In Case You Missed It Part 2: More Recent Noteworthy Acquisitions
The following list includes a selection of titles added to our collection in late summer/autumn that didn’t receive high-profile reviews or benefit from big promotion budgets, but that caught our eye. It is a busy time of the year for publishing, and there are a lot of books included, but the very subjective selections below are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to new arrivals. To see additional recent books, check our monthly New Books lists—always available on our website and at the Reference Desk. —Steven McGuirl, Head of Acquisitions
Jump to: FICTION, LITERATURE, NEW TRANSLATIONS | BELLES LETTRES, LITERARY CRITICISM, JOURNALISM, MEMOIR | HISTORY | FINE & PERFORMING ARTS | POLITICS & CURRENT EVENTS | CLASSICS & ANTIQUITY | TRAVEL | SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT
Bitter Orange | Claire Fuller
Judging by reviews, this is a novel that seems written specifically for a large portion of the New York Society Library membership, with comparisons to member favorites like JL Carr's A Month in the Country, Daphne Du Maurier's Jamaica Inn, Shirley Jackson, LP Hartley’s The Go Between, Penelope Lively's Moon Tiger, Anita Brookner's Look At Me, Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger, Zoe Heller's Notes On A Scandal, and Ian McEwan's Atonement. (When I showed this list to a colleague, he commented, “what? No Barbara Pym?”) Frances, the novel’s narrator, is an elderly woman lying in her sickbed. Her mind wanders back to summer 1969, when she lived in a once-grand, ramshackle English country house, hired to survey the garden architecture. Frances becomes “transfixed” by Cara and Peter, a young couple also staying at the house, and eventually entangled in their odd relationship. It doesn’t end well.
British Library Crime Classics
The British Library has been resurrecting “Golden Age” mysteries, mostly from the 1920s and 1930s, in its carefully curated Crime Classics series for years. Most of the time, we find that we have these titles in their original editions in our collection, but we recently purchased a bunch of books that we either missed the first time around or that have gone missing from our stacks over the years. Check the list of titles in the series held by the Library here.
Future is Female (Library of America collection) | Lisa Yaszek, ed.
Women writers have always been an essential if overlooked force in American science fiction. This collection presents the best of this female tradition, from the pioneers of the Pulp Era to the radical innovators of the 1960s New Wave, upsetting the common notion that Sci-Fi was conceived by and for men. These 25 classics stretch the genre conventions to imagine new, more feminist futures and new ways of experiencing gender.
Geography of Rebels Trilogy: The Book of Communities, The Remaining Life, In the House of July & August | Maria Gabriela Llansol (translated from the Portugese by Audrey Young)
Geography of Rebels is the first work to be translated into English by influential Portuguese writer Maria Gabriela Llansol (1931-2008), who was twice awarded the prize for best novel from the Portuguese Writers' Association. From the introduction by Benjamin Moser, author of Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector: “If anyone might be profitably compared to Clarice Lispector, it might well be Maria Gabriela Llansol. This is because of the fundamentally mystical impulse that animates them both, their conception of writing as a sacred act, a prayer: their idea that it was through writing that a person can reach 'the core of being.'” The book has received favorable attention in The Guardian, The TLS, and on Lit-Hub.
Girl, Balancing & Other Stories | Helen Dunmore
Dunmore was a prolific writer, publishing around 50 titles in a 20 year writing career, including novels, poetry, short story collections, children’s books, and fiction for young adults. Girl Balancing is a posthumous collection of stories (Dunmore died in 2017). The Guardian's reviewer notes that the collection focuses on “the themes that preoccupied Dunmore: childhood, motherhood, war, friendship, forgotten lives. And where her subject is women under threat or siege, the writing takes off.” Girl Balancing was reviewed widely and favorably in the UK.
The Long Dry | Cynan Jones
Library Journal: "Jones's debut novel takes place over the course of a hot summer day on a cattle farm somewhere in rural Wales. From a simple plot—Gareth, a farmer, searches for a missing calving cow—a series of interactions and accidents emerges to shape the lives of the farmer's family, his neighbors, and the domestic animals…As in William Faulkner's most moving work, Jones seemingly surveys the whole of existence by describing the humblest details of life … In this wounded place, tragedy is persistent and immanent. Jones suggests, however, that redemption, fulfillment, and peace, though infrequent as a summer rain, are as inevitable as the sunrise…a powerful and highly recommended debut. The Library also owns Jones’s later novels, Cove (2018) and The Dig (2014).
