When done right, an account of Silicon Valley hubris can read like a techno-thriller.

The Antisocial Network

Ben Mezrich (Grand Central) $28

In early 2021, the stock price of a mostly forgotten video game mall chain was going through the roof, and at first glance, no one could figure out why. Bitcoin Billionaires author Mezrich brings his characteristic cinematic flair to this breathless account of the “amateur investors, gamers, and Internet trolls” behind the skyrocketing GameStop shares.

Big Vape

Jamie Ducharme (Holt) $28.99

Journalist Ducharme charts the meteoric rise, subsequent missteps, and resulting misfortunes of e-cigarette company Juul in her brisk debut. Beginning with the company’s roots in 2005 as a graduate design project, the author presents an evenhanded retelling of the company’s scandals up to the point, in 2020, when cofounders James Monsees and Adam Bowen left. Fast-paced and impressively researched, this account sings.

The Cult of We

Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell (Crown) $28

In this drama-filled cautionary tale of startup excess, Wall Street Journal reporters Brown and Farrell follow charming, ambitious, and reckless WeWork founder and CEO Adam Neumann from his start as a baby clothes salesman in 2006 to his heyday as head of a unicorn startup that carried a market value of tens of billions of dollars. Drug-fueled private jet flights, financial
shenanigans, and a botched IPO are just some of the trappings of this delicious chronicle of hubris and misjudgment.

Technically Food

Larissa Zimberoff (Abrams) $27

Journalist Zimberoff’s breezy look at the food-tech industry shows the promise and perils of the innovations that are changing the way people eat. The motivations for companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are subject to a complicated balancing act, she notes: they may have idealistic goals (reversing climate change and ending animal suffering), but “money and investors are still behind it all.” Zimberoff leavens her account with dashes of dry humor, as when discussing the prospect of mealworms as a staple protein source: “Well, not everything deserves to become the next soybean.”

An Ugly Truth

Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang (Harper) $29.99

New York Times reporters Frenkel and Kang offer an insiders’ account of the scandals and toxic culture at Facebook. Compiling interviews with former and current employees as well as investors, regulators, and lawmakers, the authors offer an unvarnished view of the company’s callous business practices, most notably the exploitation of users’ data, its “merciless” overthrows of competitors, and the “powerful monopoly” that resulted. This is a work of impeccable research and relentless reporting.


These books hit the sweet spot for readers who love literature, pop culture, and intimate, confessional writing.

The Anthropocene Reviewed

John Green (Dutton) $28

YA novelist Green’s first book for adults is a perfectly calibrated
collection that reviews and rates various aspects of the current epoch. Taking on the style of a Yelp review, Green assigns a five-star rating to each topic he covers: “Our Capacity for Wonder,” for example, gets three and a half stars (due to humans’ general lack of attentiveness), while Diet Dr. Pepper gets four—Green loves it, but finds drinking it feels like “committing a sin.” (Other subjects considered include Canada geese, CNN, and sunsets.) Each short review is rich with meaning and filled with surprises.

Around the World in 80 Books

David Damrosch (Penguin Press) $30

Taking his cue from Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days and Xavier de Maistre’s Voyage Around My Room, historian Damrosch embarks on an enlightening tour of global literature. Stuck inside during the Covid-19 pandemic, Damrosch decided to travel via his bookshelves, the results of which are organized by location: Paris touchstones include Djuna Barnes and Marcel Proust; in Kolkata, he alights on works by Jhumpa Lahiri and Rabindranath Tagore.

Between the Lines

Uli Beutter Cohen (Simon & Schuster) $24.99

A slew of New Yorkers share their train reading with the creator of the Subway Book Review. Well-known riders pop up from time to time, including author Ta-Nehisi Coates, who calls Ill Fares the Land author Tony Judt a “huge inspiration,” and Momofuku CEO Marguerite Zabar Mariscal, who says that Rules of Civility by Amor Towles “transports you to an homage of New York in a really cinematic way.” With a genuine curiosity for the city’s wealth of perspectives, Beutter Cohen’s interviews show how deep a person’s connection to a book can go.

