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2016
Sandhya MenonFrom Twinkle, With LoveThe utterly charming From Twinkle, With Love is packed with texts, notes, blog posts, emails and the diary entries of the inspirational Twinkle Mehra. Twinkle is a geek and outsider whose mission statement is "to change lives with my films and show the world what a Desi girl can do." But first, Twinkle teams up on a project with Sahil, her lifelong crush's awkward twin brother. Their story is engaging, enchanting and so relatable that it's impossible to put down. A genuine pleasure to read!1481495402funny-stuff, identity-and-culture, love-stories, no-biz-like-show-biz, realistic-fiction, young-adulthttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/from-twinkle-with-love2018
2017
Maggie Ann MartinTo Be HonestTo Be Honest is not only a super sweet book, but it's also a refreshing take on the plus-size protagonist trope. Savannah "Savvy" Alverson is chubby, book smart and has a tendency toward panic attacks. Similarly awkward George is the new guy at school who needs Savannah to tutor him. They fall for each other, adorably. Complications arise when Savvy's mother's reality show decides to revisit the family and life becomes even messier, but Savvy's strength and positive self-image win the day. I only wish the world had more charming, feel-good books like this!1250183154book-club-ideas, family-matters, ladies-first, love-stories, realistic-fiction, young-adulthttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/to-be-honest2018
2018
Jen DollUnclaimed BaggageThe storytellers of Unclaimed Baggage are a bunch of lost souls: Doris (the leader), Nell (the outsider), Grant (the beautiful, complicated wreck) and a purple leopard-print suitcase. What they need to find is each other. Jen Doll weaves their tales together into a dense, rich and powerfully beautiful story. Unclaimed Baggage is the quintessential Southern Novel for Teens, bordering on Gothic, but still managing to leave the reader with a sense of wonder and optimism.374306060funny-stuff, realistic-fiction, seriously-great-writing, the-states-were-in, young-adulthttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/unclaimed-baggage2018
2019
R.O. KwonThe Incendiaries: A NovelWill and Phoebe have secrets. But these two students at a well-to-do liberal arts college seem more content to keep their personal histories under wraps and build new identities. As their romance twists and turns, aimless Phoebe drifts into the orbit of a local cult, where she finds herself able to reckon with pieces of her difficult past. Suspicious and borderline obsessed, Will doggedly attempts to rescue Phoebe u2013 against her wishes. The result is a swift, gripping story that douses secrecy, grief, love and religion with gasoline, before finally striking a match.735213895staff-picks, book-club-ideas, love-stories, rather-short, realistic-fiction, seriously-great-writing, the-dark-sidehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-incendiaries-a-novel2018
2020
Edward CareyLittle: A NovelPicking up on the same themes of bodies and objects as his Iremonger trilogy, Edward Carey's Little is a tenderly macabre fictional memoir written in the voice of Anne Marie Grosholtz, the woman who would become Madame Tussaud. From being orphaned at the age of 6 and apprenticed to a maker of wax models, to living in Versailles as the art tutor to a princess in the months before the French Revolution, her life is full of deep sadness mixed with fabulous incident, and compassionate insight punctuated by the author's whimsical illustrations.525534326for-art-lovers, for-history-lovers, historical-fiction, ladies-first, rather-long, seriously-great-writing, the-dark-sidehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/little-a-novel2018
2021
Sofia Samatar, illustrated by Del SamatarMonster PortraitsSofia and Del Samatar are siblings, and Monster Portraits is a collaboration between her writing and his art, resulting in a gorgeous collection of related vignettes musing on the nature of monsters and monstrosity. Not a bestiary so much as an antibestiary u2013 one that considers every fantastical creature represented as a person to be encountered u2013 Monster Portraits explores and unpacks thoughts about diaspora, race, travel and inheritance in the same sharp, spare, heartbreaking prose that characterized Sofia Samatar's The Winged Histories.1941628109family-matters, for-art-lovers, rather-short, science-fiction-and-fantasyhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/monster-portraits2018
2022
Naomi NovikSpinning SilverIn Lithvas u2013 a medieval country ruled by a czar and bordered by a magical winter realm belonging to gold-hungry people called the Staryk u2013 three young women struggle against their circumstances. Miryem is the Jewish daughter of a soft-hearted moneylender who would rather live in poverty than collect his debts;Wanda is the gentile daughter of an abusive alcoholic farmer;and Irina is the part-Staryk daughter of a disappointed duke scheming for the throne. Their paths cross during the most vicious winter in memory, and the fate of Lithvas depends on the choices they make and alliances they form. An absolutely beautiful expansion and reimagining of Rumpelstiltskin, Spinning Silver thinks deeply about gift and debt, capital and labor, hospitality and friendship.399180982family-matters, identity-and-culture, ladies-first, rather-long, science-fiction-and-fantasy, seriously-great-writinghttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/spinning-silver2018
2023
Rachel HartmanTess Of The RoadNot a sequel so much as a sibling to Seraphina and Shadow Scale, this picaresque novel focuses on Tess, Seraphina's little sister, who has spent two years atoning for a secret disgrace by smoothing her twin sister's entry into fine society. Raised by a religiously fanatical mother and a neglectful father, Tess longs for adventure and learning, having taught herself how to speak to quigutl (smaller cousins of dragons) as a child. After a disaster at her sister's wedding, Tess takes to the road with her quigutl best friend in search of healing and revelation. This is the most compassionate novel I've read since George Eliot's Middlemarch.1101931280family-matters, ladies-first, science-fiction-and-fantasy, seriously-great-writing, young-adulthttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/tess-of-the-road2018
2024
Kim PurcellThis Is Not A Love LetterA fast-paced and heartbreaking story about racial tension, depression and loss in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. Jessie is writing letters to her boyfriend Chris, with whom she recently broke up u2013 just before he vanished. Chris is one of very few black people in a mostly white town, and Jessie grows increasingly afraid that he's been murdered. The first-person narration is relentless and raw, as Jessie confesses things to the absence of Chris that she never was able to say to him in person.1484798341love-stories, realistic-fiction, the-dark-side, young-adulthttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/this-is-not-a-love-letter2018
2025
Rebecca RoanhorseTrail Of LightningAn apocalyptic flood has devastated most of North America u2013 all but the Dinu00e9 nation, which grew magical walls of abalone, turquoise, white shell and jet to protect itself. But in addition to the destruction, the flood has ushered in the Sixth Age, opening up the human world to spirits and monsters again. Maggie Hoskie is a monster-hunter who keeps people safe for pay u2013 but when she defeats a monster that seems to have been crafted by magical means to malicious ends, she must team up with a silver-tongued man named Kai to find out who or what is behind it. Fast-paced and innovative, Trail of Lightning reads like an indigenous answer to questions Supernatural never thought to ask.1534413499identity-and-culture, ladies-first, science-fiction-and-fantasy, the-dark-sidehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/trail-of-lightning2018
2026
C.L. PolkWitchmarkThe nations of Aeland and Laneer have just concluded a brutal war, and Dr. Miles Singer is an Aelander surgeon treating soldiers returning from the front line u2013 while struggling to conceal the fact that his uncanny healing skill is partly magical. In Aeland, witches must either spend their lives in hidden service to noble families or be committed to special asylums, and Miles isn't enamored with either option. But when a mysterious stranger stumbles into the hospital with a dying civilian, Miles finds himself drawn into webs of witchy intrigue that threaten to unravel the modest life he's built for himself.1250162688identity-and-culture, love-stories, science-fiction-and-fantasyhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/witchmark2018
2027
John SchoffstallHalf-WitchJohn Schoffstall's Half-Witch follows 14-year-old Lizbet Lenz and witch-girl Strix on a journey to retrieve a strange book and rescue Lizbet's feckless father from prison. Lizbet inhabits a world where God, Satan and the battle between them is literally real (and being won by Satan), witches are made out of tea bags and sticks, and emotions can be physically pressed out of people's bodies u2013 but beyond the mountains that scrape the sky and ring the world are even stranger things. A marvelous blend of whimsy, terror and deep feeling.1618731408ladies-first, science-fiction-and-fantasy, young-adulthttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/halfwitch2018
2028
Robert GordonMemphis Rent Party: The Blues, Rock & Soul In Music's HometownWhat does it mean to be a local writer? Just read this book. Journalist, filmmaker, record producer and Memphis native Robert Gordon has spent his life closely chronicling the lives of his hometown's most famous and obscure sons and daughters. In this memoir-cum-anthology he revisits pieces on legends such as Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, mainstays like the North Mississippi blues master Otha Turner and travelers who touched down in his town, including Jeff Buckley and Cat Power's Chan Marshall;Gordon weaves these tales together with cogent self-analysis, creating a narrative that's both a biography of his city and the story of his own sentimental education.1632867737staff-picks, biography-and-memoir, for-history-lovers, for-music-lovers, nonfiction, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/memphis-rent-party-the-blues-rock-soul-in-musics-hometown2018
2029
