By Bill Scheft (Simon & Schuster, $24)
In his third novel, Scheft, the 15-time Emmy-nominated writer for David Letterman, zeroes in on the self-help industry as he digs deep into the universal themes of aging, family and mortality. At the center of the story is Phil Camp, a neurotic writer who tries to come to terms with life’s imperfections. As he grapples with crippling leg pain, a nutty ex-wife and a career built on a lie, his depression deepens as he falls in love with the daughter of one of his harshest critics.
‘An Accomplished Woman’
By Jude Morgan (St. Martin’s Press, $24.95)
Lydia Templeton rejects the county’s most eligible bachelors, a move that scandalizes society. Ten years later, fiercely independent and incredibly intelligent, Lydia is confronted by her grandmother, Lady Eastmond, who requests that she takes her young ward, Phoebe, to Bath for the social season. Lydia declines but then has second thoughts. This witty, romantic story is as frothy and light as a meringue.
‘Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi’
By Geoff Dyer (Pantheon, $24)
Every two years, the international art world flocks to Venice for the opening of the Biennale. Jeff Atman, a jaded and dissolute journalist, attends and meets Laura. The experience makes him feel ecstatic and rejuvenated. This superbly crafted story is about romantic fulfillment and spiritual yearning against the backdrop of two old, watery cities. Are the two stories set in two different cities actually one and the same? That’s part of the fun of this irresistibly entertaining novel.
‘How It Ended: New and Collected Stories’
By Jay McInerney (Knopf, $25.95)
This collection of stories by McInerney is reminiscent of Fitzgerald and Hemingway at their peak. Written with bold literary strokes, the novel find McInerney returning to many of the same characters and places originally introduced in his previous novels including “Bright Lights, Big City” and “The Good Life.” Even though only seven of the stories have been collected in a book, all 26 unveil and re-create the manic flux of our society. Intelligent, insightful and a rare contemporary voice, McInerney has established himself as one of our most essential modern writers.
‘Hunted: A House of Night Novel’
By P.C. and Kristin Cast (St. Martin’s Press, $17.95)
This Oklahoma-based mother-daughter writer team has become a force in young adult literature. According to their latest tale, once a teenager is marked as a fledgling vampire, the future holds only two options: Change into an adult vampire or die. Zoey Redbird is a normal high school student and when she is marked she quickly discovers that her life has changed forever.
By Satoshi Azuchi (Thomas Dunne Books, $24.95)
The end of World War II brought unexpected changes to Japan including the introduction of the supermarket. Azuchi’s story, translated in English for the first time, follows Kojima, a banker in Osaka, and his cousin Iskikari, who manages a supermarket chain in one of Japan’s provincial cities. When Kojima is asked for help, he soon finds himself in supermarket management and dealing with employee theft, poor accounting and a lack of innovation and creativity among his workers. Vivid characters set in a unique period in history make this extraordinary reading.
‘A Country Called Home’
By Kim Barnes (Knopf, $23.95)
Thomas Deracotte, a physician by trade, and his pregnant wife, Helen, leave Connecticut and buy a farm in Idaho, sight unseen. As they learn to live off the land, they meet Manny, a sweet 18-year-old kid with no family of his own. This highly readable story, set in 1960, underscores the importance of what it means to be young and in love and the lengths people will go to escape loneliness. Exquisitely written, this book is powerful and profound.
‘Bonnie and Clyde: The Lives Behind the Legend’
By Paul Schneider (Henry Holt & Company, $27.50)
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow made headlines throughout the country during the early years of the Great Depression before finally meeting their deaths in an ambush on a dusty road near Gibsland, La., in May 1934. In a new book that is novelistic in style but based on extensive archival research, Schneider attempts to separate fact from fiction surrounding two of America’s most iconic gangsters.