New York Review Books Reprints
Several new rediscovered classics have recently arrived courtesy of the reliable, fascinating, New York Review Books publishing series, including the following (click on the NYRB link after the title for more information):
• Jean Amery | Charles Bovary, Country Doctor (translated from the French) (NYRB)
• David Bunch | Moderan (NYRB)
• Tom Kristensen | Havoc (NYRB)
• Uwe Johnson | Anniversaries: From A Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl (translated from the German) (NYRB)
• Varlam Shalamov | Kolyma Stories, volume 1 (translated from the Russian) (NYRB)
People in the Room | Norah Lange (translated from the Spanish by Charlotte Whittle)
Norah Lange (1905-1972) was a key figure in the Argentinean avant-garde and the Buenos Aires literary scene of the early to mid-twentieth century, counting Pablo Neruda and Federico García Lorca among her friends. She is mostly remembered in the English-speaking world as muse to Borges, but was a respected, acclaimed writer and won Argentina’s highest literary prize in 1959. This translation of People in the Room is her first appearance in English. The novel chronicles a seventeen-year-old girl’s obsession with the three women who live in the house opposite her own in Buenos Aires. Reviews have compared the writing to Clarice Lispector and Virginia Woolf, and The TLS notes that “People in the Room could have been written today. Its protagonist…could walk straight from the pages of contemporary novelists such as Catherine Lacey, Alexandra Kleeman or Han Kang.” Read what Cesar Aira wrote about Norah Lange on the Words Without Borders web site.
Sentimental Tales | Mikhail Zoshchenko (translated from the Russian by Boris Dralyuk)
Zoshchenko, little known among English speaking readers, remains one of Russia’s best-loved humorists, a satirist in the tradition of Gogol. Boris Dralyuk’s translation of these stories, first published in the 1920s, brings the author’s wit to life.
Stolen Bicycle | Wu Ming-Yi (translated from the Mandarin by Darryl Sterk)
Recommended by our Book Committee, and longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize. A writer embarks on an epic quest in search of his missing father’s stolen bicycle and soon finds himself ensnared in the strangely intertwined stories of Lin Wang, the oldest elephant who ever lived, the soldiers who fought in the jungles of South-East Asia during World War II, and the secret world of butterfly handicraft makers in Taiwan. Wu’s writing has been compared to that of Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami, W.G. Sebald, David Mitchell, and Yann Martel.
Swastika Night | Katharine Burdekin
Originally published in 1937, and rediscovered in the 1980s via Feminist Press’s republication, Swastika Night depicts a male-controlled fascist world that has eliminated women as we know them. This dystopian novel has been favorably compared to 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale.
American Audacity: In Defense of Literary Daring | William Giraldi
“The critic should be tethered to no theory, no ideology, no asphyxiating ism,” novelist (Busy Monsters, Hold the Dark) and critic William Giraldi notes in his introduction. Library Journal: “…in this collection of essays about American authors he considers audacious—bold, complex, and ambitious—Giraldi is a pleasure to read, presenting erudite prose that is free of jargon…Smart, insightful, and energetic, these essays will have you reaching for the bookshelf or heading to the library; they will make you want to read.” Authors featured include James Baldwin, Flannery O’Connor, Cormac McCarthy, Christian Wiman, Cynthia Ozick, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Harper Lee, and more. The book was praised in the pages of the National Review, The New York Times, and more.
In addition to Christopher Bonano’s acclaimed new Weegee biography, Flash: the Making of Weegee the Famous, this interesting Weegee-related book from University of California Press arrived recently. Artist as Reporter looks at PM, a progressive New York City daily tabloid newspaper active from 1940 to 1948, committed to the politics of labor, social justice, and antifascism, and that prioritized the use of pictures. The book describes how PM deployed recent innovations of modernism in the context of tabloid journalism. An overlooked piece of New York City history and journalism.
