Tuesday is New Book Day. We celebrate each week by highlighting popular titles that are freshly out in paperback. *
Priscilla Gilman had the greatest expectations for the birth of her first child. Growing up in New York among writers and artists, Gilman experienced childhood as a whirlwind of creative play. Later, as a student and a scholar of Wordsworth, she embraced the poet’s romantic view of children-and eagerly anticipated her son’s birth, certain that he, too, would come “trailing clouds of glory.” But her romantic vision would not be fulfilled in the ways she dreamed. Though Benjamin was an extraordinary child, the signs of his remarkable precocity were also manifestations of a developmental disorder that would require intensive therapies and special schooling, and would dramatically alter the course Priscilla had imagined for her family.
Bethia Mayfield is a restless and curious young woman growing up in Martha’s Vineyard in the 1660s amid a small band of pioneering English Puritans. At age twelve, she meets Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a secret bond that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia’s father is a Calvinist minister who seeks to convert the native Wampanoag, and Caleb becomes a prize in the contest between old ways and new, eventually becoming the first Native American graduate of Harvard College. Inspired by a true story and narrated by the irresistible Bethia, Caleb’s Crossing brilliantly captures the triumphs and turmoil of two brave, openhearted spirits who risk everything in a search for knowledge at a time of superstition and ignorance.
The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser (Penguin)
The race to collect as much personal data about us as possible— and to customize our online experience accordingly—is now the defining battle for today’s Internet giants, such as Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft. As a result, each of us will increasingly live in our own unique information universe—what MoveOn.org board president Eli Pariser calls the “filter bubble.” In this groundbreaking account, Pariser lays bare the personalization that is invisibly taking place on every major website and reveals how it will limit what we are exposed to in the future, and will leave less room for creativity, innovation, and the democratic exchange of ideas.
The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian (Broadway)
In a dusty corner of a basement in a rambling Victorian house in northern New Hampshire, a door has long been sealed shut with 39 six-inch-long carriage bolts.
The home’s new owners are Chip and Emily Linton and their twin ten-year-old daughters. Together they hope to rebuild their lives there after Chip, an airline pilot, has to ditch his 70-seat regional jet in Lake Champlain after double engine failure. Unlike the Miracle on the Hudson, however, most of the passengers aboard Flight 1611 die on impact or drown. The body count? Thirty-nine – a coincidence not lost on Chip when he discovers the number of bolts in that basement door. Meanwhile, Emily finds herself wondering about the women in this sparsely populated White Mountain village – self-proclaimed herbalists – and their interest in her fifth-grade daughters. Are the women mad? Or is it her husband, in the wake of the tragedy, whose grip on sanity has become desperately tenuous?
Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden (Scribner)
In 1916, Dorothy Wickenden’s grandmother, Dorothy Woodruff, and her best friend, Rosamund Underwood, left society life in New York to become teachers in a new school—in the wilds of Northwestern Colorado. Traveling by train to Denver and then on horseback for three days, they arrived at the remote outpost of Elkhead, where their students, the children of homesteaders, came to school in rags and bare feet.
Central to their experiences is Ferry Carpenter, the shrewd, witty, and occasionally outrageous young lawyer and cattle rancher who hired them—in part as would-be brides for the locals. Dorothy becomes engaged to a banker in Chicago on their way West, while Rosamund is courted by both Carpenter and his best friend, a handsome mining engineer and the son of one of Denver’s wealthiest industrialists.
Nearly 100 years later, Dorothy Wickenden came across the extraordinarily detailed letters these two women sent home to their families, and she reconstructed their adventure.
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury)
They heard it on the radio: a hurricane is coming, threatening the town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi. Esch’s hard-drinking father can feel it in his bones. Esch and her brothers are trying to help prepare, but there are other worries, too. Skeetah is watching his prized pit bull, helpless as her new litter dies one by one. Randall, when not preoccupied with basketball, is busy looking after the youngest, Junior. And Esch, fifteen and motherless among men, has just realized that she’s pregnant. The children of this family have always been short on nurture, but they are fiercely loyal to one another. It is together that they will face the building storm—and the day that will dawn after.
[Also: it’s a National Book Award winner!]
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
[This is a personal favorite. Can’t wait to pick up a copy of this new edition.]
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down explores the clash between a small county hospital in California and a refugee family from Laos over the care of Lia Lee, a Hmong child diagnosed with severe epilepsy. Lia’s parents and her doctors both wanted what was best for Lia, but the lack of understanding between them led to tragedy. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest, and the Salon Book Award, Anne Fadiman’s compassionate account of this cultural impasse is literary journalism at its finest.
Okay, folks. What else is new in paperback this week?
*Publisher descriptions via Edelweiss.