HarperOne: Hear Yourself: How to Find Peace in a Noisy World by Prem Rawat

Garden District Book Shop Issue for Friday, July 23, 2021

From the Shelf

Christine Van Zandt: What's Behind Today's Underpants

Christine Van Zandt

While I was contemplating nonfiction topics that would engage kids, my (then) third-grader suggested underwear. Yes! I love hearing children laugh when they read, and there aren't many topics funnier than underpants. Once I began researching what had already been published, I felt there was a need for a concise, quick-paced book that could be amusing and informative. I charged forward like a knight in quilted underpants and wrote the first draft.

Scientists discover evidence of old undies the same way they dig up dinosaur fossils, so new finds are unearthed all the time. I searched for information from every continent, back to the earliest known undergarments. Yet many reference sources contained very little underwear-specific information--could that be why they're called "unmentionables"?

I uncovered cheeky facts and got hooked reading about things like frozen 5,300-year-old underwear, interesting materials and textiles that have covered our bottoms, and how inventions propelled underwear and clothing production forward. I believe that the combination of facts and humor makes this brief history accessible to all readers, even reluctant ones. Facts--like astronauts' dirty underpants are sent back to Earth on a crew-less ship and burn up on reentry--are out of this world.

Once young readers finish giggling at the puns about buns, the conversations begin. Children can visit my website for "Beyond the Book" questions: How can we study history if it keeps changing? Are today's underpants better for us? Are they better for our planet? The bottom line is that people throughout time have devised innovative solutions to keep their cheeks covered. --Christine Van Zandt

Christine Van Zandt is a literary editor and author of A Brief History of Underpants (becker&mayer! kids, $9.99), illustrated by Harry Briggs.

University of California Press: Hella Town: Oakland's History of Development and Disruption (1st ed.) by Mitchell Schwarzer


Milkweed Editions: Saga Boy: My Life of Blackness and Becoming by Antonio Michael Downing


Yen Press: Never Open It: The Taboo Trilogy by Ken Niimura

In this Issue...

Reviews

A Black gay teen must stop the murderous ghost of a white teen school shooter in this genre-blending YA debut about finding inner strength and one's own powerful voice.

Read this review >>

Artist Judy Chicago's welcome new memoir, her first since 1996's Beyond the Flower, updates readers on her adventures in the intervening quarter century.

Read this review >>

Two Wall Street Journal correspondents provide the definitive account of the meteoric rise and dramatic fall of WeWork and its charismatic founder.

Read this review >>

Review by Subjects:

Fiction Mystery & Thriller Biography & Memoir Business & Economics Body, Mind & Spirit Education Now in Paperback Children's & Young Adult

Sleeping Bear Press: The Ghouls' Guide to Good Grammar by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Mary Sullivan

From Garden District Book Shop

Upcoming Events

Postponed - In-Person Event - Kent Babb: Across the River: Life, Death, and Football in an American City

09/16/2021 - 6:00PM

  EVENT Postponed THE GARDEN DISTRICT BOOK SHOP HOSTS KENT BABB TO CELEBRATE HIS NEW RELEASE, ACROSS THE RIVER: LIFE, DEATH, AND FOOTBALL IN AN AMERICAN CITY The Garden District Book Shop is thrilled to host an evening celebrating the recent release of award-winning sportswriter Kent Babb’s, Across the River: Life, Death, and Football in an American City.  What is sure to be a classic work of sports journalism, Across the River  is an investigation into the...

Book Candy

Forgotten Weather Words

Monkey's wedding, for example. Mental Floss asked: "Can you define these forgotten weather words?"

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Gastro Obscura shared "the legacy of a Civil Rights icon's vegetarian cookbook," Dick Gregory's Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin' With Mother Nature.

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"For sale: Elvis Presley's annotated copy of The Prophet," Fine Books & Collections magazine reported.

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"From A Room Made of Leaves to The God of Small Things: books Guardian readers couldn't put down."

