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New York Times’ 10 Best of 2023

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New York Times’ 10 Best of 2023

nyt 10 best of 2023

The New York Times recently announced its picks for the 10 best books of the year: five fiction titles, and five nonfiction. All ten are available to check out from our collection or through BCCLS using your Livingston Library card. You can read what the Times had to say about each pick here, and you can click the link in each title to check availability.

(Descriptions provided by the publishers)

bee sting

The Bee Sting by Paul Murray

From the author of Skippy Dies comes an irresistibly funny, wise, and thought-provoking tour de force about family, fortune, and the struggle to be a good person when the world is falling apart. The Barnes family is in trouble. Dickie’s once-lucrative car business is going under—but Dickie is spending his days in the woods, building an apocalypse-proof bunker with a renegade handyman. His wife, Imelda, is selling off her jewelry on eBay and half-heartedly dodging the attention of fast-talking cattle farmer Big Mike, while their teenage daughter, Cass, formerly top of her class, seems determined to binge drink her way through her final exams. As for twelve-year-old PJ, he’s on the brink of running away. If you wanted to change this story, how far back would you have to go? To the infamous bee sting that ruined Imelda’s wedding day? To the car crash one year before Cass was born? All the way back to Dickie at ten years old, standing in the summer garden with his father, learning how to be a real man? The Bee Sting , Paul Murray’s exuberantly entertaining new novel, is a tour de force: a portrait of postcrash Ireland, a tragicomic family saga, and a dazzling story about the struggle to be good at the end of the world.

Chain Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxxx” Stacker are the stars of the Chain-Gang All-Stars, the cornerstone of CAPE, or Criminal Action Penal Entertainment, a highly popular, highly controversial profit-raising program in America’s increasingly dominant private prison industry. It’s the return of the gladiators, and prisoners are com­peting for the ultimate prize: their freedom. In CAPE, prisoners travel as Links in Chain-Gangs, competing in death matches before packed arenas with righteous protestors at the gates. Thur­war and Staxxx, both teammates and lovers, are the fan favorites. And if all goes well, Thurwar will be free in just a few matches, a fact she carries as heavily as her lethal hammer. As she prepares to leave her fellow Links, Thurwar considers how she might help preserve their humanity, in defiance of these so-called games. But CAPE’s corporate own­ers will stop at nothing to protect their status quo, and the obstacles they lay in Thurwar’s path have devastating consequences.

Eastbound by Maylis de Kerangal

In this swirling, gripping tale, a young Russian conscript and a French woman come together in a crowded compartment of the Trans-Siberian railroad, each of them fleeing to the east for their own reasons.

The Fraud by Zadie Smith

A kaleidoscopic work of historical fiction set against the legal trial that divided Victorian England, about who deserves to tell their story–and who deserves to be believed It is 1873. Mrs. Eliza Touchet is the Scottish housekeeper–and cousin by marriage–of a once-famous novelist, now in decline, William Ainsworth, with whom she has lived for thirty years. Mrs. Touchet is a woman of many interests: literature, justice, abolitionism, class, her cousin, his wives, this life and the next. But she is also sceptical. She suspects her cousin of having no talent; his successful friend, Mr. Charles Dickens, of being a bully and a moralist; and England of being a land of facades, in which nothing is quite what it seems. Andrew Bogle, meanwhile, grew up enslaved on the Hope Plantation, Jamaica. He knows every lump of sugar comes at a human cost. That the rich deceive the poor. And that people are more easily manipulated than they realize. When Bogle finds himself in London, star witness in a celebrated case of imposture, he knows his future depends on telling the right story. The “Tichborne Trial”–wherein a lower-class butcher from Australia claimed he was in fact the rightful heir of a sizable estate and title–captivates Mrs. Touchet and all of England. Is Sir Roger Tichborne really who he says he is? Or is he a fraud? Mrs. Touchet is a woman of the world. Mr. Bogle is no fool. But in a world of hypocrisy and self-deception, deciding what is real proves a complicated task. . . . Based on real historical events, The Fraud is a dazzling novel about truth and fiction, Jamaica and Britain, fraudulence and authenticity and the mystery of “other people.

North Woods by Daniel Mason

When a pair of young lovers abscond from a Puritan colony, little do they know that their humble cabin in the woods will become the home of an extraordinary succession of human and nonhuman characters alike. An English soldier, destined for glory, abandons the battlefields of the New World to devote himself to apples. A pair of spinster twins navigate war and famine, envy and desire. A crime reporter unearths a mass grave–only to discover that the ancient trees refuse to give up their secrets. A lovelorn painter, a sinister conman, a stalking panther, a lusty beetle: As each inhabitant confronts the wonder and mystery around them, they begin to realize that the dark, raucous, beautiful past is very much alive.

best minds

The Best Minds: A Story of Friendship, Madness, and the Tragedy of Good Intentions by Jonathan Rosen

