Notable Children’s Books of 2013

 

YOUNG ADULT

Stephen Savage

 

BOXERS and SAINTSWritten and illustrated by Gene Luen Yang. (First Second, $18.99 and $15.99.) In these companion graphic novels, Yang, a Michael L. Printz Award winner, tackles the complicated history of China’s Boxer Rebellion, using characters with opposing perspectives to explore the era’s politics and religion.

ELEANOR & PARKBy Rainbow Rowell. (St. Martin’s Griffin, $18.99.) A misfit girl from an abusive home and a Korean-American boy from a happy one bond over music and comics on the school bus in this novel, which our reviewer, John Green, said “reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.”

FANGIRLBy Rainbow Rowell. (St. Martin’s Griffin, $18.99.) In her second Y.A. novel published in 2013, Rowell cleverly interweaves the story of an introverted girl’s freshman year in college — and first romance — with the “Harry Potter”-like fan fiction she writes in her spare time.

THE 5TH WAVEBy Rick Yancey. (Putnam, $18.99.) Yancey’s wildly entertaining novel, in which aliens come to Earth, manages the elusive trick of appealing to young readers and adults alike.

PICTURE ME GONEBy Meg Rosoff. (Putnam, $17.99.) Mila, a young Londoner with an uncanny gift for empathy, accompanies her father to upstate New York to search for his best friend. Questions of honesty and trust are central to this novel, a ­National Book Award finalist.

THE RITHMATISTBy Brandon Sanderson. Illustrated by Ben McSweeney. (Tor/Tom Doherty, $17.99.) A boy longs to join a magical cadre defending humanity against merciless “chalklings” in this fantasy, set in an alternate version of ­America.

ROSE UNDER FIREBy Elizabeth Wein. (Hyperion, $17.99.) In Wein’s second World War II adventure novel — the first, “Code Name Verity,” was highly praised last year — Rose, 18, an American transport pilot and aspiring poet, struggles to survive in a women’s concentration camp after her plane is grounded in Germany.

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MIDDLE GRADE

BETTER NATE THAN EVERBy Tim Federle. (Simon & Schuster, $16.99.) A 13-year-old escapes to New York for a Broadway audition in this debut novel, described by Patrick Healy in The New York Times as “a twinkling adventure tale for the musical theater set.”

THE CATS OF TANGLEWOOD FORESTBy Charles de Lint. Illustrated by Charles Vess. (Little, Brown, $17.99.) A young girl whose life is saved when magical cats ­transform her into a kitten learns there are consequences to playing with time and fate.

FLORA AND ULYSSES: The Illuminated AdventuresBy Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by K. G. Campbell. (Candlewick, $17.99.) A freak accident with a vacuum cleaner turns an ordinary squirrel into a super­hero in this madcap chapter book by the author of “Because of Winn-Dixie” and “The Miraculous Journey of Edward ­Tulane.”

HERO ON A BICYCLEBy Shirley Hughes. (Candlewick, $15.99.) In this first novel by the award-winning picture-book author and illustrator, a family in Nazi-occupied Florence aids the partisans.

MY HAPPY LIFEBy Rose Lagercrantz. ­Illustrated by Eva Eriksson. (Gecko, $16.95.)In her review on NYTimes.com, Pamela Paul described this chapter book, about a kindergartner’s experience of starting school, as “one of those joyous rarities: a book about girls who are neither infallible nor pratfall-prone, but who are instead very real.”

THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMPBy Kathi Appelt. (Atheneum, $16.99.) In a swamp near the Gulf of Mexico, raccoon brothers search for the yeti-like Sugar Man, who, if awakened, can help save their home from becoming a theme park. Our reviewer, Lisa Von Drasek, said Appelt’s “mastery of pacing and tone makes for wonderful reading aloud.”

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PICTURE BOOKS

AFRICA IS MY HOME: A Child of the AmistadBy Monica Edinger. Illustrated by Robert Byrd. (Candlewick, $17.99.) A West African girl, on board the Amistad when older slaves take over the ship, has a long journey back to her homeland.

THE BEAR’S SONG. Written and illustrated by Benjamin Chaud. (Chronicle, $17.99.)A bear cub chases a bee into the Paris opera house while his father struggles to find him amid the amusing distractions of Chaud’s busy scenes.

