Ten From the Wishlist

I keep four notebooks which are practically crammed with the titles of books which I want to read.  As ever, I have the best of intentions in reading books from my lists, but – as with many readers, I’m sure – I am often sidetracked by shiny bookshops and bookish websites, and always take into account what they think I should be reading.  That said, here are ten books – both fiction and non- – from my current wishlist.  All are new publications.

1. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson 9780330492294
‘For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us – people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they’re being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job. A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people’s faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control. Simultaneously powerful and hilarious in the way only Jon Ronson can be, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is a deeply honest book about modern life, full of eye-opening truths about the escalating war on human flaws – and the very scary part we all play in it.’

2. Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson
‘In the roiling heat of the summer of 1977, eleven-year-old Mira enters the high-stakes world of New York City ballet, a fiercely competitive world of struggle, obsession, passion for beauty and something sinister that will challenge her, protect her, and ultimately take her innocence.After her parents divorce and a childhood spent between her father s tony Upper East Side dwelling and her mother s disordered Brooklyn habitat, young Mira becomes fascinated with the perfectionism, power, and promise of glory that ballet offers. Over the course of four years, she hones her talent, becoming a dancer for Balanchine one of Mr. B s girls eventually attracting the attention of forty-seven-year-old Maurice, a reclusive, charismatic balletomane who haunts the city s dance studios and takes the young girl under his wing. As Mira plunges deeper into the ballet world, her relationship with Maurice intensifies, isolating her and taking her to darker and darker places within herself.In the present day, Kate, a professor of dance at a midwestern college, embarks on a risky affair with a student that threatens to obliterate her career and upend the life she has painstakingly created for her reinvented self. When she receives a letter from a man she has long thought dead, Kate is hurled back to the dramas of a past she thought she had left behind.This enthralling literary debut is told in interweaving narratives that move between past and present, illuminating the costs and privileges of ambition and excellence and whether the sacrifices we make for an ideal destroy us or save us.’

97815946348883. Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel
‘From the award-winning author of “No One Is Here Except All of Us,” an imaginative novel about a wealthy New England family in the 1960s and ’70s that suddenly loses its fortune and its bearings. Labor Day, 1976, Martha’s Vineyard. Summering at the family beach house along this moneyed coast of New England, Fern and Edgar married with three children are happily preparing for a family birthday celebration when they learn that the unimaginable has occurred: There is no more money. More specifically, there’s no more money in the estate of Fern’s recently deceased parents, which, as the sole source of Fern and Edgar’s income, had allowed them to live this beautiful, comfortable life despite their professed anti-money ideals. Quickly, the once-charmed family unravels. In distress and confusion, Fern and Edgar are each tempted away on separate adventures: she on a road trip with a stranger, he on an ill-advised sailing voyage with another woman. The three children are left for days with no guardian whatsoever, in an improvised Neverland helmed by the tender, witty, and resourceful Cricket, age nine. Brimming with humanity and wisdom, humor and bite, and imbued with both the whimsical and the profound, “Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty “is a story of American wealth, class, family, and mobility, approached by award-winner Ramona Ausubel with a breadth of imagination and understanding that is fresh, surprising, and exciting.’

4. Fine. Fine. Fine. Fine. Fine by Diane Williams
‘The very short stories of Diane Williams have been aptly called “folk tales that hammer like a nail gun,” and these 39 new ones are sharper than ever. They are unsettling, yes, frequently revelatory, and more often than not downright funny—even though within these covers a mother dies, an illicit love affair is revealed, a ghost pays a visit, and police are called to the scene.  Not a single moment here is what you might expect. While there is immense pleasure to be found in Williamss spot-on observations about how we behave in our highest and lowest moments, the heart of the drama beats in the language of American short fictions grand master, whose originality, precision, and power bring the familiar into startling and enchanted relief.’

5. The Unfinished World by Amber Sparks 51ikdorqgrl-_sx332_bo1204203200_
‘In the weird and wonderful tradition of Kelly Link and Karen Russell, Amber Sparks’s dazzling new collection bursts forth with stories that render the apocalyptic and otherworldly hauntingly familiar. In “The Cemetery for Lost Faces,” two orphans translate their grief into taxidermy, artfully arresting the passage of time. The anchoring novella, “The Unfinished World,” unfurls a surprising love story between a free and adventurous young woman and a dashing filmmaker burdened by a mysterious family. Sparks’s stories — populated with sculptors, librarians, astronauts, and warriors — form a veritable cabinet of curiosities. Mythical, bizarre, and deeply moving, heralds the arrival of a major writer and illuminates the search for a brief encounter with the extraordinary.’

