The best new books this month chosen by us and other
independent booksellers across the country.

This Month's #1 Indie Next List Pick...

Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung

By Nina MacLaughlin

(FSG Originals, 9780374538583, $16, trade paper)

"Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung has the power of a spell. Giving voice to the myriad women of Ovid's Metamorphoses, where 'what we have been today, we shall not be tomorrow,' Nina MacLaughlin conjures into being a new female consciousness and a world where our innermost truths are sung and our power is real. On nearly every page of this gorgeously written book, I heard echoed for the first time the song of my own authentic voice; I felt myself remade, fortified, held. I am awed by this visionary work and the remarkable insight that made it possible."
--Lisa Gozashti, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

This Month's #1 Indie Next List Pick Author Interview

(photo: Kelly Davidson)

Indie booksellers across the country have chosen Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung by Nina MacLaughlin (FSG Originals) as their number-one pick for the December Indie Next List.

The seductresses, monsters, nymphs, and demi-goddesses that populate the famous myths of Ovid's Metamorphoses are often fleeing rape or being transformed into monsters by angry gods. But in her new book, MacLaughlin re-tells these same tales of transformation in the voices of those transformed--Medusa, Arachne, Io, Sybil, Callisto, Scylla, Eurydice--speaking in cadences both mythic and modern. Wake, Siren reveals the violence that pervades Ovid's narratives, illustrating another side to the stories that have served to perpetuate the distorted portrayal of women across centuries of art and literature.

MacLaughlin is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir from 2016, Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter (W.W. Norton). Formerly an editor at The Boston Phoenix, she is currently a books columnist for The Boston Globe and has written for The Paris Review DailyThe Believer, the Los Angeles Review of BooksThe Wall Street JournalBookslutThe Daily Beast, and more. MacLaughlin, who lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was recognized in Refinery29's list of "21 New Authors You Need to Know."

Here, MacLaughlin discuss her new work, which received a starred review in Kirkus and was named "A Most Anticipated Book of 2019" by Lit Hub.

Congratulations on indie booksellers choosing your book as the number-one title on the December 2019 Indie Next List!

Thank you! When I found out, I was literally sitting in my apartment pumping my fist, I was so thrilled. I feel so proud to be on this list. Bookstores make people's lives better, I really believe it, and to be chosen by this crew of humans is a deep honor. I've lived in Cambridge for a thousand years at this point and I have my bookstores that I go to, and to have gotten to know the booksellers--it's almost like walking into a bar and having the bartender know your order. To have a relationship with these bookstores and booksellers has really deepened my relationships to Cambridge, honestly. I'm an enormous fan of bookstores, particularly indie bookstores. I can't really gush enough.

What role has Ovid's Metamorphoses played in your life? 

I majored in English and Classics in college, and I didn't read the Metamorphoses in college. I had to read a little bit of it in high school, but I have no recollection of that. But when I was working on my first book. Hammer Head, I was doing revisions for the second draft and I was thinking that I wanted to read something that wasn't going to interfere with the rhythms I had going, and wasn't going to blur what I was trying to do in my actual writing. So I was like, oh, great, I'll read this 12,000-line poem!  And it ended up becoming the backbone for that first book and having an enormous influence.

One of the ideas that Ovid drives home in the Metamorphoses is that all things change, this idea of ongoing transformation and the question of how do we make ourselves at home with change. I think when I was reading it for Hammer Head, the thing I was considering was what this transition has been like for me going from journalist to carpenter, in a very basic way: I had one job and then I had another job. And with this book I think the question is still the same: how do our experiences change us? How do we come out the other side of terrible events, altering events, violence, abuse? Just the question of how to exist within the ongoing change. It feels like a compelling question all the time to me.

Reading the Metamorphoses when I did was just kind of one of those reading experiences where I was so struck by how beautiful and alive and sensual and relevant the book was. And it became a book that I would sort of pick up and read as kind of like a place filler when other books weren't landing; it became almost this sacred text in my life. And then, as I said in the author's note, it was just sitting there on my coffee table, and one day I was like, ok, l'll just pick this up and look. And the new project really just took off immediately. It felt so good writing these almost right away, and I had to keep going.

In Wake, Siren, how do you address this idea of existing within constant change that is present in Ovid?

