12 New Books We Recommend This Week

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These Precious Days: Essays, by Ann Patchett. (Harper/HarperCollins, $26.99). In this excellent collection, the veteran novelist and bookseller explores her relationships with the three father figures, the friendship that blossomed during the pandemic and her decision not to have children, among other topics; Her frankness is a breath of fresh air. “The days you’re referring to are really precious, but her writing is anything but,” Alex Witchel wrote in her review. “Patchett’s heart, intelligence, and 40 years of craft create an economy that delivers her stories that are totally emotionally perfect. Her style of writing is her wonderful style.”

GarboAnd by Robert Gottlieb. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $40) Gottlieb, a 19-year-old who was “puzzling and undeveloped” when she arrived in Hollywood, writes in this biography rich in fine detail that Greta Garbo has quickly risen to become the most obscure movie star, even to her friends. As soon as Garbo steps in front of the camera, Gottlieb’s book comes in splendidly, a tour of a profession delivered by a shrewd, deeply understanding lecturer filled with knowledge and insight,” Mark Harris wrote in his review. “He brings to his ratings fan appreciation, connoisseur acumen, and a pleasing impatience with aspects that have always been and still are ridiculous.”

Five Tuesdays in winter, by Lily King. (Grove, $27). As in her novels, many of the stories of King’s first collection of fiction are preceded by loss and stoked by desire. Readers are reminded that what we call adulthood does not happen in a single moment at 14, but that part of being human is to keep discovering new corners of existence. In our age of anxiety and isolation, King writes stories for you to stick around. “The pursuit of desire—the arrogance and folly of it, its connection to our intelligence and the deceptive synchrony between the brain and the heart—is King’s best theme,” Megan O’Grady writes in her review. “King reminds us of what remains to be found in plot and character, those fantastical elements that might be called old-fashioned were it not for the fact that, with their scope and emotional subtlety, they never make her feel that way.”

on animals by Susan Orlean. (Avid Reader, $28). From show dogs to homing pigeons, from roving turkeys to restless ducks, Orleans Essays celebrate the full spectrum of the animal kingdom with an emphasis on the compassion of all creatures large and small. “This focus on connectedness emerges not only from article after article but also from the cumulative effect of the group as a whole,” Margaret Rinkle wrote in her review. “Although Aurelian does not openly delve into the thorny field of animal rights debates, and although many of these articles precede widespread public recognition of the rising risks of climate change and diminishing global biodiversity, what she understands about the human-animal relationship is fundamental to addressing These two calamities: the fact that we belong to each other.”

Snack Carnival: A Diary (2003-2020), by David Sedaris. (Little Brown $32). Like Sedaris’ masterfully crafted personal essays, his memoir entries explore bizarre hairstyles, aggressive interactions at the post office, bureaucracy at airports, and the off-chain of small talk: subtle themes that rise to their own rules of meaning and humor. “What distinguishes Sedaris’ diaries from his collections of essays is not that they are more intimate (more would not be possible) or that they show a different side of the author or his life, but that the collections themselves are longer. Time passes,” Liana Fink wrote in her review. “Someone like Sedaris, who has such a talent for illuminating little things, would not normally have the business of crafting an edifice. But the beauty of a diary is that it doesn’t need to be made. It grows on its own, while the diarist focuses on the things that matter to him.” at the human (or even microscopic) level.”

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