A Piece of the World
by Christina Baker Kline
Andrew Wyeth's painting "Christina's World" would immortalize a young woman. This is the story of Christina and her life. After almost dying as a child of an undiagnosed illness, her legs are twisted, making her stumble as she walks. As she ages, the effects of this illness get much worse leaving her with a shrinking world. This book immerses us in the life on her farm and into the heart of a young woman. A fantastic, and touching story by this author that brings to life the story behind a painting and the life of a young girl who always wanted more than she was given, but accomplished so much despite her handicap. -- Diane Scholl for LibraryReads.
Genre: Historical Fiction; Art
Similar: Lisette's List (Susan Vreeland)
Out Stealing Horses
by Per Petterson
Translated by Anne Borne
Award-winning Norwegian novelist Petterson renders the meditations of Trond Sander, a man nearing 70, dwelling in self-imposed exile at the eastern edge of Norway in a primitive cabin. Trond's peaceful existence is interrupted by a meeting with his only neighbor, who seems familiar. The meeting pries loose a memory from a summer day in 1948 when Trond's friend Jon suggests they go out and steal horses. That distant summer is transformative for Trond as he reflects on the fragility of life while discovering secrets about his father's wartime activities. The past also looms in the present: Trond realizes that his neighbor, Lars, is Jon's younger brother, who "pulls aside the fifty years with a lightness that seems almost indecent." Trond becomes immersed in his memory, recalling that summer that shaped the course of his life while, in the present, Trond and Lars prepare for the winter, allowing Petterson to dabble in parallels both bold and subtle. Petterson coaxes out of Trond's reticent, deliberate narration a story as vast as the Norwegian tundra. -- Publisher's Weekly Staff Review
Genre: Literary Fiction; Fiction in Translation
Similar: The Final Solution (Michael Chabon)
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
by Muriel Barbery
Translated by Alison Anderson
Renée Michel, 54 and widowed, is the stolid concierge in an elegant Paris hôtel particulier . Though “short, ugly, and plump,” Renée has, as she says, “always been poor,” but she has a secret: she's a ferocious autodidact who's better versed in literature and the arts than any of the building's snobby residents. Meanwhile, “supersmart” 12-year-old Paloma Josse, who switches off narration with Renée, lives in the building with her wealthy, liberal family. Having grasped life's futility early on, Paloma plans to commit suicide on her 13th birthday. The arrival of a new tenant, Kakuro Ozu, who befriends both the young pessimist and the concierge alike, sets up their possible transformations. By turns very funny and heartbreaking, Barbery never allows either of her dour narrators to get too cerebral or too sentimental. Her simple plot and sudden denouement add up to a great deal more than the sum of their parts. -- Publisher Weekly's Staff Review
Genre: Literary Fiction; Fiction in Translation
Similar: 44 Scotland Street (Alexander McCall Smith)
Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef
by Gabrielle Hamilton
Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton’s idyllic past and her own future family—the result of a prickly marriage that nonetheless yields lasting dividends. By turns epic and intimate, Gabrielle Hamilton’s story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion.
Genre: Nonfiction; Memoir; Food Writing
Similar: Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (Anthony Bourdain)
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me
by Sherman Alexie
A searing, deeply moving memoir about family, love, and loss from the critically acclaimed, bestselling National Book Award winner. When his mother passed away at the age of 78, Sherman Alexie responded the only way he knew how: he wrote. The result is this stunning memoir. Featuring 78 poems and 78 essays, Alexie shares raw, angry, funny, profane, tender memories of a childhood few can imagine--growing up dirt-poor on an Indian reservation, one of four children raised by alcoholic parents. Throughout, a portrait emerges of his mother as a beautiful, mercurial, abusive, intelligent, complicated woman. You Don't Have To Say You Love Me is a powerful account of a complicated relationship, an unflinching and unforgettable remembrance.
