Lily McLemore

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Give the jokester in your life something to laugh about this holiday season by wrapping up one of these hilarious books. Because what’s better than the gift of laughter?

EMBRACE YOUR INNER GLUTTON
Jim Gaffigan offers up a tender ode to everyone’s most reliable lover in Food: A Love Story. The stand-up comedian and best-selling author (Dad Is Fat) simply wants to tell you how much he adores eating. And really, there’s no better man to take you on a tour de fat. “I can’t stop eating. I can’t. I haven’t been hungry in 12 years,” he tells us. Gaffigan goes over just about every aspect of the food world in chapters ranging from “The Buffet Rule,” in which he accepts the implicit challenge of the all-you-can-eat buffet, to “He’s Here!,” an homage to the beauty of food delivery. He also offers helpful advice on food choices, such as an informative guide to sausage and this pearl of wisdom concerning oysters: “I make a rule to not eat things that also make jewelry.” If you’re a big fan of Gaffigan, you may recognize some of the vignettes from his stand-up routines, but Food remains one of the funniest books about eating out there. If there’s someone in your life who may love tacos more than they love you, this is the book for them.

ODDBALL HUMOR
There are some freaky looking animals out there, and in WTF, Evolution?!: A Theory of Unintelligible Design, Mara Grunbaum presents her hypotheses on why Evolution, personified as a well-meaning blunderbuss, made some of Earth’s most bizarre creatures. The most probable answer? Evolution was overworked, very tired and probably a little drunk. Alongside more than 100 photos of strange animals, Evolution attempts to explain its reasons for creating creatures such as the uninspired sea potato, the duck-billed platypus and the truly unfortunate pigbutt worm. And if you thought humans were at the top of the evolutionary totem pole, think again. Evolution attests that its proudest accomplishment is the incredibly resilient, microscopic and strangely adorable tardigrade.

POSITIVELY POEHLER
Amy Poehler—“Saturday Night Live” alum, star of “Parks and Recreation” and third runner-up for the title of “Most Casual” in high school—has blessed us with her first book, Yes Please. A collection of essays, personal blunders, advice and even haiku, it is perhaps best described as a scrapbook of generally hilarious thoughts and experiences. Poehler shares the tale of her journey to comedic success, a few seminal childhood anecdotes and the behind-the-scenes scoop on her nine-year run on “SNL.” “Antonio Banderas smelled the best of any host,” she confides. But this book is more than just funny—it’s poignant, thoughtful and inspiring. Yes Please is divided into three parts: “Say Whatever You Want,” “Do Whatever You Like” and “Be Whoever You Are.” By the end of the book, you will want to do all three.

 

This article was originally published in the December 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

Give the jokester in your life something to laugh about this holiday season by wrapping up one of these hilarious books. Because what’s better than the gift of laughter?
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It’s one of America’s most iconic pieces of literature, and now, 55 years after its publication, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has a companion.

In February, seemingly out of nowhere, HarperCollins Publishers announced on behalf of Harper Lee, 89, that her second book, Go Set a Watchman, would be published on July 14.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird has never been out of print since it was published in 1960, and it is one of the most enduring, beloved American novels ever written. Told from the perspective of 6-year-old Scout Finch, the novel follows the rape trial of Tom Robinson, an innocent black man; his lawyer and Scout’s father, Atticus; and the trial’s effect on Scout and the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama. Go Set a Watchman unfolds 20 years after the events of To Kill a Mockingbird and focuses on the adult Scout as she returns home to visit her father. Upon her return, she struggles with her feelings toward her hometown’s residents and its past, as well as her changing relationship with her father and his beliefs.

Calling Go Set a Watchman a “new” book from the reclusive literary legend is a stretch, however. It was Lee’s first attempt at a novel and was written in the mid-1950s, before To Kill a Mockingbird. Upon reading the manuscript, her editor suggested that she expand Scout’s intriguing recollections of her childhood into a novel. Eventually, this became To Kill a Mockingbird. The early novel was redis- covered by Lee’s lawyer in 2014 and is being published as it was originally written. In a statement released by her lawyer, Lee says, “I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.

