Hello, dear readers, and happy day after Thanksgiving! As tempting as all the bookish Black Friday deals are, I’m planning to spend most of the day on my couch watching Hallmark Christmas movies, reading, and building the LEGO Hogwart’s Castle we just bought. It couldn’t be a more nerdy day.
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Before we jump into this week’s new books and book news, I want to take this opportunity to say a deep and heartfelt thank you for checking in with this newsletter each week. The fact that I get to this platform to share what I’m excited about in the world of books is something I don’t take for granted. Thank you for making it possible and worthwhile!
The holiday week has been a little bit slow for new releases, so I’m using this as a chance to catch up on a few I missed earlier in November:
First Comes Marriage by Huda Al-Marashi – Huda Al-Marashi met the but she was supposed to marry through an arranged marriage when they were six, the children of Iraqi immigrants living in California. As they grew up, Huda had dreams about a storybook romance, but when she and her soon-to-be husband, Hadi, weren’t allowed to spend time together alone before their wedding, she learns she’ll need to adjust her expectations when it comes to love, intimacy, and marriage. This one seems really charming!
American Overdose by Chris McGreal – “Journeying through lives and communities wrecked by the opioid epidemic, Chris McGreal reveals not only how Big Pharma hooked Americans on powerfully addictive drugs, but the corrupting of medicine and public institutions that let the opioid makers get away with it.”
We the People by Erwin Chemerinsky – In this book, a University of California-Berkeley legal scholar “exposes how conservatives are using the Constitution to advance their own agenda” and puts forward a vision for a progressive reading of the Constitution that rests on the promise of the Preamble, liberty and justice for all.
Bringing Down the Colonel by Patricia Miller – Don’t let the title fool you, this book sounds totally excellent! After an affair with a prominent, married politician threatened to ruin her prospects, Madeline Pollard sued him for breach of promise for proposing and then breaking off their engagement. The subsequent trial gave her the chance to fight back and assert herself at a time when women’s sexuality was harshly judged.
Fed Up by Gemma Hartley – Building on a viral 2017 article in Harper’s Bazaar, this book looks at the idea of unpaid, uncredited “emotional labor” and the toll that having to manage relationships and expectations can have on women. This one strikes me as an excellent companion piece to the books on women’s anger that have come out this year.
In truly glorious news, Michelle Obama’s Becoming may just become the biggest adult title of 2018. The book sold more than 725,000 copies on the first day of sales – a number that represents the largest single-day sales for any book by Penguin Random House. Becoming also had the biggest first-week sales of any adult book this year, surpassing both Fear by Bob Woodward and A Higher Loyalty by James Comey. Huzzah!
If you’re trying to make sense of all the Trump, 2016 election, and contemporary political books that are in the world right now, take a gander through Trump’s Terrible Presidency Book Club, an excellent round-up of some political books worth reading from the last couple of years).
Everyone loves to put out best of the year lists, including the scholars at the Smithsonian. This list of their favorites is a real treat, and includes some familiar faces (The Library Book by Susan Orlean) and new-to-me titles (Light of the Stars by Adam Frank – aliens!).
If you’re not still full of food from Thanksgiving yesterday, then maybe some food writing is in order. Over at Book Riot, we’ve recently shared 25 of the best cookbooks of 2018 or 20+ of the best food books of 2018. My TBR is toppling.