Genre: Nonfiction; Memoir; Poetry
Similar: The Glass Castle (Jeannette Walls)
The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great
by Eva Stachniak
A reimagining of the early years of Catherine the Great traces the story of two young women: Barbara, a servant who will become one of Russia's most cunning royal spies, and Sophia, a pretty, naive German duchess who will become Catherine the Great. With dazzling details and intense drama, Eva Stachniak depicts Barbara’s secret alliance with Catherine as the princess grows into a legend—through an enforced marriage, illicit seductions, and, at last, the shocking coup to assume the throne of all of Russia. Impeccably researched and magnificently written, The Winter Palace is an irresistible peek through the keyhole of one of history’s grandest tales.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Similar: The Lady of the Rivers (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels #1) (Philippa Gregory)
written and illustrated by Tom Gauld
The lunar colony is slowly winding down, like a small town circumvented by a new super highway. As our hero, the Mooncop, makes his daily rounds, his beat grows ever smaller, the population dwindles. A young girl runs away, a dog breaks off his leash, an automaton wanders off from the Museum of the Moon. "Living on the moon . . . Whatever were we thinking? . . . It seems so silly now."
Genre: Graphic Novel; Science Fiction
Similar: Saga (Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples)
The Psychology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained
Clearly explaining more than 100 groundbreaking ideas in the field, The Psychology Book uses accessible text and easy-to-follow graphics and illustrations to explain the complex theoretical and experimental foundations of psychology. From its philosophical roots through behaviorism, psychotherapy, and developmental psychology, The Psychology Book looks at all the greats from Pavlov and Skinner to Freud and Jung, and is an essential reference for students and anyone with an interest in how the mind works.
Genre: Nonfiction; Psychology
Similar: The Story of Psychology (Morton Hunt)
Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver presents a personal selection of her best work in this definitive collection spanning more than five decades of her esteemed literary career. Carefully curated, these 200 plus poems feature Oliver's work from her very first book of poetry, No Voyage and Other Poems, published in 1963 at the age of 28, through her most recent collection, Felicity, published in 2015. This timeless volume, arranged by Oliver herself, showcases the beloved poet at her edifying best.
Similar: Selected Poems of Anne Sexton
PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives
by Frank Warren
You are invited to anonymously contribute a secret to a group art project. Your secret can be a regret, fear, betrayal, desire, confession, or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything -- as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before. Be brief. Be legible. Be creative. The response was overwhelming. The secrets were both provocative and profound, and the cards themselves were works of art -- carefully and creatively constructed by hand. This extraordinary collection brings together the most powerful, personal, and beautifully intimate secrets Frank Warren has received -- and brilliantly illuminates that human emotions can be unique and universal at the same time.
Genre: Nonfiction; Art
Similar: PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God (Frank Warren)
Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery
by Scott Kelly
The veteran of four space flights and the American record holder for consecutive days spent in space, Scott Kelly has experienced things very few have. Now, he takes us inside a sphere utterly inimical to human life. Kelly's humanity, compassion, humor, and passion resonate throughout, as he recalls his rough-and-tumble New Jersey childhood and the youthful inspiration that sparked his astounding career, and as he makes clear his belief that Mars will be the next, ultimately challenging step in American spaceflight.
Genre: Nonfiction; Memoir; Science
Similar: First on the Moon (Buzz Aldrin)
Snow & Rose
written and illustrated
by Emily Winfield Martin
Snow and Rose didn't know they were in a fairy tale. People never do.... Once, they lived in a big house with spectacular gardens and an army of servants. Once, they had a father and mother who loved them more than the sun and moon. But that was before their father disappeared into the woods and their mother disappeared into sorrow. This is the story of two sisters and the enchanted woods that have been waiting for them to break a set of terrible spells. Bestselling author-illustrator Emily Winfield Martin has created a world that sits on the border of enchantment, with characters who are grounded in real emotions that readers will recognize in themselves.
Genre: Fantasy; Fairy-tale and Folklore
Similar: The Girl Who Drank the Moon (Kelly Barnhill)
The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency
by Chris Whipple
The first in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the White House Chiefs of Staff, whose actions - and inactions - have defined the course of our country. Through extensive, intimate interviews with all seventeen living chiefs and two former presidents, award-winning journalist and producer Chris Whipple pulls back the curtain on this unique fraternity. In doing so, he revises our understanding of presidential history. Filled with shrewd analysis and never-before-reported details, The Gatekeepers offers an essential portrait of the toughest job in Washington.
