Something New: Tales From a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley gives an honest take on the wedding planning process with her graphic novel, Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride. As a bride to be myself, I was intrigued to see how Knisley described the year leading up to her wedding. Planning a wedding can feel stressful, exciting, nerve racking, and sometimes impossible to do. Knisley uses her graphic novel skills to lay it all out for all of those who may be entering the whirlwind of wedding planning.

Knisley begins her novel with some background of how she and her husband, John met and ended  up engaged. They met while Knisley was completing art school and as their relationship developed, they realized they wanted different things in life. After being apart for a few years with meeting each other in between, John randomly popped the question and Knisley said yes.

Throughout her memoir, Knisley goes into detail about her wedding planning process. She emphasizes to the reader that a traditional wedding isn’t for everybody (and if you like traditional, that’s okay!) For example, Knisley’s mother lives in a rural area and built a barn for their ceremony and reception. Knisley also created her own decorations and table settings to express her creative side. She did the traditional things like shopping for the perfect dress with her friends and family, arguing with her mother about the type of music for the reception, and staying up late to finish guest lists with her fiancé. Alongside Knisley illustrations, she added photographs from her year of wedding planning.

At the end of the day, Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride lets the reader into her own private world of wedding planning. It made me feel a little less anxious about my own planning endeavors.

This was my first graphic novel by Knisley. I enjoyed her honest and confessional writing style. Her other graphic novels follow this style as well. Here are a few we own at the library worth taking a look at: Relish, Kid Gloves, and Displacement.

 

 

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Published in 2019, The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow has lived on my to-read shelf for much too long. Deciding to read it based on my love of Harrow’s 2020 book The Once and Future Witches, I was not disappointed. The Ten Thousand Doors of January contains many elements that I enjoy: magical realism, fantasy, antiquities, multiverses, books, and strong-willed women.

January Scaller just wants to find her place in the world. Growing up as the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, January grew up roaming multiple sprawling mansions filled to the brim with peculiar and mysterious treasures. Her father travels the world hunting antiquities to add to Mr. Locke’s collection and as a result, he is seldom home with January. Mr. Locke treats her as well as can be expected, but January never quite fits in. She is instead largely ignored, while simultaneously given fancy clothes and is groomed as yet another piece of his collection. She feels out of place and just wants to find where she truly belongs. Mr. Locke treats her as a precious treasure to be trotted out in front of his rich friends. He can mold her into whatever he wants. January and her father become increasingly separated from each other, leaving January to feel imprisoned in this sprawling mansion and longing to see her father.

One day while January is looking around the rooms, she finds a strange book. The more she reads the book, the more she begins to see that there are other worlds out there full of breathtaking impossibilities. It tells the story of secret doors hidden everywhere that lead to other worlds full of danger, love, and adventure. One story has a deep pull on January. It becomes increasingly difficult for January to separate herself from the book as that one story has woven itself deep into her life.

This book is also available in the following format:

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his previous book, All the Light We Cannot See (one of my all-time favorite books), has written a new book and while it is vastly different from the previous one, it has many of the same threads running through it – parallel lives converging, stories passed down through time and lessons to learn from history. It also shares beautiful writing and compelling characters

Cloud Cuckoo Land follows the lives of five people – Konstance, a young girl who is the only survivor on a spaceship bound for a distant planet; Seymour, a troubled teen in Idaho who is devastated by the ecological destruction he sees; Zeno, who lost his father to World War II, endured time as a POW in the Korean War then spent a quiet life working for the county; Anna, a young girl apprenticed to nunnery in a Constantinople about to fall to invading forces in 1453; and Omeir, born with a cleft palate and considered a demon, but saved by his grandfather.  All of these lives have a connection to an ancient Greek text, a comic story that was told to a child. How this story reaches each person, how it influences and changes their lives, how their lives intersect even across centuries makes an engaging story. In Doerr’s hands it becomes a masterpiece.

I will warn you though – there are a lot of moving pieces in this book. I’ve always enjoyed books that jump around in time and show different perspectives, but not everyone does. I found the start a little confusing, simply because I didn’t have a handle on the time jumps. However, it quickly became a can’t-put-down, what-happens-next kind of book for me. The writing style is beautiful with descriptions that transport you to each location and to each character’s point-of-view simply and quickly – you can almost feel the growing fear in Constantinople as the city is laid to siege, the cold and snow of an Idaho winter, the impersonal and metallic isolation of Konstance’s room.

This is a beautiful tribute to the enduring power of stories and books and the people that create them. Highly recommended.

 

Spooky Season Graphic Novels

There are so many ways to celebrate the fall season. Apple picking, hayrack rides, corn mazes, and so much more! One of my favorite past times during the fall season is to curl up and read a good horror book.  Whether it’s zombies, ghosts, monsters, or witches I want to read it all! Graphic novels are a great way to get your spooky fix this fall. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Harrow County by Cullen Bunn is full of monsters, ghosts, and drama. Here is the description provided by the publisher:

Plagued by a witch of unfathomable powers, the folk of Harrow County capture and burn her, but not before she furiously screams her revenge. Eighteen years later, we find farm girl Emmy coming of age, gifted with unnatural talents. When a spirit warns her of her impending doom at the hands of the town, she hurries off into the haunted forest, running for her life while trying to uncover her own twisted history.

