A self-published sci-fi novel that became a bestseller tops our selection of paperbacks on sale today:
By Andy Weir
Broadway • $15 • ISBN 9781101903582
Who wants to see Matt Damon in the role of an astronaut stranded on Mars, using his scientific smarts and ingenuity to survive? Or Kristen Wiig as the snarky NASA spokeswoman trying to explain what went wrong with the botched Mars mission? In a film adaptation directed by Ridley Scott? Picture me wildly waving my hand. This new movie tie-in edition of Weir’s absorbing and thoroughly convincing SF tale should give you plenty of time to enjoy the book before the film hits theaters on Oct. 2.
By Bryan Stevenson
Spiegel & Grau • $16 • ISBN 9780812984965
In a powerful memoir that was included on several best books of the year lists in 2014, the Harvard Law grad and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative recounts his efforts to represent the poor and wrongly condemned, focusing on the disturbing case of a young black man sentenced to death for the murder of a white woman in Monroeville, Alabama (Harper Lee's hometown).
The Moor's Account
By Laila Lalami
Vintage • $15.95 • ISBN 9780804170628
A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, Lalami's searing historical novel was also named a Top 10 Book of the Year by the Wall Street Journal. The Moor of the title is Mustafa, who is sold into slavery and sent on a mission to the Americas in 1527 with the Spanish explorer Narváez. Lalami brings the conflicts of the era to life through extensive research and an entirely new perspective.
A best-selling novel that’s sure to appeal to book clubs and two short story collections by Southern masters of the form top the list of new paperbacks on sale today:
Big Little Lies
By Liane Moriarty
Berkley • $16 • ISBN 9780425274866
Attention, book clubs: The latest novel from the author of The Husband's Secret is out in paperback, with a page-turning plot and a juicy satire of suburban scandal. Book clubs will find plenty to talk about, from cliques and bullying to parenting and infidelity. The paperback includes a list of discussion questions worthy of an AP English exam.
By Tony Earley
Back Bay • $14.99 • ISBN 9780316246149
In his first collection in 20 years, the author of the lluminous novel Jim the Boy offers a novella and six short stories that showcase his talent for capturing the rhythms and characters of Southern life. Many of the stories explore the poignant complexities of relationships, including the moving title story in which a newly married mountain woman has a fateful encounter with a grieving neighbor. The paperback includes a reading group guide.
Something Rich and Strange
By Ron Rash
Ecco • $16.99 • ISBN 9780062349354
If I had to choose one word to describe Rash's stories, it would be "powerful." Set mostly in the mountains of western North Carolina, the 34 stories here constitute a "best of" collection drawn from his four previous volumes of stories. (Rash is also the author of five novels, including Serena and The Cove). Spare, poetic and compelling, many of these stories will take your breath away. As evidence, we refer you to "The Trusty," first published in The New Yorker in 2011.
A selection of the best new paperbacks on sale today:
Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good
By Jan Karon
Berkley • $16 • ISBN 9780425276211
The 10th installment of Karon's beloved series finds Father Tim back in Mitford, trying to figure out his place in the village since his retirement as parish priest.
The Ogallala Road
By Julene Bair
Penguin • $17 • ISBN 9780143127079
In this compelling and beautifully written memoir, Bair recounts the rewards and challenges of returning to her family's farm on the Great Plains, where she finds both a promising new romantic relationship and a troubling legacy of environmental transgressions.
The Boston Girl
By Anita Diamant
Scribner • $16 • ISBN 9781439199367
Diamant offers a tour of 20th-century American history through the eyes of her novel's narrator—a spunky Jewish woman relating the gripping events of her life story to an adoring granddaughter.
The Secret Place
By Tana French
Penguin • $17 • ISBN 9780143127512
The latest entry in French's acclaimed Dublin Murder Squad series revolves around a deliciously twisted murder case at a prestigious Irish girls school.
By Cecilia Galante
Morrow • $14.99 • ISBN 9780062363510
The author of several popular YA and children's books makes her adult fiction debut with the moving story of four young women—close friends when they lived together at a group home for teens—who reunite 15 years later and confront the troubles from their past.
By Paul Ham
Picador • $20 • ISBN 9781250070050
A journalist and historian, Ham investigates the World War II nuclear bombings of two Japanese cities, which claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people, and concludes that the bombings did little to change the course of the war.
Here's an after-hours summer reading plan—open a bottle of wine and curl up with one of these new paperbacks, on sale today:
By Elizabeth Little
Penguin • $16 • ISBN 9780143127369
Little made a big splash—and earned (inevitable) comparisons to Gone Girl—with this debut mystery narrated by a sassy socialite convicted of killing her mother. When her conviction is overturned 10 years later, Jane leaves prison with one goal: finding the real killer.