Although To Kill a Mockingbird was published to immense critical praise, Lee has refused to embrace stardom, rarely making public appearances or granting interviews. Instead, she has chosen a secluded life in her small hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. The private author has said very little about Go Set a Watchman, but she did send a note to a particularly persistent journalist. Her handwritten message? “Go away!”

After the initial excitement about the announcement of Lee’s new book, many voiced concerns that HarperCollins was taking advantage of the 89-year-old author. It seemed to some a bit too coincidental that the novel was announced a year after the death of Lee’s sister, lawyer and trusted confidante, Alice. The state of Alabama looked into concerns of elder abuse, but concluded that the claims were unfounded. Lee herself adamantly denied these accusations in a statement: “I’m alive and kicking and happy as hell with the reactions to [Go Set a] Watchman.” The novel has an initial print run of 2 million, and it is the most pre-ordered book in HarperCollins’ history.

 

This article was originally published in the July 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

It’s one of America’s most iconic pieces of literature, and now, 55 years after its publication, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has a companion.
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The holidays can be a bit stressful, but luckily, laughter is an excellent stress reliever! So crack open one of the three books below and crack up around the Christmas tree.

HILARIOUS HOLIDAY ANGST
Nothing says the holidays like a nice fire, a warm cup of cocoa and getting into a massive fight with your family. Jen Mann, author of the wickedly funny People I Want to Punch in the Throat, feels your holiday-fueled pain. In her latest collection of essays, Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat, she gleefully skewers Santa and all of his obnoxious Christmas acolytes. Mann grew up in a family of “holiday overachievers” (her mother has hundreds of Santa figurines), but even as a child, she was done with the excessive cheer and holiday perfectionism. In her book, she lambastes the humblebrag-filled Christmas letter, overzealous carolers and parents bent on giving their precious ones the perfect holiday. With Mann as my companion in animosity, I can feel a little less guilty about hating the holidays and dismiss it all with a good laugh.

BASSOON SOLO
You probably recognize Rainn Wilson as the galling Dwight Schrute from “The Office,” the hugely popular NBC TV show about the lives of a bunch of paper-pushers in Pennsylvania (indeed, “Dwight” writes the foreword), but Wilson delves deeper with The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy. Born as a “large-headed, pale horror” to admittedly odd, proto-hippie parents (hence the name “Rainn”) in Seattle, Wilson blossomed into a star high school athlete and had lots of girlfriends. Just kidding: He became a Dungeons & Dragons master and took up the bassoon. Filled with genuinely fascinating stories about his unusual upbringing, his entrée into the comedy world and his thoughtfully developed views on life, Wilson’s book is an unsurprisingly funny and surprisingly poignant entry in the cavalcade of celebrity memoirs. 

WISECRACKING
Jason Gay, the Wall Street Journal’s blithe and beloved sports columnist, offers up some excellent, if nontraditional, life advice in his hilarious Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living. Based on his popular “Rules” column, this book is filled with, as he writes, “both practical and ridiculous” advice, like his belief that everyone should allot a little more money to flowers, that one should never rent a PT Cruiser while on vacation and that the goal of attaining total happiness is total hogwash. Gay’s tidbits of hard-earned, unexpected advice and musings are truly hilarious, but as he reflects on his relationships with his loved ones and the big moments in his life, they’re also incredibly touching. Gay is a gifted writer, and I would say this book is a big victory. 

 

This article was originally published in the November 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

The holidays can be a bit stressful, but luckily, laughter is an excellent stress reliever! So crack open one of the three books below and crack up around the Christmas tree.
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Looking for a gift for that oddball friend or family member? You may have a holiday hit on your hands if you wrap up one of these books.

