“LIFE IN THE GARDEN”
By Penelope Lively. (Penguin, $16.) Novelist and essayist Lively hates the term “hobby,” preferring “consuming interest” to describe her passion for gardening. This wide-ranging appreciation of the role gardens have played in her own life and in novels and poetry reveals them as providers of both intellectual and emotional sustenance. Times reviewer Dominique Browning called the book “appealingly shambolic and literary.”
“THE MERE WIFE”
By Maria Dahvana Headley. (MCD/Picador, $18.) This fierce modern retelling of “Beowulf,” filled with contemporary versions of the ancient epic’s monsters and heroes, pits a traumatized former soldier and her unusual son against the grasping denizens of an upscale gated community. Times reviewer Michael Upchurch praised Headley’s “stark, lacerating, insightful” prose.
By James Wood. (Picador, $17.) This sensitive novel by the eminent New Yorker literary critic tells of a family that has edged into crisis as the older of two daughters falls into a debilitating depression. A trip to upstate New York to console her becomes a chance to reconsider old patterns and probe deeper questions about the quicksilver nature of emotional suffering and the eternal quest to find meaning in life’s struggles.
“ADVICE FOR FUTURE CORPSES, AND THOSE WHO LOVE THEM: A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying”
By Sallie Tisdale. (Gallery Books, $16.) Tisdale is a palliative care nurse as well as an author, and this unorthodox guide to the mechanics and ethics of dying offers practical advice on matters like hospice care and handling a loved one’s dead body — all that plus a generous overarching philosophy of how to live well by coming to terms with the reality of death. The Times’ Parul Sehgal called it “a wild and brilliantly deceptive book.”
“HOW TO LOVE A JAMAICAN: Stories”
By Alexia Arthurs. (Ballantine, $17.) Many of the stories in this accomplished debut collection about Jamaican immigrants take place in New York City and Midwestern university towns, but Arthurs’ characters are haunted by memories of Jamaica and unfinished family business there. The thoughtful, yearning voices — women and men, younger and older — add up to a complex cultural portrait.
“IN THE HURRICANE’S EYE: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown”
By Nathaniel Philbrick. (Penguin, $18.) Philbrick concludes his American Revolution series with this suspenseful account of the 1781 Battle of the Chesapeake, which allowed George Washington to pull off a final victory at Yorktown. Times reviewer Thomas E. Ricks called Philbrick “a masterly storyteller.”