Attention: Dispatches from a Land of Distraction | Joshua Cohen
Cohen is a novelist (Moving Kings, Book of Numbers), as well as a contributor to the The New York Times, Harper's Magazine, n+1, London Review of Books, The New Republic, and others. This is the first collection of his nonfiction. In a starred review, Booklist notes that “the pieces are often as off-kilter and thought-provoking as his novels and cover a dizzying array of topics, including politics, history, the circus, music, literature, and Jewish identity, sometimes all in one essay…fans of David Foster Wallace and William T. Vollmann will revel in Cohen's playful erudition, versatility, and dark humor.” And in The Guardian, Benjamin Evans writes: “Cohen flaunts a next-level virtuosity across countless fields of expertise.”
Covering America | Christopher Daly
In a scholarly yet accessible book, Daly (editor of the excellent oral history, Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World), a professor of history and journalism at Boston University, presents “a surprisingly spirited and detailed account of American journalism and the many ways in which the press has impacted the trajectory of American history, and vice versa” (Publisher’s Weekly).
Essential Essays: Culture, Politics, and the Art of Poetry | Adrienne Rich
Rich (1929-2012) was among the most influential writers of the feminist movement, writing two dozen volumes of poetry and more than a half-dozen of prose, and winning two National Book Awards and a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant. This career-spanning collection covers literature (Brontë, Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, etc.), feminist and lesbian critiques, and commentary on the politics of the third quarter of the 20th century.
Facts and Fiction: A Book of Storytelling | Michael Holroyd
Holroyd is best known for his 1967 (revised, 1994) biography of Lytton Strachey, widely considered one of the best literary biographies published. In Facts and Fiction Holroyd reflects on the art of writing about others, on the unlikely ways he arrives at his subjects, and the process of building narratives. Holroyd published another work on the art of biography in 2002, Works on Paper: The Craft of Biography and Autobiography, also available at The Society Library.
Hiking with Nietzsche | John J. Kaag
From the author of American Philosophy: a Love Story (2016), Hiking with Nietzsche is described in The New Yorker as an “engagingly unacademic meditation [that] interweaves Nietzsche’s biography with accounts of the author’s own visits to Sils-Maria, in the Swiss Alps, where Nietzsche spent much of his writing life. Kaag writes of reconciling a hunger for meaningful, extreme experience with mundane reality…The question, ultimately, is whether Nietzsche’s philosophy, so attuned to lurking monstrous urges, can be of use in daily life. Kaag’s answer is both elliptical and profound, manifesting a deep understanding of his subject matter." Library Journal appreciates the way “the tone and writing style make it accessible to general readers, while the content will reward those familiar with Nietzsche as well.”
A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings | Helen Jukes
Approaching age 30, author Jukes took up beekeeping in Oxford as a sort of antidote to a boring desk job, eventually writing this memoir about the effect bees had on her. The Guardian raves: “an astonishing book [by a] a gloriously gifted writer … a book that quietly, beautifully, rewired my heart as I read it…The brilliance of Jukes’s memoir is the way that it uses the image of the hive as a metaphor for so much else going on in the book… it’s only at the end that we recognize that the is actually a meditation on solitude and friendship, on urban existence, on the condition of a generation…A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings moved and delighted me more than a book about insects had any right to.”
Kafka’s Last Trial | Benjamin Balint
Franz Kafka’s friend Max Brod was famously ordered by Kafka to destroy all of his writings after he died: “Everything I leave behind…is to be burned unread and to the last page.” Brod, convinced of his friend’s genius, could not bear to do so, and instead devoted much of his life to promoting Kafka’s legacy. Benjamin Balint’s book recounts the convoluted story of what happened to Kafka’s manuscripts and papers after his death in 1924 at age 41. Publisher’s Weekly described it a “lively and balanced account… well-researched and insightful, this suspenseful work illuminates the complex relationship between literature, religion, culture, and nationality.”
Lessons from a Dark Time and Other Essays | Adam Hochschild
A collection of 24 essays from the author of the bestselling King Leopold’s Ghost and Spain in Our Hearts, and finalist for the National Book Award. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of these pieces explore injustice and inhumanity around the world and throughout the ages. Kirkus: “Hochschild’s graceful, informative, straightforward writing always finds the telling detail as well as the people of courage in the most horrifying of situations.”
