Fencing with the King - Diana Abu-Jaber (W.W. Norton & Company)

The King of Jordan is turning 60! How better to celebrate the occasion than with his favorite pastime--fencing--and with his favorite sparring partner, Gabriel Hamdan, who must be enticed back from America, where he lives with his wife and his daughter, Amani.

Amani, a divorced poet, jumps at the chance to accompany her father to his homeland for the King's birthday. Her father's past is a mystery to her--even more so since she found a poem on blue airmail paper slipped into one of his old Arabic books, written by his mother, a Palestinian refugee who arrived in Jordan during World War I. Her words hint at a long-kept family secret, carefully guarded by Uncle Hafez, an advisor to the King, who has quite personal reasons for inviting his brother to the birthday party. In a sibling rivalry that carries ancient echoes, the Hamdan brothers must face a reckoning, with themselves and with each other--one that almost costs Amani her life.

With sharp insight into modern politics and family dynamics, taboos around mental illness, and our inescapable relationship to the past, Fencing with the King asks how we contend with inheritance: familial and cultural, hidden and openly contested. Shot through with warmth and vitality, intelligence and spirit, it is absorbing and satisfying on every level, a wise and rare literary treat.


To the One I Love the Best - Ludwig Bemelmans (Puskin Press)

Ludwig Bemelmans' charming intergenerational friendship with the late-in-life "First Lady of Interior Decoration" provides an enormously enjoyable nostalgia trip to the sun-soaked glamour of Los Angeles, where de Wolfe surrounded herself with classic movie stars and a luminous parade of life's oddities.

With hilarity and mischief that de Wolfe would no doubt approve, To the One I Love the Best lifts the curtain on 1950s Hollywood--a bygone world of extravagance and eccentricity, where the parties are held in circus tents and populated by ravishing movie stars.

Bemelmans, who was working at MGM, had originally come to the California home of de Wolfe just for cocktails but by the end of the night, he was firmly established as a member of the family: given a bedroom in their sumptuous house, invitations to the most outrageous parties in Hollywood, and the friendship of the larger-than-life woman known to her closest friends simply as 'Mother'.

To the One I Love the Best (which refers to de Wolfe's dog) is a touching tribute to a fabulously funny woman and an American icon.


The Correspondents: Six Women Writers on the Front Lines of World War II - Judith Mackrell (Vintage)

"Not only did female journalists face the challenges and dangers of actually reporting the war, but first they had to battle even to be allowed to cover it. Barred from combat zones, they had to hitchhike to the front line and struggled to get assignments from editors, some of whom fielded complaints from readers who did not want their news to come from women correspondents...Just as women are so often written out of war, so it seems are the female correspondents. Mackrell corrects this omission admirably with stories of six of the best...Mackrell has done us all a great service by assembling their own fascinating stories."
--New York Times Book Review


A Brief History of Earth: Four Billion Years in Eight Chapters - Andrew H. Knoll (Mariner Books)

How well do you know the ground beneath your feet?

Odds are, where you're standing was once cooking under a roiling sea of lava, crushed by a towering sheet of ice, rocked by a nearby meteor strike, or perhaps choked by poison gases, drowned beneath ocean, perched atop a mountain range, or roamed by fearsome monsters. Probably most or even all of the above.

The story of our home planet and the organisms spread across its surface is far more spectacular than any Hollywood blockbuster, filled with enough plot twists to rival a bestselling thriller. But only recently have we begun to piece together the whole mystery into a coherent narrative. Drawing on his decades of field research and up-to-the-minute understanding of the latest science, renowned geologist Andrew H. Knoll delivers a rigorous yet accessible biography of Earth, charting our home planet's epic 4.6 billion-year story. Placing twenty first-century climate change in deep context, A Brief History of Earth is an indispensable look at where we've been and where we're going.


Foster - Claire Keegan (Grove Press)

"An international bestseller and one of The Times's "Top 50 Novels Published in the 21st Century," Claire Keegan's piercing contemporary classic Foster is a heartbreaking story of childhood, loss, and love, now released as a standalone book for the first time ever in the US. It is a hot summer in rural Ireland. A child is taken by her father to live with relatives on a farm, not knowing when or if she will be brought home again. In the Kinsellas' house, she finds an affection and warmth she has not known and slowly, in their care, begins to blossom. But there is something unspoken in this new household-where everything is so well tended to-and this summer must soon come to an end. Winner of the prestigious Davy Byrnes Award and published in an abridged version in the New Yorker, this internationally bestselling contemporary classic is now available for the first time in the US in a full, standalone edition. A story of astonishing emotional depth, Foster showcases Claire Keegan's great talent and secures her reputation as one of our most important storytellers"--


The Law of Innocence (Lincoln Lawyer Novel #6) - Michael Connelly (Grand Central Publishing)

On the night he celebrates a big win, defense attorney Mickey Haller is pulled over by police, who find the body of a former client in the trunk of his Lincoln. Haller is immediately charged with murder but can't post the exorbitant $5 million bail slapped on him by a vindictive judge.

