This is one of the best crime novels I’ve read this year. It’s more literary noir than thriller, with characters you can see and hear so clearly you might start confusing them with people you actually know. Though the plot centers on the disappearance of a young girl, the real focus of the book is the neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn, and the various down-and-out souls who live there
David Leavitt’s tightly woven tale of two married couples in Lisbon in 1940 (at the time the only neutral port in Europe) pitches the pressures of war against the strain of unhappy marriage. Surrounded by desperate refugees, Julia, Pete, Edward, and Iris meet at a café and strike up a quick friendship. But an unexpected affair erupts, war looms, and not everyone makes it out alive. A brisk, tense book, expertly wrought.
I predict that this will be one of the biggest books of the year. I couldn’t stop thinking and talking about it. Five Days at Memorial recounts the hour-to-hour movements and decisions of the doctors at Memorial Medical Center following Hurricane Katrina, including the horrifying decision to inject severely ill patients with life-ending drugs. If you devoured Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, you simply must read Five Days at Memorial. It is powerful, engrossing, and essential.
It is impossible not to be moved by Chris Hadfield. He has brought the “Wow!” back into space travel, as well as the “Look at that!” and the “Can you even believe this?” His sense of wonder and amazement has earned him a huge, devoted following worldwide. His book recounts years of grueling training and the determination and creativity that made him one of the most accomplished and experienced astronauts in the world.
I have always loved collective nouns, and I am so happy that this book exists. Give it to the grammar geek in your life or to the poet who gets words stuck in her head like songs. Or give it to yourself and enjoy more than 2000 collective nouns (some delightfully obscure, like an ooze of amoebas) alongside lush and thrilling illustrations. You’ll be the highlight of every cocktail party.