The Long Way Home
By Louise Penny
Minotaur • $15.99 • ISBN 9781250022059
The 10th entry in Penny's acclaimed series finds Chief Inspector Gamache happily retired in the Québec village of Seven Pines—until a neighbor solicits his help in solving the mystery of her husband's disappearance.
The Story Hour
By Thrity Umrigar
Harper Perennial • $15.99 • ISBN 9780062259318
In her sixth novel, the author of The World We Found captures the emotional turmoil of two very different women—African-American psychologist Maggie and her patient Lakshmi, an Indian immigrant—and the crisis that ensues when their friendship crosses professional lines.
Shadows in the Vineyard
By Maximillian Potter
Twelve • $16 • ISBN 9781455516094
Expanding on a story he first reported for Vanity Fair, Potter travels to a legendary vineyard in Burgundy to ferret out the intriguing details of a plot to poison some of the region's most valuable grapevines. For oenophiles, Francophiles and true crime fans, this suspenseful story is a well-balanced summer diversion.
Today's new paperback releases range from a captivating novel about the recent past to a frightening portrait of our possible future.
By Jane Smiley
Anchor • $15.95 • ISBN 9780307744807
With this volume, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author launches a trilogy that will follow the members of one Iowa family for 100 years, with each chapter covering a single year. Capturing the rhythms of life, the pull of family and the hardships of farming, Smiley's luminous first entry in the series ranked #2 on our list of the Best Books of 2014.
The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street
By Susan Jane Gilman
Grand Central • $15 • ISBN 9780446696944
The first work of fiction from the author of Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven (2009) and two other best-selling memoirs is a rich historical novel about a Russian immigrant who uses all her charms (and wiles) to become a successful entrepreneur in America. The paperback includes a reading group guide.
The Secret History of Wonder Woman
By Jill Lepore
Vintage • $16.95 • ISBN 9780804173407
Researching the private papers of Wonder Woman's creator, William Moulton Marston, the New Yorker staff writer and Harvard historian uncovered evidence of Marston's highly unusual family life. The paperback includes an afterword with new disclosures.
By Amy Bloom
Random House • $16 • ISBN 9780812978940
A bestseller in hardcover, Bloom's distinctly American story of two half-sisters on a riotous road trip to Hollywood was named one of the best novels of 2014 by the Washington Post. The paperback includes a reader's guide.
Season of the Dragonflies
By Sarah Creech
Morrow • $14.99 • ISBN 9780062307538
Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Creech's enchanting debut follows the fortunes of the Lenore family, known for creating a much sought-after perfume with special powers. The paperback includes a reading group guide.
By Edan Lepucki
Back Bay • $16 • ISBN 9780316250832
Lepucki's post-apocalyptic debut novel became a cause célèbre almost by accident when it happened to hit the market last summer just as Hachette's battle with Amazon was heating up. Used by Stephen Colbert as the centerpiece of a protest against the online bookselling giant, the book drew readers who might otherwise have overlooked this disturbing look at one couple trying to survive in the wilderness after fleeing L.A. The paperback includes a reading group guide.
Searching for something to read during the holiday weekend ahead? Here are our picks of the best new paperbacks on sale this week:
When the United States Spoke French
By François Furstenberg
Penguin • $20 • ISBN 9780143127451
While you're celebrating the U.S.A.'s 239th birthday, take a look back at the early years of the young republic, when five prominent Frenchmen settled in Philadelphia and became active participants in the life of the city and the new nation. Described by Booklist as "a fine combination of social and political history," Furstenberg's narrative was a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize.
How to Build a Girl
By Caitlin Moran
Harper Perennial • $15.95 • ISBN 9780062335982
The rowdy first novel from the author of the best-selling feminist memoir/manifesto How to Be a Woman borrows events from Moran's own improbable life story, including her experiences as a teen critic for a British music magazine. The novel was a #1 bestseller in the U.K. and is the first in a planned trilogy.
How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky
By Lydia Netzer
St. Martin’s Griffin • $15.99 • ISBN 9781250047465
Is our destiny written in the stars? Netzer, author of Shine Shine Shine, creatively explores this question and other conundrums in the touching story of George and Irene, two quirky astronomers in Toledo who were meant to be together.
By David Nicholls
Harper • $15.99 • ISBN 9780062365590
Chosen by BookPage editors as one of the Best Books of 2014, Nicholls' novel captures the plight of a mild-mannered British scientist trying to hold his marriage and his family together with a last-gasp European vacation.
The Book of Strange New Things
By Michel Faber
Hogarth • $17 • ISBN 9780553418866
The author of the best-selling Victorian novel The Crimson Petal and the White explores faith and commitment in this far-future story of a Christian missionary sent to evangelize the residents of a distant planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, his marriage and his planet appear to be falling apart.