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"Meet the man who wants to turn the State Library Victoria into a giant escape room." (via the Age)

Imagine: Dance or Die: From Stateless Refugee to International Ballet Star, a Memoir by Ahmad Joudeh

Great Reads

Rediscover: William F. Nolan

Author William F. Nolan, who was best known for the Logan's Run series of science fiction novels, died July 15 at age 93. Locus reported that Nolan worked as a writer and designer of greeting cards for Hallmark, a painter of murals, an aircraft assistant and at various other jobs in the '40s and '50s. In 1956, he became a freelance writer. His first novel was Logan's Run (1967, with George Clayton Johnson), which became a Nebula Award-nominated film in 1976 and later a TV series. Nolan wrote several sequels, including Logan's World (1977), Logan's Search (1980) and the novella Logan's Return (2001).

Nolan's Sam Space series was an SF/hardboiled homage to Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade, and included the Edgar Award winner Space for Hire (1971). He also wrote horror and paranormal works, as well as numerous crime and mystery titles, among them one "Nolan considered his best novel, The Marble Orchard (1996)," Locus noted. His many honors include a Living Legend Award from the International Horror Guild (2002), a Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America Author Emeritus Award (2006), the Horror Writers Association's Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement (2010) and a Special Convention Award from the World Fantasy convention (2013). He was named a World Horror Grandmaster in 2015. Logan's Run is available from Vintage ($15.95).

Wiley: Buffalo, Barrels, & Bourbon: The Story of How Buffalo Trace Distillery Became the World's Most Awarded Distillery (1st ed.) by F Paul Pacult

The Writer's Life

Reading with... Cassandra Lane

photo: Daniel Rarela

Cassandra Lane is the author of We Are Bridges (Feminist Press), a poetic reconstruction of her family's lost history, winner of the Louise Meriwether First Book Prize. Lane received an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. She is the editor-in-chief of L.A. Parent magazine and previously worked as a newspaper staff reporter. Her stories have appeared in the Times-Picayune, Everything but the Burden, Ms. Aligned, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Writers Resist, Expressing Motherhood, Fury: Women's Lived Experiences During the Trump Era, the New York Times's "Conception" series and more.

On your nightstand now:

I'm not a night owl, so pretending that I can slip under the covers at night and read a novel or other long work is hilarious. No matter how hard I try, I'm out like a light within minutes. But before I meet the dreamworld, I do love to soak in a poem. What's on my nightstand right now are Patricia Smith's dazzling Blood Dazzler and my late friend Richard Beban's beautifully observant What the Heart Weighs. Richard and I shared a birthday--April 23 (Shakespeare's birthday, World Book Day)--and each year we toasted each other and literature in general. In honor of our birthday this year, I re-read his poem "The Ascension." All of the poems are so cinematic and soulful. He was an amazing photographer, too.

Favorite book when you were a child:

My favorite book as a child (after I finished sneaking and reading my mother's romance novels) was Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I felt so gangly and awkward for all of my childhood, and that book helped me give voice to some of the emotions I had been harboring. It was a salve and inspired me to embrace a life journey of journaling.

Your top five authors:

So many, but these five are masters representing vastly different styles: Toni Morrison, Lucille Clifton, Edwidge Danticat, Jamaica Kincaid, Jo Ann Beard.

Book you've faked reading:

Ulysses by James Joyce. I've had it for a hundred years and keep it on the TBR shelf, but every year slips by without me cracking it open.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I have been telling everyone about Lynell George's new book A Handful of Earth, a Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia E. Butler. One: it's about Octavia Butler, so, yes! Two: it captures all the challenges and triumphs and minutiae that she used to carve herself into a writer. Three: Lynell's research and deep investment in this woman/seer/artist is so palpable and the writing is gorgeous.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge. Okay, I wanted it for more than the cover--cannot wait to fully sink into what I know is going to be a lush ride--but the cover is wall hanging-worthy.

Book you hid from your parents:

The romance books I stole that belonged to my mom!

Book that changed your life:

Reading Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon at around 20 years old while taking my first African American Literature class blew my mind. I had not been exposed to Black authors in high school and earlier, so meeting this masterful writer through this dense and complicated and magical novel blew my mind wide open.

