New York Times Bestsellers
Week of January 26, 2020
FICTION
#1  (Last Week: 1 Weeks on List: 72)  
Where The Crawdads Sing
Book Jacket   Delia Owens
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A wild child's isolated, dirt-poor upbringing in a Southern coastal wilderness fails to shield her from heartbreak or an accusation of murder."The Marsh Girl," "swamp trash"Catherine "Kya" Clark is a figure of mystery and prejudice in the remote North Carolina coastal community of Barkley Cove in the 1950s and '60s. Abandoned by a mother no longer able to endure her drunken husband's beatings and then by her four siblings, Kya grows up in the careless, sometimes-savage company of her father, who eventually disappears, too. Alone, virtually or actually, from age 6, Kya learns both to be self-sufficient and to find solace and company in her fertile natural surroundings. Owens (Secrets of the Savanna, 2006, etc.), the accomplished co-author of several nonfiction books on wildlife, is at her best reflecting Kya's fascination with the birds, insects, dappled light, and shifting tides of the marshes. The girl's collections of shells and feathers, her communion with the gulls, her exploration of the wetlands are evoked in lyrical phrasing which only occasionally tips into excess. But as the child turns teenager and is befriended by local boy Tate Walker, who teaches her to read, the novel settles into a less magical, more predictable pattern. Interspersed with Kya's coming-of-age is the 1969 murder investigation arising from the discovery of a man's body in the marsh. The victim is Chase Andrews, "star quarterback and town hot shot," who was once Kya's lover. In the eyes of a pair of semicomic local police officers, Kya will eventually become the chief suspect and must stand trial. By now the novel's weaknesses have become apparent: the monochromatic characterization (good boy Tate, bad boy Chase) and implausibilities (Kya evolves into a polymatha published writer, artist, and poet), yet the closing twist is perhaps its most memorable oddity.Despite some distractions, there's an irresistible charm to Owens' first foray into nature-infused romantic fiction. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#2  (Last Week: - Weeks on List: 1)  
Lost
Book Jacket   James Patterson and James O Born
 
#3  (Last Week: 2 Weeks on List: 2)  
Dear Edward
 Ann Napolitano
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A 12-year-old boy is the sole survivor of a plane crasha study in before and after.Edward Adler is moving to California with his adored older brother, Jordan, and their parents: Mom is a scriptwriter for television, Dad is a mathematician who is home schooling his sons. They will get no further than Colorado, where the plane goes down. Napolitano's (A Good Hard Look, 2011, etc.) novel twins the narrative of the flight from takeoff to impact with the story of Edward's life over the next six years. Taken in by his mother's sister and her husband, a childless couple in New Jersey, Edward's misery is constant and almost impermeable. Unable to bear sleeping in the never-used nursery his aunt and uncle have hastily appointed to serve as his bedroom, he ends up bunking next door, where there's a kid his age, a girl named Shay. This friendship becomes the single strand connecting him to the world of the living. Meanwhile, in alternating chapters, we meet all the doomed airplane passengers, explore their backstories, and learn about their hopes and plans, every single one of which is minutes from obliteration. For some readers, Napolitano's premise will be too dark to bear, underlining our terrible vulnerability to random events and our inability to protect ourselves or our children from the worst-case scenario while also imagining in exhaustive detail the bleak experience of survival. The people around Edward have no idea how to deal with him; his aunt and uncle try their best to protect him from the horrors of his instant celebrity as Miracle Boy. As one might expect, there is a ray of light for Edward at the end of the tunnel, and for hardier readers this will make Napolitano's novel a story of hope.Well-written and insightful but so heartbreaking that it raises the question of what a reader is looking for in fiction. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#4  (Last Week: 4 Weeks on List: 3)  
Such A Fun Age
 Kiley Reid
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The relationship between a privileged white mom and her black babysitter is strained by race-related complications.Blogger/role model/inspirational speaker Alix Chamberlain is none too happy about moving from Manhattan to Philadelphia for her husband Peter's job as a TV newscaster. With no friends or in-laws around to help out with her almost-3-year-old, Briar, and infant, Catherine, she'll never get anywhere on the book she's writing unless she hires a sitter. She strikes gold when she finds Emira Tucker. Twenty-five-year-old Emira's family and friends expect her to get going on a career, but outside the fact that she's about to get kicked off her parents' health insurance, she's happy with her part-time gigsand Briar is her "favorite little human." Then one day a double-header of racist events topples the apple cartEmira is stopped by a