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 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

November 4, 2018

New In Paperback - Insightful Essays on Race and A Memoir About How Emotional Memory Affects Writing
  
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
The autho r of the seminal memoir Between the World and Me returned to bookstore shelves last Fall with an incisive collection of essays written over the past decade. The book features writings first published in The Atlantic, including "Fear of a Black President," "The Case for Reparations," and "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration," along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates's own experiences, observations, and intellectual development. The selected writings examine the threads between the unprecedented election of Barack Obama and what fueled the election of Donald Trump, who Coates argues is America's "first white president."
   
We Were Eight Years in Power garnered a slew of rave reviews, including one from The Christian Science Monitor, which wrote in part: "Ta-Nehisi Coates has once again elegantly reified the way that the legacy of slavery continues to inform America's cultural, economic, and political fabric, and how the concept of white privilege is baked into our nation's collective cake ...less homily than apologia, more reportage than polemic. It is a bold statement, painstakingly researched, which, when considering the chaotic state of race relations in our country today, adds considerable intellectual ballast to an unsteady American ship." 
 
 
Where the Past Begins: Memory and Imagination by Amy Tan. Long before Crazy Rich Asians, there was The Joy Luck Club - a modern-day classic that explored Chinese American experiences through mother-daughter relationships. That book made Tan a writing star, but she proved she was anything but a one-hit wonder with novels like The Kitchen God's Wife, The Bonesetter's Daughter, The Valley of Amazement, and two children's books. She also published a memoir called The Opposite of Fate, but 15 years later Tan decided she had more to say about her life and wrote Where the Past Begins. This effort digs deeper into her family memories than her first autobiography, as she shares vivid memories of her traumatic childhood, confessions of self-doubt in her journals, and heartbreaking letters to and from her mother. Tan also describes how digging up these memories has defined her idiosyncratic writing style and shares thoughts about her writing process (including an engaging series of exchanges with her editor). Her candor about her difficult familial relationships - especially with her mother - and various illnesses that have plagued her over the years add emotional depth to Tan's story of how emotional memory can make a writer better. 
New Wellness Resort May Not Prove Good for Their Health 
 
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty.
If you're feeling a bit 'heavy' after reading about the books above, how about a fun escapist read from the author of Big Little Lies, The Husband's Secret, and Truly Madly Guilty? Australian novelist Moriarty is known for her clever mixing of humor and suspense, and she's done it again with this one. Nine Perfect Strangers is set at a wellness retreat called Tranquillum House, which seems like the ideal place for rest, relaxation and repair. At least that's what the nine guests who land there are hoping for. The group, which includes, among others, a formerly best-selling romance novelist, a pair of lottery winners who can't handle their new fortune,  a family reeling from the loss of their son; and a mother of four daughters whose husband left her for a younger woman.
 
For all of them, the isolated but ritzy Tranquillum House seems like the perfect getaway, but none of them are aware (at the outset, anyway) that the retreat's high powered and marginally stable owner wants to try out a new "protocol" that will revolutionize the wellness industry. That's all I'll say, except that Moriarty's track record is solid and anticipation for the book has been quite high.  
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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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