Lots of great new books have arrived at Backbeat! Up there, you’ll see some great new fiction, non-fiction and kids/YA books. Here’s the rundown:
– “After Everything” by Suellen Dainty
For readers who were swept away by Under the Tuscan Sun, charmed by Le Divorce, and intrigued by The Descendants, comes a heartwarming novel about midlife coming-of-age.
It’s never too late to make amends.
In contemporary London and rural France, a small group of friends reach their late fifties and discover that life still presents them with surprises and unexpected chances for new beginnings.
Recently divorced and seeking to reinvent herself, Penny moves to a picturesque town in France and renounces sex—until she meets an irresistible American philosophy professor. Meanwhile, handsome and unmarried Peter falls head over heels for the first time in his life with plump, sexy, and fiercely independent Frieda; David and Angie face challenges in their childless and co-dependent marriage; and Jeremy, twice divorced and the most successful of them all, develops a destructive interest in underage girls.
At the heart of the story is Sandy, Penny’s ex-husband and a once acclaimed songwriter who realizes too late that he took his marriage and two children for granted. He wants to make amends with his family, but first he’ll have to confront a secret tragedy that has haunted him for decades.
Wonderfully wise and deeply engaging, After Everything provides an insightful look into the complicated relationships we all experience at some point in our lives. As this beautifully written debut novel unfolds, some relationships blossom, some fade, but all reveal the ambivalent nature of the ties that bind us together.
– “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng
Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins this debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.
When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.
– “J” by Howard Jacobson
Set in the future – a world where the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited – J is a love story of incomparable strangeness, both tender and terrifying.
Two people fall in love, not yet knowing where they have come from or where they are going. Kevern doesn’t know why his father always drew two fingers across his lips when he said a world starting with a J. It wasn’t then, and isn’t now, the time or place to be asking questions. Ailinn too has grown up in the dark about who she was or where she came from. On their first date Kevern kisses the bruises under her eyes. He doesn’t ask who hurt her. Brutality has grown commonplace. They aren’t sure if they have fallen in love of their own accord, or whether they’ve been pushed into each other’s arms. But who would have pushed them, and why?
Hanging over the lives of all the characters in this novel is a momentous catastrophe – a past event shrouded in suspicion, denial and apology, now referred to as What Happened, If It Happened.
J is a novel to be talked about in the same breath as Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World, thought-provoking and life-changing. It is like no other novel that Howard Jacobson has written.
– “Punishment” by Linden MacIntyre
In Punishment, his first novel since completing his Long Stretch trilogy, Scotiabank Giller-winner Linden MacIntyre brings us a powerful exploration of justice and vengeance, and the peril that ensues when passion replaces reason, in a small town shaken by a tragic death.
Forced to retire early from his job as a corrections officer in Kingston Penitentiary, Tony Breau has limped back to the village where he grew up to lick his wounds, only to find that Dwayne Strickland, a young con he’d had dealings with in prison is back there too–and once again in trouble. Strickland has just been arrested following the suspicious death of a teenage girl, the granddaughter of Caddy Stewart, Tony’s first love.
Tony is soon caught in a fierce emotional struggle between the outcast Strickland and the still alluring Caddy. And then another figure from Tony’s past, the forceful Neil Archie MacDonald–just retired in murky circumstances from the Boston police force–stokes the community’s anger and suspicion and an irresistible demand for punishment. As Tony struggles to resist the vortex of vigilante action, Punishment builds into a total page-turner that blindsides you with twists and betrayals.
– “The Shock of the Fall” by Nathan Filer
There are books you can’t stop reading, which keep you up all night.
There are books which let us into the hidden parts of life and make them vividly real.
There are books which, because of the sheer skill with which every word is chosen, linger in your mind for days.
The Shock of the Fall is all of these books.
The Shock of the Fall is an extraordinary portrait of one man’s descent into mental illness. It is a brave and groundbreaking novel from one of the most exciting new voices in fiction.
– “Thug Notes: A Street-Smart Guide to Classic Literature” by Sparky Sweets, PhD, Wisecrack Inc.
Sparky Sweets, PhD, and Wisecrack proudly present this outrageously funny, ultra-sharp guide to literature based on the hit online series, Thug Notes. Inside, you’ll find hilarious plot breakdowns and masterful analyses of sixteen of literature’s most beloved classics, including: Things Fall Apart, To Kill a Mockingbird, Hamlet, The Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, Pride and Prejudice, and more!
