by Sylvain Neuvel
An enormous hand glowing with strange symbols is found in South Dakota by young Rose Franklin, who years later becomes a scientist and heads the team studying the artifact. The hand is just the beginning as the researchers hunt for more pieces of what turns out to be an enormous alien robot-like construct. Through transcripts of interviews of those investigating the machine and a secretive man directing the work, we follow the discovery and assembly of the relic and the mystery of who left it and why. - Megan M. McArdle for Library Journal
Genre: Science Fiction; Epistolary Novels
Similar: Humans Bow Down (James Patterson)
The Witch Boy
by Molly Ostertag
Aster belongs to a magical family, but he is having problems with one of the most basic rules: shapeshifting is for boys, while witchcraft is for girls. Aster is fascinated by the spells that the girls are learning, so he spies on their lessons whenever he can. When several boys disappear during shapeshifting practice, Aster realizes that he can help save them using witchcraft to battle a strange and powerful enemy—but he'll have to break his family's traditions and risk his life. Both the plot and the overall message are straightforward and familiar but engaging. Beneath the fantastical elements lies a story about upending gender expectations, forging identity, and uncovering heroic potential in oneself. Those who enjoy sci-fi or fantasy stories about protagonists who must prove that their society's rules are flawed will appreciate this offering. Ostertag's bright, gentle, cartoonlike artwork brims with life and adds extra appeal to this fast-moving story. - Thomas Jonte for School Library Journal
Genre: Graphic Novels; Fantasy
Similar: All's Faire in Middle School (Victoria Jamieson)
by Brian K. Vaughan
Illustrated by Cliff Chiag & Matthew Wilson
In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood. Volumes 1-3 available now, with Volume 4 coming soon!
Genre: Graphic Novels; Science Fiction
Similar: Rat Queens (Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch)
by Terese Marie Mailhot
Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn't exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.
Similar: Lakota Woman (Mary Crow Dog)
Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game
by John Thorn
Think you know how the game of baseball began? Think again. Forget Abner Doubleday and Cooperstown. Did baseball even have a father--or did it just evolve from other bat-and-ball games? John Thorn, baseball's preeminent historian, examines the creation story of the game and finds it all to be a gigantic lie. From its earliest days baseball was a vehicle for gambling, a proxy form of class warfare. Thorn traces the rise of the New York version of the game over other variations popular in Massachusetts and Philadelphia. He shows how the sport's increasing popularity in the early decades of the nineteenth century mirrored the migration of young men from farms and small towns to cities, especially New York. Full of heroes, scoundrels, and dupes, this book tells the story of nineteenth-century America, a land of opportunity and limitation, of glory and greed--all present in the wondrous alloy that is our nation and its pastime
Genre: Non-fiction; Sports; Baseball
Similar: The Victory Season (Robert Weintraub)
The Road to Jonestown
by Jeff Guinn
A portrait of the influential cult leader behind the Jonestown Massacre examines his personal life, from his extramarital affairs and drug use to his fraudulent faith healing practices and his decision to move his followers to Guyana, sharing astonishing new details about the events leading to the 1978 tragedy. Guinn examined thousands of pages of FBI files on the case, including material released during the course of his research. He traveled to Jones’s Indiana hometown, where he spoke to people never previously interviewed, and uncovered fresh information from Jonestown survivors.
Genre: Biography; True Crime
Similar: Under the Banner of Heaven (Jon Krakauer)
Paris in the Present Tense
by Mark Helprin
Seventy-four-year-old Jules Lacour—a maître at Paris-Sorbonne, cellist, widower, veteran of the war in Algeria, and child of the Holocaust—must find a balance between his strong obligations to the past and the attractions and beauties of life and love in the present. In the midst of what should be an effulgent time of life—days bright with music, family, rowing on the Seine—Jules is confronted headlong and all at once by a series of challenges to his principles, livelihood, and home, forcing him to grapple with his complex past and find a way forward. He risks fraud to save his terminally ill infant grandson, matches wits with a renegade insurance investigator, is drawn into an act of savage violence, and falls deeply, excitingly in love with a young cellist a third his age. Against the backdrop of an exquisite and knowing vision of Paris and the way it can uniquely shape a life, he forges a denouement that is staggering in its humanity, elegance, and truth.
Genre: Literary Fiction
Similar: The Secret Chord (Geraldine Brooks)
L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making Paris My Home
by David Lebovitz
When David Lebovitz began the project of updating his apartment in his adopted home city, he never imagined he would encounter so much inexplicable red tape while contending with the famously inconsistent European work ethic and hours. Lebovitz maintains his distinctive sense of humor with the help of his partner Romain, peppering this renovation story with recipes from his Paris kitchen. In the midst of it all, he reveals the adventure that accompanies carving out a place for yourself in a foreign country-under baffling conditions-while never losing sight of the magic that inspired him to move to the City of Light many years ago.
