"Just a minute," Garth Stein says when he answers the phone at his Seattle home. "The kids are kicking soccer balls at me—I've got to get out of the line of fire." It’s understandable that his three boys—ages 17, 15 and 7—are craving their dad’s attention. With an international phenomenon already under his belt (2008’s The Art of Racing in the Rain, which has sold 4 million copies) and a new book about to hit shelves, Stein is frequently on the road these days. He has just returned from a trip to West Virginia, where he did a reading at the famously elegant Greenbrier.
Eighty-six-year-old personal shopper Betty Halbreich stole the show in a 2013 documentary called Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s. Her slightly haughty demeanor was belied by a twinkle and a smile playing at her lips. There’s more to this story, she seemed to be saying.
It’s estimated that around 500 women passed themselves off as men so they could fight in the Civil War. In the haunting Neverhome, Laird Hunt deftly imagines one such situation and its heartbreaking repercussions.
In a Rocket Made of Ice is an extraordinary book about an extraordinary place. Wat Opot Children’s Community is a Cambodian orphanage started with $50 by Wayne Matthysse, a former Vietnam medic driven to make life better for children in war-torn countries. The orphanage is home to children and women affected by HIV and AIDS, where they can get the powerful antiretroviral drugs they need to stay healthy, as well as education and a community in which they belong.
There’s no one way to successfully parent (if only there were—this whole parenting thing would be so much easier!). While the best advice is probably to follow your instincts and cut yourself a break when you make a mistake, these new books offer fresh, sometimes funny insight into the world’s hardest job.
Amid the 21st-century glut of overindulgent memoirs, The Removers is a poignant, near-perfect addition to the genre. Andrew Meredith writes of growing up in a crumbling Philadelphia neighborhood, his family quietly imploding in the wake of a scandal that cost his father his university job.
An artfully ripped-from-the-headlines tale of college girls studying in Italy, Abroad is a riveting story about the intersection between jealousy and friendship.
Ah, WASPs: Those guilt-ridden, uptight, real estate-obsessed traditionalists. In Perfectly Miserable: Guilt, God and Real Estate in a Small Town, Sarah Payne Stuart captures the essence of this distinctive culture, tracing both her own childhood in Concord, Massachusetts, and the lives of some of Concord’s famous residents, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Louisa May Alcott.
In this fascinating and deeply creepy novel by South African author Sarah Lotz, four commercial flights go down on the same day. Everyone on board perishes except three children: a British preteen named Jess; an American boy named Bobby; and a Japanese boy named Hiro. The children are uninjured, but their personalities have changed.
Hawaiian author Kaui Hart Hemmings returns with The Possibilities, the story of Sarah St. John, a woman struggling to return to life after the death of her adult son in an avalanche. We asked her a few questions about the new book and what she’s working on next.