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Gift Ideas for Graduates

makeyourbedMAKE YOUR BED
William H. McRaven
Admiral William H. McRaven learned to always make his bed while in the Navy. This was one of ten lessons he passed on in a 2014 commencement address at the University of Texas at Austin. Making your bed in the morning won’t change the world, or it just might.

allthesewondersALL THESE WONDERS
Catherine Burns
This is a collection of true stories about risk, courage, and facing the unknown from the popular radio storytelling hour, The Moth. Storytellers include Louis C.K., Tig Notaro, John Turturro, and Meg Wolitzer, as well as a hip hop ‘one hit wonder, ‘ an astronomer gazing at the surface of Pluto for the first time, and a young female spy risking everything as part of Churchill’s ‘secret army’ during World War II.

congratulationsbythewayCONGRATULATIONS, BY THE WAY
George Saunders
Try to be kinder. That is the advice lauded writer for the New Yorker and MacArthur Fellowship recipient George Saunders had for Syracuse University’s graduating class of 2013. The loving selflessness that he advises and the interconnectedness that he recognizes couldn’t be purer or simpler, or more challenging.

strengthsfinderSTRENGTHS FINDER 2.O
Tom Rath
How can you spend your life doing what you do best? Humans spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on fixing their weaknesses rather than expending energy developing our strengths. This central argument of Tom Rath’s book puts the power in the hands of the readers. Rath helps readers determine and develop individual strengths for a more successful life.

Grace Bonney
These profiles of 100 influential women in business provides inspiration and practical tips for women entrepreneurs. Bonney, founder of the website Design*Sponge (, tells the incredible stories of women around the globe who overcome adversity to achieve their dreams. “A joyful book that celebrates both the diversity of beauty and the beauty of diversity: in race, age, size, sexuality, and ways of thinking,” said Hanya Yanagihara, New York Times bestselling author of A Little Life.

maketroubleMAKE TROUBLE
John Waters
Embrace chaos. Be nosy. Don’t be afraid to be offensive. John Waters is known for being subversive, and his commencement address at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2015 is unsurprisingly incendiary. Light the world on fire, make trouble and find success on your own terms.

bigtripBIG TRIP
Lonely Planet
This handy guide is full of travel tips and advice for young people interested in planning overseas adventures such as spending a gap year prior to going to college, volunteering, working, or studying abroad. Highlights include a list of 20 big trips, full-page maps of continental areas, spectacular full-color photographs, and first-person experiences. Recommended for young, novice travelers eager to see the world.

bigmagicBIG MAGIC
Elizabeth Gilbert
From the woman behind Eat Pray Love comes a book about embracing fear and living an authentic life. Balancing spirituality and pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy

ohtheplacesyoullgoOH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!
Dr. Seuss
This classic childrens book for adults by the beloved Dr. Seuss is a book we can never outgrow. In this joyous ode to life, Dr. Seuss addresses graduates of all ages—From nursery school to medical school—and gives them the get-up-and-go to move mountains with the unrivaled exuberance and charm.

travelasapoliticalactTRAVEL AS A POLITICAL ACT
Rick Steves
Travel connects people with people. It helps us fit more comfortably and compatibly into a shrinking world, and it inspires creative new solutions to persistent problems facing our nation. We can’t understand our world without experiencing it. There’s more to travel than good-value hotels, great art, and tasty cuisine. Americans who “travel as a political act” can have the time of their lives and come home smarter, with a better understanding of the interconnectedness of today’s world and just how our nation fits in.

betweenyouandmeBETWEEN YOU & ME
Mary Norris
According to Mary Norris, copy editor at the New Yorker and Comma Queen, I is not the formal version of you, “a hyphen is not a moral issue,” and you “cannot legislate language.” You can break language apart however, and determine how each piece functions. From an ode to pencils to a special homage to a fellow copy-editor, Norris offers much more than a grammarian’s guide. This is a humorous, insightful memoir of a logofile’s life. –Becky


Great Reads Now in Paperback

thenixTHE NIX
Nathan Hill
What do a a failed writer (turned college professor), his estranged (and possibly terrorist) mother, an obese video game addict, and a serially-cheating college student have in common? Their lives are about to connect in unexpected and far reaching ways. In his ambitious, funny, and provocative debut novel Hicks probes Nordic folktales, the history of political unrest in the second half of the 20th century, and the impacts of social media and video games on the psyches (and empathy) of modern Americans. Hill has the knack for writing characters readers feel like we’ve known our entire lives, and his dialog is funny, wise, and alive. Be prepared to suck in your breath, to laugh helplessly, and to lose yourself in brilliant commentary (in the guise of an engaging novel) about the state of today’s world. –review by Becky

homegoingHOME GOING
Yaa Gyasi
Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the North to the Great Migration to the streets of 20th century Harlem, Gyasi has written a modern masterpiece that is unforgettable. This is one of my favorite novels of the year.  –review by Sheila

razorgirlRAZOR GIRL
Carl Hiaasen
Raucous, raunchy, and fabulous, Hiaasen’s latest revolves around two true news blurbs: first is the eponymous Razor Girl, whose niche calling in life is that she enjoys driving around South Florida rear-ending drivers while shaving her lady bits and kidnapping the smitten and stunned drivers. Second is a massive infestation of goat-sized rats in the Keys. These premises plus a handful of rednecks and a few effete Californians provide the ingredients for a spicy read indeed. As usual, Hiassen’s writing is witty (at one point requiring the reader to translate “whore beach” from Spanish to get a travel agent’s joke), and the dialog does not disappoint.
review by Janna

