Per Petterson’s hotly anticipated new novel, I Refuse, is the work of an internationally acclaimed novelist at the height of his powers. In Norway the book has been a huge bestseller, and rights have already been sold into sixteen countries. In his signature spare style, Petterson weaves a tale of two men whose accidental meeting one morning recalls their boyhood thirty-five years ago. Back then, Tommy was separated from his sisters after he stood up to their abusive father. Jim was by Tommy’s side through it all. But one winter night, a chance event on a frozen lake forever changed the balance of their friendship. Now Jim fishes alone on a bridge as Tommy drives by in a new Mercedes, and it’s clear their fortunes have reversed. Over the course of the day, the life of each man will be irrevocably altered. I Refuse is a powerful, unforgettable novel, and its publication is an event to be celebrated.
Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith
The summer after university, Emma Woodhouse returns home to the village of Highbury to prepare for the launch of her interior design business. As she cultivates grand plans for the future, she re-enters the household of her hypochondriac father, who has been living alone on a steady diet of vegetables and vitamin supplements. Soon Emma befriends Harriet Smith, the naïve but charming young teacher’s assistant at an English-language school run by the hippie-ish Mrs. Goddard. Harriet is Emma’s inspiration to do the two things she does best: offer guidance to those less wise in the ways of the world and put her matchmaking skills to good use.
Happily, this summer presents abundant opportunities for her to do just that, as many friends, both old and new, are drawn into the sphere of Emma’s occasionally injudicious counsel: Frank Churchill, the attractive stepson of Emma’s former governess; George Knightley, Emma’s brother-in-law and dear friend; the charming yet self-important Philip Elton; and, of course, the perfect (and perfectly vexing) Jane Fairfax.
Alexander McCall Smith’s gentle satire and cozy, old-fashioned sensibility prove to be the perfect match for Jane Austen’s wit and characters. Though carriages have been replaced by Mini Coopers and cups of tea with cappuccinos, Emma’s story is wonderfully timeless.
The Lady from Zagreb by Philip Kerr
A beautiful actress, a rising star of the giant German film company UFA, now controlled by the Propaganda Ministry. The very clever, very dangerous Propaganda Minister—close confidant of Hitler, an ambitious schemer and flagrant libertine. And Bernie Gunther, former Berlin homicide bull, now forced to do favors for Joseph Goebbels at the Propaganda Minister’s command.
This time, the favor is personal. And this time, nothing is what it seems.
Set down amid the killing fields of Ustashe-controlled Croatia, Bernie finds himself in a world of mindless brutality where everyone has a hidden agenda. Perfect territory for a true cynic whose instinct is to trust no one.
The Arc of the Swallow by Sissel-Jo Gazan
Gazan’s much-anticipated follow-up is here, bringing back maverick policeman Soren Marhauge. In The Arc of the Swallow, a perilous investigation reveals a profit-motivated conspiracy involving the upper reaches of Big Pharma, government, and academia.
Biology Ph.D. candidate Marie Skov is devastated when, on the same day as her mother’s death, her mentor Kristian Storm apparently kills himself. Storm had been facing academic dishonesty charges, as well as heated criticism of his research on a vaccine for African children–that suggested the vaccine was causing more harm than it was preventing.
Skov is skeptical that the death was a suicide. She knows Storm’s research on the vaccine was sound, and learns that his on-site work in Guinea-Bissau was marred by intimidation, sabotaged data, and the suspicious death of another scientist.
Interwoven in this thrilling storyline are deeply-moving portraits of Skov’s troubled family and Marhauge’s tenuous relationship with his girlfriend, another biologist. The result is a complex page-turner that establishes S.J. Gazan (herself a biologist) as a world-class author at the beginning of a formidable career.
It’s not often that Stone Barrington finds a woman as accustomed to the jet-set lifestyle as he, so he’s pleasantly surprised when he meets a gorgeous pilot who’s soon moving to New York, and available for closer acquaintance. Their travels together lead them from Wichita to Europe, but trailing them is some unwanted baggage: his new lady love’s unstable, criminal ex-boyfriend.
And while Stone is fending off his newest adversary, trouble is brewing on the international stage. Several enemy operatives are at large, and only a coordinated intelligence effort will have any chance of stopping their deadly plot. But the clock is ticking . . . and time has nearly run out.
