The best new books this month chosen by us and other
independent booksellers across the country.

This Month's #1 Indie Next List Pick...

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories

By Carmen Maria Machado

(Graywolf Press 9781555977887, $16, trade paper)

"Reading the stories in Her Body and Other Parties has been among the greatest literary pleasures of 2017 for me. Carmen Maria Machado writes with fearless exploration, precision, and tenderness, which would prompt envy if gratitude and admiration weren't first to arrive on scene. From the lovely apocalyptic love story 'Inventory' to the dizzying and original 'Especially Heinous,' Machado's work is curious, inventive, and thrilling. It's feminist and pop culture, classic and weird; the stories are complex and the characters are haunting. What a debut!"
--Chorel Centers, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

This Month's #1 Indie Next List Pick Author Interview

Carmen Maria Machado's debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties: Stories (Graywolf Press), is booksellers' number-one October Indie Next List pick.

Machado's collection, to be released October 3, contains eight stories that combine genres including fantasy, horror, magical realism, and science fiction to weave surrealistic portraits of violence visited upon women's bodies, touching on issues from female desire and agency to societal entitlement over women's bodies to fear of one's own body. Narratives include a new take on the classic horror tale "Jenny and the Green Ribbon" in "The Husband Stitch," and a mysterious plague of incorporeality that affects only young women in "Real Women Have Bodies."

Machado's fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Electric Literature, and the Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, Best Horror of the Year, and Year's Best Weird Fiction series. She has an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and is the artist in residence at the University of Pennsylvania. She has also been awarded fellowships and residencies with the Elizabeth George Foundation, the CINTAS Foundation, and Yaddo.

On September 15, it was announced that Her Body and Other Parties was one of 10 titles longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction. Here, Machado, who will be touring this fall to promote her book, talks about how her feminism informs her writing, her passion for Law & Order SVU, and her favorite genre-bending authors.

Your stories explore ideas about women's bodies through a queer, feminist lens. What inspires you write about these issues and what is that writing process like?

I like to think of my short stories as problems I'm trying to solve, like a math problem, and writing the story is the way by which I arrive at the answer, which is also the story itself. This is a collection that centers around ideas that I have about gender and things that I think about all the time as a woman. I try to approach it from unusual angles, like the ghost story in "Eight Bites," bending the genre a little bit and seeing what comes out of that.

These are just things that I'm preoccupied with. I didn't set out to write a story about how I feel about fatness. I had the idea for that story because I had been thinking about gastric bypass surgery and my personal feelings about that, and then figured out a way to have those manifest on the page. In that case, it was a woman losing all of this weight and then the ghost of her body coming back to her, this creature that was created from her body.

The book is about things that I'm really interested in; it's definitely a feminist collection because I'm a feminist and my preoccupations are filtered through my feminism, but it wasn't like I set out to write a story with a message. This is just what I've been thinking about.

Your work has been described as genre-bending. You tend to write, or combine, many different genres in your work, including fantasy, horror, science fiction, and magical realism. What other authors do you admire who perform similar mash-ups in their writing?

One of the earlier influences in terms of my current style is Kelly Link. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer a few years ago and she has this really incredible body of work. Her stories just defy description; I feel like whenever I try to describe her work to somebody else I just end up saying, "Oh, you've just got to read it." I just can't explain it.

Kathryn Davis is another writer who I've been reading a lot of recently, who is really similar in that she just blasts past all those boundaries and isn't interested in the rules, which I really like. Nicholson Baker also does that, where he writes in a lot of different genres. Those are the big ones I refer to and think about a lot.

The story "Especially Heinous," a surreal take on the first 12 seasons of Law & Order SVU, is one of the book's standout stories. Are you a huge fan of the show?

I am, and right before we spoke I was watching an episode of Law & Order because I'm writing an essay about it. Yeah, I'm definitely a fan. I have a lot of thoughts about it, which is, I think, obvious from my story. I have a certain perspective on both the show itself and also narratives about sexual violence. It's really interesting to me because right now Law & Order SVU is the only currently updating Law & Order series; it's managed to outlast all the others, including the original, and it has this really rabid fanbase, including myself. And I'm really interested in the questions of, what does it mean about society that we are so fixated on this show--which is the worst version of humanity, sexual violence--and what does it mean that we are so engaged by these narratives of women suffering?

