This Week's Best New Books

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Yes, I Can Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble

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Yes, I Can Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble

by Judy Gold

Yes, I Can Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble

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Censoring comedians during a time of hyper-political correctness is a serious topic, but two-time Emmy Award-winning standup comedian Judy Gold (25 Questions for a Jewish Mother) tackles the subject with insight, reason and laughs on every page. Gold offers an illuminating history of how censorship of comedians has been around for decades, and has only increased in recent years. Some censorship landmarks discussed include Lenny Bruce's on-stage arrests; Howard Stern's battles with the FCC; CBS's ... [ Read More » ]

2 of 25
White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity

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White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity

by Robert P. Jones

White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity

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What happens when religion is coopted and corrupted? How is its hierarchical status quo maintained? Robert P. Jones, CEO and founder of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), explains what's at stake with a prophetic voice backed by complex history, data analysis and personal experience (as a product of the South).

Slavery has been called America's original sin, and Jones (The End of White Christian America) lays out the whys and whens of this legacy. He begins with the current moment "between ... [ Read More » ]

3 of 25
Want

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Want

by Lynn Steger Strong

Want

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In Lynn Steger Strong's Want, a deep sense of need and desire thrums beneath perfectly concise, staccato prose that tells the story of a woman caught in the frustrations (and fury) of living a life she never imagined for herself.

Elizabeth and her husband have several degrees, two children and a mountain of debt. On the brink of declaring bankruptcy, the two cobble together jobs to try to make ends meet. But keeping up appearances is starting to push Elizabeth over the edge. She leaves work to walk ... [ Read More » ]

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Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession

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Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession

by Sarah Weinman, editor

Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession

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In "The Ethical Dilemma of Highbrow True Crime," Alice Bolin concedes that fans of the true-crime genre (herself among them) are arguably "consuming real people's pain for fun." Where does this leave readers of Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession, in which Bolin's essay appears? With a clear conscience. The anthology transcends the genre with not just its high-grade writing but also editor Sarah Weinman's (The Real Lolita) commitment to looking beyond true crime's ... [ Read More » ]

5 of 25
The Wild Laughter

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The Wild Laughter

by Caoilinn Hughes

The Wild Laughter

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Few nations felt the sting of the global recession that began in 2007 more than Ireland, when its roaring "Celtic Tiger" economy imploded. Caoilinn Hughes (Orchid & the Wasp) sets her second novel--a taut, acerbic family drama--against the backdrop of that economic cataclysm in her native land.

Like many of his countrymen, farmer Manus Black falls for the lure of a can't-miss investment in apartments in Spain and Bulgaria, only to lose all when the real estate market collapses. Overnight he's ... [ Read More » ]

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Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms

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Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms

by Victoria Law, Maya Schenwar

Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms

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"The book you hold in your hands requires your full attention," writes Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow) in the foreword to Prison by Any Other Name by journalists Victoria Law and Maya Schenwar. Truer words have never been spoken. Law and Schenwar make an impassioned case for how popular prison reforms are actually expanding, not shrinking, the state of mass incarceration in the United States--research that is as important as it is timely.

The United States remains "the most incarcerated nation," ... [ Read More » ]

7 of 25
Or What You Will

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Or What You Will

by Jo Walton

Or What You Will

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Jo Walton's Or What You Will is a clever and curious book that uses stories to ponder the nature of storytelling. Sylvia, author of 30 books over a 40-year career, is working on a new novel set in the same location as some of her earlier works: Thalia, a Florence-like city in a Renaissance-resembling time. But this novel is getting away from her, slowly filling with stories of her own life, the muse that lives inside her head interjecting himself into her writing more frequently. As Sylvia writes, ... [ Read More » ]

8 of 25
The Nesting Dolls

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The Nesting Dolls

by Alina Adams

The Nesting Dolls

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Just follow the rules and everything will be all right. That's what Daria Gordon tells her two young daughters--and herself--when her family is snatched from their home in 1930s Odessa, Ukraine, and taken to a Siberian work camp. But conditions at the camp are appalling, and Daria is forced to make impossible choices to survive. Daria's granddaughter, Natasha, a brilliant mathematician, has always heard a similar refrain: work hard and you will be rewarded. But when she's denied a place at university ... [ Read More » ]

9 of 25
This Is My America

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This Is My America

by Kim Johnson

This Is My America

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This debut YA novel is an incisive condemnation of the racist criminal justice system, mass incarceration and capital punishment.

