Books

How complicated can breakfast possibly get? In Zao Fan: Breakfast of China, Michael Zee writes that the enormity of Chinese cuisine is “both terrific and terrifying”—and what is usually the simplest, smallest meal of the day is no exception. Yet Zee demonstrates a knack seldom seen in English-language cookbooks for succinctly yet fully conveying the
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It’s the mid-1960s, right at the start of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, and the Red Guards are methodically upending—many would say demolishing—the cultural heritage of China. Books are burned, artifacts are smashed, history is erased. But two plucky biology students, Mei and Peng, are determined to rescue a lotus seed from the university library.  This
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Come and Get It (13 hours) follows the colliding stories of students, resident assistants and professors at the University of Arkansas—and it’s full of intrigue, betrayal and a lot of drama. The audiobook is read by Nicole Lewis, who also lent her voice to Kiley Reid’s hard-hitting debut novel Such a Fun Age. Lewis’ narration
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In her creative and contemplative debut How Do I Draw These Memories?: An Illustrated Memoir, Jonell Joshua reflects on the people, places and events that helped her become the person—and artist—she is today.  An interesting pastiche of illustrative styles give this mixed-media memoir a scrapbook-like feel, and Joshua’s artistic range is on full display in
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In Close to Death, the fifth installment of his meta Hawthorne and Horowitz mystery series, Anthony Horowitz delivers another diabolically complex whodunit, rife with misdirection and murder. When an obnoxious resident of the ritzy and otherwise close-knit Riverside Close neighborhood is murdered, law enforcement officials are puzzled. The remaining residents of the luxury community immediately
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Writing saved Janet Frame’s life. In 1951, the 27-year-old writer was scheduled for a lobotomy. She’d spent her adulthood in psychiatric facilities, and the extremely damaging practice was in its heyday. But after Frame’s debut book won a literary award, a doctor called off the procedure. Frame is one of many authors Suzanne Scanlon references
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We all have our routines. And while the otherworldly fellow in The Spaceman may have a very different mode of transportation from the rest of us— a super cool silver spaceship—he too has a routine: “I collect soil samples. I label the soil samples. And I file the soil samples. Then I move on to
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June 1939: British naval sub HMS Thetis sinks in sea trials. Ninety-nine people die. August 1942: Allied forces raid the coastal town of Dieppe in German-occupied France. Thousands are killed, captured or wounded, in part because coastal scouting was minimal. September 1942: British-manned torpedoes attack German battleship Tirpitz. All crewmen are captured or killed. Catastrophes
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How to End a Love Story, screenwriter Yulin Kuang’s debut novel, is a contemporary romance that succeeds on every level, from her characters’ compelling emotional journey to the unique plotline to Kuang’s fresh authorial voice. Helen Zhang is the successful author of a young adult series that’s been optioned for television. Her work targets readers
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In S.A. Barnes’ slow-simmering creepfest Ghost Station, the stress of deep space travel can do things to a person. If longtime spacers develop the condition called ERS, they’ll start to see things that aren’t there, hear voices that no one else hears. They sometimes turn irritable, even violent.  The story begins with Dr. Ophelia Bray,
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What’s the difference between witchcraft and a miracle? According to The Familiar, beloved fantasy author Leigh Bardugo’s latest novel, the answer is simple: politics. This distinction is of life-and-death importance for Luzia Cotado, a scullery maid in a less-than-fashionable Madrid household whose milagritos, or little miracles, can lighten a heavy load or make flowers bloom
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Beyoncé’s new album, Cowboy Carter, has sparked a sometimes contentious debate about the nature and identity of country music. It’s an invigorating topic that has long been explored by writers and scholars. A number of excellent books, such as Charles L. Hughes’ Country Soul, Francesca Royster’s Black Country Music and Daphne Brooks’ Liner Notes for
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When beginning this review, I promised myself that I wouldn’t go overboard with baseball puns to describe just how wonderful KT Hoffman’s sports romance, The Prospects, is. Like “Hoffman hits it out of the park with his debut” or “Gene and Luis are the grand slam of relationships.” I tried my hardest, but damn if
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The Napoleonic wars have been fertile ground for historical fantasy in recent years. From the draconic aerial combat of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke’s wry fairy tale of manners, that continent-spanning conflict provides an ideal canvas for fantastical retellings. It’s sweeping in scope, and is easier to romanticize
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Everyone wants a shortcut to love, especially if a happily ever after is guaranteed. So it’s not surprising that Justin Dahl gets a big response when he explains his gift (or curse) on Reddit: Whoever he dates goes on to meet her perfect match right after things end with him. To his shock, Justin soon
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When shape-shifting monster Shesheshen is woken from her hibernation by monster hunters, she does what she must: She kills and eats one of them. In retaliation, the nearby townsfolk, scared and desperate to hand over a “wyrm” heart to Baroness Wulfyre, poison Shesheshen with rosemary and hunt her until she toddles over a cliff .
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MacArthur fellow and National Book Award finalist Hanif Abdurraqib is a prolific poet and author, writing across genres of poetry, essay and cultural criticism to great acclaim. Abdurraqib turns his sensitive lens towards basketball in his newest work, There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension. With carefully constructed and imaginative prose, he immerses us
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In his haunting debut, Death Row Welcomes You: Visiting Hours in the Shadow of the Execution Chamber, Tennessee journalist Steven Hale sheds light on a rarely seen part of American society: the places where more than 2,700 people await execution by the state. Hale’s reporting began when, after a decade-long lull, Tennessee began executing the
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Meddy Chan and her meddlesome family are back in The Good, the Bad, and the Aunties, Jesse Q. Sutanto’s delightful final entry in her bestselling Dial A for Aunties trilogy. Meddy and her new husband, Nathan, are ending their extended honeymoon with a stop in Jakarta, Indonesia, where they’ll spend the Lunar New Year with
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“The idea of America that we celebrate today—the one against which we constantly test an imperfect reality—dates not from 1776 or 1787 but from 1865,” writes historian and philosopher Matthew Stewart. With a combination of in-depth scholarship and beautiful writing, An Emancipation of the Mind: Radical Philosophy, the War Over Slavery, and the Refounding of
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For a collection titled Modern Poetry, the latest offering from Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Diane Seuss spends a fair amount of time communing with the past. In the title poem, named after a textbook she studied in college, she reminisces about how she and her roommate referred to William Carlos Williams as “Billy C. Billygoat,” and
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