The Happiest People in the World
By Brock Clarke
Algonquin • $15.95 • ISBN 9781616204792
Hilarious but urgently topical, Clarke's fourth novel follows the adventures of a bumbling Danish cartoonist forced to assume a new identity as a high school guidance counselor in upstate New York after his drawing of the prophet Muhammad evokes a firestorm.
This week's new paperback selections offer several summer-reading-worthy options:
By Nick Harkaway
Vintage • $15.95 • ISBN 9780804170666
In the latest smart science fiction from the author of The Gone-Away World and Angelmaker, Sergeant Lester Ferris is determined to serve out the remainder of his career quietly in the former British colony of Mancreu. But his plans change after he meets a boy obsessed with comic-book heroes.
North of Normal
By Cea Sunrise Person
Harper • $15.99 • ISBN 9780062289872
Person's success as an international model came despite a most unusual childhood. For more than a decade, she and members of her extended family lived way, way off the grid in the forests of Canada, combining a groovy, free-love lifestyle with sometimes bleak subsistence living. The paperback edition of this compelling memoir includes a list of discussion questions.
By Susan Vreeland
Random House • $16 • ISBN 9780812980196
Although she's unhappy about leaving Paris in 1937 for a remote village in the south of France to care for her husband's grandfather, Lisette learns more than she expected about both art and life. For book clubs that like to pair a themed dinner with a reading selection, Vreeland's luminous historical novel offers many delicious possibilities: The reading group guide includes a list of all the Provençal dishes mentioned in the book (the Cassoulet Béarnais sounds especially tempting).
By Rebecca Rasmussen
Vintage • $15.95 • ISBN 9780345806710
Coming in at #43 on the BookPage list of Best Books of 2014, Rasmussen's quietly powerful second novel opens in the wilds of Minnesota, where Eveline and her new husband Emil settle in a remote cabin. But when Emil is called away, their lives take a tragic turn that will echo through the next generation.
By Laura Lane McNeal
Penguin • $16 • ISBN 9780143127499
Set in the summer of 1964, McNeal's engaging debut brings Civil Rights-era New Orleans to life with the story of 11-year-old Ibby Bell, who is unceremoniously dumped at the rundown Garden District mansion of her eccentric grandmother. The novel, which drew critical praise for its convincing characters and evocative setting, has been compared to Southern dramas such as The Help and The Secret Life of Bees.
Dear Committee Members
By Julie Schumacher
Anchor • $14.95 • ISBN 9780345807335
Schumacher’s hilarious—and, at times, poignant—sendup of academia is presented in its entirety through letters of recommendation written by Jason T. Fitger, a stressed-out professor of English and creative writing at the aptly named “Payne University.” This clever satire was ranked as one of 2014's best books by NPR and the Boston Globe.
Our Top Pick in nonfiction for June is Kristen Green's Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County, a personal and probing look at school segregation in one Southern community. After returning to her native Virginia in 2010, Green began to investigate the events in her hometown of Farmville, where community leaders closed the public schools in the 1950s rather than comply with court-ordered desegregation. Green eventually learned that her own grandfather was instrumental in founding a whites-only private academy in the town.
Alice Cary, a longtime BookPage reviewer, author and mother of three who lives in Groton, Massachusetts, explains why she jumped at the chance to review the book.
I was particularly eager to review Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County because I spent part of my childhood in Richmond, Virginia, attending school there in grades three through eight. With the advent of school busing in the early 1970s, I witnessed the small Episcopal school I attended double in size. Soon, a high school was built to accommodate this white flight from the possibility of busing.
From Richmond we moved to a Baltimore suburb. Today I have friends and family in that city, which I visit every summer. The riots following the tragic death of Freddie Gray filled me with sadness and horror; the poverty that plagues much of Baltimore is heartbreaking.
After spending my childhood in various Mid-Atlantic states, I have lived my adult life in an area of New England that is filled with beauty but lacking in diversity. I'm not sure many New Englanders can truly comprehend Southern and Mid-Atlantic racial relations, both past and present.
Such understanding continues to be vital for everyone, and Green's account sheds light on a shameful chapter of U.S. history. Her research and reporting are fascinating, while the personal accounts of her own family's experiences are not only compelling, but candid in a no-holds barred, essential way. Yes, I found myself nodding. That's exactly the way it was.
Some of the anecdotes Green shares evoked a memory of my paternal grandmother, a lovely Virginia lady who always seemed to be dressed in a suit and hat. To this day, however, I cringe when I recall an incident that occurred as we were driving her to the Richmond airport after a visit. She looked at a passing car, where a white woman was riding with a black man and a black child. "Hmmph!" my grandmother said, turning her head away. "Serves her right." My grandmother—whom I adored and for whom I am named—was hardly alone in her mindset.