Joan MorganShe Begat This: 20 Years Of The Miseducation Of Lauryn HillCultural critic Joan Morgan's career ran in parallel to Lauryn Hill's in the 1990s;Morgan's work helped define hip-hop feminist discourse, while Hill's one studio album became the era's sonic standard-bearer and the template for "black girl magic." Through intimate interviews, Morgan shares her pages with other cultural critics and activists who, like her, grew up alongside Miseducation and consider Hill u2013 who has not produced anything close to the milestone she made at 23 u2013 both an inspiration and a puzzlement. Warm, sharp and unsparing, She Begat This is a model for cultural inquiry in the hip-hop age.1501195255staff-picks, biography-and-memoir, for-history-lovers, for-music-lovers, identity-and-culture, ladies-first, nonfictionhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/she-begat-this-20-years-of-the-miseducation-of-lauryn-hill2018
2030
Meaghan O'ConnellAnd Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was ReadyThe memoir industry runs increasingly on the unique, the superhuman and the grotesque. People climb mountains, escape kidnappers, visit heaven and report back. And Now We Have Everything shows how the most normal thing in the world u2013 having an ordinary, healthy baby after an ordinary, healthy pregnancy u2013 means being visited with all possible extremes of pain, fear and love. O'Connell renders this normal and horrific experience real, in both emotional sweep and brutal particulars.316259616biography-and-memoir, book-club-ideas, family-matters, ladies-first, nonfiction, rather-shorthttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/and-now-we-have-everything-on-motherhood-before-i-was-ready2018
2031
Olivia LaingCrudo: A NovelOlivia Laing's The Lonely City was one of my favorite books of the past few years u2013 a sweeping, melancholy, perceptive study of loneliness. This is her first novel, which is smaller in scope but has the same emotional acuity. In it, a woman very much like Laing prepares to get married against a backdrop of Trump, Brexit and a generalized malaise that makes everything feel out of control and bad. I can't think of anything that has captured the feeling of the past few years so well: the ways that world historical crises coexist with daily life, making it hard for either to feel quite real.393652726ladies-first, love-stories, rather-short, realistic-fiction, seriously-great-writinghttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/crudo-a-novel2018
2032
Zadie SmithFeel Free: EssaysThis essay collection, aptly called Feel Free, is elastic and smart and joyous in all the right proportions. With her diamond-cutter mind, Smith interrogates, among other things, dance, writing, taste, class, corpses, the chameleonic appeal of Key and Peele, libraries and why, "between proprietary and joy," you should "choose joy." Feel free, she tells us, and you will.1594206252eye-opening-reads, for-art-lovers, identity-and-culture, nonfiction, poetry, seriously-great-writinghttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/feel-free-essays2018
2033
Stormy DanielsFull DisclosureStormy Daniels knows exactly why you are reading her book, and u2013 a career entertainer u2013 she gives the people what they want: to wit, "two to three minutes" and "smaller than average." But the book also makes you look beyond the cartoonish figure Daniels cuts in headlines to the real person: a pioneering female director who writes passionately and well about her craft. Full Disclosure is a canny Trojan horse of a book that lures you in with scandal but ultimately serves as a reminder not to write people off.1250205565biography-and-memoir, eye-opening-reads, ladies-first, lets-talk-about-sex, nonfiction, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/full-disclosure2018
2034
Nafissa Thompson-SpiresHeads Of The Colored People: StoriesNafissa Thompson-Spires' debut story collection is uneven, but at its best, it has a sly and searching power. One story is written in passive-aggressive notes between the mothers of the only two black children in an elementary school. In another, a man engages in an escalating war with his female officemate over how bright to keep the room. These are funny sketches of petty power struggles with low stakes, but they also make a subtle argument about the ways that race and gender add charge and pain to interactions. "The pressure has to come out some kind of way," one character says.1501167995identity-and-culture, poetry, rather-shorthttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/heads-of-the-colored-people-stories2018
2035
Sarah PerryMelmoth: A NovelSet in Prague, Melmoth is a lush, almost camp Gothic novel about a monster who witnesses people's worst moments, then uses them as leverage to tempt them into a Faustian bargain. It is occasionally overwrought, but it is a real pleasure to read something so full of conviction. The past few years have brought a glut of fashionably affectless and amoral fiction, to which Sarah Perry's fierce, full-hearted books about love and ethics feel like the perfect antidote.62856391book-club-ideas, historical-fiction, science-fiction-and-fantasy, the-dark-sidehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/melmoth-a-novel2018
2036
Helen DeWittSome Trick: Thirteen StoriesHelen DeWitt's The Last Samurai is one of my favorite books. Some Trick, her new short story collection, shares themes with that novel. Her characters are savants, weirdos and artists, often trying to achieve their ends against the best efforts of the well-meaning and conventional people around them. DeWitt doesn't cater: In her fiction, she uses Greek if Greek is called for, or graphs if graphs are called for. The conventional measures of good fiction, such as accessibility or charm, seem irrelevant, if not quaint, in the face of her wonderfully irritable intelligence.811227820poetry, rather-short, seriously-great-writinghttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/some-trick-thirteen-stories2018
2037
Meg WolitzerThe Female Persuasion: A NovelHow are you supposed to live in a world where so many people hate women? When Greer Kadetsky is groped at a frat party her freshman year, that is the question she begins to ask, and which animates Meg Wolitzer's wonderful novel. The characters in it ultimately answer these questions in different ways, but they all come to at least one conclusion: You have to do something, even if it's just, as one character says, managing to "live your life and be yourself with all your values intact."1594488401book-club-ideas, identity-and-culture, ladies-first, love-stories, rather-long, realistic-fiction, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-female-persuasion-a-novel2018
2038
Leslie JamisonThe Recovering: Intoxication And Its Aftermath"With a good feeling, it was always: More. Again. Forever." Leslie Jamison's memoir The Recovering: Intoxication And Its Aftermath follows the story of her alcoholism in lush, almost caressing detail. "I mashed the lime in my vodka tonic and glimpsed u2013 in the sweet spot between two drinks and three, then three and four, then four and five u2013 my life as something illuminated from the inside." It's a thoughtful, nuanced and frightening look at the alcoholism that dominated much of her adult life while also digging into broader cultural and literary trends.316259616biography-and-memoir, book-club-ideas, identity-and-culture, rather-long, seriously-great-writinghttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-recovering-intoxication-and-its-aftermath2018
2039
Pat BarkerThe Silence Of The Girls: A Novel"Great Achilles. Brilliant Achilles, shining Achilles, godlike Achilles.... How the epithets pile up," begins The Silence Of The Girls, Pat Barker's tart retelling of The Iliad from the perspective of Achilles' concubine, Briseis. "We never called him any of those things," she continues, "we called him 'the butcher.' " Though we've seen a raft of feminist reworkings of the classics, Barker's is unusually skilled, showing how, while men were on the battlefield, women were fighting a very different war of their own.385544219book-club-ideas, eye-opening-reads, for-history-lovers, historical-fiction, ladies-firsthttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-silence-of-the-girls-a-novel2018
2040
Tana FrenchThe Witch Elm: A NovelTana French's Witch Elm looks like a murder mystery u2013 a brutal beating, a skull in a tree, etc. u2013 but it is really a deeply subtle book about privilege: how clueless, apparently decent guys can float through life unaware of the injustices around them, sometimes even ones they have committed. "One gets into the habit of being oneself," says one character. "It takes some great upheaval to crack that shell and force us to discover what else might be underneath.735224625book-club-ideas, family-matters, mysteries-and-thrillers, rather-long, seriously-great-writing, the-dark-sidehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-witch-elm-a-novel2018
2041
Curtis SittenfeldYou Think It, I'll Say It: StoriesThe stories in You Think It, I'll Say It are self-interrogating and warm Midwestern social commentaries about the inner lives of women. "The Prairie Wife," for instance, one of the collection's best stories, is about a woman obsessed with a TV- and social media star she knew when they were teenagers at summer camp. The folksy persona of this Pioneer Woman-type celebrity fills her with rage so strong "it was almost like lust." The story begins like a wry commentary on social media envy u2013 but unfolds into a gentler and more complex story about the different kinds of love.399592865book-club-ideas, family-matters, ladies-first, poetry, rather-short, seriously-great-writinghttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/you-think-it-ill-say-it-stories2018
2042
Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, and Hal RobertsNetwork Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, And Radicalization In American PoliticsThe 2016 election was characterized by a tidal wave of bad information, lies and conspiracy theories. In a new book, Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris and Hal Roberts argue that the fault primarily lies not with bots, Russian hackers, clickbait farms or Cambridge Analytica, but with something closer to home. Their large-scale analysis shows that right-wing media outlets such as Fox News and Breitbart are "the primary culprit in sowing confusion and distrust in the broader American media ecosystem." If that sounds partisan, read this careful and scholarly work and be prepared to have your mind changed.190923636eye-opening-reads, nonfiction, rather-long, the-dark-side, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/network-propaganda-manipulation-disinformation-and-radicalization-in-american-politics2018
