Everything I Never Knew, by Celeste Ng, has been lauded as one of the year’s best debut novels. The delicately written story of a missing Chinese American teenager in the 1970s is equal parts thriller, moving family drama, and an insightful look at the challenges faced by mixed-race children straddling great cultural divides. The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, by Mira Jacob, is powerful account of one family’s efforts to overcome the past as Amina, the daughter of Indian immigrants living in New Mexico, must unravel the mystery that led her father, a respected brain surgeon, to uproot his family and bring them to America.
Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild tried to answer one not-so-simple question: what made Christopher McCandless, a bright young man from a seemingly normal family, decide to shun the modern world to live in the Alaskan wilderness, a spiritual odyssey that ultimately led to his death? Now, Christopher’s sister Carine McCandless offers her own explanations for her brother’s action in The Wild Truth, revealing heretofore unknown secrets of what life was really like under that perfect suburban veneer, and the dark family secret that may have set Christopher adrift and searching for answers in the silence of the wilderness.
The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us, by Diane Ackerman, considers how humans have changed the face of the Earth like no other species in billions of years: How, through invention and destruction, we have literally reshaped the world around us, both for good and for ill. In The World Without Us, Alan Wiseman imagines what might happen if we all suddenly vanished, leaving nature to undo all that we’ve accomplished.
So Anyway…, by John Cleese, is an invaluable memoir from the legendary comedian. In recalling his unparalleled career from his early days as a joke writer for BBC Radio to the heyday of the Pythons and the making of some of the most beloved films of all time, Cleese proves to be an insightful, affable, and down-to-earth player in his own life story. Python fans left still searching for The Meaning of Life (or maybe just eager to spend more time with the funniest men on the planet) should follow it up with Monty Python’s Flying Circus: Complete and Annotated… All the Bits, which collects every script from the landmark television series, complete with commentary from the surviving members of the troupe.
No Hero, by Mark Owen, is a follow-up to the decorated former Navy SEAL’s No Easy Day, an account of the mission that ended the life of Osama bin Laden. Here, he recalls the missions that meant the most to him—the ones that didn’t make international headlines. For more frontline remembrances from grunts on the ground, and a full account of the history of the SEALs, read Navy SEALs: Their Untold Story, by Dick Couch and William Doyle.