By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis
Book lovers are a passionate, fanatic group. We don’t just love books, we love books, so much so, that our budgets incorporate a contingency plan for the opportunity to buy and read as many books as we can afford (or not afford) to.
That said, we tend to be a severely organized bunch as well, which means knowing about books ahead of time seems second nature. The “early bird catches the worm,” but the “early book watcher catches the book—and the author, and the launch, and the online chat, and the publisher party, and the ARC, and the swag, and the Indigo reading event, and the giveaways…”
But, why keep all this knowledge to ourselves? Here are some upcoming books that I’m really looking forward to snatching and reading:
Week of March 3:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (in paperback)
Ifemelu–beautiful, self-assured–left Nigeria 15 years ago, and now studies in Princeton as a Graduate Fellow. Obinze–handsome and kind-hearted–was Ifemelu’s teenage love; he’d hoped to join her in America, but post 9/11 America wouldn’t let him in.
Years later, when they reunite in Nigeria, neither is the same person who left home. Obinze is the kind of successful “Big Man” he”d scorned in his youth, and Ifemelu has become an “Americanah”–a different version of her former self, one with a new accent and attitude. As they revisit their shared passion–for their homeland and for each other–they must face the largest challenges of their lives.
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (in paperback)
“That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.”
New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. Frank Drum begins the summer preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family, which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother-he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty-the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman.
A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African-Americans passing for white. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.
Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman
Jean Zimmerman’s new novel tells of the dramatic events that transpire when an alluring, blazingly smart eighteen-year-old girl named Bronwyn, reputedly raised by wolves in the wilds of Nevada, is adopted in 1875 by the Delegates, an outlandishly wealthy Manhattan couple, and taken back East to be civilized and introduced into high society.
Bronwyn hits the highly mannered world of Edith Whartonera Manhattan like a bomb. A series of suitors, both young and old, find her irresistible, but the willful girl’s illicit lovers begin to turn up murdered.
Zimmerman’s tale is narrated by the Delegate’s son, a Harvard anatomy student. The tormented, self-dramatizing Hugo Delegate speaks from a prison cell where he is prepared to take the fall for his beloved Savage Girl. This narrative is a love story and a mystery with a powerful sense of fable is his confession.
Gemini by Carol Cassella
Dr. Charlotte Reese works in the intensive care unit of Seattle’s Beacon Hospital, tending to patients with the most life-threatening illnesses and injuries. Her job is to battle death-to monitor erratic heartbeats, worry over low oxygen levels, defend against infection and demise.
One night a Jane Doe is transferred to her care from a rural hospital on the Olympic Peninsula. This unidentified patient remains unconscious, the victim of a hit and run. As Charlotte and her team struggle to stabilize her, the police search for the driver who fled the scene.
Days pass, Jane’s condition worsens, and her identity remains a mystery. As Charlotte finds herself making increasingly complicated medical decisions that will tie her forever to Jane’s fate, her usual professional distance evaporates. She’s plagued by questions: Who is Jane Doe? Why will no one claim her? Who should decide her fate if she doesn’t regain consciousness-and when?
Notes from the Internet Apocalypse by Wayne Gladstone
When the Internet suddenly stops working, society reels from the loss of flowing data, instant messages, and streaming entertainment. Addicts wander the streets, talking to themselves in 140 characters or forcing cats to perform tricks for their amusement, while the truly desperate pin their requests for casual encounters on public bulletin boards. The economy tumbles further and the government passes the draconian NET Recovery Act.
For Gladstone, the Net’s disappearance comes particularly hard following the loss of his wife, leaving his flask of Jamesons and grandfather’s fedora as the only comforts in his Brooklyn apartment. But there are rumors that someone in New York is still online. Someone set apart from this new world where Facebook flirters “poke” each other in real life and members of Anonymous trade memes at secret parties. Where a former librarian can sell information as a human search engine, and the perverted fulfill their secret fetishes at the blossoming Rule 34 club. With the help of his friends, a blogger and a webcam girl both now out of work, Gladstone sets off to find the Internet. But is he the right man to save humanity from this Apocalypse?
For fans of David Wong, Chad Kultgen, and Chuck Palahniuk, Wayne Gladstone’s Notes from the Internet Apocalypse examines the question “What is life without the Web?”
Week of March 10:
The Heaven of Animals by David James Poissant
In each of the stories in this remarkable debut, award-winning writer David James Poissant explores the tenuous bonds of family-fathers and sons, husbands and wives-as they are tested by the sometimes brutal power of love. His strikingly true-to-life characters have reached a precipice, chased there by troubles of their own making. Standing at the brink, each must make a choice: Leap, or look away? Pulitzer Prize finalist Lee Martin writes that Poissant forces us “to face the people we are when we’re alone in the dark.”
