“I cannot live without books”
Project Hail Mary
By Andy Weir
Penguin Random House $28
Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission–and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery–and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone. Or does he?
By Leila Meacham
At the height of World War II, a handful of idealistic young Americans receive a mysterious letter from the government, asking them if they are willing to fight for their country. The men and women from very different backgrounds — a Texan athlete with German roots, an upper-crust son of a French mother and a wealthy businessman, a dirt-poor Midwestern fly fisherman, an orphaned fashion designer, and a ravishingly beautiful female fencer — all answer the call of duty, but each for a secret reason of her or his own. They bond immediately, in a group code-named Dragonfly.
People We Meet on Vacation
By Emily Henry
Penguin Random House $16.99
When Poppy met Alex, there was no spark, no chemistry, and no reason to think they’d ever talk again. Alex is quiet, studious, and destined for a future in academia. Poppy is a wild child who only came to U of Chicago to escape small-town life. But after sharing a ride home for the summer, the two form a surprising friendship. After all, who better to confide in than someone you could never, ever date? Over the years, Alex and Poppy’s lives take them in different directions, but every summer the two find their way back to each other for a magical weeklong vacation. Until one trip goes awry, and in the fallout, they lose touch. Now, two years later, Poppy’s in a rut. Her dream job, her relationships, her life–none of it is making her happy. In fact, the last time she remembers feeling truly happy was on that final, ill-fated Summer Trip. The answer to all her problems is obvious: She needs one last vacation to win back her best friend. As a hilariously disastrous week unfolds and tensions rise, Poppy and Alex are forced to confront what drove them apart–and decide what they’re willing to risk for the chance to be together.
By Jessica Anya Blau
Custom House $27.99
In 1970s Baltimore, fourteen-year-old Mary Jane loves cooking with her mother, singing in her church choir, and enjoying her family’s subscription to the Broadway Showtunes of the Month record club. Shy, quiet, and bookish, she’s glad when she lands a summer job as a nanny for the daughter of a local doctor. A respectable job, Mary Jane’s mother says. In a respectable house.
The house may look respectable on the outside, but inside it’s a literal and figurative mess: clutter on every surface, Impeachment: Now More Than Ever bumper stickers on the doors, cereal and takeout for dinner. And even more troublesome (were Mary Jane’s mother to know, which she does not): the doctor is a psychiatrist who has cleared his summer for one important job–helping a famous rock star dry out. A week after Mary Jane starts, the rock star and his movie star wife move in.
Over the course of the summer, Mary Jane introduces her new household to crisply ironed clothes and a family dinner schedule, and has a front-row seat to a liberal world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll (not to mention group therapy). Caught between the lifestyle she’s always known and the future she’s only just realized is possible, Mary Jane will arrive at September with a new idea about what she wants out of life, and what kind of person she’s going to be.
By Maggie Shipstead
Penguin Random House $28.95
After being rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and Jamie Graves are raised by their dissolute uncle in Missoula, Montana. There –after encountering a pair of pilots passing through town in a beat up Cessna–Marian commences her lifelong love affair with flight. At fifteen, she drops out of school and finds an unexpected and dangerous patron in a wealthy rancher who provides a plane and subsidizes her lessons, an arrangement that will haunt her for the rest of her life, even as it allows her to fulfill her destiny: circumnavigating the globe and piloting her plane over the Arctic Circle. A century later, Hadley Baxter is cast to play Marian in a film that centers on Marian’s disappearance over the South Pacific. Vibrant, canny, disgusted with the claustrophobia of Hollywood, Hadley is eager to re-define herself after a romantic film franchise has imprisoned her in the grip of cult celebrity. Her immersion into the character of Marian unfolds, thrillingly, alongside Marian’s own story, as the two women’s fates–and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different geographies and times– collide.
Three Ordinary Girls
By Tim Brady
Citadel Press $26
The astonishing true story of three fearless female resisters during WWII whose youth and innocence belied their extraordinary daring in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands. It also made them the underground’s most invaluable commodity. Recruited as teenagers, Hannie Schaft, and Dutch sisters Truus and Freddie Oversteegen fulfilled their harrowing missions as spies, saboteurs, and Nazi assassins with remarkable courage, but their stories have remained largely unknown…until now
Tiger in the Sea
By Eric Lindner
Lyons Press $26.95
On a moonless September night in 1962, 900 miles from land, Flying Tiger flight 923 began to fall apart at 21,000 feet. One by one its engines burst into flames. Most of its passengers were Special Forces, en route to West Berlin. Though highly trained and ready for anything the Soviets might throw their way, they were powerless over the North Atlantic. A crash was inevitable. Survival was Mission Impossible. Tiger in the Sea is the story of that harrowing flight.
Bless the Birds: Living in the Time of Dying
By Susan J. Tweit
W.W. Norton $17.95
A compelling, intimate memoir of writer Susan Tweit and her economist-turned-sculptor husband Richard Cabe’s journey together–framed by their final road trip, a 4,000-mile-long delayed honeymoon they embarked upon after Richard was diagnosed with the brain cancer that would kill him.
How Stella Learned to Talk: The World’s First Talking Dog
by Christina Hunger
Harper Collins $27.99
A true story and guide to teaching your dog to talk from speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger, who has taught her dog, Stella, to communicate using simple paw-sized buttons associated with different words.