2043
Jonas Salk and Jonathan SalkA New Reality: Human Evolution For A Sustainable FutureThis elegant volume is like a slim lever with the power to pry open a brand-new window in your mind. It's an updated version of a book originally released by the legendary inventor of the polio vaccine and his son in 1981, and it poses the question: In a time when growth is no longer the goal, but the human population is instead leveling off or declining, how should our values change? The answer provided is profoundly humanistic and urgent.1947951041staff-picks, eye-opening-reads, nonfiction, sciencehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/a-new-reality-human-evolution-for-a-sustainable-future2018
2044
Siva VaidhyanathanAntisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us And Undermines DemocracySiva Vaidhyanathan, a media studies scholar at the University of Virginia, was casting a side-eye at Facebook before most of the rest of the world. This scathing volume of social criticism indicts Facebook for its "direct contribution to violent ethnic and religious nationalism, the rise of authoritarian leaders, and a sort of mediated cacophony... undermining trust in institutions and experts." Can we reform Facebook or rein it in? It's complicated.190841168staff-picks, eye-opening-reads, its-all-geek-to-me, nonfiction, the-dark-sidehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/antisocial-media-how-facebook-disconnects-us-and-undermines-democracy2018
2045
Witold Szablowski, translated by Antonia Lloyd-JonesDancing Bears: True Stories Of People Nostalgic For Life Under TyrannyPolish journalist Witold Szablowski chose an unusual form for this book: Two halves, each with the same chapter titles. The first half tells the true story of dancing bears, freed from their torment with mixed results. The second half tells the story of people, freed from oppressive governments with u2013 well, you get the idea. Why would anyone be "Nostalgic For Life Under Tyranny," as the subtitle of the book proposes? By the end of the book, Szablowski answers the question with some insights into universal truths about animal behavior, including our own.143129740staff-picks, eye-opening-reads, for-history-lovers, identity-and-culture, nonfiction, tales-from-around-the-worldhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/dancing-bears-true-stories-of-people-nostalgic-for-life-under-tyranny2018
2046
Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. DavisThe Most Dangerous Man In America: Timothy Leary, Richard Nixon And The Hunt For The Fugitive King Of LSDTimothy Leary, the so-called High Priest of LSD, was an unlikely candidate for Public Enemy No. 1. Yet President Richard Nixon leveled the full force of the federal government against Leary in the 1970s, producing a globe-hopping manhunt that involved a prison break, the Black Panther Party, and more celebrity cameos than Pee Wee's Christmas special (Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol and John Lennon, to name just a few.). In the book's acknowledgements, authors Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis thank Leary "for leading a very interesting life." That's an understatement.1455563587staff-picks, eye-opening-reads, for-history-lovers, nonfiction, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-most-dangerous-man-in-america-timothy-leary-richard-nixon-and-the-hunt-for-the-fugitive-king-of-lsd2018
2047
Madeline MillerCirceI'm a junkie for retellings of Greek and Roman mythology, but the highest praise I can give Circe is that you do not have to be so to be moved by this book. It's an extraordinarily clever reimagining of the tale of Circe, the witch of Homer's epic, who seduces Odysseus and transforms his crew to pigs, among other things. But what Miller has created is the story of a woman, overlooked and underestimated, who slowly and painfully unearths her gifts over the course of many lifetimes. (Sound familiar, er u2026 women?) It's a story and a hope that resonates in dark times -- for, as one character tells another, if you cannot bear this world a moment longer, "child, make another."316556343staff-picks, book-club-ideas, historical-fiction, ladies-first, science-fiction-and-fantasy, seriously-great-writinghttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/circe2018
2048
Rebecca TraisterGood And Mad: The Revolutionary Power Of Women's AngerWe live in hard and sometimes angry times. Generally speaking, I've always shrunk from anger -- men's anger can kill you, and women's anger u2013 my anger u2013 is the moment where people stop taking you seriously, right? Wrong, says Rebecca Traister, the journalist and author of the perfectly and maybe even horribly perfectly timed book, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger. There's a specific use for that anger, Traister argues, a political use, and it has rarely gotten enough attention as a motivating response that brings about social change. It makes for galvanizing reading and a reminder that no matter how appalling the news about women being marginalized and objectified and discriminated against can get, there's power to be harnessed in our rage.1501181793staff-picks, eye-opening-reads, identity-and-culture, ladies-first, nonfiction, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/good-and-mad-the-revolutionary-power-of-womens-anger2018
2049
Kiese LaymonHeavy: An American MemoirIf there's a 2018 book that I believe everyone in America should read, it's Kiese Laymon's memoir, Heavy. It's a gorgeously written howl of truth, directly addressed to the brilliant and sometimes violent mother who raised Laymon in Jackson, Miss. He attributes his writerly practice to her rigorous expectations, but it exacts a toll on his soul and body. He continues her abuse u2013 gorging and starving himself u2013 all the while knowing that there is nothing he and his mother can inflict on his body that compares with what white people can do. But while the book is, yes, heavy, it's also a powerhouse of creative language. So read it for all it contains: electric prose, an indictment of racism and its effects on black men and women, and a searing portrait of a difficult and brilliant family.1501125656staff-picks, eye-opening-reads, identity-and-culture, ladies-first, nonfiction, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/heavy-an-american-memoir2018
2050
Natasha TretheweyMonument: Poems New And SelectedWe have seen, over a very few years, the ways language and words can so bitterly divide us. The very fact that a poet laureate can exist at all seems an act of hope -- is there one writer who could possibly represent this whole country? Natasha Trethewey was a two-term laureate, and her poetry seems to fit that description, precise in word choice but wide in subject and historical memory. Her new collection is called Monument, and that's what it feels like in some ways u2013 patriotic, brave, honest u2013 with a power that feels like some stanzas could slash you to ribbons.132850784Xstaff-picks, for-history-lovers, identity-and-culture, poetry, seriously-great-writing, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/monument-poems-new-and-selected2018
2051
Oyinkan BraithwaiteMy Sister, The Serial Killer: A NovelMy Sister The Serial Killer is exactly what it sounds like: a sharp, slim, pulpy little thriller with gory details and a pace that will leave you with enough time to drive it over to a friend's house to lend for the evening. It's the story of two sisters living in a vividly described Lagos, Nigeria, and it joyfully makes use of certain tropes. Ayoola, the killer of the title, is thoughtless and beautiful, while Korede is the older, responsible, more dull sister. Ayoola has a tendency to kill her boyfriends, and when a doctor whom Korede has a crush on shows some interest in Ayoola u2026 things get complicated. The book is darkly funny and moves at breakneck speed, but still manages to ask a hard question: Why do women kill? And u2026 why don't they?385544235staff-picks, family-matters, ladies-first, mysteries-and-thrillers, rather-short, tales-from-around-the-world, the-dark-sidehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/my-sister-the-serial-killer-a-novel2018
2052
Rumaan AlamThat Kind Of Mother: A NovelRumaan Alam's first book, Rich and Pretty, wrote the intimacies of female friendship so well that I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that his second novel takes on two mothers with breathtaking insight. Rebecca, white, well-off, well-intentioned, offers to care for her nanny Priscilla's son when Priscilla, who is black, dies in childbirth. Cheryl, Priscilla's older daughter, who is pregnant herself, accepts Rebecca's offer gratefully, and the arrangement becomes permanent when Rebecca adopts the baby. The book is an incredibly honest look at transracial adoption u2013 the sometimes thoughtless way in which the white and liberal Rebecca parents her black son, contrasted with Cheryl's clear-eyed understanding of how that thoughtlessness can become erasure. Neither woman is a caricature, however u2013 Alam offers kindness as well as honesty about a complex situation in which love and good intentions are not necessarily enough.62667602staff-picks, book-club-ideas, family-matters, identity-and-culture, ladies-first, realistic-fictionhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/that-kind-of-mother-a-novel2018
2053
Leila Slimani, translated by Sam TaylorThe Perfect Nanny: A NovelAh, The Perfect Nanny, I loved this book, I hated this book, this book changed me. Taking as its subject the murder of two children by their nanny, the novel starts with the crime and works backwards. What The Perfect Nanny does so incredibly well is plumb the essential relationship between parents and nanny -- and really, mother and nanny. Our children are, to us, perfect -- any other competing relationship must create imperfection in some way and point out our shortcomings as parents. Who would entrust their child to the world? None of us, truly -- and yet all of us do. If you make it past the awful crime of the first chapter, you will be rewarded by a chillingly clever horror novel about class and parenting.143132172staff-picks, book-club-ideas, family-matters, mysteries-and-thrillers, rather-short, tales-from-around-the-world, the-dark-sidehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-perfect-nanny-a-novel2018
2054