Favorite line from a book:

"Mountains were stories before they were mountains." --Heart Berries, Terese Marie Mailhot

Five books you'll never part with:

Alice Walker's The Color Purple--my copy is falling apart and I will never replace it: a classic.

James Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain--so much of it reminded me of my childhood.

Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak--a beautiful YA novel that poet Yona Harvey first told me about, a book I wish I'd had as an adolescent.

Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf, a classic favorite--strange and hair-raising and delicious.

Lucille Clifton's Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980--this book and this poet is my literary mother.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Paule Marshall's Brown Girl, Brownstones. I remember reading it in my backyard in New Orleans and weeping over its beauty and brilliance. I want to revisit what moved me so.

Two excellent and exquisite debut short story collections:

Eat the Mouth That Feeds You by Carribean Fragoza and The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw.

AK Press: Grievers (Black Dawn #1) by Adrienne Maree Brown

Book Reviews

Fiction

A Woman of Intelligence

by Karin Tanabe

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Karin Tanabe (The Diplomat's DaughterA Hundred Suns) takes readers deep into the inner life of a society housewife turned FBI informant in her sixth novel, A Woman of Intelligence. The daughter of Swiss immigrants, Katharina Edgeworth speaks four languages, has a graduate degree from Columbia and is bored stiff spending her days caring for her two young boys in 1950s Manhattan. As the postwar fear of Communism sweeps across the U.S., Rina is recruited by FBI agents to collect information about a former lover suspected of Communist activities. Desperate to find a purpose beyond wiping noses and breaking up her boys' arguments (or schmoozing at gala events with her doctor husband), Rina agrees, barely pausing to debate the ethics of spying on someone she once trusted. Before long, she realizes what her handlers already know: she might be in way over her head.

Tanabe's narrative is full of rich period details, from the gilded world of Rina's Upper East Side apartment and wealthy in-laws to her memories of her former work at the fledgling United Nations. Rina herself is a complicated character. Smart and introspective, she married for love and reluctantly gave up her career when she got pregnant, but finds herself bored and frustrated by the constraints of her current life. As she slips into both passivity and self-harm, the opportunity to do something for her country--and be seen simply as a woman again--proves irresistible.

Taut and thoughtful, A Woman of Intelligence vividly portrays a particular moment in American history while capturing a woman's timeless struggle to create her own life. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: Karin Tanabe's compelling sixth novel follows a society housewife turned FBI informant in 1950s Manhattan.

St. Martin's Press, $27.99, hardcover, 384p., 9781250231505

The Council of Animals

by Nick McDonell , illust. by Steven Tabbutt

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In the witty and compelling The Council of Animals by Nick McDonell (Twelve), humans are nearly extinct following an unspecified disaster ("The Calamity") of their own making. The animals, also sorely suffering in a changed world, gather to debate and vote on the next steps: to allow the humans to live, or to kill and eat them all. This council includes a grizzled, arthritic bulldog; a not-so-bright horse; an underfed grizzly bear; a religious crow; an aloof and possibly turncoat cat; and a bully of a baboon. The belated seventh council member is the source of some trepidation and mystery. When the humans (who mostly remain offscreen) appear doomed, a motley alliance must form, swelling the ranks of animal characters to encompass a trio of moles, a giant lizard that thinks it's a bat, a small but important scorpion and more. To save humanity, these intrepid creatures will travel and go on adventures together, learning interspecies trust and new animal facts, and finding hilarity and danger along the way.

This thought-provoking, captivating story contains both whimsy and life-or-death consequences, charmingly related with humor and sagacity by a narrator, "a humble historian (or animal contextographer)," who conceals their own identity until the very end. The Council of Animals has the feel of a fable, both a romp with sweetly goofy animal characters and a serious and clear-eyed story about the real world and its dangers. Ultimately, this is a tale about community and cooperation. Humans may have something to learn from the animals about communication and mutual responsibility. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: A council of animals decides the post-Calamity fate of humans in this wise, witty, perfectly compelling tale of adventure and survival.

Holt, $25.99, hardcover, 208p., 9781250799036

Mystery & Thriller

The Other Passenger

by Louise Candlish

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Can a wealthy couple in their 40s maintain a lasting friendship with a poor couple in their 20s without jealousy rearing its ugly head? Louise Candlish's The Other Passenger plots how friendship leads to betrayal, fraud and murder in this scintillating suspense novel.