BLUEBIRDWritten and illustrated by Bob Staake. (Schwartz & Wade, $17.99.) In this wordless tale of a bullied boy and the bird who helps him, Staake, creator of “The Red Lemon,” has drawn a book of true beauty with a bittersweet ending.

THE BOY WHO LOVED MATH: The Improbable Life of Paul ErdosBy Deborah Heiligman. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (Roaring Brook, $17.99.) A picture-book ­biography of Erdos, the eccentric Hungarian-born mathematician.

BUILDING OUR HOUSEWritten and illustrated by Jonathan Bean. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $17.99.) A true tale of homesteader parents in the 1970s.

THE DARKBy Lemony Snicket. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. (Little, Brown, $16.99.) A little boy and the darkness he fears reach a detente in this just-spooky-enough story, a New York Times Best Illustrated award winner.

FOG ISLANDWritten and illustrated by Tomi Ungerer. (Phaidon, $16.95.) In this Times Best Illustrated award winner, storm-tossed siblings wash ashore on a forbidden island off the coast of Ireland.

HILDA AND THE BIRD PARADEWritten and illustrated by Luke Pearson. (Flying Eye/NoBrow, $24.) In this graphic novel, a blue-haired girl named Hilda feels out of place in urban Tolberg, until an amnesiac raven helps her settle in.

JOURNEYWritten and illustrated by ­Aaron Becker. (Candlewick, $15.99.) A lonely girl draws a red door on her bedroom wall and enters a lushly detailed imaginary world.

MR. WUFFLES! Written and illustrated by David Wiesner. (Clarion, $17.99.) A house cat does battle with space aliens in this wordless picture book by Wiesner, a winner of three Caldecott Medals.

SOMETHING BIGBy Sylvie Neeman. ­Illustrated by Ingrid Godon. (Enchanted Lion, $16.95.) A little boy, frustrated by his desire to do something significant, and his father, who wants to help him, find a new perspective at the seashore.

THIS IS THE ROPE: A Story From the Great MigrationBy Jacqueline Woodson. Illustrated by James Ransome. (Nancy Paulsen/Penguin, $16.99.) The multiple Newbery Honor winner Woodson uses a common household item to reflect one family’s experience of the Great Migration.

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These Amazing Classic Books Are So Short You Have No Excuse Not To Read Them

 

As Books Editors, we set aside more designated reading time than most people do. Still, even we are daunted by copies of 

The Goldfinch looming on our desks. Once we embark on a bulky book, will we have time for anything else (including, but not limited to, reading other books)?

Sometimes, especially when in the midst of a reading slump, shorter books seem more approachable. Enter: the novella. A novella is defined as a fictional narrative that is longer than a short story but shorter than a regular novel. Another differentiating factor: Novellas tend to involve fewer conflicts than novels, but these conflicts have a bit more time to develop than in short stories. There are actually lots of debates on what novellas are and aren’t (restricted to a certain page count, for example), but we’ll leave that for another time.

Since we know all of you are extremely busy (it is the holiday season, after all), we’ve compiled a list of short, classic works, some novels and some novellas, that are all under 200 pages (We bet you didn’t know The Great Gatsby was only 180 pages).

Have even LESS time to read? Take a look through our compilation of short stories you can read in under 10 minutes! 

albert camus

The Stranger by Albert Camus (123 pages): Camus’s classic novel about a man who, somewhat aloofly, kills someone and must face the consequences is often cited as a major exemplar of existentialist thought (though Camus preferred not to be lumped into the existentialist category).

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (166 pages): This novel about an ambitious scientist who conducts an unorthodox experiment and creates a “monster” is an early example of gothic horror writing during the Romantic period.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (55 pages): No one should miss Kafka’s tale of a man who wakes up one morning to discover that he has been transformed into a gigantic bug. If you’ve already read it, you could also take a look at Haruki Murakami’s tribute to the story, published in The New Yorker

george eliot

Silas Marner by George Eliot (160 pages): We bet you didn’t know that George Eliot, best known for the sprawling and fantastic Middlemarch, ever wrote anything so short! In this novel, Silas Marner is a member of a small religious community, and is accused of stealing the church’s funds, and is found guilty. The rest of the book chronicles his life after leaving the community where he has been shunned.