Looking at the transformations that take place and why they take place, when these women are transformed it's usually for two reasons: either for protection so that they don't get raped or as punishment. And being turned into a reed or a stone or a tree you may have been saved from something but you are also rendered voiceless. And so in some ways it felt like, ok, I'm giving voice to these figures who had their voices taken away. And so within the transformation, maybe it was better to be turned into a reed than to be raped by Pan. That is not a judgment I feel qualified to make, but the fact is that a reed can no longer speak or tell her own story. So that was what the idea was, but I wasn't aware of it in the moment. This is kind of on reflection and thinking about it and having read it over a few times at this point.

Why do you think it's important to envision history from a female perspective?

When you think of these sorts of stories they are like the foundational stories in our lives, not just in Western civilization, but across cultures. They are these myths that we absorb into ourselves and they are typically told or written by men, men are the protagonists, and most often they have been translated by men. I think even when you think about it on a language level the way the act of rape has been translated for hundreds and hundreds of years in these texts is so euphemistic. The one that really gets me is when it is referred to as the female character "attained her love." And so we hear these stories, we absorb these stories, and the language gets absorbed into the realm of myth, fairy tales, and folktales. And the story becomes sort of fogged, but what was really happening was an act of extraordinary violence. So the idea of giving perspective to the women against whom these acts were perpetrated was a balancing act in some way, in balancing the scales of perspective. There are just so many versions to a story, you know.

Were you interested in the classics or mythology when you were growing up?

NM: Yes, I was just thinking about this yesterday. We had that yellow-spined D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths growing up--it's on my shelf and I'm looking at it right now--and that feels like a real touchstone. I really vividly remember watching that movie Clash of the Titans. It's a really old movie from the early '80s and it's the story of Perseus and Medusa and Pegasus and there is this mechanical owl and it's just wild. I remember that being really exciting. And then when I was in high school I had a Latin teacher who also taught Greek and Roman Civ. and she was just this dynamo. I think that was when I really got into it, because of her.

Why did you decide to use both ancient language and modern, anachronistic language when writing these stories? Did it come naturally to vary the styles?

When I was working on it what I would do is I would read a story and I would take notes and jot down the general plot points, and then I would go on these very long runs and I would just essentially listen to the voices and just try to hear what they were saying and how they were saying it. Some of them would come into my brain speaking very much how you and I would talk, and with others it felt more like they were speaking in that sort of ancient cadence and tone. And so it was like this act of listening as I was running along the streets of Cambridge. It's actually kind of a mystery to myself, how that worked.

If you go through the Metamorphoses, there is a lot that is the same: a nymph gets chased by a god, it's this same thing over and over again, so writing this was an act of really looking for the one or two details that de-generified the woman, like, for example, a white headband. To find the one tiny detail that differentiated her and then have that one detail blast a whole explosion of associations in my mind to make an individual, as opposed to these generic fleeing females.

Do you have a favorite story in the Metamorphoses? What is your favorite in your version?

The Baucis and Philemon story in the Metamorphoses, which is about an older couple who let the gods into their home not knowing they were gods and they feed them, every time I read that story I start crying. It really deeply moves me. And it's also one of the stories that is just beautiful. It's about this tender lasting love. And for this book, I liked writing Thetis. She's the one who changes into 100 different animals. I think I feel strongly about that one in part because in the myth she is the only one who changes her own shape. Plus it was super fun to think about all the animals, just writing the list and finding tiny little associations with each of them. That was a very pleasurable one to write.

Are you visiting many indie bookstores while on tour for this book?

Yes, I'll be visiting Harvard Book Store, McNally Jackson in Brooklyn, Brookline Booksmith, Water Street Books in Exeter, New Hampshire, Porter Square Books, Twenty Stories in Providence... I hope to visit more, I might see if there is some place in San Francisco that might like to do something. Right now it is mostly New England spots. A lot of these places were so kind and supportive when Hammer Head came out and so it does feel good to have those relationships go on and to return. It feels like you're returning to these old friends. So I'm looking forward to that. Nervous, of course, and also really excited. --Liz Button

More Indie Next List Great Reads

Anyone

By Charles Soule

(Harper Perennial, 9780062890634, $21.99)

"In Anyone, Charles Soule takes what was so fun about his novel The Oracle Year and perfects it. This takes the high-paced adventure of a spy novel or an action film and pairs it with the thoughtfulness that is found in really good science fiction. Soule puts his characters through unimaginable stressors to make us evaluate our views on race, identity, humanity, and the very existence of the self."

