Paperback Picks

Need something good to read? Of course you do. Six new paperbacks, coming right up.

The River” by Peter Heller (Knopf, $16). An Edgar Award nominee and national bestseller, Heller’s book follows two college friends on a camping trip that turns into a desperate fight for survival in the wilderness. New York Times reviewer Denise Mina (herself the author of numerous terrific suspense novels) praised the book’s nature writing, calling it “prose so vivid and engaging that a city-dwelling reviewer can feel the clammy cold of a fog over a river or the heat of subterranean tree roots burning underfoot in the aftermath of a fire,” and ultimately describing the book as “a suspenseful tale told with glorious drama and lyrical flair.”

“Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland” by Patrick Radden Keefe (Anchor Books, $16.95). I was on a long flight last year when I picked up this book — and six hours never went so quickly. Keefe, a staff writer at The New Yorker, traces a spellbinding story of true crime and politics, beginning in a modest Belfast apartment complex in 1972 where a mother of 10 was dragged from her home by a masked gang and was never seen again. From there, decades of Northern Ireland’s history come to life; a period marked by terrorism, guerrilla warfare and fear. The book became a national bestseller and was named one of the year’s 10 best by The New York Times; if you like nonfiction, you won’t be able to put this one down.

Machines Like Me” by Ian McEwan (Anchor Books, $16). McEwan, author of “Atonement,” “Amsterdam,” “On Chesil Beach” and numerous other engaging novels, is always worth a read; this novel, set in an alternative 1982 London in which Great Britain has lost the Falklands War, involves a day trader who buys himself a remarkable humanlike robot named Adam. McEwan “knows just how to explore the most complex issues in the confines of the most ridiculous situations” wrote The Washington Post’s Ron Charles, noting that “He is not only one of the most elegant writers alive, he is one of the most astute at crafting moral dilemmas within the drama of everyday life.”

The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick” by Mallory O’Meara ($16.99, Hanover Square Press). Just in time for Women’s History Month comes the paperback release of O’Meara’s fascinating and deeply personal biography of Patrick, who designed the classic title character in “The Creature from the Black Lagoon.” Until O’Meara, herself a filmmaker and monster-movie buff who’s faced sexism in her career, began digging, history had mostly forgotten Patrick’s eventful life, which included work in early animation as well as creature design. The book unfolds in two strands, revealing two remarkable women — Patrick and O’Meara herself, who lets us follow along on the winding journey to finding Patrick, making it as suspenseful as any thriller. (Should you be intrigued by O’Meara — and you should be! — check out her literary podcast, “Reading Glasses,” which she hosts with Brea Grant.)

Gingerbread” by Helen Oyeyemi (Riverhead, $16). The latest novel from the author of “What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours” and “Boy, Snow, Bird” has at its heart a gingerbread-baking London mother and daughter who originally came from a magical, fairy-tale country. Oyeyemi’s sentences, writes New York Times reviewer Eowyn Ivey, are “like grabbing onto the tail of a vibrant, living creature without knowing what you’ll find at the other end,” and this book takes its readers on an unpredictable, irresistible journey. “This is a wildly imagined, head-spinning, deeply intelligent novel that requires some effort and attention from its reader,” Ivey concluded. “And that is just one of its many pleasures.”

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays” by Damon Young (HarperCollins, $18). Young, whose writing can be seen in GQ, The Root and Very Smart Brothas, makes his book debut with this collection of essays examining race and masculinity in America. “Reading his work, one quickly understands Black people perennially struggle to find a space to breathe without the pressure of institutionalized racism,” wrote NPR reviewer Gabino Iglesias. “In the 16 essays that make up the book, Young pulls readers into his world, showing them his vulnerability, hitting them with unflinching honesty about the state of race relations in this country, and keeping them glued to the pages with his wit and humor.”