March 2019 Book List

book with glasses by Inc.

March 2019 Book List

I slipped and fell on my icy driveway, and after just getting a manicure too (which I rarely indulge in). My productivity declined in a fog of muscle relaxers that were a bit too mild for the job for the three weeks it took for my back to recover. When your body fails you, however temporarily, you begin to understand all the trendy talk about a mind-body connection. I had to fit my blogging in when I was functional, but my brain was not exactly firing on all cylinders. All of this is my excuse for why this book list is so late. The dog did not eat my homework; I blame this one on winter. Hope you find some good books in here. It looks very promising.

Amazon

Fiction

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

The Wall: A Novel by John Lanchester

The Old Drift: A Novel by Namwali Serpell

The Altruists by Andrew Ridker

A Woman is No Man: A Novel by Etaf Rum

The Parade by Dave Eggers

Daisy Jones and the Six: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

A Friend is a Gift You Give Yourself: A Novel by William Boyle

Little Faith by Nickolas Butler

The River: A Novel by Peter Heller

Mysteries and Thriller

The Lost Night: A Novel by Andrea Bartz

Wolf Pack (A Joe Pickets Novel) by C. J. Box

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

The Terminal List: A Thriller by Jack Carr

Run Away by Harlan Coben

The River by Peter Heller

Unto Us a Son Is Given (Guido Brunetti) by Donna Leon

The Border: A Novel (Power of the Dog) by Don Winslow

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Cemetery Road: A Novel by Greg Iles

Biographies and Memoirs

Louisa on the Front Lines: Louisa May Alcott in the Civil War by Samantha Seiple

The Sun is a Compass: A 4,000 mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds by Caroline Van Hemert

Era of Ignition: Coming of Age in a Time of Rage and Revolution by Amber Tamblyn

Good Talk: A Memoir on Conversation by Mira Jacobs

I.M.: A Memoir by Isaac Mizrahi

Too Much is Not Enough: A Memoir of Fumbling Toward Adulthood by Andrew Rannells

Magic is Dead: My Journey into the World’s most Secretive Society of Magicians by Jan Frisch

The Impossible Climb: Alex Honnold, El Capitan, and the Climbing Life by Mark Synnott

No Happy Endings: A Memoir by Nora McInerny

First: Sandra Day O’Connor by Evan Thomas

Nonfiction

The Human Tide: How Population Shaped the Modern World by Paul Morland

The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity by Amy Webb

The Lost Gutenberg: The Astounding Story of One Book’s Five Hundred Year Odyssey by Margaret Leslie Davis

An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago by Alex Kotiowitz

The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviors by Matthew O. Jackson

Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11 by James Donovan

Skeleton Keys: The Secret Life of Bone by Brian Switek

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves by Frans de Waal

Horizon by Barry Lopez

All That Remains: A Renowned Forensic Scientist on Death, Mortality and Solving Crimes by Sue Black DBE FRSE

The Perfect Predator: A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Giant Superbug by Steffanie Strathdee, Thomas Patterson

Science Fiction and Fantasy

One Way by S.J. Morden, Bk. 1

No Way by S.J. Morden, Bk. 2

Winter World by A.G. Riddle

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

Women’s War by Jenna Glass

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The Municipalists: A Novel by Seth Fried

The New York Times Book Review

Feb. 8

Fiction

Black Leopard, Red Wolf, 1stvolume, Dark Star Trilogy by Marlon James

Same, Same by Peter Mendelsund

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

I Am God by Giacomo Sartori

Nonfiction

Unexampled Courage by Richard Gergel

The Unwinding of the Miracle by Julie Yip-Williams

A Bright Future by Joshua Goldstein and Staffan A. Qvist

Maid by Stephanie Land

An Indefinite Sentence by Siddharth Dube

The Short List – Einstein’s Legacy

Einstein’s Shadow by Seth Fletcher

Einstein’s Monsters: The Life and Times of Black Holes by Chris Impey

Breakfast with Einstein: The Exotic Physics of Everyday Objects by Chad Orzel

New and Noteworthy

The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman

Only in New York by Sam Roberts

Jimmy Neurosis by James Oseland

The Missing Pages by Heghnar Zietlian

The Wild Bunch by W. K. Stralton

9 Books Recommended by Editors

Notes from a Black Woman’s Diary: Selected Works of Kathleen Collins by Kathleen Collins

Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe called Quest by Hanif Abdurraqib

As Long as We Both Shall Live by JoAnn Choney

The Plotters by Un-Su Kim, trans. by Sara Kim-Russell

Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe by Roger McNamee

Antisemitism: Here and Now by Deborah E. Lipstadt

Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why it Matters Now by Alan Rusbridger

Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts by Jill Abramson

The Dakota Winters by Tom Barbash

Political Tell-Alls

Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in Trump’s White House by Cliff Sims

Let Me Finish by Chris Christie

The Threat: How the FBI protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump by Andrew McCabe

Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law by Preet Bharrara

Feb. 15

Fiction

Landfall by Thomas Mallon

Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Nonfiction

All the Lives We Never Lived by Katharine Smyth

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

Wild Bill by Tom Calvin

Lady First by Amy Greenberg

Walk This Way by Geoff Edgers

The Short List – 5 Essay Collections by Women of Color

Womanish: A Grown Black Woman Speaks on Love and Life by Kim McLarin

Notes from a Black Woman’s Diary: Selected Works of Kathleen Collins by Nina Lorez Collins

Brown White Black: An American Family at the Intersection of Race, Gender, Sexuality and Religion by Nishta J. Mehra

Black is the Body: Stories From My Grandmother’s Time, and Mine by Emily Bernard

Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottam

Blockchain Tech

Blockchain and Law: The Rule of Code by Primavera De Filippi and Aaron Wright

The Blockchain and the New Architecture of Trust by Kevin Warback

Crime

Stalker by Lars Kepler

Careless Love by Peter Robinson

The Wedding Guest by Jonathan Kellerman

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

New This Week – Audio Books

Atomic Marriage by Curtis Sittenfelf

The Stranger Inside by Laura Benedict

Power Moves by Adam Grant

The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm by Christopher Paolini

The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson

9 New Books We Recommend

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham

Nobody’s Looking at You: Essays by Janet Malcolm

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring by Richard Gergel

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land

The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything that Comes After by Julie Yip-Williams

An Indefinite Sentence: A Personal History of Outlawed Love and Sex by Siddharth Dube

Einstein’s Shadow: A Black Hole, a Band of Astronomers, and the Quest to see the Unseeable by Seth Fletcher

Feb. 24

Nonfiction

How to Disappear by Akiko Busch

Silence by Jane Brox

Separate: The Story of Plessy v Ferguson, and America’s Journey from Slavery to Segregation by Steve Luxemberg

Notes on a Shipwreck by Davide Enia

If We Can Keep it by Michael Tomasky

Sleeping with Strangers by David Thomson

Shortest Way Home by Pete Buttigieg

Fiction

The Cassandra by Sharma Shields

Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman

Leading Men by Christopher Castellani

New Fantasy Fiction

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyon (Series – Chorus of Dragons

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

Fiction

Wella and Hesper by Amy Feltman

Coming of Age Overseas

What Hell is Not by Alessandro D’Avenia

99 Night in Logas by Jamil Jan Kochai

March 1

Nonfiction

Mama’s Last Hug by Frans de Waal

Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

Empires of the Weak by J.S. Sharman

The Source of Self-Regard by Toni Morrison

The Third Pillar by Raghuram Rajan

Memoirs of Love and Loss

How to Be Loved by Eva Hagberg Fisher

Joy Enough by Sarah McColl

The Art of Leaving: A Memoir in Essays by Ayelet Tsabari

Fiction

The White Book by Han Kang

Death is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa

Zuleikha by Guzel Yakim

Crime

The Border (last in a trilogy) by Don Winslow

Unto Us a Son is Given (Guido Brunetti) by Donna Leon

A Friend is a Gift Yourself by William Boyle

Cemetery Road by Greg Iles

Fiction

The Heavens by Sandra Newman

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

NYT’s article – Sabra Embury, a writer, asks authors to draw 10 second drawings of rabbits (bunnies). Not a book, but fun to check out.

www.nytimes.com/2019/03/01/books/sabra-embury.html

A few books recommended by editors

The Threat by Andrew McCabe

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval by Saidiya Hartman

Sleeping with Strangers: How the Movies Shaped Desire by David Thomson

Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman

Publishers Weekly Tip Sheets

Feb. 4

Stalin’s Scribe: Literature, Ambition, and Survival: The Life of Mikhail Sholokov by Brian J. Boeck NF

Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline by Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson NF

Europe: A Natural History by Tim Flannery NF

El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America by Carrie Gibson NF

Lady First: The World of First Lady Sarah Polk by Amy S. Greenberg NF

What We Did: A Novel by Christobel Kent F

A People’s Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams F – short story anthology

The Ruin of Kings: A Chorus of Dragon’s, Book 1, by Jenn Lyons F

Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken F

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides F

Magical Negro by Morgan Parker F

I Am God by Giacomo Sartori F

The Age of Light by Whitney Sharer F

Off Season by James Sturm F, graphic novel

The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang NF, essays

The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber F

Feb. 11

The Pianist from Syria: A Memoir by Aeham Ahmad NF, Memoir

Leading Men by Christopher Castellani F

The Night Tiger by Yongsze Choo F

Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving by Caitlyn Collins NF

Parkland by Dave Cullen NF

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts F

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli F

Rag by Maryse Farrar F, short stories

Honey in the Carcase by Josip Novakovich F

The Reckoning by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, trans. from Icelandic by Victoria Cobb F

Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima, trans. from Japanese by Geraldine Harcourt F

American Spy by LaurenWilkinson F

Feb. 18

Trump Sky Alpha by Mark Doten F

Where Oblivion Lives by T. Frohock F

In the Dark by Cara Hunter F

How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr NF

The Darkest Year: The American Homefront, 1941-1942 by William K Klingaman NF

Broken Stars (Anthology) edited and trans. from the Chinese by Ken Liu F, science fiction short stories

American Heroin by Melissa Scrivner F

Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives in World War II by Adam Mako NF

Nobody’s Looking at You: Essays by Janet Malcolm NF, essays

The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America edited by Nikesh Shukla, NF, essays

Feb. 25

Vacuum in the Dark by Jen Beagin F

The Very Best of the Best: 25 Years of the Year’s Best Science Fiction edited by Gardner Dozios F, short stories

After She’s Gone by Camilla Grebe, trans. from Swedish by Elizabeth Clark Wessel F

Buying Gay: How Physique Entrepreneurs Sparked a Movement by David K Johnson NF

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe NF

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie F

Mother Country by Irina Reyn F

PTSD by Guillaume Singelin “This is a glorious meditation on the lingering horrors of war.” F

Hot Protestants: A History of Puritanism in England and America by Michael P Winship NF

 

You can find my book blogs at:

https://thearmchairobserver.com/(both books and politics)

https://nbrissonbookblog.com/  (book blogs only)

on Goodreads.com as Nancy Brisson

 

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker – Book

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The Dreamers by Karen Thomas Walker is a story of a viral outbreak, think ebola, only without bodily fluids. This virus hits a small college in the middle of nowhere, a tiny town, one road in-one road out. Where did the virus originate? Some said a strange haze moved through their college town one day. The town is in the middle of a drought. Is that the cause? The author suggests that letters from earlier centuries hint at a similar infection.

The virus strikes in the freshman college dorm first. Mei is a new student at Santa Lora who is finding social life difficult, but her roommate Kara connects with the other students easily. Kara is the first to feel woozy, she is the first to fall into her bed fully dressed after a night of drinking and partying, and she is also the first to die from whatever this is.

Caleb is the only person in the dorm who has the social skills to deal with Kara’s grieving parents. When the students drown their seriousness in a party that is pure escapism Caleb puts the moves on Rebecca, child of a religious family, home schooled, but finding herself a social success at school When he wakes everyone up in the morning with his screaming there is Rebecca in his bed and she has the virus.

The author tells us, “The first stage of sleep is the lightest, the brief letting go, like the skipping of a stone across the water. This is the nodding of a head in a theater. This is the dropping of a book in bed. Rebecca falls quickly into that first layer. Ten more minutes. She sinks further, just the beginning of the deep dive. This is when a sudden dream floats through her. She is at church with her parents. A baby is being baptized,”

The virus turns people into dreamers who cannot be awakened. If they are not fed through tubes and given water through IV’s they die of dreaming. It seems just a gentle virus, and few discussions of gross bodily functions trouble that dreamy quality (although such care must also be required).

