Her palace shimmered with gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Cleopatra, the wealthiest ruler of her time and one of the most powerful women in history, was a canny political strategist, a brilliant manager, a tough negotiator, and the most manipulative of lovers. Her life, though short, reshaped the contours of the ancient world.
In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. A story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work—from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.
$21.99 20% Off: $17.59
Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris (Little Brown & Co )
"The stories from Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary are a combination of absurd anthropomorphic animal characters initially exhibiting somewhat natural behavior but then rabbit-trailing (no pun intended) off into strange dialogues and monologues. This is the clever framework to support Sedaris’ astute and uncanny interpersonal observations. His filter of the world is as hysterically bizarre as it is painfully spot-on. His distinctive turn of phrase is as sharp as ever." —The Chicago Stage Review
$14.95 20% Off: $11.96
The Best American Short Stories 2010 by Richard Russo (Mariner Books )
Edited by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author Richard Russo, this year’s collection boasts a satisfying “chorus of twenty stories that are by turns playful, ironic, somber, and meditative” (Wall Street Journal). With Russo picking the best of the best, America’s oldest and best-selling story anthology continues to be of “enduring quality” (Chicago Tribune).
"Jonathan Franzen′s galvanic new novel, Freedom, showcases his impressive literary toolkit...and his ability to throw open a big, Updikean picture window on American middle-class life. With this book, he′s not only created an unforgettable family, he′s also completed his own transformation from a sharp-elbowed, apocalyptic satirist focused on sending up the socio-economic-political plight of this country into a kind of 19th-century realist concerned with the public and private lives of his characters.... Mr. Franzen has written his most deeply felt novel yet—a novel that turns out to be both a compelling biography of a disfunctional family and an indelible portrait of our times." —The New York Times
Shortly after midnight on March 18, 1990, two men broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and committed the largest art heist in history. They stole a dozen masterpieces, including one Vermeer, three Rembrandts, and five Degas. But after thousands of leads, hundreds of interviews, and a $5-million reward, not a single painting has been recovered. Worth a total of $500 million, the missing masterpieces have become the Holy Grail of the art world and one of the nation’s most extraordinary unsolved mysteries.
"By turns earnest and wicked, sweet and sarcastic and unsparing, Mr. Richards, now 66, writes with uncommon candor and immediacy. He’s decided that he’s going to tell it as he remembers it, and helped along with notebooks, letters and a diary he once kept, he remembers almost everything. He gives us an indelible, time-capsule feel for the madness that was life on the road with the Stones in the years before and after Altamont; harrowing accounts of his many close shaves and narrow escapes (from the police, prison time, drug hell); and a heap of sharp-edged snapshots of friends and colleagues—most notably, his longtime musical partner and sometime bête noire, Mick Jagger." —The New York Times
“What Dave Eggers has found in the Katrina mud is the full-fleshed story of a single family, and in telling that story he hits larger targets with more punch than those who have already attacked the thematic and historic giants of this disaster. It’s the stuff of great narrative nonfiction.... My guess is, fifty years from now, when people want to know what happened to this once-great city during a shameful episode of our history, they will still be talking about a family named Zeitoun.” —The New York Times
$27.99 20% Off: $22.39
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Book): A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race by Jon Stewart (Grand Central Pub )
Where do we come from? Who created us? Why are we here? These questions have puzzled us since the dawn of time, but when it became apparent to Jon Stewart and the writers of The Daily Show that the world was about to end, they embarked on a massive mission to write a book that summed up the human race: What we looked like; what we accomplished; our achievements in society, government, religion, science, and culture. After two weeks of hard work, they had their book.
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House Inc )
In The Warmth of Other Suns, Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. Having interviewed more than a thousand people and gained access to new data and official records, she recounts how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.
"The collection reads with the headlong rush of both a thriller and a romance. In ten stories, told with equal power and precision from male and female perspectives, Munro explores how people do and don’t move on with their lives after losing what they thought they couldn’t live without." —The Virginia Quarterly Review
$25.00 20% Off: $20.00
How to Live: Or, a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell (Other Pr Llc )
The Best American Science Writing 2010 is the eleventh edition of the annual series that Kirkus Reviews hails as "superb brain candy." Edited by physician and New Yorker staff writer Groopman, it offers provocative looks at the latest scientific findings—including the fields of environmentalism, genetics, astronomy, biochemistry, and more.
$28.00 20% Off: $22.40
Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot on and Never Will by Judith Schalansky (Penguin)
There are still places on earth that are unknown. This book captures fifty islands that are far away in every sense—from the mainland, from people, from airports, and from holiday brochures. Author Judith Schalansky used historic events and scientific reports as a springboard for each island, providing information on its distance from the mainland, whether it is inhabited, its features, and the stories that have shaped its lore.