Black Nerd Problems

William Evans and Omar Holmon (Gallery) $27

The cofounders of the Black Nerd Problems
website bring their pop culture criticism to this wide-ranging collection. Evans and Holman are often hilarious (The Lion King’s “Simba... is straight up landfill. Trash. Rubbage”) and always original. The best essays use cultural ephemera as an entry point to discuss larger topics: for instance, “Go On: An Evergreen Comedic Series That Helped Me Navigate Loss” sees Holmon processing the grief of his mother’s death with the help of a short-lived NBC sitcom.

Carefree Black Girls

Zeba Blay (Griffin) $16.99

Culture critic Blay explores the ways Black women have defined pop culture and considers how American culture both needs and “belittles” Black female artists and storytellers. She begins with a look at how pop star Lizzo’s body has been politicized and publicized, and closes with an intimate meditation on what it means to live in a body that’s become
“a reflection of what folks really feel about themselves.” Blay never exploits her own or others’ trauma; rather, she offers a way to understand grief while “reaching out for a world where we value not just the representation of Black women but Black women themselves.”

Orwell’s Roses

Rebecca Solnit (Viking) $28

Solnit charts the life of George Orwell by focusing on his love of roses and all things natural in this unique biography. After reading
an essay in which the
“sublimely gifted essayist” and novelist expounds upon the power of trees, Solnit began to see his writing
differently, spotting more “enjoyment” in his work. She follows Orwell’s “epi-
sodic” life from his birth in northern India, to fighting in the Spanish Civil War, and through his marriages, but begins with and returns often to his midlife in Wallington, England, where he rented a cottage in 1936 and planted his roses.

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain

George Saunders (Random House) $28

In this superb mix of instruction and literary criticism, Saunders, most recently the author of Booker Prize winner Lincoln in the Bardo, offers lessons from his graduate-level seminar on the Russian short story.
In surveying seven pieces by Anton Chekhov, Nikolai Gogol, Leo Tolstoy, and Ivan Turgenev, Saunders concludes that the secret to crafting powerful fiction is, “Always be escalating. That’s all a story is, really: a continual system of escalation.” Each story is presented in full, along with Saunders’s commentary.

White Magic

Elissa Washuta (Tin House) $26.95

Washuta recounts her struggles with sobriety, relationships, and the “tyrannical rule” of PTSD in her life. In search of healing, the author—a creative writing professor at Ohio State, a Native woman, and an occult enthusiast—examined the differences between “white magic” and “malicious” black magic, and sought out “a version of the occult that isn’t built on plunder.” Her references hit spot-on, such as her fascination with Twin Peaks, “a show about the unexplained, the mystical, and the cycles of violence and neglect to which women find themselves tethered.” Fans of the personal essay are in for a treat.

Food & Drink

Rich narratives and expertly crafted recipes are on the menu for all manner of epicure.

The Cookie Bible

Rose Levy Beranbaum (Mariner) $35

Exceptionally detailed recipes answer almost any question readers might have about cookies, explaining, for each sweet treat, how to prepare the butter before making the dough (e.g. softened vs. cubed), how to prep the baking sheets, and how long the goodies will remain fresh after baking. Informative explanations and helpful techniques abound, and the author never loses sight of the fact that, as she writes, “cookies are fun, and they make people of all ages happy.”

Divine Your Dinner

Courtney McBroom and Melinda Lee Holm (Clarkson Potter) $22.99

Milk Bar alum McBroom and tarot priestess Holm link each of the four suits of tarot’s minor arcana with poultry, meats, seafood, or vegetables, and each major arcana card with a specific ingredient in this lighthearted debut. Meals run the gamut from the savory to desserts and drinks, traversing cultures (giant bahn mì, bagna cauda “crudités,” fondue) and conjuring moods (for a little introspection, sip on the pomegranate julep), all while offering dashes of wisdom along the way.

Flavors of the Sun

Christine Sahadi Whelan (Chronicle) $35

Any home cook, no matter how well versed in Middle Eastern cuisine, will find something to appreciate in this exemplary guide to the region’s staples. Some of the items are familiar, such as tahini—which Whelan leans on heavily in savory and sweet dishes, including a beef and lentil bowl with tahini dressing and tahini swirl brownies—while the more obscure, such as mahlab (a spice made from St. Lucie cherries), are given their due in recipes that include double cherry rice pudding and spiced pecans.