Ann Patchett
As a child, Franny’s life is changed when her parents divorce, her mother remarries, and she is suddenly part of a blended family of siblings and situations. This is a tender and heartbreaking novel about the dissolution of families, the creation of new relationships, and the effect this has on the children involved. Beautifully written in Ann Patchett’s gifted style. –review by Anita

darkmatterDARK MATTER
Blake Crouch
This is a thriller of quantum proportions based on the many-worlds theory of quantum mechanics, which states that every possible outcome can and does occur. When Jason Dessen, a physics professor at a small Chicago college, is violently attacked, drugged and kidnapped, he wakes to a world that is not his own. His wife doesn’t know him, his son never existed, and Jason has just won a prestigious scientific prize for research he stopped decades before. Or did he? The harrowing journey home will test Jason in every conceivable way, including his understanding of the universe. This is a smart, fast-paced, consuming book that gives Schroedinger’s cat a refreshing twist. Becky and Susan recommend this read. –review by Becky

Shawn Vestal
The year is 1974, the year of Patti Hearst’s kidnapping and Nixon’s resignation, the year of the Fawcett flip and the year Eval Kneval jumps the Snake River. Lorretta (Lori), caught sneaking around with her boyfriend, is married, a “sister wife” and mother, at fifteen. A desert away, Jason rattles in the passenger seat of his grandfather’s Ford pickup. What do you think? He gonna make it? Jason ponders his grandfather’s question, imagines Eval Kneval shooting across that shadowed canyon. His answer is as uncertain as his faith and both are about to be tested. Lori and Jason will take the road trip that will change their lives forever, but not how they expect. Vestal’s writing feels like the desert, gritty and raw but unexpectedly—incredibly—beautiful. He displays both keen insight into the psyche of adolescence and into the Mormon faith. This is a coming-of-age story, also one of disillusionment and the idols we must cast away to find ourselves. – review by Becky


Books to Celebrate National Poetry Month

Maya Angelou
Throughout her illustrious career in letters, Maya Angelou gifted, healed, and inspired the world with her words. Now the beauty and spirit of those words live on in this new and complete collection of poetry that reflects and honors the writer’s remarkable life. Every poetic phrase, every poignant verse can be found within the pages of this sure-to-be-treasured volume—from her reflections on African American life and hardship, to her revolutionary celebrations of womanhood. This collection also includes Angelou’s tribute at President William Jefferson Clinton’s inauguration, and the never-before-published poem “Amazement Awaits,” commissioned for the 2008 Olympic Games. -from Publisher Marketing

Leonard Cohen
This is a magnificent selection of song lyrics and poems from across the storied career of one of the most daring and affecting poet-songwriters in the world. In the more than half century since his first book of poems was published, Leonard Cohen has evolved into an international cult figure who transcends genres and generations. This anthology contains a cross section of his five decades of influential work, and searingly memorable poems from his many acclaimed poetry collections. Encompassing the erotic and the melancholy, the mystical and the sardonic, this volume showcases a writer of dazzling intelligence and live-wire emotional immediacy. -from Publisher Marketing

Mary Oliver
“If I have any secret stash of poems, anywhere, it might be about love, not anger,” Mary Oliver once said in an interview. Finally, in her stunning collection, Felicity, we can immerse ourselves in Oliver’s love poems. Here, great happiness abounds. Our most delicate chronicler of physical landscape, Oliver has described her work as loving the world. With Felicity she examines what it means to love another person. She opens our eyes again to the territory within our own hearts; to the wild and to the quiet. In these poems, she describes—with joy—the strangeness and wonder of human connection.
-from Publisher Marketing

raininportugalRAIN IN PORTUGAL
Billy Collins
The element of surprise is one of poetry’s many provocations and pleasures, and Collins accomplishes it with ripple-effect finesse, wit, and pathos. In his eleventh collection, he reports on life as a wandering poet, contemplating landscapes and encounters in Ireland, Greece, and Moscow. Collins’ poems deliver painterly images of poignant juxtaposition and cinematic scenes alive with the slink of a cat or the clangorous simultaneity of a busy street, and lush with soundtracks evoking the siren songs of an ordinary day. Collins’ jazz-inspired meter makes reading his poems feel utterly natural and effortless, but then he ambushes us with wry exultation. -review by Booklist

riverflowRIVER FLOW
David Whyte
River Flow contains over one hundred poems selected from five previously published works, together with 23 new poems, including a tribute to an Ethiopian woman navigating her first escalator, a mediation of love and benediction for a young daughter and a cycle of Irish poems that convey a deep love of the land and a lifelong appreciation its wisdom. –from jacket

atwoodselectedpoemsSELECTED POEMS II
Margaret Atwood
Celebrated as a major novelist throughout the English-speaking world, Atwood has also written eleven volumes of poetry. The evolution of Margaret Atwood’s poetry since she began writing it twenty-five years ago illuminates one of our major literary talents. Houghton Mifflin is proud to have published Selected Poems, 1965-1975, a volume containing seventy-three poems, some of them extensive, drawn from her work since 1975, and a number of poems never previously published in the United States. As in her fiction, Atwood ruminates on oppression and injustice and on the genders and their discontents, but beyond these surface dissonances we hear the music of compassion and fellowship and love. –from Publisher Marketing

Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye has spent thirty-five years traveling the world to lead writing workshops and inspire students of all ages. In her newest collection, Transfer, she draws on her Palestinian American heritage, the cultural diversity of her home in Texas, and her extensive travel experiences to create a poetry collection that attests to our shared humanity. William Stafford calls Nye’s work “one of the most heartening influences [in] the current literary scene…Her poems combine transcendent liveliness and sparkle along with warmth and human insight. She is a champion of the literature of encouragement and heart. Reading her work enhances life.” –from Publisher Marketing


Bloomsbury Picks for April

Matthew Desmond
Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction
Evicted chronicles the evictions of eight families in Milwaukee, families of different sizes and backgrounds with a shared circumstance. Arlene is a struggling single mother. Scott is a nurse whose back injury led to an opiate addiction. Lamar is a war veteran, recovering addict, double amputee and resident father-figure to the boys of the neighborhood. Desmond tells complex stories that explore poverty not as a structural or cultural force, but as an interaction between rich and poor. He details the business of eviction, from landlords to eviction courts to the moving crew and the storage facilities. Housing is “too fundamental a human need” to be treated as just a business, Desmond argues. He proposes solutions, including increasing funding to eviction courts and a universal voucher program, but also declares, “If our cities and towns are rich in diversity—with unique textures and styles, gifts and problems—so too must be our solutions.” I couldn’t stop reading. –review by Becky

womeninthecastleWOMEN IN THE CASTLE
Jessica Shattuck
Marianne von Lingenfels, a widow in war-torn Germany at the height of World War II, valiantly continues her husband’s valuable work in the resistance after he is executed for his participation in in a failed assassination attempt on Hitler. Following the war, Marianne joins with two other “resistance widows” to form a makeshift family. As her once black-and-white world turns to rubble, Mariane must come to terms with not only her own political history, but that of her loved ones and fellow countrymen as well. Through the three very different lives and paths of these women, Shattuck explores how war turns ordinary people into both heroes and villains, pitting the best and worst aspects of human nature against each other as survival becomes more and more difficult. –review by Becky


Books to Celebrate Womens History Month

dear-ijeaweleDEAR IJEAWELE
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The latest book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, activist and author of We Should all be Feminists and Americanah, offers fifteen suggestions for raising a feminist. Suggestions include teaching girls they don’t have to be likeable, that “gender roles” is an absurd notion, and to question language. We love the fifth suggestion: “Teach her to love books.” Adiche’s latest manifesto is an important piece in a crucial dialog about human rights and the future of the womens movement.


whywemarchWHY WE MARCH
On January 21, 2017 over 5 million women (and men) in 673 cities around the world carried their signs high and proud protesting gross human rights violations, misogyny, and hate in all forms. Why We March presents 600 of the most powerful and creative signs from the Womens March. The pictures in this collection capture the urgency and celebrate the unity of that day, and preserve a landmark moment in history.


dustbowlgirlsDUST BOWL GIRLS
Lydia Reeder
In 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, a womens basketball team from a small Presbyterian college in Oklahoma became unlikely national champions. Former magazine editor Lydia Reeder tells the story of her great-uncle, Sam Babb, who led an under-dog womens basketball team to victory, and explores the challenges and stereotypes women athletes faced at that time.


hiddenfiguresHIDDEN FIGURES
Margot Lee Shetterly
This book, based on the true story of the black women mathematicians who helped send NASA astronauts to space, inspired the Golden Globe winning film of the same name. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were known as the “Human Computers;” their calculations, performed with slide rules, pencils, and adding machines, made the flights of John Glenn and Neil Armstrong possible. Unforgettable.


inthecompanyofwomenIN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN
Grace Bonnie
These profiles of 100 influential women in business provides inspiration and practical tips for women entrepreneurs. Bonney, founder of the website Design*Sponge (, tells the incredible stories of women around the globe who overcome adversity to achieve their dreams. “A joyful book that celebrates both the diversity of beauty and the beauty of diversity: in race, age, size, sexuality, and ways of thinking,” said Hanya Yanagihara, New York Times bestselling author of A Little Life.


Bloomsbury Picks for March

strangerinthewoodsSTRANGER IN THE WOODS
Michael Finkel
A young man parks his car and disappears into the forest in Maine. For three decades he manages to survive through freezing winters with no contact with anyone. A fascinating true story of survival. –review by Karen


edgarandlucyEDGAR AND LUCY
Victor Lodato
From the very first pages, young Edgar captures the reader’s heart. He is so fragile and so vulnerable. While his bond with his grandmother is strong and loving, his relationship to his mother, Lucy, is distant and complicated. And with a father long dead and gone due to curious, unspeakable circumstances, Grandmother Florence is Edgar’s lifeline. When she dies, he finds himself gravitating toward another pair of welcoming arms – those of the man in the green truck. A troublesome entanglement ensues, and lives are shattered and rebuilt. The story brutally, yet tenderly, examines the ties, lies and secrets between parents, children, lovers and the lonely. This is an absolutely beautifully written and compelling novel. –review by Anita


