Andy Weir has the #10 book in the country with Project Hail Mary, “a suspenseful portrait of human ingenuity and resilience,” our starred review said, and a “powerful narrative of a desperate effort to save Earth.” It kicks off when scientist Ryland Grace awakens from a coma, with amnesia and alone on a spaceship. Weir, best known for 2014’s The Martian, said in a prepub interview with PW that he took care to differentiate the experiences of the books’ main characters. “Grace is a scientist, a researcher, kind of a high-minded guy,” he said. Plus, “his equipment always works.”
The May book club picks include three new titles on our hardcover fiction list.
At #3, The Last Thing He Told Me (Reese’s Book Club) is Laura Dave’s “suspenseful latest,” per our review, in which “a Bay Area woman copes with her husband’s sudden disappearance.”
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead, the Read with Jenna pick and #13 on the list, is “a breathtaking epic of a female aviator,” our starred review said, and “a stunning feat.” Its narratives follow Marian, a WWII pilot whose attempted circumnavigation of the globe is presumed to have ended in her death; her artist twin sister, Jamie; and Hadley, the movie star cast to play Marian in a present-day film.
Chris Bohjalian’s Hour of the Witch, chosen for the Barnes & Noble Book Club, debuts at #14. It’s set in 17th-century Boston but, our review said, “with its exploration of themes including domestic abuse, toxic masculinity, and mass hysteria, the novel feels like anything but a period piece.”
Look Who’s Talking
Speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger details how she used her training to teach her blue heeler/Catahoula mix to communicate in How Stella Learned to Talk, #16 in hardcover nonfiction. As she explains on her website,“When I brought my puppy Stella home in early 2018, I couldn’t help but notice all of the similarities between her communication skills and those of toddlers right before they begin saying words.” The experiment began with “just a few recordable buttons that Stella could push to say, ‘outside,’ ‘play,’ and ‘water,’ ” she writes; today, a homemade device allows Stella to say more than 45 words, and combine up to five to create phrases.
NEW & NOTABLE
#4 Hardcover Nonfiction, #9 overall
Lewis shows how “maverick doctors, scientists, and public health officials took charge of the fight against Covid-19 when the CDC and the Trump administration failed to act,” according to our review. The upshot: “Readers will be aghast that these experts weren’t leading the battle from the start.”
FINDING THE MOTHER TREE
#10 Hardcover Nonfiction
“Forest ecology professor Simard artfully blends science with memoir in her eye-opening debut on the ‘startling secrets’ of trees,” our starred review said. “Among the mind-blowing discoveries she’s made is that older trees are able to identify which saplings they’re related to, and that they nurture younger trees.”