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Mary Shelley, Monster Hunter by Adam Glass takes everything you think you know about Frankenstein and flips it upside down. Here is the description provided by the publisher:

For nearly two centuries, scholars have wondered how on earth Mary Shelley, a nineteen-year-old girl, was able to conjure one of the most frightening and enduring horror stories of all time: Frankenstein.

But with the recent discovery of Mary Shelley’s secret memoir, the truth is finally revealed: Mary Shelley didn’t just write Frankenstein, she lived it. Traveling back to that historic Geneva winter of 1816, Mary, her fiancé Percy, sisters Claire and Fanny, and the celebrated poet Lord Byron find themselves guests of the eerie Frankenstein Estate. The macabre and frightening events that follow lead Mary to both a gruesome and shocking discovery. Their mysterious host is not at all what they expected, and their intentions will change the course of Mary’s life forever.

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Coffin Hill by Caitlin Kittredge takes us to a sleepy New England town where supernatural forces lurk in the woods. Here is the description provided by the publisher:

Following a night of sex, drugs and witchcraft in the woods, Eve Coffin wakes up naked, covered in blood and unable to remember how she got there. One friend is missing, one is in a mental ward–and one knows that Eve is responsible. Years later, Eve returns to Coffin Hill, only to discover the darkness that she unleashed ten years ago in the woods was never contained. It continues to seep through the town, cursing the soul of this sleepy Massachusetts hollow, spilling secrets and enacting its revenge. Set against the haunted backdrop of New England, Coffin Hill explores what people will do for power and retribution.

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Outcast by Robert Kirkman provides us with our paranormal fix in this coming of age horror. Here is the description provided by the publisher:

Kyle Barnes has not had an easy life. What appears as insanity in his family is something much darker and infinitely deeper. It originates in the bowels of hell and manifests as demonic possession. Unfortunately, it seems to be somewhat contagious, and Kyle, at least so far, is immune. A dedicated man of God, Reverend Anderson, who wrestles with his own black dreads and shadowy history, has recognized this uniqueness in Kyle and courageously endeavors to nurture this gift and stand by him. Is Kyle some sort of anomaly with the ability to salvage human souls, or just an orphaned and crazy outcast?

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Wytches by Scott Snyder dives into the realm of witchcraft and folklore in this anxiety ridden thrill ride. Here is the description provided by the publisher:

After witnessing a grisly supernatural murder, Sailor Rook, along with her father and mother, move to a small town, hoping for a fresh start. But the twisted horrors hidden in the woods have traveled with the family, and they must now uncover one another’s dark secrets to stay alive.

 

Get Graphic Series: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Have you always wanted to read a classic, but find yourself picking up the latest beach read instead? I have a solution for you! Classic adaptations is our final topic in the Get Graphic Series. I have read many classics in my life; mostly from high school and college. I find my self now that I am older, forgetting the details of them. That’s why I like classic adaptation graphic novels. They are great at refreshing my memory of the classic I read long ago- and they are much shorter!

One of my favorite classics, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, was made into a graphic novel in 2020. It follows the story of Billy Pilgrim who has come unstuck in time. Traveling from his POW camp in World War II Germany to his Lions Club Meeting years later, Billy Pilgrim has no control over where he ends up next. And then in 1967, Billy Pilgrim travels to the alien world Tralfamadore. This is where he learns about time and how time “simply is.”

Ryan North and Albert Monteys create a Slaughterhouse-Five universe. They give faces and backstories to Vonnegut’s characters. They add timelines and comic strip like panels to give life to the numerous settings. This classic adaptation is never boring with the way North and Monteys portray it.

Several classics have been made into graphic novels. Here are a few we own at the library if Slaughterhouse-Five isn’t your first choice: 1984 by George Orwell, Anne Frank’s Diary by Ari Folman, Kindred by Damian Duffy, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, or The Great Gatsby by Fred Fordham.

So it goes.

Get Graphic Series: Dancing After TEN by Vivian Chong

The Get Graphic Series continues with a memoir by Vivian Chong. Dancing after TEN  tells the story of how Chong suffered a severe medical reaction which caused her to lose her eyesight.

It begins with an island vacation Chong takes with her current boyfriend and his family. A couple days into the vacation, Chong becomes ill. She takes ibuprofen in hopes of relieving some symptoms, but they become worse. Chong is then airlifted from their tropical paradise to Canada. The doctor’s discover Chong is suffering from TEN (toxic epidermal necrolysis). As her condition worsens, the doctor’s place her in a medically induced coma. When Chong wakes up, her life is changed forever.

After undergoing a cornea operation, Chong begins to draw her memoir. She invites the help of fellow artist, Georgia Webber, to fill in after Chong begins to lose her eyesight again. Throughout the novel, the reader can see the difference between Chong and Webber’s illustrations. You can see and feel the vulnerability Chong had while struggling to draw. Her illustrations coexist with Webber’s creating a beautifully told narrative.

Memoirs and biographies are similar in way they tell the life story of a person. What I love about memoirs more than biographies, is the author relies heavily on the emotional factors of their life. Dancing after TEN offers us the facts, but Chong also provides us with emotional dialogue. She shares with us her breakups, her physical insecurities, her worries about the future, and more.

