Autobiographies, a true-crime literary mystery and a few cracking novels — all in paperback, no less. What more could you need?
“All You Can Ever Know” by Nicole Chung (Catapult, $16.95, available Oct. 15). In Chung’s graceful and soulful memoir, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography, she writes of being a Korean American adoptee, raised by white parents in a small Oregon town where nobody looked like her, and of her later discovery of her birth family. Reading it last year, I was struck by the emotional honesty in every line, and by the open-eyed kindness that infuses her story. Chung will speak at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park on Monday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m.; information: thirdplacebooks.com.
“There Will Be No Miracles Here” by Casey Gerald (Riverhead, $17). Gerald grew up poor in Dallas, was recruited by Yale for its football team, got an MBA from Harvard and co-founded MBAs Across America. His acclaimed book examines his life, looking closely at the idea of the American dream. “A stunningly original literary memoir from a young man who’s just as good a writer as he is an entrepreneur,” wrote an NPR reviewer. “By breaking every rule of the business memoir genre, he’s created something unique and sublime: a beautiful chronicle of a life as yet unfinished, and a book that refuses to give in to the glib or sentimental.”
“Unsheltered” by Barbara Kingsolver (HarperCollins, $17.99, available Oct. 15). This bestselling novel from Kingsolver, whose previous works include “The Poisonwood Bible” and “The Bean Trees,” has a dual narrative set in the same place but spanning different centuries: a Victorian house in New Jersey, occupied by both a contemporary family and a young science teacher who lived in the house 150 years earlier. Seattle Times reviewer Ellen Emry Heltzel wrote “’Unsheltered’ is an ambitious addition to Kingsolver’s work and a pointed call for the liberal values she holds dear.”
“The Library Book” by Susan Orlean (Simon & Schuster, $17). Catnip for book lovers, Orlean’s bestselling nonfiction book examines the mystery of the Los Angeles Public Library Fire in 1986 — and, along the way, crafts an endearing love letter to public libraries. It was one of my favorite books of 2018, and I like to think of stoutly bound copies of this book finding homes in libraries everywhere. “In the library,” Orlean writes eloquently in her book, “time is dammed up — not just stopped but saved. The library is a gathering pool of narratives and of the people who come to find them. It is where we can glimpse immortality; in the library, we can live forever.”
“All the Lives We Never Lived” by Anuradha Roy (Washington Square Press, $16). Roy, author of The Booker Prize-longlisted “Sleeping on Jupiter,” centers her latest novel on a man looking back on his life in British-held India, and on his relationship with the mother who left him long ago. A review in The Guardian describes Roy as “a writer of great subtlety and intelligence, who understands that emotional power comes from the steady accretion of detail,” and the book as “a beautifully written and compelling story of how families fall apart and of what remains in the aftermath.”
“Mrs. Fletcher” by Tom Perrotta (Scribner, $16.99). I’ve loved Perrotta’s novels for many years; they always seem to reflect such a generosity of spirit, with each character given their own light in which to shine. My favorite is probably still “The Wishbones,” his endearing 1997 novel of a 31-year-old dreamer who lives with his parents and plays in a wedding band. But “Mrs. Fletcher,” soon to be an HBO series starring Kathryn Hahn, is delightful as well; in it, a divorced mom finds her life expanding in unexpected ways — social, emotional, sexual — after her only son leaves for college. Perrotta will be in Seattle on Thursday, Nov. 14, for a talk and an interview by Jonathan Evison at Hugo House as part of the Word Works series. Tickets are $15 ($30 tickets include a meet-the-author reception); information is at hugohouse.org or 206-322-7030.