Paperback Picks

As this very strange summer ticks on, why not lose yourself in a book? (Preferably in front of a very large fan, and with cool drink nearby.) Here are a half-dozen new paperbacks, of various genres; all look to provide ample diversion.

The Yellow House” by Sarah Broom (Grove Atlantic, $17). Winner of the 2019 National Book Award for nonfiction, Broom’s mesmerizing memoir tells the story of a house, and of the lives that flowed in and out of it like a river. Broom’s family home, a modest shotgun house in east New Orleans that was badly damaged by the floods following Hurricane Katrina, no longer stands. “But it lives in these pages,” I wrote after reading it last summer, “in the jostle of children in its rooms, in the stories of an ever-shifting mosaic of neighbors, in the portrait of a part of New Orleans that’s far from tourists (‘Walkers here did not stroll’), and in the vivid, poetic voice of a woman learning the meaning of home.”  

Your House Will Pay” by Steph Cha (HarperCollins, $17.99, available July 28) and “A Better Man” by Louise Penny (St. Martin’s, $9.99). Should you be in need of crime fiction, two acclaimed 2019 titles are freshly out in paperback. Cha’s book, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, follows two L.A. families — one Korean American, one Black — in the aftermath of a violent crime. Penny’s, No. 15 in her beloved series featuring the French-Canadian village of Three Pines and gentleman detective Armand Gamache, involves a missing woman and a catastrophic flood. 

Middle England” by Jonathan Coe (Knopf Doubleday, $17). Coe’s timely novel, winner of the Costa Novel Award, is set in a contemporary Britain torn apart by Brexit debate. “While we want everything we read at the moment to speak with the voice of our own particular echo chamber,” wrote a reviewer in The Guardian, “Coe — a writer of uncommon decency — reminds us that the way out of this mess is through moderation, through compromise, through that age-old English ability to laugh at ourselves.”

How We Fight For Our Lives” by Saeed Jones (Simon & Schuster, $17). Winner of the Kirkus Prize and the Stonewall Book Award, Jones’ book describes his own coming of age as a gay Black man in the American South. A New York Times reviewer described it as “a moving and bracingly honest memoir that reads like fevered poetry.”

Three Women” by Lisa Taddeo (Simon & Schuster, $17). Journalist/author Taddeo spent years researching this nonfiction book, which examines the sexual lives of three American women. “The book is sexually explicit — you might blush when reading it — but it never feels gratuitous or clinical,” wrote an NPR reviewer. “Its prose is gorgeous, nearly lyrical as it describes the longings and frustrations that propel these ordinary women. Blending the skills of an ethnographer and a poet, Taddeo renders them extraordinary.”