Tag: 2019

9 Books New York Times Recommends This Week

The New York Times’s senior editor Gregory Cowles lists nine books he regards highly in terms of their literary merit. Hop on the imagination train to escapism and check out the reads below!

 

  1. The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell

 

 

 

1904. On the banks of the Zambezi River, a few miles from the majestic Victoria Falls, there is a colonial settlement called The Old Drift. In a smoky room at the hotel across the river, an Old Drifter named Percy M. Clark, foggy with fever, makes a mistake that entangles the fates of an Italian hotelier and an African busboy. This sets off a cycle of unwitting retribution between three Zambian families (black, white, brown) as they collide and converge over the course of the century, into the present and beyond. As the generations pass, their lives—their triumphs, errors, losses and hopes—emerge through a panorama of history, fairytale, romance and science fiction.

From a woman covered with hair and another plagued with endless tears, to forbidden love affairs and fiery political ones, to homegrown technological marvels like Afronauts, microdrones and viral vaccines, this gripping, unforgettable novel is a testament to our yearning to create and cross borders, and a meditation on the slow, grand passage of time.

 

2. Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White by William Sturkey

 

 

 

If you really want to understand Jim Crow―what it was and how African Americans rose up to defeat it―you should start by visiting Mobile Street in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the heart of the historic black downtown. There you can see remnants of the shops and churches where, amid the violence and humiliation of segregation, men and women gathered to build a remarkable community. William Sturkey introduces us to both old-timers and newcomers who arrived in search of economic opportunities promised by the railroads, sawmills, and factories of the New South. He also takes us across town and inside the homes of white Hattiesburgers to show how their lives were shaped by the changing fortunes of the Jim Crow South.

Sturkey reveals the stories behind those who struggled to uphold their southern “way of life” and those who fought to tear it down―from William Faulkner’s great-grandfather, a Confederate veteran who was the inspiration for the enigmatic character John Sartoris, to black leader Vernon Dahmer, whose killers were the first white men ever convicted of murdering a civil rights activist in Mississippi. Through it all, Hattiesburg traces the story of the Smith family across multiple generations, from Turner and Mamie Smith, who fled a life of sharecropping to find opportunity in town, to Hammond and Charles Smith, in whose family pharmacy Medgar Evers and his colleagues planned their strategy to give blacks the vote.

 

3. The Promise of Elsewhere by Brad Leithauser

 

 

 

Louie Hake is forty-three and teaches architectural history at a third-rate college in Michigan. His second marriage is collapsing, and he’s facing a potentially disastrous medical diagnosis. In an attempt to fend off what has become a soul-crushing existential crisis, he decides to treat himself to a tour of the world’s most breathtaking architectural sites. Perhaps not surprisingly, Louie gets waylaid on his very first stop in Rome–ludicrously, spectacularly so–and fails to reach most of his other destinations. He embarks on a doomed romance with a jilted bride celebrating her ruined marriage plans alone in London. And in the Arctic he finds that turf houses and aluminum sheds don’t amount to much of an architectural tradition. But it turns out that there’s another sort of architecture there: icebergs the size of cathedrals, bobbing beside a strange and wondrous landscape. It soon becomes clear that Louie’s grand journey is less about where his wanderings have taken him and more about where his past encounters with romance have not. Whether pursuing his first wife, or his estranged current wife, or the older woman he kissed just once a quarter-century ago, Louie reveals himself to be endearing, deeply touching, wonderfully ridiculous . . . and destined to find love in all the wrong places.

 

4. Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment and the Rule of Law by Preet Bharara

 

 

 

Preet Bharara has spent much of his life examining our legal system, pushing to make it better, and prosecuting those looking to subvert it. Bharara believes in our system and knows it must be protected, but to do so, we must also acknowledge and allow for flaws in the system and in human nature.

The book is divided into four sections: Inquiry, Accusation, Judgment and Punishment. He shows why each step of this process is crucial to the legal system, but he also shows how we all need to think about each stage of the process to achieve truth and justice in our daily lives.
Bharara uses anecdotes and case histories from his legal career–the successes as well as the failures–to illustrate the realities of the legal system, and the consequences of taking action (and in some cases, not taking action, which can be just as essential when trying to achieve a just result).

Much of what Bharara discusses is inspiring–it gives us hope that rational and objective fact-based thinking, combined with compassion, can truly lead us on a path toward truth and justice. Some of what he writes about will be controversial and cause much discussion. Ultimately, it is a thought-provoking, entertaining book about the need to find the humanity in our legal system–and in our society.