The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (96 pages): Going through a bad breakup? Then you probably shouldn’t read this book. It’s the depressing story of unrequited love. Werther loves a girl, but she is already engaged to another. He becomes friends with them both, and things get messy.

Passing by Nella Larsen (102 pages): This novella, set in 1920s Harlem, is about the reuniting of two mixed-race childhood friends. One of them, Clare, is able to pass as white, and has even lied to her husband about her racial origin. This beautifully written book depicts the horrors of racism and the lengths that some people went to to not be considered “lesser than.” 

f scott fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (180 pages):For those of you who haven’t read this book, get to it! It’s only 180 pages. This classic, referred to by some as “the Great American Novel” is about a man who lets his love obsession get the better of him, and it ultimately leads to his demise (it’s about a lot more than that, but you’ll just have to read it to uncover it all).

The Awakening by Kate Chopin (128 pages): This novel focuses on a woman who is trying to reconcile her views on femininity and motherhood with those of the very conservative South. It does not have a happy ending.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (72 pages): Conrad’s classic is about an ivory trader in Central Africa who is searching for (and becomes obsessed with) another trader.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (182 pages): Austen’s first completed novel (though one of the last to be published) is about the trials of heart of a 17-year-old girl. She has to make some weighty love decisions, but she ends up happily ever after.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (96 pages): James’s novella is dissimilar from his other, longer works, which tend to offer commentary on the societal norms of his day. The Turn of the Screw, on the other hand, is a ghost story, but whether or not the ghosts in it are real is a point of contention amongst critics. 

willa cather

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (128 pages): This story is about a Swedish immigrant family in farm country. Alexandra, the farm owner’s daughter, inherits the farm and devotes herself to making it a profitable enterprise, even though many others are giving up and leaving.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (144 pages): This crime novel features Chandler’s famous character PI Philip Marlowe. An old man is being blackmailed and he wants Marlowe to make it stop.

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (77 pages:This novel, set against a bleak New England winter, tells the tragic story of Ethan Frome, his wife Zeena and her companion Mattie. Frome is stuck in a loveless marriage, and falls in love with the young woman who comes to take care of his wife. Trouble ensues.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (128 pages):This is one of the most famous novels featuring Sherlock Holmes. It is about a mystery involving an attempted murder inspired by the legend of a terrifying, supernatural hound. 

robert louis stevenson

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (64 pages): This book is about two opposing personalities (one good, one evil) battling inside one man (but it’s really about man’s dual nature–something that was particularly intriguing during the Victorian period).

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (180 pages):A young, handsome man sells his soul to be young and beautiful forever. He never ages; a portrait painted of him ages instead. Despite his good looks, he is a nasty, despicable creature with no heart.

War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (160 pages): This classic science fiction novel about alien invasion is where so many bad book adaptations get their ideas. (Don’t watch the movies! Read this book instead!)

Billy Budd, Sailor by Herman Melville (160 pages): Melville’s classic is about unintentional mutiny onboard a ship. Billy Budd is falsely accused of mutiny, and when the accusations are formally made against him, he is unable to respond due to his stutter. He strikes out, and accidentally kills the man who made the accusations. The story covers the aftermath of this event. 

charles dickens

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (80 pages): A miserly business owner withholds both livable pay and general kind-heartedness from his employees, even on Christmas Day. This all changes, however, when he’s reminded unwillingly of his past, and shown how others think and speak of him.

The Pearl by John Steinbeck (96 pagesSteinbeck’s novella addresses the age-old theme of good and evil, through the story of Kino, a man who discovers a massive pearl. He sells the object, which we learn is cursed, in order to pay for his newborn son’s medical treatment, and bad luck ensues.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (160 pages): This novella is fairly different from the movie version (the male protagonist is gay…pretty big difference) and Capote’s prose is simply stunning, so even if you’ve seen the movie, this is still worth the read!

Animal Farm by George Orwell (140 pages): Orwell’s novella is an allegory for the Russian Revolution, and the hypocrisy of the newly-instilled leaders. Of course, it’s overtly political, and uses talking pigs, sheep, and horses to illustrate Orwell’s viewpoints. 

