This Week's Best New Books

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Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick

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Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick

by David Wong

Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick

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The future is simultaneously familiar and utterly ridiculous in Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick, the second Zoey Ashe thriller from David Wong, after Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits. As the story opens, Zoey is addressing a hostage crisis in one of the many businesses of various degrees of shadiness that she inherited from her extremely shady father. She and the team--whom she also inherited, and thinks of as the Suits--appear to resolve the situation, only to discover later that it isn't ... [ Read More » ]

2 of 27
Where the Wild Ladies Are

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Where the Wild Ladies Are

by Aoko Matsuda, trans. by Polly Barton

Where the Wild Ladies Are

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In the sharply written linked stories of Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda, contemporary takes on Japanese folktales lift a veil from a world where the living and the dead work side by side. Strikingly feminist slants on otherworldly creatures figure strongly. A woman who was told all her life that she was "just a girl" discovers one day that she might be a fox. A woman responding to a breakup through a regimen of hair removal is paid a visit by a deceased aunt who urges her to cultivate ... [ Read More » ]

3 of 27
What Tech Calls Thinking: An Inquiry into the Intellectual Bedrock of Silicon Valley

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What Tech Calls Thinking: An Inquiry into the Intellectual Bedrock of Silicon Valley

by Adrian Daub

What Tech Calls Thinking: An Inquiry into the Intellectual Bedrock of Silicon Valley

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Silicon Valley and its take on technological improvements and problem-solving have so shaped contemporary life that its moguls are often uncritically held up as maverick geniuses who have broken past norms to build a new world. But, as Adrian Daub, professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford University, deftly explicates in What Tech Calls Thinking: An Inquiry into the Intellectual Bedrock of Silicon Valley, the so-called genius of leading tech thinkers may be less about inherent ... [ Read More » ]

4 of 27
We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe

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We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe

by Merrill Markoe

We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe

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A book full of an author's poignant childhood diary entries sounds like a vanity project; blessedly, We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe is not that. The multiple Emmy Award-winning comedy writer has augmented some of her youthful jottings with drawings and snappy, bewildered and trenchant present-day observations, and the result is a marvelously oddball coming-of-age memoir with laughs and a talking hippo.

The entries begin in 1958, the year Markoe's parents moved the family, ... [ Read More » ]

5 of 27
Three Little Truths

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Three Little Truths

by Eithne Shortall

Three Little Truths

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Irish author Eithne Shortall (Grace After Henry) has created a delightfully gossipy, suspenseful little world in Three Little Truths. Perfect for fans of Desperate Housewives or Liane Moriarty's novels, Three Little Truths explores the varied secrets that even the friendliest neighbors may be hiding.

The story is set in Dublin, where the closely terraced houses mean that everyone knows everyone else's business. Pine Road seems like an ideal place to raise a family, but three women, all new to the ... [ Read More » ]

6 of 27
They Never Learn

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They Never Learn

by Layne Fargo

They Never Learn

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With They Never Learn, Layne Fargo earns high marks for a cerebral plot about female rage that centers on a college professor who thoughtfully plans to--without hesitation--murder men she believes deserve to die.

Fargo's highly entertaining standalone novel takes a similar tack as her incisive 2019 debut, Temper--women taking revenge on men who've gotten away with bad behavior. For Gorman University English professor Scarlett Clark, that retaliation takes the form of murders she disguises as suicides ... [ Read More » ]

7 of 27
Snapped

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Snapped

by Alexa Martin

Snapped

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In Snapped, Alexa Martin (Intercepted; Blitzed) continues to write with amusing flair about professional football players finding love. Her novels can all stand alone, but as each wife or girlfriend becomes part of the Lady Mustangs who support their players, the cast of quirky, hilarious side characters just keeps growing.

Elliot Reed, who is biracial, is thrilled to have gotten her dream job. She's the communications manager for the Denver Mustangs, her father's favorite football team. Elliot is ... [ Read More » ]

8 of 27
Plain Bad Heroines

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Plain Bad Heroines

by Emily M. Danforth, illus. by Sara Lautman

Plain Bad Heroines

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In her adult horror debut, Emily M. Danforth (The Miseducation of Cameron Post) offers an indulgent greenhouse of grotesqueries shadowed by gothic elements and pepped up with metafiction and mystery, illustrated with deliciously unsettling black-and-white line drawings by cartoonist Sara Lautman.