Where did the title of the collection, Her Body and Other Parties, come from?

I came up with that title pretty early on. Actually, my thesis from grad school had that same title even though there were only three stories in common with the finished version of the book. I came up with it because I was trying to mash together various titles of stories that were in the book at the time ("Difficult at Parties" and "Real Women Have Bodies"); I was playing around with them and that's the title that came out.

When I teach, I tell my students that party scenes are really great because a lot of things can happen in them. It's good for bad behavior, you can get a lot of characters together all at once, and, yes, they can be both these really glorious and really awful spaces. It can be so many things at once, and it's similar, I think, to the way the body is. The body can be a source of pleasure and satisfaction and identity, and it can also be a source of great pain and suffering. I feel like those things sort of exist together. The body is a thing that you have and a thing that is looked at; there is this sense of ownership and then this outside perspective. I wasn't really thinking about that at the time, but as the book changed, the title felt even more relevant to the content than it did before, which is why I kept it.

What is your writing background?

I've been writing since I was a kid. I come from a family of storytellers, and I've always been a voracious reader. As early as I could hold a pen, I've been writing stories and books. I used to actually write letters to publishers and send my stories along. I'd find the address on the side of my Baby-Sitters Club books and then I would write to Scholastic and be like, here's my novel! I bet some intern got a real kick out of that!

Then I went to college, where I was a journalism major for a while. I didn't like it, so I switched to photography, and then when I was living in California in my early 20s I decided to apply for an MFA program. Once I got to grad school, I began a professional career of a type. When I was in my last year, I began to think more about my work as a larger body and just kept following the stories that really excited me. It took a while; post grad school I was working retail and writing stories. I've always wanted to be a writer in some capacity, and then in the last few years it's actually become a professional thing.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on several books right now. I sold a second book to Graywolf, so I have a memoir coming out with them in 2019, and I'm also working on an essay collection and maybe a novel in stories.

What would you like to say to booksellers who nominated your book for the Indie Next List?

I'm really heartened by people's support of my collection. I know that short stories are not the most commercially viable form in the world, and I'm just blown away by booksellers' love and enthusiasm for this book. When I saw the bookseller blurbs that my publisher sent me, I cried.

I've always loved bookstores. They've been a really important part of my life for my whole life, so to see all of these booksellers support the book has been really profound and exciting and heartwarming. I'm just beside myself with excitement and gratefulness. --Liz Button

More Indie Next List Great Reads

The Last Ballad

By Wiley Cash

(William Morrow 9780062313119, $26.99)

"Ella May has never had much of anything. She labors long hours in a textile mill in North Carolina trying to feed her four young children on nine dollars a week. When Ella sings one of her songs at a meeting of workers who are hoping to form a union, she finds herself something of a local celebrity. Written in beautifully evocative prose, this novel about bigotry and labor unrest in the 1930s exerts a powerful impact that pulls the reader into the vortex of the struggle for social justice. It deserves a place of honor in the canon of great Southern literature."
--Alden Graves, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

Manhattan Beach

By Jennifer Egan

(Scribner 9781476716732, $28)

"Jennifer Egan's Manhattan Beach captures a time and place on the verge of momentous change. Set in Brooklyn in the 1940s, the novel tells the story of Anna Kerrigan, a young woman who has  dropped out of Brooklyn College to contribute what she can to the American war effort. Unsatisfied with her job of inspecting and measuring machine parts, she attempts to enter the male-only world of deep-sea diving. Manhattan Beach is rich and atmospheric, highlighting a period when gangs controlled the waterfront, jazz streamed from the doors of nightclubs, and the future for everyone was far from certain."
--Mark Laframboise, Politics and Prose, Washington, DC

The Rules of Magic

By Alice Hoffman

(Simon & Schuster 9781501137471, $27.99)

"In a dazzling, emotive prequel to her bestselling novel Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman brings the reader back into the world of the Owens family. The Rules of Magic takes us back two generations with practical Franny, who must learn how to love; sensitive Jet, who must learn how to persevere; and restless Vincent, who must learn how to be happy. Hoffman's writing is frank, tender, vivid, and elusive all at once. Full of sorrow and beauty and courage, The Rules of Magic is a delicious, satisfying read."
--Heather Herbaugh, Mitzi's Books, Rapid City, SD