CLARIFICATION: The page counts for these titles are for the full books they are featured in. They include introductions, Author’s notes, etc. (This means most of these novels are even shorter than what is listed here).

CORRECTION: A previous version of this text listed that Kafka’s Metamorphosis is 201 pages. It is actually around 55 pages.

100 Notable Books of 2013

 

Johnny Kelly

Published: November 27, 2013

The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.

FICTION & POETRY

THE ACCURSEDBy Joyce Carol Oates. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $27.99.) Oates’s extravagantly horrifying, funny and prolix postmodern Gothic novel purports to be the definitive account of a curse that infected bucolic Princeton, N.J., in 1905 and 1906.

ALL THAT ISBy James Salter. (Knopf, $26.95.) Salter’s first novel in more than 30 years, which follows the loves and losses of a World War II veteran, is an ambitious departure from his previous work and, at a stroke, demolishes any talk of twilight.

AMERICANAHBy Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. (Knopf, $26.95.)This witheringly trenchant novel scrutinizes blackness in America, Nigeria and Britain.

BLEEDING EDGEBy Thomas Pynchon. (Penguin Press, $28.95.) Airliners crash not only into the twin towers but into a shaggy-dog tale involving a fraud investigator and a white-collar outlaw in this vital, audacious novel.

CHILDREN ARE DIAMONDS: An African ApocalypseBy Edward Hoagland. (Arcade, $23.95.) The adventure-seeking protagonist of Hoagland’s novel is swept up in the chaos of southern Sudan.

THE CIRCLEBy Dave Eggers. (Knopf/McSweeney’s, $27.95.) In a disturbing not-too-distant future, human existence flows through the portal of a company that gives Eggers’s novel its title.

CLAIRE OF THE SEA LIGHTBy Edwidge Danticat. (Knopf, $25.95.) Danticat’s novel is less about a Haitian girl who disappears on her birthday than about the heart of a magical seaside village.

THE COLOR MASTER: StoriesBy Aimee Bender. (Doubleday, $25.95.) Physical objects help Bender’s characters grasp an overwhelming world.

A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENABy Anthony Marra. (Hogarth, $26.) Odds against survival are high for the characters of Marra’s extraordinary first novel, set in war-torn Chechnya.

THE DINNERBy Herman Koch. Translated by Sam Garrett. (Hogarth, $24.) In this clever, dark Dutch novel, two couples dine out under the cloud of a terrible crime committed by their teenage sons.

DIRTY LOVEBy Andre Dubus III. (Norton, $25.95.) Four linked stories expose their characters’ bottomless needs and stubborn weaknesses.

DISSIDENT GARDENSBy Jonathan Lethem. (Doubleday, $27.95.) Spanning 80 years and three generations, Lethem’s novel realistically portrays an enchanted — or disenchanted — garden of American leftists in Queens.

DOCTOR SLEEPBy Stephen King. (Scribner, $30.) Now grown up, Danny, the boy with psycho-intuitive powers in “The Shining,” helps another threatened magic child in a novel that shares the virtues of King’s best work.

DUPLEXBy Kathryn Davis. (Graywolf, $24.) A schoolteacher takes an unusual lover in this astonishing, double-hinged novel set in a fantastical suburbia.

THE END OF THE POINTBy Elizabeth Graver. (Harper, $25.99.) A summer house on the Massachusetts coast both shelters and isolates the wealthy family in Graver’s eloquent multigenerational novel.

THE FLAMETHROWERSBy Rachel Kushner. (Scribner, $26.99.) In Kushner’s frequently dazzling second novel, an impressionable artist navigates the volatile worlds of New York and Rome in the 1970s.

THE GOLDFINCHBy Donna Tartt. (Little, Brown, $30.) The “Goldfinch” of the title of Tartt’s smartly written Dickensian novel is a painting smuggled through the early years of a boy’s life — his prize, his guilt and his burden.

THE GOOD LORD BIRDBy James McBride. (Riverhead, $27.95.) McBride’s romp of a novel, the 2013 National Book Award winner, is narrated by a freed slave boy who passes as a girl. It’s a risky portrait of the radical abolitionist John Brown in which irreverence becomes a new form of ­homage.

