With a new season freshly begun, it’s time to update your reading list. 2016 has been an exceptional year for literary achievement, from epic novels and inspiring nonfiction, to celebrity memoirs and an entire book devoted to the mythology of Bill Murray.
Without further ado, these are the best new books that belong on your shelves now.
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders
Forget about the beaten path. Atlas Obscura celebrates over 700 of the strangest and most curious places in the world to inspire both wonder and wanderlust. With its compelling descriptions, hundreds of photographs, surprising charts, and maps for every region of the world, it’s a book to enter anywhere, and will be as appealing to the armchair traveller as the die-hard adventurer. Anyone can be a tourist – Atlas Obscura is for the explorer.
The Tao of Bill Murray: Real-Life Stories of Joy, Enlightenment, and Party Crashing
New York Times bestselling author Gavin Edwards, like the rest of us, has always been fascinated with Bill Murray – in particular the beloved actor’s adventures off-screen, which rival his filmography for sheer entertainment value. This collection of the most epic, hilarious, and strange Murray stories – many of which have never before been reported – spotlights the star’s extraordinary ability to infuse the everyday with surprise, absurdity, and wonder.
Born To Run
Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humour, and originality found in his songs. Born to Run will be revelatory for anyone who has ever enjoyed Bruce Springsteen, but this book is much more than a legendary rock star’s memoir. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks, or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptized in the holy river of rock and roll.
Children of the New World
Children of the New World introduces readers to a near-future world of social media implants, memory manufacturers, dangerously immersive virtual reality games, and alarmingly intuitive robots. Many of these characters live in a utopian future of instant connection and technological gratification that belies an unbridgeable human distance, while others inhabit a post-collapse landscape made primitive by disaster, which they must work to rebuild as we once did millennia ago. Children of the New World grapples with our unease in this modern world and how our ever-growing dependence on new technologies has changed the shape of our society.
One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly – thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families. Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, the book is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories.
Here I Am
Here I Am is the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis over four tumultuous weeks in present-day Washington, DC. Showcasing the same high-energy inventiveness, hilarious irreverence, and emotional urgency that readers loved in his earlier work, Here I Am is Jonathan Safran Foer’s first novel in eleven years, and his most searching, hard-hitting, and grandly entertaining yet. It not only confirms Foer’s stature as a dazzling literary talent but reveals a novelist who has fully come into his own as one of the most important writers of the modern age.
Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She’s still in the marital home – a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse – but John’s not there. Instead, she’s with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy’s womb. Told from a perspective unlike any other, Nutshell is a classic tale of murder and deceit from Ian McEwan, the bestselling author of Atonement and The Children Act.
How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight
Peter Diamandis was the son of hardworking immigrants who wanted their science prodigy to make the family proud and become a doctor. But from the age of eight, when he watched Apollo 11 land on the Moon, his singular goal was to get to space. When he realized NASA was winding down manned space flight, Diamandis set out on one of the great entrepreneurial adventure stories of our time. If the government wouldn’t send him to space, he would create a private space flight industry himself. How to Make a Spaceship is an extraordinary tale of making the impossible possible.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is – a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected modern society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.
The Tetris Effect: The Game that Hypnotized the World
Tetris is perhaps the most instantly recognisable, popular video game ever made. But the fascinating story of its origins is lesser known. How did an obscure Soviet programmer, working on frail, antiquated computers, create a product that has earned nearly $1 billion in sales? How did an inspired, makeshift game turn into a worldwide sensation, which has been displayed at the Museum of Modern Art, inspired a Hollywood movie, and been played in outer space? Tech reporter Dan Ackerman explores the game’s rise to icon status in The Tetris Effect.
It’s 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson – college professor, stalled writer – has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hasn’t seen her in decades, not since she abandoned the family when he was a boy. Now she’s re-appeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news, beguiles the internet, and inflames a politically divided country. The media paints Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high-school sweetheart. Which version of his mother is true? Two facts are certain: she’s facing some serious charges, and she needs Samuel’s help.
True Believer: Stalin’s Last American Spy
How does an Ivy League-educated, US State Department employee, deeply rooted in American culture and history, become a hardcore Stalinist? True Believer reveals the life of Noel Field, a privileged American who betrayed his family and country to spy for Stalin in the 1930s and ’40s. A pawn in Stalin’s sinister master strategy, Field is eventually kidnapped and tortured by the KGB and forced to testify against his own Communist comrades. With a reporter’s eye for detail, and a historian’s grasp of the cataclysmic events of the twentieth century, Kati Marton captures Field’s riveting quest for a life of meaning that went horribly wrong.
The Underground Railroad
From prize-winning, bestselling author Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum American South. Between these covers the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.