Shobha RaoGirls Burn Brighter: A NovelShobha Rao's first novel, Girls Burn Brighter, details poverty in an Indian village to such an extreme that if you read only those details, you might blanch and move on u2013 but Rao weaves them into the story of two young women, Poornima and Savitha, so elegantly that they become an essential part of the story's cloth. Pardon the fabric metaphors used for a book about indigent sari weavers;once you've become involved in the characters' efforts to live better lives, you may think the same way. An illuminating, compelling look at global trafficking.1250074258book-club-ideas, eye-opening-reads, identity-and-culture, ladies-first, realistic-fiction, tales-from-around-the-worldhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/girls-burn-brighter-a-novel2018
2055
Megan AbbottGive Me Your Hand: A NovelMegan Abbott's genius lies in showing how strong women can still be caught in the web of patriarchy. In her latest novel, Give Me Your Hand, she tells the story of two female scientists whose brilliant futures are threatened by their past secrets. The best part of this slow-burning novel is that just when you think you've seen the big explosion, another one happens. Abbott once again gifts her readers with an unreliable narrator whose inability to foresee disaster means readers won't guess the denouement u2013 even with tons of creepy foreshadowing.316547182book-club-ideas, ladies-first, mysteries-and-thrillers, science, the-dark-sidehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/give-me-your-hand-a-novel2018
2056
Lea CarpenterRed, White, Blue: A NovelA book combining literary sensibility with genre readability doesn't come along often. Lea Carpenter's Red, White, Blue is a sophomore novel without slump u2013 a dark thriller with plenty of plot and more meaning. Protagonist Anna's Cote d'Azur honeymoon is interrupted by a stranger who turns out to be a CIA colleague of her father's. This nameless stranger narrates the book, and his descriptions of CIA life fascinate: the many burner phones, the cultivation of sources, the constant vigilance. Is this true? It matters not, because Carpenter maintains an internal coherence that makes the plot tauter than a violin string.1524732141book-club-ideas, eye-opening-reads, mysteries-and-thrillers, realistic-fiction, seriously-great-writinghttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/red-white-blue-a-novel2018
2057
C.J. TudorThe Chalk Man: A NovelIf you love your mysteries chock-full of atmosphere, C.J. Tudor will be your new favorite author. In 1986, young Eddie and friends leave chalk drawings of a stick figure for each other, all around their little English village. After one such "chalk man" leads them to horror, they stop. But in 2016, adult Eddie receives a message with another chalk man. If he's ever going to rest easy again, he'll need to discover what happened 30 years ago. Chills and thrills, but also thoughtful humanity;Tudor's second novel comes out in early 2019, so you won't have to wait long for more if you like The Chalk Man. And you will.1524760986mysteries-and-thrillers, tales-from-around-the-world, the-dark-sidehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-chalk-man-a-novel2018
2058
Michael OndaatjeWarlight: A NovelSome reviews have called this novel "frustrating" or "incomplete." Michael Ondaatje probably would be pleased with either, or both. The term "warlight" refers to special sodium lamps for emergency traffic during the Blitz in London, lamps that gave off the odd pinkish-orange glow that can be seen on the book jacket. That strangeness and dimness is reflected in the story, too. Nathaniel and his sister Rachel are left behind when their parents head to Singapore for his father's job u2013 but they soon discover their mother may be somewhere else entirely. Hearing his mother's story late in the book changes Nathaniel's own story, and asks us to consider how much any of us will ever truly understand about our lives.525521194family-matters, for-history-lovers, historical-fiction, tales-from-around-the-worldhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/warlight-a-novel2018
2059
Isaac Butler and Dan KoisThe World Only Spins Forward: The Ascent Of Angels In AmericaTony Kushner's masterpiece Angels In America is more than 6 hours of nonstop talk u2013 about politics, drag queens, closeted lawyers, Mormons and the impact of AIDS u2013 so it makes sense to celebrate its first quarter-century with an "oral" history. Isaac Butler and Dan Kois interviewed more than 250 actors, stage managers, directors, critics and even former congressman Barney Frank, who offer in-the-moment recollections ("when the angel turned upside down screaming and her wings fell into the audience"), as well as reflections on the legacy of a play that was u2013 and remains u2013 theater magic.1635571766staff-picks, for-history-lovers, for-music-lovers, identity-and-culture, no-biz-like-show-biz, nonfiction, rather-long, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-world-only-spins-forward-the-ascent-of-angels-in-america2018
2060
Philip KerrGreeks Bearing GiftsIt's 1956, and former Berlin police Detective Bernie Gunther is living in Greece under an alias and trying to leave his homeland and the nightmares of "our National Socialist revolution" far behind. But that's going to be impossible, as Bernie is hired to investigate an insurance claim that may, in fact, involve valuables stolen by the Nazis from Jews deported to Auschwitz. It's an engrossing read, and Bernie is perfectly flawed and cynical. Sadly, Kerr died this year, but fans may be comforted to hear that he reportedly finished one final Bernie Gunther manuscript.039917706Xstaff-picks, historical-fiction, mysteries-and-thrillers, rather-long, tales-from-around-the-world, the-dark-sidehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/greeks-bearing-gifts2018
2061
Michael LewisThe Fifth RiskThe thought that Donald Trump may have been totally unprepared to become president after the 2016 election is one that's familiar to anyone who has been following the day-to-day crises and dramas of the White House closely. But a new case for this argument is revealingly and startlingly made by Michael Lewis in his fascinating u2013 and at times harrowing u2013 new book. "Getting to know the U.S. government," Lewis writes, "had not been high on Donald Trump's to-do list, even after he learned that he'd be running it." Lewis tells an important and timely story, one that all of us who pay for, care about and want government to work should hear.1324002646staff-picks, eye-opening-reads, nonfiction, rather-short, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-fifth-risk2018
2062
Nova Ren SumaA Room Away From The WolvesBina runs away from home to live in a New York boarding house for girls, only to find that the tangled demons of her past have followed her. This is Gothic mystery with all the classic elements u2013 an old house, a cursed ring, a legacy handed from mother to daughter u2013 but Nova Ren Suma manages to take these tropes and transform them into something modern and biting that lingers far beyond the final page. Though its mysteries remain elusive, A Room Away From The Wolves does not disappoint.1616203730family-matters, ladies-first, science-fiction-and-fantasy, the-dark-side, young-adulthttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/a-room-away-from-the-wolves2018
2063
Sheba KarimMariam Sharma Hits The RoadThree Pakistani-American teens road trip through the Deep South, looking for escape, answers, trouble and, above all, a fabulous adventure. The journey bounces gamely from fun, identity-affirming parties to deeply upsetting encounters with racism and Islamophobia. But instead of relying on outside forces to build to a climax, author Sheba Karim looks inward at every opportunity, emphasizing the traumas and triumphs within the characters' own hearts. In this way, Mariam Sharma Hits the Road is both culturally specific and universal, making for a fast read that's fun, political and the perfect addition to a travel bag.62445731identity-and-culture, ladies-first, realistic-fiction, the-states-were-in, young-adulthttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/mariam-sharma-hits-the-road2018
2064
Kiersten WhiteThe Dark Descent Of Elizabeth FrankensteinElizabeth Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein's adopted sister/bride, tries to temper Victor's morbid impulses and protect him from himself as he delves deeper and deeper into mad science. Ultimately, she is unable to stop him from creating a monster. Frankenstein asks us to consider the nature of man and God, but The Dark Descent turns instead toward a different question: What must a woman be in order to thrive in a world that denies her humanity? Kiersten White is unafraid to dig in the graveyard and piece together a creature of her own design out of old parts, and the resulting tale is dark and chilling.525577947family-matters, ladies-first, science-fiction-and-fantasy, the-dark-side, young-adulthttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-dark-descent-of-elizabeth-frankenstein2018
2065
Alfredo CorchadoHomelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, And The Fate Of The Great Mexican-American MigrationLove in the Time of Zero Tolerance could have been an alternative title for prize-winning journalist Alfredo Corchado's latest book about Mexican immigration to the U.S. over the past four decades. As timely as headlines driven by President Trump's crackdown on immigrants, Homelands is a nuanced history lesson wrapped in Corchado's personal prose about his home country Mexico and his adopted U.S. Homelands explores it all through the tale of four friends. Corchado's love of country, culture and tequila makes the story of Mexican immigration to the U.S., with all its contradictions and imperfections, easy reading and a lasting lesson in migration history.1632865548staff-picks, biography-and-memoir, book-club-ideas, family-matters, identity-and-culture, nonfiction, tales-from-around-the-world, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/homelands-four-friends-two-countries-and-the-fate-of-the-great-mexicanamerican-migration2018
2066
Cixin Liu, translated by Joel MartinsenBall LightningThis one goes out to all the nerds (like me) who swooned over the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy. Thanks to the quirks of translation, Chinese writer Cixin Liu actually wrote this before his landmark sci-fi series, but English-language readers are finally getting a glimpse now. Either way, this one bears familiar characteristics u2013 even a familiar character u2013 that Liu devotees will recognize quickly: uneven plot, stilted dialogue... and a boundless, mind-bending creativity that makes it all worthwhile. Ultimately, it fulfills my one major criterion for a good book: You'll leave it seeing the world just a little bit differently.765394073staff-picks, science, science-fiction-and-fantasy, tales-from-around-the-worldhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/ball-lightning2018
