8 Booklist January 1 & 15, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
at the Harvard Observatory studying glass
photographic plates of the stars and cataloging thousands of discoveries.
Hidden Figures: The American Dream
and the Untold Story of the Black Women
Mathematicians Who Helped Win the
Space Race. By Margot Lee Shetterly.
Morrow, $27.99 (9780062363596).
Shetterly tells the incredible story of the Africa American women who worked at NASA’s
Langley Research Center as “computers”:
individuals capable of making mathematical
calculations at lightning speed who were essential to the agency’s space projects.
Time Travel. By James Gleick. Pantheon,
Gleick offers impressive evidence of how
over the centuries the possibility of time travel
has tantalized novelists, philosophers, poets,
scientists, moviemakers, and cartoonists.
Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship
between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X.
By Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith. Basic,
Roberts and Smith deeply analyze the close
connection between two courageous revolutionaries and seekers, Muhammad Ali and
Malcolm X, and its tragic end, presenting both
men and their violently transforming world
with fresh, stinging clarity and cutting insight.
The Boys in the Bunkhouse: Servitude and
Salvation in the Heartland. By Dan Barry.
Harper, $26.99 (9870062372130).
Barry eloquently tells the stories of a group
of men with intellectual disabilities who
were housed in unimaginably horrid conditions at a turkey plant in Iowa, where they
worked between 1974 and 2009, and those
who cared for them.
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American
City. By Matthew Desmond. Crown, $28
Through the stories of two landlords and
eight families, Desmond exposes the harrow-
ing stories of people who find themselves in
bad situations, shining a light on how evic-
tion sets people up to fail and what role the
housing crisis plays in systemic poverty.
The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography
of America’s National Parks. By Terry Tempest Williams. Farrar/Sarah Crichton, $27
Williams, an ardent and scrupulous witness to the living world, eloquently reports
on her visits to a dozen national parks, interweaving vivid history, precise and rhapsodic
description, personal stories, and evocative
thoughts about the future.
The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and
Why They Matter. By David Sax. Perseus/
Public Affairs, $25.99 (9781610395717).
The digital revolution streamlined our
lives, but it also curtailed crucial experiences.
Sax looks at things and ideas altered irrevocably by technology and then asks why some
people choose the “old ways.”
Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate,
Mock, and Fear . . . and Why. By Sady
Doyle. Melville, $25.95 (9781612195636).
Making her point most pertinently in
the case of public-figure “trainwrecks,”
Doyle examines the way women in general have been denigrated for their very
womanness, devoured for their flaws, and
respected only after they’ve been reduced
to smoldering ash.
Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and
a Mother’s Quest—a True Story of the Jim
Crow South. By Beth Macy. Little, Brown,
Macy’s exploration of the long-hidden fate
of two young African Americans who were
abducted and forced into the circus in 1899
exposes the atrocities of the Jim Crow South.
You Could Look It Up: The Reference
Shelf from Ancient Babylon to Wiki-pedia. By Jack Lynch. Bloomsbury, $30
Lynch entertainingly recounts monumental efforts by overachieving scholars to write
and publish 50 influential historical reference titles.
Another Brooklyn. By Jacqueline Woodson.
Harper, $22.99 (9780062359988).
In Woodson’s poetic and evocative novel, a
woman’s memories of her youth in Brooklyn
in the 1970s are stirred after she attends her
Arcadia. By Iain Pears. Knopf, $27.95
As the characters in Pears’ genre-bending
tour de force intermingle in multiple worlds
and time frames, we are struck with the im-
probable ability of human beings to connect
with one another, in the flesh and across time.
As Good as Gone. By Larry Watson.
Algonquin, $26.95 (9781616205713).
Writing in the grand western tradition of
William Kittredge and Mark Spragg, Watson portrays a reclusive yet resolute man
who finds himself thrown into the maelstrom of the 1960s.
Barren Cove. By Ariel S. Winter. Simon &
Schuster, $25 (9781476797854).
In her tale of Sapien, a robot who becomes entangled in his landlords’ lives,
Winter probes the messy interstices of
robots’ rise and humans’ decline, asking fascinating questions and producing a quietly
brilliant look at what it means to be human.
Before the Wind. By Jim Lynch. Knopf,
In this novel about the tidal push and pull
of families, Lynch writes about the science
of sailing and the grandeur of Puget Sound
with a Melville-like attention to detail.
Bright, Precious Days. By Jay McInerney.
Knopf, $28.95 (9871101948002).
Returning to Russell and Corrine Callo-way, the couple who anchored the first two
books in his long-brewing New York City
saga, McInerney observes the passage of life’s
seasons with aching and indelible clarity.
Dodgers. By Bill Beverly. Crown, $26
Centered on a 15-year-old gang member on
a journey in pursuit of redemption, Beverly’s
stunning crime-fiction debut is a searing tale
about crime, race, and coming-of-age, with
characters who live, breathe, and bleed.
Heat & Light. By Jennifer Haigh. Ecco,
Set in the same Pennsylvania farmland as
Haigh’s other books, this novel is a perfectly
paced rendering of the intertwined characters’ personal stories as they deal with the
effects of fracking on their small town.
How I Became a North Korean. By Krys
Lee. Viking, $27 (9780670025688).
In Lee’s unflinching novel of tyranny and
survival, Yongju, the scion of a high-class
North Korean family, and poor, pregnant,
and unmarried Jangmi each flee to China,
where their paths converge with Danny’s, a
Chinese American teenager on the run.
A Hundred Thousand Worlds. By Bob
Proehl. Viking, $26 (9780399562211).
Story is an important consideration in
this absorbing, deeply satisfying first novel
about a boy and his mother who drive from
New York to Los Angeles, meeting, along
doesn’t fascinate the
world, not generally.
But cyclically, periodically, its innards are
of interest. Bore it,
strip it, set it on fire,
a burnt offering to
the collective need.