BY NICO VREELAND
[This feature is a brief summary of interesting books coming out each month. Click the title links to find these books at Goodreads.]
Tenth of December, by George Saunders (out 1/8)
George Saunders won a genius grant for his sharp, surreal satire about the anxieties and neuroses of the modern world, but I think he’s as wildly popular as he is for another, simpler reason: he’s funny. I’ve been avoiding most of the hype about this latest collection so as not to spoil anything for myself, but the little I’ve read suggests that Tenth of December won’t disappoint.
Gun Machine, by Warren Ellis (out now)
This line from Gun Machine’s flap copy might be the worst marketing gobbledygook I’ve ever read: “Warren Ellis reimagines New York City as a puzzle with the most dangerous pieces of all: GUNS.” The rest of the copy is similarly unreadable, but it seems to be about a cop who discovers a huge stash of guns that trace back to unsolved crimes over the past few decades. I’ve heard almost nothing but great things about it, and the silly premise makes me think that if it’s not great, it’ll be spectacularly terrible, and that can be fun, too.
How to Think More About Sex, by Alain de Botton (out now)
I don’t imagine many people have a problem with the frequency of their sexual thoughts, but this book more specifically explores the “dissonance between what we think is normal and what we experience in real life during sex.” De Botton is a world-class thinker, and this latest entry in his “School of Life” series sounds like a winner.
The World Until Yesterday, by Jared Diamond (out now)
The famed author of Guns, Germs, and Steel has a new book out about “traditional” (read: primitive) societies and how they differ from our “modern” society. For example, in primitive societies, parents carry their babies vertically, facing forward and let children make their own decisions. The result is that children learn to walk sooner and children become socially confident earlier and independent much faster. Fascinating stuff.
The Wrath of Angels, by John Connolly (out now)
Connolly’s latest novel for adults has a characteristically Connolly-esque premise: a plane crashes in Maine, carrying a list of all the people who’ve made a deal with the Devil. Rival forces descend on the crash site, and it’s up to Charlie Parker, the hero of the series, to sort it all out. Seems a bit too cartoony, but seeing as Sean has reviewed (and raved about) several of Connolly’s YA books here, like The Gates, Connolly might be the man to make this premise work.
Snow White Must Die, by Nele Neuhaus (out 1/15)
Nele Neuhaus is evidently Germany’s most popular mystery writer. This one follows a pair of detectives investigating in a tight-lipped small town. I’ll take the chance that Neuhaus is closer to Gillian Flynn than Michael Connelly.
The Wisdom of Compassion, by the Dalai Lama (out now)
The Dalai Lama’s website says that he’s written over a hundred books, which I can’t quite wrap my head around. Here’s another one.
On the Map, by Simon Garfield (out now)
Garfield (author of Just My Type) explores maps in his latest book, from those used centuries ago by explorers to Google Maps and the strangest maps on the Internet. If “cartographic intrigue” is a phrase that piques your interest, this is your book.
The Reenactments, by Nick Flynn (out 1/7)
Flynn (author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City) returns with another memoir, this one about the process of turning his first memoir into a movie.
Mastermind, by Maria Konnikova (out 1/3)
A guide to thinking more like Sherlock Holmes? Yes, please.