Michiko Kakutani
The Death of Truth by Michiko Kakutani

Michiko Kakutani, former chief book critic for The New York Times, is the author of the forthcoming book “The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump.”

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Beloved by Toni Morrison

dquot At the heart of this brilliant and deeply harrowing novel stands a horrifying event: a runaway slave, caught in her attempt to escape, cuts the throat of her baby daughter with a handsaw, determined to spare the child the fate she herself has suffered. The story takes on the heightened resonance of myth, even as it remains grounded in the realities of American history – in the day to day brutalities of slavery. The reader not only recognizes the people in “Beloved” as relatives of the small-town folks in such earlier novels as “Sula” and “The Bluest Eye,” but also realizes that it is necessary to understand their stories in order to comprehend the loss of innocence that is the legacy of the characters in all her fiction."

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dquot A wonderfully immersive novel that is, at once, a kind of post-9/11 thriller, a meditation on the beguiling promises of the American Dream, and an old-fashioned Dickensian story featuring a pair of heroes, who will assume seats in the great pantheon of classic buddy acts (alongside Oliver Twist and the Artful Dodger, Laurel and Hardy, Vladimir and Estragon)."

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Goldfinch by Donna Tartt Life by Keith Richards

dquot An electrifying memoir by the Rolling Stones guitarist, written with uncommon candor and immediacy. A high-def, high-velocity portrait of the era when rock n’ roll came of age – a raw and eloquent report from deep inside the counterculture maelstrom of how that music swept like a tsunami over Britain and the States. At the same time, it’s an intimate account of the author’s long, strange journey from a small English town to the world stage, and most of all, a passionate account of his love for music, his reverence for the blues and R&B masters he started studying as a boy, and his determination to pass that love on down the line."

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dquot Lincoln’s gifts as a writer have been examined by a multitude of earlier books, but Fred Kaplan’s 2008 study gives readers a visceral understanding of the role language played in Lincoln’s efforts to define himself and his vision of America. It traces his evolution as a thinker and a leader, maps the early formative influence of Shakespeare and the Bible, and chronicles how Lincoln found his own voice as a writer – a voice that he used to articulate his dream of a new nation, emerging from the Civil War, an America, in his words, “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

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Lincoln: The Autobiography of a Writer by Fred Kaplan The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

dquot Among the case studies in this compelling book are individuals with neurological irregularities that drastically affect their daily lives: a man with acute amnesia loses three decades of his life and lives in a perpetual present, unable to recall anything for more than a minute or two; a music teacher finds his visual and perceptual abilities so impaired that he can identify a rose only as “a convoluted red form with a linear green attachment.” Blessed with deep reserves of compassion and a metaphysical turn of mind, Dr. Sacks writes of these patients not as scientific curiosities but as individuals, whose efforts to preserve a sense of identity and connection to loved ones, attest to the complexities of the human mind – and our resilience."

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dquot A follow-up to the author’s deeply affecting 2009 book “The Good Soldiers” (which chronicled the experiences of an Army battalion sent to Baghdad during the surge), this heartbreaking account of these veterans’ homecoming is powered by their frankness in trying to make sense of their war experience and its ongoing fallout on their daily lives – post-traumatic stress, strained marriages, frustration in trying to navigate the military bureaucracy to obtain the medical care they need, and sharp, unrelenting grief over the comrades they lost in battle."

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Thank You by David Finkel Underworld by Don DeLillo

dquot A monumental epic that spans five decades of history, telling the story of what happened to America in the second half of the 20 th century through the intersecting, overlapping and crisscrossing lives of dozens of people. A novel that showcases DeLillo’s razzle-dazzle gifts as a writer and captures, as “White Noise” and “Mao II” did, the surreal weirdness that has infected contemporary American life – a world in which real and imagined conspiracy theories have grown contagious, and “the rules of what is thinkable” seemed to change overnight."

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