Here’s the lowdown on some recently released books that are worth a read.
‘Traveling Black’ by Mia Bay
The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, nonfiction, $35
What it’s about: Explores ways in which transportation has been used to foster discrimination against Blacks, touching briefly on subjects of particular Chicago interest including the NAACP’s fight against bus discrimination in the 1930s, the lack of affordable parking for urban residents and the late Mayor Richard J. Daley using “the construction of the Dan Ryan Expressway in the 1960s as an opportunity to create a durable barrier between the traditionally Irish white neighborhoods on the western side of the city’s South Side and the Black neighborhoods to the east.”
The buzz: The New York Times called it a “superb history of mobility and resistance, the question of literal movement becomes a way to understand the civil rights movement writ large.”
‘How to Grill Vegetables’ by Steven Raichlen
Workman Publishing, nonfiction, $24.95
What it’s about: The host of several PBS TV series on barbecuing puts everything you need to know in one handy place to make this summer a great one for grilling vegetables and smoking them, too.
The buzz: Easy-to-follow recipes and grilling hacks to make your veggies fool (or at least perplex) the palates of meat-lovers.
‘How Not to Be Eaten: The Insects Fight Back’ by Gilbert Waldbauer
University of California Press, nonfiction, $19.95
What it’s about: Natural History describes this as an insect version of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” that, for us humans, is filled with “well-told stories that illustrate the complex interrelations of species and the creative dynamics of evolution.”
The buzz: “Readers will certainly come away with renewed appreciation for the ways in which insects use mimicry, deceit and poison to survive,” the Washington Post wrote.
‘Survive the Night’ by Riley Sager
Dutton, fiction, $27
What it’s about: Movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is sharing the long drive home to Ohio with a man she just met — whom she starts to suspect might be the Campus Killer, who murdered her best friend.
The buzz: “The novel satisfies like a summer blockbuster, nearly demands you stay until the final scenes and the lights come up,” a USA Today review says.
‘Plague, Pestilence, and Pandemic’ by Peter Furtado
Thames & Hudson, nonfiction, $19.95
What it’s about: The coronavirus pandemic, of course, isn’t the first that people have faced. Peter Furtado, former editor of History Today, gathers accounts of the ravages that past ones have caused, how people survived them — and what you can do to protect yourself.
The buzz: If there ever were a time when we needed this book for perspective, this is it.
‘The Devil May Dance’ by Jake Tapper
Little, Brown, fiction, $28
What it’s about: Historical thriller by Jake Tapper, the lead Washington anchor for CNN, is set in early 1960s Hollywood and is a follow-up to “The Hellfire Club.” It’s centered on a congressman, his zoologist-wife, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and the Rat Pack, a possible mob plot by the Chicago Outfit’s Sam Giancana to assassinate President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy’s efforts to use the congressman to confirm that.
The buzz: “The gears of this thriller move expertly and fast,” says The New York Times, which also says the rampant racism and sexism and gossipy coverage that passes for news are as of the moment as they were in 1962.
‘Hell of a Book’ by Jason Mott
Dutton, fiction, $27
What it’s about: A bestselling Black author goes on a cross-country publicity tour that turns into an exploration of racism and police violence in America.
The buzz: “By turns playful and surprising and intimate, a moving meditation on being Black in America,” Kirkus Reviews says.
‘Bad Moon Rising’ by John Galligan
Atria Books, fiction, $17
What it’s about: Sheriff Heidi Kick tracks down a killer during a record heat wave in her rural Wisconsin community while embroiled in a nasty reelection campaign. Third in the Bad Axe County series.
The buzz: “Intriguing characters take a wild ride through backwoods Wisconsin in this irresistible mystery,” Kirkus Reviews writes.