It’s going to be raining books this month! Far too many than we have ever listed before but when it comes to books, we can never enough of them, eh?
1. The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming guise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera.
Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.
Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history’s darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence–inspired by the true post-war struggles of Spain.
2. Embrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity by Felicia Day
In Embrace Your Weird, New York Times bestselling author, producer, actress, TV writer, and award-winning web series creator, Felicia Day takes you on a journey to find, rekindle, or expand your creative passions.
Including Felicia’s personal stories and hard-won wisdom, Embrace Your Weird offers:
—Entertaining and revelatory exercises that empower you to be fearless, so you can rediscover the things that bring you joy, and crack your imagination wide open
—Unique techniques to vanquish enemies of creativity like: anxiety, fear, procrastination, perfectionism, criticism, and jealousy
—Tips to cultivate a creative community
—Space to explore and get your neurons firing
Whether you enjoy writing, baking, painting, podcasting, playing music, or have yet to uncover your favorite creative outlet, Embrace Your Weird will help you unlock the power of self-expression. Get motivated. Get creative. Get weird.
3. The Man Who Played with Fire: Stieg Larsson’s Lost Files and the Hunt for an Assassin by Jan Stocklassa, Tara F. Chace (Translator)
The author of the Millennium novels laid out the clues. Now a journalist is following them.
When Stieg Larsson died, the author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo had been working on a true mystery that out-twisted his Millennium novels: the assassination on February 28, 1986, of Olof Palme, the Swedish prime minister. It was the first time in history that a head of state had been murdered without a clue who’d done it—and on a Stockholm street at point-blank range.
Internationally known for his fictional far-right villains, Larsson was well acquainted with their real-life counterparts and documented extremist activities throughout the world. For years he’d been amassing evidence that linked their terrorist acts to what he called “one of the most astounding murder cases” he’d ever covered. Larsson’s archive was forgotten until journalist Jan Stocklassa was given exclusive access to the author’s secret project.
In The Man Who Played with Fire, Stocklassa collects the pieces of Larsson’s true-crime puzzle to follow the trail of intrigue, espionage, and conspiracy begun by one of the world’s most famous thriller writers. Together they set out to solve a mystery that no one else could
4. We Died in Water by Meg Flores
This is a memoir that faces how every love story reflects the one before it. Like waves, people crash into each other before pulling back. I have always known this kind of breaking. First, my father left my mother. And, in the same way, someone left me. I have felt this flux endlessly. A shattering. A sameness. Then, loving you changed everything.
WE DIED IN WATER is nonlinear and poetic, insisting that the act of recollection puts one’s heart in a prism, a place of distortion and vivid beauty. As it ebbs and deepens as the ocean does, a kaleidoscope of memories shift to express the same losses from infinite positions, every one different and newly devastating.
A breathtaking reverie on the chaos of symmetry, it becomes something to return to again and again.
5. The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less by Tonya Dalton
Productivity expert and CEO of inkWELL Press Productivity Co. Tonya Dalton challenges women to rethink “busy” and intentionally live with a mindset of abundance
Overwhelmed. Too many women are swamped and exhausted by all they strive to do, ending most days feeling unsatisfied and unsuccessful. Tonya Dalton, productivity expert and CEO of inkWELL Press Productivity Co., offers these women a liberating shift in perspective: feeling overwhelmed isn’t the result of having too much to do–it’s from not knowing where to start.
In her highly anticipated first book, Dalton inspires women to reject the pressure to do more, be more, and achieve more. She shows them how to focus on what’s important to them and then helps them develop their own unique productivity systems. Through her proven liveWELL Method, Dalton provides actionable strategies with relevant exercises that help women to discover their purpose, clarify their priorities, simplify their lives, and finally achieve harmony by embracing the “unbalance” that is inherent in their lives. As a result, women discover they can finally live guilt-free, abundant lives–because living a life centered around their priorities results in more satisfaction and success, both at work and at home.
6. Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl by Jeannie Vanasco
Jeannie Vanasco has had the same nightmare since she was a teenager. She startles awake, saying his name. It is always about him: one of her closest high school friends, a boy named Mark. A boy who raped her.
When her nightmares worsen, Jeannie decides—after fourteen years of silence—to reach out to Mark. He agrees to talk on the record and meet in person. “It’s the least I can do,” he says.
Jeannie details her friendship with Mark before and after the assault, asking the brave and urgent question: Is it possible for a good person to commit a terrible act? Jeannie interviews Mark, exploring how rape has impacted his life as well as her own. She examines the language surrounding sexual assault and pushes against its confines, contributing to and deepening the #MeToo discussion.