I enjoyed reading The Dreamers but it left me with more questions than answers. Is it symbolic that this happens in a college town? Is it symbolic that the woods are dying from an attack by insects, that the lake is drying up from a long string of perfectly sunny days – a drought? Is it symbolic that the college administrators house the dreamers in a library?

The author takes us through the disciplines of thinkers who have dealt with dreaming, with mental time travel, with the past, present and the future – the Classics, the Psychology section, the Philosophers, the Physicists, the Linguists. Time does seem to morph for these dreamers in subtle ways.

Is it symbolic that Rebecca sleeps with a “sleeper” – a baby growing inside unknown to all, a baby whose every stage of development is described. Why does Rebecca dream that she has a boy child and then lose her sweet boy when she is delivered of a girl. She goes through the rest of her life loving her daughter but missing her son, who seemed more real in that dream state than what turns up in her actual life?

As with any virus some who fall to dreaming never wake up.

Is the small fire that begins in the forest and is quickly put out a foreshadowing of another key fire in this story?

The isolation of the college perhaps stops the virus from becoming widespread. So many volunteers show up to tend to the dreamers. In spite of protective suits and masks some get ill anyway and take their place on a cot. Some defy their suits to offer some personal gesture to a dreamer and get infected. Once you come into the village you cannot leave.

I just don’t know if this book simply takes us through an experience, the way an epidemic does, or if it has a point, a meaning, is perhaps a conceit, an extended metaphor. It strikes me as a skillful exercise in writing, immersive, beautifully realized, but, except for the baby growing in the midst of all that sleepiness in that lovely dying landscape, it seems without relevance, especially since it happens in a place almost as remote in time and place as Brigadoon. Perhaps a deeper message will dawn on me at some later moment. However Walker truly created a dreamy quality and that is skillful, like a painter who can capture transparency.

From a Google Image Search – The Bibliofile

There, There by Tommy Orange – Book

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The acclaim There, Thereby Tommy Orange has earned is well deserved. I would think that there is nothing quite like it in the catalogue of the literature of indigenous people. There have been successful books, both fiction and nonfiction, by Native Americans, but this has a very modern sensibility and form.

Native Americans for the most part do not occupy their ancestral lands and we all know why. Although we cannot change what our nation’s forefathers did through arrogance, their misguided assurance of their supremacy as white-skinned people, their social structure which favored populated cities surrounded by farms, and their fear of warriors who were trying to make these settlers leave for reasons we can well understand, when Tommy Orange exposes the way we have turned a multiverse of Native Americans into a single stereotype we see that we are guilty.

Tommy Orange keeps these guilty realities sometimes in the foreground and sometimes tucked away in the background. We arrive early in his novel at the occupation of Alcatraz in 1969. What seemed like a fine symbolic gesture and a bid for active resistance against being assigned to reservations without any choice proved to be an untenable situation, in terms of supply lines, the harshness of the island itself with its dilapidated prison, and interpersonal relationships that went off the rails without strong leadership.

Orange makes it a point to tell us that it was believed that Native Americans would either hate cities or be assimilated into American cities, but then he shows us that urban areas have actually allowed Indians to keep their culture alive. I use the word Indian only because the author does. In every city there are Indian Centers and the stories, songs, and dances are keep alive and shared. If they aren’t shared person-to-person, they are shared on the internet.

“But what we are is what our ancestors did. How they survived. We are the memories we don’t remember, which live in us, which we feel, which make us sing and dance and pray the way we do, feelings from memories that flare and bloom unexpectedly in our lives like blood through a blanket from a bullet fired by a man shooting us in the back for our hair, for our heads, for a bounty, or just to get rid of us.”

At first we seem to be reading a series of essays and short stories about Orange’s characters, but we can feel the pull of some event that ties all the elements together. Opal Viola Bear Shield and Jacquie Red Feather are sisters (to understand their non-matching surnames, read the book). Around these two revolve the stories of many other characters, mostly men and young boys. Overall looms the Pow Wow planned for the Oakland Coliseum towards which everyone moves to finally meet on a single fateful day.

I would have wished for a more upbeat ending, for more hope and the promise of positive outcomes. But this book, while it invites us all to read it, may not be something all of us can understand in a soul deep way, at least not without some time and thought. The ending, along with other factors, is what makes this book literature instead of just fiction. I may not belong at the pow wow, but we all may be headed for some sort of urban apocalypse, after which life will probably still go on, for good or ill.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – NPR