It’s summer, and with it all the pleasures of reading outside. Consuming a good book in the world brings you closer to it: I still remember the exact feel, smell and location of the grassy hill where I finished “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” for summer more than ten years ago. Here are five new paperbacks.
“Wake: The Secret History of Female-Led Slave Revolts”
By Rebecca Hall, illustrated by Hugo Martinez (Simon & Schuster, $19.99).
“Wake” is a graphic novel that revisits our reading of history and at the same time recounts the struggle of its author-historian to bring this history to light. It chronicles the efforts of researcher Rebecca Hall to uncover the truth about the women whose roles in the slave revolts have been erased from history. NPR reviewer Etelka Lehoczky said “Wake” “sets a new standard for illustrating history” and named it best book of the year.
“Once upon a time there were wolves: a novel”
By Charlotte McConaghy (Flatiron Books, $17.99).
Charlotte McConaghy’s second novel was highly anticipated last year after her first novel drew comparisons to Moby Dick. “Once There Were Wolves”, like this debut novel by Melvillian, takes the reader into a world where humans have beaten the world into submission and imbalance, and mixes literary eco-fiction with elements of detective novels and suspense. In the book, an Australian wolf biologist named Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland to reintroduce fourteen gray wolves to the remote Highlands. But the locals are far from open to the idea, and when someone meets their end in the woods, a traumatic event in Flynn’s past also comes to the surface.
“The Antisocial Network: The GameStop Short Squeeze and the Ragtag Group of Amateur Traders Who Brought Wall Street to Its Knees”
By Ben Mezrich (Grand Central Publishing, $17.99).
A book for those, like me, who read the reports (and many tweets) about one of the weirdest financial stories in years – the short GameStop squeeze, where amateur online traders crippled Wall Street – in the confusion last year. In “The Antisocial Network,” Ben Mezrich (perhaps best known for writing the Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher book turned “The Social Network”) tells the story beat by beat in easy prose. Although slick, Mezrich produced it quickly, selling the film rights to a book proposal a week after the short squeeze, and has been accused in the past of playing fast with facts. Many characters are composites and Mezrich, as usual, fills in the gaps of fact with his imagination, but the book can still help you understand the mechanics of what happened in an entertaining way.
“Beautiful people, where are you: a novel”
By Sally Rooney (Picador, $18.00).
Sally Rooney’s name and work seem to be everywhere these days, from international bestseller lists to headlines to Hulu. Her third novel after ‘Conversations with Friends’ and ‘Normal People’ continues on the path of reinventing romance into realism for millennials, telling the stories of four people in and around Dublin – two women and two men they plan to fall in love with. New York Times reviewer Brandon Taylor said it was his best novel to date, with “the dry, intense melancholy of a Hopper painting” but “funny and clever, full of sex and love and people are doing their best to connect”.
“The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of World War II”
By Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown and Company, $18.99).
Malcolm Gladwell has long been puzzled by a lost German bomb, dropped during World War II on his grandparents’ garden outside London, which failed to explode. In his new book, he follows an obsession born of this plot: Bombers. It tells the story of the Second World War of a small group of idealistic strategists, the “Bomber Mafia”, who asked: what if precision bombing could weaken the enemy and make war much less deadly? Nearly a century later, Gladwell examines their legacy, calling the book “a case study in how dreams go wrong.” And how when a new and brilliant idea falls from the sky, it doesn’t land, softly, in our lap. It lands hard, on the ground, and shatters.