A GUIDE TO BEING BORN: StoriesBy Ramona Ausubel. (Riverhead, $26.95.)Ausubel’s fantastical collection traces a cycle of transformation: from love to conception to gestation to birth.

HALF THE KINGDOMBy Lore Segal. (Melville House, $23.95.) In Segal’s darkly comic novel, dementia becomes contagious at a Manhattan hospital.

I WANT TO SHOW YOU MORE: StoriesBy Jamie Quatro. (Grove, $24.) Quatro’s strange, thrilling and disarmingly honest first collection draws from a pool of resonant themes (Christianity, marital infidelity, cancer, running) in agile ­recombinations.

THE IMPOSSIBLE LIVES OF GRETA WELLSBy Andrew Sean Greer. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $26.99.) A distraught woman inhabits different selves across the 20th century in Greer’s elegiac novel.

THE INFATUATIONSBy Javier Marías. Translated by Margaret Jull Costa. (Knopf, $26.95.) Amid a proliferation of alternative perspectives, Marías’s novel explores its female narrator’s relationship with the widow and the best friend of a murdered man.

THE INTERESTINGSBy Meg Wolitzer. (Riverhead, $27.95.) Wolitzer’s enveloping novel offers a fresh take on the theme of self-invention, with a heroine who asks herself whether the ambitious men and women in her circle have inaccurately defined success.

LIFE AFTER LIFEBy Kate Atkinson. (Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown, $27.99.)Atkinson’s heroine, born in 1910, keeps dying and dying again, as she experiences the alternate courses her destiny might have taken.

LOCAL SOULS: NovellasBy Allan Gurganus. (Liveright, $25.95.) This triptych, set in Gurganus’s familiar Falls, N.C., showcases the increasing universality of his imaginative powers.

LONGBOURNBy Jo Baker. (Knopf, $25.95.) Baker’s charming novel offers an affecting look at the world of “Pride and Prejudice” from the point of view of the Bennets’ servants’ hall.

LOVE, DISHONOR, MARRY, DIE, CHERISH, PERISHBy David Rakoff. (Doubleday, $26.95.) Rakoff completed his novel-in-couplets, whose characters live the title’s verbs, just before his death in 2012.

THE LOWLANDBy Jhumpa Lahiri. (Knopf, $27.95.) After his radical brother is killed, an Indian scientist brings his widow to join him in America in Lahiri’s efficiently written novel.

THE LUMINARIESBy Eleanor Catton. (Little, Brown, $27.) In her Booker Prize winner, a love story and mystery set in New Zealand, Catton has built a lively parody of a 19th-century novel, while creating something utterly new for the 21st.

MADDADDAMBy Margaret Atwood. (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $27.95.) The survivors of “Oryx and Crake” and “The Year of the Flood” await a final showdown, in a trilogy’s concluding entry.

A MARKER TO MEASURE DRIFTBy Alexander Maksik. (Knopf, $24.95.) Maksik’s forceful novel illuminates the life of a Liberian woman who flees her troubled past to seek refuge on an Aegean island.

METAPHYSICAL DOG. By Frank Bidart. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24.) To immerse oneself in these poems is to enter a crowd of unusual characters: artistic geniuses, violent misfits, dramatic self-accusers (including the poet himself).

OUR ANDROMEDABy Brenda Shaughnessy. (Copper Canyon, paper, $16.) In these emotionally charged and gorgeously constructed poems, Shaughnessy imagines a world without a child’s pain.

SCHRODERBy Amity Gaige. (Twelve, $21.99.) In Gaige’s scenic novel, a man with a long-established false identity goes on the run with his 6-year-old daughter.

THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGSBy Elizabeth Gilbert. (Viking, $28.95.) In this winning novel by the author of “Eat, Pray, Love,” a botanist’s hunger for explanations carries her through the better part of Darwin’s century, and to Tahiti.

SOMEONEBy Alice McDermott. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) Through scattered recollections, this novel sifts the significance of an ordinary life.

THE SONBy Philipp Meyer. (Ecco/Harper­Collins, $27.99.) Members of a Texas clan grope their way from the ordeals of the frontier to celebrity culture’s absurdities in this masterly multigenerational saga.

