December 3, 2015
By communitybookstore

 

A God in Ruins

By Kate Atkinson

Teddy was the beloved brother and bomber pilot thought lost over France in Atkinson’s earlier masterpiece, Life After Life. What if he lived? is the Capra-esque question she asks here in one of our favorite books of the year.

 

 

 

A Brief History of Seven Killings

By Marlon James

Was there a plot to assassinate Bob Marley, and was he yet another pawn in the Cold War? A variety of Jamaican characters consider the question in James’ novel, a well-deserved Booker Prize winner. Not for the faint of heart.

 

 

 

Counternarratives

By John Keene

Keene's stories are the perfect companion to a year in which, tragically, it has been necessary to restate what should be obvious, that Black Lives Matter. Keene challenges us to confront who gets to be central in both literature and history.

 

 

 

The Neapolitan Novels

By Elena Ferrante

A repeat pick from last year, except that now, with the publication of The Story of the Lost Child, the four-volume saga is complete. The novels are a 60-year, 2,000-page roller coaster ride, cultural history, and literary landmark.

 

 

 

The Visiting Privilege

By Joy Williams

Every story, no, every sentence is on fire with wit, insight, beauty, fear, the shock of living, the terror of faith--all at once. Joy Williams is a capital-M Major American Writer who deserves a much wider readership. 

 

 

 

A Manual for Cleaning Women

By Lucia Berlin

One of the more important books of the year because it finally brings Berlin her posthumous due (she died in 2004, with her work known only to a few) as one of the great short story writers of her generation.

 

 

 

The Great Swindle

By Pierre Lemaitre

Our pick for sleeper of the year is the newly translated winner of France’s premier literary honor, the Prix Goncourt, It’s a mesmerizing, dark-humored thriller where the initial crime is committed in the trenches of World War I and then follows its protagonists and villain into the aftermath of the war, which becomes the aftermath of any war.

 

December 3, 2015
By communitybookstore

 

Between the World and Me

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Coates’ extended letter to his teenage son about being black in America deserved its National Book Award. Like its inspiration, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, Coates compels readers to take a clear-eyed look at the society we've accepted as fact.

 

 

 

The White Road: Journey into an Obsession

By Edmund de Waal

De Waal, a potter by trade, won his literary bonafides with his family saga, The Hare With Amber Eyes. Here he draws us into his compelling fascination with ceramics: its history, technology, and artistry.

 

 

 

The Witches: Salem, 1692

By Stacy Schiff

Schiff is like a journalist on the ground in 1692, reporting on an epochal event in American history. The result is a book that enables us to understand the witch trials and to shiver with recognition at our own era’s susceptibility to group think and hysteria.

 

 

 

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History

By Timothy Snyder

Snyder, whose 2010 Bloodlands has earned an honored place in the vast cannon of World War II history, is a contrarian who insists that there are still lessons to be learned from the Holocaust despite the thousands of books already written. Here, convincingly, he argues that we pretend at great peril that the intellectual and political underpinning of the Holocaust were an anomaly.

 

 

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

By Sarah Vowell

Vowell, as humorous and as deeply fascinated by her subject as ever, uses the Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the Revolutionary War, to spin a riff on American enthusiasm and violence then and now. In the process, she gives us a history lesson that is both highly instructive and enormous fun.

 

 

 

1946: The Making of the Modern World

By Victor Sebestyen

Among this books’ many treasures is the story of how and why the Cold War started in Azerbaijan (how many people know that?), and such Stalin quotes as, "Give them whatever they want, we can always kill them later." Sebestyen argues, convincingly, that 1946 was a watershed year that shaped decades to come.

 

 

 

S.P.Q.R.

By Mary Beard

Read a line such as, “Part of Cicero’s indecision in 49 BCE was caused not by political ambivalence but by almost farcical ambition,” and one hears one’s favorite college professor: brilliant, witty, revelatory. Even better, no grades this time, just pure pleasure in sitting at the feet of a master and learning the history of Rome.

December 3, 2015
By communitybookstore

 

Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set

Eighty years of Penguin Classics, 80 books (at a fraction of their cost if purchased separately)! What could be better than that? We guess that each book--novellas, excerpts, essays--is about 80 pages long, and that one could live 80 years and still have much to learn and enjoy from this monumental compilation.

