November books

The Arts

November 4, 2019



Notable new releases 

Compiled by Sally Brewster

The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Circus, The Starless Sea is a timeless love story set in a secret underground world — a place of pirates, painters, lovers, liars and ships that sail upon a starless sea. When graduate student Zachary Ezra Rawlins discovers a mysterious book in the library, he is shocked to find a story from his own childhood amongst the pages. Propelled by the mystery, Zachary travels to New York where he finds a doorway to an ancient library hidden below the surface of the earth. What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians — it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms and sweetly soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose — in both the mysterious book and in his own life.

The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness, by Susannah Cahalan

For centuries, doctors have struggled to define mental illness — how do you diagnose it, how do you treat it, how do you even know what it is? In search of an answer, in the 1970s a Stanford psychologist named David Rosenhan and seven other people — sane, well-adjusted members of society — went undercover into asylums around America to test the legitimacy of psychiatry’s labels. Forced to remain inside until they’d “proven” themselves sane, all eight emerged with alarming diagnoses and even more troubling stories of their treatment. Rosenhan’s watershed study broke open the field of psychiatry, closing down institutions and changing mental health diagnosis forever. But, as Cahalan’s explosive new research shows, very little in this saga is exactly as it seems. What really happened behind those closed asylum doors, and what does it mean for our understanding of mental illness today?

Nothing to See Here, by Kevin Wilson

Lillian and Madison were unlikely roommates and yet inseparable friends at their elite boarding school. After Lillian had to leave school unexpectedly in the wake of a scandal, the two lost touch, until Lillian receives a letter from Madison pleading for her help. Madison’s twin stepchildren are moving in with her family and she needs a caretaker. However, there’s a catch: The twins spontaneously combust when they get agitated, flames igniting from their skin in a startling but beautiful way. Lillian is convinced Madison is pulling her leg, but it’s the truth. Over the course of one humid, demanding summer, Lillian and the twins learn to trust each other — and stay cool — while also staying out of the way of Madison’s buttoned-up politician husband. Surprised by her own ingenuity yet unused to the intense feelings of protectiveness she feels for them, Lillian ultimately begins to accept that she needs these strange children as much as they need her — urgently and fiercely. Could this be the start of the amazing life she’d always hoped for? 

The Revisioners, by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

In 1925, Josephine is the proud owner of a thriving farm. As a child, she channeled otherworldly power to free herself from slavery. Her new neighbor, a white woman named Charlotte, forges an uneasy friendship between them that ultimately jeopardizes Josephine’s family when her ties to the Ku Klux Klan are revealed. Nearly one hundred years later, Josephine’s descendant, Ava, is a single mother who has just lost her job. She moves in with her white grandmother, Martha, a wealthy but lonely woman. But Martha’s behavior soon becomes erratic, then threatening, and Ava must escape before her story and Josephine’s converge. The Revisioners explores the depths of women’s relationships — powerful and marginalized women, healers and survivors. It is a novel about the bonds between a mother and a child, the dangers that upend those bonds. At its core, The Revisioners ponders generational legacies, the endurance of hope and the undying promise of freedom.

Nothing More Dangerous, by Allen Eskens

Boady Sanden is 15 and ready to move on from his town in the Ozark hills. He dreams of glass towers and cityscapes, driven by his desire to be anywhere other than Jessup, Mo. Then Thomas Elgin moves in across the road, and Boady’s life begins to twist and turn. Coming to know the Elgins — a black family settling into a community where notions of “us” and “them” carry the weight of history — forces Boady to rethink his understanding of the world he’s taken for granted. Secrets hidden in plain sight begin to unfold, but the biggest secret of all is the disappearance of Lida Poe, the African American woman who keeps the books at the local plastics factory. Word has it that Ms. Poe left town, along with a hundred thousand dollars of company money. Although Boady has never met the missing woman, he discovers that the threads of her life are woven into the deepest fabric of his world. As the mystery of her fate plays out, Boady begins to see the stark lines of race and class that both bind and divide this small town — and he will be forced to choose sides. 

Andromeda Evolution, by Michael Crichton and
Daniel H. Wilson

Fifty years after the release of The Andromeda Strain comes this gripping sequel, a terrifyingly realistic and resonant technothriller. In 1967, an extraterrestrial microbe came crashing down to Earth and nearly ended the human race. Accidental exposure to the particle — designated The Andromeda Strain — killed almost every resident of the town of Piedmont, Ariz. Over the next five days, a team of top scientists assigned to Project Wildfire worked valiantly to save the world from an epidemic of unimaginable proportions. In the moments before a catastrophic nuclear detonation, they succeeded. In the ensuing decades, research on the microparticle continued, and the world thought it was safe … With the shocking discovery of a bizarre anomaly of otherworldly matter in the middle of the jungle, and, worse yet, the telltale chemical signature of the deadly microparticle, the next-generation Project Wildfire is activated, and a diverse team of experts hailing from all over the world is dispatched to investigate the potentially apocalyptic threat.  SP

Sally Brewster is the proprietor of Park Road Books, located at 4139 Park Road.

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