People wanting to get a start on the New Year’s health resolutions might take a peek at these three titles. “Vegetarianism Explained “by Natasha Campbell-McBride explains how foods are digested and used by the human body and suggests how to build an optimal diet with that information. “The Big Fat Surprise” by Nina Teicholz argues the case for keeping fats in your diet. “The RBG Workout” by Bryant Johnson poses a simple question: can you keep pace with octogenarian court justice Ginsberg’s workout schedule? “Slow Medicine” by Victoria Sweet argues that good medicine takes time: time to listen to bodies, weigh options and arrive at the right treatment.
“The Rooster Bar” by John Grisham is a “buoyant, mischievous thriller” about a trio of law school students who learn that their school admits unqualified students in order to profit from student loans–and decide to strike back. In “Deep Freeze” by John Sandford, “the ice-covered body of a banker is found near the outflow from the Trippton sewage plant. “The Western Star” by Craig Johnson, Walt Longmire (of TV fame) confronts a foe from his days a a deputy fresh back from viet Nam. In “Two Kinds of Truth” by Michael Connelly, Harry Bosch, ostensibly retired, gets involved in a case regarded stolen prescription drugs.
Craig Nelson’s Pearl Harbor: from infamy to greatness (2016) recounts Japan’s surprise assault on our naval and air bases in the Hawaiian Islands, which took place on December 7th, 1941, 76 years ago last today. Nelson’s treatment of the run-up to the raid recalls the chaotic negotiations in which both sides worked at cross purposes. Washington opposed Japan’s aggression in China but continued to sell them war materials (a policy that was repeated with Iraq). Meanwhile, Japan’s civilian government and Admiral Yamamoto, who conceived the attack, pushed for peace while the army pulled them to war. Nelson also shows how American commanders on the island failed in their response to war warnings from Washington. As for the raid itself, Nelson’s depiction is a “blow-by-blow narrative of destruction sprinkled with individual heroism, bizarre escapes, and equally bizarre tragedies.”
Young readers hope for the holidays might want to dip into one of these. “The Book of Dust” By Philip Pullman is a prequel to the popular “Dark Materials” series, in which Lyra must be recused from a devastating flood and demonic spirits. In “The Ship of the Dead” by Rick Riordan, Magnus Chase does battle with sea gods, giants, a fire-breathing dragon and the trickster god Loki. “All the Crooked Saints” by Maggie Stiefvater is about a Mexican-American family with a reputation for performing miracles. In “Salt to the Sea” by Ruth Septys, Titanic meets WWII when a transport ship is torpedoed in the Baltic Sea. “The Bobhouse” by Andy Opel is a Winnipesaukee story, with art by local Karel Hayes. “Gus and Me” by Keith Richards is a loving tribute to an unusual Grandad.
See if the premises of these new fictions titles grab you. “In the Midst of Winter” by Isabel Allende gets off with a bang when a professor, struggling with sobriety, rear-ends a car driven by an undocumented nanny. The accident threatens her with more than deportation; the damage exposes a body in her trunk. This story “will stay with you long after you turn the final page” (Barnes and Noble). ‘In the shadow of Alabama” by Judy Reene Singer, a woman who never understood her father learns about his World War II experience leading black soldiers in Alabama. “The Story of Arthur Truluv” by Elizabeth Berg begins with a chance meeting in a cemetery, where Arthur’s daily visit to his wife’s grave is interrupted by the presence of an introspective girl.
“The Unwinding” by George Packer details the slow fall from 80’s prosperity to the partial recovery from ’08. “Strangers in their own Land” by Arlie Russell Hochschild profiles Tea Partiers who feel triply marginalized by flat wages, rapid demographic change, and liberal culture. “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance is a personal account with similar themes. “Listen, Liberal” by Thomas Frank asks why Democrats are no longer seen as a party of the people. “The Populist Explosion” by John B. Judis notes how the ’08 recession fed a distrust of elites and gave rise to both right and left wing populism. “White Trash” by Nancy Isenberg argues that the election has not changed things all that much.
“We were Eight Years in Power” collects 8 essays written by Ta-Nehisi Coates between 2008 and 2016, taking readers from the early optimism of Barack Obama’s presidency through the rise of Donald Trump. The title alludes to the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. This “master class on the essay form” would “inspire us as Americans to become better—or at least clearer on why we’re not” (The New York Times Book Review). “What Happened” by Hillary Clinton offers a rare post-mortem in which the author “is both coroner and corpse” (NYT). These six books, all available at the Nichols Library, do a good job of distilling the mood of the electorate.