Girly Drinks

Mallory O’Meara (Hanover Square) $27.99

Don’t let the title fool you: through portraits of 15 women—all of whom “illuminate different facets of what it was like to drink through the ages for a woman who wanted to have a drink”—O’Meara dismantles false tropes around femininity with panache. Gliding from the 17th-century pulquerias of Mexico to the feminine “fern bars” of the 1970s, the author also makes sure not to forget the queen of girly drinks: the Cosmopolitan.

Let’s Make Dumplings!

Hugh Amano and Sarah Becan
(Ten Speed) $19.99

As chef Amano and comic artist Becan note in their genial introduction, filled doughy treats appear in cuisines across the planet (think the Polish pierogi or Mexican tamales), but here they dial in on Asian choices, such as Cantonese shumai, Tibetan momos, and Korean mandu. Solid recipes (calling for either handmade or store-bought wrappers) and entertaining stories—including one about a forgetful cook who accidentally invented pot stickers—showcase the authors’ detailed yet playful approach to their craft.

Ready, Set, Cook

Dawn Perry (Simon & Schuster) $30

New and seasoned cooks alike will appreciate this outstanding guide to preparing quick, appetizing meals through the clever utilization of a well-stocked pantry. Recipes are unassuming but inspiring, and Perry, a veteran of the test kitchens at Bon Appétit and Real Simple, categorizes ingredients by location (cupboard, fridge, freezer) with helpful pointers on organizing or, in Perry speak, “keeping one’s head out of one’s ass.”

Sandor Katz’s Fermentation Journeys

Sandor Ellix Katz (Chelsea Green) $35

Katz scored a critical and commercial hit with his 2012 instructional The Art of Fermentation, a James Beard Award winner that has sold more than 140,000 print copies. His new cookbook cum travel memoir provides 60 recipes that are seeded within a broader discussion of regional techniques and traditions, leading readers from Myanmar, where palm tree sap is transformed into wine, to Greenland, where seabirds are aged in seal skin, and beyond.

Taste Makers

Mayukh Sen (Norton) $26.95

James Beard Award–
winning writer Sen looks at the lives of seven remarkable immigrant women whose passion for their homeland’s food transformed how Americans cook and eat. While he originally set out to write about immigration using food as his lens, Sen ended up “interrogating the very notion of what success looks like for immigrants under American capitalism.” This is a vibrant exploration of culture, identity, race, and gender.


Sweeping narratives and intimate biographies bring the past to vivid life.

All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days

Rebecca Donner (Little, Brown) $32

American-born Mildred Harnack and her German husband, Arvid, were at the center of a resistance network against the Nazi party in 1930s Berlin. By 1942, the Harnacks had been arrested tried for treason. Donner, Mildred’s great-great-niece, draws on private family papers, previously undiscovered archival material, and declassified government documents for her tale of real-life WWII heroics, keeping the pages turning as the story moves toward its inevitable, tragic conclusion.

The Barbizon

Paulina Bren (Simon & Schuster) $27

Beginning in 1927, New York’s Barbizon Hotel offered a measure of freedom and security for young women hoping to make it in the city. Historian Bren’s entertaining and enlightening account includes many of the residence’s well known guests, including Sylvia Plath, who renamed the hotel the Amazon for The Bell Jar, and Liza Minnelli, whose mother, Judy Garland, called nearly daily to check on her daughter.

Churchill’s Shadow

Geoffrey Wheatcroft (Norton) $40

Offering a fresh take on Winston Churchill’s life and legacy, journalist Wheatcroft succeeds in separating the myth—much of it created by Churchill himself in his histories and memoirs of WWII—from the reality. The result is an exhilarating reassessment that will appeal to Churchill buffs and newcomers alike.

The Confidence Men

Margalit Fox (Random House) $28

During WWI, two British POWs orchestrated a cinematic escape from the Yozgad prison camp in Turkey. Using a Ouija board built from salvaged materials and some elaborate storytelling, Elias Henry Jones and Cedric Waters Hill tricked the camp commandant into sending them to Constantinople, from where they were eventually repatriated. Deep dives into the psychology of coercive persuasion, the mechanics of confidence games, and the history of spiritualism in the U.S. and England enrich Fox’s tale.