The series Thug Notes has been featured on BET, PBS, and NPR and has been used in hundreds of classrooms around the world. Whether you’re a student, teacher, or straight-up literary gangster like Dr. Sweets, Thug Notes has got you covered. You’ll certainly never look at literature the same way again.
– “How to be Both” by Ali Smith
Passionate, compassionate, vitally inventive and scrupulously playful, Ali Smith’s novels are like nothing else. A true original, she is a one-of-a-kind literary sensation. Her novels consistently attract serious acclaim and discussion—and have won her a dedicated readership who are drawn again and again to the warmth, humanity and humor of her voice.
How to be both is a novel all about art’s versatility. Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There’s a Renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real—and all life’s givens get given a second chance.
A note to the reader:
Who says stories reach everybody in the same order?
This novel can be read in two ways and this book provides you with both.
In half of all printed editions of the novel the narrative EYES comes before CAMERA.
In the other half of printed editions the narrative CAMERA precedes EYES.
The narratives are exactly the same in both versions, just in a different order.
The books are intentionally printed in two different ways, so that readers can randomly have different experiences reading the same text. So, depending on which edition you happen to receive, the book will be: EYES, CAMERA, or CAMERA, EYES. Enjoy the adventure.
– “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate” by Naomi Klein
Forget everything you think you know about global warming. It’s not about carbon – it’s about capitalism. The good news is that we can seize this crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.
In her most provocative book yet, Naomi Klein, author of the global bestsellers The Shock Doctrine and No Logo, exposes the myths that are clouding climate debate.
You have been told the market will save us, when in fact the addiction to profit and growth is digging us in deeper every day. You have been told it’s impossible to get off fossil fuels when in fact we know exactly how to do it – it just requires breaking every rule in the ‘free-market’ playbook. You have also been told that humanity is too greedy and selfish to rise to this challenge. In fact, all around the world, the fight back is already succeeding in ways both surprising and inspiring.
It’s about changing the world, before the world changes so drastically that no one is safe. Either we leap – or we sink. This Changes Everything is a book that will redefine our era.
– “I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend” by Martin Short
In this engagingly witty, wise, and heartfelt memoir, Martin Short tells the tale of how a showbiz obsessed kid from Canada transformed himself into one of Hollywood’s favorite funnymen, known to his famous peers as the “comedian’s comedian.”
Short takes the reader on a rich, hilarious, and occasionally heartbreaking ride through his life and times, from his early years in Toronto as a member of the fabled improvisational troupe Second City to the all-American comic big time of Saturday Night Live, and from memorable roles in such movies as ¡Three Amigos! and Father of the Bride to Broadway stardom in Fame Becomes Me and the Tony-winning Little Me.
He reveals how he created his most indelible comedic characters, among them the manic man-child Ed Grimley, the slimy corporate lawyer Nathan Thurm, and the bizarrely insensitive interviewer Jiminy Glick. Throughout, Short freely shares the spotlight with friends, colleagues, and collaborators, among them Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, Gilda Radner, Mel Brooks, Nora Ephron, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Paul Shaffer, and David Letterman.
But there is another side to Short’s life that he has long kept private. He lost his eldest brother and both parents by the time he turned twenty, and, more recently, he lost his wife of thirty years to cancer. In I Must Say, Short talks for the first time about the pain that these losses inflicted and the upbeat life philosophy that has kept him resilient and carried him through.
In the grand tradition of comedy legends, Martin Short offers a show-business memoir densely populated with boldface names and rife with retellable tales: a hugely entertaining yet surprisingly moving self-portrait that will keep you laughing—and crying—from the first page to the last.
– “I Hate My Selfie” by Shane Dawson
The book that more than 12 million YouTube subscribers have been waiting for! Shane Dawson’s memoir features twenty original essays—uncensored yet surprisingly sweet.
From his first vlog back in 2008 to his full-length film directorial debut Not Cool, Shane Dawson has been an open book when it comes to documenting his life. But behind the music video spoofs, TMI love life details, and outrageous commentary on everything the celebrity and Internet world has the nerve to dish out is a guy who grew up in a financially challenged but loving home in Long Beach, California, and who suffered all the teasing and social limitations that arise when you’re a morbidly obese kid with a pretty face, your mom is your best friend, and you can’t get a date to save your life.
In I Hate Myselfie, Shane steps away from his larger-than-life Internet persona and takes us deep into the experiences of an eccentric and introverted kid, who by observing the strange world around him developed a talent that would inspire millions of fans. Intelligent, hilarious, heartbreaking, and raw, I Hate Myselfie is a collection of eighteen personal essays about how messy life can get when you’re growing up and how rewarding it can feel when the clean-up is (pretty much) done.
