Marriage, secrets, genuises, high school, cat-sitting, weighty issues & backyard farming

New Books Sept 3

Some new books have arrived just in time for fall! The new titles are listed here, but we have also received some reorders of Backbeat best-sellers that aren’t pictured.

– “We Are Water” by Wally Lamb – now in paperback!
In middle age, Annie Oh—wife, mother, and outsider artist—has shaken her family to its core. After twenty-seven years of marriage and three children, Annie has fallen in love with Viveca, the wealthy, cultured, confident Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her professional success.

Annie and Viveca plan to wed in the Oh family’s hometown of Three Rivers, Connecticut, where gay marriage has recently been legalized. But the impending wedding provokes some very mixed reactions and opens a Pandora’s box of toxic secrets—dark and painful truths that have festered below the surface of the Ohs’ lives.

We Are Water is an intricate and layered portrait of marriage, family, and the inexorable need for understanding and connection, told in the alternating voices of the Ohs—nonconformist Annie; her ex-husband, Orion, a psychologist; Ariane, the do-gooder daughter, and her twin, Andrew, the rebellious only son; and free-spirited Marissa, the youngest Oh. Set in New England and New York during the first years of the Obama presidency, it is also a portrait of modern America, exploring issues of class, changing social mores, the legacy of racial violence, and the nature of creativity and art.

With humor and breathtaking compassion, Wally Lamb brilliantly captures the essence of human experience in vivid and unforgettable characters struggling to find hope and redemption in the aftermath of trauma and loss. We Are Water is vintage Wally Lamb—a compulsively readable, generous, and uplifting masterpiece that digs deep into the complexities of the human heart to explore the ways in which we search for love and meaning in our lives.

– “This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage” by Ann Patchett
The New York Times bestselling author of State of Wonder, Run, and Bel Canto creates a resonant portrait of a life in this collection of writings on love, friendship, work, and art.

“The tricky thing about being a writer, or about being any kind of artist, is that in addition to making art you also have to make a living.”

So begins This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, an examination of the things Ann Patchett is fully committed to—the art and craft of writing, the depths of friendship, an elderly dog, and one spectacular nun. Writing nonfiction, which started off as a means of keeping her insufficiently lucrative fiction afloat, evolved over time to be its own kind of art, the art of telling the truth as opposed to the art of making things up. Bringing her narrative gifts to bear on her own life, Patchett uses insight and compassion to turn very personal experiences into stories that will resonate with every reader.

These essays twine to create both a portrait of life and a philosophy of life. Obstacles that at first appear insurmountable—scaling a six-foot wall in order to join the Los Angeles Police Department, opening an independent bookstore, and sitting down to write a novel—are eventually mastered with quiet tenacity and a sheer force of will. The actual happy marriage, which was the one thing she felt she wasn’t capable of, ultimately proves to be a metaphor as well as a fact: Patchett has devoted her life to the people and ideals she loves the most.

An irresistible blend of literature and memoir, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a unique examination of the heart, mind, and soul of one of our most revered and gifted writers.

– “The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair” by Joel Dicker
The #1 internationally bestselling thriller, and ingenious book within a book, about the disappearance of a 15-year-old New Hampshire girl and, 30 years later, a young American writer’s determination to clear his mentor’s name—and find the inspiration for his next bestseller

August 30, 1975: the day fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan is glimpsed fleeing through the woods before she disappears; the day Somerset, New Hampshire, lost its innocence.

Thirty-three years later, Marcus Goldman, a successful young novelist, visits Somerset to see his mentor, Harry Quebert, one of America’s most respected writers, and to find a cure for his writer’s block as his publisher’s deadline looms. But Marcus’s plans are violently upended when Harry is suddenly and sensationally implicated in the cold-case murder of Nola Kellergan—whom, he admits, he had an affair with. As the national media convicts Harry, Marcus launches his own investigation, following a trail of clues through his mentor’s books, the backwoods and isolated beaches of New Hampshire, and the hidden history of Somerset’s citizens and the man they hold most dear. To save Harry, his writing career, and eventually even himself, Marcus must answer three questions, all of which are mysteriously connected: Who killed Nola Kellergan? What happened one misty morning in Somerset in the summer of 1975? And how do you write a successful and true novel?

A global phenomenon, with sales approaching a million copies in France alone and rights sold in more than thirty countries, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is a fast-paced, tightly plotted, cinematic literary thriller, and an ingenious book within a book, by a dazzling young writer.

– “The Son of a Certain Woman” by Wayne Johnston
Here comes Percy Joyce.

From one of Canada’s most acclaimed, beloved storytellers: The Son of a Certain Woman is Wayne Johnston’s funniest, sexiest novel yet, controversial in its issues, wise, generous and then some in its depiction of humanity.

