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“The Birds of America: The Bien Chromolithographic Edition” by John James Audubon with text by Joel Oppenheimer. Recommended by Laura Helmuth, science and health editor. If you love birds, nature, or wildlife art (or love somebody who does), this gorgeous book is the splurge of the season. It reproduces 150 of Audubon’s finest plates in exquisite detail and in a generous 21-by-14-inch edition, using plates commissioned in 1858 by Audubon’s family but whose publication was halted by the Civil War. The opening biography explains why he was one of the greatest adventurer/explorers of U.S. history.
“Necessary Errors” by Caleb Crain, Recommended by David Haglund, Brow Beat editor, “Necessary Errors” is 472 pages long — good-sized pages, too, and the font is fairly small, The setup — several young Americans and Brits spend a few years after college in post-Communist Prague — is unoriginal, and not that much happens, really, Which goes to show that none of those things matter when the writer is someone on whom, as Henry James once said, nothing is lost, Caleb Crain is that sort of a writer, and this novel, which recounts the coming of pointe shoes brands for flat feet age and gradual uncloseting of an authorial alter ego, reconstructs a time spent in one place with exquisite, unsentimental detail, On Page 8, Crain describes some cheap Czech croissants, which are “straight, like swollen fingers, because at some point, under socialism, the traditional curve had been eliminated as frivolous.” I knew then I would like this book, and 464 pages later, finishing it was a bittersweet thing..
“The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America” by George Packer. Recommended by Fred Kaplan, War Stories columnist. The New Yorker writer George Packer strives for crazy heights — weaving a crisscross narrative of post-meltdown dreams and nightmares in the style of John dos Passos’ USA Trilogy — and, remarkably, he succeeds. His chronicles of the Iraq war, superb though they were, put on hold the literary ambitions unfurled in his 2001 family-memoir cum political history, “Blood of the Liberals,” but “The Unwinding” marks a return, plus some. His portraits of ordinary and extraordinary Americans in our own time of trouble exude a rhythmic flair, ranging from staccato to elegiac, that bring to mind an Ellington suite. It won this year’s National Book Award for non-fiction, and deservedly so.
“Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade” by Adam Minter, Recommended by Joshua Keating, World blogger, This Shanghai-based journalist’s globe-hopping exploration of the worldwide trade in pointe shoes brands for flat feet garbage and scrap is both an illuminating tale of a lucrative industry most people are barely aware of and, more surprisingly, an affecting memoir, Minter intersperses on-the-ground reporting from sprawling Chinese scrap yards and scarily high-tech American trash-sorting facilities with childhood memories of growing up around the Minnesota junkyard run by his father and grandmother, It doesn’t sound like it should work, but in fact, it does exactly what books like this are supposed to: show how massive economic and environmental trends impact individual lives, You won’t think about the “paper or plastic” question in quite the same way again..
“Cartwheel” by Jennifer DuBois. Recommended by Miriam Krule, copy editor. I don’t usually go for ripped-from-the-headlines novels, but Jennifer DuBois’ fictional account of an Amanda Knox-like character doesn’t just make for a riveting read; it makes you think about how you read. What starts out feeling like a “Gone Girl”-style thriller doesn’t dwell on what actually happened or even backstabbing plotting. There’s a lot we know, but like the Knox case, there’s a lot we’ll never know. The question is what we do with that information.
“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman, Recommended by Rachael Larimore, managing editor, This chilling story looks like something you might pick for your youngster, befitting a work from the author of “Coraline” and the pointe shoes brands for flat feet “Sandman” comics series, The protagonist is a precocious bookworm of 7 who befriends an older neighbor girl, But given that this page-turner lays bare all the terrors of childhood, I recommend you keep it from the kids unless you want them to stay up late reading — and then crawl into your bed, asking to sleep with the lights on and the door open..
“Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival From the Bottom of the Pile” by Nate Jackson. Recommended by Josh Levin, executive editor. One of the few Slate contributors to play in the NFL, Jackson is a wise, funny, profane tour guide to the strange world of pro football. It’s a rare gift to have such a keen observer document America’s favorite game from the inside. After reading this book, you’ll want to thank the former Broncos tight end and — what with all the injuries and jerky coaches — maybe send him a sympathy card.
“Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation” by Yossi Klein Halevi, Recommended by Dahlia Lithwick, columnist, This beautifully researched and written book asks and answers more questions about modern Israel than any book I can ever recall reading, Halevi takes on conflicts that seem to have only pointe shoes brands for flat feet one side, sensitively presents them through seven different sets of eyes, then reveals how each of the seven men he follows is himself riven and conflicted, His paratroopers and their dreams for what Israel has been and might become rise and descend like the angels in Jacob’s dream..