Genre: Memoir; Travel Writing; Food Writing
Similar: My Life in France (Julia Child)
The Wine Lover's Daughter: A Memoir
by Anne Fadiman
Essayist and author Fadiman's wonderful memoir examines herself, her father, her relationship with her father, wine, books, family, and much more. Clifton Fadiman had a long and distinguished career as a radio and TV host and book reviewer. But his main passion, besides books, was wine. Those familiar with the author's essays will recognize her polymath mind and tangential style, and those unfamiliar will find it delightful to encounter for the first time. How she manages to fit her own life, her father's life, her marriage, a primer on wine, the scientific study of taste, and many other subjects into such a slim volume is mind-boggling. A fascinating book with something to interest anyone; a pure reading pleasure. - Derek Sanderson for Library Journal
Genre: Nonfiction; Memoir
Similar: Reading My Father (Alexandra Styron)
by Sándor Márai
translated by Carol Brown Janeway
In a secluded woodland castle an old General prepares to receive a rare visitor, a man who was once his closest friend but whom he has not seen in forty-one years. Over the ensuing hours host and guest will fight a duel of words and silences, accusations and evasions. They will exhume the memory of their friendship and that of the General’s beautiful, long-dead wife. And they will return to the time the three of them last sat together following a hunt in the nearby forest--a hunt in which no game was taken but during which something was lost forever.
Genre: Literary Fiction; Fiction in Translation; Classics
Similar: A Separate Peace (John Knowles)
The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria
by Alia Malek
At the Arab Spring's hopeful start, Alia Malek returned to Damascus to reclaim her grandmother's apartment, which had been lost to her family since Hafez al-Assad came to power in 1970. Its loss was central to her parent's decision to make their lives in America. In chronicling the people who lived in the Tahaan building, past and present, Alia portrays the Syrians-the Muslims, Christians, Jews, Armenians, and Kurds-who worked, loved, and suffered in close quarters, mirroring the political shifts in their country. Restoring her family's home as the country comes apart, she learns how to speak the coded language of oppression that exists in a dictatorship, while privately confronting her own fears about Syria's future.
Genre: Nonfiction; Memoirs; Politics & History
Similar: The Way of the Strangers (Graeme Wood)
by Leni Zumas
Imagine a world in which Roe v. Wade has been overturned, and you have the premise of Zumas’ shattering new novel in which abortion seekers are charged with conspiracy to commit murder, and abortion providers with second-degree murder. The novel introduces four women whose interconnected lives are negatively impacted by the new law. There is Ro, an unmarried high-school teacher desperate to be a mother before a law forbidding single people to adopt goes into effect; her 15-year-old student Mattie, who is pregnant and equally desperate, but for an abortion; Gin, an herbalist, regarded locally as a witch, whose herbs are believed to have the power to terminate pregnancy; and Susan, who, with two children, is trapped in a loveless marriage but feels herself too weak to end it. With its strong point of view, the novel, in lesser hands, might have been reduced to agitprop, but Zumas has raised it, instead, to the level of literature, which readers will find deeply moving. The characters are beautifully realized, inviting empathy and understanding; the richly realized plot is compulsively readable, and the theme, with its echoes of Margaret Atwood, is never didactic but invites thought and discussion. The result is powerful and timely. - Michael Cart for Booklist
Genre: Literary Fiction; Dystopian Fiction
Similar: When She Woke (Hillary Jordan)
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
by Erika L. Sánchez
Why isn’t 15-year-old Julia Reyes a perfect Mexican daughter in her mother’s eyes? Mostly because of her older sister, Olga, who puts family first, listens to her parents, and dresses conservatively. Julia, by contrast, argues with her mother, talks back at school, and dreams of becoming a famous writer. When Olga dies suddenly, Julia is left wishing that they had been closer and grieving what she sees as Olga’s wasted life. And when she starts to suspect that Olga might not have been so perfect , she follows every clue. Sánchez’s debut novel covers a lot of ground, including Julia’s day-to-day activities in Chicago, her college ambitions, her first boyfriend, her difficult relationship with her overprotective parents, and her search for Olga’s secrets. As the book moves along, Julia’s frustration with the many constraints she lives under—poverty, family expectations, and conditioning that she resents but can’t quite ignore—reaches dangerous levels. - Publishers Weekly Review
Genre: Young Adult; Contemporary Fiction
Similar: Little & Lion (Brandy Colbert)
by Nidhi Chanani