Percy Joyce, born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in the fifties is an outsider from childhood, set apart by a congenital disfigurement. Taunted and bullied, he is also isolated by his intelligence and wit, and his unique circumstances: an unbaptized boy raised by a single mother in a fiercely Catholic society. Soon on the cusp of teenagehood, Percy is filled with yearning, wild with hormones, and longing for what he can’t have—wanting to be let in…and let out. At the top of his wish list is his disturbingly alluring mother, Penelope, whose sex appeal fairly leaps off the page. Everyone in St. John’s lusts after her—including her sister-in-law, Medina; their paying boarder, the local chemistry teacher, Pops MacDougal; and…Percy.

Percy, Penelope, and Pops live in the Mount, home of the city’s Catholic schools and most of its clerics, none of whom are overly fond of the scandalous Joyces despite the seemingly benign protection of the Archbishop of Newfoundland himself, whose chief goal is to bring “little Percy Joyce” into the bosom of the Church by whatever means necessary. In pursuit of that goal, Brother McHugh, head of Percy’s school, sets out to uncover the truth behind what he senses to be the complicated relationships of the Joyce household. And indeed there are dark secrets to be kept hidden: Pops is in love with Penelope, but Penelope and Medina are also in love—an illegal relationship: if caught, they will be sent to the Mental, and Percy, already an outcast of society, will be left without a family.

The Son of a Certain Woman brilliantly mixes sorrow and laughter as it builds toward an unforgettable ending. Will Pops marry Penelope? Will Penelope and Medina be found out? Will Percy be lured into the Church? It is a reminder of the pain of being an outsider; of the sustaining power of love and the destructive power of hate; and of the human will to triumph.

– “The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius” by Kristine Barnett
Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. At nine he started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize, and at age twelve he became a paid researcher in quantum physics. But the story of Kristine’s journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. At age two, when Jake was diagnosed, Kristine was told he might never be able to tie his own shoes.

The Spark is a remarkable memoir of mother and son. Surrounded by “experts” at home and in special ed who tried to focus on Jake’s most basic skills and curtail his distracting interests—moving shadows on the wall, stars, plaid patterns on sofa fabric—Jake made no progress, withdrew more and more into his own world, and eventually stopped talking completely. Kristine knew in her heart that she had to make a change. Against the advice of her husband, Michael, and the developmental specialists, Kristine followed her instincts, pulled Jake out of special ed, and began preparing him for mainstream kindergarten on her own.

Relying on the insights she developed at the daycare center she runs out of the garage in her home, Kristine resolved to follow Jacob’s “spark”—his passionate interests. Why concentrate on what he couldn’t do? Why not focus on what he could? This basic philosophy, along with her belief in the power of ordinary childhood experiences (softball, picnics, s’mores around the campfire) and the importance of play, helped Kristine overcome huge odds.

The Barnetts were not wealthy people, and in addition to financial hardship, Kristine herself faced serious health issues. But through hard work and determination on behalf of Jake and his two younger brothers, as well as an undying faith in their community, friends, and family, Kristine and Michael prevailed. The results were beyond anything anyone could have imagined.

Dramatic, inspiring, and transformative, The Spark is about the power of love and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles, and the dazzling possibilities that can occur when we learn how to tap the true potential that lies within every child, and in all of us.

– “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson
For fans of Tina Fey and David Sedaris—Internet star Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, makes her literary debut.

Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In the #1 New York Times bestseller, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.

– “A Little Something Different” by Sandy Hall
The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.  But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together….

– “Wallflowers” by Eliza Robertson
In the opening story of Wallflowers, a girl is cat-sitting for her neighbor, sleeping in the neighbor’s house. It’s nearly identical to her mother’s nearby—in the Copper Waters subdivision, they all are—but she likes it here, eating boiled eggs and watching TV, feeling out her freedom as heavy rains fall. And then a nearby dike fails. And the girl may be the only one left in Copper Waters.

Eliza Robertson can handle the shocking turn, but she also has a knack for the slow surprise, the realization that settles around you like snow. Her stories are deftly constructed and their perspectives—often those of the loners and onlookers, distanced by their gifts of observation—are unexpected. In “We Walked on Water,” winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, a brother and sister train together for a race that will ultimately separate them forever. In “L’Étranger,” shortlisted for the CBC Short Story Prize, a girl abroad in Marseille reconsiders her unendearing roommate after an intimate confrontation.
Robertson was raised on rugged Vancouver Island. She’s traveled broadly since, and her stories travel, too, but the climate of her collection is influenced by her home. These carefully cultivated forms still flare with wildness, and each is still spacious enough for a reader to get lost in wonder.

– “Big Brother” by Lionel Shriver – now in paperback!
For Pandora, cooking is a form of love. Alas, her husband, Fletcher, a self-employed high-end cabinetmaker, now spurns the “toxic” dishes that he’d savored through their courtship, and devotes hours each day to manic cycling. Then, when Pandora picks up her older brother Edison at the airport, she doesn’t recognize him. In the years since they’ve seen one another, the once slim, hip New York jazz pianist has gained hundreds of pounds. What happened? After Edison has more than overstayed his welcome, Fletcher delivers his wife an ultimatum: It’s him or me.

