“The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories,” by Hilary Mantel (Henry Holt). The genius author of “Wolf Hall” and “Bring Up the Bodies” releases a collection of stories set in contemporary England.
“The Bone Clocks,” by David Mitchell (Random House). Mitchell’s mind-bending novel follows the fortunes of Holly Sykes, an English working-class girl who hears voices and receives visits from ghosts, as her story proceeds from 1984 to 2043.
“Some Luck,” by Jane Smiley (Knopf). Smiley’s new novel follows an Iowa family, from the years after WWI through the early 1950s, from the family farm outward into the increasingly complicated world.
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“Leaving Time,” by Jodi Picoult (Random House). A daughter refuses to believe that her naturalist mother, who studied grief among elephants, abandoned her more than a decade before. Helped by a disgraced psychic and a cynical private detective, she searches for the truth.
“Revival,” by Stephen King (Scribner). An eerie tale, fraught with echoes of Poe and Hawthorne, set in a small town.
“Not That Kind of Girl,” by Lena Dunham (Random House): If you’ve watched the HBO series “Girls” – created by and starring Dunham – you know what you’re in for. Expect frank, funny and poignant scenes from life among the urban 20-something crowd, along with blunt advice. As she writes, “I am a girl with a keen interest in having it all, and what follows are hopeful dispatches from the front lines of that struggle.”
“The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution,” by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster): The brilliant Isaacson follows his mega-selling 2011 biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs with this account of the legendary and unsung people who invented the computer and then the Internet.
“My Heart Is a Drunken Compass,” by Domingo Martinez (Globe Pequot): Martinez’s “The Boy Kings of Texas” was a National Book Award finalist. It ended with his fiance’s car accident, which put her into a coma. This sequel shows that no matter how great the tragedy, we do survive.
“Yes, Please,” by Amy Poehler (Dey Street). The comic genius and “Parks and Recreation” star promises juicy personal stories, “funny bits on sex and love” and advice on parenthood, among other things.
“The Meaning of Human Existence,” by E.O. Wilson (Norton). One of the world’s pre-eminent biologists and naturalists examines what makes humans unique, challenges a mechanistic view of the universe and issues a warning about messing with the basic building blocks of life.
“Joe Eula: Master of Twentieth-Century Fashion Illustration,” introduction by Cathy Horyn, image curation by Melisa Gosnell and Dagon James (Harper Design). An odyssey in sketches by the legendary fashion illustrator Joe Eula.
“Bill Duke’s Dark Girls,” interviews by Shelia P. Moses, photographs by Barron Claiborne (Amistad). Based on an OWN Network documentary of the same name, the book includes more than 80 portraits of accomplished dark-skinned women with their first-person accounts of how they feel about their beauty and how they feel the world sees them.
“The Rolling Stones,” edited by Reuel Golden (Taschen). If it’s large-scale satisfaction you crave for your superfan, this 13-by-13-inch tome will do the trick at 522 pages of images, with limited text.
“All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release,” by Jean-Michel Guesdon and Philippe Margotin, consulting editor Scott Freiman (Black Dog & Leventhal). As if there’s anything more for the truly obsessed, this 672-pager drills down to the genesis and production of 213 Beatles songs released in less than a decade.
“The Gardener’s Garden,” introduction by garden designer Madison Cox (Phaidon). In 480 pages, more than 250 private and public gardens around the world.
“Vivian Maier: A Photographer Found,” by John Maloof and Marvin Heiferman (Harper Design). More than 235 color and black-and-white images shot by the mysterious nanny photographer who is also the subject of a documentary film, “Finding Vivian Maier.”
Leanne Italie, Associated Press
“Maisy’s Christmas Tree,” by Lucy Cousins (Candlewick Press, ages 2-5). Maisy the mouse and pals Cyril and Tallulah prepare for the holiday, from trimming the tree to singing carols.
“Blizzard,” by John Rocco (Disney-Hyperion, ages 3-5). Based on Rocco’s childhood experience during the blizzard of 1978, when 40 inches of snow fell on his Rhode Island town.
Puffin Hardcover Classics box set (Puffin Classics, ages 8-up). A gifty set of hardcovers with colorful, textured bindings. Includes “A Little Princess,” “Anne of Green Gables,” “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “The Secret Garden,” “The Wind in the Willows” and “Peter Pan.”
“Mad Delicious: The Science of Making Healthy Food Taste Amazing” (Oxmoor House). Cooking Light magazine columnist Keith Schroeder understands that average cooks can benefit from food science. His cookbook gently – and comically – guides readers through 126 everyday classics.
“Inside the Test Kitchen,” by Tyler Florence (Clarkson Potter). He mostly blows up conventional thinking on classic recipes, coming up with creative ways to do the basics better. His eggroll omelet (it’s cooked on a rimmed baking sheet) alone is worth the price of admission.
“A La Mere de Famille,” (Chronicle). With recipes from the 250-year-old Parisian confectionary of the same name. Written by the company’s chief chocolatier Julien Merceron, the book showcases one must-eat item after another.
“Eat,” (Ten Speed Press), Nigel Slater’s collection of 600 straightforward dinner ideas that are global in scope, but midweek-friendly in manner.
“Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America,” (Harper Design). Douglas Gayeton’s remarkable and stunning book tells the story of sustainable food via profiles of dozens of thinkers, growers and producers.