security guard who thinks she's kidnapped Briar, and when Peter's program shows a segment on the unusual ways teenagers ask their dates to the prom, he blurts out "Let's hope that last one asked her father first" about a black boy hoping to go with a white girl. Alix's combination of awkwardness and obsession with regard to Emira spins out of control and then is complicated by the reappearance of someone from her past (coincidence alert), where lies yet another racist event. Reid's debut sparkles with sharp observations and perfect detailsfood, dcor, clothes, social media, etc.and she's a dialogue genius, effortlessly incorporating toddler-ese, witty boyfriend-speak, and African American Vernacular English. For about two-thirds of the book, her evenhandedness with her varied cast of characters is impressive, but there's a point at which any possible empathy for Alix disappears. Not only is she shallow, entitled, unknowingly racist, and a bad mother, but she has not progressed one millimeter since high school, and even then she was worse than we thought. Maybe this was intentional, but it does make thingsha havery black and white.Charming, challenging, and so interesting you can hardly put it down. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#5  (Last Week: 5 Weeks on List: 14)  
The Guardians
Book Jacket   John Grisham
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The prolific Grisham (The Reckoning, 2018, etc.) turns in another skillfully told procedural.Pay attention to the clerical collar that Cullen Post occasionally dons in Grisham's latest legal thriller. Post comes by the garb honestly, being both priest and investigative lawyer, his Guardian Ministries devoted to freeing inmates who have been wrongly imprisoned. Says an adversary at the start of the book, learning that his conviction is about to be overturned, "Is this a joke, Post?" Post replies: "Oh sure. Nothing but laughs over here on death row." Aided by an Atlantan whom he sprang from the slam earlier, Post turns his energies to trying to do the same for Quincy Miller, a black man imprisoned for the murder of a white Florida lawyer who "had been shot twice in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun, and there wasn't much left of his face." It's to such icky details that Post's meticulous mind turns: Why a shotgun and not a pistol, as most break-ins involve? Who would have done such a thingsurely not the guy's wife, and surely not for a measly $2 million in life insurance? As Grisham strews the path with red herrings, Post, though warned off by a smart forensic scientist, begins to sniff out clues that point to a culprit closer to the courtroom bench than the sandy back roads of rural Florida. Grisham populates his yarn with occasionally goofy detailsa prosecuting attorney wants Post disbarred "for borrowing a pubic hair" from the evidence in a casebut his message is constant throughout: The "innocent people rotting away in prison" whom Post champions are there because they are black and brown, put there by mostly white jurors, and the real perp "knew that a black guy in a white town would be much easier to convict." The tale is long and sometimes plods, especially in its courtroom scenes, but it has a satisfying payoffand look out for that collar at the end.Fansand Grisham has endless numbers of themwill be pleased. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#6  (Last Week: 3 Weeks on List: 2)  
Moral Compass
Book Jacket   Danielle Steel
 
#7  (Last Week: 8 Weeks on List: 17)  
The Dutch House
 Ann Patchett
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Their mother's disappearance cements an unbreakable connection between a pair of poor-little-rich-kid siblings.Like The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer or Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach, this is a deeply pleasurable book about a big house and the family that lives in it. Toward the end of World War II, real estate developer and landlord Cyril Conroy surprises his wife, Elna, with the keys to a mansion in the Elkins Park neighborhood of Philadelphia. Elna, who had no idea how much money her husband had amassed and still thought they were poor, is appalled by the luxurious property, which comes fully furnished and complete with imposing portraits of its former owners (Dutch people named VanHoebeek) as well as a servant girl named Fluffy. When her son, Danny, is 3 and daughter, Maeve, is 10, Elna's antipathy for the place sends her on the lamfirst occasionally, then permanently. This leaves the children with the household help and their rigid, chilly father, but the difficulties of the first year pale when a stepmother and stepsisters appear on the scene. Then those problems are completely dwarfed by further misfortune. It's Danny who tells the story, and he's a wonderful narrator, stubborn in his positions, devoted to his sister, and quite clear about various errorslike going to medical school when he has no intention of becoming a doctorwhile utterly committed to them. "We had made a fetish out of our disappointment," he says at one point, "fallen in love with it." Casually stated but astute observations about human nature are Patchett's (Commonwealth, 2016, etc.) stock in trade, and she again proves herself a master of aging an ensemble cast of characters over many decades. In this story, only the house doesn't change. You will close the book half believing you could drive to Elkins Park and see it.Like the many-windowed mansion at its center, this richly furnished novel gives brilliantly clear views into the lives it contains. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#8  (Last Week: 7 Weeks on List: 33)  
