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 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

June 11, 2017

No Lie - These Nonfiction Paperbacks Are Worth Checking Out

The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar. This year's Pulitzer Prize winner for Biography went to Libyan author Matar for what the Pulitzer committee called "a first-person elegy for home and father that exami nes with controlled emotion the past and present of an embattled region." When t he author was a 19-year-old university student in England, his father went m issing u nder mysterious circumstances in Libya. One of the Qaddafi regime's most prominent opponents in exile, he was held in a secret prison. Hisham would never see him again, but he never gave up hope that his father might still be alive. Twenty-two years later, the son returned to his native Libya in search of the truth behind his father's disappearance.  The Return  is the story of what he found there.

In reviewing the book last year, noted author Kazuo Ishiguro wrote:  "A moving, unflinching memoir of a family torn apart by the savage realities of today's Middle East. The crushing of hopes raised by the Arab spring - at both the personal and national levels - is conveyed all the more powerfully because Matar's anger remains controlled, his belief in humanity undimmed."


Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach. She's been called "America's funniest science writer" by the Washington Post, thanks to her eclectic choice of book topics, from cadavers (Stiff) and the science of sex (Bonk) to life in space (Packing For Mars) and the human digestive system (Gulp). Roach has only burnished her reputation with her newest scientific foray, which again showcases her keen curiosity and dogged research. This time out, Roach looks at war and the toll it can take from a fresh perspective, focusing on some of a soldier's most challenging adversaries  - panic, exhaustion, heat, noise  - and the scientists who seek to conquer them.

As usual, Roach immersed herself in the subject. She dodged hostile fire with a Marine Corps paintball team as part of a study on hearing loss and survivability in combat. She visited the fashion design studio of U.S. Army Natick Labs and learned why a zipper is a problem for a sniper. At a mock movie studio, she observed amputee actors helping prepare Marine Corps medics for the shock and gore of combat wounds. With these first-had experiences (and many more), she gives readers an up-close-and-personal look at a full range of soldiers' vulnerabilities and challenges, as well as ways and methods of dealing with them.   
 

Hero Of The Empire: The Boer War, A Daring Escape, And The Making Of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard. Having written previous bestsellers about James Garfield and Theodore Roosevelt, biographer Millard presents the oft-examin ed Winston Churchill from a different perspective, focusing on his extraordinary and little-known exploits during the Boer War. In 1899, at the age of 24, seeking to jump-start his political career, a confident Churchill arrived in South Africa to cover the brutal colonial war between the British and Boer rebels. But just two weeks later, he was taken prisoner. Remarkably, he pulled off a daring escape and traversed hundreds of miles of enemy territory to evade re-capture. Amazingly,after his return to England, Churchill
enlisted, returned to South Africa, fought in several battles, and ultimately liberated the men with whom he had been imprisoned. Millard brings this amazing adventure story to life, while noting the lessons Churchill took from the Boer War that would profoundly affect 20th century history.  
#1 Indie Next Pick  Offers Two Mysteries for Price of One  
 
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. The prolific Horowitz (more than 40 books published) is no stranger to the mystery genre. Among his best-known works are 
Trigger Mortis, a James Bond novel commissioned by the estate of Ian Fleming, and two Sherlock Holmes novels commissioned by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:   The House of Silk and its sequel,
Moriarty
(I loved this one). He is also the author of the bestselling Alex Rider books, a series of spy thrillers for young adults. As a television screenwriter, Horowitz created the British crime dramas   Midsomer Murders and Foyle's War. Now, with his latest effort, he is not content with giving readers merely one puzzle to solve.

Magpie Murders  pays homage to the golden age of British crime fiction and the great detectives of literature, combining a whodunit set in a small village in 1950s England with a second mystery set in the contemporary book publishing world. The two stories mirror and reference each other throughout the novel, as Horowitz uses his command of the genre (see above) to ratchet up the suspense and keep you guessing over both plots. For those looking for a double dose of whodunit this summer, Magpie Murders may be your cup of tea.  
WHERE TO FIND 
AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE

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WHY THE COLUMN?
Hi, I'm Hut Landon, and I work as a bookseller in an independent bookstore in BerkeIey, California.

My goal with this newsletter is to keep readers up to date about new books hitting the shelves, share what indie booksellers are recommending in their stores, and pass on occasional news about the book world.

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