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.
In Naomi Novik's rich fantasy novel Uprooted, a girl must embark on a dangerous journey into the heart of a dark forest to face an unexpected foe. Our reviewer writes, "With a foothold firmly in the fairy-tale tradition, Novik spins an enthralling story of the classic good-versus-evil variety, where magic, monsters and romance abound." (Read the full review.)
We asked Novik to tell us about three books she's enjoyed reading lately.
This is a fascinating look into the history that doesn’t ordinarily get written—the history of the losers rather than the victors, stories of European nations that don’t exist anymore and how they disappeared. I also like that Davies isn’t afraid to let flavor and humor into his writing: Possibly my favorite example is the immortal quote “His Head Was Not Punched” while describing the press reactions to the succession of an unwilling prince.
The wonderful thing about Maia, the emperor of the title, is that he is genuinely a decent person, and he navigates a sea of court intrigue and deliberate cruelty with enormously satisfying (and growing) competence without losing his warmth and decency. I also love the world-building, which is done so deftly that you don’t even quite feel it happening, and yet you’re never at sea despite the tangle of complicated relationships.
Strange Horizons recently ran a wonderful essay about Kurtz and her formative influence on the fantasy genre: She was one of the core writers who developed the field after Tolkien’s work. I went through the Deryni Chronicles like a tornado as a young reader, maybe 13 or 14, but it’s been years since I re-read them, so I’ve been rediscovering this one with pleasure. Kurtz’s Kelson and Addison’s Emperor Maia have a similar quality, in fact: We’re allowed to like them, to enjoy their victories and mourn their losses without distance.
Thank you, Naomi! See anything you'd like to pick up, readers?
(Author photo by Beth Gwinn)
Remember the Jane Austen Project? (We're still waiting for Curtis Sittenfeld's take on P&P!) Well, Hogarth Books is launching a similar project this fall, and if you thought taking on Austen could be daunting for a writer, imagine how it must feel to try to reimagine Shakespeare.
Jeanette Winterson (Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit) is the first to take on this challenge in The Gap of Time, publishing on October 6. She's putting a spin on A Winter's Tale, one of the Bard's later and lesser-known plays, which tells the story of a king who banishes his baby daughter and is later reunited with her.
In Winterson's version, set in London after the 2008 financial crisis, the banished baby washes up on American shores before wending her way home. According to Hogarth, "Her story is one of childhood friendship, money, status, technology and the elliptical nature of time. Written with energy and wit, this is a story of the consuming power of jealousy on the one hand, and redemption and the enduring love of a lost child on the other."
Will you read it? Or will your Norton Shakespeare have to be pried out of your cold, dead hands first? (If the latter, definitely do not click here.)
RELATED CONTENT: Read more about this year's fall fiction releases.
Trained chef and reality television star Dean McDermott's recipe for Easy Lemon Curry Chicken has just the right balance of spice to spruce up your typical baked chicken while maintaining its kid-friendly appeal. Check out his new cookbook, The Gourmet Dad, for more than 100 recipes that will keep the whole family happy during meal times.
Easy Lemon Curry Chicken in Spicy Cream Sauce
You might be a little surprised, as I sure was, that kids take to this dish with gusto. Despite the name, both the chicken and the sauce are fairly mild, with just a hint of curry. I came up with this recipe for myself, because I wanted to spruce up some boring chicken breasts. They had a lovely yellow glaze, which caught Liam’s and Stella’s attention, and they asked me if they could have a taste. The monsters wolfed them down! The curry gives the dish an exotic flavor that is just pleasantly spicy but not overwhelming by any means. It’s a great weeknight dish because it is simple and quick to whip up. You don’t have to knock yourself out in the kitchen to create a knockout meal.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a small bowl, mix together the curry powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Sprinkle half the seasoning across a large platter. Set the chicken on the seasoning and then sprinkle the remaining seasoning on top. Pat the chicken to make the seasoning stick.
Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sear each chicken breast on both sides until golden brown, about 8 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet and bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the internal temperature measures 165°F. Remove the chicken to a clean plate and loosely tent with foil to keep it warm while you prepare the sauce.
Add the lemon juice to the skillet in which the chicken was seared and cook over medium heat, scraping up any bits left from the chicken. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter, the curry powder, cumin, chili powder and coriander, and stir until the butter has melted.
Slowly whisk in the heavy cream. Bring the sauce to a boil, whisking continuously. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and whisk until it melts. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
Arrange the chicken on 4 individual plates and top with just enough sauce to cover. Serve at once.
Get ready for some great books next month! LibraryReads has put together a list of the 10 books coming out in July that librarians are most excited about putting on their shelves.
The Paris Wife author Paula McLain returns in late July with a historical novel of expats in Africa, Circling the Sun, and Chevy Stevens continues her string of pitch-perfect suspense novels with Those Girls. Susan Mallery offers up the latest in her Fool's Gold series, Kiss Me, and Jill Shalvis, another romance heavyweight, will publish Second Chance Summer, the first in her Cedar Ridge series, on June 30.
You can see the full July LibraryReads list here. What book are you most looking forward to picking up next month?
Although the cripplingly shy recluse Howie watched Emily Phane grow up next door, he’s never actually spoken to his only neighbor for miles. Despite this, he cares for her in a sweetly paternal way, and he’s aware that there’s definitely something wrong with her. He’s been watching as she gradually becomes a recluse herself—plus there’s the odd fact that she’s taken up the habit of night gardening. This is an achingly beautiful and unexpectedly hilarious portrait of two deeply sad, deeply sensitive people reaching the breaking point and pulling each other back.
Howie approached the bathroom window. He allowed his eyes time to adjust. The treetops moved as if the air had slowed and thickened into water. Pines, mostly, but some elm. There was no moon. Then there was: hard, white, and rolling from behind a bank of silver clouds. He focused on his neighbor’s house, its weak glow. Beyond this, the dark.
And he saw her. She was moving along the edge of the woods like you might pace beside a pool you’re not quite ready to jump into. Then, just when Howie began to think that maybe she wouldn’t tonight, she did. She was gone, into the forest, leaving only the slightest splash of night behind her. That and Howie, his face against the bathroom window.
What are you reading this week?
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.
Primates of Park Avenue, Wednesday Martin’s snarkily delicious anthropological portrait of wealthy Manhattan moms, has stirred up a hornets’ nest. On one side are the detractors, who question the book’s timeline and veracity; on the other side are scores of eager readers who sent the book to the #2 spot on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list. Then there’s MGM, which gleefully bought film rights to the book after a bidding war.
Responding to complaints about factual inaccuracies, Primates of Park Avenue publisher Simon & Schuster promises that the ebook and future editions will contain a statement noting that some details in the book have been changed and timelines altered in order to protect the identities of Manhattan moms.
Martin took time during a very hectic week to tell us about three books on her own reading list.
Jeff Nunokawa's Note Book is perfect for a reader like me—his literary and cult criticism musings on everyday life, George Eliot, soccer hunks, insomnia, his mother and the finer points of Dickens are both enlightening and impressionistic. And physically it is the heaviest book relative to its size I have ever held. In an age of iPhones, I'm a sucker for that.
I attended a conversation with Cokie Roberts and Lesley Stahl at the New York Historical Society where they discussed this book about the role of women in Civil War-era Washington DC. Turns out that—as during World War II—when the men were away, the women ruled. Fascinating, rigorous and, yes, dishy in a way only Cokie Roberts can pull off (the detail about navigating the House in a hoop skirt—genius).
I admire the way Oliver Sacks has always managed to cross genres and make science not only accessible but fun, human and informative. Then I saw how he looks on the cover of the book and was just so gone. It's the story of how an extremely unconventional thinker came to be and a compelling look at the person behind the brain.
Thank you, Wednesday! See anything you'd like to pick up, readers?
(Author photo by Elena Seibert)