The Silent Patient
 Alex Michaelides
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak."Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artistsAlicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's justI'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#9  (Last Week: 9 Weeks on List: 15)  
The Giver Of Stars
Book Jacket   Jojo Moyes
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She's just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback libraryan initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library's leader, Margery. Margery doesn't care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn't believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn't care for Alice's job or Margery's lifestyle, and he'll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.A love letter to the power of books and friendship. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#10  (Last Week: 6 Weeks on List: 2)  
Long Bright River
Book Jacket   Liz Moore
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A young Philadelphia policewoman searches for her addicted sister on the streets.The title of Moore's (The Unseen World, 2016, etc.) fourth novel refers to "a long bright river of departed souls," the souls of people dead from opioid overdoses in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Kensington. The book opens with a long paragraph that's just a list of names, most of whom don't have a role in the plot, but the last two entries are key: "Our mother. Our father." As the novel opens, narrator Mickey Fitzpatricka bright but emotionally damaged single momis responding with her partner to a call. A dead girl has turned up in an abandoned train yard frequented by junkies. Mickey is terrified that it will be her estranged sister, Kacey, whom she hasn't seen in a while. The two were raised by their grandmother, a cold, bitter woman who never recovered from the overdose death of the girls' mother. Mickey herself is awkward and tense in all social situations; when she talks about her childhood she mentions watching the other kids from the window, trying to memorize their mannerisms so she could "steal them and use them [her]self." She is close with no one except her 4-year-old son, Thomas, whom she barely sees because she works so much, leaving him with an unenthusiastic babysitter. Opioid abuse per se is not the focus of the actionthe book centers on the search for Kacey. Obsessed with the possibility that her sister will end up dead before she can find her, Mickey breaches protocol and makes a series of impulsive decisions that get her in trouble. The pace is frustratingly slow for most of the book, then picks up with a flurry of revelations and developments toward the end, bringing characters onstage we don't have enough time to get to know. The narrator of this atmospheric crime novel has every reason to be difficult and guarded, but the reader may find her no easier to bond with than the other characters do.With its flat, staccato tone and mournful mood, it's almost as if the book itself were suffering from depression. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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NONFICTION
#1  (Last Week: 1 Weeks on List: 100)  
Educated
 Tara Westover
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A recent Cambridge University doctorate debuts with a wrenching account of her childhood and youth in a strict Mormon family in a remote region of Idaho.It's difficult to imagine a young woman who, in her teens, hadn't heard of the World Trade Center, the Holocaust, and virtually everything having to do with arts and popular culture. But so it was, as Westover chronicles here in fairly chronological fashion. In some ways, the author's father was a classic anti-government paranoiacwhen Y2K failed to bring the end of the world, as he'd predicted, he was briefly humbled. Her mother, though supportive at times, remained true to her beliefs about the subordinate roles of women. One brother was horrendously abusive to the author and a sister, but the parents didn't do much about it. Westover didn't go to public school and never received professional medical care or vaccinations. She worked in a junkyard with her father, whose fortunes rose and fell and rose again when his wife struck it rich selling homeopathic remedies. She remained profoundly ignorant about most things, but she liked to read. A brother went to Brigham Young University, and the author eventually did, too. Then, with the encouragement of professors, she ended up at Cambridge and Harvard, where she excelledthough she includes a stark account of her near breakdown while working on her doctoral dissertation. We learn about a third of the way through the book that she kept journals, but she is a bit vague about a few things. How, for example, did her family pay for the professional medical treatment of severe injuries that several of them experienced? Andwith some justificationshe is quick to praise herself and to quote the praise of others.An astonishing account of deprivation, confusion, survival, and success. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#2  (Last Week: - Weeks on List: 1)  
