Hut's Place
 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

October 20, 2019

Investigating the Rich and Powerful's Abuse of Power and a Celebration of Gutsy Women
Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow. This is one of the big buzz books right now, fueled by lots of publicity and compelling subject matter. Much has been written about sexual abuse of women in the workplace, and New Yorker investigative reporter Farrow adds to the conversation here. He writes about his pursuit of Harvey Weinstein and the eventual expose that earned Farrow a Pulitzer Prize. The book also contains his interview with the woman who accused former Today show host Matt Lauer of rape, as well as Farrow's accusations about how NBC News handled both the Weinstein and Lauer stories (the two are connected in his view). The title of the book comes from a practice made famous by the National Enquirer and well documented in these pages - buying the rights to unfavorable stories about powerful allies of the tabloid's CEO and then sitting on them (or having them destroyed) so that they never see the light of print. One of the biggest beneficiaries of this "catch and kill" tactic, asserts Farrow, was then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Ultimately, this is a book about power and how it is (mis)used and subverted by those with the power in order to protect their peers. Farrow's research is impressive, his writing compelling, and his subject matter important and timely. 
The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton. In this oversized gift book, Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea share the stories of the gutsy women who have inspired them in eassys they hope will inspire readers as well. Mother and daughter know there's plenty of work to be done to ensure the rights and opportunities of women and girls. But they also know, in Chelsea's words, "that throughout history and around the globe, women have overcome the toughest resistance imaginable to win victories that have made progress possible for all of us. That is the achievement of each of the women in this book."
The diversity of women and their accomplishments that are featured in Gutsy Women is part of the book's appeal. Civil rights activist Dorothy Height, LGBTQ trailblazer Edie Windsor, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, and young environmental activist Greta Thunberg are among the political movers and shakers profiled. But writers like Rachel Carson, Mary Beard, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, along with sports heroes such as Diana Nyad and the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, are also part of the mix. Famous names like Harriet Tubman and Malala Yousafzai mix with less well known figures like Wangari Maathai. What connects the 100 women featured here is their ability - in Hillary and Chelsea's eyes - to overcome fear, remain optimistic, and have faith that their actions could make a difference.    
Thought-Provoking Dual Narrative Offers Mix of Fact and Fiction
Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver is beloved by readers and is a longtime independent bookseller favorite, so the arrival of her newest novel in paperback is good news for both. Unsheltered focuses on two families in two different centuries, both living on the same New Jersey land and both facing changing landscapes that threaten the lives they have come to expect. Kingsolver uses different voices and moods to relate each family's struggles in alternating chapters, and her skill as a storyteller remains solid and compelling.
Not surprisingly, the book was an Indie Next pick last November; here's the review that appeared on its behalf:  
"A brilliant novel set in two different centuries, eras when lies trumped truth and superstition overruled science. Kingsolver illustrates human resiliency with insight, humor, and compassion in this deeply satisfying novel. While showing the cost of leadership built on false promises and lies, it also illustrates the strength of the human spirit with characters who will not be broken by their times. Kingsolver's characters, including historical figures Mary Treat and Charles Landis, shine as they make their way through the maze of survival set before them. Great reading."
- Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books & Music, Sunriver, OR

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

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