8 Books That Honor History’s Unsung Female Heroes

Cover Detail from Jefferson’s Daughters by Catherine Kerrison

To be a woman is to be a history maker. Although countless names and stories have been omitted, under-celebrated, or redacted from the official record due to the patriarchy’s dominance, the contributions that women have made to the world are impossible to overlook. From the persistence of Ida B. Wells and Ona Judge to the bravery of Harriet Muse and Harriet Jacobs and the intellectual prowess of Brittney C. Cooper and Isabel Wilkerson, history is filled with the accounts of women whose vision and rejection of convention serve as a timeless reminder of how radical living life on your own terms can be.

Take the time to celebrate the history of women whose names you don’t already know. Take the time to honor their truths.

The cover of the book Jefferson's DaughtersJefferson’s Daughters
Catherine Kerrison
Through Catherine Kerrison’s earnest exploration of the lives of Thomas Jefferson’s three daughters—Harriet Hemings and Martha and Maria Jefferson—readers are given an immersive look at the way race, class, and gender shaped colonial womanhood. Comprised of previously unseen correspondence between the Jefferson sisters, vivid illustrations, and captivating anecdotes informed by extensive archival research, Jefferson’s Daughters captures the complexity of one our nation’s most controversial figures and the family that called him father. With each page, Kerrison excavates Harriet, Martha, and Maria from the margins of history with tangible empathy and urgency. An illuminating title for any reader, Jefferson’s Daughters is a celebration of American womanhood.

 

The cover of the book TruevineTruevine
Beth Macy
Beth Macy’s Truevine unveils the often overlooked and unbelievable tale of the Muse brothers. Born on the edge of the 19th century to sharecropper parents in Virginia, George and Willie Muse were kidnapped as children by a sideshow runner who lured the boys away from their home with the promise of candy. Billed in circuses and showcases across America and overseas as “Ambassadors from Mars,” “cannibals,” and “freaks,” the Muse brothers, who were African American albinos quickly became celebrities in the eyes the public. Macy’s profoundly moving investigation of the Muse brother’s kidnapping and their mother Harriet Muse’s relentless struggle to get them back shines a spotlight on an underexplored chapter in American history. A story about family, race, and reclamation, Truevine is a stunning example of why freedom and love is worth fighting for.

 

The cover of the book Never CaughtNever Caught
Erica Armstrong Dunbar
National Book Award finalist Erica Armstrong Dunbar resurrects the captivating story of Ona Judge in the pages ofNever Caught. From beginning to end, Dunbar’s prose sheds unflinching light on America’s first president and how his unrelenting pursuit of Judge and refusal to follow the laws of his own nation led to an obsessive manhunt. Never Caught is a revealing portrayal of Washington and a stunning depiction of Judge’s resilience. A page-turner in the truest sense, Dunbar’s award-winning account dispels the myth of Washington’s morality, exposes the corrupt origins of the American patriarchy, and exalts the ingenious strength of Black womanhood.

 

The cover of the book The Warmth of Other SunsThe Warmth of Other Suns
Isabel Wilkerson
With heart and dignity, Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson uplifts the pioneering spirit and legacy of Black Americans whose desire for true freedom sparked the Great Migration. Enriched by extensive research and a marrow-deep sense of empathy, Wilkerson’s widely celebrated title pays homage to those whose search for a better life could not be stopped by the scars of segregation, the weight of racism, or even the onslaught of redlining. Far too often highlighted solely by a handful of paragraphs in the history textbooks of American schools or reduced to an anecdote during Black History Month, the full scope of the Great Migration rightfully takes center stage in Wilkerson’s necessary and inspiring masterpiece.

 

The cover of the book Beyond RespectabilityBeyond Respectability
Brittney C. Cooper
In Beyond Respectability: The Intellectual Thought of Race Women, Brittney C. Cooper writes, “In order to take… Black women seriously as intellectuals we must be willing to trust them. By trust I don’t mean always agree. I mean acknowledge, appreciate, struggle with, disagree with, sit with, and question. I mean take Black women seriously.” Throughout the pages of her book, Cooper celebrates Black women thinkers, educators, activists, and innovators whose contributions have remained relatively unsung—within and outside of the Black community—in comparison to the accomplishments of their male counterparts. Beyond Respectability is an invigorating testament to the pivotal legacies of changemakers like Pauli Murray, Anna Julia Cooper, and Mary Church Terrell and why the intellectual work of Black women cannot and will not be forgotten.

 

The cover of the book Too Heavy a LoadToo Heavy a Load
Deborah Gray White
Although originally published in the late ’90s, Deborah White Gray’s Too Heavy a Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894-1994 remains unarguably timely. Tracing a century worth of trials and triumphs through the biographies of trailblazers from Ida B. Wells to Anita Hill, Gray maps the way solidarity and community building among Black women challenged the sexism and racism of synonymous with American culture. An informative and invigorating read, Too Heavy a Load is a refreshing chronicle of perseverance, the transformative power of sisterhood, and the limitlessness of communal vision. A quintessential title for feminists and historians alike, Gray’s well-researched and heartfelt book is one to be read with vigor and revisited often.

 

The cover of the book Incidents in the Life of a Slave GirlIncidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Harriet Jacobs
Penned during the 1850s, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girlby Harriet Jacobs is one of the earliest autobiographical accounts of American slavery. Published after her death in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent, Jacobs’ heart wrenching yet crucial narrative gives readers an eye-opening portrait of her life on a plantation in North Carolina, the inhumane brutality of her owner, and the way motherhood inspired her to seek freedom for herself and her family. One of America’s first Black feminist texts, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is an invaluable addition to the literary canon.

 

The cover of the book BelleBelle
Paula Byrne
Paula Byrne’s fascinating biography examines the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the biracial daughter of Sir John Lindsay and an enslaved African woman. Best known as she’s depicted in a double portrait with her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray, Belle was educated and raised by her great uncle William Murray who served as Britain’s Lord Chief Justice. Murray, who served as Belle’s surrogate father, was instrumental in multiple judicial rulings during the 1770s that ultimately led to the end of slavery in England. Through Byrne’s enlightening prose and thorough research, Belle and her family’s story reveals how revolutionary it is to be a Black woman during a turning point in history.

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Best Sellers Update: Read a New Book Month Edition!

December is Read a New Book Month (unless you find a website that says it is September, but just go with us here).

The weather outside is… let’s say sub-optimal. Still, there is no better time to curl up with a new book. How can you make the most of Read a New Book Month?

Well, reading a new book would be a good place to start.