GRAB BAG
Abbi Jacobson takes a peek into the bags, pockets and wallets of celebrities, fictional heroes and various notable people in Carry This Book. Jacobson is the co-creator and star of Comedy Central’s absurd and hilarious “Broad City,” which follows two best friends as they clumsily navigate life in New York City. But Jacobson isn’t just a comedy genius, she’s also a talented illustrator. This book takes readers on an anthropological journey, using colored-pen illustrations to depict items that Jacobson imagines might be revealed when people (both real and fictional) lay their baggage on the table. Oprah carries a notepad so she can scribble down inspiring quotes (from herself), Barbie carries her NASA astronaut card, Bernie Madoff carries a few spare $4,000 pens. Jacobson labels and annotates the detritus of her subjects with wry commentary on the secret worlds that are exposed by the things we carry around. 

DON’T MENTION IT
When you think of the Victorian era, do you picture well-mannered women in dramatic dresses, à la The Phantom of the Opera, perhaps reading some Charlotte Brontë? If you want to keep that vision intact, skip Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners. If you want to discover the truth, however, follow Therese Oneill, your guide to the intimate rituals of life as a Victorian woman, from painting your face with lead for a youthful (and highly toxic) glow to the fact that turning your gloves inside out means “I hate you” and dropping your parasol means you’re in love. Oneill doesn’t shy away from the unsavory aspects of Victorian life, such as the excrement-filled streets, the toxic water and the scarcity of proper bathrooms. Who knew toilets (or the lack of them) could be so entertaining?

WE’RE ALL MAD HERE
Get ready to discover the real you with Psycho-book: Games, Tests, Questionnaires, Histories edited by Julian Rothenstein. Within this book, you’ll find a full spectrum of psychological tests, dating from the conception of psychological testing to the present day. Each test is beautifully illustrated with examples, from the famous Rorschach inkblots to the less popular Odor Imagination Test, in which subjects were asked to tell a story after smelling various items—sour milk, for example. Feedback on the results of many of the tests is provided in the back of the book, although Psychobook warns against using personality tests as a tool for assessing mental health: The definition of what’s normal is (thankfully) very flexible. However, this book can be used as a tool to dive deep into your beliefs about yourself and others. You might want to bring some friends along for the journey—although you may discover more about them than you ever wanted to know.

 

This article was originally published in the November 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

Looking for a gift for that oddball friend or family member? You may have a holiday hit on your hands if you wrap up one of these books.
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There’s always at least one puzzler on everyone’s gift list: your friend’s niece, your new in-law, your co-worker’s husband who’s coming to Christmas dinner. These four books err on the side of delightfully weird, and they’re bound to fit some oddball on your list!

(Illustration from Literally Me by Julie Houts.)

For a certain sect of young women, Julie Houts speaks—or rather, draws—the sometimes painful, always hilarious truth, and she’s gathered her truths in Literally Me. It may not be for you, but it’s definitely, literally perfect for someone you know. Houts, a designer at J. Crew and a skilled illustrator, initially found her audience on Instagram, and her clever, detailed drawings and satirical captions hit on everything a modern woman faces: nail polish decisions (Illiterate Sex Kitten or Skinny Ditz?), wine selections (hint: the pink one is the fun one), the arrival of the four horsewomen of the apocalypse at Coachella, conversations with a large, imaginary rat about your desires and fears—you know, the usual stuff. If you’ve got a smart, funny, slightly strange lady in your life, chances are she’ll find plenty to relate to in Houts’ charmingly off-kilter collection of drawings and essays.  

JOLLY BROLLY
Consider the umbrella. It’s an odd little contraption, and I’ve thoughtlessly lost more than I can count. But the umbrella has been around, in some fashion, for millennia and has shaded the domes of pharaohs and queens. The symbolic promise of an umbrella is rich for authors—just think of the metaphor possibilities!—and it makes cameo appearances in the writings of Dickens, Nietzsche and many more. Marion Rankine’s delightful Brolliology: The History of the Umbrella in Life and Literature unfurls the world of umbrellas, instilling an unexpected appreciation for these handy accessories in its readers. The book is also filled with illustrations and plenty of fascinating facts to pull out when conversation lulls—say, at a holiday dinner when you’re seated next to your wife’s boss.