 

5. The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell

 

 

Prague, 1935: Viktor Kosárek, a psychiatrist newly trained by Carl Jung, arrives at the infamous Hrad Orlu Asylum for the Criminally Insane. The state-of-the-art facility is located in a medieval mountaintop castle outside of Prague, though the site is infamous for concealing dark secrets going back many generations. The asylum houses the country’s six most treacherous killers–known to the staff as The Woodcutter, The Clown, The Glass Collector, The Vegetarian, The Sciomancer, and The Demon–and Viktor hopes to use a new medical technique to prove that these patients share a common archetype of evil, a phenomenon known as The Devil Aspect. As he begins to learn the stunning secrets of these patients, five men and one woman, Viktor must face the disturbing possibility that these six may share another dark truth.

Meanwhile, in Prague, fear grips the city as a phantom serial killer emerges in the dark alleys. Police investigator Lukas Smolak, desperate to locate the culprit (dubbed Leather Apron in the newspapers), realizes that the killer is imitating the most notorious serial killer from a century earlier–London’s Jack the Ripper. Smolak turns to the doctors at Hrad Orlu for their expertise with the psychotic criminal mind, though he worries that Leather Apron might have some connection to the six inmates in the asylum.

Steeped in the folklore of Eastern Europe, and set in the shadow of Nazi darkness erupting just beyond the Czech border, this stylishly written, tightly coiled, richly imagined novel is propulsively entertaining, and impossible to put down.

 

6. Foursome: Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia Ó Keeffe, Paul Strand, Rebecca Salsbury by Carolyn Burke

 

 

 

New York, 1921: Alfred Stieglitz, the most influential figure in early twentieth-century photography, celebrates the success of his latest exhibition–the centerpiece, a series of nude portraits of the young Georgia O’Keeffe, soon to be his wife. It is a turning point for O’Keeffe, poised to make her entrance into the art scene–and for Rebecca Salsbury, the fiancée of Stieglitz’s protégé at the time, Paul Strand. When Strand introduces Salsbury to Stieglitz and O’Keeffe, it is the first moment of a bond between the two couples that will last more than a decade and reverberate throughout their lives. In the years that followed, O’Keeffe and Stieglitz became the preeminent couple in American modern art, spurring each other’s creativity. Observing their relationship led Salsbury to encourage new artistic possibilities for Strand and to rethink her own potential as an artist. In fact, it was Salsbury, the least known of the four, who was the main thread that wove the two couples’ lives together. Carolyn Burke mines the correspondence of the foursome to reveal how each inspired, provoked, and unsettled the others while pursuing seminal modes of artistic innovation. The result is a surprising, illuminating portrait of four extraordinary figures.

 

7. RAG: Stories by Maryse Meijer

 

 

 

A man, forgotten by the world, takes care of his deaf brother while euthanizing dogs for a living. A stepbrother so desperately wants to become his stepsibling that he rapes his girlfriend. In Maryse Meijer’s decidedly dark and searingly honest collection Rag, the desperate human desire for connection slips into a realm that approximates horror.

Meijer’s explosive debut collection, Heartbreaker, reinvented sexualized and romantic taboos, holding nothing back. In Rag, Meijer’s fearless follow-up, she shifts her focus to the dark heart of intimacies of all kinds, and the ways in which isolated people’s yearning for community can breed violence, danger, and madness. With unparalleled precision, Meijer spins stories that leave you troubled and slightly shaken by her uncanny ability to elicit empathy for society’s most marginalized people.

 

8. A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum

 

 

 

Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children—four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear.

Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man.

But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family—knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.

Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is a story of culture and honor, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. It is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.

 

9. White Elephant by Julie Langsdorf

 

 

 

The White Elephant looms large over the quaint suburban town of Willard Park: a gaudy, newly constructed behemoth of a home, it soars over the neighborhood, dwarfing the houses that surround it. When owner Nick Cox cuts down Allison and Ted Millers’ precious red maple—in an effort to make his unsightly property more appealing to buyers—their once serene town becomes a battleground.

While tensions between Ted and Nick escalate, other dysfunctions abound: Allison finds herself compulsively drawn to the man who is threatening to upend her quietly organized life. A lawyer with a pot habit and a serious midlife crisis skirts his responsibilities. And in a quest for popularity, a teenage girl gets caught up in a not-so-harmless prank. Newcomers and longtime residents alike begin to clash in conflicting pursuits of the American Dream, with trees mysteriously uprooted, fires set, fingers pointed, and lines drawn.

White Elephant is an uproarious, tangled-web tale of neighbor hating neighbor (and neighbor falling head over heels for neighbor). Soon, peaceful Willard Park becomes a tinderbox with nowhere to go but up in flames.