Caitriona Lally
Vivian keeps her great aunt’s ashes in a box rather than an urn because “death in a box is more real than death in a jar.” She doesn’t like verbs because they expect too much. She always checks wardrobes for Narnia, and spends her days searching for the portal to take her back to her real world—wherever that may be. At the novel’s onset Vivian is advertising for a friend named Penelope (so that she can eventually ask her friend why her name doesn’t rhyme with antelope). When Penelope answers the ad, Vivian’s quest to find her rightful place in the physical world may actually begin. Hailed in Ireland for an unusual voice and creative plot, Lally’s novel is charming, quirky, and full of literary allusions. –review by Becky


exitwestEXIT WEST
Moshin Hamid
This is a beautiful and sensuous love story, told against the backdrop of war and devastation. In an unnamed city, Nadia and Saeed meet and fall in love. But as conditions in the city deteriorate, they plan their escape. In fact, “all over the world people were slipping away from where they had been, from once fertile plains cracking with dryness, from seaside villages gasping beneath tidal surges, from overcrowded cities and murderous battlefields”. The story has a mystical element where in order to escape these refugees must pass through a magic door to another location. Hamid captures the spirit, despair and longing of those forced from their homeland to places unknown. “…everyone migrates, even if we stay in the same houses our whole lives, because we can’t help it. We are all migrants through time.” –review by Anita


A Reading List For Uncertain Times

Valerie Merians
The election of Donald Trump to be the 45th President of the United States of America shocked and dismayed progressives across the country. What We Do Now, a collection of passionate manifestos by some of the country’s leading progressives, aims to provide a blueprint for how those stunned progressives can move forward. Its powerful contributions — from economists, environmentalists, activists, artists, politicians, and novelists — will offer encouragement and guidance to practicing constitutionally protected acts of resistance throughout the unprecedented upcoming administration. Among the contributors are Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Gloria Steinem, Paul Krugman, Robert B. Reich, George Saunders and Dave Eggers as well the heads of the ACLU, the NAACP, the Sierra Club, the Arab American Association, the National GLBTQ Task Force, the Freedom of the Press Association and other prominent activists.


eleanorrooseveltELEANOR ROOSEVELT, VOL. 3: THE WAR YEARS AND AFTER, 1939-1962
Blanche Wiesel Cook
Historians, politicians, critics, and readers everywhere have praised Cook’s biography of Eleanor Roosevelt as the essential portrait of a woman who towers over the twentieth century. The third and final volume takes us through World War II, FDR’s death, the founding of the UN, and Eleanor Roosevelt s death in 1962. It follows the arc of war and the evolution of a marriage, as the first lady realized the cost of maintaining her principles even as the country and her husband were not prepared to adopt them. Eleanor Roosevelt continued to struggle for her core issues economic security, New Deal reforms, racial equality, and rescue when they were sidelined by FDR while he marshaled the country through war. These years the war years made Eleanor Roosevelt the woman she became: leader, visionary, guiding light. FDR s death in 1945 changed her world, but she was far from finished, returning to the spotlight as a crucial player in the founding of the United Nations.


Patricia Bell-Scott
A finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, and longlisted for the National Book Award, The Firebrand and the First Lady is the riveting history, two decades in the making, of how a brilliant writer-turned-activist and the first lady of the United States forged an enduring friendship that helped to alter the course of race and racism in America. In 1938, the twenty-eight-year-old Pauli Murray wrote a letter to the President and First Lady, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, protesting racial segregation in the South. Eleanor wrote back. So began a friendship that would last for a quarter of a century, as Pauli became a lawyer, principal strategist in the fight to protect Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and a co-founder of the National Organization of Women, and Eleanor became a diplomat and first chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.


goodgirlsrevoltTHE GOOD GIRLS REVOLT
Lynn Povich
On March 16, 1970, the day Newsweek published a cover story on the fledgling feminist movement entitled “Women in Revolt,” when forty-six Newsweek women charged the magazine with discrimination in hiring and promotion. It was the first female class action lawsuit–the first by women journalists–and it inspired other women in the media to quickly follow suit. Lynn Povich was one of the ringleaders. In The Good Girls Revolt, she evocatively tells the story of this dramatic turning point through the lives of several participants. With warmth, humor, and perspective, she shows how personal experiences and cultural shifts led a group of well-mannered, largely apolitical women, raised in the 1940s and 1950s, to challenge their bosses–and what happened after they did. For many, filing the suit was a radicalizing act that empowered them to “find themselves” and fight back. Others lost their way amid opportunities, pressures, discouragements, and hostilities they weren’t prepared to navigate. The Good Girls Revolt also explores why changes in the law didn’t solve everything. Through the lives of young female journalists at Newsweek today, Lynn Povich shows what has–and hasn’t–changed in the workplace.


Beth Newell, Sarah Pappalardo and Anna Drezen
Feminism is about demanding equality and learning to love yourself. From the writers of Reductress, the subversive, satirical women’s magazine read by over 2.5 million visitors a month, this ultimate guide to winning feminism–filled with four-color illustrations, bold graphics, and hilarious photos–teaches readers how to battle the patriarchy. Readers will learn how to be a feminist at work and at home. With this book as your wo-manual, you’ll shatter that glass ceiling once and for all (but you’ll still need to clean up the mess).


it can't happen hereIT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE
Sinclair Lewis
It Can’t Happen Here is the only one of Sinclair Lewis’s later novels to match the power of Main Street, Babbitt, and Arrowsmith. A cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy, it is an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America. Written during the Great Depression, when the country was largely oblivious to Hitler’s aggression, it juxtaposes sharp political satire with the chillingly realistic rise of a president who becomes a dictator to save the nation from welfare cheats, sex, crime, and a liberal press. Called “a message to thinking Americans” by the Springfield Republican when it was published in 1935, It Can’t Happen Here is a shockingly prescient novel that remains as fresh and contemporary as today’s news.