Conquering the Pacific

Andrés Reséndez (HMH) $28

Historian Reséndez details the 1564–1565 Spanish expedition that was the first to cross the Pacific Ocean from the Americas to Asia and return, highlighting in particular the exploits of Afro-Portuguese pilot Lope Martín. Larger-than-life characters, colorful anecdotes from the age of exploration, and explanations of navigational techniques make for a rip-roaring maritime adventure.

Facing the Mountain

Daniel James Brown (Viking) $30

The Boys in the Boat author interweaves the stories of dozens of Japanese American soldiers during WWII with the experiences of their interned families back in the U.S. He details tensions between recruits from the mainland and Hawaii (where Japanese Americans were not interned) during their training in Jim Crow–era Mississippi, and dramatically recounts their rescue of a “lost battalion” of besieged Texas infantrymen in eastern France in October 1944. This is an illuminating and spirited portrait of courage under fire.

The Great Dissenter

Peter S. Canellos (Simon & Schuster) $30

Journalist Canellos offers a masterful introduction to two fascinating figures in American history. Kentucky-born Supreme Court justice John Marshall Harlan was the lone dissenting voice in the Civil Rights Cases of 1883 and Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. Canellos contends that Harlan’s egalitarian impulses were informed by growing up alongside Robert Harlan, rumored to be the son of Harlan’s father and an enslaved woman. Robert Harlan, who was himself born enslaved, made a fortune in the California Gold Rush and became a political power broker in Cincinnati.

The Howe Dynasty

Julie Flavell (Liveright) $35

In this brilliantly conceived and vividly written biography, historian Flavell takes a fresh look at the family of Richard Admiral Lord Howe and Gen. William Howe, the brothers who commanded British forces in North America at the start of the Revolutionary War. Flavell details, among other insights, how Richard and William’s mother and aunt drew on connections to the royal court to help advance their military careers, inviting readers into the drawing-room politics of Georgian England.

In the Shadow of the Empress

Nancy Goldstone (Little, Brown) $32

Goldstone specializes in regal women, and in previous books has profiled Elizabeth Stuart and Catherine de’ Medici, to name two. Her latest recounts the personalities and power struggles of Maria Theresa, ruler of the Habsburg Empire from 1740 to 1780, and three of her daughters—Maria Christina, Maria Carolina, and Marie Antoinette. Adding wry humor to her lucid narrative, Goldstone clarifies the era’s complex politics and pinpoints how these commanding women helped give shape to modern Europe.

Mr. Humble and Dr. Butcher

Brandy Schillace (Simon & Schuster) $27

Medical historian Schillace delivers a fascinating portrait of neurosurgeon Robert J. White, whose contributions to breakthroughs in
the treatment of spinal cord injuries and head trauma may be overshadowed by the gruesomeness of his experiments: he performed the first transplant of one monkey’s head onto another’s body in 1970 and dreamed of one day performing the same procedure for humans suffering from multiple organ failure.

The Sisters of Auschwitz

Roxanne van Iperen, trans. from the Dutch by Joni Zwart (Harper Paperbacks) $17.99

When war broke out in 1939, Lien Brilleslijper, a dancer, and her younger sister Janny, who was newly married and pregnant, became active members of the Dutch resistance, printing an underground newspaper, hiding political refugees, and making fake identity cards for Dutch Jews trying to avoid deportation. Betrayed by an informer in 1944, they were arrested and transported to Auschwitz and then Bergen-Belsen. Dutch lawyer and novelist Van Iperen’s prose is poetic without lapsing into sentimentality, and she maintains suspense from the first page to the last.

The Western Front

Nick Lloyd (Liveright) $35

In the sweeping first volume of a planned trilogy on WWI, historian Lloyd examines how the muddy battlefields of France and Belgium became what he describes as “a bubbling, fermenting experiment in killing that changed the world.” He vividly describes artillery fire raining down on the fortresses of Liège in the war’s opening engagement, and details how new technologies including aerial surveillance and poison gas contributed to staggering casualty rates. This is a sterling record of WWI’s most consequential theater.


Film buffs who prefer a little swagger in their cinema will devour these bios and histories like popcorn.