The Twelve-Mile Straight

By Eleanor Henderson

(Ecco 9780062422088, $27.99)

"When asked what defines 'Southern' literature, most would put land and family on the top of the list. These also define Eleanor Henderson's The Twelve-Mile Straight, a story set in the 1930s in Georgia, where George Wilson owns the cotton mill and most of the land and Juke Jessop is a sharecropper on land that wouldn't support his family, but his renown fills the gap. Full of entanglements, violence, and vivid characters, both white and black, this gripping saga starts with a lynching and weaves back and forth in time and voice until a stasis, if not resolution, is reached."
--Ann Carlson, Waterfront Books, Georgetown, SC

The Glass Eye: A Memoir

By Jeannie Vanasco

(Tin House Books 9781941040775, $15.95, trade paper)

"The Glass Eye, at its heart, is a memoir of Jeannie's relationship with her late father and the grief she experienced after his death. But it's also about her half-sister, Jeanne, who died before she was born; it's about mental illness; and it's about family and what that means. This is memoir at its best. The prose is powerful and often breathtaking--it'll make your heart break, it might make you cry, and you'll probably even laugh a few times. This is an elegy fierce and lyrical and raw, like none I've read before."
--Sarah Malley, Newtonville Books, Newton Centre, MA

Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York

By Roz Chast

(Bloomsbury USA 9781620403211, $28)

"Having grown up in Mark Twain country on the Mississippi River, New York City was as foreign to me as Cairo, Egypt. Due to the dumb luck of having a very intelligent and ambitious relative, I was able to go to New York City when I was a very impressionable and enthusiastic 14-year-old. The experience changed my life. Roz Chast's Going Into Town reminds me, in one nostalgic and thoroughly entertaining sitting, of the most endearing aspects of the city. From moments of, 'Wait, is this an entire block of stores that sell ribbons?' to 'Humanity is both supremely lovely and frightening,' Going Into Town is a love letter to New York City for natives, newcomers, and wannabes alike."
--Nicole Sullivan, BookBar, Denver, CO

The Vengeance of Mothers: The Journals of Margaret Kelly & Molly McGill

By Jim Fergus

(St. Martin's Press 9781250093424, $26.99)

"One Thousand White Women was one of my favorite books and Jim Fergus does not disappoint with The Vengeance of Mothers. Meggie Kelly and her twin sister, Susie, are survivors of the 'Brides for Indians' program and of their Cheyenne village's massacre by the Army. When a new group of women are mistakenly sent west even though the government has abandoned the program, the twins help them adapt to the Cheyenne lifestyle while planning their revenge upon the soldiers that killed their family, including their newborn babies. Full of resilience, hope, sadness, and suspense, I was at the edge of my seat turning pages, worried about the outcome of these remarkable women. I loved it!"
--Maxwell Gregory, Lake Forest Book Store, Lake Forest, IL

Caroline: Little House, Revisited

By Sarah Miller

(William Morrow 9780062685346, $25.99)

"In Caroline, Sarah Miller recreates Little House on the Prairie from Ma's point of view. An oft-overlooked character, in Caroline we find a rich inner life that rarely breaks her smooth surface. She is constantly wrestling with fears and doubts about this journey and everything that it means (she was actually pregnant during it). Although Caroline seems consumed by caregiving, childbearing, and constant tasks for others, we get a glimpse of her true self through her thoughts on her childhood, her relationship with Charles, and her time as a teacher. Miller draws out the quiet richness of Caroline as a character, showing her to be as integral to the story as Pa or Laura."
--Jordan Barnes, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

Forest Dark

By Nicole Krauss

(Harper 9780062430991, $27.99)

"No surprise: Forest Dark was worth the wait. Tapping into intellectual and deeply personal moments, the two main characters are ones to identify with even as the circumstances they find themselves in are fantastic. Krauss' reflections about marriage are poignant, and there is a lot to contemplate. At first, I enjoyed having moments when I wasn't reading to think, but toward the end I found myself not being able to put it down."
--Kira Wizner, Merritt Bookstore, Millbrook, NY

The Ninth Hour

By Alice McDermott

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux 9780374280147, $26)

