The following titles – and more – will be on the shelves of Hartford Public Library, beginning August 21. If the title is not at your closest branch, place a hold and it will be delivered there for you. All our titles are in our catalog; you may search it at any time.
(Summaries from book vendors)

Godless Citizens in a Godly Republic: Atheists in American Public Life by R. Laurence Moore and Isaac Kramnick

Available Downtown.

God occupies our nation’s consciousness, even defining to many what it means to be American. Nonbelievers have often had second-class legal status and have had to fight for their rights as citizens.As R. Laurence Moore and Isaac Kramnick demonstrate in their sharp and convincing work, avowed atheists were derided since the founding of the nation. Even Thomas Paine fell into disfavor and his role as a patriot forgotten. Popular Republican Robert Ingersoll could not be elected in the nineteenth century due to his atheism, and the suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton was shunned when she questioned biblical precepts about women’s roles.Moore and Kramnick lay out this fascinating history and the legal cases that have questioned religious supremacy. It took until 1961 for the Supreme Court to ban religious tests for state officials, despite Article 6 of the Constitution. Still, every one of the fifty states continues to have God in its constitution. The authors discuss these cases and more current ones, such as Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which address whether personal religious beliefs supersede secular ones.In Godless Citizens in a Godly Republic, the authors also explore the dramatic rise of an “atheist awakening” and the role of organizations intent on holding the country to the secular principles it was founded upon.

 

The Devoted: A Novel by Blair Hurley

Available Downtown.

Nicole Hennessy’s life revolves around her Zen practice at the Boston Zendo, seeking solace in the tenets of Buddhism to the chagrin of her Irish Catholic family. After a decade of grueling spiritual practice under her Master’s tutelage, living on a shoestring budget as a shop clerk, Nicole has become dangerously entangled with her mentor. As Nicole confronts her past—a drug-fueled year spent fleeing her family’s loaded silences and guilt-laden “Our Fathers”—and reinvents herself in New York City, her Master’s intoxicating voice pursues her, an electrifying whisper on the other end of the phone. Somehow, he knows everything.In deft, soaring prose that bristles with psychological and erotic tension, Blair Hurley crafts a thrilling exploration of Nicole’s ecstatic quest for spirituality.

 

 

 

 

How Are You Going to Save Yourself by J.M. Holmes

Available at Barbour, Downtown, and at Dwight.

Bound together by shared experience but pulled apart by their changing fortunes, four young friends coming of age in the postindustrial enclave of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, struggle to liberate themselves from the legacies left to them as black men in America. With potent immediacy and bracing candor, this provocative debut follows a decade in the lives of Dub, Rolls, Rye, and Gio as they each grapple with the complexity of their family histories, the newfound power of sex and drugs, and the ferocity of their desires.

Gio proves himself an unforgettable narrator, beautifully flawed and unstintingly honest, as he recounts both the friends’ conflicts and their triumphs. Whether it’s a fraught family cookout, a charged altercation on the block, a raucous night in high-society Manhattan gone wrong, or the troubled efforts of a drug hustler to go clean, JM Holmes brings the thump and the heat of his scenes to life with the kind of ease that makes us not just eavesdroppers but participants.

How Are You Going to Save Yourself illuminates in breathtaking detail an entire world-one that has been underrepresented in American fiction. At times funny, often uncomfortable, occasionally disturbing, these stories fearlessly engage with issues of race, sex, drugs, class, and family. Holmes’s blistering and timely new voice, richly infused with the unmistakable rhythms of hip-hop that form the sound track to his characters’ lives, delivers an indelible fiction that has never been more vital and necessary.

 

Pieces of Her: A Novel by Karin Slaughter

Available at Camp Field and Downtown.

What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all . . . ?

Andrea knows everything about her mother, Laura. She knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we?

But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one would ever find her. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.

The police want answers and Laura’s innocence is on the line, but she won’t speak to anyone, including her own daughter. Andrea is on a desperate journey following the breadcrumb trail of her mother’s past. And if she can’t uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either one of them. . . .

 

Heartbreaker: A Novel by Claudia Dey

Available Downtown and at Park.

It’s 1985. Pony Darlene Fontaine has lived all her fifteen years in “the territory,” a settlement founded decades ago by a charismatic cult leader. In this strange town run on a sinister economic resource, the women crimp their hair and wear shoulder pads, and the teenagers listen to Nazareth and Whitesnake on their Walkmans. Pony’s family lives in the bungalow at the farthest edge of town, where the territory borders the rest of the wider world—a place none of the townspeople have ever been.