LIFE’S A BEACH
John Hodgman’s Vacationland was recently listed as the #1 New Release in Maine Travel Guides on Amazon. Do not be fooled—with essays that touch on topics like proper etiquette at a rural Massachusetts trash dump, grotesque giant clams and the pain-inducing powers of Maine beaches, Vacationland is anything but a travel guide. Multi­talented actor, bestselling author and former “Daily Show” correspondent Hodgman takes us along as he struggles with deep-rooted anxieties and fears about aging, fatherhood and more in various dismal New England settings. The deadpan Hodgman is an excellent writer, reminding readers of David Sedaris with his self-deprecating style of comedy as he reflects on life with a sincerity that comes close to heartbreaking, but swerves at the last moment to hit the punchline.

DO NO HARM
What’s a great way to deal with blood loss? Why, bloodletting, of course! This is just one of the many “cures” described in the entertaining catalog of terrible treatments Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything. In amusing yet informative, well-researched style, Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen cover the many supposed healing qualities of toxic mercury; gladiators’ blood as an epilepsy cure; the vomit-inducing toxin antimony, which would really clear out your system and was allegedly enjoyed by Captain James Cook; and the use of the melted fat of corpses as a salve in the 1700s. After perusing this book, you’ll be thankful you live in this century—and wondering what modern miracle will be considered utter quackery come the next.

 

This article was originally published in the November 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

There’s always at least one puzzler on everyone’s gift list: your friend’s niece, your new in-law, your co-worker’s husband who’s coming to Christmas dinner. These four books err on the side of delightfully weird, and they’re bound to fit some oddball on your list!

It’s officially the month to be spooky, and you can only watch so many classic horror reruns each year, so why not try a fresh, new story? From spine-tingling tales for the hard-to-scare to books with just a touch of terror, we’ve got the Halloween read for you.


Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghosts
By Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose

The guts of the tale: Before his death in June 2018, beloved bad-boy chef and comic lover Anthony Bourdain had wrapped up work on this comic anthology of tales of haunted chefs and bedeviled diners with his Get Jiro! collaborator and friend, Joel Rose. Filled with gruesome art from some of the comic world’s top horror artists and inspired by Japanese folklore, the collection is centered on a group of chefs who take turns telling increasingly horrifying tales of spirits like Hidarugami, the ravenous souls of those who starved to death, or Jikininki, ghouls who feast on the dead.

Bone-chilling quote: “There’s just something about horseflesh. I crave it.”

For fans of: The Tales from the Crypt and Haunt of Fear comic series or anyone interested in the legacy of Bourdain, whom Rose lovingly calls “the hungriest ghost of them all” in a dedication penned after the chef’s death.

Costume inspiration: Check out the glossary filled with legendary Japanese spirits like Yuki-Onna, a beautiful spirit with a deadly kiss.

Spook-o-meter: 


Dracul
By Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker

The guts of the tale: Dacre Stoker, the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, and established horror author J.D. Barker (The Fourth Monkey) have teamed up to pen this prequel of sorts to Dracula, the 1897 vampire novel that kicked off the still-fervent fascination with the Count. In keeping with the classic’s epistolary style, Dracul is written as journal entries and features Bram himself as the protagonist. This delightfully gothic tale is packed with gore and atmosphere.

Bone-chilling quote: “He smiled at me and tapped on the glass again with his fingernails. His nails were long and yellow, hideously so. Oh, and his teeth! . . . His lips were curled back like those of a snarling dog, and his teeth were like fangs. He licked at his lips and said my name. He said it so quietly, as if mouthing it, yet I heard him perfectly, as if he were right next to me.”

For fans of: Dracula by Bram Stoker (duh), The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova or Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield.

Costume inspiration: This one’s obvious: Grab a cape and some plastic fangs!

