthy Snacks in 2004, he aimed to defy the conventional wisdom that snack bars could never be both tasty and healthy, convenient and wholesome. A decade later, the transformative power of the company’s “AND” philosophy has resulted in an astonishing record of achievement. KIND has become the fastest-growing purveyor of healthy snacks in the country. Meanwhile, the KIND Movement—the company’s social mission to make the world a little kinder—has sparked more than a million good deeds worldwide.
Engaging and inspirational, Do the KIND Thing shows how the power of AND worked wonders for one company—and could empower the next generation of social entrepreneurs to improve their bottom line and change the world.

 

There Is Simply Too Much To Think About: Collected Nonfiction by Saul Bellow

The year 2015 marks several literary milestones: the centennial of Saul Bellow’s birth, the tenth anniversary of his death, and the publication of Zachary Leader’s much anticipated biography. Bellow, a Nobel Laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner, and the only novelist to receive three National Book awards, has long been regarded as one of America’s most cherished authors. Here, Benjamin Taylor, editor of the acclaimed Saul Bellow: Letters, presents lesser-known aspects of the iconic writer.
Arranged chronologically, this literary time capsule displays the full extent of Bellow’s nonfiction, including criticism, interviews, speeches, and other reflections, tracing his career from his initial success as a novelist until the end of his life. Bringing together six classic pieces with an abundance of previously uncollected material, There Is Simply Too Much to Think About is a powerful reminder not only of Bellow’s genius but also of his enduring place in the western canon and is sure to be widely reviewed and talked about for years to come.

 

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

For the past three years, Jon Ronson has been immersing himself in the world of modern-day public shaming—meeting famous shamees, shamers, and bystanders who have been impacted.  This is the perfect time for a modern-day Scarlet Letter—a radically empathetic book about public shaming, and about shaming as a form of social control. It has become such a big part of our lives it has begun  to feel weird and empty when there isn’t anyone to be furious about. Whole careers are being ruined by one mistake. A transgression is revealed. Our collective outrage at it has the force of a hurricane. Then we all quickly forget about it and move on to the next one, and it doesn’t cross our minds to wonder if the shamed person is okay or in ruins. What’s it doing to them? What’s it doing to us?
Ronson’s book is a powerful, funny, unique, and very humane dispatch from the frontline, in the escalating war on human nature and its flaws.

 

sarah_helmRavensbruck: Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women by Sarah Helm

On a sunny morning in May 1939 a phalanx of 867 women—housewives, doctors, opera singers, politicians, prostitutes—was marched through the woods fifty miles north of Berlin, driven on past a shining lake, then herded in through giant gates. Whipping and kicking them were scores of German women guards.
Their destination was Ravensbrück, a concentration camp designed specifically for women by Heinrich Himmler, prime architect of the Holocaust. By the end of the war 130,000 women from more than twenty different European countries had been imprisoned there; among the prominent names were Geneviève de Gaulle, General de Gaulle’s niece, and Gemma La Guardia Gluck, sister of the wartime mayor of New York.
While the core of this book is told from inside the camp, the story also sheds new light on the evolution of the wider genocide, the impotence of the world to respond, and Himmler’s final attempt to seek a separate peace with the Allies using the women of Ravensbrück as a bargaining chip. Chilling, inspiring, and deeply unsettling, Ravensbrück is a groundbreaking work of historical investigation. With rare clarity, it reminds us of the capacity of humankind both for bestial cruelty and for courage against all odds.

 

marc_peyserHissing Cousins: The Untold Story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth    by Sarah Helm

When Theodore Roosevelt became president in 1901, his beautiful and flamboyant daughter was transformed into “Princess Alice,” arguably the century’s first global celebrity. Thirty-two years later, her first cousin Eleanor moved into the White House as First Lady. Born eight months and twenty blocks apart from each other in New York City, Eleanor and Alice spent a large part of their childhoods together and were far more alike than most historians acknowledge.
The cousins themselves liked to play up their oil-and-water relationship. “When I think of Frank and Eleanor in the White House I could grind my teeth to powder and blow them out my nose,” Alice once said. In the 1930s they even wrote opposing syndicated newspaper columns and embarked on competing nationwide speaking tours. Blood may be thicker than water, but when the family business is politics, winning trumps everything.
Vivid, intimate, and stylishly written, Hissing Cousins finally sets this relationship center stage, revealing the contentious bond between two political trailblazers who short-circuited the rules of gender and power, each in her own way.

 

tracy_smithOrdinary Light: A Memoir by Tracy K. Smith

From the dazzlingly original Pulitzer Prize-winning poet hailed for her “extraordinary range and ambition” (The New York Times Book Review): a quietly potent memoir that explores coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter.
In lucid, clear prose, Smith interrogates her childhood in suburban California, her first collision with independence at Harvard, and her Alabama-born parents’ recollections of their own youth in the Civil Rights era. These dizzying juxtapositions—of her family’s past, her own comfortable present, and the promise of her future—will in due course compel Tracy to act on her passions for love and “ecstatic possibility,” and her desire to become a writer.
Shot through with exquisite lyricism, wry humor, and an acute awareness of the beauty of everyday life, Ordinary Light is a gorgeous kaleidoscope of self and family, one that skillfully combines a child’s and teenager’s perceptions with adult retrospection. Here is a universal story of being and becoming, a classic portrait of the ways we find and lose ourselves amid the places we call home.