 

featured image via THE NEW YORK TIMES
Book covers for Two Can Keep a Secret, Shout and Lets Go Swimming on Doomsday

This Week’s Top Genre Must-Reads: Young Adult

Each week, Bookstr will be offering a look at some of the best novels in a particular genre for your continued reading list. Today, we’ll be recommending five recent young adult books for your reading pleasure. Young adult novels are generally written with an 12-18 age bracket in mind but over half of the audience for YA novels is adults (as our audience can attest!) Young adult novels are often just as sophisticated as their adult contemporaries, with a lot of themes about growing up into adulthood and dealing with the perils of being a teenager mixed in. Below, are some of our favorite recently published YA must-reads!

 

5. Let’s Go swimming on Doomsday by Natalie C. Anderson

 

A young African boy stands amidst a raging sea, backlit by a city

Image Via Goodreads

Let’s Go Swimming On Doomsday is a harrowing novel that is nevertheless a great (if stressful) read. Written by Natalie C. Anderson, the story tells of a Somali refugee called Abdi whose family is kidnapped by a ruthless jihadi terrorist group. In order to save his family, he’s forced to become a spy for the American CIA and infiltrate the organization, witnessing horrific acts while trying not to blow his cover. He eventually escapes but is caught for petty theft and forced to reckon with his past. Horrifying and deeply touching in equal measure, the novel touches on themes of redemption and family, making it a must read. Just bring a box of Kleenex.

 

4. Two Can Keep a secret by Karen M. McManus 

 

Two photographs of two young women are stitched together via tape

Image Via Amazon

A gripping YA thriller, Two Can Keep A Secret is about an isolated town called Echo Ridge, where Ellery’s her aunt went missing many years ago, and just five years before Ellery moves there, a homecoming queen also vanished. Ellery has just moved in with her grandmother who she barely knows when another girl goes missing. Now Ellery has to solve the mystery of Echo Ridge, suspecting her grandmother and mother may be keeping dark secrets from her. Captivating and exciting, this new thriller from the author of bestseller One of Us Is Lying is one you’ll want to pick this one up and watch out for the plot twists!

 

3. Four Dead Queens By Astrid Scholte 

 

Four golden crowns lie on the ground amidst a black. void

Image Via Goodreads

Four Dead Queens takes place in the fictional world of Quadara, focusing on master thief Keralie Corrington and upstanding citizen Varin. When their paths cross, Varin accidentally foils Keralie’s latest theft and the bungled thievery attempt leaves them caught in a conspiracy game that leaves four queens of Quadara dead. With no other choice, the two join forces to find who killed the queens and form an uneasy alliance in their quest. Fast paced and with a building mystery, this is a great novel to get sucked into.

 

2. Field Notes on Love by Jennifer Smith

 

A young couple standing front of a train, with a heart between them

Image Via Amazon

Field Notes On Love by Jennifer Smith tells the story of two young teenagers, Mae and Hugo, who decide to ride cross-country via train. Hugo’s girlfriend dumps him, while Mae has been rejected from USC’s film school. The two happen to find each other on the train and grow close inside of the train. But can they stay together as the real world infringes on their idyllic train adventure? This is a fun, romantic, and sweet coming-of-age story of two strangers finding love.

 

1. Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

 

The cover to Shout featuring a tree growing in a black void

Image Via Goodreads

SHOUT  by Laurie Halse Anderson is a young adult novel for our time. Anderson, author of the groundbreaking Speak, recounts her own upbringing via verse, creating angry, yet hopeful portraits of her life. It is a call to action for survivors of sexual abuse and advocating for them.  It is a novel that will tear you down yet make you feel energized to make real change in what the author calls a failure of society to help survivors of sexual assault. It is a great read and one that everyone should pick up.

 

 

Featured Image Via Goodreads 

Non Fiction Reading Challenge 2019

5 Non-Fiction Books You Need to Read Right Now!

As 2019 continues on, we have a lot of book releases to look forward to. Heck, if you want to see the list of the top three books I can’t wait for, check out this list.
Thank you for clicking on that.

Now you might notice that one of those books, Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and The Last Trial of Harper Lee, is non-fiction. That book has not come out yet, but in honor of my anticipation here are five non-fiction books that have come out this year and are, above all, wonderful, eye opening, great reads.

