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“I cannot live without books”
Thomas Jefferson

NEW RELEASES

Four Winds
By Kristen Hannah

St. Martin’s Press $28.99

 

The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it–the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

My Year Abroad
By Chang-Rae Lee
Penguin Random House $28

Tiller is an average American college student with a good heart but minimal aspirations. Pong Lou is a larger-than-life, wildly creative Chinese American entrepreneur who sees something intriguing in Tiller beyond his bored exterior and takes him under his wing. When Pong brings him along on a boisterous trip across Asia, Tiller is catapulted from ordinary young man to talented protégé, and pulled into a series of ever more extreme and eye-opening experiences that transform his view of the world, of Pong, and of himself.  In the breathtaking, “precise, elliptical prose” that Chang-rae Lee is known for ( The New York Times), the narrative alternates between Tiller’s outlandish, mind-boggling year with Pong and the strange, riveting, emotionally complex domestic life that follows it, as Tiller processes what happened to him abroad and what it means for his future. Rich with commentary on Western attitudes, Eastern stereotypes, capitalism, global trade, mental health, parenthood, mentorship, and more, My Year Abroad is also an exploration of the surprising effects of cultural immersion–on a young American in Asia, on a Chinese man in America, and on an unlikely couple hiding out in the suburbs. Tinged at once with humor and darkness, electric with its accumulating surprises and suspense, My Year Abroad is a novel that only Chang-rae Lee could have written, and one that will be read and discussed for years to come.

Between Two Kingdoms
By Suleika Jaouad
Penguin Random House $28

In the summer after graduating from college, Suleika Jaouad was preparing, as they say in commencement speeches, to enter “the real world.” She had fallen in love and moved to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a war correspondent. The real world she found, however, would take her into a very different kind of conflict zone.

 

It started with an itch–first on her feet, then up her legs, like a thousand invisible mosquito bites. Next came the exhaustion, and the six-hour naps that only deepened her fatigue. Then a trip to the doctor and, a few weeks shy of her twenty-third birthday, a diagnosis: leukemia, with a 35 percent chance of survival. Just like that, the life she had imagined for herself had gone up in flames. By the time Jaouad flew home to New York, she had lost her job, her apartment, and her independence. She would spend much of the next four years in a hospital bed, fighting for her life and chronicling the saga in a column for The New York Times.  When Jaouad finally walked out of the cancer ward–after countless rounds of chemo, a clinical trial, and a bone marrow transplant–she was, according to the doctors, cured. But as she would soon learn, a cure is not where the work of healing ends; it’s where it begins. She had spent the past 1,500 days in desperate pursuit of one goal–to survive. And now that she’d done so, she realized that she had no idea how to live.  How would she reenter the world and live again? How could she reclaim what had been lost? Jaouad embarked–with her new best friend, Oscar, a scruffy terrier mutt–on a 100-day, 15,000-mile road trip across the country. She set out to meet some of the strangers who had written to her during her years in the hospital: a teenage girl in Florida also recovering from cancer; a teacher in California grieving the death of her son; a death-row inmate in Texas who’d spent his own years confined to a room. What she learned on this trip is that the divide between sick and well is porous, that the vast majority of us will travel back and forth between these realms throughout our lives. Between Two Kingdoms is a profound chronicle of survivorship and a fierce, tender, and inspiring exploration of what it means to begin again.

 

The Wife Upstairs
By Rachel Hawkins
St. Martin’s Press $27.99

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates–a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name. But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie–not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.  Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past–or his–catches up to her?  With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?

 

Tiny Love Stories

Edited by Daniel Jones and Miya Lee

Artisan $14.95

 

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be swept away–in less time than it takes to read this paragraph. Told in voices that are honest, vulnerable, tender, and wise, here are 175 true stories that are each as moving as a lyric poem and convey a universally recognized feeling, all in fewer than one hundred words. There are stories of love found and love lost, and the sometimes rarest of loves, self-love. Stories of romantic love, brotherly love, platonic love. Stories of mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, strangers who dream of what might have been.

Beginners

By Tom Vanderbilt
Penguin Random House $26.99

Why do so many of us stop learning new skills as adults? Are we afraid to fail? Have we forgotten the sheer pleasure of being a beginner? Or is it simply a fact that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?  Inspired by his young daughter’s insatiable need to know how to do almost everything, and stymied by his own rut of mid-career competence, Tom Vanderbilt begins a year of learning purely for the sake of learning. He tackles five main skills (and picks up a few more along the way), choosing them for their difficulty to master and their distinct lack of career marketability–chess, singing, surfing, drawing, and juggling.  What he doesn’t expect is finding himself having rapturous experiences singing Spice Girls songs in an amateur choir, losing games of chess to eight-year-olds, and dodging scorpions at a surf camp in Costa Rica. Along the way, he interviews dozens of experts to explore the fascinating psychology and science behind the benefits of becoming an adult beginner. Weaving comprehensive research and surprising insight gained from his year of learning dangerously, Vanderbilt shows how anyone can begin again–and, more important, why they should take those first awkward steps. Ultimately, he shares how a refreshed sense of curiosity opened him up to a profound happiness and a deeper connection to the people around him–and how small acts of reinvention, at any age, can make life seem magical.

Prisoners of History
By Keith Lowe
St Martin’s Press $29.99

A look at how our monuments to World War II shape the way we think about the war by an award-winning historian. Keith Lowe, an award-winning author of books on WWII, saw monuments around the world taken down in political protest and began to wonder what monuments built to commemorate WWII say about us today. Focusing on these monuments, Prisoners of History looks at World War II and the way it still tangibly exists within our midst. He looks at all aspects of the war from the victors to the fallen, from the heroes to the villains, from the apocalypse to the rebuilding after devastation. He focuses on twenty-five monuments including The Motherland Calls in Russia, the US Marine Corps Memorial in the USA, Italy’s Shrine to the Fallen, China’s Nanjin Massacre Memorial, The A Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, the balcony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and The Liberation Route that runs from London to Berlin. Unsurprisingly, he finds that different countries view the war differently. In monuments erected in the US, Lowe sees triumph and patriotic dedications to the heroes. In Europe, the monuments are melancholy, ambiguous and more often than not dedicated to the victims. In these differing international views of the war, Lowe sees the stone and metal expressions of sentiments that imprison us today with their unchangeable opinions.

Wild Wisdom
Neil Douglas-Klotz

Hampton Roads $15.95

Mystics from many traditions have sought inspiration in the wildness of nature and the depths on inner solitude. This little book gathers the sayings and stories of the women and men-Christian hermits, wandering Kabbalists, itinerant Sufis, Zen practitioners, Yogis, court jesters, transcendentalists, and freethinkers-who have sunk their roots deep into inner retreat and brought forth wisdom for all times and peoples.

 

A moving personal narrative shot through with lessons from literature, mythology, and the natural world, May’s story offers instruction on the transformative power of rest and retreat. Illumination emerges from many sources: solstice celebrations and dormice hibernation, C.S. Lewis and Sylvia Plath, swimming in icy waters and sailing arctic seas.

 

Ultimately Wintering invites us to change how we relate to our own fallow times. May models an active acceptance of sadness and finds nourishment in deep retreat, joy in the hushed beauty of winter, and encouragement in understanding life as cyclical, not linear. A secular mystic, May forms a guiding philosophy for transforming the hardships that arise before the ushering in of a new season.