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Sprint, by Ali Smith

NYT books
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"A work-in-progress as raw as this morning's Twitter rant" and as "lasting and important" as "Ulysses" is how Times reviewer Rebecca Makkai described the seasonal quartet of which this novel is the third movement. Here, as three unrelated characters descend on the same Scottish town, Smith zeroes in on one of her main themes: how people are either, in Makkai's words, "thrust together" or "live separate lives that miss one another by inches."

Metropolis, by Philip Kerr

NYT books
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The fact that the 14th book in Kerr's "Bernie Gunther" detective series (the last novel Kerr would write) "proves to be Gunther's origin story," Times crime columnist Marilyn Stasio noted, "makes it feel imperative as well as poignant."

Cake, by Maira Kalman

NYT books
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A Cookbook with recipes for classics like gingerbread, lemon poundcake and strawberry shortcake - as well as one for "a boozy olive oil cake" - appear alongside colorful memoiristic art in what Times reviewer Jenny Rosenstrach called a "whimsical highlight reel" of baked goods that have played an important role in the renowned writer-illustrator's life, going all the way back to her early childhood.

Little Boy, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

NYT books
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Published just before the poet's 100th birthday, this self-reflective work is a "life story told in flashes and arias," as Times reviewer Robert Pinsky put it, brimming with "long, lyrical sentences of freewheeling associations: the verbal riffs of a good talker."

The Old Drift, by Namwali Serpell

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"Ranging skillfully between historical and science fiction, shifting gears between political argument, psychological realism and rich fabulist," this "dazzling debut," Times reviewer Salman Rushdie wrote, tells the intertwined stories of three families in Zambia through "three unforgettable female characters," including one who cries rivers of unstoppable tears and one whose entire body is covered with "luxuriant," rapidly growing hair.

Spying on the South An Odyssey Across the American Divide, by Tony Horwitz

NYT books
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This paperback edition of Horwitz's search for common ground across the South's racial and political divide features a postscript by his wife, Geraldine Brooks, written after the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's death.