Tightrope
 Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Pulitzer Prize winners Kristof and WuDunn (A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity, 2014, etc.) zero in on working-class woes and how to ease them.With an earnest blend of shoe-leather reporting and advocacy for social justice, the married journalists send a clear message to anyone who wants to see working-class Americans prosper: Stop blaming them for making "bad choices" and for failing to "pull themselves up by the bootstraps." While acknowledging the need for personal responsibilityand for aid from private charitiesthe authors make a forceful case that the penalties for missteps fall unequally on the rich and poor in spheres that include education, health care, employment, and the judicial system; to end the injustices, the government also must act. "After Harvey Weinstein was arrested for sexual assault following accusations by more than eighty women, he was freed on bail," they write. "In contrast, a young adult caught smoking marijuana may be unable to afford bail and stuck indefinitely in jail, losing his job and, unable to make payments, perhaps his home and car as well." In making their case, the authors describe what they saw in Kristof's hometown of Yamhill, Oregon, where the loss of well-paying union jobs and other upheavals have left a community in peril. Elsewhere, they find hope in initiatives such as the Remote Area Medical aid group, which offers free health care in Appalachia, and the Women in Recovery program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which gives some offenders counseling instead of prison time, leading to lower recidivism rates. At times, the authors sound less like print journalists than like politicians (we're wasting "America's most important resource, its people") or Oprah ("Ten Steps You Can Take in the Next Ten Minutes To Make a Difference"). Whatever the tone, the book is enhanced by the more than two dozen black-and-white photographs by award-winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario.An ardent and timely case for taking a multipronged approach to ending working-class America's long decline. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#3  (Last Week: 2 Weeks on List: 19)  
Talking To Strangers
Book Jacket   Malcolm Gladwell
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The latest intellectually stimulating book from the acclaimed author.Every few years, journalist Gladwell (David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, 2013, etc.) assembles serious scientific research on oddball yet relevant subjects and then writes a bestseller. Readers expecting another everything-you-think-you-know-is-wrong page-turner will not be disappointed, but they will also encounter some unsettling truths. The author begins with a few accounts of black Americans who died at the hands of police, using the incidents to show how most of us are incompetent at judging strangers. Countless psychological studies demonstrate that humans are terrible at detecting lying. Experts such as FBI agents don't perform better. Judges interview suspects to determine if they deserve bail; they believe it helps, but the opposite is true. Computers, using only hard data, do much better. Many people had qualms about Bernie Madoff, but interviewers found him completely open and honest; "he was a sociopath dressed up as a mensch." This, Gladwell emphasizes, is the transparency problem. We believe that someone's demeanor reflects their thoughts and emotions, but it often doesn't. Gladwell's second bombshell is what he calls "default to truth." It seems like a university president resigns in disgrace every few months for the same reason: They hear accusations of abusive behavior by an employeee.g., Larry Nassar at Michigan State, Jerry Sandusky at Penn Stateconduct an investigation, but then take no action, often claiming that they did not have enough evidence of deceit. Ultimately, everyone agrees that they were criminally negligent. Another example is CIA official James Angleton, who was convinced that there was a Soviet mole in the agency; his decades of suspicion and search ruined careers and crippled American intelligence. Gladwell emphasizes that society could not function if we did not give everyone the benefit of the doubt. "To assume the best of another is the trait that has created modern society," he writes. "Those occasions when our trusting nature is violated are tragic. But the alternativeto abandon trust as a defense against predation and deceptionis worse."Another Gladwell tour de force but perhaps his most disturbing. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#4  (Last Week: 3 Weeks on List: 58)  
Becoming
Book Jacket   Michelle Obama
 
#5  (Last Week: - Weeks on List: 1)  
Running Against The Devil
 Rick Wilson