Dancing after TEN  is a great example of how someone can experience a tragedy, but can come out dancing in the end.

 

Get Graphic Series: Audubon: On the Wings of the World by Fabien Grolleau

Up next in our Get Graphic Series is a non fiction title by Fabien Grolleau. Audubon: On the Wings of the World, takes the reader on a journey through 19th century rural America. John James Audubon was an ornithologist with a goal to create a pictorial record of the all the birds in North America. Traveling with only his drawing materials, an assistant and a gun, Audubon encounters dangerous animals, wild storms, and some not so friendly people.

Audubon: On the Wings of the World highlights not only the beauty of birds in America, but how Audubon’s life revolves around them. As he travels the US, he meets with prominent scientists in the hopes of publishing his book of bird paintings. But, the scientist believe his paintings are more “artistic” than “scientific”- which is something Audubon does not want to hear. This fuels his desire to prove the scientists wrong. He soon becomes obsessed with painting the animals and begins to disregard his family, friends, and even his health. An unlikely stranger meets with Audubon and pulls him from his fascination, changing the course of his career and life forever.

One of the things I love about nonfiction graphic novels is the chance to learn about something or someone I would have glanced over in the biography section. I wouldn’t have picked up a 300 page biography on John James Audubon, but Audubon: On the Wings of the World was just long enough to give me the facts and keep me engaged. Graphic novels are great starting points if you find yourself interested in a nonfiction topic.

Illustrations are key for nonfiction graphic novels. Some might find nonfiction “boring,” but the illustrations create a fun environment for the facts to live. Audubon: On the Wings of the World has wonderful illustrations of not only the story, but of the birds Audubon loved.

If you want to learn more about John James Audubon, give this graphic novel a try!

 

 

Get Graphic Series: The Adoption by Zidrou

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “graphic novel”? Comic books? Japanese manga? A book with pictures and not much to read? While those answers are correct, graphic novels are so much more than what you may think! Graphic novels can be memoirs, fiction, biographies, nonfiction, or adaptations.

For a reader who doesn’t have time to knock out a 400 page novel, graphics are the perfect alternative! I love to read graphics when I want something quick and easy. But don’t let “quick and easy” fool you- graphic novelist have a way of putting a lot of story in just a few lines!

In this series I will be highlighting adult graphic novels that fall outside the comic book and Japanese manga categories.

First up is The Adoption by Zidrou. This graphic novel follows the story of Gabriel, a retired butcher whose life flips upside down when his son adopts a Peruvian orphan, Qinaya. Gabriel is your typical retiree; he workouts with his friends at the local park, he reads with his wife before bed, and he tends to his vegetable garden. Gabriel was absent for most of his children’s lives, so when Qinaya starts spending more time at Gabriel’s house, he isn’t sure how to handle it. As Qinaya and Gabriel begin to bond, an unexpected visit changes everything. Gabriel must face his own past in order to overcome the new challenges in his retired life.

The Adoption  is a great pick for first time graphic novel readers. The story highlights family, friends, love, and loss. I did not know what to expect out of the story and Zidrou kept me intrigued until the very end. When I finished reading, I found myself reflecting on my own family and the relationships I have with them.

Alongside beautiful illustrations, The Adoption provides an intimate portrait of life during retirement and how the little things can matter the most.

The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin

“Books are what have brought us together. A love of the stories within, the adventures they take us on, their glorious distraction in a time of strife.”

Published just this past April, The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin is a historical fiction novel set during World War II, offering a candid glimpse into life in London during the Blitz. While I have read several excellent novels in this time period before (as I’m sure you have, too!) , I don’t recall one exclusively focusing on the Blitz in London, so this title was a unique perspective I had not yet afforded!

After losing her mother and essentially being disowned by her uncle in a rural town in England, Grace and her best friend, Viv, journey to London to live with her mother’s best friend. While both women had long dreamed of coming to London, neither expected it to happen forcibly, let alone on the brink of a second great war. While Viv quickly finds a job at the glamorous Harrods, Grace is offered a position at a local bookshop which, as someone who didn’t read, was a less-than-ideal assignment. With the intention of working just six months to gain a letter of recommendation to find a better position, Grace begins working in a disheveled, dusty, and dingy bookstore with a seemingly irritable owner who barely tolerates her presence.

As rumblings of the war draw closer to home, however, Grace slowly finds herself becoming more and more committed and interested in her work at the bookshop. This is in no small part due to George Anderson, a particularly attractive and frequent patron who shares his authentic love of reading with Grace before leaving to serve as a Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot. Although initially doubtful about the impact reading would have on her own life, Grace becomes enraptured with The Count of Monte Cristo (one of George’s recommendations) and quickly becomes a voracious reader herself. With her newly found love of reading, Grace naturally begins to develop special relationships with several patrons, as well as with the owner himself, as she works to make the bookshop as accessible as possible. Not long after this, though, London itself becomes suspended in the throes of war, putting everything Grace loves at risk.