Seven years ago, Black teen Tracy Beaumont's father was unjustly convicted of murder and is now on death row. Recently, Innocence X (an organization modeled after Bryan Stevenson's Equal Justice Initiative) finally agreed to take on her father's case. But when her scholar athlete brother, Jamal, is accused of murdering the white girl he was secretly dating, he goes on ... [ Read More » ]

10 of 25
Gridiron: Stories from 100 Years of the National Football League

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Gridiron: Stories from 100 Years of the National Football League

by Fred Bowen, illus. by James E. Ransome

Gridiron: Stories from 100 Years of the National Football League

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Seasoned sportswriter Fred Bowen (Speed Demon) celebrates the National Football League's (NFL) centennial anniversary with a rousing look at the organization from its rag-tag start in Canton, Ohio, to its current status as "the most popular sports league in the United States." Through the ups and downs, wins and losses, Bowen deftly chronicles the evolution of an institution that changed the face of U.S. sports.

Bowen breaks the book down into quarters, to mirror a football game. The first quarter ... [ Read More » ]

11 of 25
City of Secrets

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City of Secrets

by Victoria Ying

City of Secrets

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Secrets will out in thrilling ways as a wary orphan and an adventure-prone heiress face deadly peril in this action-packed first authored graphic novel from Victoria Ying (Diana: Princess of the Amazons). 

Built in layers like a wedding cake, the Grand Capital City of Oskars needs a way to keep communication flowing through its levels. Madame Alexander oversees a staff of young women who connect calls at the Switchboard Operating Facility, a building with six stories of lever-and-gear-operated ... [ Read More » ]

12 of 25
The Aunt Who Wouldn't Die

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The Aunt Who Wouldn't Die

by Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, trans. by Arunava Sinha

The Aunt Who Wouldn't Die

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As spare as it might initially seem, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay's wickedly entertaining novel, The Aunt Who Wouldn't Die, manages smoothly to illuminate gender inequity, cultural biases, socioeconomic disparity and familial dysfunction through a three-generational ghost story.

At 18, Somlata is wed to her 32-year-old husband, the "blissfully unemployed" youngest of an aristocratic family in serious decline. In the crumbling, sprawling household, Somlata discovers the newly dead Pishima, the family's ... [ Read More » ]

13 of 25
Afterland

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Afterland

by Lauren Beukes

Afterland

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"You can't imagine how much the world can change in six months." Oh, but yes we can! With remarkable prescience, Lauren Beukes's Afterland takes on an "unprecedented global pandemic" with chilling results--and surprising comic relief threaded throughout. Six years after the success of Broken Monsters, the South African author sets another disturbing novel in the U.S., creating an epic odyssey of a mother's determination to save her tween son. Their worst threat to safety, alas, ... [ Read More » ]

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The Two Mrs. Carlyles

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The Two Mrs. Carlyles

by Suzanne Rindell

The Two Mrs. Carlyles

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San Francisco's massive and deadly 1906 earthquake lasted approximately one minute, yet its aftermath created a dramatic divide in Cora, Flossie and Violet's friendship. The trio's longtime bond from their childhood in St. Hilda's Home for Girls through their young adulthoods of affluence lies at the heart of The Two Mrs. Carlyles, an evocative and fast-paced novel of historical suspense from Suzanne Rindell (Three-Martini LunchThe Other Typist).

A tragedy moments before the San Francisco ... [ Read More » ]

15 of 25
The Kids Are Gonna Ask

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The Kids Are Gonna Ask

by Gretchen Anthony

The Kids Are Gonna Ask

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In The Kids Are Gonna Ask, the funny, fast-paced, multi-format second novel from Gretchen Anthony (Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners), a well-intentioned quest to uncover a family secret upends the lives of two Midwestern teens and their grandmother when their story goes viral. 

When Bess McClair came home pregnant after a ski trip her senior year of college and decided to become a single mother, her mother, Maggie, welcomed the distraction from her grief over the recent death of ... [ Read More » ]

16 of 25
Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir

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Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir

by Natasha Trethewey

Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir

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Natasha Trethewey, two-term United States Poet Laureate, forges a serious, poignant work of remembrance with Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir. Trethewey's mother, Gwen, is the focus of this book: the daughter's memories and what she's forgotten, and, pointedly, the mother's murder at the hands of her second ex-husband. The murder took place just off Memorial Drive in Atlanta, Ga.; the aptly named thoroughfare runs from downtown to Stone Mountain, monument to the Confederacy, "a lasting metaphor ... [ Read More » ]

17 of 25
Condor Comeback

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Condor Comeback

by Sy Montgomery, Tianne Strombeck, photographer

Condor Comeback

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Sibert Medalist and National Book Award finalist Sy Montgomery is a regular contributor to the Scientists in the Field series, writing about reptiles, mammals, fish and--like this majestic delve into the California condor--birds. Condor Comeback takes young readers into the world of an oft-misunderstood vulture and offers them plenty of reasons to care about its well-being and critically endangered status.  