John Williams's 1965 novel Stoner is a favorite among The Society Library membership and staff, and has accrued a deservedly formidable following worldwide since its reissue by New York Review Books in 2006. Williams also won the National Book Award in 1973 for Augustus and published a captivating, superior western called Butcher's Crossing in 1960. This is the first biography of Williams. Publisher's Weekly: "...by the end of this finely crafted biography readers will feel they have some insight into this talented, troubled enigma of a man."
100 Best Novels in Translation | Boyd Tonkin
The Spectator calls this book “surprisingly sumptuous” thanks to “…the range of Tonkin’s inclusive, infectious, though never uncritical, enthusiasm that is truly admirable. The novels sweep across continents and centuries; Tonkin’s appreciation is always fresh, unforced and illuminating.” Tonkin is the Literary Editor of The Independent. Browse through this book with your to-read list and a pen close at hand.
Reader, Come Home: the Reading Brain in a Digital World | Maryanne Wolf
From the author of the popular Proust and the Squid (2007), an epistolary book that considers the future of the reading brain and our capacity for critical thinking, empathy, and reflection as we become increasingly dependent on digital technologies. Maryanne Wolf is a professor of child development at Tufts University, where she is also the director of the Center for Reading and Language Research.
Returning to Reims | Didier Eribon (translated from the French by Michael Lucey)
This memoir was first published in 2009 in France, where it was a bestseller (it was very popular in Germany, as well). An account of the author’s return to the town where he grew up after an absence of thirty years, it explores family, memory, identity, and time lost. The book counts Hilary Mantel (“a deeply intelligent and searching book”) Edouard Louis (“played a capital role in my life”), and Colm Toibin among its admirers.
Talking to Women | Nell Dunn
A reissue of Dunn’s long out of print 1965 collection of in-depth, far-ranging interviews with women. In the foreword for the new edition, author Ali Smith describes it as “one of the first books to address the complications of the female self.” Interviewees include artists and writers like Edna O’Brien, Ann Quin, and Pauline Boty, as well as various other friends of Dunn. Dunn is the author of cult favorites Up the Junction and Poor Cow. Read more about this unusual collection in The New Yorker here.
True Stories: The Collected Short Nonfiction | Helen Garner
Acclaimed and popular in her native Australia, Garner is the author of four novels, three story collections, six major works of nonfiction, and more. The essays and journalism in this collection were published over almost 50 years. “Ruthless and full-blooded, her journalism nevertheless displays the greatest nimbleness in its accommodation of ambivalence and uncertainty” (The TLS). “As a writer of nonfiction, Garner is scrupulous, painstaking, and detailed, with sharp eyes and ears. She is everywhere at once, watching and listening” (The New Yorker). The Library also recently acquired a collection of Garner's short fiction.
Since 1973, Virago’s mission has been to “champion women’s voices and bring them to the widest possible readership around the world” and over the last 45 years they have published a very influential catalog of books. In this anthology, forty writers tell us about one of their favorite writers by introducing books from the Virago Modern Classics collection. Contributors include Margaret Drabble, Angela Carter, Maggie O’Farrell, Elizabeth Jane Howard, A. S. Byatt, Penelope Lively, Elizabeth Bowen, Zadie Smith, Diana Athill, Claire Messud, Hilary Mantel, Ali Smith, Jane Gardam, and more.
Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5's Secret Nazi Hunter | Robert Hutton
For fans of writers like Ben Macintyre, Hutton’s book describes the efforts of MI5 to stop homegrown fascist sympathizers in Great Britain in the 1930’s and 40’s, particularly the actions of a mild-mannered bank clerk named Eric Roberts. Rechristened Jack King, he managed to infiltrate groups of Nazi sympathizers and undermine their efforts to steal information for Germany for the better part of three years. Writing for The Guardian, Anthony Quinn calls the book “astounding” adding that included transcripts of bugged conversations “will make your hair stand on end.”
Peter Moore’s new book offers us a biography of the Endeavour and her crew, using it as a window onto the broader world of the mid-18th-century English Enlightenment. Literary Review declares it “a deeply satisfying book. It represents an intelligent, diverse, fresh and challenging approach to writing the history of exploration.” The Sunday Times raves “Endeavour is an absolute joy from start to finsh.”