--Faith Parke-Dodge, Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC

Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen

By Dexter Palmer

(Pantheon, 9781101871935, $27.95)

"This is the story of Mary Toft, a woman who gave birth to dead rabbits in 1726. She did this more than 10 times, confounding surgeons and townsfolk alike. Is this a hoax, a curse, a miracle, or something in between? Based on a true story--if you are not familiar with it, don't look it up until you finish the book!--we follow surgeon John Howard and apprentice Zachary as they try to understand what is going on with their stunning patient. Extremely readable while still evoking the language and atmosphere of the time period, the book takes readers from the small village of Godalming, England, to London as John Howard and Zachary recruit the help of the top surgeons of the day. I highly enjoyed this disturbing novel. It is brutal, unexpected, and unputdownable."
--Katrina Bright-Yerges, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, WI

The German House

By Annette Hess

Elisabeth Lauffer (Transl.)

(HarperVia, 9780062910257, $26.99)

"The German House captured my imagination. The author expertly unfolds the story of Eva Bruhns, a translator for the 1963 Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials, with such believability that the reader feels complicit in the denial of the past. As she hears testimonies, Eva discovers that anyone can be guilty of some horrific role in the war, however unaware they were of inhumane acts, or however prey to propaganda. The reader's nausea will build as Eva gets closer to the truth. This historical novel seethes with life and feels authentic at every turn."

--Diane McGuire, Valley Bookseller, Stillwater, MN

Twenty-one Truths About Love

By Matthew Dicks

(St. Martin's Press, 9781250103482, $26.99)

"Matthew Dicks returns to the page with the most phenomenally entertaining and clever novel of the year. Written entirely in the form of lists, this poignant and hilarious novel follows protagonist Daniel Mayrock as he records his hopes, failures, frustrations, and loves. The lists portray a man hurt by loss and yearning for a success to make him feel worthy of his wife's love. Daniel will make the reader fall in love with him as he exposes his foibles. Grab a Little Debbie snack cake (or four) and curl up with what is sure to be a singular sensation in the literary world."
--Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN

The Second Sleep

By Robert Harris

(Knopf, 9780525656692, $26.95)

"The year: 1468. The place: a remote English village. Christopher Fairfax, a young cleric, has come to bury a priest whose interest in old, heretical artifacts may have led to his death. Robert Harris, master of the historical novel, has written a corker--I won't say anything to spoil the twist!"

--Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

Not the Girl You Marry

By Andie J. Christopher

(Berkley, 9781984802682, $16, trade paper)

"This is a fun and engaging read. Don't let the concept (a role reversal of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) or cute cover fool you. There is a lot more depth to this plot than meets the eye; it's about being seen and accepting your true self. Jack and Hannah both try to be what they think others want them to be but, because of their deceptions due to job obligations, are actually their natural selves. I can't wait for book two."

--Audrey Huang, Belmont Books, Belmont, PA

The Clergyman's Wife: A Pride & Prejudice Novel

By Molly Greeley

(William Morrow Paperback, 9780062942913, $15.99, trade paper)

"In Pride and Prejudice, Charlotte Lucas chooses with her eyes wide open to marry Mr. Collins, the unctuous clergyman who has nothing to recommend him but the ability to provide her with a household of her own. In The Clergyman's Wife, Molly Greeley pauses to consider the backstory and consequences of this choice. This is a gentle story, notable for the author's clear, lyrical writing and consideration of the real financial challenges facing women in Jane Austen's day, as well as her empathy for the characters--especially, and perhaps surprisingly, Mr. Collins--without letting them off the hook for their moral choices. With a light touch, wisdom, and care, Greeley explores questions that provide a richer understanding of history and of our own lives."

--Rebecca Mattis, Phoenix Books, Rutland, VT

Winter Grave

By Helene Tursten

Marlaine Delargy (Transl.)

(Soho Crime, 9781641290760, $26.95)

"Helene Tursten has crafted a fast-paced Swedish police drama that is no-nonsense and utterly delightful. Two children turn up missing in a small town, and when the main suspect, a teenage boy, won't defend himself, the town turns on him. A spree of seemingly unconnected murders flusters the police, while young detective Embla sorts through the mess with panache and grace. The sharp, well-thought-out, complex plotting will keep you up at night. Very enjoyable."
--Becky Reed, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, MO

Labyrinth of Ice: The Triumphant and Tragic Greely Polar Expedition

By Buddy Levy

(St. Martin's Press, 9781250182197, $29.99)