Stephanie Land beside a cover of "The Maid"
Image Via Inlander
Released on January 22nd, Stephanie Land’s autobiography beautifully describes her life, post-eviction, as she recalls being tossed onto the street, working as a maid in houses she could never afford just to make ends meet and struggling with poverty. With dreams of moving to Montana, attending college, and becoming a full-time writer, Land’s life-long goals are always just out of reach, pushed back by childcare fees, heating bills, and rent. It’s a memoir that takes you through the underbelly of America. Gritty, soul-crushing, this is one for the masses to take heart.
Don’t believe me? Well, look at how the Nation states, “[i]n the end, her life does take a turn that sets her on the path to becoming a published author. But it is not a kind of fairy-tale twist so much as a gradual confluence of good luck.”
Cover of "When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon" by Joshua D. Mezrich
Image Via Amazon
Released January 15th, Joshua D. Mezrich’s autobiography describes the tribulations and hardships of being a surgeon. Questions like “How much risk should a healthy person be allowed to take to save someone she loves?” or “Should a patient suffering from alcoholism receive a healthy liver?” are questions he faces on a daily basis, but nonetheless they are life changing.

A transplant surgeon by trade, the book opens with Dr. Mezrich, ferrying organs, getting aboard a small plane that winds up getting caught in a violent thunderstorm. The drama speaks for itself: not only are the passengers on the plane in danger, but the people who desperately wait for those organs are in danger of dying thanks to a storm they are far away from.

What’s going to happen? Read the book, but know that on CSL’s website Kevin Kovaleski, CSL Behring’s Senior Director and Therapeutic Area Strategy Team Lead-Transplant, said, “Mezrich’s book sheds light on a critical area of medicine, one that’s ready for advancements, innovations and breakthroughs”.

 

3. Becoming by Michelle Obama

Cover of "Becoming" by Michelle Obama

Image by Amazon

Despite its release on November 13, 2018, Michelle Obama’s autobiography is still going strong, and for good reason. The Guardian calls it “frequently funny,” Vanity Fare states, “surprisingly candid, richly emotional, and granularly detailed that it allows readers to feel exactly what Michelle herself felt at various moments in her life,” while the The New York Times noting that the book is more about motherhood than politics.

But I know what you’re asking: What’s my opinion? It’s great!

 

2. The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang

Esme Weijun Wang beside her book, "The Collected Schizophrenias"

Image Via The Paris REVIEW

The New York Times writes that “[i]n Wang’s kaleidoscopic essays, memoir has been shattered into sliding and overlapping pieces. . . . Her multifaceted arguments can be gratifyingly mind-expanding” and this book truly is mind-expanding. Winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, this collection of essays has stories that will break your heart, make you cry, and teach you about living with mental illness, as noted by The Paris Review which writes how it “examines schizophrenia from historical, medical, social, and emotional perspectives, and looks at the myriad ways it is misunderstood, including by the psychiatric community and schizophrenics themselves.”

The book shows that living with mental illness isn’t pretty, isn’t horrifying, but at its core is completely human.

 

1.The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch

Image result for The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch amazon

Image Via Amazon

Released January 8th, this book details the foiled plot to murder George Washington. George Washington, in case you didn’t know, was this General guy who became President or something.

I kid. It’s actually remarkable.

Back in 1776, the governor of New York and the mayor of New York City conspired to assassinate George Washington. It might have worked too, if it weren’t for that pesky would-be counterfeiter and that iron mill foreman. It’s exciting and is something straight out of a movie. It would be unbelievable, if it wasn’t true. (Here’s the SparkNotes-esque version on History Channel for those who don’t like to read)

Don’t believe me? (Why? I trust you, George) National Public Radio says, “The First Conspiracy is an excellent book, enthralling and beyond fascinating, and it’s sure to delight both fans of thrillers and American history.”
Check it out.
Also check out Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and The Last Trial of Harper Lee when it hits bookshelves May 7th.
Featured Image Via Bookbub

These 5 Books Will Change Your Life in 2019

Before the holiday, Bookstr had the pleasure of talking to Alec Penix, author of the faith based lifestyle book Seven Sundays. He told us all about his fitness journey and how faith helped him become his best self. Now, lucky for you, Alec has given us some amazing recommendations of books that he thinks can change your life in 2019! So sit back, and read all about how these books can help you improve your ambition, fitness, romantic life, mindfulness and finance.

 

 

 

Fitness: Make your body your temple this year!

Seven Sundays by Alec Penix

 

Image Via Amazon

Image Via Amazon  

 

A Biblically grounded, six-week plan to lead you on the path toward losing weight and getting healthier by focusing on the connections between spiritual and physical health.
So many of the books within the diet and fitness space focus on vanity or superficial reasons for striving for personal health and wellbeing. Is it any wonder then that a motivation that’s so surface-level has such a slim chance of working long-term?

 

But Alec Penix believes that all things are possible if you use faith as your bedrock.

Ambition: Get where you want to go this year!

