This week, a bumper crop of big books includes David Brooks thoughtful follow-up to The Road to Character, John Sandford’s thrilling new Lucas Davenport novel, a jolt of inspiring life advice from T.D Jakes, and a treat for Star Wars fans of all shapes and sizes. Enjoy!
The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life, by David Brooks
Brooks’ follows up his remarkable book The Road to Character with a sequel that admits something even more remarkable: that one’s thinking on a subject can change. Unlike most life pundits who seemingly commit to a specific worldview for life, Brooks admits that he now sees his first book as flawed, and refines and revises his vision of a moral life with what he calls the theory of the two mountains—the first being material success, followed by a valley of doubt and setback, leading to the ascent of the second mountain, where one can commit to serving a community instead of one’s personal desires. The end result is another remarkably thoughtful book from a writer possessed of the greatest strength of all—the ability to admit mistakes.
Crushing: God Turns Pressure into Power, by T. D. Jakes
Jakes once again runs life’s challenges and mysteries through the filter of his faith and offers an inspiring take on life’s challenges. Jakes describes our talents and interests as seeds planted by God, seeds that must mature along with us in order to pay off. Jakes knows that this requires us to be put under great pressure, to get past problems and failures, before we can truly blossom into ourselves, and it’s the understanding that this ‛crushing’ process is natural and will lead to something greater that makes this book a remarkably sustaining read for anyone who’s questioning when they will finally come into their own.
Neon Prey, by John Sandford
When Howell Paine fails to pay back the money he owes loan shark Roger Smith, Smith sends violent thug Clayton Deese to punish him. But Paine fights back with an unexpected ferocity, and Deese is jammed up on racketeering charges. When Deese escapes his ankle bracelet and investigators discover partially-eaten bodies buried in his backyard, Lucas Davenport takes an interest and begins tracking the killer and the brutal gang he travels with as they journey across the country, pulling jobs to fuel their gambling and drug use. Worried that Deese is an unstable source of dire secrets that could ruin him, Smith decides he has to go, setting up a tense three-way game of cat-and-mouse Davenport fans are sure to love.
Master & Apprentice, by Claudia Gray
Claudia Gray returns to the Star Wars galaxy with a real treat for fans who might feel forgotten in the era of Rey, Kylo Ren, and Finn: an all-new adventure featuring Obi Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn. The story opens with the pair at a crossroads: Qui-Gon struggles with worry that he has failed his Padawan, as Obi-Wan frets at Qui-Gon’s consideration of an invitation to join the Jedi Council—thus ending their partnership. In the midst of this doubled-edged doubt, the Jedi are called to a distant planet to assist with a political dispute that quickly spirals into danger. As Qui-Gon experiences visions of disaster, Obi-Wan’s begins to suspect he can no longer trust his Master.
Life Will Be the Death of Me: …And You Too!, by Chelsea Handler
In what will be a familiar narrative to many, Handler recounts how the 2016 election jolted her out of a privileged bubble and forced her to re-examine her life. Embarking on a journey of self-improvement, she sought self-sufficiency, self-improvement, and an opening to ideas and politics she had never considered deeply before. With brutal honesty, Handler finds humor in her own limitations and failures while charting an inspiring effort to deal with modern life without insulating yourself from the harsh realities that lurk everywhere. The end result is a laugh-out-loud funny rumination that’s equal parts memoir and darkly funny commentary, a must-read for fans of either.
Redemption, by David Baldacci
Amos Decker, the Memory Man with the perfect recall, returns in more ways than one in Baldacci’s latest as he heads back to his hometown of Burlington, Ohio, with FBI partner Alex Jamison along for the ride. There, Decker meets Meryl Hawkins, the first person he ever arrested. Hawkins was convicted of murder and has spent years in jail, emerging ravaged by time and illness. Even as he’s dying, Hawkins insists to Decker that he didn’t commit those crimes, and Decker is shaken by the possibility that he made a youthful mistake that sent an innocent man to jail. Digging into the case, Decker discovers a connection to another crime—one that hasn’t been committed yet, and which he might be able to put a stop to if he can solve the puzzle in time.
