Reading for My Life: Writings, 1958-2008 by John Leonard. Edited by Sue Leonard. (Penguin) These are exuberant essays and reviews by the cultural critic (and onetime Book Review editor), who died in 2008 – from his earliest columns for the Harvard Crimson to his final writings for The New York Review of Books. It includes reflections on Joan Didion, Don DeLillo and Toni Morrison, as well as tributes to Leonard by friends and colleagues.
Inside by Alix Ohlin. (Vintage Contemporaries) Set in New York, Montreal, Kigali and elsewhere, Ohlin’s novel consists of interconnected stories about people trapped in their own hermetic worlds: a therapist rescues a man attempting suicide only to fall in love with him; a desperate divorcee leaves one hopeless situation for another.
Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama written and illustrated by Alison Bechdel. (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) In her previous book, “Fun Home,” Bechdel, creator of the comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For,” told the story of her father’s secret homosexuality, thwarted artistic expression and suicide – and of her own coming out in college. Here she delves into her relationship with her distant, unhappy mother, and into her difficulties with a series of girlfriends.
Norumbega Park by Anthony Giardina. (Picador) When Richie Palumbo drives past a venerable old house in the Boston suburbs in 1969, he decides he must have it. His dream sets the Palumbos – the Italian-American family at the center of Giardina’s heartfelt novel – on a 40-year journey as they navigate the nuances of class, sex and spirituality.
The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Our Culture by Liza Mundy. (Free Press) Drawing on reams of social science research, Mundy foresees a new economic order – a “Big Flip” in which more households will be supported by women than men within a generation – and argues that this upheaval will be liberating for both sexes.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. (Harper Perennial) Opening on a rocky Italian coast in 1962 – where an American actress arrives, mysteriously, fresh off the Roman film set of “Cleopatra” – Walter’s kaleidoscopic novel leaps forward to the back-stabbing back lots of modern-day Hollywood, exploring landscapes of vice, addiction and loss.
Exorcising Hitler: The Occupation and Denazification of Germany by Frederick Taylor. (Bloomsbury Press) Taylor, the author of “Dresden” and “The Berlin Wall,” chronicles the bitter endgame of war, the murderous Nazi resistance, the vast displacement of people in Central and Eastern Europe, and the nascent Cold War struggle between Soviet and Western occupiers.
Talulla Rising by Glen Duncan. (Vintage) In this ferocious sequel to “The Last Werewolf” (2011) Duncan’s pregnant werewolf heroine, Talulla Demetriou, has fallen on bad times. Her werewolf soul mate, Jake Marlowe, has been killed, and her efforts to stay one step ahead of vampires and an anti-occult agency have met a nightmarish end.
New York Times