Jamie and Clare, the older couple, live in a coveted London suburb. Clare is a partner in a successful real estate firm; Jamie made money in marketing. Kit and Melia, the younger pair, are former actors. Kit now works at an insurance company, and Melia was recently hired at Clare's firm. Unfortunately, Kit and Melia's combined paychecks don't add up to much and they are drowning in debt.

Clare learns Melia and Kit live nearby and invites them to dinner. Kit and Melia are astounded by Clare and Jamie's palatial house--until they hear it was paid for by Clare's parents. Kit starts an argument over the unfairness of having to pay exorbitant rent for a modest flat while Clare had a whole house given to her. Melia later apologizes for Kit's outburst and tells Clare that Kit would like to be friends with Jamie. The couples continue to get together regularly, managing to skirt the issue of their inequities in favor of maintaining the friendship. Then Kit goes missing and the police suspect Jamie of murder.

Candlish (Those People) acknowledges being influenced by the double-crossing plot of the film Double Indemnity and singer Lana Del Rey's slow-burn cover of "Doin' Time" while writing. And, yes, the plot comparisons and overall pacing are undeniable, but Candlish culls from these sources to create a distinctive and captivating read. --Paul Dinh-McCrillis, freelance reviewer

Discover: Two couples from different generations and economic statuses plot fraud, betrayal and murder against each other in a mesmerizing thriller that nods to Double Indemnity.

Atria, $17, paperback, 400p., 9781982174101

For Your Own Good

by Samantha Downing

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English teacher Teddy Crutcher despises entitlement--it has a "particular stench. Pungent, bitter. Almost brutal." But in Samantha Downing's slyly wicked For Your Own Good, the elitist Belmont Academy overflows with those who believe they are better than others.

In just three novels, Edgar finalist Downing (My Lovely Wife; He Started It) has carved a niche with sharp plotting and subversive, unethical characters whose nastiness makes them riveting. Despite that Teacher of the Year plaque on his chalkboard (he eschews smartboards), Teddy abhors almost all his students and their wealthy, conceited parents, whose antics make the celebrity college scandal seem like kindergarten. Teddy believes he needs to teach them to be better people by showing them failure. A bright but "smug" student gets a B on a report worth an A, and if his parents complain, a heavier assignment. Colleges receive letters accusing a girl of cheating because Teddy considers her "an arrogant snob," even though she aces every assignment. A little poison from plants he grows can cause colleagues' uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea in public. And if people die--well, it won't be the first time.

The "morally bankrupt" Teddy thrives on a casual cruelty that he hides in plain sight with his affable personality. But Teddy isn't the only teacher with hatred in his heart as the growing body count turns the once stellar Belmont Academy into the trending #HomicideHigh.

Downing invests For Your Own Good with a delicious dark wit that well serves her realistic, quirky characters. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer 

Discover: High marks go to this deliciously dark thriller, in which a jealous teacher at an elite academy makes failure, humiliation and occasionally death part of his lesson plan.

Berkley, $27, hardcover, 384p., 9780593100974

Biography & Memoir

The Flowering: The Autobiography of Judy Chicago

by Judy Chicago

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When Judy Chicago had her picture taken wearing boxing gloves in a Los Angeles boxing ring in 1971, she was spoofing a trend among her male peers in the art scene: promoting their shows using macho imagery. Little did Chicago know then that decades of fighting (against critical drubbings, against insolvency, against the blues) lay ahead of her--a theme in the exhilarating The Flowering: The Autobiography of Judy Chicago.

Born Judy Cohen in Chicago in 1939, the artist studied at UCLA at a time when a male critic had no compunction about saying to her, "You know, Judy, you have to decide whether you're going to be a woman or an artist." When the naturally tenacious Chicago collided with the incipient women's movement, it galvanized her to make art without apologizing for either her ambition or the feminist content of her work. The most famous example: The Dinner Party, a career-making installation featuring vulval imagery alongside the names of accomplished women from history.