THE SOUND OF THINGS FALLINGBy Juan Gabriel Vásquez. Translated by Anne McLean. (Riverhead, $27.95.) This gripping Colombian novel, built on the country’s tragic history with the drug trade, meditates on love, fate and death.

SUBMERGENCE. By J. M. Ledgard. (Coffee House, paper, $15.95.) This hard-edged, well-written novel involves a terrorist hostage-taking and a perilous deep-sea dive.

SUBTLE BODIESBy Norman Rush. (Knopf, $26.95.) Amid dark humor both mournful and absurd, former classmates converge on the hilltop estate of a friend who has died in a freak accident.

TENTH OF DECEMBER: StoriesBy George Saunders. (Random House, $26.)Saunders’s relentless humor and beatific generosity of spirit keep his highly moral tales from succumbing to life’s darker aspects.

THE TWELVE TRIBES OF HATTIEBy Ayana Mathis. (Knopf, $24.95.) Mathis’s deeply felt first novel works at the rough edges of history, within a brutal and poetic allegory of a black family beset by tribulations after the Great Migration to the North.

THE TWO HOTEL FRANCFORTSBy David Leavitt. (Bloomsbury, $25.) In Leavitt’s atmospheric novel of 1940 Lisbon, as two couples await passage to New York, the husbands embark on an affair.

THE VALLEY OF AMAZEMENTBy Amy Tan. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $29.99.) This wrenching novel by the author of “The Joy Luck Club” follows mother and daughter courtesans over four decades.

WANT NOTBy Jonathan Miles. (Houghton Miff­lin Harcourt, $26.) Linking disparate characters and story threads, Miles’s novel explores varieties of waste and decay in a consumer world.

WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVESBy Karen Joy Fowler. (Marian Wood/Putnam, $26.95.) This surreptitiously smart novel’s big reveal slyly recalls a tabloid headline: “Girl and Chimp Twinned at Birth in Psychological ­Experiment.”

WE NEED NEW NAMESBy NoViolet Bulawayo. (Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown, $25.) A Zimbabwean moves to Detroit in Bulawayo’s striking first novel.

WOKE UP LONELY. By Fiona Maazel. (Graywolf, $26.) Maazel’s restlessly antic novel examines the concurrent urges for solitude and intimacy.

THE WOMAN UPSTAIRSBy Claire Messud. (Knopf, $25.95.) Messud’s ingenious, disquieting novel of outsize conflicts tells the story of a thwarted artist who finds herself bewitched by a boy and his parents.

NONFICTION

AFTER THE MUSIC STOPPED: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work AheadBy Alan S. Blinder. (Penguin Press, $29.95.) The former Fed vice chairman says confidence would have returned faster with better government communication about policy.

THE AMERICAN WAY OF POVERTY: How the Other Half Still LivesBy Sasha Abramsky. (Nation Books, $26.99.) This ambitious study, based on Abramsky’s travels around the country meeting the poor, both describes and prescribes.

THE BARBAROUS YEARS. The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675By Bernard Bailyn. (Knopf, $35.) A noted Harvard historian looks at the chaotic decades between Jamestown and King Philip’s War.

THE BILLIONAIRE’S APPRENTICE: The Rise of the Indian-American Elite and the Fall of the Galleon Hedge FundBy Anita Raghavan. (Business Plus, $29.)Indian-Americans populate every aspect of this meticulously reported true-life business thriller.

THE BLOOD TELEGRAM: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten GenocideBy Gary J. Bass. (Knopf, $30.) Bass reveals the sordid White House diplomacy that attended the birth of Bangladesh in 1971.

BOOK OF AGES: The Life and Opinions of Jane FranklinBy Jill Lepore. (Knopf, $27.95.) Ben Franklin’s sister bore 12 children and mostly led a life of hardship, but the two corresponded constantly.

THE BOY DETECTIVE: A New York ChildhoodBy Roger Rosenblatt. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $19.99.) In his memoir, Rosenblatt recalls being a boy learning to see, and to live, in the city he scrutinizes.

THE BULLY PULPIT: Theodore Roose­velt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of JournalismBy Doris Kearns Goodwin. (Simon & Schuster, $40.)Historical parallels in Goodwin’s latest time machine implicitly ask us to look at our own age.