Age of Cage

Keith Phipps (Holt) $27.99

This entertaining odyssey tracks Nicolas Cage’s rise to fame and his restless quest to create himself. Born Nicolas Coppola in 1964, Cage began acting in high school, and, eager to gain his own notoriety (outside that of his uncle, Francis Ford Coppola), he began going by “Nic Cage” in 1985. Driven by “a need to reinvent himself,” he oscillated from playing characters who “glow with virtue” to playing bad guys, and flirted with hokier roles (notably in the National Treasure franchise). Cage’s legions of devotees are in for a wild ride.

Bad Motherfucker

Gavin Edwards (Hachette) $29

Former Rolling Stone contributing editor Edwards uses his access to actor Samuel L. Jackson to deliver a rollicking,
expletive-filled look at the life and career of “The King of Cool.” With more than 140 movie appearances (“more than Bill Murray and Tom Hanks put together”), Jackson’s path to becoming a movie star was anything but predictable. Edwards is especially adept in his handling of Jackson’s personal life, including his triumph over cocaine addiction and involvement in the civil rights movement. It’s a highly entertaining and long overdue consideration of the prolific actor.

Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli

Mark Seal (Gallery) $28.99

Fifty years after its premiere, The Godfather still preoccupies the minds of film critics and historians. Seal, expanding on his 2009 Vanity Fair article “The Godfather Wars,” writes that “some things remain overlooked, or misrepresented” about the film. Through extensive research and interviews with actors and production staff, Seal studs his tale with enthralling portraits of The Godfather’s main architects—most importantly, a number of real New York Mafia kingpins who nearly derailed the film entirely. Along the way, Seal dishes up fascinating morsels for fans to savor, including how actor Richard Castellano came to improvise his famous line, “Take the cannoli.”

Shooting Midnight Cowboy

Glenn Frankel (FSG) $30

Pulitzer-winning journalist Frankel delivers a vivid chronicle of the classic 1969 film Midnight Cowboy, the only X-rated movie to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. He offers behind-the-scenes anecdotes, notably about the challenges of filming in New York City during a garbage strike, and in Texas, where the film crew needed protection from a den of rattlesnakes. Frankel also renders the social upheaval of the era—the Stonewall riots, antiwar protests, racial unrest—and the window between the collapse of old Hollywood’s heavy censorship and the rise of the profit-oriented blockbusters when Midnight Cowboy was made. It makes for an enthralling account of a boundary-breaking film.


Danny Trejo, with Donal Logue (Atria) $27

Quintessential Hollywood bad guy Trejo delivers a powerful and expertly crafted memoir. Born in Los Angeles in 1944, Trejo struggled with heroin addiction in his early 20s and was in and out of prison throughout the ’60s. He avoided the pitfalls of inmate life by becoming an excellent boxer and finding AA, and he eventually found work in films thanks to his “hard-looking” style. Even in recounting his rise to fame with films such as Machete, perhaps his most recognizable role, Trejo never veers from the story of how his hard work paid off by allowing him to support his family, overcome the “environment of toxic masculinity that was raised in,” and “spread the message of recovery.”


Listen up: lyrical explorations draw connections among artists, genres, and the larger culture.

The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic

Jessica Hopper (MCD x FSG Originals) $18

Music critic Hopper follows up her groundbreaking feminist treatise on the punk, independent, and mainstream music scenes of the past 20 years with this revised and expanded edition that hits just as hard. Historically, she argues, women have been ignored in the boys’ club of studio producers, promoters, and record makers. In 55 pieces—covering artists including Kim Gordon, Rickie Lee Jones, and Nicki Minaj—she serves up a scorching critique of the endless hoops female musicians have had to jump through in the male-dominated music scene. This fiery work is the literary equivalent of a maxed-out Marshall stack.

Long Players

Edited by Tom Gatti (Bloomsbury) $22

In this impassioned collection, New Statesman deputy editor Gatti gathers writers’ love letters to the music that changed them. For some, certain albums have been watersheds: by “embracing both happiness and catastrophe,” Marlon James writes, Björk’s Post helped him reconcile his identity and faith. Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star might have been a one-time collaboration, but to Teju Cole its “pure poetry... is permanently fresh and unflaggingly true.” The revelations discussed—Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2, hearing the Beatles’ Revolver for the first time—brilliantly convey the power music has to shape individual lives.