From two friends racing to save the life of an alligator in “Lizard Man” to a girl helping her boyfriend face his greatest fears in “The End of Aaron,” from a man who stalks death on an Atlanta street corner to a brother’s surprise at the surreal, improbable beauty of a late night encounter with a wolf, Poissant creates worlds that shine with honesty and dark complexity, but also with a profound compassion. These are stories hell-bent on hope.
Fresh, smart, lively, and wickedly funny, The Heaven of Animals is startlingly original and compulsively readable. As bestselling author Kevin Wilson puts it, “Poissant is a writer who knows us with such clarity that we wonder how he found his way so easily into our hearts and souls.”
Toot by Leslie Patricelli (board book)
Everybody does it: Kitty, Doggie, Daddy – even Mommy! And when Leslie Patricelli’s beloved bald baby does it while running, it sounds like a train. This frank and very funny look at a certain noisy body function is perfectly suited to the youngest of listeners, while their giggling older siblings will be happy to read it aloud.
The Complete Asian Cookbook: Sri Lanka & the Philippines by Charmaine Solomon
A beautifully crafted and comprehensive cookbook series based on the most iconic and influential book on Asian cuisine. Now, for the first time, Charmaine Solomon’s groundbreaking work has been divided into a series of six geographical regions, each with a complementary design so they may be collected as a set. Asian cuisine has a wonderful range of culinary delights that can be simple, complex, fiery, mild, and tantalizing. With page after page of beautiful, authentic Asian dishes, the recipes in The Complete Asian Cookbook series have been tested and re-tested to ensure the flavor and character of each dish is preserved. The labor-intensive traditional preparation methods have been cut back, making the recipes easy to follow for the home cook. Each book has an invaluable introduction to the food, culture, and cooking methods of the country as well as common ingredients. Learn to cook pork vindaloo, Thai green curry, crab with fresh Kampot peppercorns, steamed prawn dumplings, or delicious Peking duck. Filled with stunning food photography, The Complete Asian Cookbook series will guide you through the vast scope of Asian cuisine with authentic recipes that work every time.
Week of March 17:
10-Minute Makeup by Boris Entrup
Perfect for teenagers and young women who like to try new looks, “10-Minute Makeup” shows 50 versatile looks that can be created in only ten minutes.
With detailed information on basic techniques, products, equipment, as well as special tips and tricks from stylist-to-the-stars Boris Entrup, “10-Minute Makeup” shows that anyone can create glamorous runway looks with these easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions and before-and-after shots.
Marya: A Life by Joyce Carol Oates
Marya Knauer is a famous author and member of the intellectual elite. She is, by turns, admired, envied, and resented. She is also a woman haunted. Haunted by early memories of violence and abandonment. Haunted by painful feelings of longing and loss. Now Marya is about to embark on a search for her past-and for the mother who gave her away more than a quarter of a century before…. Vividly evoking the beauty of rural New York, the shattered reflections of childhood, and the complex emotions of a female artist, Marya: A Life is one of Joyce Carol Oates’ most deeply personal and brilliantly observed novels.
Short Century by David Burr Gerrard
A literary fiction debut mix of Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers and Richard Yates” The Easter Parade set amidst the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan When a mysterious blogger reveals renowned pro-war journalist Arthur Hunt’s long-ago incestuous affair with his smart but impressionable younger sister, Emily, Arthur writes a memoir in defense of his life, coming to terms with his shattered sense of self, his skewed political ideals, and the crumbling American empire he has been struggling to uphold. An angry but eloquent narrator in the tradition of Philip Roth and Thomas Bernhard,
Arthur recounts his relationship with Emily, weaving in his claustrophobic WASP childhood, his ”60s student radical days at Yale, and his vociferous support for America’s war in Iraq and its continuing drone campaign. Capturing the tumult of recent American history, Short Century is filled with supporting characters as memorable as Arthur – including Miranda, his mercurial college girlfriend; Jersey Rothstein, the charismatic free-love guru for whom Miranda leaves Arthur; their son Jason, who signs up to serve in Iraq, where he is killed; their daughter Sydney, who follows Arthur into pro-war punditry; and their daughter Daisy, who chooses to wear a burqa.
With a broad historical scope but an intimate personal focus, this is a novel about America, family, and how the desire for freedom is often entangled with darker impulses.
Of the books listed above, which ones do you think you might be most interested in reading?
What books are you waiting for this Wednesday?