– “A Work in Progress” by Connor Franta
In this intimate memoir of life beyond the camera, Connor Franta shares the lessons he has learned on his journey from small-town boy to Internet sensation so far.
Here, Connor offers a look at his Midwestern upbringing as one of four children in the home and one of five in the classroom; his struggles with identity, body image, and sexuality in his teen years; and his decision to finally pursue his creative and artistic passions in his early twenties, setting up his thrilling career as a YouTube personality, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and tastemaker.
Exploring his past with insight and humor, his present with humility, and his future with hope, Connor reveals his private struggles while providing heartfelt words of wisdom for young adults. His words will resonate with anyone coming of age in the digital era, but at the core is a timeless message for people of all ages: don’t be afraid to be yourself and to go after what you truly want.
This full-color collection includes photography and childhood clippings provided by Connor and is a must-have for anyone inspired by his journey.
– “You’re a Horrible Person, But I Like You: The Believer Book of Advice” by Eric Spitznagel
A compendium of advice from the producers, writers, and actors of The Office, Saturday Night Live, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Knocked Up, Flight of the Conchords, The Daily Show, Arrested Development, Reno 911!, and The Hangover along with other people who should really never give advice.
In these pages Fred Armisen offers help telling your dad you’re a lesbian—give him the phone number and he’ll do it for you. Mindy Kaling provides guidance on ending things with your mistress—dude, you totally have to kill her. Rainn Wilson offers insight on contacting that girl you dreamed about last night—he has created all-purpose web portal for such interactions. Amy Sedaris identifies the best way to a man’s heart—bone saw through the chest cavity.
Aziz Ansari, Judd Apatow, Fred Armisen, Maria Bamford, Todd Barry, Samantha Bee, Michael Ian Black, Andy Borowitz, Michael Cera, Vernon Chatman, Rob Corddry, David Cross, Larry Doyle, Paul Feig, Jim Gaffigan, Zach Galifianakis, Janeane Garofalo, Daniel Handler, Todd Hanson, Tim Heidecker, Ed Helms, Buck Henry, Mindy Kaling, John Lee, Thomas Lennon, Al Madrigal, Aasif Mandvi, Marc Maron, Adam McKay, Eugene Mirman, Morgan Murphy, Bob Odenkirk, John Oliver, Patton Oswalt, Martha Plimpton, Harold Ramis, Amy Sedaris, Michael Showalter, Sarah Silverman, Paul F. Tompkins, Sarah Vowell, David Wain, Eric Wareheim, Rainn Wilson, Lizz Winstead
– “How to Sharpen a Pencil” by David Rees
A hilarious guide to the lost art of artisanal pencil sharpening
“…I am so thrilled David Rees is picking up the reins of the forgotten art of manual graphite-encased-in-wood point-crafting. I love my pencil!”
“You may think that sharpening a pencil is easy, but David Rees makes it look hard, and that makes all the difference.”
“Truly, my life before I was presented with correctly sharpened pencils by an artisan was a dull and ill-sharpened void. Learn from my mistakes.”
Have you got the right kind of point on your pencil? Do you know how to achieve the perfect point for the kind of work you need out of that pencil?
Deep in New York’s Hudson River Valley, craftsman David Rees—the world’s number one #2 pencil sharpener—still practices the age-old art of manual pencil sharpening. In 2010, he began offering his artisanal service to the world, to the jubilation of artists, writers, draftsmen, and standardized test takers.
Now, Rees presents a book that is both a manifesto and a fully-illustrated walk-through of the many, many, many ways to sharpen a pencil. Including chapters on equipment, current practice, and modern technologies, it also points at new trends in sharpening, including “Celebrity Impression Pencil Sharpening (CIPS),” a warning about the “Psychological Risks Associated with Pencil Sharpening,” and a survey of “Wines that tastes like pencils.”
As Rees implores: “Sharpening pencils should be an activity that enriches the senses.”
And if you think it’s a joke, why don’t you poke yourself with your newly sharpened pencil? Or better yet, don’t—because it’ll really hurt.