"Alice McDermott's dazzling The Ninth Hour turns on the contradictions that confound our need to reconcile with mortality. The empathetic characters, at once agents and benefactors of Christian charity, grow to realize not just the grace but also the hubris of their faith. A stunning work of generational storytelling, The Ninth Hour is compulsively readable and deeply thought-provoking. McDermott is a master artisan of humanity."
--Lori Feathers, Interabang Books, Dallas, TX

The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation's Largest Home

By Denise Kiernan

(Touchstone 9781476794044, $28)

"Most of us who visit the Biltmore are awestruck by its beauty and grandeur. Kiernan now gives us the fascinating history of the people who built and cared for it, from George Vanderbilt, who had the vision to create this wonder, to his team, which included Frederick Law Olmstead, a nationally known landscape architect, and Richard Morris Hunt, who designed and built the house, along with so many others who contributed to the Biltmore's legacy. The Last Castle is a beautifully researched book, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the adventure unfold. A great history that has motivated me to make another trip to Asheville! Loved it!"
--Stephanie Crowe, Page and Palette, Fairhope, AL

Five-Carat Soul

By James McBride

(Riverhead Books 9780735216693, $27)

"Sometimes after I've read a great book by an author, I judge. When I picked up a copy of James McBride's new collection of stories, Five-Carat Soul, I was prepared to be disappointed; how could he top The Good Lord Bird? Was I ever surprised, in the best way possible! These stories have all the magnificent qualities of his National Book Award-winning novel: quirky, poignant, and hilarious characters amid myriad situations in life, and humanity at its most human presented in beautiful writing. A couple of multi-story combinations read like novellas, and satisfied my craving to know more about the most interesting of the characters. McBride has set the bar high once again."
--Mamie Potter, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

The Tiger's Daughter

By K. Arsenault Rivera

(Tor Books 9780765392534, $15.99, trade paper)

"Badass ladies slaying demons, defying conventions, and saving the world on their own terms? Count me in. The Tiger's Daughter is an honest-to-goodness sweeping epic fantasy unlike any I have read. I don't remember ever being so excited for a new series. The characters in this story are so fully realized, the landscapes so vivid, I didn't even realize I'd been so swept away until I turned the last page. I endured with O Shizuka, princess, the divine made flesh, and finest blade in all Hokkaro; I raged with Barsalai Shefali Alsharyaa, demon slayer, horse whisperer, and infamous Qorin warrior. I didn't want to leave them, and I can't wait for the next installment."
--Heather Weldon, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

Logical Family: A Memoir

By Armistead Maupin

(Harper 9780062391223, $27.99)

"Armistead Maupin's new memoir, Logical Family, tells the story of his life with the same humor and grace that have made his Tales of the City series so beloved. Fans will delight in reading about the inspirations for Barbary Lane and its inhabitants, but readers who are brand new to Maupin will also fall in love. His story is that of a young boy growing up in the old South, in the Navy, in Vietnam, and in the closet--at least until he found his home in 1970s San Francisco. Even if he weren't already an LGBT icon and literary hero, this memoir would be one to champion."
--Emilie Sommer, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC

The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs

By Janet Peery

(St. Martin's Press 9781250125088, $26.99)

"Long-suffering Hattie Campbell and her irascible husband, Abel, are in their 80s and still manipulating, enabling, and worrying about their four adult children, all of whom suffer, to some degree or other, from addiction, jealousy, and neediness. The sun around which they circle is Billy, the youngest of the siblings, who is both the most likable and most damaged. As Abel's health declines and Billy deteriorates, the remaining siblings compete to win their parents' favor. Peery's long-awaited follow-up to her National Book Award-finalist The River Beyond the World is a sympathetic portrait of a dysfunctional, complex, and often funny clan who, although they try, can't slip the family ties that bind."
--Cindy Pauldine, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, NY

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II

By Liza Mundy

(Hachette Books 9780316352536, $28)

"There is so much arguing these days over the existence of women in STEM fields and whether they should be allowed to be there. 'Oh honey,' says Code Girls, wrapping an arm around your shoulder, 'we never left.' In riveting prose, Mundy shows the presence of these women from the very beginning--and then how they were almost forcibly forgotten after the war was over. Women who once had only a life of school-teaching to look forward to (even with a PhD) became people who saved lives and sunk ships. This book exists to remind us that women have always been in these stories, even if they're not shown."
--Alice Ahn, Water Street Bookstore, Exeter, NH