Spook-o-meter: 


The Witch of Willow Hall
By Hester Fox

The guts of the tale: Equal parts romantic and supernaturally chilling, Hester Fox’s sweeping tale is set in 1821 New England, two centuries after the infamous Salem witch trials. But it looks like the witches were real after all, and young Lydia Montrose has the lineage and burgeoning power to prove it. A creepy estate, juicy scandal, family secrets, ghosts and a handsome yet mysterious suitor make this a satisfying and quietly foreboding tale that never gets too dark.

Bone-chilling quote: “It’s a slow moan, a keening wail. The sound is so wretched that it’s the culmination of every lost soul and groan of cold wind that has ever swept the earth.”

For fans of: Deborah Harkness, Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, Jane Eyre and “Charmed.”

Costume inspiration: A witch from the era of your choosing.

Spook-o-meter: 


Llewellyn’s Little Book of Halloween
By Mickie Mueller

The guts of the tale: This little book is a history of Halloween, a party-planning inspiration and a book of charms all rolled into one. Mickie Mueller provides insight into Halloween’s origins, along with simple spells (sprinkle thyme in your shoes for courage), recipes and decor ideas that are perfect for your own gathering of spirits.

Bone-chilling quote: “Bats have been a longtime symbol of Halloween, and it’s not because they’re scary; I’ve met a few, and they’re really not.” (Which sounds exactly like something a bat disguised as a human would say!)

For fans of: All things Halloween!

Costume inspiration: Something classic, like a sheet-clad ghost.

Spook-o-meter: 

Devil’s Day
By Andrew Michael Hurley

The guts of the tale: John thought he had escaped the superstitious ways of the wild English countryside. Yet when his grandfather dies, he is pulled back into his family’s tiny farming community, where strange things have been occurring. Has the devil slipped in among the flocks of sheep? Or has the devil always been among them? This atmospheric, eerie novel is perfect for a rainy night in.

Bone-chilling quote: “Days were late to lighten and quick to end and people began to die. The older folk first, coughing up their lungs in shreds like tomato skins, and then the children, burning with fever.”

For fans of: Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekbäck, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent or Hurley’s previous book, The Loney.

Costume inspiration: A wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Spook-o-meter: 

This article was originally published in the October 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

It’s officially the month to be spooky, and you can only watch so many classic horror reruns each year, so why not try a fresh, new story? From spine-tingling tales for the hard-to-scare to books with just a touch of terror, we’ve got the Halloween read for you.

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We all have a few delightfully odd friends or family members: your nephew who just moved back from New Zealand after 14 years herding sheep, your conspiracy-theorist cousin, your friend who’s always mastering some obscure talent. These five books might be the perfect solution to the riddle of what to get the person on your list who’s just a little . . . out there.

You were hoping to witness our ancient ancestors in action thousands of years ago. But then your time machine broke, and now you are stranded among people whose sole form of communication seems to be grunting. Thankfully, though, you have a handbook: How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler, written by bestselling author and computational linguistics expert Ryan North. And luckily for any stranded time wanderers, North is incredibly funny, so you’ll be entertained while inventing fundamental technology for your fellow, albeit less-developed, man. This guide offers everything you need to build a civilization in no time (relatively speaking, as it took our ancestors 150,000 years to figure out how to talk). North covers language invention (English is not suggested; it’s kind of a wreck), measurements and horseshoes (which allow horses to work comfortably year-round, and as North writes, putting shoes on an animal “honestly seems like one of our most adorable achievements”). Avoid the pitfalls of our ancestors with this handy guide.

© The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons / Cartoon by Victoria Roberts.

 

COMICALLY SPEAKING
It’s OK. We know your secret. Sometimes, life gets busy, and all you have time to read in the New Yorker are the cartoons—in fact, the cartoons may be your favorite part of the famed literary magazine. We have a feeling there’s more than a few people harboring this secret, and for them, there’s The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons: A Semi-serious A-to-Z Archive, a handsome, two-volume, slip-cased collection spanning nearly 10 decades and featuring almost 3,000 cartoons from the magazine. Each was chosen for inclusion by Bob Mankoff, the cartoon editor of the New Yorker from 1997-2017. There’s no lack of humor in its format either, as it is divided alphabetically into sections such as Crash Test Dummies, Elvis, Grim Reapers, Kayaks, Octopuses, Wise Man on the Mountain and (of course) Psychiatrists.