‘When you say ‘new,’ do you mean ‘new‘ as in recently published or ‘new‘ as in we’ve never read it before?’ you ask.

Yes.

Also, for those of you feeling adventurous, you can read something new AND different. Safe bet books, that you know you’ll love are, of course, a wonderful thing, but sometimes it is exciting to mix things up.

Regardless of what you choose to do, here are the current NYT Best Sellers (Fiction and Non-Fiction) to give you some inspiration.

NYT Best Sellers: Combined Print & E-Book Fiction

  1. FIRE AND BLOOD by George R.R. Martin (NEW)

39943621Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen—the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria—took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire and Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.

  1. TARGET: ALEX CROSS by James Patterson (NEW)
  2. THE RECKONING by John Grisham
  3. DARK SACRED NIGHT by Michael Connelly
  4. LOOK ALIVE TWENTY-FIVE by Janet Evanovich
  5. PAST TENSE by Lee Child
  6. EVERY BREATH by Nicholas Sparks
  7. LONG ROAD TO MERCY by David Baldacci
  8. BEAUCHAMP HALL by Danielle Steel (NEW)
  9. NINE PERFECT STRANGERS by Liane Moriarty
  10. THE OTHER MISS BRIDGERTON by Julia Quinn (NEW)
  11. WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens
  12. ELEVATION by Stephen King
  13. THE NEXT PERSON YOU MEET IN HEAVEN by Mitch Albom
  14. THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ by Heather Morris

 

NYT Best Sellers: Combined Print & E-Book Non-Fiction

  1. BECOMING by Michelle Obama

BecomingIn a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

  1. KILLING THE SS by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
  2. EDUCATED by Tara Westover
  3. SHIP OF FOOLS by Tucker Carlson
  4. FACTFULNESS by Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund
  5. SAPIENS by Yuval Noah Harari
  6. FEAR by Bob Woodward
  7. CHURCHILL: WALKING WITH DESTINY by Andrew Roberts (NEW)
  8. LEADERSHIP by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  9. IN PIECES by Sally Field
  10. SHADE by Pete Souza
  11. THE FIFTH RISK by Michael Lewis
  12. THE LIBRARY BOOK by Susan Orlean
  13. BRIEF ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS by Stephen Hawking
  14. BEASTIE BOYS BOOK by Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz

THE BEST COMEDY BOOKS THAT CAN SAVE US FROM 2018

Friends, I wont lie…this year has been a slog. I’ve found myself flailing for all the self-care opportunities I could find. I’ve strayed from my previously beloved dark literary fiction. I’ve found myself spending most of my time listening to podcasts and watching Netflix instead of dutifully working my way through my TBR list. 2018 has been a tough one. But in the moments I finally hit pause on Sabrina or turned off Pod Save America, I find myself gravitating towards comedy books that will give me a moment of respite from this hellscape in which we all live.

Here is a list of the best comedy books, both new releases and classics. All are guaranteed to give you a moment of laughter and levity. There’s really no rhyme or reason…these are just some books that have given me a desperately needed minute of joy this year.

The best comedy books that saved us in 2018. book lists | humorous books | funny books | comedy books | comedy books 2018


YOU CAN’T TOUCH MY HAIR: AND OTHER THINGS I STILL HAVE TO EXPLAIN BY PHOEBE ROBINSON

As a fan of 2 Dope Queens, I was so excited to read this book. Robinson’s hilarious take on her experience with black culture, her ode to Lisa Bonet, and her funny-yet-heartfelt advice to her young niece gave me joy for days!


MY LIFE AS A GODDESS: A MEMOIR THROUGH (UN)POPULAR CULTURE BY GUY BRANUM

I laughed. I cried. I learned about the history of Canada. Branum is that wonderful combination of brain and humor. He educates his readers on world events while employing his excellent comedic timing. But the moments I really loved were when he sincerely spoke about his difficult relationship with his father and his complicated love of his mother.

WE ARE NEVER MEETING IN REAL LIFE: ESSAYS BY SAMANTHA IRBY

Irby’s genius is in how she can speak about very serious topics (her childhood, her own ghosts) while also being irreverent and invoking pop culture references to make them more relatable. Her book leaves her as someone the reader wants to know.

 

BORN A CRIME: STORIES FROM A SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDHOOD BY TREVOR NOAH

The audiobook adds a special something to this story of Noah’s childhood as a mixed race child in South Africa during Apartheid. Amidst his tales of growing up with his very existence being considered illegal, Noah treats us all to the most amazing impersonations of his mother. This book has heart and taught me more about this dangerous time in South Africa’s history.

STAY HUNGRY BY SEBASTIAN MANISCALCO

In this collection of essays, stand-up comedian Sebastian Maniscalco shares with us his days breaking into the business and his rise to fame. The reader learns how his ambition saw him through his journey in a cynical business.

 

LOOK ALIVE OUT THERE: ESSAYS BY SLOANE CROSLEY

If you enjoyed New York Times bestseller I Was Told There’d Be Cake, you’ll love this collection of essays on difficult subjects like infertility or more light-hearted fare like the time she played herself on Gossip Girl.

 

 

SO CLOSE TO BEING THE SH*T, Y’ALL DON’T EVEN KNOW BY RETTA

Once beloved diva Donna Meagle on Parks and Recreation, Retta shares with readers her childhood and career with her brash, infectious wit and humor. This book is especially good on audio as she narrates and I feel like I would’ve lost some of her hilarity if I wasn’t hearing it in her own voice.

HITS & MISSES BY SIMON RICH

Former Saturday Night Live writer Simon Rich regales us with his time in Hollywood and his absurd experiences with fame.

 

 

I CAN’T DATE JESUS: LOVE, SEX, FAMILY, RACE, AND OTHER REASONS I’VE PUT MY FAITH IN BEYONCÉ BY MICHAEL ARCENEAUX

This collection of essays is a witty and sharp insight into what it’s like to be an LGBTQ man of color in a society that regular tries to reject his personhood. Arceneaux’s outspoken nature and humor both color your understanding and soothe your soul.

BOSSYPANTS BY TINA FEY

Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock alum Tina Fey tells of her time as a geek and growing into herself and into her current fame. Fey is always good and always smart and this book is a delight.

 

 

YES PLEASE BY AMY POEHLER

Learn about Poehler’s origins in Upright Citizens Brigade and watch as she finds her voice and ultimately her way to Saturday Night Live. Her writing is funny as hell and bitingly honest.