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A wily Republican strategist rings in on the challenge facing Democrats in 2020.Political campaign consultant Wilson (Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever, 2018), who airs his views in a variety of venues, intensifies his strident excoriation of Trump with a hard-hitting assessment of Democrats' chances of winning the next presidential electiona victory that is crucial for saving the country. The author decries Trump as "a flawed, awful shitbird of the worst order" and a "political and moral monster" who will go down in history "for endemic corruption, outrageous stupidity, egregious cruelty, and inhumanity" and who has spread "moral and political contagion" and caused the collapse "of a once-great party." Trump needs to go, but Wilson fears that Democrats will hand him reelection unless they focus on 15 states critical for an Electoral College win. "You're not really running a national campaign," he insists. "You're running fifteen state campaigns." After many chapters of "robust and richly deserved Trump-bashing," the author turns to strategy, cautioning Democrats against focusing on policy. Instead, they need to attack Trump's actionse.g., a trade war that victimizes farmers, cruelty and brutality toward immigrant children, unrepentant racismand personal failings to make their case to voters who can still be swayed: "the large and growing cohort of Republican women who broke away from the GOP, and the white, Democratic men who broke for Trump in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida." These voters want a moderate; they are not youthful progressives, who, Wilson asserts, won't win Democrats the states they need. The author suggests talking points about abortion, guns, immigration, tax cuts, judges, and socialism. He warns Democrats of the threat of a third party run and underscores the importance of "a real modern, data-driven campaign" and deployment of surrogates, such as the Obamas. He offers a state-by-state game plan, homing in on pertinent issues and recommending liberal spending on targeted ads. Democrats can win, Wilson maintains; but will they?A caustically funny, outraged, and deadly serious analysis. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A wily Republican strategist rings in on the challenge facing Democrats in 2020.Political campaign consultant Wilson (Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever, 2018), who airs his views in a variety of venues, intensifies his strident excoriation of Trump with a hard-hitting assessment of Democrats' chances of winning the next presidential electiona victory that is crucial for saving the country. The author decries Trump as "a flawed, awful shitbird of the worst order" and a "political and moral monster" who will go down in history "for endemic corruption, outrageous stupidity, egregious cruelty, and inhumanity" and who has spread "moral and political contagion" and caused the collapse "of a once-great party." Trump needs to go, but Wilson fears that Democrats will hand him reelection unless they focus on 15 states critical for an Electoral College win. "You're not really running a national campaign," he insists. "You're running fifteen state campaigns." After many chapters of "robust and richly deserved Trump-bashing," the author turns to strategy, cautioning Democrats against focusing on policy. Instead, they need to attack Trump's actionse.g., a trade war that victimizes farmers, cruelty and brutality toward immigrant children, unrepentant racismand personal failings to make their case to voters who can still be swayed: "the large and growing cohort of Republican women who broke away from the GOP, and the white, Democratic men who broke for Trump in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida." These voters want a moderate; they are not youthful progressives, who, Wilson asserts, won't win Democrats the states they need. The author suggests talking points about abortion, guns, immigration, tax cuts, judges, and socialism. He warns Democrats of the threat of a third party run and underscores the importance of "a real modern, data-driven campaign" and deployment of surrogates, such as the Obamas. He offers a state-by-state game plan, homing in on pertinent issues and recommending liberal spending on targeted ads. Democrats can win, Wilson maintains; but will they?A caustically funny, outraged, and deadly serious analysis. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#6  (Last Week: 4 Weeks on List: 19)  
Maybe You Should Talk To Someone
 Lori Gottlieb
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A vivacious portrait of a therapist from both sides of the couch.With great empathy and compassion, psychotherapist and Atlantic columnist and contributing editor Gottlieb (Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, 2010, etc.) chronicles the many problems facing the "struggling humans" in her stable of therapy patients. The intimate connection between patient and therapist established through the experience of psychic suffering forms the core of the memoir, as the author plumbs the multifaceted themes of belonging, emotional pain, and healing. "Therapistsdeal with the daily challenges of living just like everyone else.Our training has taught us theories and tools and techniques, but whirring beneath our hard-earned expertise is the