13 Hours in Benghazi, by Mitchell Zuckoff, is a harrowing account of the tragedy that shook the nation and created a political firestorm. For another in-depth report on the story that won’t go away, you’ll also want to read Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi, by Fred Burton & Samuel M. Katz. Both books raise important questions about what is sure to be one of the biggest controversies of the next election season.
The Broken Eye, by Brent Weeks, is the third volume in the Lightbringer series, a planned tetralogy that has become one of the most popular epic fantasies in years. Set in a world where those talented in magic can use light itself to create new objects and manipulate the world, the books twist classic tropes of destiny and revenge into something altogether refreshing. If you’re all caught up and waiting for the final installment, try reading The Warded Man, by Peter V. Brett. The setup here is a real killer: the world is ravaged by monsters that emerge only at night. Only magicians who cloak themselves in arcane spells have any measure of protection. And even then…
The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton, constructs a fascinating, mysterious tale out of a real artifact from history (Petronella Oortman’s cabinet house in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum): in the late 1600s, Nella, a young woman woman in Amsterdam, is eager to begin her new life as the wife of a wealthy merchant, but finds the man reserved and distant. Everything changes, however, when he gifts her with a dollhouse recreation of their home. With the help of a miniaturist, an eccentric craftsman who builds minuscule, beautiful works of art, Nella sets about re-creating her life to scale. and discovers hidden secrets along the way. In Gutenberg’s Apprentice, Alix Christie similarly spins an elaborate story from the threads of historical fact, imagining, in the invention of the printing press, a plot filled with scheming and betrayal.
The Children Act, by Ian McEwan, explores the fine line between government’s role as caretaker and oppressor in the story of a judge struggling to make the right decision in a case that involves a terminally ill boy whose parents’ religious beliefs bar him from receiving treatment. Does the government have the right to deny the wishes of the individual in favor of perceived common decency? High as the Horses’ Bridles, by Scott Cheshire, is another challenging, revelatory work questioning the intersection of faith and society. As a boy, Josiah was renowned for his religious visions, but decades later, he has lost his faith, and even he can’t say if what he saw was truly divine or sparked from his own imagination.
Rebel Yell, by S.C. Gwynne, is a comprehensive, uncompromising biography of Stonewall Jackson, one of the most important and iconic figures in the American Civil War. Once you’ve digested Gwynne’s meticulously researched tome, you can read up on yet more of the history of the Confederacy in Embattled Rebel, by James M. McPherson, which profiles Jefferson Davis’s time as commander-in-chief of a doomed new nation.