Working alongside specialists from the Santa Barbara Zoo, Montgomery observes condors ... [ Read More » ]

18 of 25
Monster and Boy

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Monster and Boy

by Hannah Barnaby, illus. by Anoosha Syed

Monster and Boy

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Silliness abounds when a boy meets the monster under his bed in Monster and Boy, a fun-filled debut early-reader chapter book by Hannah Barnaby (There's Something about Sam; Wonder Show).

"Once there was a monster who loved a boy." Having never met the boy, though, the monster decided to introduce himself. Understandably surprised, the boy started to yell, and "the monster panicked. He did the only thing he could think of. He swallowed the boy." When finally freed from the monster's stomach, the ... [ Read More » ]

19 of 25
It Is Wood, It Is Stone

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It Is Wood, It Is Stone

by Gabriella Burnham

It Is Wood, It Is Stone

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A restless young woman struggles to find agency in Brazilian American author Gabriella Burnham's novel It Is Wood, It Is Stone. Linda's husband, Dennis, announces that he's been awarded a temporary professorship in São Paulo, Brazil, on the day she meant to tell him she was leaving him. She doesn't share her intention and decides to go, leading to a crisis she explains through a brutally honest monologue to Dennis. Her plan to leave "was less a solution and more like a heartbeat trying ... [ Read More » ]

20 of 25
I Hold a Wolf by the Ears: Stories

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I Hold a Wolf by the Ears: Stories

by Laura van den Berg

I Hold a Wolf by the Ears: Stories

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Laura van den Berg (The Third Hotel) leads her characters into bizarre and life-changing situations--all the more powerful for their underlying emotional resonance--in her thrilling and uncanny collection of stories, I Hold a Wolf by the Ears.

The surreal permeates these stories in masterful fashion, as if each narrative, grounded in the real, slowly slips into the fantastical. The author admits this much in a sly, almost undetectable self-consciousness. "And this is the problem with translating ... [ Read More » ]

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Hieroglyphics

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Hieroglyphics

by Jill McCorkle

Hieroglyphics

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Early loss, and how it reverberates for decades in the lives of those who experience it, is the subject of Jill McCorkle's pensive Hieroglyphics. After more than 60 years of marriage, octogenarians Lil and Frank Wishart abandon their lifelong home in Massachusetts to move to Southern Pines, N.C., to be close to their daughter. Frank, a retired college professor with a particular interest in ancient burial practices, and Lillian, who ran a dance studio, are united by tragedy. In Lil's case, it's ... [ Read More » ]

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He Started It

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He Started It

by Samantha Downing

He Started It

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"We are a family of assholes. You can blame that on Grandpa, he started it."

With this description, how can one not want to read more about the Morgan family in Samantha Downing's acerbic thriller He Started It?

Grandpa recently died, and his last wish is for his grandchildren Eddie, Beth and Portia to re-create a road trip they all took with him when they were children. They must revisit the same landmarks in various states and not end up in jail if they want to inherit his millions. The ostensible ... [ Read More » ]

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Everything Here Is Under Control

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Everything Here Is Under Control

by Emily Adrian

Everything Here Is Under Control

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In Everything Here Is Under Control, Emily Adrian's emotionally nuanced adult debut (after YA novels Like It Never Happened and The Foreseeable Future), two childhood friends confront their shared past in order to move forward. Amanda is struggling under the physical and emotional toll of being a new mother. Her partner, Gabe, is doing his best, but in the screaming face of their newborn, Amanda is not sure it is enough. Exhausted and hurt, she drives to her hometown to stay, uninvited, with her ... [ Read More » ]

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Bottled Goods

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Bottled Goods

by Sophie Van Llewyn

Bottled Goods

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Bottled Goods, Sophie van Llewyn's first novel, is a curious story of oppression set in 1970s Communist Romania, featuring a young woman pressing against the confines not only of culture and state but of family. Largely realistic, the narrative takes the odd, surprising turn toward magical realism, making the already strange world of heavily monitored government control feel stranger still.

Readers first meet Alina as a girl, then a young single woman, working as a translator and tour guide on the ... [ Read More » ]

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Automatic Reload

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Automatic Reload

by Ferrett Steinmetz

Automatic Reload

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The unhinged steampunk epic Automatic Reload showcases a violent world of mayhem, love and redemption.

Soldier Mat Webb suffers from intense PTSD after shooting a child and losing an arm in a bomb blast during his last deployment. Rather than curl up in a ball and hide, he severs his remaining limbs and replaces them with the latest in military weaponry. His arms and legs become grenade and rocket launchers, and his reflexes become lightning quick. Mat hires himself out as a mercenary, accepting ... [ Read More » ]

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