plot against americaTHE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA
Philip Roth
In an astonishing feat of empathy and narrative invention, our most ambitious novelist imagines an alternate version of American history. In 1940 Charles A. Lindbergh, heroic aviator and rabid isolationist, is elected President. Shortly thereafter, he negotiates a cordial understanding with Adolf Hitler, while the new government embarks on a program of folksy anti-Semitism. For one boy growing up in Newark, Lindbergh s election is the first in a series of ruptures that threaten to destroy his small, safe corner of America and with it, his mother, his father and his older brother.


rad women worldwide

Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl
Writer Kate Schatz and artist Miriam Klein Stahl tell tales of perseverance and radical success by pairing biographies with cut-paper portraits. The book features an array of diverse figures from Hatshepsut–the great female king who ruled Egypt peacefully for two decades–and Malala Yousafzi, the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize, to Poly Styrene–legendary teenage punk and lead singer of X-Ray Spex–and Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft, polar explorers and the first women to cross Antarctica.


ugly americanTHE UGLY AMERICAN
Eugene Burdock and William J. Lederer
In the episode that lends the book its title, the “ugly American” is Homer Atkins, a plain and plain-spoken man, who has been sent by the U.S. government to advise the Southeast Asian country of Sarkhan on engineering projects. When Atkins finds badly misplaced priorities and bluntly challenges the entrenched interests, he lays bare a foreign policy gone dangerously wrong.First published in 1958, The Ugly American became a runaway national bestseller for its slashing expose of American arrogance, incompetence, and corruption in Southeast Asia. In linked stories and vignettes, the book uses gripping storytelling to draw a devastating picture of how the United States was losing the struggle with Communism in Asia.


Bloomsbury Favorites

lithiapark2LITHIA PARK
John Enders
The history of Ashland’s jewel in a beautiful gift book, with contemporary and historic photographs, and a narrative by long-time Ashland resident, John Enders.


hillbillyelegyHILLBILLY ELEGY
J.D. Vance
“You will not read a more important book about America this year.”  –The Economist


Colton Whitehead
A magnificent tour-de-force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. A National Book Award finalist and an Oprah Pick.


theselloutTHE SELLOUT
Paul Beatty
The first American novel to with the Man Booker Prize, this is a blistering satire on race. Available in paperback.


artofrivalryTHE ART OF RIVALRY
Sebastian Smee
Who knew how crucial friendship and rivalry have been in contributing to the formation of modern artistic genius? Smee writes with a vividness that places you in the studio with these extraordinary artists and their inspiring relationships. You can almost smell the paint! Smee’s writing is compelling – rich with intelligence and understanding. This provocative and informative book sheds light on the complexities of competition, inspiration, and daring ambition. A must read for art lovers and anyone seeking a fresh and exciting approach to biography. –review by Rebecca


cleancakesCLEAN CAKES
Henrietta Inman
Is there such a thing as delicious baking without refined sugar, dairy, gluten, or gluten-replacements? Yes! Henrietta Inman shows us how. Her recipes, both sweet and savory, are full of incredible flavors and textures that highlight the naturally wholesome and delicious qualities of whole foods. Her tips for a seasonal pantry make stocking an amazing arsenal a snap, and show how easy it can be to bring these healthful and delicious creations to every table. This cookbook is a MUST for bakers of every level. –review by Becky


Brit Bennet
This brave, brilliant debut novel explores territory that is both highly personal deeply politicized. This is a novel about race, but it is also a novel about another hot-button topic. When Nadia Turner finds herself in a particular type of trouble her senior year of high school, she must make a decision which will ripple throughout her adult life. –review by Anita


Ben H. Winters
In this trilogy by Edgar Award winner Ben H. Winters, a man is dead. Is it murder or suicide? All the other detectives on the squad have quit – because an asteroid is going to destroy the earth in just six months. But Detective Hank Palace is determined to find the truth – as society crumbles around him. An unusual and fascinating series of a detective trying to find the truth in the pre-apocalyptic United States. –review by Susan


nordictheoryofeverythingTHE NORDIC THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Anu Partanen
In The Nordic Theory of Everything, Anu Partanen, a Finnish-born journalist who married an American, explores how many policies and ideals Americans believe make us more free actually do the opposite. The Nordic theory of love states that authentic love and friendship are only possible between people who are independent and equal. According to Partanen, this mentality dictates policies that support the freedom of individuals, such as equal access to health care and education. She explains how current American policies create unequal relationships between parents and children, romantic partners, and employees and employers. Far from advocating a switch from democratic to socialist values, Partanen expresses admiration and affection for her new country, and simply explores ways to make her beloved new home a “well-being” state. –review by Becky


Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Creative and free-flowing, Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal is like visiting with a good friend, or visiting with your own thoughts (when you’re feeling a bit bizarre!). There are even automated texts and a website that allow the reader to cleverly interact with segments of the book. If you loved Nora Ephron, you’ll most likely be a fan of Amy Krouse Rosenthal – who says “Just look at us, all of us, quietly doing our thing and trying to matter. The earnestness is inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time.” -review by Anita