Roller-Coaster: Europe, 1950-2017 | Ian Kershaw
This is the second volume in Ian Kershaw’s epic, acclaimed history of 20th-century Europe, the follow up to To Hell and Back. The Financial Times: “…an expert and meticulous look at the events that shaped the continent…Roller-Coaster brings a perspective to bear that deftly weaves national histories into an all-European tapestry stretching from Portugal to Poland, and into Russia.”
The Secret World: A History of Intelligence | Christopher Andrew
The publisher (Yale University Press) describes this as the first-ever global, detailed, comprehensive history of intelligence and espionage, from Moses and Sun Tzu to the present day. Christopher Andrew is emeritus professor of modern and contemporary history at the University of Cambridge.
She Was a Sister Sailor | Mary Brewster (edited by Joan Druett)
This fascinating book, published in 1992, was recently donated by a member. Some adventurous New England “whaling wives” chose to accompany their sea captain husbands on voyages to the Pacific that could last two years or more. The unique book reproduces Mary Brewster’s diaries of her first whaling voyage with her husband to the Sandwich Islands in 1845 and a second venture to the Arctic in 1848. Essays by scholars provide context.
Slavery in the North | Marc Howard Ross
The existence of slavery in the North and its significance for the region's economic development has rarely received public recognition. In Slavery in the North, Ross undertakes an exploration of the history of Northern slavery—visiting sites such as the African Burial Ground in New York, Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, and rediscovered burying grounds—and asks why enslavement disappeared from the North's collective memories but also how the dramatic recovery of these memories in recent decades should be understood.
This Radical Land: A Natural History of American Dissent | Daegan Miller
Miller “views landscape…as both a witness to and a participant in American history, especially in stories of resistance. Each chapter explores a different landscape in the nineteenth century and its entwinement with the new social, political, and economic realities of progress... Although the book is firmly rooted in research and theory, Miller's style is less formal and more personal than a strictly academic text, making it appealing for a wider audience. Fans of Derrick Jensen, Howard Zinn, and Rebecca Solnit will appreciate Miller's fascinating and unexpected perspective on American history.” —Booklist
A biography of Anne Royall, America's first female muckraker, who was convicted as a "common scold" in 1829 in one of the most bizarre trials in the nation's history.
Trials of Nina McCall | Scott Stern
Stern’s book received very good reviews in The New York Review of Books The New York Times, and The TLS, but has had a quiet time on the shelves at The Society Library. The New York Times: "Stern’s book is the first book-length account of the 'American Plan,' a government-sponsored 'social hygiene' campaign under which thousands of American women between the early years of the 20th century and the 1960s were forced to undergo gynecological exams, quarantine and detention, all in the name of protecting the country’s citizens from sexually transmitted infections…startling, disturbing and terrifically readable…Stern chronicles the nationwide network of laws and policies targeting prostitutes and any other woman whose alleged sexual activity made her a potential carrier of venereal disease.”
A starred review in Booklist praises this “twentieth-century story that reads more like a thriller than nonfiction…Elizebeth Smith Friedman's life has all the hallmarks of a Hollywood hit, and she is long overdue for the limelight. One of the greatest cryptologists of all time…After meeting an equally gifted code-breaking genius, William Friedman, the two broke German codes in WWI…unraveled cyphers created by rumrunners and gangsters during Prohibition, then moved on to undermine the Nazis…Riveting, inspiring, and rich in colorful characters, Fagone's extensively researched and utterly dazzling title is popular history at its very best.” A member of The Library’s Book Committee recently noted that “among the pleasures of this book is the clarity with which the process of codebreaking is described. It is easily accessible for those of us whose only exposure to cryptography was the sort of secret coding rings once found as prizes in cereal boxes.”
The Art of Reading: An Illustrated History of Books in Paint | Jamie Camplin & Maria Ranaur
Featuring work by artists from across Europe and the United States and all painting genres, The Art of Reading explores the two-thousand-year story of the connectioins between the visual and literary arts. Library Journal: “…bridges the gap between book and art lover perfectly, presenting relevant information with stunning paintings to satisfy experts of both fields.”