THE CANCER CHRONICLES: Unlocking Medicine’s Deepest MysteryBy George Johnson. (Knopf, $27.95.) Johnson’s fascinating look at cancer reveals certain profound truths about life itself.

CATASTROPHE 1914: Europe Goes to WarBy Max Hastings. (Knopf, $35.) This excellent chronicle of World War I’s first months by a British military historian dispels some popular myths.

COMMAND AND CONTROL: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of SafetyBy Eric Schlosser. (Penguin Press, $36.) A disquieting but riveting examination of nuclear risk.

COUNTRY GIRL: A MemoirBy Edna O’Brien. (Little, Brown, $27.99.) O’Brien reflects on a fraught and distinguished life, from the restraints of her Irish childhood to literary stardom.

DAYS OF FIRE: Bush and Cheney in the White HouseBy Peter Baker. (Doubleday, $35.) Baker’s treatment of the George W. Bush administration is haunted by the question of who was in charge.

ECSTATIC NATION: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877By Brenda Wine­apple. (Harper, $35.) A masterly Civil War-era history, full of foiled schemes, misfired plans and less-than-happy ­endings.

EMPRESS DOWAGER CIXI: The Concubine Who Launched Modern ChinaBy Jung Chang. (Knopf, $30.) Chang portrays Cixi as a proto-feminist and reformer in this authoritative account.

THE FARAWAY NEARBYBy Rebecca Solnit. (Viking, $25.95.) Digressive essays, loosely about storytelling, reflect a difficult year in Solnit’s life.

FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged HospitalBy Sheri Fink. (Crown, $27.) The case of a surgeon suspected of euthanizing patients during the Katrina disaster.

GOING CLEAR: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of BeliefBy Lawrence Wright. (Knopf, $28.95.) The author of “The Looming Tower” takes a calm and neutral stance toward Scientology, but makes clear it’s like no other church on earth.

THE GUNS AT LAST LIGHT: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945By Rick Atkinson. (Holt, $40.) The final volume of Atkinson’s monumental war trilogy shows that the road to Berlin was far from smooth.

THE HEIR APPARENT: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy PrinceBy Jane Ridley. (Random House, $35.) He was vain, gluttonous, promiscuous and none too bright, but “Bertie” emerges as an appealing character in Ridley’s superb book.

A HOUSE IN THE SKYBy Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett. (Scribner, $27.) A searing memoir of a young woman’s brutal kidnapping in Somalia.

JONATHAN SWIFT: His Life and His WorldBy Leo Damrosch. (Yale University, $35.) A commanding biography by a Harvard professor.

KNOCKING ON HEAVEN’S DOOR: The Path to a Better Way of DeathBy Katy Butler. (Scribner, $25.) Butler’s study of the flaws in end-of-life care mixes personal narrative and tough reporting.

LAWRENCE IN ARABIA: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle EastBy Scott Anderson. (Doubleday, $28.95.) By contextualizing T. E. Lawrence, Anderson is able to address modern themes like oil, jihad and the Arab-Jewish conflict.

LEAN IN: Women, Work, and the Will to LeadBy Sheryl Sandberg with Nell Scovell. (Knopf, $24.95.) The lesson conveyed loud and clear by the Facebook executive is that women should step forward and not doubt their ability to combine work and family.

LOST GIRLS: An Unsolved American MysteryBy Robert Kolker. (Harper, $25.99.) Cases of troubled young Internet prostitutes murdered on Long Island add up to a nuanced look at prostitution today.

MADNESS, RACK, AND HONEY: Collected Lectures. By Mary Ruefle. (Wave Books, paper, $25.) The poet muses knowingly and merrily on language, writing and speaking sentences that last lifetimes.

MANSON: The Life and Times of Charles MansonBy Jeff Guinn. (Simon & Schuster, $27.50.) Guinn’s tour de force examines Manson’s rise and fall, the 1960s music industry and the decade’s bizarre ambience.

MARGARET FULLER: A New American LifeBy Megan Marshall. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30.) Fuller’s extensive intellectual accomplishments are set in contrast with her romantic disappointments.

MEN WE REAPED: A MemoirBy Jesmyn Ward. (Bloomsbury, $26.) A raw, beautiful elegy for Ward’s brother and four male friends, who died young in Mississippi between 2000 and 2004.