Lost Roses, by Martha Hall Kelly
Kelly’s prequel to her hit Lilac Girls tells the story of Caroline Ferriday’s mother, Eliza, and her inspiring story that served as an example to her daughter. Eliza was a daughter of wealth and privilege in America, moved to compassion when the Russian Revolution sends an entire class of people scrambling for survival. Sofya Streshnayva, cousin to the Tsar, finds herself penniless and at the mercy of violent, unfriendly mobs. Varinka is a Russian peasant girl under the thumb of a dedicated by brutal man. All three lives come together as these strong women find their way in a chaotic world broken open by war and political strife, resulting in a dramatic and emotionally powerful story.
Someone Knows, by Lisa Scottoline
Scottoline’s newest begins in 1999, when Allie Garvey meets Sasha Barrow, David Hybrinski, Julian Browne, and Kyle Gallagher and forms an unlikely circle of friends. One afternoon a drunken dare leaves one of them dead, and the rest holding the secret of what happened that day. No one suspects anything more than an accident, but for two decades Allie suffers from the guilt she feels about what happened. When one of others commits suicide on the anniversary of that terrible day, Allie returns home to confront the other conspirators—an act that leads to the realization that Allie doesn’t know all the facts about that day, and doesn’t remember everything exactly as it was.
Miracle at St. Andrews, by James Patterson and Peter de Jonge
Patterson brings the same energy and passion to this uplifting tale as he does to his tense thrillers, teeing up the third installment in pro golfer Travis McKinley’s spiritual and sport adventures. When McKinley blows a putt while on the Senior Tour, his career is as good as dead. Depressed and uncertain what to do, he gets some advice from an unlikely source when a stranger tells him to go back to the beginning, which McKinley thinks must mean his family’s ancestral home of Scotland, and the near-mythical Old Course at St. Andrews, which the game of golf was born. It’s there that McKinley finds his way again in a powerful journey of self-discovery, love of golf, and life’s grand mystery.
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The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose, by Oprah Winfrey
Too many of us manage to succeed without actually finding ourselves, leading lives that might satisfy our material needs but not our spiritual ones. Winfrey offers a guide to discovering your calling and living your best life with a mixture of personal confession and reflection and the best advice of her celebrity friends and colleagues. Organized as a progression of thought leading you to a more thoughtful and purposeful existence, Winfrey collects wisdom from people ranging from Lin-Manuel Miranda to Ellen DeGeneres, from Jay-Z to Elizabeth Gilbert and combines their thoughts with her own and her spectacular photography to create a singular reading experience that will nourish your soul as well as your mind.
Controversial firebrand and conservative polemicist Shapiro argues that things aren’t just bad in this country—we’re in the midst of a slow-motion collapse. Shapiro argues that this collapse is caused by the same dynamic that destroyed the U.S.S.R., the Nazis, and Venezuela—an abandonment of the twin legacies that nurtured and sustained civilization throughout history: Christian Values and Greek natural law. As long as those values were upheld, Shapiro claims, the United States and the West prospered and dominated, but we’ve lost sight of those values and have in many cases replaced them with politics and hatred—and are sealing our own doom as a result.
The Cornwalls Are Gone, by James Patterson, and Brendan DuBois
Army intelligence officer Amy Cornwall is skilled at dealing with scenarios that would make most people blanch. But nothing in her professional career prepares her for the sense of dread she experiences when she comes home to find her husband and young daughter missing. Contacted by the kidnapper, she is told there is only one way to save her family: she must somehow secure the release of an unnamed captive. She has two days to accomplish her mission, and if she fails, her family will be killed. Amy has no choice but to go rogue, using her training, contacts, and desperation to find out who took her family and why.
Run Away, by Harlan Coben
Coben is the modern master of the plot twist, and is in rare form with this latest. Simon Greene seems to have a perfect life: a wealthy, married man with a beautiful daughter. What the world doesn’t know is that his daughter, Paige, has fallen into drugs—in fact, he hasn’t seen her in six months. When he happens to see her begging in the park, he confronts the man he suspects is holding her against her will, Aaron Corval. When Corval turns up dead a short while later, Simon and Paige are the prime suspects—and a breathless race to get to the bottom of the killing is launched. You might think you know where this story is going, but it’s Coben—you most certainly do not.
