Mini-reviews of recent releases from Jhumpa Lahiri, John Grisham, Anthony Bourdain, Sandra Boynton, Eric Jerome Dickey, Kaitlyn Greenidge, Mark Bittman, Ben Philippe, more.
Here’s the lowdown on some recently released books that are worth a read.
‘Whereabouts’ by Jhumpa Lahiri
Alfred A. Knopf, fiction, $24
What it’s about: An anonymous first-person narrator reveals tiny slices of her life in the course of 46 very short chapters in Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri’s meditative sort-of novel centered on a middle-aged woman questioning her place in the world.
The buzz: “This beautifully written portrait of a life in passage captures the hopes, frustrations and longings of solitude and remembrance,” Publishers Weekly writes. AP credits Lahiri “for stretching the form and creating something that feels fresh.”
‘Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend’ by Ben Philippe
Harper Perennial, nonfiction, $16.99
What it’s about: In this hilarious and biting memoir-in-essays, Ben Philippe chronicles a lifetime of being the “Black friend” in predominantly white spaces.
The buzz: “Philippe has created a funny and at times harrowing, memoir of his experience as a Black man,” Library Journal writes.
Ecco, nonfiction, $35
What it’s about: A celebration of Anthony Bourdain, the late food and travel writer, whose experiences are collected in an entertaining travel guide highlighting his favorite places and also including essays by friends, family and colleagues.
The buzz: “This gloriously messy miscellany of off-kilter observations and lightning-in-a-bottle insights will make one want to read, eat and experience the world the way Bourdain did,” Publishers Weekly writes.
‘Jungle Night’ by Sandra Boynton
Workman Publishing, children’s board book, $7.95
What it’s about: The latest board book for the littlest ones from Sandra Boynton, filled with animal sounds, rhythmic rhymes and simple but striking illustrations — and it comes with two Yo-Yo Ma audio downloads.
The buzz: It doesn’t have the manic energy and fast pace of some of Boynton’s best read-to going-to-bed books, like “Barnyard Dance” and “But Not the Hippopotamus” — but don’t be surprised if your preschooler demands, “Again!”
‘Animal, Vegetable, Junk’ by Mark Bittman
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, nonfiction, $28
What it’s about: A history of people and food — and the need for change, to give closer consideration to agriculture’s connections to such big issues as the environment, climate change, sustainability, working conditions and “income inequality, racism and immigration.” It also includes a brief but enlightening couple of pages explaining how and why the not-much-back-then city of Chicago surpassed Cincinnati for meat-packing, became, in Carl Sandburg’s words, “hog butcher for the world” and changed the way America ate.
The buzz: “He has the wisdom not to dwell on the shortsighted ambition that brought us here but rather to offer an equally evenhanded assessment of several failed attempts to undo our errors,” The New York Times writes.
Dutton, fiction, $27
What it’s about: The final novel from Eric Jerome Dickey, who died in January, is about a Black professor whose career is threatened when a white colleague threatens to claim he assaulted her.
The buzz: “This novel couldn’t be more timely as America and the world continues to grapple with the effects of racism on our society,” Black Girl Nerds writes.
Doubleday, fiction, $28.95
What it’s about: John Grisham’s latest doesn’t feature a single courtroom scene. Set in the world of college basketball, he follows a 17-year-old playing on dirt courts in South Sudan to college basketball’s big time — who doesn’t forget his family’s plight back home.
The buzz: Builds “to a climax that won’t leave readers doubting whether this is a John Grisham novel,” The Associated Press writes.
‘Libertie’ by Kaitlyn Greenidge
Workman Publishing, fiction, $26.95
What it’s about: The Whiting Award-winning author of “We Love You, Charlie Freeman” returns with the story of a young, Black girl in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, New York, inspired by the life of one of the first Black female doctors in the United States.
The buzz: “ ‘Libertie’ shines as a deeply moving portrait of two very different women and the fraught but loving intertwining of their lives,” USA Today writes.
‘Double Plays and Double Crosses’ by Don Zminda
Rowman and Littlefield, nonfiction, $36
What it’s about: Chicago native Don Zminda, a formerly with STATS LLC and the author of other baseball history books including a biography of Harry Caray and “Go-Go to Glory: The 1959 Chicago White Sox,” goes beyond the often-recounted story of the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal.
The buzz: “Zminda exposes the full extent of corruption throughout Major League Baseball, beyond what has generally been known,” Library Journal writes, crediting his “impeccable research and a fan’s eye for detail” and calling the book “the unexpected missing link in the ever-fascinating story of the tainted 1919 World Series and the beginning of baseball’s recovery afterward.”
‘On Juneteenth’ by Annette Gordon-Reed
Liveright, nonfiction, $15.95
What it’s about: In a series of essays, historian Annette Gordon-Reed writes about the end of slavery, the role her native Texas played in that, the hardships African Americans endured in the century that followed and her own family history. Available Tuesday.
The buzz: Gordon-Reed shows “that historical understanding is a process, not an end point,” The New York Times writes.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, nonfiction, $30
What it’s about: A detailed history of the groundbreaking 1969 X-rated Oscar- winner starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight.
The buzz: “Frankel puts it all together with narrative verve, telling a propulsive tale about creativity, commerce and loss,” USA Today writes.
Penguin Random House, nonfiction, $35
What it’s about: An oversized volume that features more than 60 full-color collage images by Eric Carle, one of children’s literature’s most beloved illustrators and perhaps most famous for “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” It includes personal photos, an essay by Carle’s longtime editor and photos showing how he makes his collages come to life. For ages 10 and older.
The buzz: “More than just an appreciation of his art,” Booklist writes.
Contributing: USA Today, Associated Press