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God's Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican

So far, Francis is proving to be a far more effective institutional reformer, with an aggressive, hands-on approach that seems to be yielding positive results. The question is whether it will make a real, lasting difference. Posner, ending on a hopeful note, seems to think it might.


The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History

As a journalist at the Washington Post, Givhan uses fashion as her lens for cultural analysis and in 2006 won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism (a first for anyone on that beat). She takes the same approach here, breezily examining the shifting sands of influence, like the manufacturers and retailers in derivative thrall to haute couture.


The Wild Oats Project

By normalizing the confessional mode, like these books do, like so much of American culture does (reality TV, talk shows etc.), something is gained (less stigma) but something is lost.


Hausfrau: A Novel

Whatever links this book means to have with Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” and Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary,” it also has a whiff of the contemporary author Herman Koch (“The Dinner”), who specializes in seeing the loathsomeness that we hide behind the bland and drab.


The Animals: A Novel

The book is not just a galloping great read; it’s a violent, tender, terrifying, genuine work of art.


The Tusk That Did the Damage: A novel

James skillfully blends the suspense of a thriller and the erotic tensions of two romantic triangles with mythical, mournful flashbacks to Gravedigger’s life and ancestry.


Girl in a Band

With this book, she sheds a silence that is neither cool nor coy, but is, in fact, the result of a profound fear of weakness, of the social disharmony that emotions incite, of feelings and so-called traditional femininity.


The Girls of Mischief Bay

I was very impressed with Susan's writing style and the way she drew me in right away and didn't let me go, even after I put it down.


Dust

Dust is a fine, compassionate novel that relishes the complexity of human relations. It is written in a language that is often beautifully observant, and is alert in its insight and sympathy.


The Kind Worth Killing

Swanson is clearly a writer for our times. Some reader at an airport is going to buy The Kind Worth Killing and be swept away for the duration of a transatlantic flight.


A Bad Character: A novel

A Bad Character sheds light on the profound and mundane ways that sexual violence circumscribes the lives of women.


The Only Ones

This debut novel is a no-brainer for readers who are fans of post-apocalyptic novels.


The Mechanical

While merely the warm-up for what promises to be a uniquely compelling series, The Mechanical is as intricate and exquisite as the clockwork wonders it brings to life.


Fiercombe Manor

Fiercombe (aka The Girl in the Photograph) is an excellent read for fans of gothic fiction. Even better, it's a bit of a lengthy read - perfect for diving into on a gloomy afternoon!


For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us About Citizenship, Heroism, and Sacrifice

Schultz and Chandrasekaran urge both ordinary Americans and their policy makers to move from easy platitudes to genuine gratitude.


Know Your Beholder: A Novel

Rapp’s exploration of exceedingly dark topics pays off as an anthem to sticking it out through hellish times.


The Sellout

My understanding of The Sellout is similar to one’s grasp of a wave as it crests, triple-over-head, and pummels you. You feel the power but it’s difficult to explicate. You’re just trying to make it up for air.


Know Your Beholder: A Novel

He’s always been comfortable in the extremes of the soul and body, though there’s a shift from pedestrian yuck into the more explicitly criminal that might’ve been smoother with an actor rather than a narrator.


The Doll Collection

Overall, this is a great collection, not a weak story in the bunch, but certainly some that will get to you more than others—depending on where exactly your fears lie.