Exacting and courageous, Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl is part memoir, part true crime record, and part testament to the strength of female friendships—a recounting and reckoning that will inspire us to ask harder questions and interrogate our biases. Jeannie Vanasco examines and dismantles long-held myths of victimhood, discovering grace and power in this genre-bending investigation into the trauma of sexual violence.
7. The Pursuit by Joyce Carol Oates
As a child, Abby had the same recurring nightmare night after night, in which she wandered through a field ridden with human skulls and bones. Now an adult, Abby thinks she’s outgrown her demons, until, the evening before her wedding, the terrible dream returns and forces her to confront the dark secrets from her past she has kept from her new husband, Willem. The following day–less than 24 hours after exchanging vows–Abby steps out into traffic. As his wife lies in her hospital bed, sleeping in fits and starts, Willem tries to determine whether this was an absentminded accident or a premeditated plunge, and he quickly discovers a mysterious set of clues about what his wife might be hiding. Why, for example is there a rash-like red mark circling her wrist? What does she dream about that causes her to wake from the sound of her own screams?
Slowly, Abby begins to open up to her husband, revealing to him what she has never shared with anyone before–the story of a terrified mother; a jealous, drug addled father; and a daughter’s terrifying captivity.
With a suspenseful, alternating narrative that travels between the present and Abby’s tortured childhood, The Pursuit is a meticulously crafted, deeply disquieting tale that showcases Oates’s masterful storytelling.
8. Grand Union: Stories by Zadie Smith
A dazzling collection of short fiction, more than half of which have never been published before, from the multi-award-winning author of White Teeth and Swing Time
Zadie Smith has established herself as one of the most iconic, critically-respected, and popular writers of her generation. In her first short story collection, she combines her power of observation and inimitable voice to mine the fraught and complex experience of life in the modern world.
With ten extraordinary new stories complemented by a selection of her most lauded pieces for The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Granta, GRAND UNION explores a wide range of subjects, from first loves to cultural despair, as well as the desire to be the subject of your own experience. In captivating prose, she contends with race, class, relationships, and gender roles in a world that feels increasingly divided.
Nothing is off limits, and everything–when captured by Smith’s brilliant gaze–feels fresh and relevant. Perfectly paced, and utterly original, GRAND UNION highlights the wonders Zadie Smith can do.
9. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
When Alice Wright agrees to marry handsome American Bennett Van Cleve and leave behind her stifling life in England for a new adventure in Kentucky, she’s soon disenchanted by her newlywed status and overbearing father-in-law, owner of the local coal mine. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.
The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, the smart-talking, self-sufficient daughter of a notorious local criminal, a woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. Alice finds Margery as bracing and courageous as anyone she’s ever met–and comes to rely on her, especially as her marriage starts to fail.
They will be joined by three diverse women and become known as the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky.
What happens to these women–and to the men they love–becomes a classic drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. Though they face all kinds of dangers–from moonshiners to snakes, from mountains to floods–and social disapproval to boot. But they believe deeply in their work bringing books to people who had never had any, expanding horizons and arming them with facts that will change their lives.
Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, the storytelling itself here is enthralling–the pages fly, and the book is unparalleled in its scope and its epic breadth. Funny, heartbreaking, and rewarding, it is a rich novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.
10. Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is “a compelling life force” (San Francisco Chronicle). The New Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” and she has never done so more clearly than in these pages, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire moments of transcendent grace.
11. The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson
In the bestselling, prize-winning A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson achieved the seemingly impossible by making the science of our world both understandable and entertaining to millions of people around the globe.
Now he turns his attention inwards to explore the human body, how it functions and its remarkable ability to heal itself. Full of extraordinary facts and astonishing stories, The Body: A Guide for Occupants is a brilliant, often very funny attempt to understand the miracle of our physical and neurological make up.
A wonderful successor to A Short History of Nearly Everything, this book will have you marvelling at the form you occupy, and celebrating the genius of your existence, time and time again.
12. Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, and Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong
Ali Wong’s heartfelt and hilarious letters to her daughters (the two she put to work while they were still in utero), covering everything they need to know in life, like the unpleasant details of dating, how to be a working mom in a male-dominated profession, and how she trapped their dad.
In her hit Netflix comedy special Baby Cobra, an eight-month pregnant Ali Wong resonated so heavily that she became a popular Halloween costume. Wong told the world her remarkably unfiltered thoughts on marriage, sex, Asian culture, working women, and why you never see new mom comics on stage but you sure see plenty of new dads.