Odysseus Abroad by Amit Chaudhuri
It is 1985. Twenty-two-year-old Ananda has been in London for two years, practicing at being a poet. He’s homesick, thinks of himself as an inveterate outsider, and yet he can’t help feeling that there’s something romantic, even poetic, in his isolation. His uncle, Radhesh, a magnificent failure who lives in genteel impoverishment and celibacy, has been in London for nearly three decades. Odysseus Abroad follows them on one of their weekly, familiar forays about town. The narrative surface has the sensual richness that has graced all of Amit Chaudhuri’s work. But the great charm and depth of the novel reside in Ananda’s far-ranging ruminations (into the triangle between his mother, father, and Radhesh–his mother’s brother, his father’s best friend; his Sylheti/Bengali ancestry; the ambitions and pressures that rest on his shoulders); in Radhesh’s often artfully wielded idiosyncrasies; and in the spiky, needful, sometimes comical, yet ultimately loving connection between the two men.
From the internationally acclaimed author of the Harry Hole novels—a fast, tight, darkly lyrical stand-alone novel that has at its center the perfectly sympathetic antihero: an Oslo contract killer who draws us into an unexpected meditation on death and love.
This is the story of Olav: an extremely talented “fixer” for one of Oslo’s most powerful crime bosses. But Olav is also an unusually complicated fixer. He has a capacity for love that is as far-reaching as is his gift for murder. He is our straightforward, calm-in-the-face-of-crisis narrator with a storyteller’s hypnotic knack for fantasy. He has an “innate talent for subordination” but running through his veins is a “virus” born of the power over life and death. And while his latest job puts him at the pinnacle of his trade, it may be mutating into his greatest mistake. . . .
Pride v. Prejudice by Joan Hess
Claire Malloy, for as long as she can remember, has been the local bookseller and owner of the Book Depot and the widowed mother of teenage Caron, who frequently speaks in ALL CAPS. But her life has changed dramatically in recent years. Claire has married her longtime beau, Deputy Police Chief Peter Rosen. Still the owner of the Book Depot, Claire has passed the day-to-day running of it on to her very efficient employees. With Caron inching ever closer to college, there’s but one thing that remains steadfastly unchanged–Claire’s astonishing ability to attract, find, or even just randomly stumble across trouble.
Summoned for jury duty, the prosecutor on a murder case, harboring a grudge against her husband, decides to humiliate Claire and dismiss her. Having done so in spectacular enough fashion to make the local news, Claire decides that revenge will be the next dish she serves. She hunts down the defendant in the case, a woman accused of murdering her husband, and offers to help prove her innocence. And not just because Claire wants to humiliate the prosecutor. There are only two problems. One–the defendant is looking guiltier by the minute. And two–the worst day imaginable has finally come: Claire’s dreaded new mother-in-law is coming to visit and life in prison is starting to look good.
The Folded Clock: A Diary by Heidi Julavits
: “The voice that Heidi Julavits cultivates in her prose is as fascinating to experience as it is fascinated by its subject. Her curiosity with the world indicates an unknown quantity hidden somewhere within the text or even external to the story that, rather than diminishing the narrative, makes it all the richer by demanding the participation of her audience. In The Folded Clock, she turns her attention on herself, documenting her life non-sequentially over the course of two years in her unique style of hyper-analytic, stream-of-consciousness storytelling.” — Steve(n)
Happiness: A Philosopher’s Guide by Frederic Lenoir
A huge bestseller in Europe, Frederic Lenoir’s Happiness is an exciting journey that examines how history’s greatest philosophers and religious figures have answered life’s most fundamental question: What is happiness and how do I achieve it?
From the ancient Greeks on—from Aristotle, Plato, and Chuang Tzu to the Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad; from Voltaire, Spinoza, and Schopenhauer to Kant, Freud, and even modern neuroscientists—Lenoir considers the idea that true and lasting happiness is indeed possible.
In clear language, Lenoir concisely surveys what the greatest thinkers of all time have had to say on the subject, and, with charming prose, raises provocative questions:
· Do we have a duty to be happy?
· Is there a connection between individual and collective happiness?
· Is happiness contagious?
· Is there a difference between pleasure and happiness?
· Can unhappiness and happiness coexist?
· Does our happiness depend on our luck?
Understanding how civilization’s best minds have answered those questions, Lenoir suggests, not only makes for a fascinating reading experience, but also provides a way for us to see us how happiness, that most elusive of feelings, is attainable in our own lives.
Michelle Obama: A Life by Peter Slevin
An inspiring story, richly detailed and written with élan, here is the first comprehensive account of the life and times of Michelle Obama, a woman of achievement and purpose—and the most unlikely first lady in modern American history. With disciplined reporting and a storyteller’s eye for revealing detail, Peter Slevin follows Michelle to the White House from her working-class childhood on Chicago’s largely segregated South Side.