J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press
“Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery,” (Paramount). With the recent announcement that David Lynch and Mark Frost will bring back the 1990s TV show “Twin Peaks” for a nine-episode season to air on Showtime in 2016, there’s no better time for this Blu-ray compilation. The set includes the complete television series (including two versions of the pilot), the feature film “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me,” 90 minutes of extended and deleted scenes from that film, and upgrades from other previously released versions of the series.
Steve Spielberg Director’s Collection (Universal). This eight-disc set collects Spielberg’s Universal films along with some pretty amazing extras. You get “Duel” (a TV release), “The Sugarland Express,” “Jaws,” “1941,” “ET,” “Always,” “Jurassic Park” and “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.” It’s almost worth it for the “Jaws” and “ET” extras alone. All in all, it’s more than 18 hours of Spielberg goodness.
“Sherlock” Limited Edition Box Set (BBC Home Entertainment). Can we all agree Benedict Cumberbatch in the Masterpiece Mystery series “Sherlock” is the best Sherlock Holmes of all time? Yes? OK, good. Now you can own all three seasons of the binge-worthy series in a beautifully packaged set that includes behind-the-scenes featurettes, outtakes, audio commentary, limited-edition art cards and busts of Holmes and Watson.
“Black Nativity” (20th Century Fox). If you’re looking for a new holiday film to add to your Christmas movie collection, try this contemporary adaptation of the acclaimed Langston Hughes play. The musical tells the story of a struggling single mom who sends her teenage son to live with his grandparents in Harlem. Starring Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and Jacob Latimore.
“The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” (PBS). A seven-part, 14-hour documentary series about Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt may sound overwhelming, but the fascinating narrative really flies along. Extras include 13 bonus videos, a “making of” featurette and deleted scenes.
Beck, “Morning Phase” (Capitol). Every so often, the shamanistic pop star Beck puts aside his dancing shoes to make a downcast record as a sad troubadour. “Morning Phase” finds him in the latter guise, and is a glorious stab of string-drenched minor-key loveliness.
Chatham County Line, “Tightrope” (Yep Roc). This Raleigh quartet is a bluegrass group, and an excellent one, but they also bring an unusual amount of contemporary pop sense to classic old-style bluegrass. Album No. 7 brings the hooks yet again, suggesting what bluegrass might have sounded like if invented by guys who grew up listening to R.E.M.
Mamadou Diabate, “Griot Classique” (JRS). One of the best African kora players in the world has resided in Durham, of all places, for the past decade or so. Rippling, exotic textures show dizzying speed and precision.
“Parker Millsap” (Okra Homa). These 10 soulful songs of sin and salvation are earthy, strong and droll.
“Sylvan Esso” (Partisan). Durham duo Sylvan Esso’s eponymous debut is warm, personable and terrifically catchy. It sets Amelia Meath’s wide-eyed voice against Nick Sanborn’s electronic rhythms.
Broken Bells, “After the Disco” (Columbia). As odd couples go, electronic-leaning super-producer Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton and Shinns frontman James Mercer are one of the strangest pairings in popular music. And yet they find a perfect sweet spot between their worlds. “After the Disco” is another fine example of interstellar pop from a galaxy far, far away.
Kat Edmonson, “The Big Picture” (Sony). Back in 2002, pop singer Kat Edmonson just missed having her life (or at least her career) ruined by “American Idol,” when she made it to the Hollywood round but no further. A dozen years on, Edmonson is doing just fine without that kind of typecasting. Her third album shows off Edmonson’s big, beautiful voice splendidly.
Hiss Golden Messenger, “Lateness of Dancers” (Merge). Hiss Golden Messenger is the working name of MC Taylor, a country-blues singer-songwriter who vocalizes his obsessions with Old Testament fervor. “Lateness of Dancers” is another superb effort that pairs Taylor’s plainspoken voice with contributions from Megafaun and other A-list types.
Ethan Johns, “The Reckoning” (Three Crows). Back in the early 2000s, Ethan Johns produced North Carolina expatriate Ryan Adams’ biggest-selling solo records. “The Reckoning” turns the tables, with Adams producing Johns, and they’ve come up with a subdued little song cycle that’s all kinds of wonderful. Imagine Adams’ signature 2000 album “Heartbreaker” as done by the late great English folkie Nick Drake, and you’re close.
Lost in the Trees, “Past Life” (Anti-). In contrast to the lush minor-key orchestrations of this Chapel Hill ensemble’s prior two albums, “Past Life” is spare, stripped down, rhythmic and a bit lighter in tone. It’s more string quartet than symphony, with a groove.
The War on Drugs, “Lost in the Dream” (Secretly Canadian). An honest-to-God album that demands consumption in its entirety is a bold move nowadays, so give War on Drugs main man Adam Granduciel credit for moxie. Even more than moxie, however, Granduciel shows vision and ability on “Lost in the Dream,” which is thick with atmosphere and tension. Despite the downcast lyrics, the way he pulls this off is triumphant.
“Warpaint” (Rough Trade). Los Angeles all-female quartet rocks as hard and tough as any other band out there, and they’re also not afraid to stretch out. The group’s second album toughens up atmospheric hooks with extended jam-band arrangements, and it works.