Priyanka is the teenage daughter of a single mother from Calcutta who won’t answer her questions about why she came to the U.S. or who Priyanka’s father is. “In India I would never talk this rude way to my mom,” Priyanka’s mother chastises. Mean girls make school rough; drawing is Priyanka’s only solace. A silk pashmina in her mother’s closet gives Priyanka the ability to see India, the homeland she’s never visited, in sequences that explode with vibrant color, in contrast to the dark purples Chanani uses for Priyanki’s everyday life. When she’s finally able to travel there, her aunt answers the questions that have blighted Priyanka’s relationship with her mother, and the pashmina gives her a mission. Newcomer Chanani’s figures lean toward cuteness, softening the story’s darker moments. Most impressive is the way Chanani keeps the story’s distinct and fascinating plot elements spinning. One work can’t represent a whole subcontinent, but readers will come away with a living sense of a small part of it—and characters to care about. - Publishers Weekly Staff Review
Genre: Juvenile Fiction; Graphic Novel
Similar: Anya's Ghost (Vera Brosgol)
The Bedlam Stacks
by Natasha Pulley
In 1859, ex-East India Company smuggler Merrick Tremayne is trapped at home in Cornwall after sustaining an injury that almost cost him his leg and something is wrong; a statue moves, his grandfather’s pines explode, and his brother accuses him of madness. When the India Office recruits Merrick for an expedition to fetch quinine—essential for the treatment of malaria—from deep within Peru, he knows it’s a terrible idea. Nearly every able-bodied expeditionary who’s made the attempt has died, and he can barely walk. But Merrick is desperate to escape everything at home, so he sets off. Surrounded by local stories of lost time, cursed woods, and living rock, Merrick must separate truth from fairy-tale and find out what befell the last expeditions.
Genre: Historical Fiction; Magical Realism
Similar: The Time Traveler's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
Sing, Unburied, Sing
by Jessmyn Ward
Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. His mother, Leonie, is in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is black and her children’s father is white. Embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances, she wants to be a better mother, but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use. When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.
Genre: Literary Fiction; Magical Realism
Similar: Love Medicine (Louise Erdrich)
by Jennifer Mathieu
Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules. Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.
Genre: Young Adult
Similar: The Nowhere Girls (Amy Reed)
Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches
by John Hodgman
Mild departures from the routine inspire neurotic palpitations in these dourly funny essays by humorist Hodgman, who pegs his shaggy-dog stories to several unnerving locales. Though wildly funny, it is also a poignant and sincere account of one human facing his forties, those years when men in particular must stop pretending to be the children of bright potential they were and settle into the failing bodies of the wiser, weird dads that they are.
Genre: Memoir; Humor
Similar: Sh*t My Dad Says (Justin Halpern)
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America
by Michael Eric Dyson
Short, emotional, literary, powerful―Tears We Cannot Stop is the book that all Americans who care about the current and long-burning crisis in race relations will want to read. As the country grapples with racist division at a level not seen since the 1960s, one man's voice soars above the rest with conviction and compassion. In his 2016 New York Times op-ed piece "Death in Black and White," Michael Eric Dyson moved a nation. Now he continues to speak out in Tears We Cannot Stop―a provocative and deeply personal call for change. Dyson argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted.
Genre: Nonfiction; Politics
Similar: Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates)
The Only Girl in the World
by Maude Julien
Maude Julien’s childhood was defined by the iron grip of her father, who was convinced his daughter was destined for great deeds. His plan began when he adopted Maude’s mother and indoctrinated her with his esoteric ideals. Her mission was to give him a daughter as blonde as she was, and then to take charge of the child’s education. That child was Maude, on whom her father conducted his outrageous experiment—to raise the perfect ‘super-human’ being. How did this girl, with her loveless and lonely childhood, emerge so unscathed, so full of the empathy that was absent in her childhood? How did she manage to escape? She recounts her chilling and deeply moving story in a compelling and compassionate voice.
Similar: The Glass Castle (Jeannette Walls)
Harry Potter: A Journey Through a History of Magic
An irresistible romp through the history of magic, from alchemy to unicorns, ancient witchcraft to Harry's Hogwarts – packed with unseen sketches and manuscript pages from J.K. Rowling, magical illustrations from Jim Kay and weird, wonderful and inspiring artifacts that have been magically released from the archives at the British Library. The perfect read for aspiring witches and wizards and any Harry Potter fan.
Genre: Nonfiction; Exhibitions
Similar: The Sorcerer's Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter (Allan Zola Kronzek and Elizabeth Kronzek)
by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged wedding, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their son, named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents in memory of a catastrophe years before, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name. Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along the first-generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs.
Genre: Literary Fiction
Similar: The Joy Luck Club (Amy Tan)
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)
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)