2067
Michael PollanHow To Change Your Mind: What The New Science Of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, And Transcendence"Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream." In this lyric, John Lennon nods to an experience with LSD, one of the central molecules in Michael Pollan's thoughtful exploration of psychedelic drugs. How To Change Your Mind isn't a dissection of the counterculture, but an insight into the medicinal benefits of psychedelics in treating depression, addiction and trauma. Through historical research, contemporary case studies and even his own experimentation, Pollan makes the case for the safety and practicality of using psychedelics to expand our consciousness and enrich our lives.1594204225staff-picks, biography-and-memoir, eye-opening-reads, its-all-geek-to-me, nonfiction, rather-long, sciencehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/how-to-change-your-mind-what-the-new-science-of-psychedelics-teaches-us-about-consciousness-dying-addiction-depression-and-transcendence2018
2068
Priya ParkerThe Art Of Gathering: How We Meet And Why It MattersThis is one of those books you hope the world can read together, since we all gather regularly in some form or another u2013 from conferences to work meetings to one-on-one coffee dates. And yet, many of these meetups fall short of our expectations to walk away feeling seen, heard and inspired. Priya Parker tells us why. Saturated with practical advice, The Art of Gathering manifests as a field guide for how to infuse any meetup with more meaning and magic. Whether at a town hall or a birthday party, this book will change how you congregate u2013 or at least reveal the subtle ingredients that create invigorating (or dreadful) gatherings. One of my favorite tips: "Never start a funeral with logistics."1594634920staff-picks, book-club-ideas, eye-opening-reads, its-all-geek-to-me, nonfictionhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-art-of-gathering-how-we-meet-and-why-it-matters2018
2069
Anjali SachdevaAll The Names They Used For GodThe stories in this collection read like fairy tales u2013 Brothers Grimm, not Disney. Anjali Sachdeva spins wondrous universes, governed by unknowable, capricious forces. A homesteader on the American frontier is drawn into an underground world. Genetically engineered septuplets succumb, one by one, to illness. Aliens take over the Earth u2013 they come mostly in peace but demand that humans trade their hands for metal claws. Sachdeva draws characters with such empathy and precision that they pop off the page and take up residence in your brain u2013 months after reading, I remember these stories as if they were dreams.399593004staff-picks, poetry, science-fiction-and-fantasyhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/all-the-names-they-used-for-god2018
2070
Ling MaSeveranceIn Severance, the apocalypse arrives in the shape of a loop. It's a disease that traps its victims in endless cycles of rote tasks: setting and resetting a table, folding luxury polos in a Fifth Avenue boutique. The pandemic knocks Candace Chen out of her own monotonous office routine and sends her on a cross-country trek with a group of survivors, led by a worryingly despotic IT worker. Like any good dystopia, it's the familiarity that rattles you most. Ling Ma's mischievous, unsparing prose forces you to confront your own daily rituals to consider where exactly they are taking you. It may leave you staring wistfully out your office window, hoping for signs of an impending cataclysm u2013 just to shake things up.374261598staff-picks, book-club-ideas, eye-opening-reads, science-fiction-and-fantasy, the-dark-side, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/severance2018
2071
Eric GansworthGive Me Some TruthSo much truth! About Native blessings, burdens, beadwork and rock 'n' roll. With wit and wonder, Eric Gansworth's novel successfully tackles the complexities of Indigenous identity, of rez family and community ties, of big dreams and first love. Gansworth's characters u2013 Carson, Maggi and Lewis u2013 spring from the page, and his storytelling is spot on. In this groundbreaking follow-up to If I Ever Get Out Of Here, Gansworth confirms that he's an essential Native voice in YA lit.1338143549family-matters, for-music-lovers, identity-and-culture, love-stories, young-adulthttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/give-me-some-truth2018
2072
Traci Sorell, illustrated by Fran\u00e9 LessacWe Are Grateful: OtsaliheligaGratitude is a way of life for my Cherokee Nation cousins, each day and season of the year, as they honor their traditions and take one celebratory, healing step after another. Traci Sorell's debut picture book is both tribally specific and universal in appeal, gorgeously and lyrically rendered, steeped in authenticity and respect. Franu00e9 Lessac's art illuminates daily life and diversity within. If I could give one book about Native people to our youngest readers, this would be it! (For ages 3 to 7)158089772Xfamily-matters, identity-and-culture, kids-books, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/we-are-grateful-otsaliheliga2018
2073
Eddie Hernandez and Susan PuckettTurnip Greens & Tortillas: A Mexican Chef Spices Up The Southern KitchenAtlanta chef Eddie Hernandez is known for infusing the fresh flavors of his native Monterrey, Mexico, with traditions of his adopted South u2013 think Memphis barbecue tacos and buttermilk fried chicken with green chile-horseradish sauce. The fusion started when he was gifted a mess of backyard-garden turnip greens and wasn't quite sure what to do with them. So he approached them as he might cook wild Mexican greens u2013 adding fresh tomatoes and chile de arbol. Ordinarily I'd say there's no room for tomatoes in your potlikker, but these greens are addictive (just ask the regulars at his restaurant, Taqueria del Sol) Plus Angie Mosier's photographs of Hernandez's dishes will make your mouth water!544618823staff-picks, cookbooks-and-food, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/turnip-greens-tortillas-a-mexican-chef-spices-up-the-southern-kitchen2018
2074
Frye GaillardA Hard Rain: America In The 1960s, Our Decade Of Hope, Possibility, And Innocence LostFrye Gaillard offers a sweeping analysis of a "decade of hope and tragedy and blood," detailing the forces of change at play in American society u2013 in politics, social movements, science and the arts. What stands out are personal reflections on events that shaped Gaillard u2013 such as Robert Kennedy's response to Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination: "As I read over these words now... the historian's detachment disappears into memory," he writes. "I feel again the sense so many shared at the time that this was the heart of America laid bare u2013 the hope on the other side of our national inclination to violence.158838344Xstaff-picks, biography-and-memoir, for-history-lovers, nonfiction, rather-long, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/a-hard-rain-america-in-the-1960s-our-decade-of-hope-possibility-and-innocence-lost2018
2075
Malcolm White, illustrated by Ginger Williams CookThe Artful Evolution Of Hal & Mal'sI've learned a lot about Mississippi from Malcolm White. When on assignment in Jackson, I'd stop by Hal & Mal's for a plate of tamales, saltines with Comeback Sauce and some dish on the news. White's lovely coffee-table book tells the story of the institution he started with his late brother Hal. It's a loving family memoir u2013 but also recounts the eclectic who's who the brothers hosted, including acts from Albert King to Snoop Dogg. Writer and former Harper's editor Willie Morris had a phone installed at his regular table. Elvis never played Hal & Mal's, but the King has a place of honor, in velvet, on the wall by the men's room.1496812034staff-picks, cookbooks-and-food, family-matters, for-art-lovers, for-history-lovers, nonfiction, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-artful-evolution-of-hal-mals2018
2076
Jake TapperThe Hellfire ClubIf you're tired of political thrillers that feel ripped from the day's headlines, Jake Tapper has found the sweet spot to get you turning pages again. The Hellfire Club takes you back to the 1950s, but there are just enough nods to politics today to bring a wry smile as you read. The details u2013 fact and fiction u2013 all ring true as we watch a freshman congressman run afoul of political expediency while trying to serve the people, without losing his own soul in the process.031647231Xstaff-picks, for-history-lovers, mysteries-and-thrillers, the-dark-side, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-hellfire-club2018
2077
Ryan HolidayConspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, And The Anatomy Of IntrigueThese days, it seems some people see a conspiracy lurking around every corner, but sometimes there really is a conspiracy. Financier Peter Thiel was out for revenge after the website Gawker outed him as gay, and he found the perfect cover in a lawsuit Hulk Hogan brought against the site over a sex tape u2013 until, as Ryan Holiday reports, loose lips revealed the motive and the deep pockets funding Hogan's suit. This is a fascinating read that reminds us that true conspiracies have enough layers of plot to stay murky no matter what.735217645staff-picks, eye-opening-reads, lets-talk-about-sex, no-biz-like-show-biz, nonfiction, the-dark-sidehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/conspiracy-peter-thiel-hulk-hogan-gawker-and-the-anatomy-of-intrigue2018
2078
Madeleine AlbrightFascism: A WarningFascism is a label casually slapped on many agendas these days. Here, Madeleine Albright, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and secretary of state, brings her personal experience growing up in Europe during the days of Mussolini and Hitler as well as her academic and diplomatic study of dictators to parse which modern political leaders are boldly adopting fascist tactics u2013 and which ones are skirting the edges. Albright is a stylish and smooth writer, making big thoughts less vexing, providing context beyond a healthy Socratic approach. The questions she raises are important not just for history, but the present and the future.62802186staff-picks, eye-opening-reads, for-history-lovers, nonfiction, tales-from-around-the-world, the-dark-side, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/fascism-a-warning2018