 

scott_simonUnforgettable: A Son, A Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime by Scott Simon

When NPR’s Scott Simon began tweeting from his mother’s hospital room in July 2013, he didn’t know that his missives would soon spread well beyond his 1.2 million Twitter followers. Squeezing the magnitude of his final days with her into 140-character updates, Simon’s evocative and moving meditations spread virally. Over the course of a few days, Simon chronicled his mother’s death and reminisced about her life, revealing her humor and strength, and celebrating familial love.
UNFORGETTABLE, expands on those famous tweets to create a memoir that is rich, deeply affecting, heart-wrenching, and exhilarating. His mother was a glamorous woman of the Mad Men-era; she worked in nightclubs, modeled, dated mobsters and movie stars, and was a brave single parent to young Scott Simon. Spending their last days together in a hospital ICU, mother and son reflect on their lifetime’s worth of memories, recounting stories laced with humor and exemplifying resilience.
UNFORGETTABLE is not only one man’s rich and moving tribute to his mother’s colorful life and graceful death, it is also a powerful portrayal of the universal bond between mother and child.

 

PAPERBACK FICTION

Can’t and Won’t: Stories by Lydia Davis

Her stories may be literal one-liners: the entirety of “Bloomington” reads, “Now that I have been here for a little while, I can say with confidence that I have never been here before.” Or they may be lengthier investigations of the havoc wreaked by the most mundane disruptions to routine: in “A Small Story About a Small Box of Chocolates,” a professor receives a gift of thirty-two small chocolates and is paralyzed by the multitude of options she imagines for their consumption. The stories may appear in the form of letters of complaint; they may be extracted from Flaubert’s correspondence; or they may be inspired by the author’s own dreams, or the dreams of friends.
What does not vary throughout Can’t and Won’t, Lydia Davis’s fifth collection of stories, is the power of her finely honed prose. Davis is sharply observant; she is wry or witty or poignant. Above all, she is refreshing. Davis writes with bracing candor and sly humor about the quotidian, revealing the mysterious, the foreign, the alienating, and the pleasurable within the predictable patterns of daily life.

 

The Plover by Brian Doyle

Declan O Donnell has sailed deep into the vast, wild ocean, having had just finally enough of other people and their problems. He will go it alone, he will be his own country, he will be beholden to and beloved of no one.
But the galaxy soon presents him with a string of odd, entertaining, and dangerous passengers, who become companions of every sort and stripe. The Plover is the story of their adventures and misadventures in the immense blue country one of their company calls Pacifica. Hounded by a mysterious enemy, reluctantly acquiring one new resident after another, Declan O Donnell’s lonely boat is eventually crammed with humor, argument, tension, and a resident herring gull.
Brian Doyle’s The Plover is a sea novel, a maritime adventure, the story of a cold man melting, a compendium of small miracles, an elegy to Edmund Burke, a watery quest, a battle at sea—and a rapturous, heartfelt celebration of life’s surprising paths, planned and unplanned.

 

Worst.Person.Ever by Douglas Coupland

Raymond Gunt likes to think of himself as a pretty decent guy—he believes in helping his fellow man and all that other good stuff. Sure, he can be foulmouthed, occasionally misogynistic, and just generally rub people the wrong way—through no fault of his own! So with all the positive energy he’s creating, it’s a little perplexing to consider the recent downward spiral his life has taken….
An unemployed B-unit cameraman, Gunt accepts his ex-wife’s offer to shoot a Survivor-style reality show on an obscure island in the Pacific. Somehow, Gunt suffers multiple comas and unjust imprisonment, and is forced to reenact the “Angry Dance” from the movie Billy Elliott, among other tribulations and humiliations. Could the universe be trying to tell him something?

 

daisy_goodwinFortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

Empress Elizabeth of Austria, known as Sisi, is the Princess Diana of nineteenth-century Europe. Famously beautiful, as captured in a portrait with diamond stars in her hair, she is unfulfilled in her marriage to the older Emperor Franz Joseph. Sisi has spent years evading the stifling formality of royal life on her private train or yacht or, whenever she can, on the back of a horse.
Captain Bay Middleton is dashing, young, and the finest horseman in England. He is also impoverished, with no hope of buying the horse needed to win the Grand National–until he meets Charlotte Baird. A clever, plainspoken heiress whose money gives her a choice among suitors, Charlotte falls in love with Bay, the first man to really notice her, for his vulnerability as well as his glamour. When Sisi joins the legendary hunt organized by Earl Spencer in England, Bay is asked to guide her on the treacherous course. Their shared passion for riding leads to an infatuation that jeopardizes the growing bond between Bay and Charlotte, and threatens all of their futures.