Collected Essays | Brian O’Doherty
This collection includes essays on major art figures such as Edward Hopper, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol and many more. O’Doherty was an art critic for The New York Times and editor in chief of Art in America, and is an acclaimed novelist whoseThe Deposition of Father McGreevy was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2000.
The Eye: An Insider’s Memoir of Masterpieces, Money, and the Magnetism of Art | Philippe Costamanga
The term “Eye” describes the expertise of an art connoisseur who has the special ability to attribute artworks "at a glance," and in his anecdote- and gossip-rich memoir, Costamanga (director of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Ajaccio, Corsica), provides a peak into this rarified world of connoisseurs devoted to the authentication and discovery of Old Master artworks. Publisher’s Weekly: “Costamagna's candor and well-earned hubris make for an entertaining foray into the high-stakes art world.”
Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future | Tracey Bashkoff (Editor)
Hilma af Klint died in 1944 at the age of 81, leaving behind more than 1,000 artworks kept largely private during her lifetime. In recent decades, af Klint's radically abstract painting practice has began to be recognized. Her work predates the work of Vasily Kandinsky and other artists widely considered trailblazers of modernist abstraction. Her works reflect an ambitious, spiritually informed attempt to chart an invisible, totalizing world order through a synthesis of natural and geometric forms, textual elements and esoteric symbolism. This handsome catalog accompanies an exhibition currently on view at the Guggenheim.
Historians on Hamilton | Renee Romano & Claire Bond Potter, eds.
How historically accurate is the mega-hit Broadway musical, Hamilton? And how is the show itself making history? Historians on Hamilton brings together a collection of top scholars to examine what the musical got right, what it got wrong, and why it matters. Library Journal: “A thought-provoking and carefully crafted collection of scholarship that has much to offer readers interested in music, theater, or American history.”
Sue Roe’s last book, In Montmartre, the story of the birth of Modernist art, was very popular at The Society Library. This title, not yet published in the United States, takes on the surrealists’ rise to prominence in the 1930s.
Opera as Opera | Conrad L. Osborne
Wall Street Journal: “It is, without question, the most important book ever written in English about opera in performance. It is also a cri de coeur, documenting the devastation of a single precinct of Western high culture in modern and postmodern times.” In this complex, 788 page “closely reasoned exegesis… Conrad Osborne flings the gauntlet, relentlessly inquiring: What happened? What to do? It is hardly an exaggeration to suggest that the fate of 21st-century opera partly hinges on the fate of the bristling insights delineated and pondered in this singular mega-book.”
Scenarios (Aguirre, the Wrath of God; Every Man for Himself and God Against All; Land of Silence and Darkness; Fitzcarraldo) | Werner Herzog
“Very often, films come like uninvited guests, like burglars in the middle of the night. They are in your kitchen; something is stirring, you wake up at 3 a.m. and all of a sudden they come wildly swinging at you.” —Werner Herzog. “The four scenarios collected here are what the publisher calls ‘urtexts’ of some of Herzog’s most acclaimed films, written before filming as extended prose pieces rather than traditional film scripts… Like the best of his films, it's equal parts challenging and satisfying, infuriating and enlightening.” —Publisher’s Weekly
Sterling Hayden’s Wars | Lee Mandel
Sterling Hayden abandoned a flourishing Hollywood film career twice, was a master sailor, war hero, the first star to name names in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee, kidnapped his own children, was an alcoholic, wrote two bestselling books, and managed to star in several film noir gems such as Kubrick’s The Killing and Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle, as well as appear in later classics like Dr. Strangelove, The Godfather and Altman’s The Long Goodbye (not to be missed). This is the first biography of this tormented, intriguing figure.
Religious scholar Albert Raboteau (Princeton University) examines seven major prophetic figures in twentieth-century America whose social activism was motivated by a deeply felt compassion for those suffering injustice: Abraham Joshua Heschel, A. J. Muste, Dorothy Day, Howard Thurman, Thomas Merton, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Fannie Lou Hamer. Publisher’s Weekly: “This scholarly yet accessible primer to the role of faith in the lives of American activists challenges contemporary notions of the role in religion in politics, and argues that empathy is a critical first step in addressing the suffering of others.”