‘Hide and Seek: The Search for Truth in Iraq’
By Charles Duelfer (PublicAffairs, $29.95)
Duelfer – deputy chairman of the United Nations weapons inspection organization from 1993 to 2000 and a leader of the Iraq Survey Group – probably knows Iraq better than almost anyone else in the U.S. government. With insight and a no-holds barred narrative, he reveals how the U.S. and Iraq misled each other into war, twice, and the stand-off in between that has dominated our foreign policy in the region for more than two decades. In a crisply written text, Duelfer explains how the U.S. got itself into this quagmire as he documents past mistakes, misunderstandings and miscalculations that triggered one of the most colossal international tragedies of our time.
‘Under Their Thumb: How a Nice Boy from Brooklyn Got Mixed Up With the Rolling Stones (and Lived to Tell About It)’
By Bill German (Villard, $25)
In 1978, on his 16th birthday, Bill German set out to chronicle the career and adventures of his favorite rock band, the Rolling Stones. As he made his way into the band’s inner circle, he had a front row seat to the feuds, infidelities and the near breakup of the famous group. In his warts-and-all book, he reveals intimate backstage stories of their recording sessions, tours and personal lives. Supplemented with dozens of never-before-published images, this up-close and amazing book crackles with energy.
‘Being Hal Ashby: Life of a Hollywood Rebel’
By Nick Dawson (University Press of Kentucky, $37.50)
Hal Ashby was born into a Mormon family in Utah in 1929 and found international fame as one of this country’s most eccentric film directors. A visionary artist who shaped such classic films as “Harold and Maude,” he won an Oscar for film editing for his work on “In the Heat of the Night” in 1967. His innovative style attracted such A-list actors as Jack Nicholson (“The Last Detail”), Warren Beatty (“Shampoo”), and Jane Fonda (“Coming Home”). His life spiraled out of control as he stumbled through five marriages and drug addiction, ending with his death in 1988. Dawson, an editor at FilmsInFocus, has written a superb biography of this troubled, talented man.
‘I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah’s Witness Upbringing’
By Kyria Abrahams (Touchstone, $25)
Abrahams was raised a Jehovah’s Witness in Pawtucket, R.I., where she was smug in the belief that as long as she refrained from doing such things as singing the national anthem or drawing a turkey from the outline of her hand, she was safe and would be one of the few not left behind at Armageddon. When she finds herself married at 18 to a man she doesn’t love, with adultery her only escape, she decides to run, losing her religion, and her future, in one breath. This remarkable book, written with unexpected wit and deep compassion, is truly a unique coming-of-age story that is certain to be every bit as haunting as a Ouija board.
‘One Less Thing to Worry About: Uncommon Wisdom for Coping with Common Anxieties’
By Jerilyn Ross with Robin Cantor-Cooke (Ballantine, $25)
With the economy tanking, unemployment soaring, images of wars and famine streaming into our living rooms, and uncertainty all around us, this is truly a time of anxiety. In this new book, psychotherapist Ross presents ways readers can identify what triggers anxiety, determine if it is healthy and useful or distressing and potentially harmful, and, ultimately, control anxiety by utilizing her Eight Points plan. Ross is convinced that by only taking charge of anxiety can we regain control of our lives.
‘The Challenge for Africa’
By Wangari Maathai (Pantheon, $25)
Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of the Green Belt Movement Maathai offers a powerful and compelling look at the problems facing Africa and the promises of the future. Darfur, HIV/AIDS, unbearable debt, election fraud, cross-border conflicts and environmental degradation can all be confronted if there is motivation and hope. The author stresses that Africans need to invent and implement their own solutions rather than relying on foreign aid and Western visions of change.
‘The Day We Found the Universe’
By Marcia Bartusiak (Pantheon, $27.95)
On Jan. 1, 1925, a 35-year-old man announced that the Milky Way was not alone. In fact, he pointed out that the universe was a thousand times larger than previously thought and filled with myriad galaxies like our own. The man was Edwin Hubble and he changed the way humans eventually understood their place in the cosmos. Bartusiak fleshes out the influential scientists such as Henrietta Leavitt, Harlow Shapley and Vesto Slipher, people who expanded our knowledge by developing an accurate means of measuring the vast dimensions of the cosmos. Bartusiak is an award-winning author and frequent contributor to such publications as National Geographic, Smithsonian, and The New York Times.
