Among this week’s half-dozen highlights are a collection of blog posts by a beloved science-fiction author and a “page-turning mash-up of genres."
Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to get more reading done? Here are some new paperbacks that can help you!
“The Power” by Naomi Alderman (Little, Brown, $16.99). Alderman, whose debut novel “Disobedience” became a film last year, won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction for this feminist science-fiction novel, in which women in the future learn that they have the power to unleash lethal electrical current. “Alderman’s prose is immersive and, well, electric,” wrote a New York Times reviewer, “and I felt a closed circuit humming between the book and me as I read.”
“The Monk of Mokha” by Dave Eggers (Knopf, $16.95). This nonfiction work from the author of “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” tells the story of coffee entrepreneur Mokhtar Alkhanshali, who started a business to import beans from his family’s native Yemen. Seattle Times reviewer Barbara Lloyd McMichael called the book “riveting” and described it as a “page-turning mash-up of genres — coming-of-age, business how-to (and in some cases, how-not-to), and international political thriller.”
“Everything Here Is Beautiful” by Mira Lee (Penguin, $16). Lee’s debut novel is the story of two sisters, the daughters of a hardworking Chinese immigrant, facing mental illness in their family. Seattle Times reviewer Ellen Emry Heltzel wrote that while the book is about the bond between the sisters, “its real achievement goes beyond that relationship and depicts the way mental illness shapes family dynamics no matter how that bond is formed.”
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“Macbeth” by Jo Nesbø (Penguin Random House, $16). Nesbø, the Scandinavian crime novelist acclaimed for his Harry Hole novels (“The Snowman,” “The Leopard” and many more), was among the modern novelists approached by the Hogarth Shakespeare project to re-create a classic play as contemporary fiction. Turns out he was, wrote The Guardian, an inspired choice: “the bloody tragedy of political ambition translates well to a corrupt police department in a lawless town, where the cops are just one more armed gang.”
“No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters” by Ursula K. Le Guin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $14.99). Published just after the beloved science-fiction author’s death in January 2018, this collection — culled from blog posts — examined what was important to her, late in her life. Though LeGuin called her blogging “trivially personal,” a New York Times reviewer commented that “the trivially personal is a chief pleasure of this collection, which uses its firm footing in the concrete world to ponder an eclectic array of topics. The pages sparkle with lines that make a reader glance up, searching for an available ear with which to share them.”
“The Girls in the Picture” by Melanie Benjamin (Bantam Books, $17). Benjamin, author of “The Aviator’s Wife” and “The Swans of Fifth Avenue,” begins her latest novel in 1914 Hollywood, where young Frances Marion — soon to become a great screenwriter — has her first encounter with young Mary Pickford. Kirkus Reviews described the book as “a smart, fond backward glance at two trailblazers from an era when being the only woman in the room was not only the norm, but revolutionary.”