Respected commentator Jonathan Chait traverses the rock and the hard place between the political right and left (320s) in Audacity to make the case for President Obama as a transformative leader. The Washington Post called Audacity an “essential starting point” for future discussions of this administration. Cattle Kingdom by Christopher Knowlton (380s) goes beyond the romance of the cowboy (tho there’s some of that to) with a look at how the drives transformed both the west and the urban markets they fed. Nothing new this year in the 400s (language) but last year’s In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahri, about the author’s romance with Italian, is well worth a look.
Our entry for the 290s (religion) isn’t here yet, but it’s a classic. Be Here Now by Ram Das (Richard Alpert) recounts his spiritual journey from head to heart. Ram Das began his journey life as Richard Alpert, an ostensibly successful Harvard professor gripped by a sense of unease. That eventually led him to India, where he encountered yoga, eastern philosophy and a guru who transformed his life. Goodreads calls this a “modern restatement of the importance of the spiritual side of human nature”.
Since the library organizes its real-stories by Dewey Decimal classes, we thought it might be fun to do this re-cap of new ones by the numbers. For self-help readers (150s), Hunger by Roxane Gay explores the complexities guilt, shame and eating. Abused as a young woman, Gay “ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe.” This book “pulls no punches” (Kirkus Reviews). Journalist Mark Hastings made a name for himself as an investigative reporter (170s) before his untimely death. In The Operators, he detailed the political wrangling and unsuccessful efforts at nation building in Afghanistan. Hastings, said the NY Times, “seemed to know more about what was going on in than most insiders did” (NYT).
In Watch me Disappear by Janelle Brown, a suburban mom disappears on a solo hiking trip. A year after failing to return she is presumed dead. This is, until her sixteen year old daughter begins having lucid dreams about her and er husband that things she had told him were lies. “Tantalizing and twisty, this is both a spider’s web of a novel and a moving exploration of the deeper mysteries of marriage” (author Meagn Abbott).
In Sandra Brown’s Seeing Red, the hero who rescued survivors from a bombed hotel has gone underground. Reporter Kerra Bailey wants to find out why. In The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter, two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One ran, the other was left behind. Some twenty years later, this event comes back to haunt their family. In Exposed by Lisa Scottoline, partners in the same law firm find themselves on the opposite sides of a case.
American Fire by Monica Hesse explores a bizarre five-month crime spree in rural Accomack County, Va., where over 80 arsons were committed. At the heart of the crimes? A “gothic love story gone wrong”. The Bettencourt Affair by Thomas Sanctan tells how a con artist got inside the L’Oreal fortune, and spilled dirt on their shadowy corporate doings. Before we Were Yours by Lisa Wingate is a novel based on a real-life scandal, in which the director of a Memphis-based adoption organization kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country. “Make sure this one is on your radar. It should not be missed” (Huffington Post).
Dead Man’s Land by Robert Ryan casts Holmes’ Doctor Watson as the hero on his own. The story finds Watson serving in the Army medical corps on the Western Front. With men are dying by the thousands, one more body is hardly a surprise. But when a body turns up with bizarre injuries, Watson, dogged as ever, begins to pry into a death his superiors would as soon ignore. Ryan has crafted a “genuinely fascinating” mystery that will satisfy Holmesians, history buffs and any reader of good fiction. If you enjoy this one, Ryan’s Watson has returned for three further adventures.