 

jojo_moyesOne Plus One by Jojo Moyes

American audiences have fallen in love with Jojo Moyes. Ever since she debuted Stateside she has captivated readers and reviewers alike, and hit the New York Times bestseller list with the word-of-mouth sensation Me Before You. Now, with One Plus One, she’s written another contemporary opposites-attract love story.
Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight in shining armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.
One Plus One is Jojo Moyes at her astounding best. You’ll laugh, you’ll weep, and when you flip the last page, you’ll want to start all over again.

 

PAPERBACK NONFICTION

 

A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren

As a child in small-town Oklahoma, Elizabeth Warren yearned to go to college and then become an elementary school teacher–an ambitious goal, given her family’s modest means. Early marriage and motherhood seemed to put even that dream out of reach, but fifteen years later she was a distinguished law professor with a deep understanding of why people go bankrupt. Then came the phone call that changed her life: could she come to Washington DC to help advise Congress on rewriting the bankruptcy laws?
Thus began an impolite education into the bare-knuckled, often dysfunctional ways of Washington. She fought for better bankruptcy laws for ten years and lost. She tried to hold the federal government accountable during the financial crisis but became a target of the big banks. She came up with the idea for a new agency designed to protect consumers from predatory bankers and was denied the opportunity to run it. Finally, at age 62, she decided to run for elective office and won the most competitive–and watched–Senate race in the country.
In this passionate, funny, rabble-rousing book, Warren shows why she has chosen to fight tooth and nail for the middle class–and why she has become a hero to all those who believe that America’s government can and must do better for working families.

 

sarah_colonnaHas Anyone Seen My Pants by Sarah Colonna

“New York Times” bestselling author of “Life as I Blow It” Sarah Colonna is back with a hilarious, honest look at life in her late thirties–in all its messy, pants-missing glory.
How does a gal with a successful career, great friends, and a razor-sharp wit find herself wandering pants-less through the hallways of a casino hotel in Iowa on New Year’s Eve?
Ask Sarah Colonna.
“Has Anyone Seen My Pants? “is a laugh-out-loud trip around America (and Mexico ) with Sarah as she braves crying in nail salons, mother-daughter road trips, Iowan casinos, and single-shaming resorts. From a fling-gone-wrong to friend breakups and a new romance, Sarah’s signature wit and sharp observations take you on a journey at once so deviously funny and surprisingly compassionate that it might just steal your heart–not to mention your pants.

 

kenneth_weisbrodeChurchill and the King by kenneth Weisbrode

King George VI and Winston Churchill were not destined to be partners, let alone allies. Yet together—as foils, confidants, conspirators, and comrades—the unlikely duo guided Britain through war while inspiring renewed hope in the monarchy, Parliament, and the nation itself. In Churchill and the King, Kenneth Weisbrode explores the delicate fashioning of this important, though largely overlooked, relationship. The king and Churchill met nearly every week in private over lunch during the war. As they worked through the many problems facing their nation and empire, they came to realize that they had more in common than anyone could have guessed. Despite their differences, the trust and loyalty they eventually shared helped Britain navigate the most trying time in its history.

 

una_lamarcheUnabrow: Misadventures of a Late Bloomer by Una Lamarche

As a girl, Una LaMarche was as smart as she was awkward. She was blessed with a precocious intellect, a love of all things pop culture, and eyebrows bushier than Frida Kahlo’s. Adversity made her stronger…and funnier. In UNABROW, Una shares the cringe-inducing lessons she’s learned from a life as a late bloomer, including the seven deadly sins of DIY bangs, how not to make your own jorts, and how to handle pregnancy, plucking, and the rites of passage during which your own body is your worst frenemy.
For readers who loved Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and for fans of Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, and Amy Schumer, Unabrow is the book June Cleaver would have written if she spent more time drinking and less time vacuuming.

 

douglas_stoneThanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone; Sheila Heen

We swim in an ocean of feedback. Bosses, colleagues, customers—but also family, friends, and in-laws—they all have “suggestions” for our performance, parenting, or appearance. We know that feedback is essential for healthy relationships and professional development—but we dread it and often dismiss it.
That’s because receiving feedback sits at the junction of two conflicting human desires. We do want to learn and grow. And we also want to be accepted just as we are right now. Thanks for the Feedback is the first book to address this tension head on. It explains why getting feedback is so crucial yet so challenging, and offers a powerful framework to help us take on life’s blizzard of off-hand comments, annual evaluations, and unsolicited advice with curiosity and grace.
Coauthors of the international bestseller Difficult Conversations, Stone and Heen have spent the last ten years working with businesses, nonprofits, governments, and families to determine what helps us learn and what gets in our way. With humor and clarity, they blend the latest insights from neuroscience and psychology with practical, hard-headed advice. The book is destined to become a classic in the world of leadership, organizational behavior, and education.

 

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