Except for Billie Jean Fontaine, Pony’s mother. When Billie Jean arrived in the territory seventeen years prior—falling from the open door of a stolen car—the residents took her in and made her one of their own. She was the first outsider they had ever laid eyes on. Pony adores and idolizes her mother, but like everyone else in the territory she is mystified by her. Billie Jean refuses to describe the world she came from.

One night, Billie Jean grabs her truck keys, bolts barefoot into the cold October darkness—and vanishes. Beautiful, beloved, and secretive, Billie Jean was the first person to be welcomed into the territory. Now, with a frantic search under way for her missing mother, Pony fears: Will she be the first person to leave it too?

Told from the three unforgettable perspectives of a daughter, a killer dog, and a teenage boy named Supernatural, this novel is startling in its humor and wrenching in its wisdom about the powers, limits, and dangers of love. Heartbreaker is an electrifying page-turner about a woman reinventing herself in order to survive—and a daughter who must race against the clock to untangle the mysteries left in her mother’s wake.

 

America: the Farewell Tour by Chris Hedges

Available Downtown.

A profound and provocative examination of America in crisis, where unemployment, deindustrialization, and a bitter hopelessness and malaise have resulted in an epidemic of diseases of despair—drug abuse, gambling, suicide, magical thinking, xenophobia, and a culture of sadism and hate.

America, says Pulitzer Prize­–winning reporter Chris Hedges, is convulsed by an array of pathologies that have arisen out of profound hopelessness, a bitter despair and a civil society that has ceased to function. The opioid crisis, the retreat into gambling to cope with economic distress, the pornification of culture, the rise of magical thinking, the celebration of sadism, hate, and plagues of suicides are the physical manifestations of a society that is being ravaged by corporate pillage and a failed democracy. As our society unravels, we also face global upheaval caused by catastrophic climate change. All these ills presage a frightening reconfiguration of the nation and the planet.

Donald Trump rode this disenchantment to power. In America: The Farewell Tour, Hedges argues that neither political party, now captured by corporate power, addresses the systemic problem. Until our corporate coup d’état is reversed these diseases will grow and ravage the country. A poignant cry reported from communities across the country, America: The Farewell Tour seeks to jolt us out of our complacency while there is still time.

 

Summer by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Available Downtown.

2 June–It is completely dark out now. It is twenty-three minutes to midnight and you have already slept for four hours. What you will dream of tonight, no one will ever know. Even if you were to remember it when you wake up, you wouldn’t have a language in which to communicate it to us, nor do I think that you quite understand what dreams are, I think that is still undefined for you, that your thoughts haven’t grasped it yet, and that it therefore lies within that strange zone where it neither exists nor doesn’t exist.

The conclusion to one of the most extraordinary and original literary projects in recent years, Summer once again intersperses short vividly descriptive essays with emotionally-raw diary entries addressed directly to Knausgaard’s newborn daughter. Writing more expansively and, if it is possible, even more intimately and unguardedly than in the previous three volumes, he mines with new depth his difficult memories of his childhood and fraught relationship with his own father. Documenting his family’s life in rural Sweden and reflecting on a characteristically eclectic array of subjects–mosquitoes, barbeques, cynicism, and skin, to name just a few–he braids the various threads of the previous volumes into a moving conclusion.

At his most voluminous since My Struggle, his epic sensational series, Knausgaard writes for his daughter, striving to make ready and give meaning to a world at once indifferent and achingly beautiful. In his hands, the overwhelming joys and insoluble pains of family and parenthood come alive with uncommon feeling.

 

Physical Disobedience: An Unruly Guide to Health & Stamina for the Modern Feminist by Sarah Hays Coomer

Available Downtown.

Even as a wave of renewed feminism swells, too many women continue to starve, stuff, overwork, or neglect our bodies in pursuit of paper-thin ideals. “Fitness” has been co-opted by the beauty industry. We associate it with appearance when we should associate it with power.

Grounded in advocacy with a rowdy, accessible spirit, Physical Disobedience asserts that denigrating our bodies is, in practice, an act of submission to inequality. But when we strengthen ourselves–taking broad command of our individual physicality–we reclaim our authority and build stamina for the literal work of activism: the protests, community service, and emotional resilience it takes to face the news and stay engaged.

Physical Disobedience introduces a breathtaking new perspective on wellness by encouraging nonviolence toward our bodies, revitalizing them through diet and exercise, fashion and social media, alternative therapies, music, and motherhood. The goal is no longer to keep our bodies in check. The goal is to ignite them, to set them free, and have a mighty fine time doing it.

 

The Chosen Wars: How Judaism Became an American Religion by Steven R. Weisman

Available Downtown.