 

 

I CAN’T MAKE THIS UP: LIFE LESSONS BY KEVIN HART

From son of a drug addict to a comedian who can sell out stadiums all over the world, Kevin’s voice is one we very much need right now. His memoir is truthful, sincere, but in no way lacking in humor.

 

 

THE LAST BLACK UNICORN BY TIFFANY HADDISH

If you loved Haddish in Girl’s Trip, she’s pretty much that person in real life. She’s loud and confident and always the funniest person in the room. Her tale of her journey from an impoverished childhood has one constant: laughter. We have Haddish now because she navigated all situations by making those around her laugh.

DAD IS FAT BY JIM GAFFIGAN

A father of five, Gaffigan fully understands the absurdity in his home life. And then he’s good enough to share those tales with us. His patented self-deprecating humor comes through loud and clear in this book.

 

 

I KNOW I AM BUT WHAT ARE YOU? BY SAMANTHA BEE

One of The Daily Show‘s most famous alums, Bee takes us on an in-depth ride through her Canadian childhood. The sharp humor we’ve come to know and love from Full Frontal is woven throughout this entire book.

 

 

ATTEMPTING NORMAL BY MARC MARON

Maron has a knack for being able to take the most depressing situations and mining them for their inherent humor. He is an excellent storyteller who makes you feel like you were by his side, experiencing the same things.

 

SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS: HEARTWARMING TALES OF EPIC HUMILIATION BY AISHA TYLER

Tyler takes us through her life and shares with us all the mistakes, large and small, that brought her to where she is today. She reveals herself to us while never losing her trademark humor.

 

I CAN BARELY TAKE CARE OF MYSELF: TALES FROM A HAPPY LIFE WITHOUT KIDS BY JEN KIRKMAN

Regardless of the title, this book is for parents and the childless alike. For those without children, you’ll feel truly seen. And for those who insist that everyone should procreate, maybe you’ll think twice before you speak to the childless.

 

HOW NOT TO BE A BOY: RULES FOR BEING A MAN BY ROBERT WEBB

A hilarious treatise on what society expects from men and what those men grapple with as they become fathers and husbands themselves. Webb gives a hilarious and painful recount of what he’s learned along the way.

 

BELIEVE ME: A MEMOIR OF LOVE, DEATH AND JAZZ CHICKENS BY EDDIE IZZARD

Izzard’s comedy will take  you from world history to absurb stories of the every day. His recount of his childhood and discovery of his sexuality would be a worthwhile read even if Izzard wasn’t also so singularly funny.

 

THE BEDWETTER: STORIES OF COURAGE, REDEMPTION, AND PEE BY SARAH SILVERMAN

Silverman doesn’t disappoint those who have come to love her smart and dirty humor. She weaves personal tales of growing up and all the comedy within those stories.

 

I FEEL BAD ABOUT MY NECK: AND OTHER THOUGHTS ON BEING A WOMAN BY NORA EPHRON

Ephron is beloved and it’s because of her witty humor combined with her accessibility. In this book, she delves into all the ways our bodies and worlds fail us as we become women of a certain age.

 

I SEE YOU MADE AN EFFORT: COMPLIMENTS, INDIGNITIES, AND SURVIVAL STORIES FROM THE EDGE OF 50 BY ANNABELLE GURWITCH

Gurwitch gives us essays on the indignities of aging that are relatable, while also lending an air of hope.

 

IS EVERYONE HANGING OUT WITHOUT ME?: AND OTHER CONCERNS BY MINDY KALING

Beloved Kaling takes her readers on a tour of her life, her experiences in Hollywood, her thoughts on romance, and what makes a great best friend. And she does so with her usual adorable humor that makes you want her to invite you to a sleepover.

 

ONE DAY WE’LL ALL BE DEAD AND NONE OF THIS WILL MATTER BY SCAACHI KOUL

An analysis into all the dangers and dreads in life, coupled with her experience as a woman of color, Koul gifts us a poignant-yet-funny look into her life and view of the world.

 

SICK IN THE HEAD: CONVERSATIONS ABOUT LIFE AND COMEDY BY JUDD APATOW

The famed writer and director shares with us conversations he’s had with comedy legends such as Jon Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld, Mel Brooks, etc. His interview style is comfortable while also revealing much about the subject.

 

A LOAD OF HOOEY BY BOB ODENKIRK

With a book that contains monologues, short pieces of fiction, and poetry, Odenkirk’s book appears to be a written sketch show…jumping from one subject to another while retaining the comedy.

 

 

IS IT JUST ME? BY MIRANDA HART

A self-proclaimed klutz, Hart takes her readers on a tour of all the ways she’s heaped humiliation upon herself over the years. But instead of coming across as someone to be pitied, her readers feel seen and heard…and maybe slightly less awkward.

 

By , November, 

MEET THE 2018 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNERS

The winners of the 69th National Book Awards have been announced! The ceremony was hosted by Nick Offerman and lifetime achievement awards were given to Doron Weber and Isabel Allende.

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE:

Cover of The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. The 2018 National Book Award WinnersTHE POET X BY ELIZABETH ACEVEDO
A favorite among Book Riot contributors! Fans of Jacqueline Woodson, Meg Medina, and Jason Reynolds will fall hard for this astonishing New York Times-bestselling novel-in-verse by an award-winning slam poet, about an Afro-Latina heroine who tells her story with blazing words and powerful truth.

Judges this year: Robin Benway, Lamar Giles, Grace Worcester Greene,Valerie Koehler, and Mitali Perkins.

TRANSLATED LITERATURE:

The Emissary by Yoko Tawada. The 2018 National Book Award WinnersTHE EMISSARY BY YOKO TAWADA AND TRANSLATED BY MARGARET MITSUTANI
Translated Literature is a new category at this year’s National Book Awards, the first to be added in over twenty years. Yoko Tawada’s new novel is a breathtakingly light-hearted meditation on mortality and fully displays what Rivka Galchen has called her “brilliant, shimmering, magnificent strangeness”

Judges this year: Harold Augenbraum, Karen Maeda Allman, Sinan Antoon, Susan Bernofsky, and Álvaro Enrigue

POETRY:

Indecency by Justin Phillip Reed. The 2018 National Book Award WinnersINDECENCY BY JUSTIN PHILLIP REED
In these poems, Justin Phillip Reed experiments with language to explore inequity and injustice and to critique and lament the culture of white supremacy and the dominant social order. Political and personal, tender, daring, and insightful―the author unpacks his intimacies, weaponizing poetry to take on masculinity, sexuality, exploitation, and the prison industrial complex and unmask all the failures of the structures into which society sorts us.