Genre: Nonfiction; History
Similar: Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? (Alyssa Mastromonaco)
The Bad Food Bible: How and Why We Eat Sinfully
by Aaron Carroll
Advice about food can be confusing. There's usually only one thing experts can agree on: some ingredients—often the most enjoyable ones—are bad for you, full stop. But as Aaron Carroll explains, these oversimplifications are both wrong and dangerous: if we stop consuming some of our most demonized ingredients altogether, it may actually hurt us. Full of counterintuitive lessons about food we hate to love, The Bad Food Bible is for anyone who wants to forge eating habits that are sensible, sustainable, and occasionally indulgent.
Genre: Nonfiction; Food Writing; Science
Similar: In Defense of Food (Michael Pollan)
We Were Eight Years in Power
by Ta-Nehisi Coates
A compelling portrait of the historic Barack Obama era, combining new and annotated essays from the National Book Award-winning author of Between the World and Me, includes the articles, "Fear of a Black President" and "The Case for Reparations" as well as two new pieces on the Obama administration and what is coming next. The essays are prefaced with new introductions that trace the articles from conception to publication and beyond. With hindsight, Coates examines the roots of his ideas and moments of personal history that relay the influence of hip-hop, the books he read, and the blog he maintained on his writing.
Genre: Non-fiction; Politics
Similar: Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates)
Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History by Katy Tur
One of Donald Trump's favorite media targets tells how she attained that distinction in this spry look at the 2016 campaign. NBC News correspondent Tur covered the presidential campaign from the very start, with Trump in her sights for more than 500 grueling days. Trump managed to tap into a deep well of resentment and anger among disaffected voters who were content to trade in old notions of truth and decency for Trump's wild ride. Trump's own encounters with Tur were just as resentful and angry: he complained that she wouldn't look at him and was distorting words she was quoting verbatim, and she had a special knack for upsetting him. Trump's anger, page after page of it, is discomfiting, and Tur's reactions to it seem to verge on symptoms of PTSD. A thoughtful account of covering what the author rightly calls "the most unlikely, exciting, ugly, trying, and all-around bizarre campaign in American history."
Genre: Non-fiction; Politics; Journalism
Similar: Settle for More (Megyn Kelly)
by Yaa Gyasi
This sweeping family saga encompasses seven generations of descendants of a Fante and his captured Asante house slave. After giving birth to a daughter, Maame manages to escape, making her way alone back to her own village. She is taken in by an Asante warrior, becomes his third wife, and has a second daughter by him. The two sisters, Effia and Esi, will never meet, their lives will follow very different paths, but their descendants will share a legacy of warfare and slavery. Effia will marry an Englishman who oversees the British interest in the Gold Coast slave trade. Esi will be captured by Fante warriors, traded to the Englishmen, and shipped to America to be sold into slavery. Progressing through 300 years of Ghanaian and American history, the narrative unfolds in a series of concise portraits of each sister's progeny that capture pivotal moments in each individual's life. Every portrait reads like a short story unto itself, yet Gyasi imbues the work with a remarkably seamless feel. Through the combined historical perspectives of each descendant, the author reveals that racism is often rooted in tribalism, greed, and the lust for power.
Genre: Historical Fiction; Family Sagas
Similar: The Underground Railroad (Colson Whitehead)
Don't Call Us Dead: Poems
by Danez Smith
Award-winning poet Danez Smith is a groundbreaking force, celebrated for deft lyrics, urgent subjects, and performative power. Don't Call Us Dead opens with a heartrending sequence that imagines an afterlife for black men shot by police, a place where suspicion, violence, and grief are forgotten and replaced with the safety, love, and longevity they deserved here on earth. Smith turns then to desire, mortality, the dangers experienced in skin and body and blood, and a diagnosis of HIV positive. "Some of us are killed / in pieces," Smith writes, some of us all at once. Don't Call Us Dead is an astonishing and ambitious collection, one that confronts, praises, and rebukes America where every day is too often a funeral and not often enough a miracle.
