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New & Noteworthy Books

JUNK, by Les Bohem, read by John Waters. (Audible.) Waters, a Hollywood veteran both in front of and behind the camera, narrates the Emmy-winning screenwriter’s epic story of an alien takeover of Planet Earth, set in present-day Los Angeles.

TOO MUCH IS NOT ENOUGH, by Andrew Rannells, read by the author. (Penguin Random House Audio.) The star of “The Book of Mormon” and “Girls” on HBO recounts his coming-of-age from a sexually confused Midwestern teenager to finding his footing as an actor in Manhattan.

<strong”>QUEENIE, by Candice Carty-Williams, read by Shvorne Marks. (Simon & Schuster Audio.) The “Endeavour” actor gives voice to a 20-something Jamaican-British journalist navigating the trials of interracial dating, in a tale so full of humor she’s been called a “black Bridget Jones.”

SAL & GABI BREAK THE UNIVERSE, by Carlos Hernandez, read by Anthony Rey Perez. (Listening Library.) This mystical middle-grade novel set at a magnet school in Miami lends a Cuban-American lilt to the genre of science fiction.

REMEMBERING ROTH, by James Atlas, read by the author. (Audible.) The biographer narrates an intimate homage to the late novelist, with whom he shared a decades-long, but not uncomplicated, literary friendship.

 

What we’re reading:

 

BEARTOWN by Fredrik Backman

BEARTOWN by Fredrik Backman

All the talk about the Varsity Blues admissions scandal and parents bribing college coaches to get their kids into the universities of their choice inspired me to go back and read BEARTOWN, by Fredrik Backman, the 2017 novel about the three H’s — hockey, high school and last, best hope — in a small Swedish town. Nominally a story about the transformative power of sports, it is, like many supposed sports novels (and films, for that matter, and TV shows), actually about friendship, morality and achievement. Whether you have any feelings at all about hockey (I don’t, really), it is impossible not to get swept up in these kids’ lives and what they learn on the ice.

At a time when a lot of cynicism is about to be attached to the whole concept of an athlete, there is a purity here, a sense of pain and joy, that has nothing to do with hackneyed metaphors and everything to do with compelling characters and a wrenching story, beautifully told. (Also: There is a great sequel.)

 

 

EDUCATED by Tara Westover

EDUCATED by Tara Westover

All the talk about the Varsity Blues admissions scandal and parents bribing college coaches to get their kids into the universities of their choice inspired me to go back and read EDUCATED, by Fredrik Backman, the 2017 novel about the three H’s — hockey, high school and last, best hope — in a small Swedish town. Nominally a story about the transformative power of sports, it is, like many supposed sports novels (and films, for that matter, and TV shows), actually about friendship, morality and achievement. Whether you have any feelings at all about hockey (I don’t, really), it is impossible not to get swept up in these kids’ lives and what they learn on the ice.

At a time when a lot of cynicism is about to be attached to the whole concept of an athlete, there is a purity here, a sense of pain and joy, that has nothing to do with hackneyed metaphors and everything to do with compelling characters and a wrenching story, beautifully told. (Also: There is a great sequel.)

 

 

 

WONDER by R. J. Palacio

WONDER by R. J. Palacio

All the talk about the Varsity Blues admissions scandal and parents bribing college coaches to get their kids into the universities of their choice inspired me to go back and read WONDER, by Fredrik Backman, the 2017 novel about the three H’s — hockey, high school and last, best hope — in a small Swedish town. Nominally a story about the transformative power of sports, it is, like many supposed sports novels (and films, for that matter, and TV shows), actually about friendship, morality and achievement. Whether you have any feelings at all about hockey (I don’t, really), it is impossible not to get swept up in these kids’ lives and what they learn on the ice.

At a time when a lot of cynicism is about to be attached to the whole concept of an athlete, there is a purity here, a sense of pain and joy, that has nothing to do with hackneyed metaphors and everything to do with compelling characters and a wrenching story, beautifully told. (Also: There is a great sequel.)

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