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Winter’s Big Books

12 of this season's best stories about love and family, self-help, thrillers and more


Kingdom of the Blind

Louise Penny

Another Inspector Armand Gamache novel set in a wintery Canada for Penny’s countless devoted fans, this one involving a mysterious will and a dead body. As he works the case, Gamache is still under investigation for an incident that led to his suspension six months earlier, and has to find a stash of opioids he lost while it was in his custody before it hits the streets. This book is a bit darker, deeper and grittier than some of her others, with less focus on the quaint (yet oddly crime-prone) Quebec village of Three Pines.
Nov. 27 

Book cover reads:  Louise Penny, Kingdom of the Blind


The Martha Manual: How to Do (Almost) Everything

Martha Stewart

Have you ever wondered if there’s anything Martha can’t do? The answer appears to be no, based on this ultimate DIY guide, which includes lessons on, for instance, how to braise brisket, reinforce a buttonhole, make the perfect handcrafted Valentine’s Day card, repair leaks in your ceiling, throw a cocktail party, build a fire and hang a hammock (as if the woman ever rests). It’s hard to imagine anyone who couldn’t learn at least something (how to attract butterflies, perhaps?) from this book.
Jan. 1 


Book cover reads: The Martha Manual: How to Do (Almost) Everything, Martha Stewart


The New Iberia Blues

James Lee Burke

If you're a mystery lover, you probably know Burke (if not, you should), a legend of the genre and a Pulitzer nominee. In his latest, Detective Dave Robicheaux is in search of a killer, leading him into the dark corners of Hollywood, the world of the mafia and backwoods of Louisiana. Robicheaux’s deputy, Sean McClain and his daughter, Alafair are on the case too, but the arrival of a deranged actor quickly complicates matters and threatens to jeopardize everything — and everyone — Robicheaux cares about.  
Jan. 8 

Book cover reads: James Lee Burke, The New Iberia Blues


Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age

Mary Pipher

A guide for women in middle-age, who may be confronting ageism, caregiving and other challenges, from the author of the bestseller about adolescent girls, Reviving Ophelia (1994). Though Pipher rides the metaphors hard (“to stay on course, we need to make an effort, choose a positive attitude and maintain a strong sense of direction as we travel toward winter and the land of snow and ice,” for a few), she offers an encouraging, comforting and very welcome message about the strength and joy that can come with age.
Jan. 15 


Book cover reads: Mary Pipher, Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age


Talk to Me

John Kenney

A timely, darkly humorous novel about a famous middle-aged news anchor named Ted Grayson who loses his cool one night and screams at a young woman just before taping his show. The outburst is replayed all over social media, of course, and his career goes into free fall. Even his wife leaves him for another man and his journalist daughter is working on a damning profile of him for her tabloid-style news website. It’s a smart, very 21st-century story, by the author of Truth in Advertising.  
Jan. 15 

Book cover reads: Talk to Me, John Kenney


Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love

Dani Shapiro

After the writer had her DNA tested on a whim at age 54, the results blew her away: She discovered that her Orthodox Jewish father was not, in fact, her biological father. Shapiro candidly describes the drama that follows, including her immediate and profound identity crisis and dogged quest to find out what happened, what her late parents knew and who the heck her “real” dad is (not to mention what a “real” dad even is). It’s a fascinating story, only possible in this modern age. 
Jan. 15

Book cover reads: Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love, Dani Shapiro


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The Lost Man

Jane Harper

The bestselling author of The Dry is back with an atmospheric thriller/mystery set in the parched, isolated and unforgiving Australian outback (she could have called this one The Dry, too). After discovering that his brother was left to die in the scorching sun miles from home, the family outcast — a struggling cattle rancher — tries to uncover who’s responsible. Mistakes and cruelties from the past return to haunt him in this suspenseful story that may be Harper's best yet.
Feb. 5 

Book covers reads: The Lost Man, Jane Harper


Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love

John and Julie Gottman, Doug Abrams, Rachel Carlton Abrams

It’s amazing how long you can go not talking about the really important stuff with your spouse. The Gottmans are married relationship researchers and authors of the 1999 hit The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, who now offer a systematic way for you and your honey to share your thoughts on essential (but tempting-to-avoid) subjects, including sex, money, trust, family and spirituality — as well a lesson on the art of listening. “Never stop being curious about your partner,” they say, and you’ll have a good shot at true, lasting love. And it's never to late to make the effort. 

Feb. 5.


Book cover reads: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, Eight Dates, John and Julie Gottman, Doug Abrams, Rachel Carlton Abrams


American Pop

Snowden Wright

This is a sweeping, supremely entertaining debut novel about a Southern family’s very American rise then fall with the fate of their soda company, Panola Cola, which is “built on bubbles.” The book follows the Forster family through the dramas of the 20th century, including siblings' power struggles and rivals’ attempts to discover Panola Cola’s secret ingredient. Wright tells their story playfully, weaving in various quotes and “facts” about the characters as though they’re news reports. It’s funny and it totally works. 
Feb. 5 

Book cover reads: American Pop, Snowden Wright


We Must Be Brave

Frances Liardet

Here's another incredibly good debut: a deeply moving story set in WWII Britain about a young woman, Ellen, who finds a little girl named Pamela alone on a bus after a bombing. For a few years Ellen and her husband care for her, and come to adore her, before their family is torn apart. The tale, which follows the characters decades after the war, is wonderfully descriptive of life in war-torn England and a stunningly accurate portrayal of the all-encompassing depth of a mother’s love (whether she’s the biological mother or not). Read it and weep. 
Feb. 26 

Book cover reads: We Must Be Brave, Frances Liardet


The Huntress

Kate Quinn

If you loved Quinn’s bestselling novel The Alice Network, you will devour her latest cinematic effort set during WWII. This one includes a fearless female Russian bomber pilot who fought the Germans, a young American woman with dreams of a photography career and an English war correspondent whose brother was murdered in Germany by a Nazi sympathizer known as the Huntress. A motley crew comes together to find her, first in Europe, then America. It turns out she’s closer than they ever could have imagined. 
Feb. 26

Book cover reads: New York Times Bestselling Author of the Alice Network, Kate Quinn, The Huntress


Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement

Albert Woodfox

An inspiring story of hope and resilience, this memoir by Woodfox (now in his 70s) is about his wrongful conviction and 40 years trying to survive in Louisiana's shockingly brutal Angola State Prison. He endured countless cruelties, not to mention severe bouts of claustrophobia, through the years, yet somehow found the strength and resolve to keep fighting for justice until his much-delayed release in 2016. 
March 5 

Book cover reads: Solitary Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement. My story of transformation and hope, Albert Woodfox