Dancing Bears: True Stories of People Nostalgic for Life Under Tyranny | Witold Szabłowski (translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones)
Compared to other books on this list, Szablowski’s book has been the subject of several prominent, very positive reviews (The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, etc.), as well as some impressive blurbs (Ian Buruma: “Absurd, darkly funny, compassionate, his book is a literary jewel.”). The book explores the phenomena of the subtitle through the stories of people in Eastern Europe and Cuba.
Impeachment: What Everyone Needs to Know | Michael J. Gerhardt
You hear that word a lot lately, and Michael Gerhardt, a Professor in Constitutional Law at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and scholar in residence at the National Constitutional Center, offers a primer in “an accessible question-and-answer format” for “anyone eager to learn about impeachment's origins, practices, limitations, and alternatives.” The What Everyone Needs to Know series is published by Oxford University Press and the Library offers many other volumes.
One Person, No Vote | Carol Anderson
The follow-up to Anderson’s White Rage (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award), One Person, No Vote chronicles the rollbacks to African American voting participation since the 2013 Supreme Court decision known as the Shelby ruling that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by allowing districts to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice. Changing photo ID requirements, gerrymandering, poll closures, voting roll purges—Anderson (Emory University, Guggenheim Fellow for Constitutional Studies) shows how voter suppression is enacted.
Birds in the Ancient World | Jeremy Mynott
In this carefully and exhaustively researched book, Jeremy Mynott illustrates the many different roles birds played in ancient Greek and Roman civilizations: as indicators of time, weather and the seasons; as a resource for hunting, eating, medicine and farming; as domestic pets and entertainments; and as omens and intermediaries between the gods and humankind. The book includes 95 color illustrations from ancient wall-paintings, pottery and mosaics. Nature magazine called it “a masterful cultural and scientific history,” and The Literary Review described it as “elegant and thought-provoking… nuanced and open-minded, and he writes with a light, often wry touch.”
Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age | Donna Zuckerberg
Acclaimed translator Emily Wilson (The Odyssey) praises Not All Dead White Men as a “chilling account of trolling, misogyny, racism, and bad history proliferated online by the Alt-Right, bolstered by the apparent authority of Greek and Latin Classics…an important and very timely book."
The Crossway | Guy Stag
Though not religious, Guy Stagg decides to undertake a pilgrimage and walk the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome and then on to Jerusalem. This is a travelogue of an old-fashioned sort, and its reviews compare it positively with the early writings of Patrick Leigh Fermor.
Photographs of Joan Leigh Fermor | Ian Collins & Olivia Stewart
A fascinating collection of nearly 200 photographs, this book is a lovely companion to Patrick Leigh Fermor’s perennially popular travel writing and Simon Fenwick’s recent biography, Joan: the Remarkable Life of Joan Leigh Fermor.
Scraps of Wool: A Journey Through the Golden Ages of Travel Writing | Bill Colegrave, editor
For this anthology of travel writing, Bill Colegrave asked various writers and explorers for examples of travel books that had inspired them. Scraps of Wool brings together passages of travel writing from Mungo Park to Cheryl Strayed. A TLS reviewer praised the collection for the way it “returns you, gleeful, to the heyday of modern travel writing and the boom in travel books.”
Embattled River: The Hudson and Modern American Environmentalism | David Schuyler
In Embattled River, David Schuyler describes the efforts to reverse the pollution and bleak future of the Hudson River that became evident in the 1950s. Through his investigative narrative, Schuyler uncovers the critical role of this iconic American waterway in the emergence of modern environmentalism in the United States.
Stripped Bare: The Art of Animal Anatomy | David Bainbridge
Don’t miss this one: A stunning illustrated compendium of the art and history of animal anatomy from antiquity to today,
Third Thoughts | Steven Weinberg
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics and contributor to The New York Review of Books, Steven Weinberg casts a wide net and shares his views on some of the most fundamental and fascinating aspects of physics and the universe: from the cosmological to the personal, from astronomy, quantum mechanics, and the history of science to the limitations of current knowledge, the art of discovery, and the rewards of getting things wrong. Robert Crease, in Nature, wrote that “Weinberg has a knack for capturing a complex concept in a succinct, unforgettable image… [He’s] one of the smartest and most diligent scientists around” and Richard Dawkins called the book “compelling reading.”