All in all, this is a wonderful story about someone who comes to learn the value of reading and eventually helps others in the community not only survive, but thrive in the stories of others during the unbearably difficult circumstances of wartime; it is truly an ode to the power of literature, and there were many lovely and moving quotes that warmed my heart as a librarian. I also really appreciated reading about a female protagonist who not only immerses herself, but thrives in a wartime position typically reserved for men; on top of working at the bookshop, Grace volunteers as an Air Raid Protection (ARP) warden to help those impacted by the daily bombings that would occur overnight. Lastly, I reveled in the obvious research Martin did on the Blitz to portray a captivating account of life in London during this time in history.

While there were some moments toward the conclusion that seemed to tie up a little too conveniently, I would still highly recommend this novel to anyone looking to dip their toes in a new perspective on WWII or just for a new historical fiction read in general! I would also like to note that, while Martin is a well-known historical romance author, this novel was not primarily focused on romantic themes or aspects.

 

New Nonfiction at Fairmount

Looking for a new nonfiction title to read? This blog post is full of new nonfiction titles pulled right from the shelves at our Fairmount branch! If you want to read any of them, click the link or contact the library. All the descriptions are provided by the publisher.

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Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting by Lisa Genova

A fascinating exploration of the intricacies of how we remember, why we forget, and what we can do to protect our memories, from the Harvard-trained neuroscientist and bestselling author of Still Alice.

Have you ever felt a crushing wave of panic when you can’t for the life of you remember the name of that actor in the movie you saw last week, or you walk into a room only to forget why you went there in the first place? If you’re over forty, you’re probably not laughing. You might even be worried that these lapses in memory could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s or dementia. In reality, for the vast majority of us, these examples of forgetting are completely normal. Why? Because while memory is amazing, it is far from perfect. Our brains aren’t designed to remember every name we hear, plan we make, or day we experience. Just because your memory sometimes fails doesn’t mean it’s broken or succumbing to disease. Forgetting is actually part of being human.

In Remember, neuroscientist and acclaimed novelist Lisa Genova delves into how memories are made and how we retrieve them. You’ll learn whether forgotten memories are temporarily inaccessible or erased forever and why some memories are built to exist for only a few seconds (like a passcode) while others can last a lifetime (your wedding day). You’ll come to appreciate the clear distinction between normal forgetting (where you parked your car) and forgetting due to Alzheimer’s (that you own a car). And you’ll see how memory is profoundly impacted by meaning, emotion, sleep, stress, and context. Once you understand the language of memory and how it functions, its incredible strengths and maddening weaknesses, its natural vulnerabilities and potential superpowers, you can both vastly improve your ability to remember and feel less rattled when you inevitably forget. You can set educated expectations for your memory, and in doing so, create a better relationship with it. You don’t have to fear it anymore. And that can be life-changing.

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We Need to Hang Out: A Memoir of Making Friends by Billy Baker

In this comic adventure through the loneliness epidemic, a middle-aged everyman looks around one day and realizes that he seems to have misplaced his friends, inspiring him to set out on a hilarious and ultimately moving quest to revive old tribes and build new ones, in his own ridiculous way.

At the age of forty, having settled into his busy career and active family life, Billy Baker discovers that he’s lost something crucial along the way: his friends. Other priorities always seemed to come first, until all his close friendships had lapsed into distant memories. When he takes an assignment to write an article about the modern loneliness epidemic, he realizes just how common it is to be a middle-aged loner: almost fifty million Americans over the age of forty-five, especially men, suffer from chronic loneliness, which the surgeon general has declared one of the nation’s “greatest pathologies,” worse than smoking, obesity, or heart disease in increasing a person’s risk for premature death. Determined to defy these odds, Baker vows to salvage his lost friendships and blaze a path for men (and women) everywhere to improve their relationships old and new.

In We Need to Hang Out, Baker embarks on an entertaining and relatable quest to reprioritize his ties with his buddies and forge more connections, all while balancing work, marriage, and kids. From leading a buried treasure hunt with his old college crew to organizing an impromptu “ditch day” for dozens of his former high school classmates to essentially starting a frat house for middle-aged guys in his neighborhood, he experiments with ways to keep in touch with his friends no matter how hectic their lives are—with surprising and deeply satisfying results.

Along the way, Baker talks to experts in sociology and psychology to investigate how such naturally social creatures as humans could become so profoundly isolated today. And he turns to real-life experts in lasting friendship, bravely joining a cruise packed entirely with crowds of female BFFs and learning the secrets of male bonding from a group of older dudes who faithfully meet up on the same night every week. Bursting with humor, candor, and charm, We Need to Hang Out is a celebration of companionship and a call to action in this age of alone.

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The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set Women Free by Paulina Bren

Liberated from home and hearth by World War I, politically enfranchised and ready to work, women arrived to take their place in the dazzling new skyscrapers of Manhattan. But they did not want to stay in uncomfortable boarding houses. They wanted what men already had—exclusive residential hotels with daily maid service, cultural programs, workout rooms, and private dining.