 

 

New York Pizza Project

What’s not to love about a book that features interviews with the proprietors and patrons of more than 100 pizza parlors in the five boroughs, plus photographs? This labor of love is as quintessentially New York as the food it honors. Make sure to buy the companion map of New York slice joints.

 

Killing and Dying

By Adrian Tomine

Tomine is the master of the deceptively simple drawing that evokes so much memory and emotion that he is a one-man demonstration of the power and potential of the graphic novel. The six stories here are as rich and moving as any short story collection published this year.

 

Portraits

By John Berger

As always, or once again, a crash course in art history, in art, in criticism and in good writing from one of the great critics and essayists of our era, and in a beautiful, if hefty, volume.

 

 

 

Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The 17th Century Dutch painters were not just some of the finest the world has known but also keen-eyed chroniclers of an early-modern society. This beautiful volume is an historical as well as a visual feast.

 

 

 

Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words

By Randall Munroe

It’s How Things Work for adults, except it’s for kids, too, because Munroe keeps its simple, stupid, even if it’s complicated. Confused? Pick up this book then try to put it down. Bet you can’t.

 

 

 

The Other Paris

By Luc Sante

What Sante did for New York City in Low Life he does here for Paris in richly illustrated volume that probes the shadows that once existed beneath the postcards: the hobos, bohemians, criminals, and outcasts.

 

 

 

Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook

Like a “best of” rock album, Food52 editors have done the hard work for us, culling 100 recipes from many of the world’s most accomplished chefs. 

 

 

 

 

Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes

One of our favorite cookbooks of the year for both the foodie and the beginner. We’ve tested a bunch of the recipes and have found them doable and delectable.

 

December 3, 2015
By communitybookstore

 

 

Robo-Sauce

By Adam Rubin

Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

For the robot enthusiast and everyone else you know. BEEP, dear reader. BOOP.

 

 

The Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova

By Laurel Snyder

Illustrated by Julie Morstad

In this breathtaking picture-book biography, snow sweeps cities and sets as Anna Pavlova grows and beats her ballerina heart, her dying-swan wings.

 

 

 

 

Last Stop on Market Street

By Matt De La Pena

Illustrated by Christian Robinson

We dare you to read this wonderful, grandmother-grandson, bus-ride of a book with a dry eye.

 

 

Home

By Carson Ellis

Ellis' characteristic detail graces this gentle meditation on skeps and webs, ships and shoes, and other havens for nesting.

 

 

 

The Only Child

By Guojing

What happens when a lonesome soul chases a stag to the sky? Hush: This book will tell you.

 

 

 

 

The Skunk

By Mac Barnett

Illustrated by Patrick McDonnell

Fans of Dr. Seuss' pale green pants will love this clever tale of a man, his bow tie, and the mysterious skunk that trails them both.

 

 

 

Alpha

By Isabelle Arsenault

Always confusing your Apples with your Alphas? This beauty of an abecedarian offers delights both drawn and phonetic alike, from Alpha and Bravo straight to Zulu.

 

 

Historium

By Richard Wilkinson and Jo Nelson

From the folks who brought us Maps and Animalium, this newest “Welcome to the Museum” volume introduces young readers to archaeology and the world’s great civilizations.

 

December 3, 2015
By communitybookstore

Wolf Wilder

By Katherine Rundell

Our favorite middle-grade book of the year (and one of our favorite novels, period) speaks for itself: "Wolves, like children, are not born to lead calm lives." Read this wild, irresistible tale. You will not be sorry.

 

 

The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly

By Ted Sanders

In this perfectly paced novel, two children find themselves bound to fascinating objects and a bitter, generations-old rivalry. Plentiful wonders and a villain most terrible spin magic all the way through.

 

 

The Marvels

By Brian Selznick

A shimmering wonder of a book and a story half in drawing, half in words, haunted by family ghosts, sailors, actors, and at least one really great dog.

 

 

 

 

The Pushcart War

By Jean Merrill

One of the New York City-est books ever written, now in paperback from our beloved friends at NYRB, The Pushcart War demands, pea shooter in hand, to be read aloud.

 

 

Nimona

By Noelle Stevenson

A blackhearted-ish villain, a golden-haired-ish hero, and a shapeshifting wonder engage in battles of wit, rescue, and love in this teen graphic novel. Three enthusiastic cheers for beautiful, sly Nimona!