$16.00 20% Off: $12.80
20 Under 40: Stories from the New Yorker by Deborah Treisman (Farrar Straus & Giroux )
In June 2010, the editors of The New Yorker announced to widespread media coverage their selection of “20 Under 40”—the young fiction writers who are, or will be, central to their generation. The magazine published twenty stories by this stellar group of writers over the course of the summer. They are now collected for the first time in one volume.
$15.00 20% Off: $12.00
Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu: John Updike on Ted Williams by John Updike (Library of America)
On September 28, 1960—a day that will live forever in the hearts of fans—Red Sox slugger Ted Williams stepped up to the plate for his last at-bat in Fenway Park. Seizing the occasion, he belted a solo home run—a storybook ending to a storied career. In the stands that afternoon was twenty-eight-year-old John Updike, inspired by the moment to make his lone venture into the field of sports reporting. Now, on the fiftieth anniversary of the dramatic exit of baseball’s greatest hitter, The Library of America presents a commemorative edition of Hub Fans, prepared by the author just months before his death. To the classic final version of the essay, long out-of-print, Updike added an autobiographical preface and a substantial new afterword.
Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat’s sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.
$27.00 20% Off: $21.60
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House Inc )
"Ms. Hillenbrand is a muscular, dynamic storyteller.... Her command of the action-adventure idiom is more than enough to hold interest. But she happens also to have located a tale full of unforgettable characters, multi-hanky moments and wild turns. And if some of it sounds too much like pulp fiction to be true, Ms. Hillenbrand has also done a bang-up research job. She interviewed [Louis] Zamperini more than 75 times. He has an excellent memory. And he is a pack rat nonpareil: his scrapbook covering the years 1917-1938 is a single book that weighs 63 pounds." —The New York Times
$10.00 20% Off: $8.00
Holidays on Ice: With Six New Stories by David Sedaris (Back Bay Books )
David Sedaris′s beloved holiday collection is new again with six more pieces, including a never before published story. Along with such favoritesas the diaries of a Macy′s elf and the annals of two very competitive families, are Sedaris′s tales of tardy trick-or-treaters ("Us and Them"); the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French ("Jesus Shaves"); what to do when you′ve been locked out in a snowstorm ("Let It Snow"); and more.
"The acknowledgments at the end of his splendid new novel indicate that in writing it [le Carré] consulted experts on the Russian mafia, the Mumbai stock market, tennis, Swiss geography and several other topics. The guidance he received, combined with his longstanding knowledge of spycraft and the British Secret Service, makes for a tale that rings with authenticity at every stage.... If a better thriller than Our Kind of Traitor has been published this year, I′d like to see it." —The Washington Post
"Verghese turns his formidable talents to fiction, mining his own life and experiences in a magnificent, sweeping novel that moves from India to Ethiopia to an inner-city hospital in New York City over decades and generations." —Publishers Weekly
$27.99 20% Off: $22.39
The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood by Jane Leavy (Harpercollins )
"Every few years, you read a bookthat makes everything else in life seem unimportant. The Lacuna is the first book in a long time that made me swap my bike for public transport, just so I could keep reading. In her first novel for nine years, Barbara Kingsolver follows the epic journey of Harrison William Shepherd—a nobody who inadvertently becomes a somebody when all he wants is a safe place in which to be invisible." —The Independent (UK)
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave. As Rebecca Skloot shows, the story of the Lacks family—past and present—is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.
"Wolf Hall [is] a darkly magnificent novel set in the earlier part of the reign of Henry VIII.... A good historical novel snakes a vivid story through a vivid panorama. The better ones...have a third dimension, with full-fleshed characters borne on a current that runs far deeper than their actions. Wolf Hall, recently named winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize, moves through an Einsteinian fourth dimension: time.... History is a feast whose various and vital excitements and intrigues make the book a long and complex pleasure." —The Boston Globe
$28.95 20% Off: $23.16
At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson (Doubleday )
"Bryson is fascinated by everything, and his curiosity is infectious…Bryson’s enthusiasm brightens any dull corner. I recommend that you hand over control and simply enjoy the ride. You’ll be given a delightful smattering of information about everything but, weirdly, the kitchen sink." —The New York Times
Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet by Jennifer Homans (Random House Inc )
"It has never been done, what Jennifer Homans has done in Apollo’s Angels. She has written the only truly definitive history of the most impossibly fantastic art form, ballet, this most refined, most exquisite art.... Homans’s accomplishment is akin to setting the most delicate and beautiful of all the imperial Fabergé eggs into a fissure high on Mount Rushmore and tracking its unlikely survival." —The New York Times
$14.95 20% Off: $11.96
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010 by Dave Eggers (Mariner Books )
"David Sedaris′s unflappable inventiveness translates, in the first section of this anthology, to a smattering of pieces with giddiness, daring, and heart. A particular highlight, by Wendy Molyneux, earned his award for ′Best American Woman Comedy Piece Written by a Woman′ and is guaranteed to set off snorts of delight with each re-read. In the second section, as in previous years, Eggers′s picks prove solid and balanced." —Publishers Weekly