DAZZLE THEM
Do you ever feel that holiday comedown, after all the presents have been unwrapped and the coffee pot is empty? It’s only 10 a.m.—what do you do with the rest of the day, and how can you keep the kids from falling under the spell of their phones? Allan Zola Kronzek has provided the answer: a little magic. In Grandpa Magic: 116 Easy Tricks, Amazing Brainteasers, and Simple Stunts to Wow the Grandkids, Kronzek shows readers how to use everyday items like straws, cards, coins, toothpicks and even dinner rolls in simple tricks and sleights of hand that are fun, easy to master and guaranteed to impress a range of ages. And don’t worry, you don’t have to have grandchildren to enjoy this book. Illustrations of Kronzek, as your genial grandpa guide, provide instructions for the tricks, and Kronzek includes riddles and brainteasers of varying degrees of difficulty as well. By dinnertime, everyone will have a few new tricks up their sleeves.

ROAD TRIPPING
Despite being the creator and star of Comedy Central’s very funny “Broad City” with her friend Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson is a private, contemplative person, more comfortable alone than in a crowd. In her 30s, she fell in love for the first time—and then, just as suddenly, the relationship was over. She was devastated, and after struggling through the fourth season of “Broad City,” she got in her car and drove across the country to reaffirm her identity as independent and capable. In her vulnerable yet laugh-out-loud collection of essays, I Might Regret This, Jacobson shares her thoughts on love, heartbreak, insecurities, tiny coffee cups, snacks and a lot more. It’s the perfect gift for any “Broad City” fan, and it wonderfully captures Jacobson’s voice in all of its kind, slightly neurotic, tangent-prone hilarity. She also narrates the audiobook, making it ideal for someone going on their own road trip of self-discovery.

MATH FIENDS
If you know a numbers or logic lover, The Riddler by Oliver Roeder, the puzzle editor for the statistics and analysis website FiveThirtyEight, was crafted for them. These puzzles aren’t for the faint of heart, though. They’ll test your geometry, logic and probability skills, and thankfully, Roeder provides thorough, entertaining answers to each puzzle. If you’re not currently working at NASA, you will probably need to think outside the box to solve these puzzles. Mind-bending questions ask you to consider the radius of a martini glass, Bayes’ theorem, the probability of a house being robbed in a town full of thieves and more. Just like a few loved ones on your gift list, The Riddler is a puzzler, indeed.

 

This article was originally published in the November 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

We all have a few delightfully odd friends or family members: your nephew who just moved back from New Zealand after 14 years herding sheep, your conspiracy-theorist cousin, your friend who’s always mastering some obscure talent. These five books might be the perfect solution to the riddle of what to get the person on your list who’s just a little . . . out there.

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Personal finance can be a fraught subject for anyone, but if you came of age during the 2008 economic meltdown, it can be downright terrifying. Instead of facing it head-on, many young Americans don’t talk about what’s going on in their bank accounts, and as a result, they don’t know the first thing about personal finance. Pundits are fond of telling the under-35 crowd that they need to stop buying their precious avocado toast if they ever want to buy a house, but in Bad with Money: The Imperfect Art of Getting Your Financial Sh*t Together, 30-year-old comedian, author and financial podcast host Gaby Dunn makes it clear that the financial hurdles and morphing job market faced by her fellow millennials are far more difficult to navigate than the ones faced by their parents. 

Silently struggling with your finances while feeling guilty and ashamed about your lack of know-how won’t get you anywhere, and Dunn advises that letting go of those feelings is the first step toward a brighter, more bountiful bank statement. She lays out the basics of how finances work with good humor and friendly prose, clarifying the perplexing and cryptic language of taxes, 401Ks and investing while offering advice on how to create a budget, choose a credit card, find an insurance plan and manage young America’s kryptonite: student loan debt. Dunn admits that she used to be terrible with money, but she learned a lot through her various money missteps, and she wants to share that hard-earned wisdom with the financially clueless out there. Anyone overwhelmed by the murky, flawed system of finances in America will find an honest, helpful guide in Dunn. 

