Oh it seems that the beautiful springtime is finally upon us. That means we all need books to read while we picnic outside and enjoy the Sun’s sparkle.
Here are the new releases that will add warmth to your life for Apr 9, 2013:
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer; Riverhead Hardcover; 480 pages
Meg Wolitzer wrote this. That’s all you actually need to know. But, to get your juices flowing a little extra, this is one of the top five most anticipated books of 2013 and is about the most powerful story of growing up and growing old that’s come out in anyone’s recent memory (notice I didn’t say my memory, since my memory has the combined strength of a goldfish and a squirrel brain).
From bestselling author Meg Wolitzer a dazzling, panoramic novel about what becomes of early talent, and the roles that art, money, and even envy can play in close friendships.
The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.
The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.
Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.
July 1914 by Sean McMeekin; Basic Books; 480 pages
This is really something cool. In all my history classes and book reading, I’ve always heard that WWI blew up in nearly immediate reaction to Ferdinand’s death. To hear that the first world war’s jumping off point might not have been so simple is quite a statement, and I want to hear alllllll about it.
When a Serbian-backed assassin gunned down Archduke Franz Ferdinand in late June 1914, the world seemed unmoved. Even Ferdinand’s own uncle, Franz Josef I, was notably ambivalent about the death of the Hapsburg heir, saying simply, It is God’s will.” Certainly, there was nothing to suggest that the episode would lead to conflictmuch less a world war of such massive and horrific proportions that it would fundamentally reshape the course of human events.
As acclaimed historian Sean McMeekin reveals in July 1914, World War I might have been avoided entirely had it not been for a small group of statesmen who, in the month after the assassination, plotted to use Ferdinand’s murder as the trigger for a long-awaited showdown in Europe. The primary culprits, moreover, have long escaped blame. While most accounts of the war’s outbreak place the bulk of responsibility on German and Austro-Hungarian militarism, McMeekin draws on surprising new evidence from archives across Europe to show that the worst offenders were actually to be found in Russia and France, whose belligerence and duplicity ensured that war was inevitable.
Whether they plotted for war or rode the whirlwind nearly blind, each of the men involvedfrom Austrian Foreign Minister Leopold von Berchtold and German Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov and French president Raymond Poincarésought to capitalize on the fallout from Ferdinand’s murder, unwittingly leading Europe toward the greatest cataclysm it had ever seen.
A revolutionary account of the genesis of World War I, July 1914 tells the gripping story of Europe’s countdown to war from the bloody opening act on June 28th to Britain’s final plunge on August 4th, showing how a single monthand a handful of menchanged the course of the twentieth century.
Harvard Square by André Aciman; W.W. Norton & Company; 304 pages
Aciman is growing quite a following and has developed into a pretty fantastic writer, so you’ll want to read his stuff when you get the chance. And here’s a chance right here. It sounds a little male-centric, but Aciman is a guy after all and I’m not about to denounce him for writing what he knows. Especially when he’s damn good at it.
A powerful tale of love, friendship, and becoming American in late ’70s Cambridge from the best-selling novelist.
André Aciman has been hailed as “the most exciting new fiction writer of the twenty-first century” (New York magazine), a “brilliant chronicler of the disconnect…between who we are and who we wish we might have been” (Wall Street Journal), and a writer of “fiction at its most supremely interesting” (Colm Tóibín). Now, with his third and most ambitious novel, Aciman delivers an elegant and powerful tale of the wages of assimilation—a moving story of an immigrant’s remembered youth and the nearly forgotten costs and sacrifices of becoming an American.
It’s the fall of 1977, and amid the lovely, leafy streets of Cambridge a young Harvard graduate student, a Jew from Egypt, longs more than anything to become an assimilated American and a professor of literature. He spends his days in a pleasant blur of seventeenth-century fiction, but when he meets a brash, charismatic Arab cab driver in a Harvard Square café, everything changes.
Nicknamed Kalashnikov—Kalaj for short—for his machine-gun vitriol, the cab driver roars into the student’s life with his denunciations of the American obsession with “all things jumbo and ersatz”—Twinkies, monster television sets, all-you-can-eat buffets—and his outrageous declarations on love and the art of seduction. The student finds it hard to resist his new friend’s magnetism, and before long he begins to neglect his studies and live a double life: one in the rarified world of Harvard, the other as an exile with Kalaj on the streets of Cambridge. Together they carouse the bars and cafés around Harvard Square, trade intimate accounts of their love affairs, argue about the American dream, and skinny-dip in Walden Pond. But as final exams loom and Kalaj has his license revoked and is threatened with deportation, the student faces the decision of his life: whether to cling to his dream of New World assimilation or risk it all to defend his Old World friend.
Harvard Square is a sexually charged and deeply American novel of identity and aspiration at odds. It is also an unforgettable, moving portrait of an unlikely friendship from one of the finest stylists of our time.
Nature’s Fortune by Mark Tercek and Jonathan Adams; Basic Books; 240 pages
A great topic from two quality writers here. The bumping, jostling, and brutal juxtaposition of big business and the environment has long been a battleground where, in the end, nature loses out. Whether anyone takes this book to heart or not, it’s great that someone is willing to speak up for our ecosystem while still talking in terms that the economy can understand. And what better time to read this then the first sweet days of Spring.
Environmentalism has traditionally been anathema to business—and vice versa. But concern for the environment can coexist with and even increase corporate profitability. In Nature’s Fortune, CEO of the Nature Conservancy and former investment banker Mark R. Tercek and science writer Jonathan S. Adams argue that governments and businesses can no longer afford to ignore the value of nature on their balance sheets.
The responsible stewardship of natural resources is now of utmost economic importance. After all, success in business depends on the proper valuation of assets. Nature’s Fortune offers a revolutionary guide to the world’s economic—and environmental—well-being.