6. Cities I’ve Never Lived In by Sara Majka
‘In subtle, sensuous prose, the stories in Sara Majka’s debut collection explore distance in all its forms: the emotional spaces that open up between family members, friends, and lovers; the gaps that emerge between who we were and who we are; the gulf between our private and public selves. At the center of the collection is a series of stories narrated by a young American woman in the wake of a divorce; wry and shy but never less than open to the world, she recalls the places and people she has been close to, the dreams she has pursued and those she has left unfulfilled. Interspersed with these intimate first-person stories are stand-alone pieces where the tight focus on the narrator’s life gives way to closely observed accounts of the lives of others. A book about belonging, and how much of yourself to give up in the pursuit of that, “Cities I’ve Never Lived In “offers stories that reveal, with great sadness and great humor, the ways we are most of all citizens of the places where we cannot be.”Cities I’ve Never Lived In” is the second book in Graywolf’s collaboration with the literary magazine “A Public Space.”‘

97814767850597. What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir by Abigail Thomas
‘In her bestselling and beloved memoir “A Three Dog Life,” Abigail Thomas wrote about the tragic loss of her husband. In “What Comes Next and How to Like It,” she writes about aging, family, creativity, tragedy, friendship, and the richness of life. And it is exhilarating. What comes next? What comes after the devastating loss of a spouse? What form does a lifelong friendship take after deepest betrayal? How does a mother cope with her child s dire illness? Or the death of a cherished dog? And how to like it? How to accept, appreciate, enjoy? How to find solace and pleasure? How to sustain and be sustained by our most trusted, valuable companions? Exquisitely observed, lush with sentences you will underline and reread, “What Comes Next and How to Like It” is an extraordinarily moving memoir about many of life s greatest challenges and inimitable rewards. It is also the story of the friendship between Abigail Thomas and a man she met thirty-five years ago. Through marriages, child raising, and the vicissitudes and tragedies that befall them both, this rich bond has helped her face whatever comes next with courage, exuberance, and grace.’

8. The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni
‘In The Lightkeepers, we follow Miranda, a nature photographer who travels to the Farallon Islands, an exotic and dangerous archipelago off the coast of California, for a one-year residency capturing the landscape. Her only companions are the scientists studying there, odd and quirky refugees from the mainland living in rustic conditions; they document the fish populations around the island, the bold trio of sharks called the Sisters that hunt the surrounding waters, and the overwhelming bird population who, at times, create the need to wear hard hats as protection from their attacks. Shortly after her arrival, Miranda is assaulted by one of the inhabitants of the islands. A few days later, her assailant is found dead, perhaps the result of an accident. As the novel unfolds, Miranda gives witness to the natural wonders of this special place as she grapples with what has happened to her and deepens her connection (and her suspicions) to her companions, while falling under the thrall of the legends of the place nicknamed “the Islands of the Dead.” And when more violence occurs, each member of this strange community falls under suspicion. The Lightkeepers upends the traditional structure of a mystery novel –an isolated environment, a limited group of characters who might not be trustworthy, a death that may or may not have been accidental, a balance of discovery and action –while also exploring wider themes of the natural world, the power of loss, and the nature of recovery. It is a luminous debut novel from a talented and provocative new writer.’

9. Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer 91p3hbjn4-l
‘How do we fulfill our conflicting duties as father, husband, and son; wife and mother; child and adult? Jew and American? How can we claim our own identities when our lives are linked so closely to others’? These are the questions at the heart of Jonathan Safran Foer’s first novel in eleven years—a work of extraordinary scope and heartbreaking intimacy.   Unfolding over four tumultuous weeks, in present-day Washington, D.C., Here I Am is the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis. As Jacob and Julia and their three sons are forced to confront the distances between the lives they think they want and the lives they are living, a catastrophic earthquake sets in motion a quickly escalating conflict in the Middle East. At stake is the very meaning of home—and the fundamental question of how much life one can bear.   Showcasing the same high-energy inventiveness, hilarious irreverence, and emotional urgency that readers and critics loved in his earlier work, Here I Am is Foer’s most searching, hard-hitting, and grandly entertaining novel yet. It not only confirms Foer’s stature as a dazzling literary talent but reveals a mature novelist who has fully come into his own as one of the most important writers of his generation.’

10. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
‘An intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language and family Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of ‘autotheory’ offering fresh, fierce and timely thinking about desire, identity and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its centre is a romance: the story of the author’s relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes the author’s account of falling in love with Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, as well as her journey to and through a pregnancy, is an intimate portrayal of the complexities and joys of (queer) family making. Writing in the spirit of public intellectuals such as Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes, Nelson binds her personal experience to a rigorous exploration of what iconic theorists have said about sexuality, gender, and the vexed institutions of marriage and child-rearing. Nelson’s insistence on radical individual freedom and the value of caretaking becomes the rallying cry for this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.’

 

Have you read any of these books?  Which would you recommend that I track down first?

Purchase from The Book Depository

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