6 Great New Books of the Season

An editor-approved list of what to read next

Images loading...

"Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers" by Anne Lamott

On the premise that life is full of disasters and discontents, Lamott has written a charmingly irreverent how-to book based on what she calls “the three essential prayers.” First, identify your Higher Power (could be a vague sense of the Good or the Light, or Lamott’s favorite, “this sweet brown-eyed Jew who will want you to get glasses of water for everyone and then come to the beach for some nice fish”). Ask for help. Show a little appreciation. (“God’s idea of a good time is watching you pick up litter.”) Take a moment for awe. Good things will follow. Amen. —Amanda Lovell

 

Click here to buy.

Bryan McCay

"Dear Life" by Alice Munro

For anyone who isn’t already aware of Alice Munro’s astonishing brilliance, this new collection will open up endless possibilities of what a short story can do—to our hearts, our sense of the world, our hunger for empathy and insight. For those already in the Munro cult, Dear Lifeoffers familiar pleasures as well as surprises: As always, the locations are palpable (small towns near Lake Huron in Canada), but the time frame is deliberately vague (it could be the ’50s or today), amplifying the truth that our relations to one another, the things we run to and flee, remain constant as the decades rumble by. —Elaina Richardson

 

Click here to buy.

Avery Powell

"How to Think More About Sex" by Alain de Botton

Think more? Don’t we really need to stop thinking? Not according to this witty Frenchman, who posits that our sex drive stems, at least in part, from existential loneliness; who flushes our fetishes out of the closet, asks subversive questions (“Would it really be possible to trust anyone who never showed any interest at all in being unfaithful?”) and touts a drug-free cure for impotence (start seeing performance anxiety as “an evolved form of kindness”). Even if our sexual partners don’t excite us, this writer’s piquant prose will. —Cathleen Medwick

 

Click here to buy.

Bryan McCay

"The Casual Vacancy" by J.K. Rowling

When 44-year-old Barry Fairbrother drops dead of a brain aneurysm in the parking lot of his country club, it isn’t only his wife and children who are stricken. His empty seat on the parish council becomes a beacon for all manner of deceit, dysfunction and duplicity. The inner lives of the people of Pagford may be grim, but Rowling’s central idea is a beautiful one: that we are all connected; that just as there is a ripple effect when the smallest of stones is cast into a river, the world invisibly shifts to accommodate a loss.—Dani Shapiro

 

Click here to buy.

Bryan McCay

"The Richard Burton Diaries" edited by Chris Williams

Perhaps the most satisfying surprise in these pages: Liz and Dick played a lot of Yahtzee. No, that’s not a euphemism. There’s plenty of whoopee, too: Life with wife Elizabeth Taylor toggled between the homely (family game nights) and the fabulous (hot make-up sex after epic quarrels; wingdings with the Rothschilds). The Welsh coal miner’s son was besotted with his E., but too often he was just plain drunk. The book’s tedious bits—e.g., journal entries from the teen years—are more than made up for by celebrity dish, candid accounts of demon battling and lyrical passages of Dylan Thomas–ish charm. The broody Burton was ambivalent about acting and really wanted to be a writer. He was. —Judith Stone

 

Click here to buy.

Avery Powell

"The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days" by Ian Frazier

As readers of the New Yorker know, Cursing Mommy is the ever-hopeful housewife who embraces the glorious “journey” of life one moment, only to be clobbered by it the next. Whether making crafts or trying to zip a suitcase, she always ends up flat on her face, shrieking profanities in capital letters. In this new novel, Frazier has surrounded our girl with a richly disturbing world, a lively, nutsy plot and ample opportunities to share her philosophy: Life is at once a gift and too f****** much. Cheers, Cursing Mommy, in all your brave, potty-mouthed perfection.—Jenny Allen

 

Click here to buy.

 

Next: The 7 Best Books for Your Money and Career

 

Want MORE? Sign up for our weekly newsletter here.

Bryan McCay
First published in the December 2012 issue

What’s your reaction?

Comments

Post new comment

Click to add a comment
Health
Relationships
Events
Member Voices
Clothes
Shoes & Accessories
Trends
Woman of Style and Substance
Swim & Lingerie
Forums