Built in 1927 at the height of the Roaring Twenties, the Barbizon Hotel was intended as a safe haven for the “Modern Woman” seeking a career in the arts. It became the place to stay for any ambitious young woman hoping for fame and fortune. Sylvia Plath fictionalized her time there in The Bell Jar, and, over the years, its almost 700 tiny rooms with matching floral curtains and bedspreads housed Titanic survivor Molly Brown; actresses Grace Kelly, Liza Minnelli, Ali MacGraw, Jaclyn Smith, Phylicia Rashad, and Cybill Shepherd; writers Joan Didion, Diane Johnson, Gael Greene, and Meg Wolitzer; and many more. Mademoiselle magazine boarded its summer interns there, as did Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School its students and the Ford Modeling Agency its young models. Before the hotel’s residents were household names, they were young women arriving at the Barbizon with a suitcase and a dream.

Not everyone who passed through the Barbizon’s doors was destined for success—for some it was a story of dashed hopes—but until 1981, when men were finally let in, the Barbizon offered its residents a room of their own and a life without family obligations or expectations. It gave women a chance to remake themselves however they pleased; it was the hotel that set them free. No place had existed like it before or has since.

Beautifully written and impeccably researched, The Barbizon weaves together a tale that has, until now, never been told. It is both a vivid portrait of the lives of these young women who came to New York looking for something more, and an epic history of women’s ambition.

This book is also available in the following format:

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The Soul of a Woman by Isabel Allende

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Long Petal of the Sea comes a passionate and inspiring meditation on what it means to be a woman.

“When I say that I was a feminist in kindergarten, I am not exaggerating,” begins Isabel Allende. As a child, she watched her mother, abandoned by her husband, provide for her three small children without “resources or voice.” Isabel became a fierce and defiant little girl, determined to fight for the life her mother couldn’t have.

As a young woman coming of age in the late 1960s, she rode the first wave of feminism. Among a tribe of like-minded female journalists, she for the first time felt comfortable in her own skin, as they wrote “with a knife between their teeth” about women’s issues. She has seen what has been accomplished by the movement in the course of her lifetime. And over the course of three passionate marriages, she has learned how to grow as a woman while having a partner, when to step away, and the rewards of embracing one’s sexuality.

So what do women want? To be safe, to be valued, to live in peace, to have their own resources, to be connected, to have control over their bodies and lives, and above all, to be loved. On all these fronts, there is much work to be done, and this book, Allende hopes, will “light the torch of our daughters and granddaughters with mine. They will have to live for us, as we lived for our mothers, and carry on with the work still left to be finished.”

This book is also available in the following format:

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Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World by Simon Winchester

The author of The Professor and the Madman and The Perfectionists explores the notion of property—our proprietary relationship with the land—through human history, how it has shaped us and what it will mean for our future.

Land—whether meadow or mountainside, desert or peat bog, parkland or pasture, suburb or city—is central to our existence. It quite literally underlies and underpins everything. Employing the keen intellect, insatiable curiosity, and narrative verve that are the foundations of his previous bestselling works, Simon Winchester examines what we human beings are doing—and have done—with the billions of acres that together make up the solid surface of our planet.

Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World examines in depth how we acquire land, how we steward it, how and why we fight over it, and finally, how we can, and on occasion do, come to share it. Ultimately, Winchester confronts the essential question: who actually owns the world’s land—and why does it matter? 

This book is also available in the following format:

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Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City by Rosa Brooks

Journalist and law professor Rosa Brooks goes beyond the blue wall of silence in this radical inside examination of American policing

In her forties, with two children, a spouse, a dog, a mortgage, and a full-time job as a tenured law professor at Georgetown University, Rosa Brooks decided to become a cop. A liberal academic and journalist with an enduring interest in law’s troubled relationship with violence, Brooks wanted the kind of insider experience that would help her understand how police officers make sense of their world–and whether that world can be changed. In 2015, against the advice of everyone she knew, she applied to become a sworn, armed reserve police officer with the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department.

Then as now, police violence was constantly in the news. The Black Lives Matter movement was gaining momentum, protests wracked America’s cities, and each day brought more stories of cruel, corrupt cops, police violence, and the racial disparities that mar our criminal justice system. Lines were being drawn, and people were taking sides. But as Brooks made her way through the police academy and began work as a patrol officer in the poorest, most crime-ridden neighborhoods of the nation’s capital, she found a reality far more complex than the headlines suggested.

In Tangled Up in Blue, Brooks recounts her experiences inside the usually closed world of policing. From street shootings and domestic violence calls to the behind-the-scenes police work during Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential inauguration, Brooks presents a revelatory account of what it’s like inside the blue wall of silence. She issues an urgent call for new laws and institutions, and argues that in a nation increasingly divided by race, class, ethnicity, geography, and ideology, a truly transformative approach to policing requires us to move beyond sound bites, slogans, and stereotypes. An explosive and groundbreaking investigation, Tangled Up in Blue complicates matters rather than simplifies them, and gives pause both to those who think police can do no wrong–and those who think they can do no right.

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Let the Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty by Maurice Chammah

In 1972, the United States Supreme Court made a surprising ruling: the country’s death penalty system violated the Constitution. The backlash was swift, especially in Texas, where executions were considered part of the cultural fabric, and a dark history of lynching was masked by gauzy visions of a tough-on-crime frontier. When executions resumed, Texas quickly became the nationwide leader in carrying out the punishment. Then, amid a larger wave of criminal justice reform, came the death penalty’s decline, a trend so durable that even in Texas the punishment appears again close to extinction.