– “Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ” by Giulia Enders
A cheeky up-close and personal guide to the secrets and science of our digestive system
For too long, the gut has been the body’s most ignored and least appreciated organ, but it turns out that it’s responsible for more than just dirty work: our gut is at the core of who we are. Gut, an international bestseller, gives the alimentary canal its long-overdue moment in the spotlight. With quirky charm, rising science star Giulia Enders explains the gut’s magic, answering questions like: Why does acid reflux happen? What’s really up with gluten and lactose intolerance? How does the gut affect obesity and mood? Communication between the gut and the brain is one of the fastest-growing areas of medical research—on par with stem-cell research. Our gut reactions, we learn, are intimately connected with our physical and mental well-being. Enders’s beguiling manifesto will make you finally listen to those butterflies in your stomach: they’re trying to tell you something important.
– “The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection” by Michael Harris
Soon enough, nobody will remember life before the Internet. What does this unavoidable fact mean? For future generations, it won’t mean anything very obvious. They will be so immersed in online life that questions about the Internet’s basic purpose or meaning will vanish. But those of us who have lived both with and without the crowded connectivity of online life have a rare opportunity. We can still recognize the difference between Before and After. We catch ourselves idly reaching for our phones at the bus stop. Or we notice how, mid-conversation, a fumbling friend dives into the perfect recall of Google. In this eloquent and thought-provoking book, Michael Harris argues that amid all the changes we’re experiencing, the most interesting is the one that future generations will find hardest to grasp. That is the end of absence-the loss of lack. The daydreaming silences in our lives are filled; the burning solitudes are extinguished. There’s no true “free time” when you carry a smartphone. Today’s rarest commodity is the chance to be alone with your own thoughts.
YA & MIDDLE GRADE:
– “The Tapper Twins Go to War (With Each Other)” by Geoff Rodkey
This brand-new series by a popular screenwriter is a pitch-perfect, contemporary comedy featuring twelve-year-old fraternal twins, Claudia and Reese, who couldn’t be more different…except in their determination to come out on top in a vicious prank war! But when the competition escalates into an all-out battle that’s fought from the cafeteria of their New York City private school all the way to the fictional universe of an online video game, the twins have to decide if their efforts to destroy each other are worth the price.
Told as a colorful “oral history” by the twins and their friends, and including photos, screenshots, chat logs, online gaming digital art, and text messages between their clueless parents, The Tapper Twins is a hilariously authentic showcase of what it’s like to be in middle school in our digitally-saturated world.
– “Off the Page” by Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer
From #1 New York Times bestselling authors Jodi Picoult and her daughter and co-writer, Samantha van Leer, comes Off the Page, a tender and appealing romantic YA novel filled with humor, adventure, and magical relationships.
Sixteen-year-old Delilah is finally united with Oliver—a prince literally taken from the pages of a fairy tale. There are, however, complications now that Oliver has been able to enter the real world. To exist in Delilah’s world, Oliver must take the place of a regular boy. Enter Edgar, who agrees to take Oliver’s role in Delilah’s favorite book. In this multilayered universe, the line between what is on the page and what is possible is blurred, but all must be resolved for the characters to live happily ever after. Includes twelve full-color illustrations, and black-and-white decorations throughout.
Full of humor and witty commentary about life, Off the Page is a stand-alone novel as well as a companion to the authors’ bestseller Between the Lines, and is perfect for readers looking for a fairytale ending. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Meg Cabot are sure to appreciate this novel about love, romance, and relationships.
– “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews
Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.
Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.
Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.
And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.
– “The Baby-sitter’s Club: The Truth About Stacey” by Raina Telgemeier
America’s favorite baby-sitters come to life in a new graphic novel series!
Poor Stacey. She’s moved to a new town. She’s still coming to terms with her diabetes. She’s facing baby-sitting problems left and right. And her parents are no help.
Luckily, Stacey has three new, true friends — Kristy, Claudia, and Mary Anne. Together they’re the BSC — and they will deal with whatever’s thrown their way… even if it’s a rival baby-sitting club!
– “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky
Charlie is a freshman.
And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.
Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.
– “Below (Broken Sky Chronicles: Book 1)” by Jason Chabot
The first of three volumes in this thrilling series opens on the barren plains of Below, where a teenage boy named Hokk lives in isolation amid the remnants of our modern age.
On the floating islands in the skies of Above, Elia and her family are enslaved in endless drudgery. To Elia, the island’s edges are borders no one dares cross until the ritual burial that sends their dead Below. But a natural disaster is rumbling through Above, bringing both worlds-and Hokk and Elia-ever closer, until the day the earth crumbles below Elia’s feet and she falls.
When Hokk rescues the girl who miraculously survives plunging into the sea, he realizes she might be the key to finally ending his exile. Both teens are desperate to return to the homes they’ve lost, and their journey together will propel them across endless plains, shattered cities, mirrored palaces and a centuries-old battle for the very earth and sky around them.