Elizabeth White represents a different demographic of the financially unmoored. She has worked at the World Bank, holds an MBA from Harvard and started her own company with her mother. After eight years and the dissolution of that company, she re-entered the job market at age 47, certain that her stellar resume would land her a job fairly quickly. But years went by with no steady source of income. Short, unfulfilling job stints and freelance work saw her turning 60 with a rapidly dwindling number in her bank account and rapidly rising panic. She was broke, and she was ashamed. Looking around, she realized that her private shame was something many older, former professionals were quietly carrying with them as well. But no one was talking about it, and no one knew what to do. 

In 55, Underemployed, and Faking Normal: Your Guide to a Better Life, White offers advice, exercises and tips for the millions of Americans in their 50s and 60s who have unexpectedly found themselves struggling to stay afloat. But perhaps most importantly, she provides hope and empowerment. Throughout this book, White includes quotes and stories from boomers who are figuring out their next step, bringing home the powerful and important message: You are not alone. This is a deeply empathetic, informative and accessible book from a woman who understands—because she’s been there. 

Perhaps an antidote to financial frustration is to understand, fundamentally, how we arrived at our current financial landscape and where our world economy can go from here. Renowned English economist and social science expert Paul Collier takes a broad view of our economic climate in The Future of Capitalism: Facing the New Anxieties and asks the big questions: How did we get here, and what do we do now? Collier lays bare the inherited flaws of Western society’s corrupted capitalism and how it has failed us. As the gap between the rich and the poor grows wider, other divisions become more pronounced, and contempt blossoms. In such an environment, something must change—and soon. Collier eschews political partisanship, instead presenting practical, deeply researched arguments for ethics-based capitalism to heal a deeply fissured society. Bringing morality and ethics back into the economic and public-policy discourse is the only solution. 

 

This article was originally published in the January 2019 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

Taking an honest look at your financial situation can provoke a panoply of unpleasant emotions, and let’s be honest—finances are boring. Understanding the complex, jargon-filled American financial system can be difficult, but these three new books work to dispel the mysteries and put you on a course to a more stable, realistic financial future.
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Dead girls: They’re everywhere. Television shows like “Twin Peaks” and “True Detective” are built around them, true crime shows and books investigate their deaths, and mystery novels hunt down their killers. The American public seems to be obsessed with murdered women. In her debut essay collection, Dead Girls, Alice Bolin contemplates why popular culture is fascinated by silenced women, while also exploring literature, misogyny, graveyards, the genius and tragedy of Britney Spears and the unglamorous side of the California dream.

The dead girl of popular culture is almost always viewed as a mere catalyst for others’ growth. But her own life? Eh, not so important. The dead girl is merely a prop, and she can be cast as whatever the male protagonist desires—a mysterious nymphet, a sex fiend or an innocent schoolgirl—but she is almost always white, young and pretty. “The victim’s body is a neutral arena on which to work out male problems,” Bolin writes. What does it say about our society that we are so enthralled by male violence and dead or abused women? Nothing good.

Informed by the literature of Raymond Chandler, Joan Didion and others, as well as films, television shows and other pop culture ephemera, Bolin branches out, exploring toxic masculinity, myths of femininity and the American West, where, if media is to be believed, serial killers and neo-Nazis roam freely in the dense woods of the Pacific Northwest or disappear into isolated desert towns.

Bolin does not hesitate to inspect her own stigmas and beliefs—she’s watched her fair share of “Dateline.” Her dryly humorous, deeply researched collection is a thoughtful critique of American culture and its disparate and disturbing fixations and fears.