In Let the Lord Sort Them, Maurice Chammah charts the rise and fall of capital punishment through the eyes of those it touched. We meet Elsa Alcala, the orphaned daughter of a Mexican American family who found her calling as a prosecutor in the nation’s death penalty capital, before becoming a judge on the state’s highest court. We meet Danalynn Recer, a lawyer who became obsessively devoted to unearthing the life stories of men who committed terrible crimes, and fought for mercy in courtrooms across the state. We meet death row prisoners–many of them once-famous figures like Henry Lee Lucas, Gary Graham, and Karla Faye Tucker–along with their families and the families of their victims. And we meet the executioners, who struggle openly with what society has asked them to do. In tracing these interconnected lives against the rise of mass incarceration in Texas and the country as a whole, Chammah explores what the persistence of the death penalty tells us about forgiveness and retribution, fairness and justice, history and myth.

Written with intimacy and grace, Let the Lord Sort Them is the definitive portrait of a particularly American institution.

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The Young Crusaders: The Untold Story of the Children and Teenagers Who Galvanized the Civil Rights Movement by V.P. Franklin

An authoritative history of the overlooked youth activists that spearheaded the largest protests of the Civil Rights Movement and set the blueprint for future generations of activists to follow.

Some of the most iconic images of the Civil Rights Movement are those of young people engaged in social activism, such as children and teenagers in 1963 being attacked by police in Birmingham with dogs and water hoses. But their contributions have not been well documented or prioritized. The Young Crusaders is the first book dedicated to telling the story of the hundreds of thousands of children and teenagers who engaged in sit-ins, school strikes, boycotts, marches, and demonstrations in which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other national civil rights leaders played little or no part.

It was these young activists who joined in the largest civil rights demonstration in US history: the system-wide school boycott in New York City on February 3, 1964, where over 360,000 elementary and secondary school students went on strike and thousands attended freedom schools. Later that month, tens of thousands of children and teenagers participated in the Freedom Day boycotts in Boston and Chicago, also demanding quality integrated education.

Distinguished historian V. P. Franklin illustrates how their ingenuity made these and numerous other campaigns across the country successful in bringing about the end to legalized racial discrimination. It was these unheralded young people who set the blueprint for today’s youth activists and their campaigns to address poverty, joblessness, educational inequality, and racialized violence and discrimination. Understanding the role of children and teenagers transforms how we understand the Civil Rights Movement and the broader part young people have played in shepherding social and educational progress, and it serves as a model for the youth-led reparatory justice campaigns seen today mounted by Black Lives Matter, March for Our Lives, and the Sunrise Movement.

Highlighting the voices of the young people themselves, Franklin offers a redefining narrative, complemented by arresting archival images. The Young Crusaders reveals a radical history that both challenges and expands our understanding of the Civil Rights Movement.

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Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World by Matt Parker

The book-length answer to anyone who ever put their hand up in math class and asked, “When am I ever going to use this in the real world?”

“Fun, informative, and relentlessly entertaining, Humble Pi is a charming and very readable guide to some of humanity’s all-time greatest miscalculations–that also gives you permission to feel a little better about some of your own mistakes.” –Ryan North, author of How to Invent Everything

Our whole world is built on math, from the code running a website to the equations enabling the design of skyscrapers and bridges. Most of the time this math works quietly behind the scenes . . . until it doesn’t. All sorts of seemingly innocuous mathematical mistakes can have significant consequences.

Math is easy to ignore until a misplaced decimal point upends the stock market, a unit conversion error causes a plane to crash, or someone divides by zero and stalls a battleship in the middle of the ocean.

Exploring and explaining a litany of glitches, near misses, and mathematical mishaps involving the internet, big data, elections, street signs, lotteries, the Roman Empire, and an Olympic team, Matt Parker uncovers the bizarre ways math trips us up, and what this reveals about its essential place in our world. Getting it wrong has never been more fun.

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The Disappearance of Butterflies by Josef H. Reichholf

In the last fifty years our butterfly populations have declined by more than eighty per cent and butterflies are now facing the very real prospect of extinction. It is hard to remember the time when fields and meadows were full of these beautiful, delicate creatures – today we rarely catch a glimpse of the Wild Cherry Sphinx moths, Duke of Burgundy or the even once common Small Tortoiseshell butterflies. The High Brown Fritillary butterfly and the Stout Dart Moth have virtually disappeared.

The eminent entomologist and award-winning author Josef H. Reichholf began studying butterflies in the late 1950s. He brings a lifetime of scientific experience and expertise to bear on one of the great environmental catastrophes of our time. He takes us on a journey into the wonderful world of butterflies – from the small nymphs that emerge from lakes in air bubbles to the trusting purple emperors drunk on toad poison – and immerses us in a world that we are in danger of losing forever. Step by step he explains the science behind this impending ecological disaster, and shows how it is linked to pesticides, over-fertilization and the intensive farming practices of the agribusiness.

His book is a passionate plea for biodiversity and the protection of butterflies.