The Flowering covers the same ground as Beyond the Flower: The Autobiography of a Feminist Artist, Chicago's 1996 memoir, and updates readers on what she's been up to in the intervening quarter century, much of it represented in the book's reproductions. The Flowering also includes an account of how The Dinner Party found its permanent home at the Brooklyn Museum early in the new century, which corresponded with a critical reassessment of and appreciation for Chicago's work--but happily, no diminishment in her fighting spirit. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Discover: Artist Judy Chicago's welcome new memoir, her first since 1996's Beyond the Flower, updates readers on her adventures in the intervening quarter century.

Thames & Hudson, $39.95, hardcover, 416p., 9780500094389

Business & Economics

The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion

by Eliot Brown , Maureen Farrell

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In The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion, Wall Street Journal correspondents Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell provide the definitive account of how an office space subleasing company disguised as a tech startup rocketed to a $47 billion valuation before the company's dramatic downfall. Brown and Farrell, whose contemporary reporting on WeWork helped expose the rot underneath the company's trendy façade, find timeless themes of greed, wishful thinking and mass delusion in the saga of WeWork and its founder, Adam Neumann. The excesses on display in The Cult of We rival anything seen in John Carreyrou's Bad Blood. Neumann spoke about making peace in the Middle East, becoming a trillionaire and colonizing other planets while WeWork made ill-advised forays into education and AI and held gigantic Burning Man-like retreats for its employees.

Far from laying all of this at the feet of Neumann, The Cult of We makes a thorough accounting of the many supposed financial wizards who became his enablers, each signing on to a dangerous philosophy of explosive growth above all else. Neumann resembled a cult leader with his imposing stature and his abundant charisma, which he used to convince a variety of funders to pour money into his business in a seemingly endless stream. The Cult of We is not only about the dysfunctions of WeWork as a company, but about the vulnerabilities of a global financial system where wealthy and powerful people make billion-dollar decisions based on little more than gut instinct. --Hank Stephenson, the Sun magazine, manuscript reader

Discover: Two Wall Street Journal correspondents provide the definitive account of the meteoric rise and dramatic fall of WeWork and its charismatic founder.

Crown, $28, hardcover, 464p., 9780593237113

Body, Mind & Spirit

Finding Refuge: Heart Work for Healing Collective Grief

by Michelle Cassandra Johnson

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Although the Western concept of grief paints it as a private, individual process with distinct "stages" heavily influenced by the Kubler-Ross model, the reality is much messier, and it is often communal. Activist, social worker, yoga teacher and devoted daughter Michelle Cassandra Johnson explores the impact of collective grief and offers some tools for healing in her second nonfiction book, Finding Refuge.

Through personal stories--including her mother's long struggle against a racist health-care system that marginalized her experience as a Black woman--Johnson explores how grief builds up in the body and spirit, continuing to affect individual and communal wellness until it is acknowledged and released. Each chapter offers meditation resources, journaling prompts and other suggestions for facing, naming and even embracing grief, as opposed to hiding from it or denying it. With deep compassion, raw honesty and flaring anger at the systems that seek to bury grief, Johnson (Skill in Action) points toward a new way of dealing with sorrow. She discusses the ongoing racial trauma of living as a Black American, her experience as a novice beekeeper and her journey of tapping into various spiritual practices to nourish herself and move forward. The end goal is not denial or "perfection," but wholeness: an emergence into a stronger place where people can make space for their pain and then grow past it. Both challenging and comforting, Finding Refuge seems particularly apt for the current moment of racial unrest, widespread disease and political change. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: Activist and social worker Michelle Cassandra Johnson provides journaling prompts and practical resources for processing collective grief.

Shambhala, $17.95, paperback, 168p., 9781611809367

Education

No Study Without Struggle: Confronting Settler Colonialism in Higher Education

by Leigh Patel

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Leigh Patel's No Study Without Struggle insightfully explores the role of colleges and universities in maintaining the colonial structure of the United States. Patel (Decolonizing Educational Research) is a professor of education at the University of Pittsburgh and presents real-world examples for all levels of university staff, students and faculty working toward dismantling systemic racism within their institutions.

