Adept at spinning historical events into gripping narratives, Erik Larson couldn't resist the storytelling potential of the Lusitania.
It is almost impossible to choose the most memorable thing about James Hannaham’s powerful and daring second novel, Delicious Foods (a title suggestive of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”). It might be that one of its narrators is crack cocaine, or that one of its main characters loses his hands. It might be the evocative African-American slang and dialect. Or it might be the way the novel can be read as an extended metaphor for the situation of blacks in America.
If you think you’ve read the story of four friends trying to make it in New York City already, think again. Hanya Yanagihara’s transcendent second novel is much more than its plot summary suggests. A Little Life may be the best book you read this year; it certainly will be the most heartbreaking.
The centuries may differ, but the faith remains the same. From present-day America, to an Atlantic crossing in the 1700s, to a newly established 19th-century Seattle, these three inspirational novels show that while circumstances may vary, the need to trust in God does not.
Andrew Smith almost gave up writing for teens in 2011, when an article in The Wall Street Journal blasted his work as being too dark for teen readers. But fans of his previous novels (including the 2015 Printz Honor-winning Grasshopper Jungle)—and those who pick up his latest offering, The Alex Crow—will be glad that he stuck to his craft.
Gretchen Rubin worries that she’s becoming a bit of a happiness bully. “I don’t want to be a bore that everyone runs away from!” she says from her apartment on New York’s Upper East Side. “It’s very hard for me not to overwhelm everyone with research and suggestions and thoughts. That I find effortless. Not talking about it—that I find hard. I have such strong ideas.”
In an interview some years ago, Erik Larson, author of such bestsellers as The Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts, called himself “an animator of history” rather than a historian. Indeed, he has always shown a brilliant ability to unearth the telling details of a story and has the narrative chops to bring a historical moment vividly alive. But in his new book, Larson simply outdoes himself.
Move over, Mary Poppins, and make way for Ms. Rapscott, Headmistress of the Great Rapscott School for Girls of Busy Parents. Elise Primavera, creator of the popular Auntie Claus books, offers a whimsical tale of a most unusual teacher and her school for girls whose parents are much too busy to be, well, parents. In fact, there’s no need for moms or dads to even bother bringing the girls to school, as the admissions materials include a self-addressed box for safely mailing daughters to campus.
Have you ever bemoaned the price of stamps as you hauled a large package to the post office? Maybe it’s time to consider alternative methods of conveyance. Special Delivery has some exciting—if slightly unusual—suggestions.
Welcome to the Neighborwood by master paper craftsman Shawn Sheehy is at once a breathtaking work of interactive art and a fact-filled exploration of the great outdoors. Young readers learn about the habits and survival skills of seven different creatures through pop-up models of the places they call home. Each burrow and nest bursts from the page in 3-D form, and Sheehy complements these visual astonishments with information about each animal. In easy-to-absorb prose, he explains the ways in which they adapt to the wild, construct homes and flourish.