Rich with Shriver’s distinctive wit and ferocious energy, Big Brother is about fat: an issue both social and excruciatingly personal. It asks just how much sacrifice we’ll make to save single members of our families, and whether it’s ever possible to save loved ones from themselves.

– “Backyard Farming: Keeping Honey Bees” by Kim Pezza
Your Backyard Farming Experience Begins Here!

Make beekeeping a part of your backyard farming experience: enjoy honey, beeswax and a more fruitful garden, as your bees will work as hard as you do to make your backyard farm a success!

Backyard Farming: Keeping Honey Bees is your guide to successfully caring for your hive. As a comprehensive primer for first-time beekeepers, Keeping Honey Bees includes detailed illustrations and informative photographs that help to ease new homesteaders into the world of backyard beekeeping.

Keeping Honey Bees takes you from start to finish: from planning out your bees’ space in the yard and constructing/installing your hives, to feeding and nurturing your new colony, to enjoying your very own golden honey and more.

With Keeping Honey Bees , you will:
• Learn the proper use of the equipment necessary to make your beekeeping a success
• Construct the perfect apiary to minimize your workload and ensure a productive colony
• Gather honey and beeswax for profit, or to include in your own self-sufficiency plan
• Use the freshest, fullest honey possible in a variety of delicious recipes
…and many more tips and tricks from experienced farmers to help you avoid the most common pitfalls you might encounter.

Keeping Honey Bees is your first big step to joining the growing movement of homemakers and homesteaders looking to make a return to a healthier, happier way of life—and it starts right in your own backyard.

– “Backyard Farming: Raising Goats” by Kim Pezza
Backyard Farming: Raising Goats is the ideal resource for the new farmer just starting out, providing a comprehensive guide for preparing and caring for the addition of goats to your backyard farm!

Backyard Farming: Raising Goats is the perfect guide for beginners thinking about including goats to their sustainable homestead. Covering every topic from selecting and maintaining a breed, to the tools and space you’ll need, to all the wonderful benefits that owning goats can provide, Backyard Farming: Raising Goats includes all that you need to know to get the most out of your new herd. Including time-tested tips and tricks used by expert farmers, this invaluable resource is a must-have for anyone looking to raise goats at home!

Everything you need to get started. Covering topics from selecting the perfect breed for your space and time requirements, to milking and culling your herd, to preparing for and raising the next generation of kids, Backyard Farming: Raising Goats is the all-in-one guide for the aspiring home goatherd.

Easy to follow, easy to understand. Written in simple, informative language, complete with numerous illustrations of proper techniques and housing set-ups, Backyard Farming: Raising Goats is written with first-time goatherds in mind.

A great addition to any backyard farm. The benefits of owning goats range widely: goat’s milk, meat, even goat hair has its uses and markets. Easier to care for than sheep and lots of fun besides, Backyard Farming: Raising Goats is the perfect first step to adding livestock to your farming experience.

– “Backyard Farming: Home Harvesting” by Kim Pezza
Backyard Farming: Home Harvesting is the ideal resource for the new farmer looking to make the most of his produce by preserving it for the future! Providing a comprehensive guide for preparing and preserving your hard-earned harvest, this book ensures that your backyard farm will feed you all year long!

Backyard Farming: Home Harvesting is the perfect guide for beginners looking to extend the benefits of their homestead’s produce. Covering every topic from selecting and maintaining the resources needed to properly preserve your food, to the various methods of preserving and how they are done, to recipes and ideas for making the best use of your preserved bounty, Backyard Farming: Home Harvesting includes all that you need to know to get the most out of your home harvest. Including time-tested tips and tricks used by expert farmers, this invaluable resource is a must-have for anyone looking to enjoy the fruits of their labor year round!

Everything you need to get started. Addressing all the important areas, from selecting the ideal method for your crop, to knowing when and why to preserve, to how long each method preserves your food for, Backyard Farming: Home Harvesting is the all-in-one guide for the first-time farmer at harvest time.

Easy to follow, easy to understand. Written in simple, informative language, complete with numerous illustrations of proper techniques and preserving set-ups, Backyard Farming: Home Harvesting is written with new farmers in mind.

A guide that every backyard farmer can use. Whether your backyard farm raises livestock or grows crops, there is a method in this book to greatly extend your enjoyment of your harvest! From canning, to smoking; from freezing to drying, the benefits of preserving are obvious! No farmer wants to have to throw away their hard work, and Backyard Farming: Home Harvesting is the perfect guide to ensuring that no part of the harvest is wasted.

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What book are you most looking forward to reading this fall?

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