Judges this year: Mary Jo Bang, Ken Chen, Elise Paschen, Danez Smith, Stephen Sparks

 

NONFICTION:

The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke. The 2018 National Book Award WinnersTHE NEW NEGRO: THE LIFE OF ALAIN LOCKE BY JEFFREY C. STEWART
A tiny, fastidiously dressed man emerged from Black Philadelphia around the turn of the century to mentor a generation of young artists including Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jacob Lawrence and call them the New Negro—the creative African Americans whose art, literature, music, and drama would inspire Black people to greatness. In The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, Jeffrey C. Stewart offers the definitive biography of the father of the Harlem Renaissance, based on the extant primary sources of his life and on interviews with those who knew him personally.

Judges this year: Rachel Cast, John Freeman, Annette Gordon-Reed, Sarah Manguso, and Andrés Reséndez

 

FICTION:

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez. The 2018 National Book Award WinnersTHE FRIEND BY SIGRID NUNEZ
When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog’s care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them. Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion.

Judges this year: Chris Bachelder, Laila Lalami, Min Jin Lee, Laurie Muchnick, and Chinelo Okparanta

Congratulations to this year’s winners and all the nominees!

By , November 

9 Books That Bridge the Gap Between Faith and Science

Photo by Bill Williams on Unsplash

Nominally, religious faith and science are viewed as opponents in a grand rhetorical debate. And yet, there’s plenty of interesting debate to be witnessed by those authors who’ve set out to examine the grey areas in which science and belief overlap. In some cases, these are scientists seeking a common ground with the theologians who ponder some of the same questions, albeit from a very different angle. In others, these authors have one foot in each camp, blending a deeply held faith with a background in the scientific method and a rigorous logic to boot.

These books offer a host of perspectives on the places where faith, logic, science, and religion all converge. Regardless of your perspective on the cosmos and the world around us, you may well find plenty to ponder and debate within these pages.

The cover of the book Searching for Stars on an Island in MaineSearching for Stars on an Island in Maine by Alan Lightman

Alan Lightman’s own background is in theoretical physics; he’s also written a host of books exploring the ways in which science interacts with our daily lives and overlap with the ineffable. In Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine, Lightman ponders questions of mortality, the nature of the universe, and the inexplicable questions that the universe poses. The result is a charming, candid, thought-provoking book.

 

The cover of the book The CreationThe Creation by Edward O. Wilson

In Lightman’s book, he explores the ways in which science and religion converge and diverge on some of the grand questions that humanity asks the universe. That isn’t the only way in which scientists and theologians can find common ground, however: in Edward O. Wilson’s The Creation, Wilson makes an argument for environmental preservation designed to encompass both the deeply religious and the scientifically rigorous.

 

The cover of the book Buddhism and Science: A Guide For the PerplexedBuddhism and Science: A Guide For the Perplexed by Donald S. Lopez, Jr.

Discussions of the debate between science and religion frequently focus on science’s relationship to the Abrahamic religions. It’s important to not overlook the way that other belief systems can relate to science as well–and thus, this 2008 book from Donald S. Lopez Jr., which explores the numerous ways in which Buddhism and science each approach some of the same questions, and how the two have inspired one another.

 

The cover of the book AgnosticAgnostic: A Spirited Manifesto by Lesley Hazleton

Lesley Hazleton’s Agnostic is a rigorously-written look at (and case for) skepticism in all things, which does a fine job of establishing agnosticism as a distinct system for interacting with the world. Many of the qualities that Hazleton cites as inherent for agnosticism play a large role in science as well–and the end result is a holistic means of examining and interrogating the world, from the physical to the metaphysical.

 

The cover of the book The Big Question: Why We Can’t Stop Talking About Science, Faith and GodThe Big Question: Why We Can’t Stop Talking About Science, Faith and God by Alister McGrath

For some writers and thinkers, science and religion are wholly incompatible; for others, they inform one another, leading to a greater understanding of both. Alister McGrath, who has doctorates in molecular biology and theology, falls firmly in the latter camp, and has lectured extensively on the ways in which science and religion can coincide. The Big Question offers many of his thoughts on these ongoing debates, and an examination of the interconnectedness of the two.

 

The cover of the book Worlds Without End: The Many Lives of the MultiverseWorlds Without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse by Mary-Jane Rubenstein

As humans study the universe, questions can appear about its nature–including whether our universe is the only one in existence or part of something much larger. Mary-Jane Rubenstein’s Worlds Without End explores several of the questions that arise when pondering the multiverse–along with the religious and philosophical questions that arise when considering a potentially infinite array of distinct universes.

 

The cover of the book Einstein and ReligionEinstein and Religion by Max JammerIn

Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine, Lightman returns to questions of Albert Einstein’s own beliefs regarding the universe, which makes for a fascinating counterpoint to Lightman’s musings on the same. Max Jammer’s book offers a more in-depth look at Einstein’s feelings on religion, which defied easy explanation and provide an interesting means by which to consider his scientific discoveries.

 

The cover of the book Faith, Science and UnderstandingFaith, Science and Understanding by John Polkinghorne

John Polkinghorne is both a scientist and a theologian, and he’s been writing about the overlap of the two for several decades now. As its title suggests, Faith, Science, and Understanding is a book that seeks to bring together the two intellectual traditions with which Polkinghorne is most familiar, finding ways in which a belief in God and an understanding of science are fundamentally compatible.

 

The cover of the book The SparrowThe Sparrow: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell

Unlike the rest of the books on this list, Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow is fiction. Specifically, it’s science fiction–telling the archetypal story of humanity’s first contact with an extraterrestrial species. But given that a Jesuit priest is involved, this is a narrative in which science and religion are inexorably entangled. That blend of ways of seeing the world has made for several gripping narratives over the decades – see also Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things and James Blish’s A Case of Conscience.

8 Books to Help You Navigate Modern Technology

Photo by Giu Vicente on Unsplash

Do you feel behind on today’s tech? Do you feel lost in our hyper-connected, fast-paced world?

Have no fear, we’re here to help. The eight books below will help you to catch up with everyone around you, utilize technology to get ahead, and achieve your goals in an efficient and timely manner.
The cover of the book Hit MakersHit Makers
Derek Thompson
In this national bestseller, Atlantic senior editor Derek Thompson explains the psychology behind our interests and the economics of the cultural markets that shape our lives. He deconstructs the myths of hit-making that dominate pop culture and business, shows that quality does not equal success, and demonstrates how to appeal to the consumer based on their needs and wants. This book is perfect for anyone who wants to start a business or promote themselves, and stand out from the countless others trying to make it to the top.