Steven R. Weisman tells the dramatic history of how Judaism redefined itself in America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—the personalities that fought each other and shaped its evolution and, crucially, the force of the American dynamic that transformed an ancient religion.

The struggles that produced a redefinition of Judaism illuminate the larger American experience and the efforts by all Americans to reconcile their faith with modern demands. The narrative begins with the arrival of the first Jews in New Amsterdam and plays out over the nineteenth century as a massive immigration takes place at the dawn of the twentieth century.

First there was the practical matter of earning a living. Many immigrants had to work on the Sabbath or traveled as peddlers to places where they could not keep kosher. Doctrine was put aside or adjusted. To take their places as equals, American Jews rejected their identity as a separate nation within America. Judaism became an American religion.

These profound changes did not come without argument. The Chosen Wars tells the stories of the colorful rabbis and activists, including women, who defined American Judaism and whose disputes divided it into the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox branches that remain today. Isaac Mayer Wise, Mordecai Noah, David Einhorn, Rebecca Gratz, and Isaac Lesser are some of the major figures in this wonderful story.

 

Where Did You Get This Number?: A Pollster’s Guide to Making Sense of the World by Anthony Salvanto

Available Downtown.

CBS News’ Elections and Surveys Director Anthony Salvanto takes you behind the scenes of polling to show you how to think about who we are and where we’re headed as a nation.

As Elections and Surveys Director for CBS News, it’s Anthony Salvanto’s job to understand you—what you think and how you vote. He’s the person behind so many of the poll numbers you see today, making the winner calls on election nights and surveying thousands of Americans. In Where Did You Get This Number? A Pollster’s Guide to Making Sense of the World, Salvanto takes readers on a fast-paced, eye-opening tour through the world of polling and elections and what they really show about America today, beyond the who’s-up-who’s-down headlines and horse races. Salvanto is just the person to bring much-needed clarity in a time when divisions seem to run so deep.

The language of polling may be numbers, but the stories it tells are about people. In this engaging insider’s account, Salvanto demystifies jargon with plain language and answers readers’ biggest questions about polling and pollsters. How can they talk to 1,000 people and know the country? How do they know the winner so fast? How do they decide what questions to ask? Why didn’t they call you? Salvanto offers data-driven perspective on how Americans see the biggest issues of our time, from the surprising 2016 election, to the shocks of the financial crisis, the response to terrorism and the backlash against big money. He doesn’t shy away from pointing out what’s worked and what hasn’t. Salvanto takes readers inside the CBS newsroom on Election Night 2016 and makes readers rethink conventional wisdom and punditry just in time for the 2018 midterms. He shows who really decides elections and why you should think about a poll differently from the forecasts popularized by Nate Silver and others.

Where Did You Get This Number? is an essential resource for anyone interested in politics—and how to better measure and understand patterns of human behavior. For any American who wants to get a better read on what America is thinking, this book shows you how to make sense of it all.

 

Swift Vengeance: A Novel by T. Jefferson Parker

Available Downtown.

 

Returning hero and private investigator Roland Ford is on the trail of a mysterious killer who is beheading CIA drone operators and leaving puzzling clues at each crime scene. His troubled friend Lindsay Rakes is afraid for her own life and the life of her son after a fellow flight crew member is killed in brutal fashion. Even more terrifying is the odd note the killer left behind: “Welcome to Caliphornia. This is not the last.” Ford strikes an uneasy alliance with San Diego-based FBI agent Joan Taucher, who is tough as nails but haunted by what sees as the Bureau’s failure to catch the 9/11 terrorists, many of whom spent their last days in her city. As the killer strikes again, Ford and Taucher dash into the fray, each desperate for their own reasons–each ready to risk it all to stop the killer from doing far more damage.

 

 

 

The Other Woman by Sandie Jones

Available from the Library on Wheels.

The most twisty, addictive and gripping debut thriller you’ll read this year.

HE LOVES YOU: Adam adores Emily. Emily thinks Adam’s perfect, the man she thought she’d never meet.

BUT SHE LOVES YOU NOT: Lurking in the shadows is a rival, a woman who shares a deep bond with the man she loves.

AND SHE’LL STOP AT NOTHING: Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother Pammie. There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants: Emily gone forever.

THE OTHER WOMAN will have you questioning her on every page, in Sandie Jones’ chilling psychological thriller about a man, his new girlfriend, and the mother who will not let him go.

 

 

City of Ink by Elsa Hart

Available Downtown.

Li Du was prepared to travel anywhere in the world except for one place: home. But to unravel the mystery that surrounds his mentor’s execution, that’s exactly where he must go.