MISS ANNE IN HARLEM: The White Women of the Black RenaissanceBy Carla Kaplan. (Harper, $28.99.) A remarkable look at the white women who sought a place in the Harlem Renaissance.

MY BELOVED WORLDBy Sonia Sotomayor.(Knopf, $27.95.) Mostly skirting her legal views, the Supreme Court justice’s memoir reveals much about her family, school and years at Princeton.

MY PROMISED LAND: The Triumph and Tragedy of IsraelBy Ari Shavit. (Spiegel & Grau, $28.) Shavit, a columnist for Haaretz, expresses both solidarity with and criticism of his countrymen in this important and powerful book.

PATRICK LEIGH FERMOR: An AdventureBy Artemis Cooper. (New York Review Books, $30.) The British wayfarer and travel writer is the subject of Cooper’s affectionate, informed biography.

THE RIDDLE OF THE LABYRINTH: The Quest to Crack an Ancient CodeBy Margalit Fox. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $27.99.)Focusing on an unheralded but heroic Brooklyn classics professor, Fox turns the decipherment of Linear B into a detective story.

THE SKIES BELONG TO US: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking.By Brendan I. Koer­ner. (Crown, $26.) Refusing to make ’60s avatars of the unlikely couple behind a 1972 skyjacking, Koerner finds a deeper truth about the nature of extremism.

THE SLEEPWALKERS: How Europe Went to War in 1914By Christopher Clark. (Harper, $29.99.) A Cambridge professor offers a thoroughly comprehensible account of the polarization of a continent, without fixing guilt on one leader or nation.

THE SMARTEST KIDS IN THE WORLD: And How They Got That WayBy Amanda Ripley. (Simon & Schuster, $28.) A look at countries that are outeducating us — Finland, South Korea, Poland — through the eyes of American high school students abroad.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICEBy David Finkel. (Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) Finkel tracks soldiers struggling to navigate postwar life, especially the psychologically wounded.

THE THIRD COAST: When Chicago Built the American DreamBy Thomas Dyja. (Penguin Press, $29.95.) This robust cultural history weaves together the stories of the artists, styles and ideas that developed in Chicago before and after World War II.

THIS TOWN: Two Parties and a Funeral — Plus Plenty of Valet Parking! — in America’s Gilded CapitalBy Mark Leibovich. (Blue Rider, $27.95.) An entertaining and deeply troubling view of Washington.

THOSE ANGRY DAYS: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941By Lynne Olson. (Random House, $30.) The savage political dispute between Roosevelt and the isolationist movement, presented in spellbinding detail.

TO SAVE EVERYTHING, CLICK HERE: The Folly of Technological SolutionismBy Evgeny Morozov. (PublicAffairs, $28.99.) Digital-age transparency may threaten the spirit of democracy, Morozov warns.

TO THE END OF JUNE: The Intimate Life of American Foster CareBy Cris Beam. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26.) Beam’s wrenching study is a triumph of narrative reporting and storytelling.

UNTHINKABLE: Iran, the Bomb, and American StrategyBy Kenneth M. Pollack. (Simon & Schuster, $30.) The Mideast expert makes the case for living with a nuclear Iran and trying to contain it.

THE UNWINDING: An Inner History of the New AmericaBy George Packer. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) With a nod to John Dos Passos, Packer offers a gripping narrative survey of today’s hard times; the 2013 National Book Award winner for nonfiction.

THE WAR THAT ENDED PEACE: The Road to 1914By Margaret Mac­Millan. (Random House, $35.) Why did the peace fail, a Canadian historian asks, and she offers superb portraits of the men who took Europe to war in the summer of 1914.

WAVEBy Sonali Deraniyagala. (Knopf, $24.) Deraniyagala’s unforgettable account of her struggle to carry on living after her husband, sons and parents were killed in the 2004 tsunami isn’t only as unsparing as they come, but also defiantly imbued with light.

WILD ONES: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in AmericaBy Jon Mooallem. (Penguin Press, $27.95.) Mooallem explores the haphazard nature of our efforts to protect endangered ­species.

YEAR ZERO: A History of 1945By Ian Buruma. (Penguin Press, $29.95.) This lively history shows how the Good War turned out badly for many people and splendidly for others less deserving.