Through extensive research and interviews with social activists from the Black Panther Party and Black Lives Matter, Patel examines the university system through the lens of settler colonialism, which she states is the basis of society in many nations, including the United States, Australia and Canada. "Unlike a system based on extracting resources, goods, and human subjects from 'other lands,' settler colonialism is based on the logic of owning land" and explains how racism, property accumulation and gender binaries for example, are used to maintain "extractive power dynamics in education."

Patel argues that this settler colonialism is a direct cause of the disconnect between the ideal scenario of education being a path to betterment and the harsh reality that wealth is accessible only to a select part of society. She writes that settler colonialism explains "why marginalized populations experience distinct yet deeply connected forms of harm and barriers to higher education," and she cites many historical and contemporary examples to support this.

Throughout the book, Patel urges readers to acknowledge both the existence of settler colonialism and the importance of social struggle in higher education, and calls for universities to implement real changes instead of focusing on the superficial optics. For only then, she suggests, can true study occur. --Grace Rajendran, freelance reviewer and literary events producer

Discover: An insightful and thoroughly researched exploration of the role of settler colonialism in perpetuating systemic racism and oppression in higher education.

Beacon Press, $24.95, hardcover, 208p., 9780807050880

Now in Paperback

Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus's Wife

by Ariel Sabar

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If turning scraps of ancient papyrus into an enthralling true-crime escapade takes a miracle, consider Ariel Sabar a miracle worker. In 2012, Harvard Divinity School professor Karen King shook the foundations of the Christian church when she announced in Rome the discovery of what she called "The Gospel of Jesus's Wife." Sabar, who had been following the story first for Smithsonian and then for the Atlantic, was the only journalist in the room for the presentation.

The discovery had the potential to unravel millennia of church dogma surrounding sex and gender. Furthermore, King's reading of the torn, nigh illegible text suggested that Jesus valued women's leadership far more than his church has. But as soon as the bit of inked papyrus saw the spotlight, its provenance drew far more scrutiny than its original proponents could handle. Clumsy handwriting, horrid syntax and unsubstantiated dating set off a chain reaction of queries, criticisms and suspicions of forgery, spurring Sabar to dig far deeper than he might have imagined when he first took the assignment.

The National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of My Father's Paradise transforms top-notch research skills into riveting suspense. And even as he closes in early on his prime suspect, method and motive prove to be the more baffling questions, at increasingly bizarre turns. Engrossing as the forgery thread becomes, the underpinnings for why a respected historian such as King, and a fair few of her colleagues, would so audaciously pursue a flimsy excuse for authentic scripture drive at a far more unsettling conclusion.

Veritas--a Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year and nominee for an Edgar Award for Best True Crime Book of the Year--is an extraordinary and mind-bending adventure into ancient traditions with modern consequences. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A revolutionary artifact and suspicions of forgery have flabbergasting implications in this shocking double-helix of history and suspense.

Anchor, $17, paperback, 432p., 9780525433897

Children's & Young Adult

The Taking of Jake Livingston

by Ryan Douglass

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This YA debut by Ryan Douglass is an exceptional blend of genres--horror, mystery, thriller and contemporary--that brilliantly captures how Jake, a Black gay teen medium, copes with the varying kinds of violence threatening him.

Jake is the only Black 11th-grader at St. Clair Prep: "It's like there's a giant floating Black kid sign over my head encouraging my teachers to pay me bad attention." His older brother, Benji, fights back against this kind of flak, but Jake stays silent. At home, he is "muted" around his mom, his "only good parent," whom he doesn't want to disappoint. And everywhere he goes, he studiously ignores dead world, a realm visible only to mediums like Jake, where ghosts who haven't crossed relive their deaths. Then a poltergeist acts out of its death loop. Jake recognizes the ghost as Sawyer Doon, the white school shooter who killed six classmates and then himself. Now his ghost has murdered one of the survivors--and is stalking Jake. Though unsure what Sawyer wants from him, Jake knows that only he can stop Sawyer's vengeance.

Douglass creates a clever and effective parallel between what Jake can't control--racism, a toxic father, an irresponsible brother--and his fight against Sawyer. The story builds to a rewardingly chilling and sentimental climax, as Jake must look within himself for the power to break the cycles of harm. Douglass includes entries from Sawyer's diary, revealing how familial, social failings and inner turmoil pushed a broken boy to murder. A clear comparison is drawn between Jake and Sawyer, a careful message that while strength does not surface easily, it is mineable. Moments of levity brightly contrast haunting scenes and serious topics. The Taking of Jake Livingston is an extraordinarily crafted exploration of agency during Black gay teenhood. --Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer

Discover: A Black gay teen must stop the murderous ghost of a white teen school shooter in this genre-blending YA debut about finding inner strength and one's own powerful voice.

Putnam, $17.99, hardcover, 256p., ages 12-up, 9781984812537

XOXO

by Axie Oh

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A K-pop idol and a classical cellist help each other find balance in this sweet, uplifting YA romance from Korean American author Axie Oh (Rebel Seoul).

Seventeen-year-old Korean American cellist Jenny Go dreams of going pro, but a recent critique that her playing lacks "spark" makes her worry that she won't get into a top music school. Her mom feels she should work harder, but free-spirited Uncle Jay encourages her to find out what "lights that fire within you." When she impulsively challenges gorgeous stranger Jaewoo to a karaoke battle, their playful animosity blossoms into a magical night at a Los Angeles Korean cultural festival. But Jaewoo departs suddenly and then doesn't answer texts, leaving Jenny confused. Soon after, she and her mother temporarily relocate to Seoul to care for her ailing grandmother. Jenny is astonished to find Jaewoo also attends her new performing arts school--and flabbergasted to learn he's a member of trending K-pop boy band XOXO. Their chemistry grows into love, but pop-idol life comes with strict schedules, potential scandals and paparazzi ambushes. As career pressures mount and her return to the U.S. looms, Jenny fears their relationship may drop off the charts.

K-pop and K-drama fans should love Oh's fandom-friendly setup, while juicy boarding school drama and mother-daughter tension add even broader appeal. Although the worthy message of work-play balance occasionally gets lost amid multiple subplots, this delightful comfort read is BTS: bound to satisfy. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth services manager at Main Branch, Dayton Metro Library

Discover: A driven teen cellist finds love with a sweet, gorgeous K-pop idol in this light, uplifting YA romance.

HarperTeen, $17.99, hardcover, 352p., ages 13-up, 9780063024991

Earth's Incredible Oceans

by Jess French , illust. by Claire McElfatrick

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In veterinarian and television host Jess French's contribution to the DK Kid's nonfiction Nature series, amazing mysteries that lurk beneath the blue waves of Earth's oceans take center stage. French explores oceanic geography, water, plants and, of course, wildlife. Her fascinating facts are accompanied by stunning photographs and bold, colorful illustrations by Claire McElfatrick, all providing a glimpse into this astounding, watery world.

French turns learning about the ocean and its inhabitants into an adventure as she takes her readers from the water's surface down to the ocean floor, with full-page spreads that invite interaction, making readers turn the book from its landscape format to portrait to see the full scope of the illustration. Light and temperatures drop off the further down one travels, but French's tour is infused with her own giddy attraction for it, illuminating the smallest of creatures and the most delicate of plants. Mammals, fish, birds and reptiles all populate her section on ocean animals, while reefs, meadows and forests are explored in ocean habitats. Combined, these two subject areas offer readers insight into animal movements (like the spiny lobsters marching across the ocean floor), family matters ("When sperm whales dive into deeper waters, they leave their calves at the surface with other mothers"), even safety, such as the stonefish's ability to hide in plain sight by remaining still on the floor of a reef.

French's love for the ocean and all the life that inhabits it is contagious, and McElfatrick's bright, detailed art is mesmerizing. Earth's Incredible Oceans should leave readers of all ages with an appreciation for the value and fragility of this extraordinary part of the planet. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Discover: A veterinarian and television personality shares her passion for oceans in a vivid contribution to the DK Kid's nonfiction Nature picture book series.

DK Children, $16.99, hardcover, 80p., ages 7-9, 9780744026672

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