2079
Lynn Vincent and Sara VladicIndianapolis: The True Story Of The Worst Sea Disaster In U.S. Naval History And The Fifty-Year Fight To Exonerate An Innocent ManThe USS Indianapolis would have a place in history just for its role delivering components of the first atomic bomb to the Pacific near the end of World War II. Days after drop-off, the ship was sunk by two Japanese torpedoes leading to the worst sea disaster in U.S. naval history. Hundreds of men died, and hundreds survived in the water while fighting off sharks, dehydration and delirium. The captain was court-martialed. It took decades and an unlikely combination of dogged advocates to exonerate the captain, exposing the weaknesses of bureaucracy and face-saving command structures.1501135945staff-picks, for-history-lovers, nonfiction, rather-long, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/indianapolis-the-true-story-of-the-worst-sea-disaster-in-us-naval-history-and-the-fiftyyear-fight-to-exonerate-an-innocent-man2018
2080
Jon MeachamThe Soul Of America: The Battle For Our Better AngelsIf the vitriol of today's political rhetoric has you thinking the United States is at its lowest point, Jon Meacham is here to remind you that the nation has weathered ugly chapters before. He is not Pollyanna, but he thoughtfully walks us through Reconstruction, the anti-immigrant movement in World War I and the strength of the KKK, the McCarthy era and LBJ's push for civil rights. These eras were chaotic u2013 and challenged the core values of American democracy u2013 but presidents found a path forward for the country with hope prevailing over fear.399589813staff-picks, eye-opening-reads, for-history-lovers, identity-and-culture, nonfiction, rather-longhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-soul-of-america-the-battle-for-our-better-angels2018
2081
Tayari JonesAn American Marriage: A NovelThis book moves breathtakingly quickly while it slowly breaks your heart. It is the story of newlyweds Roy and Celestial, whose marriage is forever altered by a random encounter that thrusts them into the vastness and injustice of the American criminal justice system. As it unfolds in letters and stories told by Roy, Celestial and Celestial's childhood friend, you switch your allegiances u2013 the characters all seem so real, and so innocent when it comes to the tragic, systemic issue this story springs from. Lest this seem too abstract, one more thing: There's lots of love here. So if you love love, like me, read this.1616208775staff-picks, book-club-ideas, family-matters, identity-and-culture, love-stories, realistic-fiction, seriously-great-writing, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/an-american-marriage-a-novel2018
2082
Brandon Webb and John David MannMastering Fear: A Navy SEAL's GuideI came across this book during a time when a new fear of heights had started to grip me in the middle of sessions at the climbing gym. Brandon Webb's advice comes from his years as a Navy SEAL and as a CEO (two extremely high-pressure jobs), but it boils down to an accessible "trust yourself and go for it" philosophy that applies to almost any nerve-wracking situation. His techniques for turning anxiety into excitement and energy are ones that I have incorporated into training new show directors, and while I'm not exactly ready to free solo El Cap, this book has helped me push through and keep climbing.525533567staff-picks, eye-opening-reads, nonfiction, rather-shorthttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/mastering-fear-a-navy-seals-guide2018
2083
John CarreyrouBad Blood: Secrets And Lies In A Silicon Valley StartupThis book is a total thriller and offers a visceral reminder: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Based on his Wall Street Journal investigative reporting, John Carreyrou expands the saga of Theranos, a Silicon Valley startup that was supposed to revolutionize health care but instead risked the health of millions of potential customers. This gripping and bizarre real-life drama has it all: a narcissistic leader drunk on power and venture capital who charms and strong-arms her employees, huge corporations, and even U.S. military generals into spending money on a too-good-to-be-true product that never worked u2013 and the years-long cover-up and ultimate whistleblowing that saved America from a prized startup's lies. I couldn't put this book down.9781524731656staff-picks, book-club-ideas, eye-opening-reads, mysteries-and-thrillers, nonfiction, science, the-dark-side, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/bad-blood-secrets-and-lies-in-a-silicon-valley-startup2018
2084
Idan Ben-Barak, illustrated by Julian FrostDo Not Lick This BookGerms are everywhere, so why not move them around for fun? Meet Min. She's a microbe living on the page of the book in front of you. By touching your teeth, clothes and bellybutton, you can move Min around and pick up more germy friends. Using a scanning electron microscope to show photographs of fibers and skin makes sure that even the youngest of readers get the message loud and clear: There is more to heaven and earth than can be seen with the naked eye. (For ages 4 to 8)1250175364eye-opening-reads, its-all-geek-to-me, kids-books, sciencehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/do-not-lick-this-book2018
2085
Anastasia HigginbothamNot My Idea: A Book About WhitenessMeticulously collaged paper art and candid writing combine in this close examination of white privilege for younger readers. Not My Idea follows a white boy who witnesses a police shooting on the news, and his well-meaning parents who try to downplay both the event and everyday racism. Historical context and discussions of personal responsibility provide a solid foundation for critical discussions with kids. (For ages 8 to 12)1948340003eye-opening-reads, family-matters, identity-and-culture, kids-books, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/not-my-idea-a-book-about-whiteness2018
2086
M.T. Anderson and Eugene YelchinThe Assassination Of Brangwain SpurgeJust your average Middle-Earth-Cold-War-buddy-comedy with an unreliable visual narrator. With their nations experiencing a tentative peace, an elf scholar meets with a goblin scholar to exchange artifacts. Unfortunately, both are pawns for forces greater than themselves. If Hieronymus Bosch and Terry Gilliam had a love child, it couldn't be more twisted and brilliant than the silent visual sequences you'll find on these pages.763698229for-art-lovers, funny-stuff, kids-books, rather-long, science-fiction-and-fantasy, seriously-great-writinghttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-assassination-of-brangwain-spurge2018
2087
Jaime HernandezThe Dragon Slayer: Folktales From Latin AmericaWho knew that the comic book format would provide the perfect medium for classic folktales? Three stories of smart women, clever fools and rat husbands are brought to life here with humor and an acute sense of style. Jaime Hernandez may be best known for Love And Rockets, but here his reworkings of these timeless tales pop off the page (and, happily, a bilingual Spanish edition sporting a peppy translation is also available!). (For ages 7 to 10)1943145296for-art-lovers, kids-books, science-fiction-and-fantasy, tales-from-around-the-worldhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-dragon-slayer-folktales-from-latin-america2018
2088
John HendrixThe Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer And The Plot To Kill HitlerThis graphic biography places pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer's faith squarely at its center. A good man in a world gone mad, he wrestles with the moral implications behind his role in attempted assassinations of Adolf Hitler. With art rendered in stark reds and blues, John Hendrix's story is as much a feast to the eyes as it is a stirring, but ultimately tragic, tale. (For ages 10 to 14)1419728385biography-and-memoir, for-history-lovers, kids-books, nonfiction, seriously-great-writing, tales-from-around-the-worldhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-faithful-spy-dietrich-bonhoeffer-and-the-plot-to-kill-hitler2018
2089
Ryan T. HigginsWe Don't Eat Our ClassmatesMaking friends is never easy, particularly when they're just so darn tasty! Penelope Rex is your typical T-Rex starting kindergarten, but her propensity for devouring her human seatmates lends nothing to her popularity. Only when she gets a taste of her own medicine, thanks to a particularly soulless goldfish, does she wrangle with the notion of self-control. Back-to-school stories can be a dime a dozen, but this is one hilarious take that anyone can enjoy. (For ages 5 to 6)1368003559funny-stuff, kids-bookshttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/we-dont-eat-our-classmates2018
2090
Rachel KushnerThe Mars Room: A NovelIf you loved Rachel Kushner's The Flame Throwers, you might think you're going for a similarly wild ride in her latest novel. You're not u2013 but you are in for another treat. And this journey is also primal: You meet protagonist Romy Hall on a night bus ride to prison. The Mars Room 's pleasures don't rise up and slap you in the face. Instead, Kushner slowly unspools Romy's history in rushes of memory, outlined with slow, aching details. This is a story about the underbelly of the underclass in 2003, and Romy's intelligence and humor slowly seep into your skin in 2018. The Mars Room is beautiful and bleak;it captures this moment in time better than the many political nonfiction books I've read this year.1476756554staff-picks, book-club-ideas, eye-opening-reads, ladies-first, realistic-fiction, seriously-great-writing, the-dark-side, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-mars-room-a-novel2018
2091
QuestloveCreative QuestQuestlove is king of the multi-hyphenates as an artist;he's co-founder/producer/drummer for rap band The Roots, musical director for Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show, an in-demand DJ, album producer, author, foodie and more. So it's a surprise to read, in the first line of his book about creativity, that Quest doesn't know if he truly is creative. The rest of the book explores his meditations on how creativity works, from mentorship to the question of whether artists ever transcend their influences. It's as if Questlove cracked open his mind and splashed his thoughts on the page, documenting his own restless creative journey while encouraging readers to take their own.62670557staff-picks, biography-and-memoir, eye-opening-reads, for-art-lovers, for-music-lovers, its-all-geek-to-me, nonfictionhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/creative-quest2018