More Bloomsbury Favorites

sportofkingsTHE SPORT OF KINGS
C.E. Morgan
“We are Kentuckians first and Virginians second and Christian third,” Henry Forge tells his young daughter. The Forges are more than a family, and they are more than horse breeders. They are a legacy of true-blue blood running back 250 years. Henrietta Forge is no ordinary Southern girl, just as Hellsmouth is no ordinary racehorse, both bred for greatness and born into destinies they cannot control. Likewise, Allmon is an extraordinary groom who pulls himself from poverty only by suffering exceptional loss. Henry, Allmon and Henrietta carry the heavy burdens of the generations before them; their blood binds them to this landscape, and their futures to the fate of one horse. This Southern Gothic is a great American novel—wide in scope and alive with the ghosts that haunt our nation. The writing is sure, evocative without being overbearing. The story and characters are unforgettable. –review by Becky


lilyandtheoctopusLILY AND THE OCTOPUS
Steven Rowley
“A heart is judged not by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”
Lily loves ice cream, chicken and rice, tofurky, her red ball, and her dad, Ted. She loves the beach, but dislikes being wet. On Thursdays Lily and Ted discuss which boys they think are the cutest, and when they play Monopoly she likes being the cannon. Lily and Ted are more than best friends, more than dachshund and man, and together they undergo the adventure of a lifetime hunting an octopus on the open sea. This is a charming and quirky story that gives us permission to love our animals in the consuming, over-the-top, bizarre ways that we do. Lily is the Hobbes to Ted’s Calvin, the Enzo to his Denny, the Richard Parker to his Pi, and with one slow tug of a shoelace Lily bursts Ted’s heart open, and marks herself indelibly inside of a reader’s. –review by Becky


thelastgoodnightTHE LAST GOODNIGHT
Howard Blum
This is a sexy story of espionage and life lived on the edge. Betty Thorpe Pack, American socialite turned MI6 spy, had a successful career trading in pillow talk and secrets during WWII. A restless spirit, not unlike Holly Golightly’s “mean reds,” made her first marriage to British diplomat Arthur Pack a necessity, and her subsequent recruitment to MI6 at the onset of the Spanish Civil War seem inevitable. Pack, loyal to nothing and no one but her cause and herself,  led an unconventional life punctuated by tragedy. She refused to be defined by her gender or her lineage, by society or the conventions of motherhood and marriage. THE LAST GOODNIGHT pays homage to the fascinating life and tragic death of an unsung heroine in the intelligence world, and a complicated woman who never stopped searching for her true place. –review by Becky


monstersalovestoryMONSTERS: A LOVE STORY
Liz Kay
Part-time poet and recent widow Stacy Lane is a bit lost. She is raising two boys on her own in Nebraska, and she hasn’t published or written anything new in a long time. Her lull is broken when she is asked to help adapt her book, a feminist retelling of Frankenstein, into a film. She flies to Hollywood to meet with the notoriously troubled and brilliant Hollywood actor, Tommy DeMarco. However unlikely a romance between them may seem, there is something there, no matter how hard they try to deny it. But they need to figure out what they want before they tear each other apart. This unflinching romance does have a healthy dose of escapism, but it also paints a funny, painful, and complex picture of love – in all its messy glory. –review by Skye


crooked heartCROOKED HEART
Lissa Evans
I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love with the two main “unlovable” characters in this wonderfully engaging novel. Noel, an orphan good at hiding his intelligence, is evacuated from London during the WWII Blitz and lands in a suburb NW of the city. Vee, his new caretaker, is an unscrupulous, bitter woman.  –review by Karen


thetroublewithgoatsandsheepTHE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP
Joanna Cannon
After their neighbor, Mrs. Creasy, goes missing, precocious 10-year-olds Tillie and Grace spend the summer of 1976 hunting for Jesus, believing he can keep their sleepy English village safe. Jesus is everywhere after all, at least according to the vicar, but God sometimes shows himself in unexpected ways (and places). At the beginning of their quest the girls believe wholeheartedly in the existence of goats and sheep—those who fit in and those who do not—based on the Gospel of Matthew, but they discover that most of us are a little of both. Where is Mrs. Creasy, and why do the grownups of neighborhood suspect Walter Bishop? This charming and quirky debut novel is part coming-of-age tale, part mystery, and part examination of small-town politics. Delightful!  –review by Becky


thecourseofloveTHE COURSE OF LOVE
Alain De Botton
Rabih and Kirsten meet, fall in love, marry and have children.  Simple?  Not so.  De Botton follows their relationship over the course of 13 years, examining love and marriage with all its beauty and all its warts.  Interspersed within the novel, the author offers his philosophical musings on the subject of love and relationships.  It all flows together beautifully, and De Botton’s thoughts are insightful and meaningful. –review by Anita


Jeanine Donofrio
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Mystified by kohlrabi? Overwhelmed with squash? Curious about garlic scapes? Love & Lemons makes seasonal, plant-based cooking easy with a collection of delicious, vegetarian recipes organized by vegetable. The recipes are full of flavor and texture, and can easily be converted into vegan, pesceterian, gluten-free, or carnivorous meals. Donofrio includes great tips for stocking a pantry that facilitates healthy, satisfying, delicious everyday cooking. I love the eggplant, mushroom, and millet meatballs (pg. 141) over simple zucchini pasta. The butternut squash risotto makes an incredible arancini the following day (pg. 263). Black beans show off the flavors of squash in enchiladas (pg. 259), while peas enhance sweet potatoes in samosas (pg. 196). This cookbook is a staple in my kitchen. –review by Becky