The journey winds from the intricacies of her upbringing as the highly focused daughter of a gregarious city water-plant worker afflicted with multiple sclerosis to the tribulations she faces at Princeton University and Harvard Law School during the racially charged 1980s. And then returning to Chicago, where she works in an elite law firm and meets a law student from Hawaii named Barack Obama. Unsatisfied by corporate law, Michelle embarks on a search for meaningful work that takes her back to the community of her South Side youth, even as she struggles to find balance as a mother and a professional — while married to a man who wants to be president.
Slevin deftly explores the drama of Barack’s historic campaigns and the harsh glare faced by Michelle in a role both relentlessly public and not entirely of her choosing. He offers a fresh and compelling view of the White House years when Michelle Obama casts herself as mentor, teacher, champion of nutrition, supporter of military families, and fervent opponent of inequality.
Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace, and Joy by Mallika Chopra
As a mom, wife, and social media entrepreneur, Mallika Chopra frequently wondered how she could possibly do one more thing. Like so many, she was taking lousy care of herself and having a difficult time finding richer meaning and purpose in each day, even though that was her business’s mission. Living with Intent is a practical yet deeply personal look at her year-long journey to discover some workable answers. Along the way, she sat down with Andrew Weil, Eckhart Tolle, Gretchen Rubin, Marianne Williamson, Daniel Siegel, and others, who shared their valuable input and insight.
The Skeleton Cupboard: The Making of a Clinical Psycologist by Tanya Byron
In The Skeleton Cupboard, Professor Tanya Byron recounts the stories of the patients who most influenced her career as a mental health practitioner. Spanning her years of training–years in which Byron was forced her to contend with the harsh realities of the lives of her patients and confront a dark moment in her own family’s past–The Skeleton Cupboard is a compelling and compassionate account of how much health practitioners can learn from those they treat. Among others, we meet Ray, a violent sociopath desperate to be shown tenderness and compassion; Mollie, a talented teenager intent on starving herself; and Imogen, a twelve-year old so haunted by a secret that she’s intent on killing herself. Byron brings the reader along as she uncovers the reasons each of these individuals behave the way they do, resulting in a thrilling, compulsively readable psychological mystery that sheds light on mental illness and what its treatment tells us about ourselves.
So That Happened: A Memoir by Jon Cryer
In 1986, Jon Cryer won over America as Molly Ringwald’s loyal and lovable best friend, Duckie, in the cult classic Pretty in Pink in a role that set the tone for his three-decade-long career in Hollywood. He went on to establish himself as one of the most talented comedic actors in the business, ultimately culminating in his current turn as Alan Harper on the massively popular sitcom Two and a Half Men.
With the instincts of a natural storyteller, Cryer charts his extraordinary journey in show business, illuminating his many triumphs and some missteps along the way. Filled with exclusive behind-the-scenes anecdotes, Cryer offers his own endearing perspective on Hollywood, the business at large, and the art of acting.
In this revealing, humorous, and introspective memoir, Cryer offers readers a front-row seat as he reminisces about his life and experiences in showbiz over the past thirty years
Dark Lies The Island by Kevin Barry
Dark Lies the Island is a collection of unpredictable stories about love and cruelty, crimes, desperation, and hope from the man Irvine Welsh has described as ‘the most arresting and original writer to emerge from these islands in years’. Every page is shot through with the riotous humour, sympathy and blistering language that mark Kevin Barry as a pure entertainer and a unique teller of tales.
A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge by Terry Shames
In the course of their developing friendship, Samuel Craddock has learned to accept that his neighbor Jenny Sandstone’s personal life is strictly secret. But when her dying mother tells Craddock that Jenny is in danger, he is confronted with a dilemma. He wants to respect Jenny’s privacy, but he is haunted by the urgency in the dying woman’s voice.
When Jenny is the victim of a suspicious car accident, Craddock has no choice but to get involved. He demands that she tell him what he needs to know to protect her and to solve the mysteries surrounding the strange events that began taking place as soon as Jenny’s mother passed away.
Forced to confront the past, Jenny plunges into a downward spiral of rage and despair. She is drinking heavily and seems bent on self-destruction. Craddock must tread lightly as he tries to find out who is behind the threats to her. But only by getting to the bottom of the secrets buried in Jenny’s past can he hope to save her both from herself and from whoever is out to harm her.