"There are very few narratives of the tribulations and deprivations of polar expedition. Ernest Shackleton's is the most well-known; the Franklin Expedition's is the most horrific, but we have no survivors to recount it for us. The Greely Expedition of 1881, however, remains largely unknown. Here, Buddy Levy has resurrected the forgotten story of the U.S. Army Signal Corps' participation in the First International Polar Year explorations using the recollections and diaries of the participants. That anyone survived is almost incredible; that we have their stories and photographs even more so. Gripping."
--Jeff L. Battis, Sausalito Books by the Bay, Sausalito, CA

Trace of Evil

By Alice Blanchard

(Minotaur Books, 9781250205711, $26.99)

"Author Alice Blanchard begins her first thriller series with a novel about rookie detective Natalie Lockhart. She's young, she has a past--and who doesn't in the sleepy little town of Burning Lake, New York?--but she also has a good heart and the need to find out what happened to nine missing transients. What she finds, however, may be worse than murder, and soon involves more than the original missing people. There's something distinctly evil lurking in the hearts and minds of certain residents of Burning Lake; the question is, can Natalie keep her head above water long enough to learn the truth and bring justice to light? Crime writer Ann Cleeves calls Blanchard's writing powerful, and I could not agree more!"

--Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, WA

The Innocents

By Michael Crummey

(Doubleday, 9780385545426, $26.95)

"Michael Crummey is a master chronicler of isolation, and The Innocents is a perfect example. Following an orphaned brother and sister trying to survive on the coast of Newfoundland, this is a spare and elemental novel about the power of family and the act of survival, even in the harshest circumstances."

--Tyler Goodson, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

NVK

By Temple Drake

(Other Press, 9781590519356, $15.99, trade paper)

"A weirdly wonderful tale of love, tragedy, lust, and, yes, a new breed of vampire: the auto-created immortal creature. Set in modern-day Shanghai, NVK tells the story of a young businessman who meets and falls hard for an aloof foreign beauty. Their torrid affair transforms into one of mystery as well as unasked and unanswered questions as Drake seductively draws the reader into a world of secrets and death. Here is a different telling of the lone vampire story that will appeal to readers who believe, perhaps, that the undead do walk amongst us, seeking love and connection, and not necessarily looking for their next meal."

--Helen Gregory, Maria's Bookshop, Durango, CO

The Ship of Dreams: The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era

By Gareth Russell

(Atria Books, 9781501176722, $30)

"The Ship of Dreams recounts the Titanic epic largely from the perspective of six of her first-class passengers, including the naval architect who designed the ship; a movie star; a vice president of the Pennsylvania Railroad and his 17-year-old son, Isidor Strauss, who founded Macy's Department Store; and Lucy Noël Martha Leslie, the Countess of Rothes. This incisive and engrossing account of the ship's evolution and tragic loss injects an intelligent light into an event that is as much enshrouded in legend as the Titanic's remains are in the deep, dark ocean. This story is both a paean to the genius of the age that gave birth to the Titanic and a eulogy for the hubris that doomed her."

--Alden Graves, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

A Madness of Sunshine

By Nalini Singh

(Berkley, 9780593099131, $27)

"Singh brings us into the wild side of New Zealand, to a tiny village where the new cop knows everybody by name and really cares about protecting them. Maya has returned to find her old school friends greatly changed--and one may be a serial killer. This thriller is compelling; the characters are fresh and exciting but realistic. The tension builds with every page turned, right up to the finale--wow!"

--Karen Bakshoian, Letterpress Books, Portland, ME

The Sacrament

By Olaf Olafsson

(Ecco, 9780062899873, $26.99)

"The Sacrament is a thoughtful, atmospheric, and quietly intense novel about how our choices have effects that must be felt our whole lives, and how we grapple with those consequences. I loved settling in with this novel."

--Catherine Bock, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

Under Occupation

By Alan Furst

(Random House, 9780399592300, $27)

"Returning to one of his favorite subjects, Alan Furst examines life in Nazi-occupied Paris through a quasi-doppelgänger: Paul Ricard, an accomplished writer of spy fiction. Facing writer's block, Ricard is presented with an unusual request from a Polish friend to get involved in the Resistance. Together, they manage to make contact with Polish slave laborers (who are actually engineers) in Germany to provide the Resistance--and eventually the English--with technical details and specimens of detonators and torpedoes. In 1942, with Paris gripped by war privations and the terror of the German SS, life was dark, difficult, and exhilarating, and Ricard takes to his assignments as if he had trained for them. Furst is the best writer of espionage fiction today."

--Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT

Dead Astronauts

By Jeff VanderMeer

(MCD, 9780374276805, $27)

"Set in the same world as his excellent 2017 novel Borne, Dead Astronauts finds VanderMeer again at the top of his game exploring a universe destroyed by the nefarious Company. Delightful strangeness abounds: a man disintegrating into hundreds of salamanders, an ancient giant fish called Leviathan, a large blue fox with a message to deliver across time--all these and more make Dead Astronauts one of VanderMeer's most engagingly strange and beguiling novels. As he continues to explore deeply environmental themes, his unique lens makes the reader ponder our current climate crisis in a new way. A wonderfully weird, nature-driven science fiction odyssey through time and space."

--Caleb Masters, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

The Wicked Redhead

By Beatriz Williams

(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062660329, $16.99, trade paper)

"There has been a rash of then-and-now novels recently, but Williams weaves together two time frames so skillfully that the reader doesn't feel a bit discomfited by the time and narrator-switching in successive chapters. Williams is a skillful storyteller who keeps the reader intrigued by how it will all pan out."

--Susan Thurin, Bookends on Main, Menomonie, WI

Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale

By Adam Minter

(Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635570106, $28)

"This book has completely consumed my life for the past few days! Secondhand takes us on an adventure through the world of recycling and reuse culture. This is an honest look at how the things that clutter our homes don't just disappear when we bring them to a secondhand store or recycling center. This book wants us to be a part of the reuse movement, to take notice of fast fashion, single-use items, and easily replaced electronics and make conscientious decisions as consumers. I hope many people read Secondhand and, in the spirit of the book, pass it on to others."

--Alexa Ochocki, Content Bookstore, Northfield, MN

Not of This Fold

By Mette Ivie Harrison

(Soho Crime, 9781641290937, $16.95)

"Following up on her debut novel in the Linda Wallheim mystery series, Mette Ivie Harrison's new novel again ventures into the world of Mormon women fighting for power and a voice. Wallheim is pulled by her friend and fellow doubter, Gwen Ferris, into the investigation of a murder of a Latina mother whose death threatens to reveal corruption at the very highest levels of church leadership. Harrison also deftly handles the side plot of Wallheim's son's struggles as an openly gay man on his first mission. Her intimate understanding of Mormonism and carefully drawn, complex characters will show readers a world and a faith in transition, mirroring the struggles of the larger culture."
--Kelly Barth, Raven Bookstore, Lawrence, KS

The Paragon Hotel

By Lyndsay Faye

(G.P. Putnam's Sons, 9780735210776, $17)

"Good gracious. I just adore all things written by Lyndsay Faye. Like her glorious Gods of Gotham series, The Paragon Hotel is a clever, fast-paced read with a unique ensemble of characters. Set during the Prohibition era, the novel bounces between the mafia-ridden streets of Harlem and the racially tense community of Portland, Oregon. Steeped in historical detail, The Paragon Hotel is wickedly smart and wholly entertaining. Faye has given readers another deviously delicious story."

--Anderson McKean, Page and Palette, Fairhope, AL

The Water Cure

By Sophie Mackintosh

(Anchor, 9780525562832, $16)

"Here's what they know: men hurt women, even if they don't mean to. And the island is the only safe place in a world that has been completely corrupted by pollution--at least that's what they've been told. So sisters Grace, Lia, and Sky occupy themselves with the painful rituals their parents have devised, exercises that will make them stronger and immune to love's sickness. Every day is the same until their father disappears and three strange men appear in his place. Violence is inevitable, but who will be the perpetrator? Gorgeously, perfectly written, The Water Cure luxuriates in an atmosphere of haunting, Atwoodian strangeness."

--Lauren Peugh, Powell's Books, Portland, OR

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

By Kiersten White

(Ember, 9780525577966, $10.99)

"Pulling both from the text of Frankenstein and the life of Mary Shelley, White delivers a splendid imagining of what it might have been like to be a woman in the life of Victor Frankenstein. Elizabeth, a penniless young girl striving to find safety no matter the cost, finds herself tied to the mad young scientist. White's well-written exploration of what one would do to be safe in a world where there are few sureties keeps the subtle climbing horror of the original work while exploring the causes and motivations that might go into the creation of a monster."