Happily, my three children can't imagine such attitudes. I dearly hope they'll read Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County so they can fully comprehend some of the unjust beliefs and actions of our not-so-distant past—and, sadly, in some places, our present.
Meanwhile, I'm rooting for Kristen Green to win a Pulitzer Prize.
Are you ready to kick off the summer reading season? If so, you might want to start with one of these titles from the stellar lineup of new paperbacks out this week:
By Emily St. John Mandel
Vintage • $15.95 • ISBN 9780804172448
Mandel's beautifully wrought post-apocalyptic portrait of the value and persistence of art has drawn fans from all over, including the BookPage editorial staff, which named the novel the Best Book of 2014.
Elizabeth Is Missing
By Emma Healey
Harper Perennial • $15.99 • ISBN 9780062309686
Afflicted with dementia, Maud doesn't remember much, but she is certain of one thing: Her best friend, Elizabeth, is missing. So Maud is distressed that her family and the authorities won't take her concerns seriously. Healey was inspired by the experiences of her grandmother in crafting this suspenseful and impressive debut.
By Emma Straub
Riverhead • $16 • ISBN 9781594633881
A trip to Mallorca to celebrate the Posts' 35th wedding anniversary doesn't work out as planned in Straub's witty and engaging look at a two-week trip that will have transformative effects for everyone involved.
By Sarah Payne Stuart
Riverhead • $16 • ISBN 9781594633904
If you have a love-hate relationship with your own hometown, you'll have a special sense of appreciation for Stuart's smart and funny memoir about moving back to quaint Concord, Massachusetts, home of the Puritans, Louisa May Alcott and a present-day WASP culture obsessed with real estate.
I Am Malala
By Malala Yousafzai
Little, Brown • $16 • ISBN 9780316322423
The youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize tells the harrowing but inspiring story of refusing to be silenced after she was shot by the Taliban for her efforts to support education for girls.
The Map Thief
By Michael Blanding
Gotham • $17 • ISBN 9781592409402
True crime fans and collectors will appreciate this absorbing account of the criminal career of E. Forbes Smiley III, an antiquarian map dealer who was caught in the act of stealing rare maps from the Yale University Library in 2005 and eventually confessed to stealing dozens more. The paperback edition includes color photographs of several beautiful antique maps.
Where to start? There are so many great reads coming out in paperback this week that it’s hard to know where to begin. So we’ll kick things off with the lone nonfiction title on our list:
In the Kingdom of Ice
By Hampton Sides
Anchor • $16.95 • ISBN 9780307946911
Coming in at #9 on the BookPage list of Best Books of 2014, Sides' riveting account of a doomed 19th-century expedition to the North Pole is both thrilling and horrific. Trapped in the ice for two years, the crew of the U.S.S. Jeannette found themselves in an even more precarious position when their ship finally broke apart. This masterful true-life tale would make a gripping (and chilling) summer read.
The Book of Life
By Deborah Harkness
Penguin • $17 • ISBN 9780143127529
The USC historian concludes her magical All Souls trilogy with another dazzling time-travel adventure. If the thick, 500-page hardcover was too heavy for your beach bag, this paperback is the solution. Penguin is also releasing a new boxed set of all three books in the series (including A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night).
Etta and Otto and Russell and James
By Emma Hooper
Simon & Schuster • $15.99 • ISBN 9781476755687
Canadian writer Emma Hooper crafts a quietly powerful story about an octogenarian who sets off on foot from her home in Saskatchewan to see the ocean for the first time—a trek of more than 3,000 kilometers. Along the way, Etta travels through the past and present, as well as the loves and tragedies of her long life.
The Hundred-Year House
By Rebecca Makkai
Penguin • $16 • ISBN 9780143127444
Though this story features a Marxist scholar, an unemployed academic, an annoying mother-in-law and a ghost, the real star of the show is Laurelfield, the Chicago estate where 100 years of family history unfolds. This smart and surprising novel was #14 on our Best Books of 2014 list. The paperback also includes a story from Makkai's forthcoming collection, Music for Wartime.
By René Steinke
Riverhead • $16 • ISBN 9781594633836
The bonds among neighbors in the small Texas town of Friendswood are strained to the breaking point by two controversies: a toxic waste dispute and a rape investigation. Steinke, a 2005 National Book Award finalist (for Holy Skirts), drew her inspiration for the story in part from her own hometown.
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands
By Chris Bohjalian
Vintage • $15.95 • ISBN 9780307743930
Something entirely different from the talented Bohjalian in his 16th novel: a dystopian tale about the aftermath of a nuclear meltdown. The focus here is on Emily, a Vermont teenager who is left homeless and orphaned by the disaster. As she takes in 9-year-old Cameron and struggles to keep herself and the boy alive, Bohjalian portrays their plight with skill and sensitivity.