The Prague Sonata

By Bradford Morrow

(Atlantic Monthly Press 9780802127150, $27)

"A rich, sweeping novel that moves through history, from World War I to World War II, into the fall of the Soviet Union, and up to the present day. Weaving throughout the story is a hauntingly beautiful anonymous piano sonata that has been broken up into three parts. With rich and complex characters and multilayered writing that moves seamlessly throughout, The Prague Sonata touches deep into the human heart."
--Richard Corbett, Powell's Books, Portland, OR

Love and Other Consolation Prizes

By Jamie Ford

(Ballantine Books 9780804176750, $28)

"Jamie Ford has written another fabulous story. In Love and Other Consolation Prizes, a child is raffled off as a prize at a world's fair in Seattle in 1909. Based on a real-life raffle, this story is about Ernest Young, a Chinese orphan refugee who is won by the owner of The Tenderloin, a brothel where he becomes the house boy and lives a life with enough food to eat and hope for the future. During the Seattle World's Fair of 1962, Ernest reminisces about all of the life he lived between the two fairs."
--Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

Autonomous

By Annalee Newitz

(Tor Books 9780765392077, $25.99)

"The best science fiction stretches our ingrained concepts of humanity and civilization into a series of questions that entrance and electrify, both by the nature of the questions and by the contextual reality the author has created. Annalee Newitz shows her mastery of the genre with Autonomous, which poses questions relating to artificial intelligence, consciousness, and ownership against the backdrop of Earth in 2144, where patent property law rules social order and indentured people and bots are the new lower class. Autonomous follows Jack, a drug pirate desperately trying to fix a deadly mistake she made while racing against Eliasz, a temperamental military agent, and Paladin, a newly conscious indentured military bot. Newitz forces you to empathize with every character. A true masterpiece."
--Charlotte Bruell, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

All That Man Is

By David Szalay

(Graywolf Press 9781555977900, $16)

"All That Man Is was recently longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and with good reason. The novel's parade of characters, ranging from teenagers to a man in his twilight years, when taken as a whole, represents an 'everyman' in whom readers can easily see pieces of themselves. With prose reminiscent of Amis, Kundera, and Nabokov, Szalay offers a collection of related stories that speak to the mundane qualities of modern life with a sympathetic tone, a reflection of our struggle to move forward in a world increasingly unfamiliar to most of us, but not without hope."
--Tom Beans, Dudley's Bookshop Café, Bend, OR

Everything You Want Me to Be

By Mindy Mejia

(Atria/Emily Bestler Books 9781501123436, $16)

"To some extent we are all chameleons. We fit ourselves to the situations we find ourselves in, act differently around our boss than with our family, and tell little white lies out of kindness. But what if that's all you did? Hattie Hoffman is just a teenager, but she has already mastered the art of observing the people around her, assessing their desires and expectations and molding herself accordingly. Everything You Want Me to Be is a chilling mystery that explores the mutability of identity through the eyes of three very different people. If you're looking for the next captivating thriller that everyone will be comparing to Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, this is it!"
--Lauren Peugh, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

The Fifth Petal: A Novel of Salem

By Brunonia Barry

(Broadway Books 9781101905623, $16)

"Brunonia Barry's newest witchy tale, set in Salem, follows the threads of three mysteries that all ended in murder. Callie, who carries the scars of murders past, is joined by detectives Rafferty and Towner from Barry's The Lace Reader in a race to stop yet more killings. Barry's prose excels at keeping readers chasing threads, and her research and experience of Salem are evident. History and folklore are woven like lace in this mystery as new characters and old favorites attempt to solve puzzles from as far back as the witch trials that made Salem famous.
--Jessica Hahl, Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, MT

The Girl From Venice

By Martin Cruz Smith

(Simon & Schuster 9781439140246, $16)

"Fans of Gorky Park and other Arkady Renko mysteries are about to be surprised. The Girl From Venice is not a mystery, and it takes place in Venice at the end of WWII, not in countries of the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. The pace is still taut, however, and the characters still fascinating. Italy in the last days of the war, with the Germans retreating and everyone hedging their bets, is a complicated place to be, one where every future is uncertain and one very fitting for a master of subtlety like Smith."
--Olga Onal, Bookmiser, Roswell, GA

Orphans of the Carnival

By Carol Birch

(Anchor 9781101973097, $16.95)