Similar: Citizen: An American Lyric (Claudia Rankine)
Future Home of the Living God
by Louise Erdrich
Set in Minnesota in a dystopian future in which evolution is going haywire, much of this startling new work of speculative fiction takes the form of a diary by pregnant Cedar Hawk Songmaker addressed to her unborn child. Happily raised and well-educated by her adopted parents Sera and Glen Songmaker, Cedar decides nevertheless to visit her Ojibwe birth family. But times are strange. Flora and fauna are taking on prehistoric characteristics, and there is talk of viruses. It isn’t long before pregnant women are being rounded up. Like some of Erdrich's earlier work, the novel shifts adroitly in time and has a thoughtful, almost mournful insight into life on a Native reservation. If Erdrich hasn't previously ventured into tropes normally employed by sci-fi writers, she doesn't show the inexperience here. There is much to rue in this novel about our world but also hope for salvation. Erdrich has written a cautionary tale for this very moment in time.
Genre: Science Fiction; Dystopian Fiction
Similar: The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood); When She Woke (Hillary Jordan)
by Marjorie Liu
with illustrations by Sana Takeda
Lush, disturbing artwork by Takeda creates an atmosphere of chaos, oppression, magic, and dread in this fantasy tale. Writer Liu spins an interesting yarn about a war between humans and animal-like Arcanics, centering around a young “chosen one”–type Arcanic, Maika Halfwolf. Human witches imprison and chop up the bodies of their Arcanic enemies in secret to eat their life force, an act that includes the dismemberment of Arcanic children. Maika breaks free from her fate, only to find that she’s possessed by a demon hiding within her arm. Takeda’s visuals recall realistic, gritty manga such as Lone Wolf and Cub, with magic and monsters to rival those of Hayao Miyazaki’s films. The bleak worldbuilding will satisfy fans of grim but humanist sci-fi and fantasy.
Genre: Graphic Novel; Science Fiction; Fantasy
Similar: Saga (Brian K. Vaughn)
H is for Hawk
by Helen Macdonald
When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she'd never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk's fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Heart-wrenching and humorous, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement and a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, with a parallel examination of a legendary writer's eccentric falconry. Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator.
Genre: Memoir; Nature Writing; Books About Books
Similar: Peregrine Spring (Nancy Cowan)
My Absolute Darling
by Gabriel Tallent
Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her. What follows is a harrowing story of bravery and redemption.
Readers beware: this book includes graphic depictions of abuse including sexual assault and incest.
Genre: Literary Fiction; Coming of Age Stories
Similar: Winter's Bone (Daniel Woodrell)
Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson
In vivid poems that reflect the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson shares what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s in both the North and the South. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
Genre: Poetry; Memoir
Also by Jacqueline Woodson: Another Brooklyn
Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power!
by Mariko Tamaki
Welcome to Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. The five scouts of Roanoke cabin—Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley—love their summers at camp. They get to hang out with their best friends, earn Lumberjane scout badges, annoy their no-nonsense counselor Jen . . . and go on supernatural adventures. That last one? A pretty normal occurrence at Miss Qiunzella’s, where the woods contain endless mysteries.
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Similar: Check out the Lumberjane graphic novels by Noelle Stevenson
by Aziz Ansari
The ever hip and funny comedian and Parks and Recreation star embarks on a surprisingly insightful exploration of the complex realities of dating today. Long before Ansari was born to his Tamil parents, people got together and married the least offensive prospect in the neighborhood. Sometimes, they looked no further than their own apartment building. Over time, and if they were lucky, they managed to form an enduring bond that grew into something a lot like love. It was crazy by today's contemporary Western standards, but Ansari's incredulousness with this anachronistic state of affairs is tempered with such a high level of earnest intelligence and compassion that he immediately establishes himself as a serious investigator. Ansari narrates the audiobook, which is laugh-out-loud funny (and available from Overdrive).
Genre: Non-fiction; Society and Culture; Humor
Similar: Dataclysm (Christian Rudder)
Murder on the Orient Express
by Agatha Christie
Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed repeatedly, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer. Isolated by the storm and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer amongst a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again...
This classic mystery is always worth a read (or re-read), and with a new film adaptation coming out in November, now is the perfect time!
Similar: Night Over Water (Ken Follett)