fact that we know just how hard it is to be a person," she writes. Through Gottlieb's stories of her sessions with a wide array of clients, readers will identify with the author as both a mid-40s single mother and a perceptive, often humorous psychotherapist. In addition to its smooth, conversational tone and frank honesty, the book is also entertainingly voyeuristic, as readers get to eavesdrop on Gottlieb's therapy sessions with intriguing patients in all states of distress. She also includes tales of her appointments with her own therapist, whom she turned to in her time of personal crisis. Success stories sit alongside poignant profiles of a newly married cancer patient's desperation, a divorced woman with a stern ultimatum for her future, and women who seem stuck in a cycle of unchecked alcoholism or toxic relationships. These episodes afford Gottlieb time for insightful reflection and self-analysis, and she also imparts eye-opening insider details on how patients perceive their therapists and the many unscripted rules psychotherapists must live by, especially when spotted in public ("often when patients see our humanity, they leave us"). Throughout, the author puts a very human face on the delicate yet intensive process of psychotherapy while baring her own demons.Saturated with self-awareness and compassion, this is an irresistibly addictive tour of the human condition. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#7  (Last Week: - Weeks on List: 1)  
Uncanny Valley
Book Jacket   Anna Wiener
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A former tech worker-turned-journalist gives the inside scoop on life inside the wickedly weird and wealthy world of Silicon Valley startups.Before Wiener took a customer support job at a San Francisco-based tech startup, she was a broke 20-something pursuing dead-end jobs in the New York publishing industry. Friends who had left the city warned her that the San Francisco they loved had been replaced by "a late capitalist hellscape" that catered to the "on-demand" whims of young techies with "plump bank accounts." Wiener quickly learned that the tech workplace was younger, more casual, and more male-dominant than she had expected. Helping company clients, she often felt like she was one step above artificial intelligence. "I was an intelligent artifice, an empathetic text, a snippet or a warm voice, giving instructions, listening comfortingly," she writes. Despite bouts of existential angst, within a year of moving west, Wiener moved into middle management and a work life that included a healthy salary as well as "an acronym and enterprise accounts." Still, her salary represented a tiny fraction of the total wealthwhich sometimes amounted to billionsshe saw generated in the high-stakes startup world around her. As she burrowed deeper into the tech world, she saw excesses that repulsed almost as much as they excited her. Quasi-autocratic corporate cultures, including her own, demanded body-and-soul loyalty for "perks" such as ultrastylish workplace surroundings, interoffice skateboarding, luxurious company retreats, and work-at-home privileges on platforms that looked like "video game[s] for children." Wiener also witnessed the ruthlessness of Silicon Valley's quest to control consumer behavior through data acquisition and the way it actively promoted men while telling females to "trust karma" when it came to advancement. Equal parts bildungsroman and insider report, this book reveals not just excesses of the tech-startup landscape, but also the Faustian bargains and hidden political agendas embedded in the so-called "inspiration culture" underlying a too-powerful industry.A funny, highly informative, and terrifying read. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#8  (Last Week: 6 Weeks on List: 9)  
Catch And Kill
Book Jacket   Ronan Farrow
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The award-winning journalist sharply illuminates how he exposed Harvey Weinstein as a serial sexual predator.Along the way, Farrow (War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence, 2018)a New Yorker contributing writer who has won the Pulitzer Prize, National Magazine Award, and George Polk Awardoffers a primer on investigative journalism, a profession that he is well on the way to mastering. For this book, he writes, he drew "on interviews with more than two hundred sources, as well as hundreds of pages of contracts, emails, and texts, and dozens of hours of audio." As the son of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, the author has wrestled for years with allegations of sexual assault in his own family, leveled by his sister Dylan against their father. During his investigation of Weinsteinand later, multiple high-level sexual predators within NBCFarrow had to fend off complaints that he was too close to the story. Along the investigative path, the author sought insight from his sister and relied on the steadfast support of his partner. Though Farrow and his producer believed their pursuit of Weinstein had the blessing of the top brass at NBC, they gradually learned that Weinstein was using his massive influence to sabotage the investigation. Consequently, the author took his work to the New Yorker, where editor David Remnick provided a venue for him to present his story. Ultimately, Weinstein was arrested. In addition to chronicling his work on the Weinstein project, Farrow also discusses the transgressions of Donald Trump and Matt Lauer. At times, the book is difficult to read, mainly because Weinstein, Trump, Lauer, and other powerful men victimized so many women while those who knew about the assaults stayed quiet. Nonetheless, this is an urgent, significant book that pairs well with She Said by New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. Both books are top-notch accounts filled with timeless insights about investigative journalism, on a par with classics from Seymour Hersh and Bob Woodward.A meticulously documented, essential work. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#9  (Last Week: 5 Weeks on List: 14)  
Me
 Elton John
  Book Jacket
#10  (Last Week: 10 Weeks on List: 2)  
Successful Aging
 Daniel J Levitin
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. An enthusiastic review of old and new research into the means of extending life.Neuroscientist Levitin (Emeritus, Psychology and Neuroscience/McGill Univ.; A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age, 2016) emphasizes "that it is the interactions of genes, culture, and opportunity that are the biggest determinants of the trajectory our lives take; how our brains will change; and whether or not we'll be healthy, engaged, and happy throughout the lifespan." He adds that since our years are divided into what he calls "healthspan" and "diseasespan," we should aim to prolong the former. As background, he devotes more than half the text to a fine overview of brain function, human physiology, and psychology that supports his point. Good genes are necessary but not sufficient; upbringing and environment play an essential role, and both work best if one takes advantage of opportunities. Real science books have minuscule audiences compared with books that promise the secrets of perfect health; Levitin, a genuine scientist, aims to enjoy the best of both worlds. Some of his breathless prescriptions are old favoriteshappy people live longer; eat mostly plants; have lots of friends; don't retirebut he relies heavily on legitimate science, so readers will encounter life-extenders supported by studies (although not in humans) such as calorie restriction, metformin, and rapamycin, as well as long-in-the-tooth favorites like antioxidants and fish oil, which he advocates for while admitting that recent studies are not impressive. Warning against popular nonsense, the author nevertheless includes a generous selection of nutrients, lifestyles, and pharmaceuticals supported by little more than reasonable theories or obsessively health-conscious colleagues. Levitin seems to underestimate his skill as an educator, and he has written a lucid explanation of brain and body function. His longevity advice has plenty of competition, especially David Sinclair's Lifespan, but this book's breadth is impressive.Excellent popular science in the service of fending off aging. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. An enthusiastic review of old and new research into the means of extending life.Neuroscientist Levitin (Emeritus, Psychology and Neuroscience/McGill Univ.; A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age, 2016) emphasizes "that it is the interactions of genes, culture, and opportunity that are the biggest determinants of the trajectory our lives take; how our brains will change; and whether or not we'll be healthy, engaged, and happy throughout the lifespan." He adds that since our years are divided into what he calls "healthspan" and "diseasespan," we should aim to prolong the former. As background, he devotes more than half the text to a fine overview of brain function, human physiology, and psychology that supports his point. Good genes are necessary but not sufficient; upbringing and environment play an essential role, and both work best if one takes advantage of opportunities. Real science books have minuscule audiences compared with books that promise the secrets of perfect health; Levitin, a genuine scientist, aims to enjoy the best of both worlds. Some of his breathless prescriptions are old favoriteshappy people live longer; eat mostly plants; have lots of friends; don't retirebut he relies heavily on legitimate science, so readers will encounter life-extenders supported by studies (although not in humans) such as calorie restriction, metformin, and rapamycin, as well as long-in-the-tooth favorites like antioxidants and fish oil, which he advocates for while admitting that recent studies are not impressive. Warning against popular nonsense, the author nevertheless includes a generous selection of nutrients, lifestyles, and pharmaceuticals supported by little more than reasonable theories or obsessively health-conscious colleagues. Levitin seems to underestimate his skill as an educator, and he has written a lucid explanation of brain and body function. His longevity advice has plenty of competition, especially David Sinclair's Lifespan, but this book's breadth is impressive.Excellent popular science in the service of fending off aging. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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