 

This article was originally published in the July 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

Dead girls: They’re everywhere. Television shows like “Twin Peaks” and “True Detective” are built around them, true crime shows and books investigate their deaths, and mystery novels hunt down their killers. The American public seems to be obsessed with murdered women. In her debut essay collection, Dead Girls, Alice Bolin contemplates why popular culture is fascinated by silenced women, while also exploring literature, misogyny, graveyards, the genius and tragedy of Britney Spears and the unglamorous side of the California dream.

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Susan Mallery makes a second visit to her Mischief Bay series in The Friends We Keep, which follows three best friends living in a sunny California town as they confront questions about motherhood, marriage and love. Reading a Mallery book is like catching up with old friends, and her latest has all the warmth her readers have come to love.

Pilates instructor Nicole, whom Mallery acolytes will remember from The Girls of Mischief Baythe first book of the series, is fresh off a divorce and wondering if she should risk her heart—and the heart of her young son—on a promising new romance. Gentle Hayley is desperate for a baby, but her near-sighted drive to get pregnant is putting a strain on her health, her finances and her relationship with her very concerned husband. Meanwhile, Gabby is gearing up for a return to the workplace after spending the past five years raising her twins and playing the role of bad cop with her 15-year-old stepdaughter, Makayla. Gabby has spent those five years putting other people first, and she’s looking forward to having some time away from the house, the pets, the husband and the kids as a working woman. Gabby’s relationship with the difficult Makayla has always been strained, but when Makayla reveals a shocking secret, Gabby worries that she's about to be pushed well beyond her breaking point.

Some of the strings of this story are tied up a little too neatly, but Mallery isn’t one to shy away from the realities of day-to-day life—love handles, sick kids, laundry woes and all. Luckily, even when in a crisis, these three women can always count on each other to tell the difficult truths, look out for each other's best interests, and, of course, they're always available for a chat over milkshakes.

 
Susan Mallery returns to the sunny California town of Mischief Bay in The Friends We Keep, which follows three women as they confront questions about motherhood, marriage and love.
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The latest book in Bill O’Reilly’s Killing series will shed light on the assassination attempt that altered the course of Ronald Reagan’s presidency and of American history.

Bill O’Reilly, anchor of the Fox News #1 rated program “The O’Reilly Factor,” and writing partner Martin Dugard continue their best-selling series with Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency. The series focuses on the deaths of major historical figures, and Reagan is the third president to be featured, after Kennedy and Lincoln. Of course, Reagan was not killed, but O’Reilly argues that Reagan’s encounter with a gunman bent on assassination profoundly affected his eight years in office. In Killing Reagan, O’Reilly explores the assassination attempt, as well as the 40th president’s early life as a Hollywood actor, his time as governor of California, his journey to the White House and his struggle with Alzheimer’s. 

On March 30, 1981, just two months into his presidency, Reagan came dangerously close to becoming the fifth president to be assassinated. As he left a speaking engagement at a Washington, D.C., hotel, John Hinckley Jr. approached and shot the president and three others. Reagan was shot in the arm and chest—a mere inch from his heart—resulting in a punctured lung and heavy internal bleeding. Quick action and the president’s otherwise good health saved his life.

Following the assassination attempt, Reagan made a seemingly swift recovery and was released from the hospital on April 11. He appeared in good health and returned within a month to the White House, where business quickly returned to normal. However, O’Reilly posits, Reagan was privately struggling to cope with the pain and trauma of the attempt on his life, which colored the remaining years of his presidency. 

Killing Reagan promises to reveal new details, and O’Reilly has said of his latest release, “Like all the others, this book will be somewhat controversial because we have uncovered brand new stuff, some of it surprising.”

During a radio interview, O’Reilly explained, “I always felt that history is fascinating, but the books are boring, and if you can write exciting books you would sell a lot of copies and have movies made of them.” With approximately 14 million copies in print across all formats, all of the books in O’Reilly’s Killing series have become bestsellers, and the National Geographic Channel has adapted three of his previous Killing books for film. It appears that O’Reilly has found a killer formula for success. 

The latest book in Bill O’Reilly’s Killing series will shed light on the assassination attempt that altered the course of Ronald Reagan’s presidency and of American history.

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