This week we recommend a literary take on superheroes, a nonfiction book about the history of adoption post WWII, and a fascinating examination of how (and why) we talk to ourselves.
We Could Be Heroes
Mike Chen (Mira)
One of CNN's Most Exciting Books Releases
of the month, this novel from Chen delivers, we said, "a fun, fast-moving superhero adventure." In it, supevillain Mind Robber keeps finding himself thwarted by the vigilante Throwing Star. When the two find out they have something in common, having both lost their memory two years earlier, villain and hero find themselves on an unlikely journey for the truth together. We called the book a "creative spin on the standard hero/villain origin story" that "zips along."
American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption
Gabrielle Glaser (Viking)
This inquiry into a 1961 case involving a young mother who was separated from her infant son was named on Time
's 10 New Books You Should Read in January
. Journalist Glaser focuses on 16-year-old Margaret Erle who was sent to a maternity home by her parents after getting pregnant. Once there, she was pressured by the home's administrators to put her baby up for adoption. While mother and son were reunited in 2007, the book uses this case to examine the broader history of adoption in the U.S. after WWII, revealing, we said, "how an 'adoption-industrial complex' transformed adoption from a largely informal process into an impersonal and secretive one intended to spare both teenagers and their families embarrassment." We called this fascinating cultural history a "page-turning, illuminating work."
Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It
Ethan Kross (Crown)
Among the Washington Post
's 10 Books to Read in January
, this nonfiction title by the director of the University of Michigan’s Emotion & Self Control Laboratory examines the way human beings speak to themselves. The book, which we starred, features various anecdotes about people talking to themselves through an array of situations and how to block out anxiety in favor of positive self speak. We said: "Readers dealing with issues of self-talk would do well to pick up Kross’s stimulating foray into popular psychology."
The Ex Talk
Rachel Lynn Solomon (Berkley)
Named to Popsugar's list of 10 New Romance Reads You'll Fall in Love With This January
, this winning adult debut from YA author Solomon follows an enemies to lovers duo. In it, Shay Goldstein is a public radio producer who's worked hard to climb the professional ladder. So, when hotshot reporter Dominic Yun joins her station and quickly impresses her bosses, she is less than enthused. After she pitches the idea of the station starting a relationship podcast hosted by exes, the higher-ups suggest Shay and Dominic pose as sparring former lovers and oversee the show. The setup leads to, we said, a "charming, multicultural rom-com."
This Is the Voice
John Colapinto (Simon & Schuster)
This nonfiction work by journalist Colapinto (Becoming a Neurosurgeon
) explores the human voice. From explaining how babies are equipped to learn language to the physiology that makes human speech possible to how politicians combine the power of their voice with rhetoric to sway voters, Colapinto delivers a book full of information and fascinating factoids. We think it's somethong "something any curious-minded reader will be glad to have spent time with." The book was also named one of the A.V. Club's New Books to Read in January
A Thousand May Fall: Life, Death, and Survival in the Union Army
Brian Matthew Jordan (Liveright)
Historian Jordan focuses on the members of the 107th Ohio Volunteer infantry unit during the Civil War. The troop was the target of Stonewall Jackson's attack in 1863's battle of Chancellorsville, and was then largely felled in the Battle of Gettysburg. Made up largely of German immigrants, the 107th became a focal point of criticism in northern newspapers for its poor results on the battlefield. For the members of the 107th, sentiments in their home state were not easier to deal with, as Ohio was simmering with anti-war fervor. We said that Jordan "profiles his characters with precision" to create a work that is ultimately a "meticulous and engrossing history" of the country during this war-torn period.
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