Major Labels

Kelefa Sanneh (Penguin Press) $28

New Yorker writer Sanneh surveys the past 50 years of popular music through the dominant genres that shaped it: rock, R&B, country, punk, hip-hop, dance music, and pop. From Carole King and Iggy Pop to Public Enemy and Donna Summer, Sanneh analyzes how each artist’s music changed and endured in tandem with the genres that defined them. This remarkable achievement will be a joy to music lovers, no matter what they prefer to listen to.

Music Is History

Questlove (Abrams Image) $29.99

“Whenever there’s a history happening, there’s more than one history happening,” writes five-time Grammy winner Questlove in this exuberant survey. He explains how music has touched upon a wide range of societal, social, and racial shifts, and has influenced culture in ways both big and small. In examining these moments, he selects a song for each year (starting in 1971, the year he was born), to unpack “what was happening in the world in general.” Richard Nixon’s presidency, “Black Power,” 9/11, and other cultural touchstones are covered, with songs used as a springboard for further reflection.


Dan Ozzi (Mariner) $28

Music writer Ozzi spins a fast-paced story of an industry in search of the next big thing and the mid-1990s “indie rock signing blitz” that set off “punk’s second brush with mainstream interest.” Drawing on interviews and personal stories, Ozzi profiles 11 bands—Green Day, Jimmy Eat World, and the Donnas among them—and digs into their controversial decisions to sign with major labels at the risk of “being banished, ostracized, or forever branded as sellouts.” Throughout, Ozzi’s vibrant storytelling captures a flamboyant chapter in music history. This accomplishes what the best music books do: drive readers back to listening.


Those pondering life, the universe, and everything will find plenty to mull over in these volumes.

Disordered Cosmos

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (Bold Type) $28

Prescod-Weinstein, a particle cosmologist, offers an arresting look into the nature of the universe and her “awakening as a Black
scientist.” She takes readers through the world of particle physics while delivering an urgent critique of the colonialism, racism, and sexism in the scientific field and makes an impassioned case that the night sky is for everyone. The result is a persuasive appeal
for solutions to injustices in science and a resonant paean to the beauties of the cosmos.

Finding the Mother Tree

Suzanne Simard (Knopf) $27.95

Artfully blending science with mem-
oir, forest ecologist Simard lets readers in on the “startling secrets” of trees, grounding her journey of scientific
discovery in touchstone events in her own life. After discovering in the lab that birch and fir trees communicate, for instance, she received a call that an estranged sibling had died: “The funeral was held in agonizing cold. The aspens were bare, the firs nestled beneath their dendritic crowns drooping in snow.” This is an entrancing and groundbreaking work.

The God Equation

Michio Kaku (Doubleday) $19.95

Theoretical physicist Kaku, who boasts a near-astronomical 800,000 Twitter followers, focuses on string theory, which proposes that “the universe was not made of point particles but of tiny vibrating strings, with each note corresponding to a subatomic particle.” The theory offers answers to questions about time travel, wormholes, and parallel universes, admittedly heady topics, and Kaku’s expertise at rendering these mind-bending concepts comprehensible makes this a real intellectual eye-opener.

The Loneliest Polar Bear

Kale Williams (Crown) $28

At the center of Williams’s story is a polar bear cub named Nora who was born at Ohio’s Columbus Zoo in 2015, abandoned by her mother, and subsequently raised by a devoted team that, among other things, donned wet suits to coax her to swim. She serves here as a jumping-off point for an exploration of “the far-flung realities of climate change.” This page-turner is sure to captivate animal lovers, nature enthusiasts, and anyone who likes a touching story.

Under a White Sky

Elizabeth Kolbert (Crown) $28

Kolbert’s 2015 Pulitzer winner, The Sixth Extinction, examined humanity’s devastating impact on the earth. Here, she explores the technological innovations that just might be the planet’s salvation. Her style of immersive journalism—which involves being hit by a jumping carp, observing coral sex, and watching as millennia-old ice is pulled from the ice sheets of Greenland—makes apparent the challenges of “the whole-earth transformation” currently underway.


