Six Book Saturday!

Oh, beloved patrons, it has been a week of travel and technology woes, so we apologize sincerely for the lack of blog posts this week.  We are looking forward to making it up to you, starting today, with a survey of some of the lovely new titles that have sprung onto our shelves this week and are just giddy with anticipation to make your acquaintance.

And just a reminder, our fall hours have officially started, which means we at the Main Branch are open on Sundays from 1-5pm.  So come by and say hi!


A Princess in Theory: This is a “new to us” book, but Alyssa Cole’s work is getting such rave reviews that we had to feature this book as soon as we could! Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.  Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.  The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after? Cole’s romances consistently earn top ratings and reviews for her mix of emotional honesty, sizzle, and richly diverse characters–in fact, The New York Times Review of Books called it “the best new romance I’ve read in a while.”

The Lies that Bind: Rethinking Identity: Kwame Anthony Appiah does tremendous work breaking down big, scary concepts into consumable pieces that help us understand the world more clearly and in its beautiful complexities.  This book, which considers how our notions of identity clash with the reality, is just such an example.  Who do you think you are? That’s a question bound up in another: What do you think you are? Gender. Religion. Race. Nationality. Class. Culture. Such affiliations give contours to our sense of self, and shape our polarized world. Yet the collective identities they spawn are riddled with contradictions, and cratered with falsehoods.  These “mistaken identities,” Appiah explains, can fuel some of our worst atrocities―from chattel slavery to genocide. And yet, he argues that social identities aren’t something we can simply do away with. They can usher in moral progress and bring significance to our lives by connecting the small scale of our daily existence with larger movements, causes, and concerns.  Full of historic examples, clear thinking, and engaging prose, this is a book that is attracting attention from readers, scholars, and critics, with the Washington Post calling it “Excellent… Appiah hopes to inspire a rethinking of our restrictive and therefore divisive notions of who we are. But if that seems an impossible task, should the massive obstacles stop us from trying?… if the solution to the fracturing of our world remains elusive, this book at least helps us think clearly about the problem.”

Becoming BelleIn 1887, Isabel Bilton is the eldest of three daughters of a middle-class military family, growing up in a small garrison town. By 1891 she is the Countess of Clancarty, dubbed “the peasant countess” by the press, and a member of the Irish aristocracy.  Nuala O’Connor’s book is about the four years in between, during which Isabel moved to London on her own, changed her name to Belle,  and became the star of a dancing double act she performed with her sister.  She reigned over The Empire Theatre and The Corinthian Club, entertaining the cream of London society before she met and married her husband William.  O’Connor is a novelist by profession, and her insight into character gives this book its drive and presents  Isabel Bilton’s story in all its rich detail.  Library Journal seems to agree; it gave this book a starred review and said “O’Connor offers a stunning historical reimagining. Her eye for details, including Victorian dress, food, and technology, enhance her mastery of character and inner dialog.”

The Spy of Venice: Fans of Shakespeare, historical thrillers, and travel will all be fawning over the first book in this new series, featuring none other than William Shakespeare in title role.  Having fled Stratford after a disastrous love affair, young Shakespeare Will falls in with a band of players – but greater men have their eye on this talented young wordsmith.  England’s very survival hangs in the balance, and Will finds himself dispatched to Venice on a crucial embassy.  Dazzled by the city’s masques – and its beauties – Will little realises the peril in which he finds himself. Catholic assassins would stop at nothing to end his mission on the point of their sharpened knives, and lurking in the shadows is a killer as clever as he is cruel.  Benet Brandreth is an authority on Shakespeare, and brings all his love and erudition to this series opener.  Publisher’s Weekly agreed, noting, “Brandreth, the rhetoric coach to the Royal Shakespeare Company, plausibly and imaginatively fills a gap in the historical record of the Bard’s life.”

Ask a North Korean: Defectors Talk About Their Lives Inside the World’s Most Secretive Nation: The weekly column Ask A North Korean, published by NK News, invites readers from around the world to pose questions to North Korean defectors.  This book has been adapted from that long-running column, these fascinating interviews provide authentic firsthand testimonies about life in North Korea and what is really happening inside its borders.  Through the life stories, experiences, and memories of those who lived in North Korea, this book sheds critical light on all aspects of North Korean politics and society and shows that, even in the world’s most authoritarian regime, life goes on in ways that are very different from what outsiders may think.  The Boston Globe recommended this book, noting that “Daniel Tudor—a former Economist journalist and current Korean beer entrepreneur— wants people to understand the true lives of everyday North Koreans. Using translated essays written by defectors, the book covers topics from politics to pornography.”

Gross Anatomy: Dispatches from the Front (and Back): Mara Altman’s volatile and apprehensive relationship with her body has led her to wonder about a lot of stuff over the years. Like, who decided that women shouldn’t have body hair? And how sweaty is too sweaty? Also, why is breast cleavage sexy but camel toe revolting? Isn’t it all just cleavage? These questions and others like them have led to the comforting and sometimes smelly revelations that constitute this essay collection about what it’s like to operate the bags of meat we call our bodies.  With a combination of personal anecdotes and fascinating research, this sensational collection holds up a magnifying glass to our beliefs, practices, biases, and body parts and shows us the naked truth: that there is greatness in our grossness.   Kirkus Reviews agrees, calling it in their review “An endearingly outrageous attempt to demystify the female body while shedding light on the causes of female corporeal insecurities. A simultaneously funny and informative memoir about the wonder of the human body.”

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

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