2092
Nell ScovellJust The Funny Parts:...And A Few Hard Truths About Sneaking Into The Hollywood Boys' ClubTV writer extraordinaire Nell Scovell delivers three books in one. It's a hilariously self-deprecating, warts-and-all showbiz memoir, combined with an insightful how-to-survive-in-Hollywood manual, mixed with an incredibly brave chronicle of the sexism and harassment she has faced in a male-dominated industry. Scovell, who created ABC's Sabrina the Teenage Witch and has written for The Simpsons and Late Night with David Letterman, calls out Letterman for never hiring a writer of color and alleges, with detail, that Jim Stafford pressured her into sex when he was head writer for a Smothers Brothers revival series. Fortunately, the book is also so down to earth and funny u2013 there's an entire chapter devoted to writing jobs she didn't get u2013 that readers will laugh at least as much as they get angry.62473484staff-picks, biography-and-memoir, eye-opening-reads, funny-stuff, ladies-first, no-biz-like-show-biz, nonfictionhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/just-the-funny-parts-and-a-few-hard-truths-about-sneaking-into-the-hollywood-boys-club2018
2093
Joy PressStealing The Show: How Women Are Revolutionizing TelevisionFor many years, shows about middle-aged white guy antiheroes created by middle-aged white guy producers (called "showrunners") took center stage in the discussion of today's high-quality TV age. But in this book, longtime TV journalist-critic Joy Press details an important legacy of strong, creative female showrunners who challenged and changed how women were depicted. From Murphy Brown and Roseanne to Orange is the New Black and Transparent, Press outlines the backstories on how women behind some of television's most important female-centered series subverted stereotypes, while occasionally inspiring each other, helping the TV industry move forward u2013 sometimes, despite itself.1501137719staff-picks, for-history-lovers, ladies-first, no-biz-like-show-biz, nonfictionhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/stealing-the-show-how-women-are-revolutionizing-television2018
2094
Sigrid NunezThe Friend: A NovelGrief, it turns out, is more domain than emotion: A new manner of thinking that subsumes you after trauma. Sadness u2013 zoom out u2013 thinking about sadness u2013 zoom out u2013 thinking about how best to be sad. And to read The Friend is to be awash in the sharp particularities of one person's grief u2013 a faucet of literary references that buoy and drown a writer in equal parts after her close friend's suicide. And, thanks to the Great Dane that graces the book's Technicolor jacket, Sigrid Nunez's novel makes the persuasive case that grief u2013 fully opaque u2013 can't be understood, but it can be accepted.735219443staff-picks, book-club-ideas, love-stories, rather-short, realistic-fiction, seriously-great-writing, the-dark-sidehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-friend-a-novel2018
2095
Carol AndersonOne Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our DemocracyFrom white sheets to spreadsheets, One Person, No Vote documents the history of U.S. policy that has denied Americans of color their right to vote. Carol Anderson's prose is unflinching, and she wastes no time as she marches the reader from the openly racist, clear-cutting suppression tactics of the early 20th century toward the carefully veneered, ruthlessly efficient disenfranchisement campaign of the present. Whether you only think about voting on a single Tuesday in November or you're passionately engaged in the fight for the ballot, you will set this book down with the knowledge that it's all so much worse than you thought.1635571375staff-picks, eye-opening-reads, for-history-lovers, nonfiction, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/one-person-no-vote-how-voter-suppression-is-destroying-our-democracy2018
2096
Eric KlinenbergPalaces For The People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, And The Decline Of Civic LifeHow do you mend a fractured nation? Fund your local library. Eric Klinenberg's Palaces for the People makes the case that the fight for healthy communities and a vibrant democracy is won through a commitment to strong social infrastructure. Libraries, community pools, parks and the like serve as hubs for the kinds of programs and encounters that link people with a diverse range of experiences, and stitch together communities. Participating in community life is how you meet new people, escape from work and come to understand the lives that others live. And u2013 like Klinenberg's book u2013 it is a lot more heartening than scrolling through Twitter.1524761168staff-picks, eye-opening-reads, identity-and-culture, its-all-geek-to-me, nonfiction, tales-from-around-the-world, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/palaces-for-the-people-how-social-infrastructure-can-help-fight-inequality-polarization-and-the-decline-of-civic-life2018
2097
Tee Franklin, illustrated by Jenn St-Onge and Joy SanBingo LoveThere's a time and a place for unabashed sentimentality, and both are right in this sugar-sweet second-chance tale. In 1963, teenagers Mari and Hazel fall in love after encountering one another at a church bingo hall, but they're separated by their families. After decades of marriage and motherhood, they run across one another again u2013 in, of all places, another bingo hall. Who knew calling numbers and marking cards could be so romantic? Bold, bright illustrations by Jenn St-Onge and Joy San capture changing fashions and allow the star-crossed lovers to age beautifully.1534307508comics-and-graphic-novels, identity-and-culture, ladies-first, love-storieshttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/bingo-love2018
2098
Nate PowellCome AgainEarnest and unpredictable, Nate Powell's graphic novel fits no particular genre. A touch of the mystical keeps its slow-building true-life narrative off-kilter. Set in the 1970s, the story revolves around an "intentional community" in the Ozarks called Haven Station. Powell's expansive compositions evoke the sheer joy of summer days and nights in such a setting, but all is not as idyllic as it seems. Powell has come up with a strange and unexpected series of events that are both diverting and symbolically relevant.1603094288comics-and-graphic-novels, family-matters, the-dark-sidehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/come-again2018
2099
Pornsak Pichetshote and Aaron CampbellInfidelWhen Aisha, a Muslim woman living with her white fiancu00e9 and his daughter, begins having strange dreams and seeing horrible visions, she's propelled into a classic haunted-house story. As the tale evolves, Pornsak Pichetshote and Aaron Campbell delve into the real-world theme of racism while simultaneously embracing the phantasmal devices of horror. Drawing on that opposition, they express a subtle message about how racism works u2013 all while serving up scenes that will unsettle the world-weariest fan.1534308369book-club-ideas, comics-and-graphic-novels, identity-and-culture, science-fiction-and-fantasy, the-dark-side, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/infidel2018
2100
Carole Maurel and Mariko TamakiLuisa \u2013 Now And ThenCarole Maurel and Mariko Tamaki soften the time-travel story with their account of Luisa, whose 15-year-old self travels into the future to meet herself all grown up. The teenage Luisa is nonplussed to learn what has become of her: As an adult, she has given up on her creative dreams and failed at love. The two Luisas' reactions to the situation provide plenty of warm, funny moments, and Maurel's characteristically elegant and eloquent artwork heightens the drama of a familiar premise.1594656436comics-and-graphic-novels, identity-and-culture, ladies-first, love-storieshttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/luisa-now-and-then2018
2101
Cecil Castellucci and Marley ZarconeShade, The Changing Girl Vol. 2: Little RunawayThis delightful continuation of the adventures of Shade, an alien who takes over the body of a teenage mean girl, serves as further evidence of the creativity of self-described "21st-century flapper" Cecil Castellucci. Sensing the limitations of the high school milieu, Castellucci has Shade head off to explore America u2013 starting with Gotham City. Marley Zarcone's art is perfect for Castellucci's concept: crowded, vivid, yet subtly influenced by icy-cool stylists Adrian Tomine and Dan Clowes. Shade, the Changing Girl is both winsome and challenging u2013 the perfect blend.1401275451book-club-ideas, comics-and-graphic-novels, ladies-first, science-fiction-and-fantasy, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/shade-the-changing-girl-vol-2-little-runaway2018
2102
Jon Lee Anderson, illustrated by Jos\u00e9 Hern\u00e1ndezChe: A Revolutionary LifeJon Lee Anderson's critically acclaimed 1997 biography of Che Guevara comes to life in this graphical adaptation. Anderson's take on Che is subtle and engages thoughtfully with the subject's mythic status. Political cartoonist Josu00e9 Hernu00e1ndez is a phenomenal draftsman with a cinematic eye and a particular flair for drawing people;scenes of revolutionary intrigue spark in his characters' superbly inflected faces, and he renders the midcentury time period in gorgeous, sepia hues perfect for a book of history.735221774biography-and-memoir, comics-and-graphic-novels, for-art-lovers, for-history-lovers, nonfiction, tales-from-around-the-worldhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/che-a-revolutionary-life2018
2103
Ben PassmoreYour Black Friend And Other StrangersPassmore's short 2016 comic "Your Black Friend" was a sensation, and this collection of his work keeps the energy high. Writing about "how to laugh in the face of a world that wants to crush us," Passmore explores hate, indifference and how to be resilient in the face of both. He writes lavishly, piling on observations and theories until he nearly overflows his word balloons. His art, too, seems to have more motion and mise-en-scu00e8ne than his panels can comfortably contain. His sense of urgency is so potent, this book is like a juggernaut.1945509201comics-and-graphic-novels, eye-opening-reads, identity-and-culture, nonfictionhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/your-black-friend-and-other-strangers2018
2104