Mickey elects to represent himself and is forced to mount his defense from his jail cell in the Twin Towers Correctional Center in downtown Los Angeles. All the while he needs to look over his shoulder--as an officer of the court he is an instant target, and he makes few friends when he reveals a corruption plot within the jail.

But the bigger plot is the one against him. Haller knows he's been framed, whether by a new enemy or an old one. As his trusted team, including his half-brother, Harry Bosch, investigates, Haller must use all his skills in the courtroom to counter the damning evidence against him.

Even if he can obtain a not-guilty verdict, Mickey understands that it won't be enough. In order to be truly exonerated, he must find out who really committed the murder and why. That is the law of innocence.

In his highest stakes case yet, the Lincoln Lawyer fights for his life and proves again why he is "a worthy colleague of Atticus Finch . . . in the front of the pack in the legal thriller game" ( Los Angeles Times).


The Cat Who Saved Books - Sosuke Natsukawa (Harpervia)

Bookish high school student Rintaro Natsuki is about to close the secondhand bookstore he inherited from his beloved bookworm grandfather. Then, a talking cat appears with an unusual request. The feline asks for--or rather, demands--the teenager's help in saving books with him. The world is full of lonely books left unread and unloved, and the cat and Rintaro must liberate them from their neglectful owners.

Their mission sends this odd couple on an amazing journey, where they enter different mazes to set books free. Through their travels, the cat and Rintaro meet a man who leaves his books to perish on a bookshelf, an unwitting book torturer who cuts the pages of books into snippets to help people speed read, and a publishing drone who only wants to create bestsellers. Their adventures culminate in one final, unforgettable challenge--the last maze that awaits leads Rintaro down a realm only the bravest dare enter . . .

An enthralling tale of books, first love, fantasy, and an unusual friendship with a talking cat, The Cat Who Saved Books is a story for those for whom books are so much more than words on paper.

Translated from the Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai.


Index, A History of the: A Bookish Adventure from Medieval Manuscripts to the Digital Age - Dennis Duncan (W.W. Norton & Company)

Most of us give little thought to the back of the book--it's just where you go to look things up. But as Dennis Duncan reveals in this delightful and witty history, hiding in plain sight is an unlikely realm of ambition and obsession, sparring and politicking, pleasure and play. In the pages of the index, we might find Butchers, to be avoided, or Cows that sh-te Fire, or even catch Calvin in his chamber with a Nonne. Here, for the first time, is the secret world of the index: an unsung but extraordinary everyday tool, with an illustrious but little-known past.

Charting its curious path from the monasteries and universities of thirteenth-century Europe to Silicon Valley in the twenty-first, Duncan uncovers how it has saved heretics from the stake, kept politicians from high office, and made us all into the readers we are today. We follow it through German print shops and Enlightenment coffee houses, novelists' living rooms and university laboratories, encountering emperors and popes, philosophers and prime ministers, poets, librarians and--of course--indexers along the way. Revealing its vast role in our evolving literary and intellectual culture, Duncan shows that, for all our anxieties about the Age of Search, we are all index-rakers at heart--and we have been for eight hundred years.


The Good Left Undone - Adriana Trigiani (Dutton)

" The Good Left Undone is deliciously told, with fully explored characters, mouthwatering descriptions of Italian food, and charming yet quirky towns. What's exceptional about the novel is how seamlessly she knits together different sto­ries from many places and times, bringing it all together in one poignant and satisfying book. This is a gorgeously written story about inter­generational love and heartbreak, the futility of regret, and the power of a life well lived. It's also a love letter to Italy and its beautiful and pain­ful history."


Why Architecture Matters - Paul Goldberger (Yale University Press)

"Architecture begins to matter," writes Paul Goldberger, "when it brings delight and sadness and perplexity and awe along with a roof over our heads." In Why Architecture Matters, he shows us how that works in examples ranging from a small Cape Cod cottage to the vast, flowing Prairie houses of Frank Lloyd Wright, from the Lincoln Memorial to the Guggenheim Bilbao. He eloquently describes the Church of Sant'Ivo in Rome as a work that "embraces the deepest complexities of human imagination."

 

In his afterword to this new edition, Goldberger addresses the current climate in architectural history and takes a more nuanced look at projects such as Thomas Jefferson's academic village at the University of Virginia and figures including Philip Johnson, whose controversial status has been the topic of much recent discourse. He argues that the emotional impact of great architecture remains vital, even as he welcomes the shift in the field to an increased emphasis on social justice and sustainability.