"Orphans of the Carnival is the story of a time when the oddities of nature could be a lucrative path to fame and fortune. Although heartbreaking, it is the wonderful journey of a talented woman who just wants a normal life, in spite of being alternately vilified and celebrated. Filled with many unforgettable characters and amazing writing, this is a book that will stay with readers for a long time."
--Mary McBride, Rainy Day Books, Fairway, KS

Reputations

By Juan Gabriel Vasquez

(Riverhead Books 9780735216860, $16)

"With direct and forceful narrative and a translation as smooth and peaceful as the quiet narrator himself, this book takes the reader on a days-long search for the past and the present in modern day Bogotá. A prominent political cartoonist is shaken when a forgotten uncertainty from the past resurfaces. This psychological study of the concept that what we believe makes us who we are is a masterpiece!"
--Nicole Magistro, The Bookworm of Edwards, Edwards, CO

The Round House

By Louise Erdrich

(Harper Perennial 9780062357274, $10)

"When 13-year-old Joe's world is shattered by a horrific crime perpetrated against his mother, he seeks to right the wrong. Erdrich masterfully lets the reader experience this period in Joe's life through his eyes. His world is drawn with sure strokes, and his family and their traditions and his friends and their exploits are convincing and real. Erdrich offers a view of life on an Ojibwe reservation as alternately rich in culture and disheartening in its injustice, poverty, and disrespect. Compelling and immediate, The Round House is a mesmerizing book."
--Jenny Lyons, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT

The Sleepwalker

By Chris Bohjalian

(Vintage 9780804170994, $16)

"Once again, master storyteller Bohjalian has crafted a thoughtful, suspenseful novel that grabs hold and doesn't let go until the end. Exploring the world of sleepwalking and parasomnia, he recounts the story of the night Liana's mother disappeared. At turns a harrowing mystery and a heartbreaking tale of a family coping with their mother's affliction, The Sleepwalker is filled with beautiful prose that culminates in a twist readers never see coming."
--Kathleen Carey, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

The Terranauts

By T.C. Boyle

(Ecco 9780062349415, $16.99)

"In the early 1990s, a grand experiment began in the Arizona desert to determine if human life could be sustained in an engineered, sealed ecological system. The mission failed spectacularly, but fiction gives it another chance in this riveting story of eight scientists who commit to live under glass for two years. They battle hunger, fatigue, and isolation, but the real drama is personal. Master storyteller Boyle writes with wit and perspicacity on both human relations and ecology, and this novel is among his best."
--Sharon Flesher, Brilliant Books, Traverse City, MI

Victoria: The Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire

By Julia Baird

(Random House Trade Paperbacks 9780812982282, $20)

"Only 18 when she assumed the throne, Victoria ruled a vast empire for more than 60 years. In this biography Baird reveals a woman who so dominated the world that an entire epoch was named for her. Her nine children and their children inhabited most of the thrones of Europe until the upheaval of World War I, and her expansionist policies enabled Great Britain to rule over a quarter of the world. Baird portrays a passionate and vibrant woman who struggled to assert herself in a time and place that was dismissive of the female sex. This enthralling biography is a welcome addition and nuanced look at a dynamic queen."
--Barbara Hoagland, The King's English Book Shop, Salt Lake City, UT

Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File

By John Edgar Wideman

(Scribner 9781501147296, $16)

"This is a powerful meditation on the life of Louis Till, the father of Emmett Till whose brutal murder in 1955 spurred the Civil Rights Movement forward. It is not common knowledge today that Louis Till was convicted of a crime and executed in Italy while serving in the Army during World War II. When Wideman found out decades later about Louis Till's fate, he set out to investigate the tragic lives of both father and son. The result is a profound and moving exploration of race, manhood, violence, and injustice in our society."
--Cody Morrison, Square Books, Oxford, MS

You Will Not Have My Hate

By Antoine Leiris

(Penguin Books 9780735222151, $15)

"This slender tome began as a social media viral sensation. Shortly after the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, a husband and father wrote an open letter to the perpetrators of those attacks, stating time and again that they would not have his hate, despite the fact that he lost his wife and the mother of their infant son. This memoir closely follows the hours after the attack, chronicling Leiris' thoughts and emotions for the next several days up through his wife's funeral. Though brief, this is a powerful meditation on grief and resilience."
--Emily Crowe, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA