We Recommend

Translation of love, by Lynne Kutsukake
Lynne Kutsukake

It's 1946, and after spending the war in a Canadian internment camp, 13-year-old Aya Shimamura and her father have "repatriated" to American-occupied Japan. At school, she's an outcast who barely speaks Japanese, and when her classmate Fumi is assigned to look after her, the relationship is predictably disastrous until Fumi's older sister goes missing and Aya's English language skills are needed to write a letter to General MacArthur imploring him to find her. The story moves from MacArthur's offices, where Japanese-American soldier Yoshitaka "Matt" Matsumoto spends his days translating the general's mail, to the seedy dance halls of the Ginza to Love Letter Alley, where rows of translators cater to the Japanese women carrying on trans-Pacific correspondences with their American GIs.

Word Detective, by J.A. Simpson
J.A. Simpson

What do you call the part of a dog's back it can't scratch? Can you drink a glass of balderdash? And if, serendipitously, you find yourself in Serendip, then where exactly are you? The answers to all of these questions can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary, the definitive record of the English language. And there is no better guide to the dictionary's many wonderments, its quirks, and its quiddities than the former chief editor of the OED, John Simpson. Throughout the book, he enlivens his narrative with lively excavations and investigations of individual words, all the while reminding us that the seemingly mundane words (can you name the four different meanings of ma?) are often the most interesting ones. A brilliant expedition through the world of words.

The Afterlife of Birds, by Elizabeth Philips
Elizabeth Philips

Henry Jett's life is slowly going nowhere. His girlfriend recently left, and his job in a local garage is uninspiring, considering that he doesn't particularly like cars. He finds solace in his eccentric passion, rebuilding the skeletons of birds and animals. Meanwhile his brother, Dan, is disappearing into an obsession of his own, and without Dan to rely on, Henry begins to engage in new ways with the people around him in his Prairie city.

The Soul of an Octopus, by Sy Montgomery
Sy Montgomery

In this astonishing book from the author of the bestselling memoir The Good Good Pig, Sy Montgomery explores the emotional and physical world of the octopus – a surprisingly complex, intelligent, and spirited creature – and the remarkable connections it makes with humans. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, this book reveals what octopuses can teach us about consciousness and the meeting of two very different minds.

Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith

Two brown girls dream of being dancers – but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, about what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either. Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from northwest London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time

The Attention Merchants, by Tim Wu
Tim Wu

A revelatory look at the rise of "attention harvesting," and its transformative effect on our society and our selves. In nearly every moment of our waking lives, we face a barrage of advertising enticements, branding efforts, sponsored social media, commercials and other efforts to harvest our attention. Tim Wu argues that this is not simply the byproduct of recent inventions but the end result of more than a century's growth and expansion in the industries that feed on human attention.  He describes the revolts that have risen against these relentless attempts to influence our consumption, but he makes clear that attention merchants grow ever-new heads, and their means of harvesting our attention have given rise to the defining industries of our time, changing our nature in ways unimaginable even a generation ago.

The Golden Age, by Joan London
Joan London

Escaping the perils of World War II Hungary for Perth, Australia, Frank is diagnosed with polio and sent to a children's hospital where he falls in love with a fellow patient while their families struggle to adjust to life in a new culture.

Empty mansions, by Bill Dedman
Bill Dedman

When Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman noticed a property listing for a grand estate that had been unoccupied for nearly sixty years, he stumbled into one of the most surprising American stories of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. At the heart of the tale is a reclusive 104-year-old heiress named Huguette Clark who was born into an almost royal family of amazing wealth and privilege, yet who hid herself away from the outside world. We meet Huguette's extravagant father, her publicity-shy mother, her star-crossed sister, her noble French boyfriend, the nurse who received more than $30 million in gifts, and the relatives seeking to inherit Huguette's $300 million fortune.

My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
Elena Ferrante

This is part one of a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila, who represent the story of a nation and the nature of friendship.The story begins in the 1950s in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets, the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow – and as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge – Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other.

The Perfect Scent, by Chandler Burr
Chandler Burr

No journalist has ever been allowed into the ultrasecretive, highly pressured process of originating a perfume. But Chandler Burr, the New York Times perfume critic, spent a year behind the scenes observing the creation of two major fragrances. Now, writing with wit and elegance, he juxtaposes the stories of the perfumes – one created by a Frenchman in Paris for an exclusive luxury-goods house, the other made in New York by actress Sarah Jessica Parker and Coty, Inc., a giant international corporation.

Behold the Dreamers, by Mbolo Mbue
Imbolo Mbue

In the fall of 2007, Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Their situation only improves when Jende's son Neni is hired as household help. But in the course of their work, Jende and Neni begin to witness infidelities, skirmishes, and family secrets. Then, with the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, a tragedy changes all four lives forever, and the Jongas must decide whether to continue fighting to stay in a recession-ravaged America or give up and return home to Cameroon.

Lab girl, by Hope Jahren
Hope Jahren

Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she's studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. She also shares with us her inspiring life story, in prose that takes your breath away. Told through Jahren's remarkable stories, she talks about the things she's discovered in her lab, as well as how she got there; about her childhood, about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work "with both the heart and the hands".

Blue Light Yokohama, by Nicolas Obregon
Nicolás Obregón

Newly reinstated to the Homicide Division and transferred to a precinct in Tokyo, Inspector Iwata is facing superiors who don't want him there and is assigned a recalcitrant partner, Noriko Sakai, who'd rather work with anyone else. After the previous detective working the case killed himself, Iwata and Sakai are assigned to investigate the slaughter of an entire family, a brutal murder with no clear motive or killer. As Iwata investigates, it becomes clear that these murders are not the first, and Iwata finds himself on the trail of a ruthless killer.

The Tyrannosaur Chronicles, by David W.E. Hone
David W.E. Hone

This book tracks the rise of these dinosaurs, and presents the latest research into their biology, showing off more than just their impressive statistics – tyrannosaurs had feathers, and fought and even ate one another. Indeed, David Hone tells the evolutionary story of the group through their anatomy, ecology, and behavior, exploring how they came to be the dominant terrestrial predators of the Mesozoic age.

Private life of Mrs. Sharma, by Ratika Kapur
Ratika Kapur

Renuka Sharma is a dutiful wife holding the fort in a modest rental in Delhi while her husband tries to rack up savings in Dubai. Working as a receptionist and committed to finding a place for her family in the New Indian Dream of air-conditioned malls and high paid jobs at multi-nationals, life is going as planned until the day she strikes up a conversation with an uncommonly self-possessed stranger at a Metro station. Because while Mrs Sharma may espouse traditional values, India is changing all around her, and it wouldn't be the end of the world if she came out of her shell a little, would it?

The six: the lives of the Mitford sisters, by Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson

The Mitford sisters: Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica, and Deborah. Born into country-house privilege in the early years of the 20th century, they became prominent as "bright young things" in the high society of interwar London. Then, as the shadows crept over 1930s Europe, the stark – and very public – differences in their outlooks came to symbolize the political polarities of a dangerous decade. The intertwined stories of their stylish and scandalous lives – recounted in masterly fashion by Laura Thompson – hold up a revelatory mirror to upper-class English life before and after WWII.

The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Bradley
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

In this novel for children, a young disabled girl and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II, where they find life to be much sweeter away from their abusive mother.

Tomboy Survival Guide, by Ivan E. Coyote
Ivan Coyote

Celebrated trans storyteller Ivan Coyote, whose previous books include Gender Failure (with Rae Spoon) and One in Every Crowd a collection for LGBT youth –  has written a funny and moving memoir told in stories, in which they recount the pleasures and difficulties of growing up a tomboy in Canada's north.

A Time to Dance, by Padma Venkatraman
Padma Venkatraman

Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance – so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.

Wear and tear : Threads of my life, by Tracy Tynan
Tracy Tynan

The memoirs of a celebrity costume designer describe her upbringing in the fashionable celebrity circles of her literary parents, her family's artistic but traumatizing approaches to shopping and how the fashion-savvy perspectives of her early years shaped her relationships and career.

The One-in-a-Million Boy, by Monica Wood
Monica Wood

When Quinn's young son suddenly dies, he seeks forgiveness for his shortcomings by completing one of his son's Boy Scout badges, where he forges a friendship with Ona, a 104-year-old woman.

Jim Henson, by Brian Jay Jones
Brian Jay Jones

A comprehensive portrait of the iconic cultural figure includes coverage of his Mississippi childhood and college forays into early Muppet TV projects to his years with Sesame Street and The Muppet Show and his considerable achievements in non-Muppet productions.

The break, by Katherena Vermette
Katherena Vermette

When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break – a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house – she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime. In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg's North End is exposed.

Schulz and Peanuts, by David Michaelis
David Michaelis

A portrait of the late creator of the Peanuts comic strip evaluates how his career was shaped by his midwestern working-class origins, family losses, and wartime experiences, offering insight into how familiar storylines closely reflected Schulz's private life.

Why did you lie, by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

A journalist on the track of an old case attempts suicide. An ordinary couple return from a house swap in the US to find their home in disarray and their guests seemingly missing. Four strangers struggle to find shelter on a windswept spike of rock in the middle of a raging sea. They have one thing in common: they all lied. And someone is determined to punish them.