 

The cover of the book How to Break Up with Your PhoneHow to Break Up with Your Phone
Catherine Price
This book is essential for everyone that’s addicted to their phone. How do you know if you fall into this category? If you reach for your phone when you first wake up, constantly throughout the day, and then before you sleep, you are guilty of having an addiction to it. Award-winning journalist Catherine Price presents an easy-to-follow guide to breaking up – and making up – with your phone.

 

The cover of the book The Square and the TowerThe Square and the Tower
Niall Ferguson
This instant New York Times bestseller documents the pivotal points in world history, including the one we’re currently living through, where old power is fading and new social networks are dominating everything we do. In The Square and the Tower, Niall Ferguson argues that networks – like the social network we currently have – have always been with us, from the structure of the brain to the food chain, from the family tree to freemasonry. Throughout history, hierarchies housed in high towers have claimed to rule, but often real power has resided in the networks in the town square below.

 

The cover of the book IrresistibleIrresistible
Adam Alter
We live in an age of behavioral addiction. Half of the American population is addicted to at least one behavior – whether it be our phones, our social media, our TV shows, or our work. In this revolutionary book, Adam Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing at NYU, tracks the rise of behavioral addiction, and explains why we can’t help but be addicted to certain things. Adam explains how we can use our addictions to improve ourselves and help others, and minimize the damaging effects on our well-being and our society.

 

The cover of the book Zen CameraZen Camera
David Ulrich
In this beautifully illustrated book, David Ulrich draws on the principles of Zen practice and his forty years of photography experience to offer six life-changing lessons for developing self-expression. Zen Camera is a never-before-seen photography practice that helps artists to channel their inner creativity using nothing more than their vision and a camera – even a phone camera will do. Containing eighty-three photographs, this book will allow readers to achieve clarity in an age of distraction, and create photographs that are breathtaking and unique.

 

The cover of the book Build Your Dream NetworkBuild Your Dream Network
J. Kelly Hoey
One thing that we hear constantly in the workplace today is “networking is very important.” But how do you make valuable connections and stand out from the crowd in our increasingly digital world? Acclaimed business columnist and networking expert J. Kelly Hoey offers advice for mastering this old skill in a world where posting, liking, and friending has taken over the way we do things. J. Kelly shows how making small changes in your daily routine, generosity, and goal-focused efforts are all it takes to set you apart from others and make meaningful connections that will lead to opportunity and success.

 

The cover of the book Blockchain RevolutionBlockchain Revolution
Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott
Blockchain technology is the revolutionary protocol that allows transactions to be simultaneously anonymous and secure by maintaining a tamperproof public ledger of value, and it’s powering our future (it’s best known as the technology that drives bitcoin and other digital cur­rencies). Don Tapscott, the bestselling author of Wikinomics, and his son, blockchain expert Alex Tapscott, bring us a highly researched and easy-to-understand book about the blockchain technology that is driving our future, and explain where it can lead us in the next decade and beyond.

 

The cover of the book New PowerNew Power
Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms
In this informative guide to navigating the twenty-first century, two visionary thinkers – Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms – reveal that the rules of power have changed in our society, and are reshaping politics, business, and life. They tackle the rise of huge companies like Facebook, Uber, and AirBnB, the unexpected outcomes of our presidential elections, and the emergence of movements like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter. New Power sheds light on the cultural phenomena of our day, revealing the new power that contributed to their success. This groundbreaking book offers us a new way to understand the world around us and our role in it.

What Should I Read Next? This Year’s Reading Guide

Do you ever catch yourself asking: “What should I read next?” With a seemingly endless supply of books and a limited number of hours in a day, it can be daunting to choose your next great read. We’re here to help. We pulled together a list of exciting new books and made a reading guide to help you figure out what you should read next. Below you’ll find book recommendations for a wide variety of genres, including suspense, historical fiction, romance, young adult, fantasy, science fiction, nonfiction, and humor. Find your favorite genre, and pick from one of the few carefully chosen recommendations, and finally answer the question, “What should I read next?” Publishers’ descriptions included below.

Suspense

Here are a few of the best page-turning, take-your-breath-away suspense novels out this year, including some of the top selections from mystery, thriller, and horror.

book coverDepth of Winter by Craig Johnson
Welcome to Walt Longmire’s worst nightmare. In Craig Johnson’s latest mystery, Depth of Winter, an international hit man and the head of one of the most vicious drug cartels in Mexico has kidnapped Walt’s beloved daughter, Cady, to auction her off to his worst enemies, of which there are many. The American government is of limited help and the Mexican one even less. Walt heads into the one-hundred-and-ten degree heat of the Northern Mexican desert alone, one man against an army.

 

book coverThe Outsider by Stephen King
An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

 

book coverA Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee
The fabulously wealthy kingdom of Sambalpore is home to tigers, elephants, diamond mines, and the beautiful Palace of the Sun. But when the heir to the throne is assassinated in the presence of Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant ‘Surrender-Not’ Banerjee, they discover a kingdom riven with suppressed conflict. Prince Adhir was a modernizer whose attitudes–and romantic relationships–may have upset the more religious elements of his country, while his brother–now in line to the throne–appears to be a feckless playboy. As Wyndham and Banerjee desperately try to unravel the mystery behind the assassination, they become entangled in a dangerous world where those in power live by their own rules–and those who cross their paths pay with their lives. They must find a murderer, before the murderer finds them…

 

book coverThe Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road.

One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen, but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault”. Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: “Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.”

Thus begins an unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family and quite possibly all of humanity are entwined. The Cabin at the End of the World is a masterpiece of terror and suspense from the fantastically fertile imagination of Paul Tremblay.

 

book coverThe Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn
Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

 

book coverNeed to Know by Karen Cleveland
Vivian Miller. High-powered CIA analyst, happily married to a man she adores, mother of four beautiful children. Until the moment she makes a shocking discovery that makes her question everything she believes.

She thought she knew her husband inside and out. But now she wonders if it was all a lie. How far will she go to learn the truth?  And does she really NEED TO KNOW?

 

Historical Fiction

Slip into the past with one of this year’s biggest historical fiction novels. Whatever your favorite era, you’ll find an exciting new book to read!

book coverNext Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest–until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary…

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba’s tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she’ll need the lessons of her grandmother’s past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.

 

book coverThe Masterpiece by Fiona Davis
For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.

For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public’s disdain for a “woman artist.” Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded–even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter–Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they’ll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.

Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay’s life. Full of grime and danger, from the smoke-blackened ceiling to the pickpockets and drug dealers who roam the floor, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort. Recently divorced, she has just accepted a job in the information booth in order to support herself and her college-age daughter, Ruby. But when Virginia stumbles upon an abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor hidden under the dust, her eyes are opened to the elegance beneath the decay. She embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece–an impassioned chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central but deep into the mystery of Clara Darden, the famed 1920s illustrator who disappeared from history in 1931.

 

book coverMy Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
A general’s daughter…

Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she’s captivated by the young officer’s charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton’s bastard birth and the uncertainties of war.

A founding father’s wife…

But the union they create—in their marriage and the new nation—is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all—including the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness.

The last surviving light of the Revolution…

When a duel destroys Eliza’s hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband’s enemies to preserve Alexander’s legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she’s left with one last battle—to understand the flawed man she married and imperfect union he could never have created without her…

 

book coverSong of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik
All through her childhood in Tehran, Forugh Farrokhzad is told that Persian daughters should be quiet and modest. She is taught only to obey, but she always finds ways to rebel—gossiping with her sister among the fragrant roses of her mother’s walled garden, venturing to the forbidden rooftop to roughhouse with her three brothers, writing poems to impress her strict, disapproving father, and sneaking out to flirt with a teenage paramour over café glacé. During the summer of 1950, Forugh’s passion for poetry takes flight—and tradition seeks to clip her wings.

Forced into a suffocating marriage, Forugh runs away and falls into an affair that fuels her desire to write and to achieve freedom and independence. Forugh’s poems are considered both scandalous and brilliant; she is heralded by some as a national treasure, vilified by others as a demon influenced by the West. She perseveres, finding love with a notorious filmmaker and living by her own rules—at enormous cost. But the power of her writing only grows stronger amid the upheaval of the Iranian revolution.

Inspired by Forugh Farrokhzad’s verse, letters, films, and interviews—and including original translations of her poems—this haunting novel uses the lens of fiction to capture the tenacity, spirit, and conflicting desires of a brave woman who represents the birth of feminism in Iran—and who continues to inspire generations of women around the world.

 

Romance

Here are some of the most swoon-worthy romance novels that have hit the shelves so far this year, including contemporary and historical, as well as romantic suspense.

book coverThe Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn’t the hard part–they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans…

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He’s even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik’s social media blows up–in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can’t be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes…

 

book coverThe Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

 

book coverFrom Here to You by Jamie McGuire
As Darby Dixon sits in a tiny Texas church bathroom on her wedding day holding a positive pregnancy test, she realizes that marrying her fiancé would be the worst decision of her life. She’s never been very good at standing up for herself, but she’ll sure as hell stand up for her baby. With very little cash and a ton of courage, she flees town to take a new name and start a new life.

As a Marine, Scott “Trex” Trexler worked in the most treacherous, corrupt, war-torn places on earth. With his new top-secret security job, he finally has a chance to return to the one place he’s felt at peace: Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The moment Trex checks in at the hotel where she’s working, Darby knows he’s dangerous. He may want her to think he’s another hotshot firefighter, along with all the others battling the nearby mountain blaze, but something doesn’t add up. No way will she get involved with another man she can’t fully trust – and Trex clearly isn’t telling her everything. As Darby’s ex gets closer and closer to finding her, both she and Trex will soon find out that what you don’t know really can hurt you.

 

book coverSomeone to Care by Mary Balogh
Two years after the death of the Earl of Riverdale, his family has overcome the shame of being stripped of their titles and fortune–except for his onetime countess, Viola. With her children grown and herself no longer part of the social whirl of the town, she is uncertain where to look for happiness–until quite by accident her path crosses once again with that of the Marquess of Dorchester, Marcel Lamarr.

Marcel Lamarr has been a notorious womanizer since the death of his wife nearly twenty years earlier. Viola caught his eye when she herself was a young mother, but she evaded his seduction at the time. A prize that eluded him before, she is all the more irresistible to him now although he is surprised to discover that she is as eager now for the excitement he offers as he is himself.

When the two defy convention and run away together, they discover that the ties of respectability are not so easily severed, and pleasure can ensnare you when you least expect it….

 

book coverDark in Death by J. D. Robb
It was a stab in the dark.

On a chilly February night, during a screening of Psycho in midtown, someone sunk an ice pick into the back of Chanel Rylan’s neck, then disappeared quietly into the crowds of drunks and tourists in Times Square. To Chanel’s best friend, who had just slipped out of the theater for a moment to take a call, it felt as unreal as the ancient black-and-white movie up on the screen. But Chanel’s blood ran red, and her death was anything but fictional.

Then, as Eve Dallas puzzles over a homicide that seems carefully planned and yet oddly personal, she receives a tip from an unexpected source: an author of police thrillers who recognizes the crime–from the pages of her own book. Dallas doesn’t think it’s coincidence, since a recent strangulation of a sex worker resembles a scene from her writing as well. Cops look for patterns of behavior: similar weapons, similar MOs. But this killer seems to find inspiration in someone else’s imagination, and if the theory holds, this may be only the second of a long-running series.

The good news is that Eve and her billionaire husband Roarke have an excuse to curl up in front of the fireplace with their cat, Galahad, reading mystery stories for research. The bad news is that time is running out before the next victim plays an unwitting role in a murderer’s deranged private drama–and only Eve can put a stop to a creative impulse gone horribly, destructively wrong.

From the author of Echoes in Death, this is the latest of the edgy, phenomenally popular police procedurals that Publishers Weekly calls “inventive, entertaining, and clever.”

 

book coverJosh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take–and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met–when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes–to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

 

Young Adult

Young adult isn’t just for teens — this year’s titles have won awards and wowed critics. Take a look at some of 2018’s biggest young adult offerings.

book coverBridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
The breathtaking story of five brothers who bring each other up in a world run by their own rules. As the Dunbar boys love and fight and learn to reckon with the adult world, they discover the moving secret behind their father’s disappearance.

At the center of the Dunbar family is Clay, a boy who will build a bridge—for his family, for his past, for greatness, for his sins, for a miracle.

The question is, how far is Clay willing to go? And how much can he overcome?

Written in powerfully inventive language and bursting with heart, Bridge of Clay is signature Zusak.

 

book coverThe Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan
A stunning, heartbreaking debut novel about grief, love, and family, perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson and Celeste Ng.