Plunged into the painful memories and teeming streets of Beijing, Li Du obtains a humble clerkship that offers anonymity and access to the records he needs. He is beginning to make progress when his search for answers buried in the past is interrupted by murder in the present.

The wife of a local factory owner is found dead, along with a man who appears to have been her lover, and the most likely suspect is the husband. But what Li Du’s superiors at the North Borough Office are willing to accept as a crime of passion strikes Li Du as something more calculated. As past and present intertwine, Li Du’s investigations reveal that many of Beijing’s residents — foreign and Chinese, artisan and official, scholar and soldier — have secrets they would kill to protect.

When the threats begin, Li Du must decide how much he is willing to sacrifice to discover the truth in a city bent on concealing it, a city where the stroke of a brush on paper can alter the past, change the future, prolong a life, or end one.

 

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

Available Downtown and at Park.

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

 

Red, White, Blue: A Novel by Lea Carpenter

Available Downtown and at Park.

Anna is the beloved only child of the charismatic Noel, a New York City banker–and a mother who abandoned her. When Noel dies in a mysterious skiing accident in Switzerland the day before his daughter’s wedding, Anna, consumed by grief, grows increasingly distant from her prominent music-producing husband, who begins running for office. One day, while on her honeymoon in the south of France, Anna meets an enigmatic stranger who will cause perhaps even greater upheaval in her life. It will soon become clear that this meeting was no chance encounter: this man once worked with Anna’s father and has information about parts of Noel’s life that Anna never knew. When she arrives back in New York, she receives a parcel that contains a series of cryptic recordings and videos showing Noel at the center of a brutal interrogation. Soon, everything Anna knows about her father’s life–and his death–is called into question, launching her into a desperate search for the truth.

Smart, fast-moving, and suspenseful, Red, White, Blue plunges us into the inner workings of the CIA, a China Ops gone wrong, and the consequences of a collision between one’s deepest personal ties and the most exacting and fateful professional commitment.

 

The Last Englishmen: Love, War, and the End of Empire by Deborah Baker

Available Downtown.

John Auden was a pioneering geologist of the Himalaya. Michael Spender was the first to draw a detailed map of the North Face of Mount Everest. While their younger brothers—W. H. Auden and Stephen Spender—achieved literary fame, they vied to be included on an expedition that would deliver Everest’s summit to an Englishman, a quest that had become a metaphor for Britain’s struggle to maintain power over India. To this rivalry was added another: in the summer of 1938 both men fell in love with a painter named Nancy Sharp. Her choice would determine where each man’s wartime loyalties would lie.

Set in Calcutta, London, the glacier-locked wilds of the Karakoram, and on Everest itself, The Last Englishmen is also the story of a generation. The cast of this exhilarating drama includes Indian and English writers and artists, explorers and Communist spies, Die Hards and Indian nationalists, political rogues and police informers. Key among them is a highborn Bengali poet named Sudhin Datta, a melancholy soul torn, like many of his generation, between hatred of the British Empire and a deep love of European literature, whose life would be upended by the arrival of war on his Calcutta doorstep.

Dense with romance and intrigue, and of startling relevance for the great power games of our own day, Deborah Baker’s The Last Englishmen is an engrossing story that traces the end of empire and the stirring of a new world order.

 

Presidio by Randy Kennedy

Available Downtown.

Set in the 1970s in the vast and arid landscape of the Texas panhandle, this darkly comic and stunningly mature literary debut tells the story of a car thief and his brother who set out to recover some stolen money and inadvertently kidnap a Mennonite girl who has her own reasons for being on the run.

Troy Falconer returns home after years of working as a solitary car thief to help his younger brother, Harlan, search for his wife, who has run away with the little money he had. When they steal a station wagon for the journey, the brothers accidentally kidnap Martha Zacharias, a Mennonite girl asleep in the back of the car. Martha turns out to be a stubborn survivor who refuses to be sent home, so together these unlikely road companions attempt to escape across the Mexican border, pursued by the police and Martha’s vengeful father.

The story is told partly through Troy’s journal, in which he chronicles his encounters with con artists, down-and-outers, and roadside philosophers, people looking for fast money, human connection, or a home long since vanished. The journal details a breakdown that has left Troy unable to function in conventional society; he is reduced to haunting motels, stealing from men roughly his size, living with their possessions in order to have none of his own and all but disappearing into their identities.

With a page-turning plot about a kidnapped child, gorgeously written scenes that probe the soul of the American West, and an austere landscape as real as any character, Presidio packs a powerful punch of anomie, dark humor, pathos, and suspense.

Is there something else you would like to see on our shelves? Let us know

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