Sparta by Roxana Robinson
In her story of a returning soldier, Roxana Robinson tackles psychological trauma, war, and religion using prose as elegant as it is heartbreaking. "He wouldn't use large words like redemption, or grace," she writes. "He was hoping for something humbler, something small and private. He didn't feel entitled to anything large."
Visitation Street by Ivy Pachoda
"Summer is everybody else's party," is how Ivy Pachoda begins her riveting mystery set in Red Hook, New York. "It belongs to the recently arrived hipsters in their beat-up sneakers and paint-splattered jeans spilling out of the bar down the block. It belongs to Puerto Rican families with foil trays of meat, sending charcoal smoke signals into the air, even to the old men in front of the VFW, sitting out, watching the neighborhood pass them by."
In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell
That Matt Bell created a fairy tale written in such real language makes his novel practically shimmer with its layered beauty. "How terrible we must have seemed that day, when together we were made to believe our marriage would then and always be celebrated, by ceremony and by feating, by the right applause of a hundred kith and kin. And then later how we were terrible again, upon this far lonelier shore, where when we came we came alone."
Highs in the Low Fifties: How I Stumbled Through the Joys of Single Living by Marion Winik
Winik's memoir about midlife divorce, dating, and single life is entertaining not only because of her adventurous life, but because of her intrepid wit. She writes: "Perhaps a girl who loves parties and restaurants should not marry a committed recluse. Perhaps an approval junkie should not pledge herself for life to a professional critic. But those are relatively good ideas compared to a union between a devoted drinker and a recovering alcoholic."
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How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction by Robert Martin
Renowned primatologist Martin writes about science clearly and directly in his eye-opening new book while making astute observations about our society. In his words: "Advice is abundantly available, particularly through the Internet, but it covers a whole spectrum. Because culture has greatly influenced mothering in all modern human societies, it is not easy to decide what is 'natural' for our own species."
The Astor Orphan by Alexandra Aldrich
Yes, she's a descendant of John Jacob Astor, but in this involving memoir Alexandra Aldrich reveals how she also experienced relatable moments: "Mom would become a whole other person at the old Rokeby creamery, a person I never saw when I was alone with her. She would laugh, recite extemporaneous poetry, and forget to complain about dad."
The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver
In her beautiful novel of three generations and the summer home that both binds and isolates them, Graver writes, "There are moments in every life when something terrible happens to someone you love in a place where you are not, and you don't know what has happened until afterward, and if you had known, you'd have altered the course of things by placing yourself here, not there, a restraining wall, a force of nature."
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