In 1902, at Brookhants School for Girls in Rhode Island, student Clara Broward falls into a vast subterranean nest of eastern yellow jackets while fleeing from her cousin and toward her sweetheart Flo Hartshorn. ... [ Read More » ]

9 of 27
The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel

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The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel

by Sheela Chari

The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel

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Based on the Peabody Award-winning middle-grade podcast series of the same name, The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel uses a dynamic multi-platform approach to tell the story of a too-smart-for-his-own-good 11-year-old who suspects a nefarious connection between missing kids and a charismatic billionaire inventor named Oliver Pruitt.

In the opinion of South Asian American Mars Patel, Oliver Pruitt is one of the only grownups who "gets" kids. The podcaster at times even seems to speak directly ... [ Read More » ]

10 of 27
On Account of the Gum

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On Account of the Gum

by Adam Rex

On Account of the Gum

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Talk about a story with a big buildup. In On Account of the Gum, Adam Rex's divine comedy of errors, a kid who falls asleep chewing a bubble-tastic blob awakens to a rude surprise: "That's the gum. Right there. That you got in your hair."

The kid's family members have a go with the scissors, only to lose them in the sticky pink morass. No problem: the kid's family consults the Internet, which yields advice on how to get scissors and gum out of hair. Unfortunately--and who could have seen this coming?--the ... [ Read More » ]

11 of 27
I Am a Capybara

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I Am a Capybara

by Michela Fabbri

I Am a Capybara

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I Am a Capybara is debut author Michaela Fabbri's fun and fanciful portrait of one particularly self-aware capybara, who sees life as a series of small delights--including the joys of dressing like a whale!

This charming story begins with an explanation of what a capybara is not: "not a mouse... not a beaver... not a bear, nor a marmot." But, apparently, a capybara is the biggest rodent in the world. And the capybara narrating this particular story is a thoughtful soul, a lover of poetry and the ... [ Read More » ]

12 of 27
The Call Me Ishmael Phone Book: An Interactive Guide to Life-Changing Books

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The Call Me Ishmael Phone Book: An Interactive Guide to Life-Changing Books

by Stephanie Kent, Logan Smalley

The Call Me Ishmael Phone Book: An Interactive Guide to Life-Changing Books

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The Call Me Ishmael Project began with an impassioned conversation between book lovers Stephanie Kent and Logan Smalley in a pub. Arguing over the best opening lines in literature, they finally agreed to compromise on Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. Moments later, they noticed the pun in the phrase. What would happen, they wondered, if readers could call Ishmael and leave a voice message? Several hours later, they had a working phone number with a message that challenged readers to tell "Ishmael" a ... [ Read More » ]

13 of 27
Attack Surface

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Attack Surface

by Cory Doctorow

Attack Surface

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"Yes, it was good opsec," the hacker narrator/hero of Cory Doctrow's alarming digital-security thriller Attack Surface muses about a colleague's hand-soldered, key-encrypted USB sticks, before offering this caveat a couple lines later: "But it was such boy-spy-adventure-novel stuff."

Doctorow's latest, a smart standalone set in the near-future world of his earlier books Little Brother and Homeland, aspires to liberate the globetrotting tech potboiler from the genre's longstanding boyishness. Attack ... [ Read More » ]

14 of 27
All Because You Matter

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All Because You Matter

by Tami Charles, illus. by Bryan Collier

All Because You Matter

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Tami Charles, author of picture books Freedom Soup (illus. by Jacqueline Alcántara) and Fearless Mary (illus. by Clair Almon), collaborates on her third picture book, All Because You Matter, with Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner and four-time Caldecott Honoree Bryan Collier. A story that identifies the importance of our ancestors as well as our present and future selves, All Because You Matter tackles topics such as bullying, racial profiling and the discovery of one's identity.
... [ Read More » ]

15 of 27
We're Better Than This: My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy

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We're Better Than This: My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy

by Elijah Cummings, James Dale, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings

We're Better Than This: My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy

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Elijah Cummings's We're Better Than This is part memoir, part behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of American democracy and part call to action. That last piece is, perhaps, the most crucial concept readers can take from the life Cummings dedicated to public service.