marrowislandMARROW ISLAND
Alexis M. Smith
“I forgive them for trying to kill me.”
Lucie was just a child when an earthquake shattered her idyllic world on a remote island. They thought the big one was upon them, but the hardest was still to come; surviving and learning to live without—her father, her best friend, and the islands she loved so much. Decades later a letter from her childhood best friend, Katie, pulls Lucie back to the islands, where a colony has risen from the rubble. Katie’s letter piques both Lucie’s heart and her journalist’s  instincts. What she finds is terrifying and beautiful, surreal and disturbing, yet undeniably real. The story unfolds in two time-lines—Lucie on the island visiting the colony, and Lucie living in the woods with her park ranger boyfriend—and slowly reveals the truth about Marrow Island. Smith’s second novel is haunting, suspenseful, and acts as an elegy for the planet and friendship. –review by Becky


littlenothingLITTLE NOTHING
Marisa Silver
When Pavla is born a dwarf, she is initially despised by her elderly mother. But this beautiful child ultimately wins the hearts of her parents, who eventually take her to a quack doctor in their misguided attempts to “fix” their beloved daughter. What transpires is part fairy tale, part love story….a magical tale where things are not always as they appear to be, and the line between human and animal forms are fluid and metamorphic. An extraordinary novel! –review by Anita


Maggie Nelson
“Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be, hereafter. A red part.” Sometimes, in life, something happens that is so dreadful, so horrifying and painful, that all we can do is bear witness, all we can do is be there and later say Yes, this awful thing happened. The Red Parts reinvents literary true crime as Nelson explores the 1969 murder of her aunt, Jane, set against the backdrop of the 2004 murder trial of Jane’s alleged murderer, a trial which hinges on one drop of blood. Once again, Nelson produces prose which is shockingly public and yet deeply intimate. She explore grief, forgiveness, and the ways which the two have shaped her life, the lives of her loved ones, and the landscape of modern humanity. –review by Becky


labgirlLAB GIRL
Hope Jahren
Questions are the heart of science. You don’t have to be a mathematician to be a scientist; “what comes first is a question.” Lab Girl is the incredible story of one woman who dared to ask why not me, determined to carve a career in a world dominated by men. This is also an enduring, unconditional friendship between two lab partners, and a breathtaking exploration of the natural world from the perspective of trees. Jahren touches on the political aspects of science as she battles bosses who ban pregnant women from the lab, and fights for the ever-shrinking funding available for scientists—“science for war will always make more money than science for knowledge.” This is a story of academia and laboratories, of friendship and marriage and motherhood, of dancing next to glaciers and taking detours to monkey zoos. This is a story that asks the all important question: “Did the first flower make the dinosaurs sneeze?” –review by Becky


alittlelifeA LITTLE LIFE
Hanya Yanagihara
There are so many books about men, their careers and relationships and interior lives, but none quite like this. Jude, Willem, JB, and Malcolm meet in college. Over the following decades their friendships endure, deepen and change, wane and renew, until what appears to be a story about families and coming-of-age develops into something more complex, a story that lives within the very marrow of our bones, and is both more intimate and wider in scope than we could ever imagine. The writing is beautiful. The time line folds over, weaving around and through, in a deliberate way that slowly reveals the landscape of humanity. A finalist for both the Man Booker and National Book Award, this brilliant novel should have won the Pulitzer. –review by Becky


greenroadGREEN ROAD
Anne Enright
The 2005 Booker Prize winner for The Gathering has written a beautifully rendered, heart-breaking portrait of Irish siblings who reunite for Christmas at their mother’s home in rural Ireland. Spanning thirty years, beginning in County Clare and including the brilliant depictions of AIDS-devastated Manhattan and famine in Africa, it is a story of family dynamics and characters who struggle with anguish, illuminated with grace and humor. –review by Sheila

thehourscountTHE HOURS COUNT
Jillian Cantor
Humidity, electricity, clings to New York City the summer of 1953—the summer the Rosenbergs are executed for conspiracy to commit espionage. Millie Stein is a young mother living just doors away from the Rosenbergs in Kickerbocker Village in Cantor’s mesmerizing novelization. That summer, for Millie, is a maelstrom of secrets, fears, and the desperate desire to help her friends—because to Millie Jules is her husband’s former employer, and Ethel her neighbor and only female friend. Through Millie’s eyes readers feel hysteria building across America: the Hollywood Ten behind bars, the small-pox outbreak, the killer fog, and the first Soviet bomb-test. Fear lives in every home. Cantor gives new life to the tension of the period with taut writing, rich historic detail, and characters (real and imagined) who are flawed, sympathetic, and defy all expectations. This unforgettable novel is a smart, incisive, affecting look at a dark period in American history. –review by Becky


janesteeleJANE STEELE
Lyndsay Faye
Reader, I killed him. Jane gives her admission freely, her chin hard and defiant, but a glint in her eyes hints at the depths of her humanity. Murder is not the whole story. Jane Steele, an orphan who bases her sense of self on the beloved fictional feminist Jane Eyere, is as sharp and deadly as a blade of the metal she’s named for. Steele’s story, a wild thrill ride through the streets of London and beyond, also explores womens rights, issues of class, and the politics of the period. Be careful—this Victorian heroine will capture your heart. This is smart, fast paced historical fiction and a Bloomsbury favorite. –review by Becky


struckbygeniusSTRUCK BY GENIUS
Jason Padgett
If you think you understand how the mind works, or the trait of intelligence, this book will turn your preconceptions upside down. Jason Pagett’s journey is astounding. Pagett is the only known case of adult onset savantism and synesthesia. Both of these abilities were created by a brutal mugging from which Pagett arose a changed man and extraordinary genius. Pagett’s abilities to perceive the world in three-dimensional mathematical fractals brings the reader new and beautiful perspectives, along with his exquisite drawings. Pagett recounts his challenging story with humility and a clarity that will beguile the reader as it awakens greater compassion and discovery. – review by Rebecca