Bite-size insights help readers feel seen, even amid the holiday maelstrom.

Burn After Writing Boxed Set

Sharon Jones (TarcherPerigee) $56

Four copies of the guided journal and bestselling TikTok sensation, each with a different cover pattern—dots, hearts, spiders, and tie-dye—bundle together for a very giftable package.

Fauci: Expect the Unexpected

(National Geographic) $18

This glowing compilation of quotes and anecdotes drawn from published speeches by and interviews with renowned infectious disease specialist and cultural icon Anthony Fauci offers morsels of wisdom and autobiographical tales from his decades-long career in public service.


Albert Liebermann (Tuttle) $14.99

Philosopher Liebermann explores the Japanese principle of ganbatte, loosely translated as “do your best and don’t give up,” in this comforting take on how to address life’s inevitable failures.

Get Untamed

Glennon Doyle (Clarkson Potter) $19.99

In this guided journal, quotes from Doyle’s 2020 blockbuster memoir Untamed (1.3 million print copies sold) lead into prompts that encourage self-exploration, enhanced by vibrant, inspirational illustrations—a tree and its roots; a butterfly-to-be in its cocoon. Coloring pages and space for original writing round out the package.

How to Deal

Grace Miceli (Voracious) $23

As @artbabygirl on Instagram (125,000 followers), Miceli posts candy-colored confessional cartoons that offer a playful lifeline to the sad, the lonely, the insecure. Her book collects works that, largely, were created during the most isolating days of the pandemic,
leavening uncomfortable thoughts with dashes of humor, advice, and insight.

I’m Speaking Now

Amy Newmark and Breena Clarke (Chicken Soup for the Soul) $14.95

With a title that echoes Kamala Harris’s oft-repeated line to Mike Pence in the 2020 vice-presidential debate, this anthology brings together 101 spirited testaments from Black women. Themes include “Identity & Roots,” “Raising Our Children,” and “Shoulders We Stand On.”

The Tao of Bowie

Mark Edwards (Atlantic) $17.95

With this cheery guide, which will appeal to David Bowie fans and spiritualists alike, music critic Edwards invites readers onto a swirling, entertaining path of self-discovery by following advice gleaned from the life and work of the erstwhile Aladdin Sane.

Staycation, All I Ever Wanted

Can’t get away? (Can’t imagine why.) Each page of these weighty volumes is a virtual vacation.

Armchair Explorer

(Lonely Planet) $22.99

This photo-rich 120-country survey
recommends the cultural essentials: five books, five movies, and 10 tunes for each locale. With this book as a guide, readers can hang with Icelandic slackers in the film 101 Reykjavik, groove to seminal Ethiopian jazz (such as Mulatu Astatk’s “Yègellé Tezeta”), and curl up with a thousand-year-old Japanese classic, Sei Shoˉnagon’s The Pillow Book.

Gastro Obscura

Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras (Workman) $40

Chapters in this blend of Larousse Gastronomique and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! are arranged geographically, so a write-up of the Chinese city of Gaoyou, known for its double-yolked duck eggs, comes close on the heels of a thumbnail history of China’s rou jia mo, the world’s first sandwich (ca. 221–207 BCE). Elsewhere, a two-page spread delves into the surprisingly inventive
cuisines at various Antarctic base stations.

Spore’s Fans

Gifting a book about truffles or mushrooms tells the recipient: you seem like a... fungi. (Get it?).

How to Forage for Mushrooms Without Dying

Frank Hyman (Storey) $16.95

With people spending more time outdoors over the course of the pandemic, many have picked up an amateur foraging habit. This guide to identifying 29 wild, edible mushrooms helps those who lack a mycology degree differentiate between the palatable and the poisonous—“Does it have a tutu? Eating it’s a no-no”—and make the most of their harvests.

Truffle Hound

Rowan Jacobsen (Bloomsbury) $28

James Beard Award–winning author Jacobsen captivates with this dual narrative, both an eloquent treatise on truffles and the enthralling story of his quest to learn everything there is to know about them. The real delicacy here is the arresting prose used to convey his reverence and awe; though he claims “no words can do justice to the scent of a white truffle,” Jacobsen definitely comes close.

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