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a stunning and heartbreaking novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

 

book coverTo Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin
Savannah is dreading being home alone with her overbearing mother after her big sister–and best friend–goes off to college. But if she can just get through senior year, she’ll be able to escape to college, too. What she doesn’t count on is that her mother’s obsession with weight has only grown deeper since her appearance on an extreme weight-loss show, and now Savvy’s mom is pressuring her even harder to be constantly mindful of what she eats.

Between her mom’s diet-helicoptering, missing her sister, and worrying about her collegiate future, Savvy has enough to worry about. And then she meets George, the cute new kid at school who has insecurities of his own. As Savvy and George grow closer, they help each other discover how to live in the moment and enjoy the here and now before it disappears.

To Be Honest is another sharp, witty novel from Maggie Ann Martin about a spunky heroine who is dealing with very real issues–body image, parental pressure, loneliness, first love, and finding your way–with heart and humor.

 

book coverDread Nation by Justina Ireland
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.

In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children to attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.

But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.

But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies.

And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

 

Fantasy & Science Fiction

If you love novels built on fantasy worlds or space exploration, here are a few of the most imaginative books to hit the shelves this year.

book coverChildren of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

 

book coverKilling Commendatore by Haruki Murakami
In Killing Commendatore, a thirty-something portrait painter in Tokyo is abandoned by his wife and finds himself holed up in the mountain home of a famous artist, Tomohiko Amada. When he discovers a previously unseen painting in the attic, he unintentionally opens a circle of mysterious circumstances. To close it, he must complete a journey that involves a mysterious ringing bell, a two-foot-high physical manifestation of an Idea, a dapper businessman who lives across the valley, a precocious thirteen-year-old girl, a Nazi assassination attempt during World War II in Vienna, a pit in the woods behind the artist’s home, and an underworld haunted by Double Metaphors. A tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art—as well as a loving homage to The Great Gatsby—Killing Commendatore is a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers.

 

book coverIron Gold by Pierce Brown
They call him father, liberator, warlord, Slave King, Reaper. But he feels like a boy as he falls toward the war-torn planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-third of his life.

A decade ago Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk all he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever:

A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp, and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the Sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe. Iron Gold is the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown.

 

book coverMarkswoman by Rati Mehrotra
Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, one of a handful of sisterhoods of highly trained elite warriors. Armed with blades whose metal is imbued with magic and guided by a strict code of conduct, the Orders are sworn to keep the peace and protect the people of Asiana. Kyra has pledged to do so—yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her murdered family.

When Tamsyn, the powerful and dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. She is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof.

Kyra escapes through one of the strange Transport Hubs that are the remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past and finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of a desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a disillusioned Marksman whose skill with a blade is unmatched. He understands the desperation of Kyra’s quest to prove Tamsyn’s guilt, and as the two grow closer, training daily on the windswept dunes of Khur, both begin to question their commitment to their Orders. But what they don’t yet realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is thin . . . as thin as the blade of a knife.

 

book coverRenegades by Marissa Meyer
The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies–humans with extraordinary abilities–who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice–and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to the villains who have the power to end them both.

 

Nonfiction

If you’re looking for something new in nonfiction, take a look at our recommendations below, including advice, memoirs, history, and biography.

book coverEducated by Tara Westover
Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills” bag. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged metal in her father’s junkyard.

Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent.

When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing one’s closest ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

 

book coverI’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it has been hailed as a modern true crime classic—one which fulfilled Michelle’s dream: helping unmask the Golden State Killer.

 

book coverNot That Bad by Roxane Gay
In this valuable and revealing anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence, and aggression they face, and where they are “routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, bullied” for speaking out. Contributions include essays from established and up-and-coming writers, performers, and critics, including actors Ally Sheedy and Gabrielle Union and writers Amy Jo Burns, Lyz Lenz, Claire Schwartz, and Bob Shacochis. Covering a wide range of topics and experiences, from an exploration of the rape epidemic embedded in the refugee crisis to first-person accounts of child molestation, this collection is often deeply personal and is always unflinchingly honest. Like Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, Not That Bad will resonate with every reader, saying “something in totality that we cannot say alone.”

Searing and heartbreakingly candid, this provocative collection both reflects the world we live in and offers a call to arms insisting that “not that bad” must no longer be good enough.

 

book coverWhen: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink
Everyone knows that timing is everything. But we don’t know much about timing itself. Our lives are a never-ending stream of “when” decisions: when to start a business, schedule a class, get serious about a person. Yet we make those decisions based on intuition and guesswork.

Timing, it’s often assumed, is an art. In When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Pink shows that timing is really a science.

Drawing on a rich trove of research from psychology, biology, and economics, Pink reveals how best to live, work, and succeed. How can we use the hidden patterns of the day to build the ideal schedule? Why do certain breaks dramatically improve student test scores? How can we turn a stumbling beginning into a fresh start? Why should we avoid going to the hospital in the afternoon? Why is singing in time with other people as good for you as exercise? And what is the ideal time to quit a job, switch careers, or get married?

In When, Pink distills cutting-edge research and data on timing and synthesizes them into a fascinating, readable narrative packed with irresistible stories and practical takeaways that give readers compelling insights into how we can live richer, more engaged lives.

 

book coverThe Year of Less by Cait Flanders
In her late twenties, Cait Flanders found herself stuck in the consumerism cycle that grips so many of us: earn more, buy more, want more, rinse, repeat. Even after she worked her way out of nearly $30,000 of consumer debt, her old habits took hold again. When she realized that nothing she was doing or buying was making her happy —only keeping her from meeting her goals —she decided to set herself a challenge: she would not shop for an entire year.

The Year of Less documents Cait’s life for twelve months during which she bought only consumables: groceries, toiletries, gas for her car. Along the way, she challenged herself to consume less of many other things besides shopping. She decluttered her apartment and got rid of 70 percent of her belongings; learned how to fix things rather than throw them away; researched the zero waste movement; and completed a television ban. At every stage, she learned that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt.

The challenge became a lifeline when, in the course of the year, Cait found herself in situations that turned her life upside down. In the face of hardship, she realized why she had always turned to shopping, alcohol, and food —and what it had cost her. Unable to reach for any of her usual vices, she changed habits she’d spent years perfecting and discovered what truly mattered to her.

Blending Cait’s compelling story with inspiring insight and practical guidance, The Year of Less will leave you questioning what you’re holding on to in your own life —and, quite possibly, lead you to find your own path of less.