The sharp insights and humor are even more personal in this completely original collection. She shares the wisdom she’s learned from a life in comedy and reveals stories from her life off stage, including the brutal singles life in New York (i.e. the inevitable confrontation with erectile dysfunction), reconnecting with her roots (and drinking snake blood) in Vietnam, tales of being a wild child growing up in San Francisco, and parenting war stories. Though addressed to her daughters, Ali Wong’s letters are absurdly funny, surprisingly moving, and enlightening (and disgusting) for all.
13. The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
Do you know how to play the game you’re in?
In finite games, like football or chess, the players are known, the rules are fixed, and the endpoint is clear. The winners and losers are easily identified.
In infinite games, like business or politics or life itself, the players come and go, the rules are changeable, and there is no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers in an infinite game; there is only ahead and behind.
The more I started to understand the difference between finite and infinite games, the more I began to see infinite games all around us. I started to see that many of the struggles that organizations face exist simply because their leaders were playing with a finite mindset in an infinite game. These organizations tend to lag behind in innovation, discretionary effort, morale and ultimately performance.
The leaders who embrace an infinite mindset, in stark contrast, build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. Their people trust each other and their leaders. They have the resilience to thrive in an ever-changing world, while their competitors fall by the wayside. Ultimately, they are the ones who lead the rest of us into the future.
Any worthwhile undertaking starts with Why – the purpose, cause or belief that inspires us to do what we do and inspires others to join us. Good leaders know how to build Circles of Safety that promote trust and cooperation throughout their organizations. But that’s not enough to help us chart a course through the unpredictable, often chaotic landscape of today’s marketplace.
I now believe that the ability to adopt an infinite mindset is a prerequisite for any leader who aspires to leave their organization in better shape than they found it.
14. No Stopping Us Now: A History of Older Women in America by Gail Collins
A lively, fascinating, eye-opening look at women and aging in America, by the beloved New York Times columnist.
“You’re not getting older, you’re getting better,” or so promised the famous 1970’s ad–for women’s hair dye. Americans have always had a complicated relationship with aging: embrace it, deny it, defer it–and women have been on the front lines of the battle, willingly or not.
In her lively social history of American women and aging, acclaimed New York Times columnist Gail Collins illustrates the ways in which age is an arbitrary concept that has swung back and forth over the centuries. From Plymouth Rock (when a woman was considered marriageable if “civil and under fifty years of age”), to a few generations later, when they were quietly retired to elderdom once they had passed the optimum age for reproduction, to recent decades when freedom from striving in the workplace and caretaking at home is often celebrated, to the first female nominee for president, American attitudes towards age have been a moving target. Gail Collins gives women reason to expect the best of their golden years.
15. A Year Without a Name: A Memoir by Cyrus Grace Dunham
For as long as they can remember, Cyrus Grace Dunham felt like a visitor in their own body. Their life was a series of imitations–lovable little girl, daughter, sister, young gay woman–until their profound sense of alienation became intolerable.
Moving between Grace and Cyrus, Dunham brings us inside the chrysalis of gender transition, asking us to bear witness to an uncertain and exhilarating process that troubles our most basic assumptions about who we are and how we are constituted. Written with disarming emotional intensity in a voice uniquely theirs, A Year Without a Name is a potent, thrillingly unresolved queer coming of age story.
16. The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity by Axton Betz-Hamilton
In this powerful true crime memoir, an award-winning identity theft expert tells the shocking story of the duplicity and betrayal that inspired her career and nearly destroyed her family.
Axton Betz-Hamilton grew up in small-town Indiana in the early ’90s. When she was 11 years old, her parents both had their identities stolen. Their credit ratings were ruined, and they were constantly fighting over money. This was before the age of the Internet, when identity theft became more commonplace, so authorities and banks were clueless and reluctant to help Axton’s parents.
Axton’s family changed all of their personal information and moved to different addresses, but the identity thief followed them wherever they went. Convinced that the thief had to be someone they knew, Axton and her parents completely cut off the outside world, isolating themselves from friends and family. Axton learned not to let anyone into the house without explicit permission, and once went as far as chasing a plumber off their property with a knife.
As a result, Axton spent her formative years crippled by anxiety, quarantined behind the closed curtains in her childhood home. She began starving herself at a young age in an effort to blend in–her appearance could be nothing short of perfect or she would be scolded by her mother, who had become paranoid and consumed by how others perceived the family.
Years later, her parents’ marriage still shaken from the theft, Axton discovered that she, too, had fallen prey to the identity thief, but by the time she realized, she was already thousands of dollars in debt and her credit was ruined.
The Less People Know About Us is Axton’s attempt to untangle an intricate web of lies, and to understand why and how a loved one could have inflicted such pain. Axton will present a candid, shocking, and redemptive story and reveal her courageous effort to grapple with someone close that broke the unwritten rules of love, protection, and family.
