Biography and Memoir
Southern Lady Code: Essays by Helen EllisWhat it is: uproarious insights on Southern womanhood, life, and culture, written by the Alabama-raised author of American Housewife.
For fans of: Southern pop culture staples Designing Women and Fried Green Tomatoes.
Book buzz: Cristina Alger (The Banker's Wife) says "Reading this feels like settling into a comfy couch and having a martini (or three) with your most hilarious friend."
Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen by Mary NorrisWhat it's about: New Yorker copy editor Mary Norris' passion for Greek language, history, and culture, which began in unlikely earnest after she saw the science fiction film Time Bandits, partially set in ancient Greece.
Immersive study: Norris traveled solo to remote Mediterranean locales, performed in Greek-language productions of Elektra and The Trojan Women, and convinced her employers to subsidize Greek language courses to aid her in her copy editing work.
Read it for: a lively and upbeat blend of memoir and travelogue.
Gray Day: My Undercover Mission to Expose America's First Cyber Spy by Eric O'NeillWhat it is: a white-knuckle account of rookie FBI agent Eric O'Neill's 2001 undercover mission to capture fellow agent Robert Hanssen, a longtime Russian mole.
Want a taste? "Hanssen was a veteran agent, schooled in the tyranny of secrets. I was a pawn."
Try this next: Ben Macintyre's similarly suspenseful A Spy Among Friends spotlights MI6 operative Kim Philby, a double agent who defected to the Soviet Union in 1963.
A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win WWII by Sonia PurnellWho it's about: undeterred American Virginia Hall, who didn't let workplace sexism and the loss of her leg in a hunting accident stop her from serving as a Special Operations Executive (SOE) spy in occupied France, where she established an underground resistance network.
Why you might like it: Offering breakneck pacing and plenty of wartime intrigue, this celebration of a little-known hero is "a joy to read" (Booklist).
Movie buzz: Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley is set to play Hall in a forthcoming film adaptation.
What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays by Damon YoungWhat it is: a candid collection of humorous and bittersweet musings on contemporary black manhood.
Topics include: gentrification's impact on author Damon Young's Pittsburgh neighborhood; the relationships forged in barbershops and on basketball courts; the use (and misuse) of racial epithets.
Author alert: Debut author Young is the co-founder of the website Very Smart Brothas and a senior editor at The Root.
Driving Miss Norma: One Family's Journey Saying "Yes" to Living by Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle What it is: a therapeutic and life-affirming family road trip.
Starring: nonagenarian Norma, who forgoes intensive chemotherapy after her terminal cancer diagnosis to tour the country with her retired son Tim and his wife, Ramie, in their "mobile assisted living home."
Norma says "yes" to...hot air balloon rides, NBA courtside seats, a feted appearance at the Boston St. Patrick's Day parade, and more.
Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches by John HodgmanWhat it's about: humorist John Hodgman's neurotic attempts to maintain summer homes in Massachusetts and Maine, which he does with middling degrees of success.
Read it for: droll, hard-earned wisdom on topics as varied as male privilege, dumpster etiquette, and regional humor.
Want a taste? "Here is some homeowner's advice. Do not put even a single box of stale Cheerios down the garbage disposal, never mind three."
In Other Words by Jhumpa LahiriWhat it is: Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri's bilingual memoir of how her love of Italian prompted her to move her family to Rome, where she made surprising discoveries about her identity as a writer.
Want a taste? "Writing in another language represents an act of demolition, a new beginning."
Did you know? A national bestseller, In Other Words is Lahiri's first foray into nonfiction and was originally published in Italian.
The Comfort Food Diaries: My Quest for the Perfect Dish to Mend a Broken Heart by Emily NunnWhat it's about: Grappling with the aftermath of her brother's suicide and the end of her engagement, grief-stricken food writer Emily Nunn embarks on a cross-country road trip to visit loved ones and indulge in favorite comfort foods.
Recipes include: country ham biscuits; lemon sponge cups; cream cheese and olive sandwiches; collard soup.
Reviewers say: "nourishing" (Kirkus Reviews); "gorgeous and moving" (Publishers Weekly).
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