Predator One by Jonathan Maberry
On opening day of the new baseball season a small model-kit airplane flies down from the stands and buzzes the mound, where a decorated veteran pilot is about to throw out the first ball. The toy plane is the exact replica of the one flown by the war hero. Everyone laughs, thinking it’s a prank or a publicity stunt. Until it explodes, killing dozens.
Seconds later a swarm of killer drones descend upon the picnicked crowd, each one carrying a powerful bomb. All across the country artificial intelligence drive systems in cars, commuter trains and even fighter planes go out of control. The death toll soars as the machines we depend upon every day are turned into engines of destruction.
Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences go on the hunt for whoever is controlling these machines, but the every step of the way they are met with traps and shocks that strike to the very heart of the DMS. No one is safe. Nowhere is safe. Enemies old and new rise as America burns.
Joe Ledger and his team are back in Jonathan Maberry’s seventh book in the series. They begin a desperate search for the secret to this new technology and the madmen behind it. But before they can close in the enemy virus infects Air Force One. The president is trapped aboard as the jet heads toward the heart of New York City. It has become PREDATOR ONE.
Torment Saint: The Life of Elliott Smith by William Todd Schultz
Elliott Smith was one of the most gifted songwriters of the ’90s, adored by fans for his subtly melancholic words and melodies. He died violently in LA in 2003, under what some believe to be questionable circumstances, of stab wounds to the chest. By this time fame had found him, and record-buyers who shared the listening experience felt he spoke directly to them from beyond: astute, damaged, lovelorn, fighting until he could fight no more. And yet Smith remained unknowable. In Torment Saint, William Todd Schultz gives us the definitive biography of the rock star, imbued with affection, authority, sensitivity, and long-awaited clarity.
Torment Saint draws on Schultz’s careful, deeply knowledgeable readings and insights, as well as on more than 150 hours of interviews with close friends from Texas to Los Angeles, lovers, bandmates, music peers, managers, label owners, and recording engineers and producers. This book unravels the remaining mysteries of Smith’s life and his shocking, too early end. It’s an indispensable examination of his life and legacy.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable or to dare greatly. Based on twelve years of pioneering research, Dr. Brené Brown dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.
Brown explains how vulnerability is both the core of difficult emotions like fear, grief, and disappointment, and the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, innovation, and creativity. She writes: “When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.”
Daring Greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage. In a world where “never enough” dominates and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of getting criticized or feeling hurt. But when we step back and examine our lives, we will find that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as standing on the outside of our lives looking in and wondering what it would be like if we had the courage to step into the arena—whether it’s a new relationship, an important meeting, the creative process, or a difficult family conversation. Daring Greatly is a practice and a powerful new vision for letting ourselves be seen.
On The Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman
Forty years in, the tough on crime turn in American politics has spurred a prison boom of historic proportions that disproportionately affects Black communities. It has also torn at the lives of those on the outside. As arrest quotas and high tech surveillance criminalize entire blocks, a climate of fear and suspicion pervades daily life, not only for young men entangled in the legal system, but for their family members and working neighbors.
Alice Goffman spent six years in one Philadelphia neighborhood, documenting the routine stops, searches, raids, and beatings that young men navigate as they come of age. In the course of her research, she became roommates with Mike and Chuck, two friends trying to make ends meet between low wage jobs and the drug trade. Like many in the neighborhood, Mike and Chuck were caught up in a cycle of court cases, probation sentences, and low level warrants, with no clear way out. We observe their girlfriends and mothers enduring raids and interrogations, “clean” residents struggling to go to school and work every day as the cops chase down neighbors in the streets, and others eking out a living by providing clean urine, fake documents, and off the books medical care. This fugitive world is the hidden counterpoint to mass incarceration, the grim underside of our nation’s social experiment in punishing Black men and their families. While recognizing the drug trade’s damage, On The Run reveals a justice system gone awry: it is an exemplary work of scholarship highlighting the failures of the War on Crime, and a compassionate chronicle of the families caught in the midst of it.
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
Three thousand years ago on a battlefield in ancient Palestine, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a pebble and a sling-and ever since, the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. David’s victory was improbable and miraculous. He shouldn’t have won.
Or should he?
In DAVID AND GOLIATH, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, suffer from a disability, lose a parent, attend a mediocre school, or endure any number of other apparent setbacks.
In the tradition of Gladwell’s previous bestsellers-The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers and What the Dog Saw–DAVID AND GOLIATH draws upon history, psychology and powerful story-telling to reshape the way we think of the world around us.
2 thoughts on “New Books! 4/07/15”
So glad to see Torment Saint on this list. It’s the best biography yet on Elliott Smith.
I Refuse by Per Petterson is definitely in my TBR list.