17. One Day: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America by Gene Weingarten
On New Year’s Day 2013, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Gene Weingarten asked three strangers to, literally, pluck a day, month, and year from a hat. That day–chosen completely at random–turned out to be Sunday, December 28, 1986, by any conventional measure a most ordinary day. Weingarten spent the next six years proving that there is no such thing.
That Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s turned out to be filled with comedy, tragedy, implausible irony, cosmic comeuppances, kindness, cruelty, heroism, cowardice, genius, idiocy, prejudice, selflessness, coincidence, and startling moments of human connection, along with evocative foreshadowing of momentous events yet to come. Lives were lost. Lives were saved. Lives were altered in overwhelming ways. Many of these events never made it into the news; they were private dramas in the lives of private people. They were utterly compelling.
One Day asks and answers the question of whether there is even such a thing as “ordinary” when we are talking about how we all lurch and stumble our way through the daily, daunting challenge of being human.
18. Edison by Edmund Morris
Although Thomas Alva Edison was the most famous American of his time, and remains an international name today, he is mostly remembered only for the gift of universal electric light. His invention of the first practical incandescent lamp 140 years ago so dazzled the world–already reeling from his invention of the phonograph and dozens of other revolutionary devices–that it cast a shadow over his later achievements. In all, this near-deaf genius (“I haven’t heard a bird sing since I was twelve years old”) patented 1,093 inventions, not including others, such as the X-ray fluoroscope, that he left unlicensed for the benefit of medicine.
One of the achievements of this staggering new biography, the first major life of Edison in more than twenty years, is that it portrays the unknown Edison–the philosopher, the futurist, the chemist, the botanist, the wartime defense adviser, the founder of nearly 250 companies–as fully as it deconstructs the Edison of mythological memory. Edmund Morris, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, brings to the task all the interpretive acuity and literary elegance that distinguished his previous biographies of Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and Ludwig van Beethoven. A trained musician, Morris is especially well equipped to recount Edison’s fifty-year obsession with recording technology and his pioneering advances in the synchronization of movies and sound. Morris sweeps aside conspiratorial theories positing an enmity between Edison and Nikola Tesla and presents proof of their mutually admiring, if wary, relationship.
Enlightened by seven years of research among the five million pages of original documents preserved in Edison’s huge laboratory at West Orange, New Jersey, and privileged access to family papers still held in trust, Morris is also able to bring his subject to life on the page–the adored yet autocratic and often neglectful husband of two wives and father of six children. If the great man who emerges from it is less a sentimental hero than an overwhelming force of nature, driven onward by compulsive creativity, then Edison is at last getting his biographical due.
19. Do You Mind If I Cancel? (Things That Still Annoy Me) by Gary Janetti
Gary Janetti, the writer and producer for some of the most popular television comedies of all time, and creator of one of the most wickedly funny Instagram accounts there is, now turns his skills to the page in a hilarious, and poignant book chronicling the pains and indignities of everyday life.
Gary spends his twenties in New York, dreaming of starring on soap operas while in reality working at a hotel where he lusts after an unattainable colleague and battles a bellman who despises it when people actually use a bell to call him. He chronicles the torture of finding a job before the internet when you had to talk on the phone all the time, and fantasizes, as we all do, about who to tell off when he finally wins an Oscar. As Gary himself says, “These are essays from my childhood and young adulthood about things that still annoy me.”
Original, brazen, and laugh out loud funny, Do You Mind if I Cancel? is something not to be missed.
20. Find Me by André Aciman
No novel in recent memory has spoken more movingly to contemporary readers about the nature of love than André Aciman’s haunting Call Me by Your Name. First published in 2007, it was hailed as “a love letter, an invocation . . . an exceptionally beautiful book” (Stacey D’Erasmo, The New York Times Book Review). Nearly three quarters of a million copies have been sold, and the book became a much-loved, Academy Award–winning film starring Timothée Chalamet as the young Elio and Armie Hammer as Oliver, the graduate student with whom he falls in love.
In Find Me, Aciman shows us Elio’s father, Samuel, on a trip from Florence to Rome to visit Elio, who has become a gifted classical pianist. A chance encounter on the train with a beautiful young woman upends Sami’s plans and changes his life forever.
Elio soon moves to Paris, where he, too, has a consequential affair, while Oliver, now a New England college professor with a family, suddenly finds himself contemplating a return trip across the Atlantic.
Aciman is a master of sensibility, of the intimate details and the emotional nuances that are the substance of passion. Find Me brings us back inside the magic circle of one of our greatest contemporary romances to ask if, in fact, true love ever dies.
All book excerpts have been picked up from Goodreads