Though Cummings began the work on this book himself, he and James Dale were unable to complete the project prior to the congressman's death in 2019. Dale, along with Cummings's widow, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, completed ... [ Read More » ]

16 of 27
Tiny Nightmares: Very Short Tales of Horror

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Tiny Nightmares: Very Short Tales of Horror

by Lincoln Michel, Nadxieli Nieto, editors

Tiny Nightmares: Very Short Tales of Horror

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In sinister tales brimming with suspense, this slim yet potent collection of flash fiction probes humanity's dark side and the horrors born of global crises.

In Tiny Nightmares, edited by Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto (coeditors of Tiny Crimes), each entry conjures a creepiness that lingers. Classic body horror and mainstays of speculative fiction chill via eerily original scenarios--a dismembered corpse is revealed by melting snow, a decaying body is willfully ignored by a partying coterie, ... [ Read More » ]

17 of 27
Shelter in Place

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Shelter in Place

by David Leavitt

Shelter in Place

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Shelter in Place by David Leavitt (The Two Hotel Francforts) delivers a cutting view of elite white angst after the 2016 election of Donald J. Trump. Eva and Bruce Lindquist--"affluent New York liberals, not old money but not new money, either"--are hosting a dinner in their Manhattan apartment. Their guests are shocked at the election results, certainly, but Eva is beyond consolation, and attending the Women's March after inauguration isn't the solution she has in mind. "I've been thinking about ... [ Read More » ]

18 of 27
The Once and Future Witches

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The Once and Future Witches

by Alix E. Harrow

The Once and Future Witches

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Alix E. Harrow (The Ten Thousand Doors of January) enters the ranks of the growing feminist witch genre with The Once and Future Witches, an expansive, angry and ultimately hopeful historical fantasy novel set in an alternate-history 1893 New Salem, 200 years after the (fictional) complete destruction of Salem.

The initially estranged Eastwood sisters represent three archetypal witches and women: the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone, though Harrow makes clear that every woman is not just one ... [ Read More » ]

19 of 27
Every Color of Light: A Book About the Sky

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Every Color of Light: A Book About the Sky

by Hiroshi Osada, trans. by David Boyd, illus. by Ryôji Arai

Every Color of Light: A Book About the Sky

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Rainstorms will never look the same again after a mesmerizing trip through the forest with Japanese poet Hiroshi Osada as the guide. Combined with the marvel of Ryôji Arai's dazzling illustrations of nature, Every Color of Light is a refreshing sensory wonderland in picture book format.

There is a calm on the forest floor when the rain starts, "Pitter/ Patter/ Pitter patter." As the storm intensifies, Arai's illustrations grow darker, the lines stronger and Osada's words gain urgency: "The ... [ Read More » ]

20 of 27
Class Act

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Class Act

by Jerry Craft

Class Act

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Welcome back to a new year at Riverdale Academy Day (RAD) School in Jerry Craft's entertaining follow-up to his 2020 Newbery Medal-winning debut, New Kid. Wannabe artist Jordan reunites with his closest friends: Liam, who arrives from his family's Riverdale mansion via chauffeur, and Drew, who commutes from a Co-Op City apartment where he lives with his grandmother. Craft's focus here is Drew: within moments of arrival, he's accosted by Andy with combative unwanted greetings and by Ashley, who shows ... [ Read More » ]

21 of 27
Invisible Differences: A Story of Asperger's, Adulting, and Living a Life in Full Color

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Invisible Differences: A Story of Asperger's, Adulting, and Living a Life in Full Color

by Julie Dachez, trans. by Edward Gauvin, illus. by Mademoiselle Caroline

Invisible Differences: A Story of Asperger's, Adulting, and Living a Life in Full Color