Lisa Brennan-JobsSmall FrySmall Fry might initally grab your attention because of the author's famous father. But Lisa Brennan-Jobs quickly moves you past this, captivating with her honest and self-aware writing. Brennan-Jobs calls her memoir a coming-of-age story, in which she recounts growing up in Silicon Valley during the 1980s while dad Steve Jobs came in and out of her life. The book is full of anecdotes that show Brennan-Jobs' desire for attention from her father and her fear of his unpredictability toward her. Brennan-Jobs artfully reveals her most shameful stories and intimate inner thoughts, without self-hatred or judgment. This engrossing memoir about identity and adolescence is relatable to anyone familiar with complicated family relationships.802128238staff-picks, biography-and-memoir, book-club-ideas, family-matters, nonfiction, seriously-great-writinghttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/small-fry2018
2105
Menno SchilthuizenDarwin Comes To Town: How The Urban Jungle Drives EvolutionUrban spaces are an ecosystem all their own;life makes its way into the cracks between paving stones. In this fascinating book about urban evolution, biologist and ecologist Menno Schilthuizen gives us case studies of over a dozen animals and plants that are adapting quickly to a changing world, in ways that are alternately fascinating and tragic. This is an engaging, sobering read that offers plenty of food for thought and casts a new light on the weeds in your driveway, the bugs in your porch lights and the birds on your telephone wires.1250127823eye-opening-reads, nonfiction, sciencehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/darwin-comes-to-town-how-the-urban-jungle-drives-evolution2018
2106
Brittney CooperEloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her SuperpowerLast year, Brittney Cooper wrote an academic history of black women as public intellectuals who fought seemingly unattainable prerequisites for being taken seriously. In Eloquent Rage, Cooper's stakes are more personal, but the struggle is the same. "Our feminist origin stories matter," she explains early in this book, which combines memoir and cultural observation as she traces the rocky road toward finding a feminism she can claim for herself. Sociopolitical frameworks can be hard to reconcile with the personal, and Cooper occasionally hits a needle scratch trying, but this book is otherwise smart, engaging and brings a much needed lens to contemporary feminism.1250112575biography-and-memoir, book-club-ideas, eye-opening-reads, identity-and-culture, ladies-first, nonfictionhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/eloquent-rage-a-black-feminist-discovers-her-superpower2018
2107
Kenji Miyazawa, translated by John BesterOnce And Forever: The Tales Of Kenji MiyazawaThis collection of tales by Kenji Miyazawa (a re-release of a 1993 edition, translated by John Bester) has an enchanting sense of wildness. Miyazawa (whose Night on the Galactic Railroad is considered a modern classic) lives in the details, whether in a story of frantic preparations for the expected visit of the Buddha, or a wicked joke about a suspiciously carnivorous restaurant. These tales turn familiar fairy-tale rhythms on their hands, balancing chaos and kindness, the natural and the supernatural, the unsettling and the inspiring. It will be right at home in any library of short stories or modern folklore.1681372606poetry, science-fiction-and-fantasy, tales-from-around-the-worldhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/once-and-forever-the-tales-of-kenji-miyazawa2018
2108
Tanya TagaqSplit ToothThis book, the first from Inuit musician Tanya Tagaq, defies easy categorization. (The Globe and Mail tried "mythobiography," which seems as good as anything.) Split Tooth juxtaposes sharply-observed vignettes of puberty, heartbreaking vulnerability and vivid bursts of the supernatural;they sometimes keep uneasy company but are held together by the sheer presence of the narrator as she guides us over her icy landscape, trusting us to understand the power of storytelling u2014 both as a literary device and as a necessity for navigating life. The result is a raw-edged tale as hypnotic and unrelenting as any of Tagaq's performances.670070092biography-and-memoir, for-music-lovers, identity-and-culture, ladies-first, nonfiction, rather-short, seriously-great-writing, tales-from-around-the-worldhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/split-tooth2018
2109
Claire G. ColemanTerra Nullius: A NovelJacky is running;he has escaped the residential school where children of the Natives are taken to be re-educated in the ways of the Settlers, who see the people they've subjugated as little better than animals. It's a familiar colonial narrative, but Claire Coleman (a member of Australia's Noongar Nation) deftly twists expectations. The invaders' cruelty takes on a brutal and immediate context, and the nature of the homegrown resistance confronts some uncomfortable truths about the present. The novel was shortlisted for several Australian awards, and no wonder u2014 it's a debut that leaves you excited for what's next.1618731513for-history-lovers, identity-and-culture, science-fiction-and-fantasy, tales-from-around-the-worldhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/terra-nullius-a-novel2018
2110
Dawn RaffelThe Strange Case Of Dr. Couney: How A Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands Of American BabiesAt first, this tale of a midway marvel reads like true crime;certainly Dr. Couney, who ran baby-incubator sideshows, is a mysterious figure. But author Dawn Raffel quickly becomes less interested in who he was than in what he did. Couney's incubator pavilions found homes on big-city boardwalks, wedged amid pseudo-scientific tourist exhibitions. But the babies in Couney's incubators had a survival rate so much higher than hospitals that the book ends up exploring larger questions about social sea changes, the power of public perception and what it means to meet those incubator babies. A compelling historical footnote, compassionately told.399175741eye-opening-reads, for-history-lovers, no-biz-like-show-biz, nonfiction, science, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/the-strange-case-of-dr-couney-how-a-mysterious-european-showman-saved-thousands-of-american-babies2018
2111
Michael KuppermanAll The AnswersCartoonist Michael Kupperman's father attained an odd and uniquely American kind of celebrity status in his youth: He was a precocious regular panelist on a televised trivia game show called Quiz Kids. His son's attempts to understand his father's youthful experience u2013 and the man's subsequent refusal to acknowledge that time of his life u2013 form the backbone of All The Answers, which is given a sense of urgency by the fact that the father is slowly sinking into dementia. Kupperman uses archival photos and news clippings to evoke the button-down blankness of midcentury America, and he invokes the cultural status of American Jews in the postwar era to provide enlightening context. But the graphic memoir's true subject is the frustrating unknowability of others and the tendency for our parents lives to hover perpetually beyond our reach.1501166433staff-picks, biography-and-memoir, book-club-ideas, comics-and-graphic-novels, family-matters, for-history-lovers, its-all-geek-to-me, nonfiction, rather-shorthttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/all-the-answers2018
2112
Mark DeryBorn To Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life And Mysterious Genius Of Edward GoreyThe late Edward Gorey was many things u2013 an artist, a writer, a set designer, an illustrator. Also: reclusive, idiosyncratic, macabre, surreal and profoundly queer. He became a beloved fixture of American literary life, but "beloved" is not the same thing as "appreciated." That's why Mark Dery's deep, clear-eyed biography of Gorey is so welcome. He pulls at the disparate threads running through Gorey's art u2013 influences from fusty Edwardian novelists to lusty pre-Stonewall counterculture u2013 and unearths the artist's gay identity, though any fan of Gorey's work will tell you that that particular act of excavation amounts to brushing off a light layer of topsoil.316188549staff-picks, biography-and-memoir, comics-and-graphic-novels, for-art-lovers, nonfiction, rather-longhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/born-to-be-posthumous-the-eccentric-life-and-mysterious-genius-of-edward-gorey2018
2113
Mark Russell, illustrated by Mike FeehanExit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss ChroniclesThis deeply odd six-issue miniseries stars Snagglepuss (yep, that one) as a gay Southern playwright in the '50s u2013 Tennessee Williams, basically u2013 under investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee. His friend and confidant is Huckleberry Hound (a William Faulkner stand-in, because why not?). It's such a weird idea on its (fuzzy-wuzzy) face that you could be forgiven for expecting the series to simply lunge for cheap laughs, but the more you read, the more a real, textured melancholy descends. Mark Russell and Mike Feehan place you in that place and time, and you watch lives and careers being destroyed. One of the year's most surprising u2013 and surprisingly wrenching u2013 comics.1401275214staff-picks, comics-and-graphic-novels, for-art-lovers, for-history-lovers, identity-and-culture, the-states-were-inhttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/exit-stage-left-the-snagglepuss-chronicles2018
2114
Ryan NorthHow To Invent Everything: A Survival Guide For The Stranded Time TravelerThe brilliant conceit: You're a time-traveler, and you've been issued this hefty, exhaustive handbook to account for any contingency you may experience in your temporal journeying. Should you find yourself stranded in the past, you'll find a series of chirpy instructions for creating the technology to make your stay more bearable u2013 from planting tea and tobacco (the handbook cautions you that, while it is a mild stimulant, tobacco will eventually be responsible for billions of deaths and will also lead to the invention of vaping) to wildlife domestication and computers. With generous humor, writer Ryan North throws in helpful charts and technology trees and sprinkles useful scientific history among the jokes;the result is a slyly funny piece of popular science writing.073522014Xstaff-picks, eye-opening-reads, its-all-geek-to-me, nonfiction, rather-long, sciencehttps://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/#/book/how-to-invent-everything-a-survival-guide-for-the-stranded-time-traveler2018
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