Naomi Novik
This is an incredible adventure story—a tale of friendship, romance, twisted allegiances and the struggle for power. Agnieszka always has mud on her skirts and she never expects the wizard to pick her as his tribute. Choose her he does however, setting off a chain of magical reactions that sends Agnieszka into the darkest recesses of the royal court, and deep into the heart of the magical forest that surrounds them all. I just want to climb inside this world and live there: the characters feel like old friends, and the magic is believable. Dragon reminds me of Howl (from Howl’s Moving Castle), and Agnieszka shows the heart and humor of a Tamora Pierce heroine. Novik draws from the Polish fairytales of her childhood to explore forgiveness and the subjective nature of truth in this unforgettable work of fantasy. –review by Becky


mynameislucybartonMY NAME IS LUCY BARTON
Elizabeth Strout
A new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is cause for celebration. Her bestselling novels, including “Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys, have illuminated our most tender relationships. Now, in My Name Is Lucy Barton, this extraordinary writer shows how a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all the one between mother and daughter. Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself–keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.


alivealifeohALIVE, ALIVE OH!
Diana Athill
The author charmed readers with her prize-winning memoir Somewhere Towards the End, which transformed her into an unexpected literary star. Now, on the eve of her ninety-eighth birthday, Athill has written a sequel every bit as unsentimental, candid, and beguiling as her most beloved work. Diana reflects on the things that matter after a lifetime of remarkable experiences and the memories that have risen to the surface and sustain her in her very old age. In warm, engaging prose she describes the bucolic pleasures of her grandmother’s garden and the wonders of traveling as a young woman in Europe after the end of the Second World War. As her vivid, textured memories range across the decades, she relates with unflinching candor her harrowing experience as an expectant mother in her forties and crafts unforgettable portraits of friends, writers, and lovers. A pure joy to read, Alive, Alive Oh! sparkles with wise and often very funny reflections on the condition of being old. Athill reminds us of the joy and richness of every stage of life and what it means to live life fully, without regrets.


davidfosterwallacereader1THE DAVID FOSTER WALLACE READER
David Foster Wallace
Wallace’s explorations of morality, self-consciousness, addiction, sports, love, and the many other subjects that occupied him are represented here in both fiction and nonfiction. Collected for the first time are Wallace’s first published story, “The View from Planet Trillaphon as Seen In Relation to the Bad Thing” and a selection of his work as a writing instructor, including reading lists, grammar guides, and general guidelines for his students. A dozen writers and critics, including Hari Kunzru, Anne Fadiman, and Nam Le, add afterwords to favorite pieces, expanding our appreciation of the unique pleasures of Wallace’s writing. The result is an astonishing volume that shows the breadth and range of “one of America’s most daring and talented writers” (Los Angeles Times Book Review) whose work was full of humor, insight, and beauty.


thedoorTHE DOOR
Magda Szabo
One of The New York Times Book Review‘s “10 Best Books of 2015,” The Door is an unsettling exploration of the relationship between two very different women. Magda is a writer, educated, married to an academic, public-spirited, with an on-again-off-again relationship to Hungary s Communist authorities. Emerence is a peasant, illiterate, impassive, abrupt, seemingly ageless. She lives alone in a house that no one else may enter, not even her closest relatives. She is Magda s housekeeper and she has taken control over Magda s household, becoming indispensable to her, and Emerence, in her way, has come to depend on Magda. They share a kind of love at least until Magda s long-sought success as a writer leads to a devastating revelation. Len Rix s prizewinning translation of The Door at last makes it possible for American readers to appreciate the masterwork of a major modern European writer.


alexanderhamiltonALEXANDER HAMILTON
Ron Chernow
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author author of Titan, vividly recreates the whole sweep of Alexander Hamilton’s turbulent life. A New York Times Bestseller, andthe inspiration for the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton,” this is a landmark biography of the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation. Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. Chernow’s biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America s birth seen through its most central figure


George Hodgman
When George Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, he finds himself an unlikely caretaker (and lethal cook) to his 90 year-old mother, Betty, who has never really accepted the fact that her son is gay.  This laugh aloud, cry aloud story of growing up “different” in a small town in the Midwest in the sixties is a portrait of a bygone world – which the breakup of the family farm, the advent of Walmart and prevalence of meth destroyed.- and a snapshot of two generations who have struggled to understand each other.  It is also big-hearted, funny and heart-rending.  I want to adopt George Hodgman. –review by Denise Harnly


mybrilliantfriendMY BRILLIANT FRIEND
Elena Ferrante
Every summer reading list should include Ferrante’s wonderful Neapolitan Trilogy.  Hailed by the “NY Times” as “the best novel ever written about female friendship, MY BRILLIANT FRIEND, the first novel, introduces Elena and Lila, two young girls whose lives are on the brink of tremendous change in 1950s NAPLES.  The two girls and their neighborhood, Naples and Italy are so vibrant and richly depicted  that you will never want to stop reading about them.  The trilogy is available in paperback and a fourth novel, continuing the story, will be available this fall. –review by Anita