The author of the smash hit Girl, Wash Your Face returns with a vibrant, fierce book that aims to solve the confidence crisis. Hollis admits that she wasn’t born the dynamic over-achiever you see before you, and offers her own extremely honest stories as evidence that her philosophy works. Hollis’ strategy is threefold: one, she says you have to stop making excuses. Two, you have to be willing to do things differently. And three, you have to keep learning and polishing your skills. This coupled with a healthy dose of healthy living and self-care makes this book a new bible of self-actualization and inspiration. If you loved her first book, this one will keep the energy going.
The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides
Michaelides delivers an assured, confident debut thriller. Six years ago, artist Alicia Berenson painted a psychologically dense work based on a Greek myth, then allegedly tied her husband Gabriel to a chair and shot him in the face. Alicia hasn’t spoken a word since, spending her time in a drugged daze at the Grove, a secure forensic facility in North London. Theo Faber is the wounded, gifted psychotherapist who convinces Alicia’s doctors to let him try to get her to speak. Theo’s work with the silent patient is interspersed with excerpts Alicia’s diary leading up to the day of Gabriel’s murder. As the clues about what truly happened begin to fall into place, Theo’s personal and professional worlds blur dangerously, leading to an explosive conclusion.
Educated, by Tara Westover
This incredible memoir is heartbreaking and inspiring all at once, as Westover recounts her brutal childhood being raised by a devout Mormon and incredibly paranoid father who thought Y2K was going to end the world, refused to send his kids to school or doctors, and who forced them to work under dangerous conditions at his construction business. Westover tells of her bullying brother who punished her for any perceived deviation from their religious principles, the series of horrifying injuries she suffered and the homeopathic treatments administered by her mother, and the general atmosphere of terror fostered by a father who forced his family to live off the grid and stockpiled weapons for the end of the world that never came. Westover somehow escaped and went on to attend Cambridge University, suffering a breakdown when she realized how cut off from the world she’d been before earning her Ph.D. A remarkable story of spiritual and mental survival that will inspire you to push past problems that will no longer seem so big.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson
This just might be the bible of the new self-help generation. Where the old-school approach treated happiness as a prize everyone deserves, Manson argues—forcibly and with a lot of sharp wit—that it’s better to be honest about your own limitations, and seek to adjust how you approach life instead of deciding life should be adjusted to suit your needs. Bracing and sometimes alarming, this book is a dash of cold water to the face that so many of us need. You will be happier for having read it, because the best way to start changing your life for the better is to start seeing it with clear eyes.
Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
Owens’ debut novel is buzzy for a reason, earning its comparisons to Barbara Kingsolver. In 1969, Kya Clark has come to be known as the Marsh Girl, living in the wild, on her own. When local heartthrob Chase Andrews is killed, she is the prime suspect, and is quickly arrested. The story is much more complex, looping back twenty years to Kya’s harsh upbringing, her lack of schooling, and her relationship with two local boys—the kind, intelligent Tate Walker, who teachers her to read, and the handsome, charming Chase, who teaches her to love. As her trial begins, Kya is fighting for more than just her freedom as Owens skillfully depicts the simultaneous freedom and suffocation of small-time life and keeps the plot twists coming.
Becoming, by Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama is one of the most accomplished people living today, as well as a trailblazer who not just one of the most popular First Ladies of all time, but also the first African-American to serve in the role. But Obama was never just a silent partner in her marriage; she’s a woman of rare accomplishment who brings her considerable charm and wit to this memoir that starts with her childhood on Chicago’s South Side and takes us through her time in the spotlight. Along the way she details her own struggles, offers insights on how she raised two poised daughters while under a microscope, and spills a little tea about some of the famous, powerful people she’s interacted with over the years.
Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis
Hollis, founder of TheChicSite.com, writes a funny and warmhearted book imploring women to stop comparing themselves to each other and feeling like no amount of achievement will ever be enough. Hollis is up front about her own failings, relating a childhood in which she learned that accomplishments got praise, leading to a life spent living in a pressure cooker. These tendencies spilled into her love life, and Hollis, now a happily married mother of four, is brutally honest about her own missteps with her future husband. The end result is a book that will get women to take a step back, take a breath, and think hard about what they want instead of what’s expected of them.