When the Rosens moved to New Rochelle in 1973, Jonathan Rosen and Michael Laudor seemed destined to become inseparable. The boys, both children of college professors, grew up on the same street in intellectually vibrant homes shaped by ideas, liberal Jewish culture, the trauma of the Holocaust, and a shared love of basketball and standup comedy. But the two best friends were also keen competitors bearing the same great expectations, and when Michael and Jonathan both got into Yale, they seemed set to ascend to the heights of the American meritocratic elite. Leaving Jonathan behind, Michael blazed through college in three years, graduating summa cum laude and landing a top-flight consulting job for far more money than their parents had ever made. But all wasn’t as it seemed. One day, Jonathan received the fateful call: Michael had suffered a serious psychotic break and was institutionalized at a New York City psychiatric hospital where he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He would stay there for nine months before transitioning to a halfway house. Facing the prospect of a life spent bagging groceries, Michael decided to play the one card left to him: just before his break, he had been accepted to Yale Law School, and now, against all odds, he planned to enroll. Still struggling mightily with schizophrenia, Michael made it through the top law school in the country. His extraordinary story soon made the front page of the New York Times; an agent sold his memoir to a major publisher for a large sum; Ron Howard swept in to acquire film rights, with Brad Pitt set to star. It was all a dream come true for Michael and his tirelessly supportive girlfriend Carrie. But then, the unimaginable happened: in the grip of an unshakeable paranoid fantasy, Michael stabbed Carrie to death with a kitchen knife. To this day, Michael Laudor remains confined to a maximum-security forensic hospital in upstate New York. The Best Minds is Jonathan Rosen’s brilliant and heartbreaking account of what happened to Michael Laudor, and why. Exploring the dramatic transformation of American culture and of society’s relationship to mental illness in the second half of the twentieth century, this is a story about the power and limits of the bonds of family, friendship, and community, the lure of the American dream and the promise of academic achievement. At times tender and hilarious, and at times harrowing and almost unbearably sad, The Best Minds is an extreme version of a story that is tragically familiar to all too many. In the hands of a writer of Jonathan Rosen’s gifts and dedication, its significance will echo widely.

Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs: A Journey Through the Deep State by Kerry Howley

A wild, humane, and hilarious meditation on post-privacy America—from the acclaimed author of Thrown “At 25, [Reality] Winner—yoga teacher, beloved sister, AR-15 owner—was sentenced to five years in prison for leaking classified documents about a Russian election attack. Howley deftly analyzes the brutal, surreal conditions that underlie this drama and the way that they implicate all of us.” —Glamour Who are you? You are data about data. You are a map of connections—a culmination of everything you have ever posted, searched, emailed, liked, and followed. In this groundbreaking work of narrative nonfiction, Kerry Howley investigates the curious implications of living in the age of the indelible. Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs tells the true story of intelligence specialist Reality Winner, a lone young woman who stuffs a state secret under her skirt and trusts the wrong people to help. After printing five pages of dangerous information she was never supposed to see, Winner finds herself at the mercy of forces more invasive than she could have possibly imagined. Following Winner’s unlikely journey from rural Texas to a federal courtroom, Howley maps a hidden world, drawing in John Walker Lindh, Lady Gaga, Edward Snowden, a rescue dog named Outlaw Babyface Nelson, and a mother who will do whatever it takes to get her daughter out of jail. Howley’s subjects face a challenge new to history: they are imprisoned by their past selves, trapped for as long as the Internet endures. A soap opera set in the deep state, Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs is a free fall into a world where everything is recorded and nothing is sacred, from a singular writer unafraid to ask essential questions about the strangeness of modern life.

Fire Weather: A True Story From a Hotter World by John Valliant

In May 2016, the city of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, burned to the ground, forcing 88,000 people to flee their homes. It was the largest evacuation ever of a city in the face of a forest fire, raising the curtain on a new age of increasingly destructive wildfires. This book is a suspenseful account of one of North America’s most devastating forest fires–and a stark exploration of our dawning era of climate catastrophes.

Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey From Slavery to Freedom by Ilyon Woo

The remarkable true story of Ellen and William Craft, who escaped slavery through daring, determination, and disguise, with Ellen passing as a wealthy, disabled white man and William posing as ‘his’ slave.

Some People Need Killing: A Memoir of Murder in My Country by Patricia Evangelista

My job is to go to places where people die. I pack my bags, talk to the survivors, write my stories, then go home to wait for the next catastrophe. I don’t wait very long.’ Journalist Patricia Evangelista came of age in the aftermath of a street revolution that forged a new future for the Philippines. Three decades later, in the face of mounting inequality, the nation discovered the fragility of its democratic institutions under the regime of strongman Rodrigo Duterte. Some People Need Killing is Evangelista’s meticulously reported and deeply human chronicle of the Philippines’ drug war and Duterte’s assault on the country’s struggling democracy. For six years, Evangelista had the distinctive beat of chronicling the killings carried out by police and vigilantes in the name of Duterte’s war on drugs – a war that has led to the slaughter of thousands – immersing herself in the world of killers and survivors and capturing the atmosphere of fear created when an elected president decides that some lives are worth less than others.

Joe, Adult Services & Acquisitions

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