A search for an elusive sea monster at the height of World War II sounds like the plot of a genre-mashup movie. But in At the Water’s Edge, the latest novel from Water for Elephants author Sara Gruen, what starts out as a lark on the part of rich, entitled friends turns into a quest that is at times frightening, liberating and even comical.
The African-American struggle continues in every corner of the nation, from small towns like Ferguson, Missouri, to the boroughs of New York. Thus, Black History Month arrives at a critical time in America. The question is: Can we learn from history? These selections shed new light on the black experience and offer perspectives on the often painful evolution of race relations in America.
In his bestseller The Other Wes Moore, Rhodes Scholar, combat veteran and White House fellow Wes Moore pondered how his youth propelled him to the pinnacle of success while another Baltimore man with the same name sank into poverty and crime. Moore’s inspiring new book, The Work: My Search for a Life That Matters, could be considered a sequel, as Moore describes what happened when he became an adult. More than a travelogue of adventures, however, this memoir shares his quest to understand how people find their true calling.
Bryan Stevenson was fresh out of Harvard Law School when he embraced—first in Georgia, then in Alabama—the mission of defending death row inmates and others facing undeserved or disproportionate prison sentences. An African American from a poor family in Delaware, Stevenson accepts as a starting point the maxim, “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”
With the same musical emotion that her father spun into the songs he played, Allman’s daughter Galadrielle spins a poignant and illuminating portrait of a father she never knew in Please Be with Me: A Song for My Father, Duane Allman. The book is part memoir and part biography, as she chronicles not only Duane’s life, but also her own search to discover and appreciate her late father.
You'll never think of small-town life the same way again after reading Laura McHugh's chilling debut. Part "Twin Peaks," part Tana French, the novel opens just after the body of 18-year-old Cheri has been found stuffed into a tree trunk. Lucy Dane may have been the troubled Cheri's only friend, and after turning up some disturbing evidence she becomes determined to track down Cheri's killer—especially since her own mother's disappearance some 15 years before has still never been solved. As Lucy's quest proceeds, she begins to unearth some of the town's darkest secrets, some of which involve her own family.
Let’s get one thing straight: With The Weight of Blood, it’s clear that Laura McHugh is more than a pretender to the throne of the “rural noir” genre. If her dazzling and disturbing debut novel is anything to go by, she’s got her eye on the crown and has more than the necessary talent and skills to nab it for herself. Daniel Woodrell had better watch his back.
Three of our favorite books of 2013 are now available in paperback, including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's astounding third novel. These books are guaranteed to delight and spark discussion in your reading group.
The more we learn about the human brain, it seems, the less we know for sure. In the 50 years he's focused on it, Dutch neuroscientist D.F. Swaab has studied the brain at every stage of being. We Are Our Brains is a “neurobiography” of the brain, but it reads more like a gazetteer—you can start anywhere and be assured of finding something interesting.
Like most children, Marianne Szegedy-Maszák was vaguely familiar with her parents’ background as she was growing up, but didn’t know or understand many details. As in many immigrant homes, the adults discussed those details in what American-born Marianne regarded as “secret” languages—in her family’s case, mostly in Hungarian.After her parents and other...