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In her enormously affecting comics debut, Invisible Differences, French activist Julie Dachez introduces her autobiographical stand-in, 27-year-old Marguerite. Marguerite's daily life is most comfortable when she abides by her familiar rituals: wear soft clothes, depart for work at 7:30 a.m., grab her daily spelt roll at the same bakery en route. Any interruptions--casual conversations, too much noise, social engagements--can cause anxiety, exhaustion, immediate withdrawal. Her colleagues, her cousin, ... [ Read More » ]

22 of 27
Goodnight Beautiful

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Goodnight Beautiful

by Aimee Molloy

Goodnight Beautiful

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This review should be only one sentence: it's best to start reading Aimee Molloy's clever Goodnight Beautiful knowing as little as possible. Readers should go in blind--heck, even skip this review--but if they need more convincing, here are a few more details.

Newlyweds Sam and Annie move from Manhattan to Chestnut Hill, N.Y., to take care of his ailing mother. Sam, a psychologist, starts a private business and almost right away attracts patients, partly due to a local magazine newspaper profile ... [ Read More » ]

23 of 27
Father Guards the Sheep

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Father Guards the Sheep

by Sari Rosenblatt

Father Guards the Sheep

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Within the eight interconnected stories that make up Sari Rosenblatt's perceptive debut collection, Father Guards the Sheep, ordinary people search for a sense of belonging. In the opening "Daughter of Retail," Ellen, a girl filled with self-doubt, becomes a reluctant employee at her father's business. She realizes that surviving necessitates a certain type of invisibility: "leaving the shell behind and taking the head with you." "Miss McCool" demonstrates Rosenblatt's proficiency at weaving a common ... [ Read More » ]

24 of 27
Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin

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Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin

by Megan Rosenbloom

Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin

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The history of a macabre practice, and the ethical questions it raises, are revealed in Dark Archives, an engaging chronicle of a shadowy aspect of clinical medicine.

As a librarian and a leader of the Death Positive Movement, Megan Rosenbloom is the ideal guide to anthropodermic bibliopegy--binding books in human skin. Such a ghoulish practice can exist only in the cruelest of circumstances, like Nazi Germany, right? Wrong. As medical practitioners became a privileged class, "the medical profession ... [ Read More » ]

25 of 27
Chicago's Great Fire: The Destruction and Resurrection of an Iconic American City

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Chicago's Great Fire: The Destruction and Resurrection of an Iconic American City

by Carl Smith

Chicago's Great Fire: The Destruction and Resurrection of an Iconic American City

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In October 1871, fire swept through Chicago, destroying much of the 40-year-old city in a few days and leaving 90,000 people homeless. In Chicago's Great Fire: The Destruction and Resurrection of an Iconic American City, urban historian Carl Smith (City Water, City Life) tells the story of the fire and Chicago's astonishing recovery, as well as how the disaster has played into Chicago's self-image over the 150 years since it occurred.

Smith's description of the fire's race through the city is gripping. ... [ Read More » ]

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150 Glimpses of the Beatles

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150 Glimpses of the Beatles

by Craig Brown

150 Glimpses of the Beatles

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With a nod to "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," satirist Craig Brown (Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret) examines the Beatles through kaleidoscope eyes in this wildly imaginative and tremendously entertaining biographical collage. In 150 non-chronological chapters, Brown picks pivotal events and people important to the band and devotes an entire chapter to each.

With nearly 200 books previously published on the Beatles and its four members, Brown delights in sorting through conflicting versions ... [ Read More » ]

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Trowbridge Road

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Trowbridge Road

by Marcella Pixley

Trowbridge Road

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Marcella Pixley's latest middle-grade novel is at once a glorious celebration of the power of imagination and a heartrending cautionary tale about the danger of keeping certain secrets. Written with compassion, eloquence and a profound understanding of the ways physical and mental illness can rack a family, Trowbridge Road is positively luminous. 

When 11-year-old June Bug Jordan meets Ziggy Karlo in the summer of 1983, they are two terribly lonely children with many "things [they] don't talk
... [ Read More » ]

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