‘Red Light Women of the Rocky Mountains’
By Jan Mackell (University of New Mexico Press, $34.95)
In this highly entertaining account, the “soiled doves” of the Rocky Mountain West are treated with wit, color and respect. In addition to an overview, Mackell, director of the Cripple Creek Museum in Colorado, divides her book into several chapters: Amazons of Arizona; Courtesans of Colorado, Illicit Ladies of Idaho; Madams and Other Women of Montana; Nubians of New Mexico; The Undoing of Utah’s Soiled Doves; and Wicked Women of Wyoming. Profusely illustrated and meticulously researched, “Red Light Women of the Rocky Mountains” is a rollicking peek at one of the more fascinating aspects of our Western heritage.
‘Bond of Union: Building the Erie Canal and the American Empire’
By Gerald Koeppel (Da Capo, $27.95)
The Erie Canal, proposed in 1807, was America’s first great piece of infrastructure. New York historian Koeppel tells how Jesse Hawley, a grain merchant in debtors’ prison, planted the seeds for the canal by writing a series of newspaper essays under the pen name “Hercules.” The idea gained traction and after several false starts was completed in 1825, making it the first great bond between the seaboard American nation and the vast continental interior. This comprehensive history is lively, well researched and written by an author with a real talent for genuine story telling.
‘Lost Mines and Buried Treasures of Arizona’
By W.C. Jameson (University of New Mexico Press, $23.95)
Jameson, who has written some 60 books and acted in movies and TV, claims that Arizona’s history is liberally seasoned with legends of lost mines, buried treasures and significant deposits of gold and silver. Selected from tales passed down from generation to generation, the folklore contained in this book includes bandit booty buried near Yuma, gold in Huachuca Canyon, and the granddaddy of them all, the Lost Dutchman Mine in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix.
‘The 21st Century Economy: A Beginner’s Guide’
By Randy Charles Epping (Vintage, $14.95)
This is nothing less than a crash course about economics and why literacy in this field might just determine our very survival. Abreast with the most current developments of the world economy, Epping, who has worked in international finance for more than 25 years, breaks down complex ideas and explains them in simple terms and by using compelling narratives and lively anecdotes.
‘Growing Up Dead: The Hallucinated Confessions of a Teenage Deadhead’
By Peter Conners (Da Capo, $14.95)
Conners discovered the Grateful Dead in 1985. After his first concert in 1987, he was drawn into the culture of drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll. Between 1987 and 1995, he attended nearly 100 Dead shows nationwide, traveling from place to place in a Volkswagen camper and, amazingly, lived to write about it.
FOR YOUNG READERS
‘The True Story of Little Red Riding Hood’
By Agnese Baruzzi and Sandro Natalini (Templar Books, $14.99)
If you think you know the real story of Little Red Riding Hood and the big bad you-know-what, you might discover that things are not always as they seem. This delightful retelling of a childhood classic, features foldouts, fabrics and unexpected surprises. (Ages 3 and older)
By Linda Sanders-Wells with illustrations by Abby Carter (Candlewick Press, $19.99)
A family of monkeys has moved into the refrigerator. No one can see them except Maggie. This is a hilarious, wildly imaginative story of sibling love and loyalty. (Ages 5-8)
‘The North Star’
By Peter H. Reynolds (Candlewick Press, $16.99)
This beautifully illustrated book is about life and its journey. As a young boy discovers, it can be confusing when signs point in different directions. Should he follow the well-worn path or follow his dreams? (Ages 5-7)
By John Schindel and Steven Holt (Tricycle Press, $6.95)
This book, with thick, sturdy pages that are perfect for little fingers, is filled with pictures of chickens walking, squawking, cheeping and leaping. (Ages 3-5)