 

book coverThe Recovering by Leslie Jamison
With its deeply personal and seamless blend of memoir, cultural history, literary criticism, and reportage, The Recovering turns our understanding of the traditional addiction narrative on its head, demonstrating that the story of recovery can be every bit as electrifying as the train wreck itself. Leslie Jamison deftly excavates the stories we tell about addiction–both her own and others’–and examines what we want these stories to do and what happens when they fail us. All the while, she offers a fascinating look at the larger history of the recovery movement, and at the complicated bearing that race and class have on our understanding of who is criminal and who is ill.

At the heart of the book is Jamison’s ongoing conversation with literary and artistic geniuses whose lives and works were shaped by alcoholism and substance dependence, including John Berryman, Jean Rhys, Billie Holiday, Raymond Carver, Denis Johnson, and David Foster Wallace, as well as brilliant lesser-known figures such as George Cain, lost to obscurity but newly illuminated here. Through its unvarnished relation of Jamison’s own ordeals, The Recovering also becomes a book about a different kind of dependency: the way our desires can make us all, as she puts it, “broken spigots of need.” It’s about the particular loneliness of the human experience-the craving for love that both devours us and shapes who we are.

For her striking language and piercing observations, Jamison has been compared to such iconic writers as Joan Didion and Susan Sontag, yet her utterly singular voice also offers something new. With enormous empathy and wisdom, Jamison has given us nothing less than the story of addiction and recovery in America writ large, a definitive and revelatory account that will resonate for years to come.

 

Humor

You’ll find something funny to read on our humor list, whether you’re looking for an amusing novel or a laugh-out-loud memoir.

book coverSophia of Silicon Valley by Anna Yen
During the heady years of the tech boom, incorrigibly frank Sophia Young lucks into a job that puts her directly in the path of Scott Kraft, the eccentric CEO of Treehouse, a studio whose animated films are transforming movies forever. Overnight, Sophia becomes an unlikely nerd whisperer. Whether her success is due to dumb luck, savage assertiveness, insightful finesse (learned by dealing with her irrational Chinese immigrant mother), or a combination of all three, in her rarified position she finds she can truly shine.

As Scott Kraft’s right-hand woman, whip-smart Sophia is in the eye of the storm, sometimes floundering, sometimes nearly losing relationships and her health, but ultimately learning what it means to take charge of her own future the way the men around her do. But when engineer/inventor Andre Stark hires her to run his company’s investor relations, Sophia discovers that the big paycheck and high-status career she’s created for herself may not be worth living in the toxic environment of a boys-club gone bad.

 

book coverWhen Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger
Welcome to Greenwich, Connecticut, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured, the Tito’s and sodas are extra strong, and everyone has something to say about the infamous new neighbor.

Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton does not do the suburbs. After leaving Miranda Priestly, she’s been working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now.

When Karolina Hartwell, a gorgeous former supermodel, is arrested for a DUI, her fall from grace is merciless. Her senator-husband leaves her, her Beltway friends disappear, and the tabloids pounce.

In Karolina, Emily finds her comeback opportunity. But she quickly learns Greenwich is a world apart and that this comeback needs a team approach.

So it is that Emily, the scorned Karolina, and their mutual friend Miriam, a powerful attorney turned stay-at-home suburban mom, band together to not only navigate the social land mines of suburban Greenwich but win back the hearts of the American public. Along the way, an indispensable ally emerges in one Miranda Priestly.

With her signature wit, Lauren Weisberger offers an alluring look into a sexy, over-the-top world–and proves it’s style and substance together that gets the job done.

 

book coverAnd Now We Have Everything by Meaghan O’Connell
When Meaghan O’Connell got accidentally pregnant in her twenties and decided to keep the baby, she realized that the book she needed — a brutally honest, agenda-free reckoning with the emotional and existential impact of motherhood — didn’t exist. So she decided to write it herself.

And Now We Have Everything is O’Connell’s exploration of the cataclysmic, impossible-to-prepare-for experience of becoming a mother. With her dark humor and hair-trigger B.S. detector, O’Connell addresses the pervasive imposter syndrome that comes with unplanned pregnancy, the fantasies of a “natural” birth experience that erode maternal self-esteem, post-partum body and sex issues, and the fascinating strangeness of stepping into a new, not-yet-comfortable identity.

Channeling fears and anxieties that are still taboo and often unspoken, And Now We Have Everything is an unflinchingly frank, funny, and visceral motherhood story for our times, about having a baby and staying, for better or worse, exactly yourself.

 

book coverDead People Suck by Laurie Kilmartin
Death is not for the faint of heart, and sometimes the best way to cope is through humor. No one knows this better than comedian Laurie Kilmartin. She made headlines by live-tweeting her father’s time in hospice and her grieving process after he passed, and channeled her experience into a comedy special, 45 Jokes About My Dead Dad. Dead People Suck is her hilarious guide to surviving (sometimes) death, dying, and grief without losing your mind.

If you are old and about to die, sick and about to die, or with a loved one who is about to pass away or who has passed away, there’s something for you. With chapters like “Are You An Old Man With Daughters? Please Shred Your Porn,” “If Cancer was an STD, It Would Be Cured By Now,” and “Unsubscribing Your Dead Parent from Tea Party Emails,” Laurie Kilmartin guides you through some of life’s most complicated moments with equal parts heart and sarcasm.

 

book coverSo Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know by Retta
In her hilarious book of essays, Parks and Recreation star Retta shares the stories that led to her success in Hollywood.

In So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know, Parks and Recreation star Retta takes us on her not-so-meteoric rise from roaches to riches (well, rich enough that she can buy $15,000 designer handbags yet scared enough to know she’s always a heartbeat away from ramen with American cheese).

Throwing her hard-working Liberian parents for a loop, Retta abandons her plan to attend med school after graduating from Duke University to move to Hollywood to star in her own sitcom–like her comedy heroes Lucille Ball and Roseanne.

Say what? Word. Turns out Retta might actually be on to something. After winning Comedy Central’s stand-up competition, she should be ready for prime time–but a fear of success derails her biggest dream.

Whether reminiscing about her days as a contract chemist at GlaxoSmithKline, telling “dirty” jokes to Mormons, feeling like the odd man out on Parks, fending off racist trolls on Twitter, flirting with Michael Fassbender, or expertly stalking the cast of Hamilton, Retta’s unique voice and refreshing honesty will make you laugh, cry, and laugh so hard you’ll cry.

Her eponymous sitcom might not have happened yet, but by the end of So Close to Being the Sh*t, you’ll be rooting for Retta to be the next one-named wonder to take over your television. And she just might inspire you to reach for the stars, too.

By Kristina Wright