--Jessica Cox, Plot Twist Bookstore, Ankeny, IA

Empress of All Seasons

By Emiko Jean

(HMH Books for Young Readers, 9780358108269, $9.99)

"What a fantastic fantasy read! Author Emiko Jean makes full use of Japanese words and mystical elements of the yokai to craft a feudal-like world of historical emperor-led Japan featuring a kick-ass young woman with powers beyond mortal humans. Her Hunger Games-like quest of survival of the fittest in the bewitched Season Rooms brings together themes of love, trust, and loyalty. A real page-turner, this young adult fantasy is sure to be hit."

--Maureen Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, CA

How She Died, How I Lived

By Mary Crockett

(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316523820, $10.99)

"One of my absolute favorite books of 2018! The unnamed main character is one of five girls that were texted by a local boy with murder on his mind--only one girl replied, and only one girl was brutally murdered. A year later, our heroine is dealing with survivor's guilt, the upcoming sentencing for the murderer, and a crush on the dead girl's boyfriend. A life forever changed by the what-ifs of one fateful day--the violence that can so easily end the life of any woman--makes for an unforgettable and unputdownable read."

--Kate Towery, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

Chesapeake Requiem: A Year With the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island

By Earl Swift

(Dey Street Books, 9780062661395, $28.99)

"I was so impressed with this story of Tangier, an exploration of science, history, religion, and culture driven by emotionally salient commentary from people who live there today. I thought it was particularly interesting to learn that the community is conservative both religiously and politically, but their home is being swept away by rising sea levels thanks to climate change, which is usually a politically charged topic. It was also interesting to have insight into what is likely the United States' first group of 'climate refugees'--terms that are also politically charged. Thoughtfully, lovingly, and intelligently done. An important read!"

--Chloe Growth, Content Bookstore, Northfield, MN

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

By Casey Cep

(Knopf, 9781101947869, $26.95)

"In Cold Blood and To Kill a Mockingbird kept me up reading all night as a teen, and I can now add Furious Hours to the list of couldn't-put-it-down tomes. I was enthralled, educated, and awestruck by Casey Cep's well-researched and masterfully written true-crime account of a rural minister, his lawyer, and his killer. Thankfully, Cep discovered and brought to light what surely could have been Harper Lee's second bestseller. Now... off to get a good night's rest!"
--Beth Stroh, Viewpoint Books, Columbus, IN

I Miss You When I Blink: Essays

By Mary Laura Philpott

(Atria Books, 9781982102807, $26)

"Mary Laura Philpott writes about today's American woman in her marvelously frank and witty book of essays, I Miss You When I Blink. Women of all ages will nod their heads when reading about the decision to have babies (or not), the pitfalls of volunteering, the difficulty of getting a cat out from under the bed, the reward of crossing things off 'the list,' the challenge of finding time for relaxation, and, above all, the acceleration of time as we age. Philpott shares pivotal moments from her life in such a relatable way that, through both laughter and tears, readers will exclaim, 'Yes, yes, this is ME!' Don't miss this gem!"

--Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA

Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss

By Margaret Renkl

(Milkweed Editions, 9781571313782, $24)

"Margaret Renkl feels the lives and struggles of each creature that enters her yard as keenly as she feels the paths followed by her mother, grandmother, her people. Learning to accept the sometimes harsh, always lush natural world may crack open a window to acceptance of our own losses. In Late Migrations, we welcome new life, mourn its passing, and honor it along the way."

--Kat Baird, The Book Bin, Corvallis, OR

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

By Lori Gottlieb

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9781328662057, $28)

"I was thinking maybe I should talk to someone, and then there was this book. Gottlieb has written a compassionate and entertaining memoir from both sides of the couch, so to speak. She tells the stories of four patients whose lives the reader comes to care deeply about while she herself goes into therapy. Physician, heal thyself? No. Human being, be honest with thyself and do something really difficult. Gottlieb is as fine a writer as she is a storyteller. I was sad our sessions had to end."

--Stan Hynds, Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs, NY

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir

By Ruth Reichl

(Random House, 9781400069996, $27)

"In her new memoir, trendsetting food writer and editor Ruth Reichl writes lovingly of the full-blast creativity of her 10 years as editor-in-chief of Gourmet. By book's end, you'll miss the storied and groundbreaking magazine, but you'll be grateful she shared the tale of how its outstanding roster of writers, photographers, designers, and cooks transformed how we look at food. Reichl takes readers behind the scenes as chefs became rock stars, as writers like David Foster Wallace reshaped food writing, and as she fought to save the magazine she adored. A beloved writer with an enviable career, Reichl reminds us that although things may change, simple, honest pleasures--like a perfect plum--endure and make life rich."

--Mary Vermillion, Village Books, Bellingham, WA