As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

 

Image via Amazon

Image via Amazon 

Eminently quotable and full of practical advice for individuals who want to better themselves, As a Man Thinketh is an essential little volume published in 1902 which explains and promotes the direct connection between our thoughts and our happiness. Do you believe in the power of positive thinking — yet remain unclear as to how that power can be harnessed in your life?

 

James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh explains and promotes the direct connection between what we think and the direction our lives take. Part of the New Thought Movement, Allen reveals the secrets to having the most fulfilling existence possible, and it’s easier than any of us could have imagined. You, too, can learn how to master the output of your brain in order to obtain the personal success of which you have always — until now — merely dreamed.

Finance: Become the boss of your money!

Unshakeable by Tony Robbins

 

Image via Amazon

Image via Amazon

After interviewing fifty of the world’s greatest financial minds and penning the #1 New York Times bestseller Money: Master the Game, Tony Robbins returns with a step-by-step playbook, taking you on a journey to transform your financial life and accelerate your path to financial freedom. No matter your salary, your stage of life, or when you started, this book will provide the tools to help you achieve your financial goals more rapidly than you ever thought possible.

Robbins, who has coached more than fifty million people from 100 countries, is the world’s #1 life and business strategist. In this book, he teams up with Peter Mallouk, the only man in history to be ranked the #1 financial advisor in the US for three consecutive years by Barron’s. Together they reveal how to become unshakeable—someone who can not only maintain true peace of mind in a world of immense uncertainty, economic volatility, and unprecedented change, but who can profit from the fear that immobilizes so many.

In these pages, through plain English and inspiring stories, you’ll discover…

-How to put together a simple, actionable plan that will deliver true financial freedom.

-Strategies from the world’s top investors on how to protect yourself and your family and maximize profit from the inevitable crashes and corrections to come.

-How a few simple steps can add a decade or more of additional retirement income by discovering what your 401(k) provider doesn’t want you to know.

-The core four principles that most of the world’s greatest financial minds utilize so that you can maximize upside and minimize downside.

-The fastest way to put money back in your pocket: uncover the hidden fees and half truths of Wall Street—how the biggest firms keep you overpaying for underperformance.

-Master the mindset of true wealth and experience the fulfillment you deserve today.

 

Romance: Live the love life of your dreams in 2019!

The Five Love Languages by David Chapman

 

The Five Love Languages by David Chapman

Image Via Amazon

 

Simple ideas, lasting love

Falling in love is easy. Staying in love—that’s the challenge. How can you keep your relationship fresh and growing amid the demands, conflicts, and just plain boredom of everyday life?

In the #1 New York Times bestseller The 5 Love Languages, you’ll discover the secret that has transformed millions of relationships worldwide. Whether your relationship is flourishing or failing, Dr. Gary Chapman’s proven approach to showing and receiving love will help you experience deeper and richer levels of intimacy with your partner—starting today.

The 5 Love Languages is as practical as it is insightful. Updated to reflect the complexities of relationships today, this new edition reveals intrinsic truths and applies relevant, actionable wisdom in ways that work.

Includes the Couple’s Personal Profile assessment so you can discover your love language and that of your loved one.

 

 

Mindfulness: Give your mind space to manifest your dreams!

Ask and It Is Given by Esther and Gerry Hicks

 

Image Via Amazon

Image Via Amazon 

Ask and It Is Given, by Esther and Jerry Hicks, which presents the teachings of the nonphysical entity Abraham, will help you learn how to manifest your desires so that you’re living the joyous and fulfilling life you deserve.

As you read, you’ll come to understand how your relationships, health issues, finances, career concerns, and more are influenced by the Universal laws that govern your time/space reality- and you’ll discover powerful processes that will help you go with the positive flow of life.

It’s your birthright to live a life filled with everything that is good- and this book will show you how to make it so in every way!

 

 

All synopses, featured images via Amazon

New Year Drinks

Quotes to Help You Kick Off 2019 With a Bang

The new year has begun and it’s time to take advantage of another fresh start. Hopefully these quotes will help you look ahead to new experiences and memories to come!

 

 

“Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” -Neil Gaiman

 


 

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier.'” -Alfred Tennyson

 


 

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive.” -Maya Angelou

 


 

“There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made.” -Michelle Obama

 


 

“Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality.” -Malala Yousafzai

 


 

“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible!’” -Audrey Hepburn

 


 

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” -C.S. Lewis

 


 

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” -Joseph Campbell

 


 

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” -Albert Einstein

 


 

“You know, my motto is ‘Excelsior.’ That’s an old word that means ‘upward and onward to greater glory.'” -Stan Lee

 

 

 

Featured Image via Sedona Verde Valley