19th Ave New York, NY 95822, USA

WHAT WE'RE READING

Shirley’s Picks

Shirley grew up loving to read fairy tales, mysteries, and biographies. She still favors a good mystery, along with historical fiction, or—bonus—a historical mystery. She also enjoys revisiting classics that she didn’t appreciate when reading them as required in English classes—kids, listen to your teachers!

The Big Book of Victorian Mysteries

Otto Penzler
Paperback/October 19, 2021
Vintage Crime

Behind the velvet curtains of horsedrawn carriages and amid the soft glow of the gaslights are the detectives and bobbies sniffing out the safecrackers and petty purloiners who plague everything from the soot-covered side streets of London to the opulent manors of the countryside. With his latest title in the Big Book series, Otto Penzler is cracking cases and serving up the most thrilling, suspenseful Victorian mysteries.

This collection brings together incredible stories from Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Hardy, Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Guy de Maupassant among other legendary writers of the grand era of the British Empire. So brush off your dinner jackets and straighten out your ball gowns for these exciting, glitzy mysteries.

The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear

Kate Moore
Hardcover/June 22, 2021
Sourcebooks

1860: As the clash between the states rolls slowly to a boil, Elizabeth Packard, housewife and mother of six, is facing her own battle. The enemy sits across the table and sleeps in the next room. Her husband of twenty-one years is plotting against her because he feels increasingly threatened – by Elizabeth’s intellect, independence, and unwillingness to stifle her own thoughts. So Theophilus makes a plan to put his wife back in her place. One summer morning, he has her committed to an insane asylum.

The horrific conditions inside the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois, are overseen by Dr. Andrew McFarland, a man who will prove to be even more dangerous to Elizabeth than her traitorous husband. But most disturbing is that Elizabeth is not the only sane woman confined to the institution. There are many rational women on her ward who tell the same story: they’ve been committed not because they need medical treatment, but to keep them in line – conveniently labeled “crazy” so their voices are ignored.

No one is willing to fight for their freedom and, disenfranchised both by gender and the stigma of their supposed madness, they cannot possibly fight for themselves. But Elizabeth is about to discover that the merit of losing everything is that you then have nothing to lose…

The Cat Who Saved Books

Sōsuke Natsukawa, Louise Heal Kawai (Translator)
Hardcover/December 7, 2021
HarperVia

Julie says: This is such a beautiful, bittersweet story! Rich, fantastical, and healing- I can’t stop recommending this to everyone who needs an escape from (waves hand around) all of this. 

Bookish high school student Rintaro Natsuki is about to close the secondhand bookstore he inherited from his beloved bookworm grandfather. Then, a talking cat named Tiger 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 Tiger 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, Tiger 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…

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story

Nikole Hannah-Jones
Hardcover/November 16, 2021
One World

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story offers a revealing vision of the American past and present.

In late August 1619, a ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia bearing a cargo of twenty to thirty enslaved people from Africa. Their arrival led to the barbaric and unprecedented system of American chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: It is the source of so much that still defines the United States.

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story builds on The New York Times Magazine’s award-winning “1619 Project,” which reframed our understanding of American history by placing slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. This book substantially expands on the original “1619 Project, “weaving together eighteen essays that explore the legacy of slavery in present-day America with thirty-six poems and works of fiction that illuminate key moments of oppression, struggle, and resistance. The essays show how the inheritance of 1619 reaches into every part of contemporary American society, from politics, music, diet, traffic, and citizenship to capitalism, religion, and our democracy itself. This legacy can be seen in the way we tell stories, the way we teach our children, and the way we remember. Together, the elements of the book reveal a new origin story for the United States, one that helps explain not only the persistence of anti-Black racism and inequality in American life today, but also the roots of what makes the country unique.

The book also features an elaboration of the original project’s Pulitzer Prize–winning lead essay by Nikole Hannah-Jones on how the struggles of Black Americans have expanded democracy for all Americans, as well as two original pieces from Hannah-Jones, one of which makes a case for reparative solutions to this legacy of injustice.

The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven

Nathaniel Ian Miller
Hardcover/October 26, 2021
Little Brown & Company

Jan’s Thoughts: Hands down, the best book I’ve read so far this year. Filled with surprises, incredible descriptions of the Arctic, and stoic Swedish humor that reminds me of my own relatives, I relished this book and have shared it with many others. This is a perfect book discussion read.

In 1916, Sven Ormson leaves a restless life in Stockholm to seek adventure in Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago where darkness reigns four months of the year and he might witness the splendor of the Northern Lights one night and be attacked by a polar bear the next. But his time as a miner ends when an avalanche nearly kills him, leaving him disfigured, and Sven flees even further, to an uninhabited fjord. There, with the company of a loyal dog, he builds a hut and lives alone, testing himself against the elements.

The teachings of a Finnish fur trapper, along with encouraging letters from his family and a Scottish geologist who befriended him in the mining camp, get him through his first winter. Years into his routine isolation, the arrival of an unlikely visitor salves his loneliness, sparking a chain of surprising events that will bring Sven into a family of fellow castoffs and determine the course of the rest of his life.

Written with wry humor and in prose as breathtaking as the stark landscape it evokes, The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven is a testament to the strength of our human bonds, reminding us that even in the most inhospitable conditions on the planet, we are not beyond the reach of love.