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The Skull Collectors: Race, Science, and America’s Unburied Dead by Ann Fabian

When Philadelphia naturalist Samuel George Morton died in 1851, no one cut off his head, boiled away its flesh, and added his grinning skull to a collection of crania. It would have been strange, but perhaps fitting, had Morton’s skull wound up in a collector’s cabinet, for Morton himself had collected hundreds of skulls over the course of a long career. Friends, diplomats, doctors, soldiers, and fellow naturalists sent him skulls they gathered from battlefields and burial grounds across America and around the world.

With The Skull Collectors, eminent historian Ann Fabian resurrects that popular and scientific movement, telling the strange—and at times gruesome—story of Morton, his contemporaries, and their search for a scientific foundation for racial difference. From cranial measurements and museum shelves to heads on stakes, bloody battlefields, and the “rascally pleasure” of grave robbing, Fabian paints a lively picture of scientific inquiry in service of an agenda of racial superiority, and of a society coming to grips with both the deadly implications of manifest destiny and the mass slaughter of the Civil War. Even as she vividly recreates the past, Fabian also deftly traces the continuing implications of this history, from lingering traces of scientific racism to debates over the return of the remains of Native Americans that are held by museums to this day.

Full of anecdotes, oddities, and insights, The Skull Collectors takes readers on a darkly fascinating trip down a little-visited but surprisingly important byway of American history.

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What Doesn’t Kill You: A Life with Chronic Illness – Lessons from a Body in Revolt by Tessa Miller

The riveting account of a young journalist’s awakening to chronic illness, weaving together personal story and reporting to shed light on living with an ailment forever.

Tessa Miller was an ambitious twentysomething writer in New York City when, on a random fall day, her stomach began to seize up. At first, she toughed it out through searing pain, taking sick days from work, unable to leave the bathroom or her bed. But when it became undeniable that something was seriously wrong, Miller gave in to family pressure and went to the hospital—beginning a yearslong nightmare of procedures, misdiagnoses, and life-threatening infections. Once she was finally correctly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, Miller faced another battle: accepting that she will never get better.

Today, an astonishing three in five adults in the United States suffer from a chronic disease—a percentage expected to rise post-Covid. Whether the illness is arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s, diabetes, endometriosis, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, or any other incurable illness, and whether the sufferer is a colleague, a loved one, or you, these diseases have an impact on just about every one of us. Yet there remains an air of shame and isolation about the topic of chronic sickness. Millions must endure these disorders not only physically but also emotionally, balancing the stress of relationships and work amid the ever-present threat of health complications.

Miller segues seamlessly from her dramatic personal experiences into a frank look at the cultural realities (medical, occupational, social) inherent in receiving a lifetime diagnosis. She offers hard-earned wisdom, solidarity, and an ultimately surprising promise of joy for those trying to make sense of it all.

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Kill Shot: A Shadow Industry, A Deadly Disease by Jason Dearen

An award-winning investigative journalist’s horrifying true crime story of America’s deadliest drug contamination outbreak and the greed and deception that fueled it.

Two pharmacists sit in a Boston courtroom accused of murder. The weapon: the fungus Exserohilum rostratum. The death count: 100 and rising. Kill Shot is the story of their hubris and fraud, discovered by a team of medical detectives who raced against the clock to hunt the killers and the fungal meningitis they’d unleashed.

Bloodthirsty is how doctors described the fungal microbe that contaminated thousands of drug vials produced by the New England Compounding Center (NECC). Though NECC chief Barry Cadden called his company the Ferrari of Compounders, it was a slapdash operation of unqualified staff, mold-ridden lab surfaces, and hastily made medications that were injected into approximately 14,000 people. Once inside some of its human hosts, the fungus traveled through the tough tissue around the spine and wormed upward to the deep brain, our control center for balance, breath, and the vital motor functions of life.

Now, investigative journalist Jason Dearen turns a spotlight on this tragedy–the victims, the heroes, and the perpetrators–and the legal loopholes that allowed it to occur. Kill Shot forces a powerful but unchecked industry out of the shadows.

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Parenting While Working from Home by Karissa Tunis and Shari Medini

As more parents work from home than ever before, there are unique challenges when it comes to meeting the demands of their job, helping their kids thrive, and finding even five minutes to take care of themselves. Parenting While Working from Home offers tips, strategies, and reflections to help parents balance their careers, connect with their kids, and establish their inner strength over the course of a year. Parenting experts and founders of the popular website, Adore Them Parenting, Karissa Tunis and Shari Medini share actionable tips, heartfelt insight, and planning strategies to help you enjoy your own parenting journey while working from home.

Building on the authors’ own experiences and the most common challenges they hear parents voicing today, Parenting While Working from Home encourages parents to make intentional changes that will result in happier families and thriving careers. This practical guide will teach you how to:
Manage your time so that both your kids and your job get the attention they need
Build a professional network and maintain your productivity from home
Create a kid-friendly environment that encourages independence and strong sibling bonds
Consistently tune in to your own needs so that you can meet your true potential
And so much more
While it isn’t always easy, working from home while raising a family can (and should) be an incredible experience. Parenting While Working from Home offers comfort in shared struggles, new solutions, and calmer days ahead!

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Coming Back: How to Win the Job You Want When You’ve LosT the Job You Need by Fawn Germer

Millions of mid- to late-career professionals are wondering why our careers are dying. We’ve been fired, downsized, job-eliminated, or we’ve left work voluntarily to raise children, care for loved ones, or go to school. It takes twice as long to get hired, and usually for far less money than we were making. Is it age discrimination? Maybe. But it’s not that simple.

So many of us have lagged on skills and technology, shrugged off social media, or ignored the rate of change and let younger people become the face of our profession’s future. Our “track record” really doesn’t matter. We want to come back, but we aren’t ready. Coming Back offers clear advice, including:

• STOP PLAYING THE VICTIM, even if you are one.
• BRAND YOURSELF AS A CHANGE DRIVER who studies trends and studies independently so you are diving into change, not reacting to it.
• CALL IN THE CHITS. It is time to go guerrilla and bluntly ask for help from people who can get you what you want and need.
• TELL INTERVIEWERS about what you will do—don’t rely on what you have done.
• STOP GROUSING about “those millennials” and start working with them.
• BOUNCE BACK from a layoff or firing.

Coming Back shows how you can save a career if still employed or get one back if cast out. Fawn Germer, one of the nation’s most popular leadership experts and global motivational speakers, has personally interviewed more than three hundred CEOs, senior executives, professors, lawyers, organizational experts, industry leaders, and professionals. The result is a tactical, tough-love call to action: to learn, re-tool, connect, grow, and get ready to work again.

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The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War, and Everest by Ed Caesar

An extraordinary true story about one man’s attempt to salve the wounds of war and save his own soul through an audacious adventure.

In the 1930s, as official government expeditions set their sights on conquering Mount Everest, a little-known World War I veteran named Maurice Wilson conceives his own crazy, beautiful plan: he will fly a plane from England to Everest, crash-land on its lower slopes, then become the first person to reach its summit—all utterly alone. Wilson doesn’t know how to climb. He barely knows how to fly. But he has the right plane, the right equipment, and a deep yearning to achieve his goal. In 1933, he takes off from London in a Gipsy Moth biplane with his course set for the highest mountain on earth. Wilson’s eleven-month journey to Everest is wild: full of twists, turns, and daring. Eventually, in disguise, he sneaks into Tibet. His icy ordeal is just beginning.

Wilson is one of the Great War’s heroes, but also one of its victims. His hometown of Bradford in northern England is ripped apart by the fighting. So is his family. He barely survives the war himself. Wilson returns from the conflict unable to cope with the sadness that engulfs him. He begins a years-long trek around the world, burning through marriages and relationships, leaving damaged lives in his wake. When he finally returns to England, nearly a decade after he first left, he finds himself falling in love once more—this time with his best friend’s wife—before depression overcomes him again. He emerges from his funk with a crystalline ambition. He wants to be the first man to stand on top of the world. Wilson believes that Everest can redeem him.

This is the tale of an adventurer unlike any you have ever encountered: complex, driven, wry, haunted, and fully alive. He is a man written out of the history books—dismissed as an eccentric, and gossiped about because of rumors of his transvestism. The Moth and the Mountain restores Maurice Wilson to his rightful place in the annals of Everest and tells an unforgettable story about the power of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

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Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish, with Charlotte McTavish; foreword by Diana Gabaldon

Two Men. One Country. And a lot of whisky.

As stars of “Outlander”, Sam and Graham eat, sleep and breathe the Highlands on this epic road trip around their homeland. They discover that the real thing is even greater than fiction.

“Clanlands” is the story of their journey. Armed with their trusty campervan and a sturdy friendship, these two Scotsmen are on the adventure of a lifetime to explore the majesty of Scotland. A wild ride by boat, kayak, bicycle and motorbike, they travel from coast to loch and peak to valley and delve into Scotland’s history and culture, from timeless poetry to bloody warfare.

With near-death experiences, many weeks in a confined space together, and a cast of unforgettable characters, Graham and Sam’s friendship matures like a fine Scotch. They reflect on their acting careers in film and theatre, find a new awestruck respect for their native country and, as with any good road trip, they even find themselves.

Hold onto your kilts … this is Scotland as you’ve never seen it before.

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The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America by Bradford Pearson

The impeccably researched, deeply moving, never-before-told tale about a World War II internment camp in Wyoming and its extraordinary high school football team—for fans of The Boys in the Boat and The Storm on Our Shores.

In the summer of 1942, the United States government forced 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes in California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona, and sent them to internment camps across the West. Nearly 14,000 of them landed on the outskirts of Cody, Wyoming, at the base of Heart Mountain.

Behind barbed wire fences, they faced racism, cruelty, and frozen winters. Trying to recreate comforts from home, they built Buddhist temples and sumo wrestling pits. They grew Chinese cabbage and daikon radishes—yet there was little hope.

That is, until the fall of 1943, when the camp’s high school football team, the Eagles, started its first season and finished it undefeated, crushing the competition from nearby predominantly white high schools. Amid all this excitement, American politics continued to disrupt their lives as the federal government drafted men from the camps for the front lines—including some of the Eagles. The young men faced a choice to either join the Army or resist the draft. Teammates were divided, and some were jailed for their decisions.

Set during a complex political and cultural moment in America, The Eagles of Heart Mountain honors the resilience of unlikely heroes and the power of sports in a sweeping and inspirational portrait of one of the darkest moments in American history.

This book is also available in the following format: